By Phil Hecken
As you are all aware, or should be by now, last week the Philadelphia Eagles became the third team to unveil a “throwback alternate.” Paul already covered the unveiling, so today I’ll take you back to the original.
With so many great possibilities (worn in the 1940s) to choose from (early 1970s) for a possible throwback (1969), including their Super Bowl XV (1981) or their crazy silver/green/white loops or even the similar mid-1960s northwestern striped uniform, why would the 2010 Eagles choose the 1960 uniform for a throwback? Two very easy answers: they won their last NFL championship in 1960, and 2010 just happens to represent the 50th Anniversary of that championship.
Throwbacks are, obviously, nothing new to the NFL. In fact, thus far the Green Bay Packers (throwing back to 1919) and the Chicago Bears (“mid-1940’s” but very close to their 1947 uniform) have announced their own throwbacks for the 2010 season. So, sensing both a need to jump on the alternate merchandising bandwagon and celebrate their past, the Eagles will be wearing a striking kelly green jersey with white pants hosting two green stipes, period correct socks, and green helmet with silver wings that faithfully recreates the one worn during the 1960 championship season. Obviously, we’ll need to see the uniforms on the field, but at first glance, they look like they nailed it.
There is more symbolism in the first (and only?) wearing of the new alternate/throwbacks as well: the Eagles have announced they will wear them in their home opener against the Green Bay Packers, whom they defeated to win their third and final NFL championship on December 26, 1960. Played at Franklin Field, the 1960 Championship Game pitted the 10-2 Eagles (who had not been to the final game since 1949) against the 8-4 Packers (who themselves had not been to the big game since 1944). The game was actually played on a Monday, since the NFL did not want to hold the game on Christmas Day, and began at noon, since Franklin Field did not have lights at the time.
The 1960 Eagles roster was loaded with talent, including four future NFL Hall of Famers. Players like Billy Ray Barnes, Pete Retzlaff, Joe Rob, and Tom Brookshier were stalwarts, while HOF backup QB Sonny Jurgensen provided leadership. But the biggest stars of 1960 were Hall of Fame wide receiver Tommy McDonald, (who was later honored with a SI cover), and Hall of Fame Quarterback Norm Van Brocklin (shown against the Giants in 1962).
But no one individual more personifies the 1960 Championship team than the last “60 minute man” himself, Chuck Bednarik. After an opening day spanking at the hands the Cleveland Browns, 41-24, Bednarik and the Eagles would go on a tear, terrorizing the rest of the league and winning their next nine games. In one of the most famous tackles in NFL history, Bednark famously knocked Giants poster-boy Frank Gifford out of football for 18 months with a crushing tackle during their November 20th matchup. Bednarik, the last man in the NFL to “play 60,” was both a center on offense and linebacker on defense. Nicknamed “Concrete Charlie,” he was inducted into the HOF in his first year of eligibility (1967), and had previously feuded with current Eagles owner Jeff Lurie. However, the two patched things up and Bednarik was recently invited back to Franklin Field to help the Eagles announce the throwbacks. Always a tough guy, even years after his playing career were over he still looked and sounded “mean.” A fantastic interview/retrospective of his career can be seen in this video. The best five minutes you’ll spend today.
Interesting was the decision by the Eagles, and particularly their owner, Jeffrey Lurie, to return (even for one game) to the kelly green. Almost as soon as Lurie assumed ownership of the Eagles in the mid-1990’s he sought to change their uniforms to the midnight green they have worn since 1996, replacing the kelly they had worn for almost their entire history, dating back to 1933. Whether that decision was because Lurie had a personal preference for that shade, whether he changed the uniforms “because he could,” or whether he changed them, as some have opined, because they bore too much resemblance to the Jets have all been proffered as reasons for the change. More likely was a desire to make the Eagles look “tougher” (adding heavy black accents, socks and sleeves, as well as making the logo appear more menacing, replacing various versions of this). Lurie added a black alternate jersey to the mix, and his coach Andy Reid, wears almost exclusively black outfits on the sidelines.
Even more interestingly, when Lurie introduced the only other throwback the Eagles have worn during his ownership, it was this gold and powder blue gem which many have called the ugliest uniform in sports, although not everyone who sported that look actually looked bad. They wore that uniform in 2007 to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of their first (1933) uniform. It’s easy to see why the Eagles quickly abandoned that look (the colors of which were chose to represent the flag of Philadephia). Perhaps, shockingly, because the 75th Anniversary throwbacks didn’t sell so well, the Eagles saw a new opportunity by bringing back the kelly.
Anyway you slice it, the return to kelly green is welcome for most Philly fans, who have been longing for it (for the most part) since Lurie bought the team. And so far, the Eagles are doing it right, not only holding the unveiling at Franklin Field (where they even sought to play their home opener), but inviting back many of their old greats for the new uniform reveal. In addition to the throwback, there will be a halftime ceremony during the home opener and various celebrations throughout that week to honor the last Philadelphia team to bring home a championship. Still, one must think the return to kelly was due in no small part to Lurie’s love of a different shade of green.
Lurie was asked if honoring the 1960 team was just a painful reminder that his team hasn’t won a title in 50 years and during his nearly two-decade long tenure. “It’s all self-inflicted,” Lurie said.
Indeed. But having your current team wear the uniform of your last championship team, at least for one game, is really a win-win for everyone, no?
