By Phil Hecken
The Big Weekend has finally arrived. As in years past, I’m privileged to have two outstanding guests who are here to bring us everything we ever wanted to know about the uniform history of the two teams involved in the Super Bowl…so huge and impressive are their efforts, in fact, that it will take both days of Super Bowl weekend to cover it all. Past Super Bowl coverage has featured Doug Keklak & Rick Pearson, Tim Brulia & Rick Pearson, and Chance Michaels & Rick Pearson. I’ve given Ricko the Super Bowl off this year (although I’m sure he would have helped had I asked him to).
Today, I’m joined by Rob Holecko, a major Uni Watch contributor, and one of the three founding members of the Gridiron Uniform Database (along with Bill Schaefer and Tim Brulia) — perhaps the best website out there detailing the uniform history of the National Football League. He’ll be covering the American Conference Champions, the New England Patriots. Tomorrow, I’ll be joined by Heather L. Scott, a reader and HUGE Giants fan who’ll be running down the uniform history of Big Blue, the Patriots’ opponent in Super Bowl XLVI.
So, without further ado, lets get right into the AFC rep:
Patriots Uniform History
By Rob Holecko
The first true “Patriots” to compete in Boston did so in the eighteenth century long before football came along. In 1862, the Oneida Football Club in Boston was the “first organized team to play any kind of football” in the United States. They played on the Boston Commons an important precursor of the sport of football known as “The Boston Game” which led to the first game of college football in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton.
The first professional football team in Boston, was the Boston Braves, a 1932 NFL expansion team that took the same name as the National League baseball team in the city. A year later they changed their name to the Redskins, and in 1937 they moved to Washington. For the next twenty or so years, professional football did not have a major franchise in New England, and the football fans of the area would for the most part support the New York Giants.
In November 1959, Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final AFL inaugural franchise. They would be named the Patriots. They reached the 1963 AFL Championship game where they lost to San Diego. In 1970, following the AFL-NFL merger, the Boston Patriots were placed in the AFC East, and the following year they moved into a new stadium outside of Boston, in Foxoborough, Massachusetts. They wanted to changed their name to the “Bay State Patriots” but the NFL would not allow the name, so instead they settled on the “New England Patriots”. They won only one AFC East title in the 1970s, in 1978, but in the next decade they became only the second wild card team ever to reach the Super Bowl after the 1985 season, where they lost to the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX. They won three more AFC East Division titles in 1986, 1996 and 1997, reaching Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season. They would next win the AFC East in 2001, and went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams, a win that would begin their decade of dominance in the 2000s: They won divisional titles in eight out of nine years from 2003 through 2011, including two more Super Bowl championships in XXXVIII and XXXIX. They fell short of the ultimate goal, however, of an 18-0 perfect season in 2007 when they lost Super Bowl XLII to the Giants. As they prepare to compete in Super Bowl XLVI, again against the Giants and look for redemption for that loss four years ago and claim their fourth Super Bowl title, we look back at the uniform history of this franchise:
1960 – The Patriots play in the first ever preseason game wearing helmets with the try-cornered Patriots hat. For the regular season they add the familiar shoulder stripes and player numbers to the helmet. They would wear only white pants, with primarily red uniforms at home and white on the road, and this would be the case from 1960 through 1978. The socks would be red on top, with a blue and a red stripe.
For the first three season the Patriots would play their games at Nickerson Field.
1961 – The Patriots debut the “Pat the Patriot” helmet logo. Also the socks would slightly change, with a primarily red sock with two blue stripes on a field of white, coupled with a blue and white stripe at the bottom.
1965 – A minor change to the socks, as they would now be red with two sets of white-blue-white stripe.
1967 – The Patriots would make a minor change to the sock stripes on their uniforms, going from a primarily red sock with blue and white stripes, to a white socks with varying red, white and blue stripes.
1969 – For the beginning of the 1969 regular season the Patriots would change to solid red socks, and removed the shoulder stripes.
1971 – After a season at Alumni Stadium and a season at Harvard Stadium, the Patriots leave Boston and become the New England Patriots and play at Foxboro Stadium, which would also go by the name Schaefer Stadium from 1971 through 1982 and Sullivan Stadium from 1983-89. The Patriots draft quarterback Jim Plunkett from Stanford with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.
