The Atlanta Falcons Uniform History

by Tim Brulia

Chronicling what we hope will be the first in a series where the GUD will create a visual and written history of an NFL team's uniform history, exclusively using the graphics as presented by the GUD's graphic engineer, Bill Schaefer.

We start with the Atlanta Falcons. Note that some of this material originally appeared on Uni Watch on February 5, 2017 as written by yours truly.

1966: The Atlanta Falcons begin play this season as an expansion franchise. The teams breaks out in uniform colors of red, black, old gold and white. The helmets are red and feature an emblem of a black falcon (trimmed in white), with its large wing down. Whether by design or not, the bird, on the right side of the helmet, sort of resembles the shape of an "F." This is seen on the right side of the helmet. The left side of the headgear shows the falcon facing right. The striping on the helmet contains five stripes with a thin gold/thin white/black/thin white/this gold pattern. Jerseys come in white and black. The white jersey features block black numbers outlined in red with the TV numbers placed on the shoulders. The sleeves are adorned with the black falcon facing forward, very thinly outlined in white, then red. The black jersey is styled in similar fashion, with white numbers trimmed in red. The pants are white with thin side stripes in a black/red/black pattern. The socks are black with three separated stripes; a thick inner red stripe flanked by thin outer white stripes.

1967: Perhaps because the black falcon on the sleeves of the black jersey gets visually lost from a distance, the Falcons change the sleeve logos to white with a very thin red outline. No other changes are made. 

1968: The jerseys drop the sleeve emblems and add stripes to the sleeves and the TV numbers move from the shoulders to the sleeves. There's actually two sets of jerseys. One set is worn for warm games and both white and black jerseys are short sleeved and feature a white elastic edge, filled in with three separated micro stripes of red and black.
Detail on the white micro striped jersey
Detail on the black micro striped jersey

The other set is the more familiar durene jerseys and feature three separated stripes on the sleeves. On the white jersey the sleeve stripe pattern is a thick black stripe flanked by thin outer red stripes while the black jersey shows the pattern used on the socks (thick inner red stripe, thin outer white stripes.
Falcons 1968 durene uniforms

1969: The NFL's 50th season patch is worn on the left shoulder of the jerseys for the year. The short sleeved jersey set from '68 is ditched.
jersey back (white) and jersey front (black) showing placement of 50NFL patch.

1970: In the merger season, the gold stripes are removed from the helmet, which now takes on an equal width white/black/white format. The jerseys, as now required by the NFL, feature names on the backs of the jerseys, solid black lettering on the white jerseys and solid white on the black jerseys.

1971: The black jerseys take a hike and are replaced by red jerseys. All the red trim that had been on the black jersey becomes black on the red shirts. The socks are also reversed from black to red, with the former thick red stripe turning to black, worn with both sets. This look would hold firm through 1977, though white cleats would become the norm by 1973.

1978: While the helmet remains the same (albeit with slightly smaller logos and a white facemask replacing the gray), the rest of the uni undergoes some revision. The white jersey now sports a V-neck collar trimmed in red with a hint of black trim, the numbers are now red with black outline, the TV numbers return to the shoulders, sleeve stripes now are equal width (separated) with a red/black/red pattern and between the TV numbers and the stripes, the Falcon logo returns in black with the NOB remaining in black. The red jersey finds a V-neck collar trimmed in black and a new color, silver. The numbers on the red jersey are now silver with black outline with the TV numbers reverting back to the shoulders, sleeve stripes now equal width (separated) with a silver/black/silver combo with the black Falcon logo placed between the TV numbers and the stripes on the sleeves, with the NOB remaining in white. The pants also see a revamp changing from white to silver and the stripe pattern going to a red/thin white/black/thin white/red combo. The red socks lose their stripes and are now a solid color.
1978 Atlanta Falcons new look.

1979: To make the sleeve logos on the red jersey pop a bit, a thin layer of silver is added to the Falcon.
Sleeve detail of 1979 red jersey.

1984: The facemasks go from white to black.

1987: The Falcon logo moves to become superimposed over the sleeve stripes on both sets of jerseys.
Sleeve detail on the 1987 Falcons jerseys.

1988: A memorial patch (small black football with a white "30") for deceased cornerback David Crudip is worn over the left collarbone on both sets of jerseys starting October 16th for the remainder of the season.

1989: A black block "73" for deceased offensive tackle Ralph Norwood is worn on the left collarbone starting November 26 for both white and red jerseys and then later a black block "83" for tight end Brad Beckman is worn on the right collarbone of the white jersey only for the final game (12/24) of the season.

Prior to Week 12, the Falcons had no memorial patches. 

1990: The Falcons go full stop black. The helmets go from red to black with the black Falcon logo with the white outline remaining unchanged (well, maybe some minute alterations) and the stripes are deleted. The white jerseys are depleted of collar piping and sleeve stripes with the front and back numbers staying as they were on the previous white jersey though the NOB is black with red outlines on the letters. The red jerseys are dumped and for the first time in 20 years, black makes a comeback as the dark jersey color. as with the white set, collar trim and sleeve stripes are eliminated, the numbers and NOB's are white with red outlines. As for the TV numbers, they appear only on the right shoulder as a special patch commemorating the Falcons' 20th season is worn on the left shoulder, taking the place of the TV numbers. Starting in Week 7, the Falcons reverse number colors on the white jersey, with the numbers now black with red outline. The pants remain silver, but the stripe pattern is reversed to a black/thin white/red/thin white/black motif. Finally, the socks go from a solid red to solid black.
Detail of Falcons 25th season patch.