Since Paul took yesterday’s post, the regular Sunday Benchies has been moved to today. So, here’s Ricko:
Baseball, softball…it’s all “ball” and it unites us. It connects the generations, young to old, old to young. Always those two hoops—young and old—rolling seamlessly through time. At different places, to be sure, but moving in the same undeniable direction. And as surely as there will be differences and disputes and divergent paths, there will always be the common ground of “ball,” times when the hoops entwine, rolling together for awhile, and we find precious, lasting moments of oneness. Well, most of the time, anyway.
Now then, is a special Monday Benchies.
And now here’s Paul with today’s Ticker.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Thanks, Phil, and thanks also to the many of you who sent me notes regarding yesterday’s entry. I truly appreciate all the kind words. … Now then: As you know, there were lots of pink accessories on MLB diamonds yesterday. No biggie — we’ve all seen that before. But pink was a bigger and more problematic part of the storyline in Australia, where the Aussie rules football club Melbourne FC wore pink and so did the refs, causing a visual similarity that led to a major gaffe. Additional details here (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … If pink is the anti-breast cancer color, green is apparently the anti-doping color, at least when applied to a hockey puck (with thanks to Bill Curran). … Great example of how hard it can be to judge colors from black-and-white photos, courtesy of Ricko: “Over the years I’ve seen several b+w photos of the early-’40s Minneapolis Millers jersey, and I figured all the striping/piping was red. Not so — turns out the verticals on the shoulders and sides were royal. Who knew.” … It’s not unusual for a catcher to use a special mitt when a knuckleballer is on the mound. But was Victor Martinez using his first baseman’s mitt to catch Tim Wakefield the other night? (Screen shot courtesy of Grant Goldman)… On Saturday Phil posted a really grainy screen shot of DJ Carrasco’s new Pirates logo stirrups. I wanted a better view, so I went back to the video and got some clearer shots. And while doing that, I also noticed that the letterspacing is way off on Ryan Doumit’s NOCPC (that’s name on chest protector collar). … In a horrifying development that may indicate the existence of a heretofore unknown law of physics, Andre Ethier’s missing undershirt collar swoosh has turned up on Scott Schoeneweis (tremendous spot by Matt Shevin). … In a related item, we may start seeing a lot more collar modification now that Dallas Braden has tossed a perfecto. … Players in college football all-star games often trade helmet logo decals. But what if you play for one of the schools that don’t have helmet logos? Penn State’s equipment manager addresses that point in this very interesting piece (big thanks to Chris Flinn). … Interesting uni number placement for this high school bowling team. That’s Warren G. Harding High, from Ohio (first-ever Ticker contribution from Jimi Milburn). … Pearl Jam often uses baseball-inspired imagery for its T-shirts and other concert graphics. Here’s what they used for a recent show in St. Looey. Not bad, although it’s too bad they felt the need to hop on the “angry animal” bandwagon. Enough teams are doing that on their own without a rock band validating the trend. … The numerals on Ronny Cedeno’s back look badly mismatched, no? The 1 looks like it’s significantly smaller than the 3. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Tampa Bay Rowdies have come up with the mascot of my dreams — an anthropomorphized green/gold striped sock. Is this the first time a mascot has been based on a uniform element? … Never a dull moment in Philly. … Major development in Cleveland, as Brownie the Elf has been added to the Browns’ visor tabs. Here’s a closer view (great spot by Brendon Yarian). … I recently won this batch of 122 vintage clothing tags/labels, and they’re even more spectacular than the auction listing suggests. Details forthcoming in a future entry. … According to the third entry on this Q&A page, the Jazz will unveil their new uniforms in mid-August. … Always good to get new pin-up illos stuff from Rob Ullman: Here are his second-round NHL playoff picks for the East and West (“all of which are now hopelessly wrong,” he notes), along with a bunch of new commissions. … Ferrari has agreed to scrap the bar code F1 logo that had been seen by some as a stealth ad for Marlboro cigarettes (with thanks to Chad Todd). … The sight of Jeff Francoeur going high-cuffed with new shoes prompted a brief uni-centric discussion between Mets broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez on Saturday. At one point Cohen mentioned the White Sox’s infamous shorts, to which Hernandez replied, “Oh gosh, I remember Greg Luzinski in those.” No question, the Bull in shorts would have been quite a sight — especially since he didn’t join the Chisox until 1981, five full years after they wore the short pants. … In case you missed it over the weekend, here’s the memorial patch the Phillies are wearing for Robin Roberts. … A video game screen shot indicates that Clemson may be ditching the bib piping this fall. … Jeff McClendon sent along a bunch of pics of Auburn’s new basketball arena, which will be the school’s home court starting this fall. “It’s not quite finished, but almost,” he says. … RIP, Lena.
Oh, and by the way…: In case you missed it over the weekend, the full slate of this year’s stars/stripes caps has been released. Frankly, this strikes me as the worst batch yet, since there’s no rhyme or reason to the brim colors. Why put the Cubs in red? Or the Nats in blue? Or the Rockies in red? Of course, those questions are secondary to the larger question of why stars/stripes caps are needed in the first place, but MLB has already swung and missed at that one.
One additional thought: I was struck by how the Cards’ cap is similar to a cap from their past. And that’s when it really hit me that these white-crowned stars/stripes caps — and, really all caps with white crowns — would probably look a lot better with piping on the seams. It would break up that field of solid white, cut down on the Good Humor Man effect, etc.