1976 – The Patriots reach the playoffs for the first time in thirteen years.
1978 – The Patriots win their first AFC East title behind quarterback Steve Grogan.
1979 – In the first relatively “major” change of the overall Patriots uniform since the helmet change of 1961, the Patriots would don red pants for the first time with their white road uniforms, while continuing to wear white pants with their red home jerseys.
1981 – After only two seasons, they would scrap the red pants and only wear white pants, with both the red and white jerseys.
1984 – After three more years with just the white pants, they would again bring back the red pants for the road combo, and they would also return the shoulder stripes and replace the solid red socks with the stripes ones that they wore from 1967 through 1969. This was also their inaugural 25th anniversary season, so they would wear a commemorative patch to signify this.
1993 – The first really major redesign for the Patriots’ uniform. They debut the “Flying Elvis” logo, as it has been called. This logo is on a silver helmet, and on the sleeves of blue and white jersey, over silver/gray pants, with blue socks with a single red stripe at the bottom. The numbers on the jerseys are red, with blue and white trim, while there are white shoulder numbers on the blue jerseys and blue on the whites. The pants also have a wide vertical stripe that divides into three stripes, and the top half of it is blue and the bottom half red.
1994 – They modify slightly the numbers on the blue jersey, both main and shoulder numbers are not white with red trim. Also the vertical pants stripe has changed, replaced with a simple blue and red stripe. They also have a white-white throwback jersey for the NFL 75th Anniversary season, and all three uniform combos sport the NFL’s 75th Anniversary logo. Also the facemask is now red.
1995 – They modify the jerseys again, adding an unusual vertical striped field pattern to the jerseys, and the numbers are now italicized, red with blue shadow on the white jersey and white with red shadow on the blue jersey. Also the TV numbers move from the shoulder to the sleeve, and Flying Elvis moves to the shoulder. These uniforms would remain through the 1999 season.
2000 – Another redesign for the Patriots, they debut the uniforms that for the most part are what they are today. The blue is replaced by navy, and they wear navy with silver pants and navy socks primarily at home, and white jerseys with navy pants and white socks with three navy stripes primarily on the road. The Flying Elvis logo is smaller on the sleeve, and there is one large shoulder stripe, silver on the navy jersey, and navy on the white jersey. The TV numbers are still on the shoulder, but both them and the main uniform numbers are in a new original font.
2002 – The Patriots debut their current red-white “Pat the Patriot” throwback ensemble on Thanksgiving against the Lions, and twice they wear a new mono-navy combo, pairing the navy jersey with the navy pants. The Patriots also move into their new stadium, Gillette Stadium.
2003 – The Patriots debut their silver-gray third jerseys (which some people derogatorily call “dishwater gray”), they wear these twice in 2003 and will wear them occasionally through the 2007 season. In Super Bowl XXXVIII, they again wear the Super Bowl game patch, and the defeat the Carolina Panthers, winning their second Vince Lombardi trophy.
2004 – In the week one kickoff game against Indianapolis they wear a patch commemorating their Super Bowl XXXVIII championship, and in Super Bowl XXXIX, they again wear the Super Bowl game patch, as they defeat the Philadelphia Eagles and win their third title in four years.
2009 – The Patriots wore a 50th anniversary patch all year long, and like all original AFL teams they had a red version that they wore at home in the snow against
Tennessee the Houston Oilers and on the road in Miami, and a white road version that they wore at Denver. This ‘Pat the Patriot’ AFL legacy throwback, in both home-and-away red and white versions, featured red socks with the white and two blue stripes that were originally worn from 1961-1964. They also wore a special ‘International Series’ patch for their October 25 game against Tampa Bay in London.
2010 – The Patriots again wore the ‘Pat the Patriot’ throwbacks, only the red-over-white home version, but with the 1984-92 sock style like they wore in 2002, although they wore them against Minnesota on Halloween and on the road in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
2011 – Everything else was pretty much the same as in 2010, but the Patriots did add an ‘MHK’ memorial patch in honor of owner Bob Kraft’s wife who passed away before the season. They again wore the ‘Pat the Patriot’ throwback Week 5 against the Jets. The Patriots, like the Giants, of course will wear the Super Bowl game patch in Super Bowl XLVI tomorrow.