Example of the 1991 TV numbers on black jersey.
1991: TV numbers return to the left shoulder of the jerseys.

1994: The Falcons wear the commemorative patch for the NFL's 75th season on the left collarbone area. Beginning November 13th a very small football patch (black on the white jersey, white on the black set) with the imprint of "ZEKE" in honor of deceased equipment manager Whitey Zimmerman. In Week 3, the Falcons wear exact throwback duplicates of the red jerseyed uniform from 1971-1977 and the white jerseyed uni of the same 71-77 era for Week 4.
A full look at the 1994 Falcons unis, including the NFL 75th Season patch, the Zeke memorial patch and the throwbacks.

1995: A black collar is added to the white jersey.

1997: White jerseys see a return of red numbers and NOB's with black outline. The pant stripes also go back to a red/white/black/white/red combo with the red and black stripes of equal width. Solid red socks are worn with the white jersey, while the black socks are still worn with the black jersey. Beginning on November 2nd, an oval Rankin Smith memorial patch is worn on the left collarbone, with a script "RMS." The patch is black on the white jersey and white on the black jersey.
1997 Falcons uniforms with red numbered white jerseys and Rankin Smith memorial patch.

1998: The Falcons wear the Super Bowl XXXIII logo patch on the left collarbone of the black jersey for the Big Game.

2003: The Falcons undergo a major overhaul of their uniform. The helmet stays black, but the logo is altered for the first time in team history. Red flares are added to the trim, the bird tilts forward a little more than before and the white outline also now has a sliver of silver. The white jersey retains its black collar and red numbers and NOB's with black outline, but the font is modified and a tiny bit of drop shadow is added to the outline. The "sleeves" feature unusual vertical striping with outer black stripes, inner white stripes and a center portion of red, in which the modified black and red falcon is shown facing forward. The black jersey follows a similar pattern with the sleeve configuration, and the numbers and NOB's in white with red outline. The red jersey makes a return appearance as an alternate jersey with a black collar and the similar sleeve striping and the numbers being white with the black outline/slight drop shadow. A tiny wordmark is added to all the jerseys, with the mark in black on the white jersey and white on the black jersey and red jersey. The outer black sleeve stripes on all sets form a pinstripe wide side panel on the jerseys. There are three sets of pants, two are white, one has a black pinstripe that flares slightly near the bottom of the pant leg (worn with the white jersey and black jersey), the other white pant has a red pinstripe with a slight flare near the bottom of the pant leg (worn with the red jersey) and the third set of pants is black with a red pinstripe that flares red near the bottom of the pant leg. There are three sets of socks as well, black (worn with the white/white set and the black/white set), red (worn with the red/white set) and white with a very thick black stripe (worn with the white/black and black/black sets).
The all-new 2003 Atlanta Falcons uniforms!

2004: The red jersey becomes the primary color jersey. The black pants are only worn once, with the alternate black jersey (also worn just once - Week 12 vs. New Orleans - with black socks) and the white socks with thick black stripe is gone.

2005: Five various combinations are worn: white/white, white/black, red/white, red/black and black/black.

2006: Four combinations are worn, with red/black eliminated from the mix.

2007: Same as 2006.

2008: The league-wide Gene Upshaw commemorative patch is worn for Week 1. For the Falcons, the black circle patch is worn on the left collarbone of the red jersey. Otherwise, the same four combinations as worn in 2006 and 2007 are seen.

2009: The black jersey and black pants are dropped for good, but the Falcons trot out a throwback hearkening to the 1966 black jerseyed team, complete with red helmet WITH gold stripes.

2011: A commemorative 10th anniversary 9/11 Memorial ribbon/patch is worn for Week 1 at Chicago, which is affixed to the left collarbone of the white jersey.

2012: A commemorative 50th year patch for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is worn for Weeks 14 (white jersey at Carolina Panthers) and 15 (red jersey vs. New York Giants).

2013: Due to the NFL ruling requiring only one helmet to be used for the season, the popular 1966 red-helmeted throwbacks are terminated and the Falcons are left with just two uni combos.

2015: A commemorative 50th Season patch is worn on the left collarbone for the regular season
on both sets of jerseys. 

2016: For two games (Week 7 vs. San Diego and Week 15 vs. San Francisco), the Falcons wore a mishmash throwback, with the 1990-2002 style black helmet worn with the 1966 jersey/pants/socks combo.
In Week 9, for their Thursday night game, for the league mandated "Color Rush" campaign, the Falcons simply chose to wear their white/white combo, with all white socks (though many players chose to wear the normal black socks instead). 
And for Super Bowl LI vs. New England, the Falcons had a Super Bowl LI affixed to the red jerseys.

To close out, the history of when the Atlanta Falcons have wore white for home games:

Hopefully, many more of these to come. Stay tuned!!


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