By Phil Hecken
…in the warm California sun.
Some uniforms those Sun wore, huh? Go to almost any of the myriad “worst uniform” lists and invariably (or inevitably), the Southern California Sun outfits will appear. Either the worst or the best, depending upon your perspective (or the amount of psilocybin in your bloodstream), the Sun shone brightly. Boasting the rather bright combination of magenta and orange, the Southern California Sun were an American football team based out of Anaheim, California (playing in Anaheim Stadium) that played in the World Football League in 1974 and 1975. They went 13-7 in 1974 and 7-5 in 1975.
They were coached by former Rams great and Hall of Famer Tom Fears. Former USC greats Anthony Davis and QB Pat Haden played for the Sun in 1975, along with former Oakland Raiders QB Daryle Lamonica, also known as the “Mad Bomber.”
Opinions differed widely on the uniforms sported by the Sun. According to Helmet Hut:
The Sun had a great and unique uniform. An outstanding magenta home jersey was highlighted by orange numbers, certainly a uniform as bright as their nickname! The white helmet had a very memorable Sun logo that seemed to literally throw off heat. The wide orange stripe flanked by thinner purple stripes with large rear numbers topped the uniform off smartly. When they wore their orange pants, the look was “different” yet very effective and this remains one of the best professional football uniforms of all time.
But according to a certain ESPN scribe, “Uni Watch normally wouldn’t pick on the poor WFL, but the Sun’s orange and magenta combo was just too vile to ignore. And let’s not forget the white belt, for that country club seal of approval.”
Although the Sun played their last game more than 30 years ago, their memory lives on. I haven’t found any “gamers” on eBay, but there are a few Sun t-shirts available for purchase today. You can even select the Southern California Sun as your team in some modern gaming consoles.
What made the Sun choose magenta and orange for their colors? Well, it was the 1970s, a decade that also gave us this. Maybe it was the local produce; more likely, the colors were chosen to evoke a Southern California sunset, as well as the prevailing trend at the time toward bolder, less traditional colors.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t even the first pro team to combine magenta and orange. The ABA’s Miami Floridians introduced the look in 1970. (A few years ago, the Heat reprised this in a throwback). Here’s another view — and check out a young Dr. J in that neato Squires uni.
I plan to explore the WFL and its uniforms, logos, and other minutiae in future entries. So if anyone has any pics, links, or any additional information, please send them my way.
(Special thanks to Rick Pearson for the wonderful Sun sketch and a few of the photos linked within this entry.)