Fantastic job with that Rob! As you can see, the Pats have packed a lot of uniforms into their (relatively) short life span, although perhaps the best Patriots related uniform set (thanks, Rob) wasn’t even pictured. Tomorrow we’ll be back with Heather and her look back at the New York Football Giants. Stay tuned!
Tomorrow marks only the 11th ever meeting between these two teams (excluding the pre-season) and the teams are actually tied at five wins apiece in their overall series. The Giants won their first ever meeting, in 1970, shutting out the Patriots 16-0, and winning their most recent battle, this past season in Foxboro, 24-20. While there haven’t been many meetings, their most memorable occurred almost exactly 4 years ago, in Super Bowl XLII, and we all know that was a game for the ages. Let’s take a quick look back at the scores, and the uniforms, in those games:
Series tied 5-5
(Home Team in CAPS)
November 6, 2011 — Giants 24, PATRIOTS 20
February 3, 2008 — Giants 17, Patriots 14-x
December 29, 2007 — Patriots 38, GIANTS 35
October 12, 2003 — PATRIOTS 17, Giants 6
September 26, 1999 — PATRIOTS 16, Giants 14
December 21, 1996 — Patriots 23, GIANTS 22
December 30, 1990 — Giants 13, PATRIOTS 10
November 8, 1987 — GIANTS 17, Patriots 10
September 22, 1974 — Patriots 28, GIANTS 20-y
October 18, 1970 — Giants 16, PATRIOTS 0
y-game played in New Haven, Connecticut (Yale Bowl)
by Rick Pearson
Whoa, that’s gonna be curse…or maybe a blessing?…
And of course, your full-size.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
And so, lets begin:
We start with Tom Bierbaum, who graces us with a whole bunch of hand-drawn NFL concepts:
Here are some NFL concepts I came up with for some the teams that are switching uniforms next year or are rumored to be considering changes…
More details about these concepts (including discussion of the opposing teams) are posted on my journal.
Also a couple extra teams…
The Buffalo Bills in what seems like a natural color for Buffalo, brown, in an old-school Michigan-type scheme (no road version on this one)…
And finally, a couple I submitted earlier that haven’t run to date…
These bonus teams are discussed in more detail here.
Tenz (Tom Bierbaum)
Next up is David Robertson, who also has some hand drawn uniform concepts:
Here’s some drawings I have done over the past few years. Most are finished, some aren’t. I played football at Wittenberg in Ohio and had some ideas for some different designs than what we were wearing at the time, which is a Wisconsin look. I also did some random Ohio State tweaks. I put a decent amount of time into these and I hope you enjoy!
And finally, and I swear this was completely random, we have Brennan Keller, who also has some hand-drawn concepts:
I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and I really enjoy it! After some thought, I decided to come up with a uniform design of my own. Although I am not a Syracuse fan, I definitely like their colors! I used the “orange-blue design pattern” found on their current uniforms and tried to give the jersey a retro feel to create a nice clean throwback jersey. Enjoy.
Thanks for the great website,
Jim Vilk and Mike Engle approve of this set of uniform concepts. That’s all for today. Back with more tomorrow.
In Case You Missed It Yesterday: Paul posted this regarding the 2012 Curling Nationals, which segues into our next Uni Watch Gathering:
The 2012 USA Curling Nationals will take place later this month slightly outside of Philadelphia, and Phil and I have decided to head on down for the semi-finals and finals, which will take place on Feb. 17 and 18. Several people I know will be competing: Dean Gemmell, who gave me and Phil our first curling lessons, is part of the fifth-seeded team; Craig Brown, who was my skip two years ago when I participated in the House of Hearts bonspiel, is skipping the second-seeded team; and Tyler George, who invited me to come to House of Hearts in the first place, is skipping the top-seeded team. If they all make the semi-finals, I’m gonna have a hard time deciding who to root for. Anyway, if anyone wants to join us, tickets are very inexpensive.
After the finals, we’ll repair to the Devil’s Den for a Uni Watch gathering — hope all Philly-area readers will join us there on Feb. 18, 6:30pm.
Hope to see you there — the last time Paul & I roadtripped and he hosted a gathering (in Minnesota in 2010), we had a tremendous turnout. C’mon Philly, we’re counting on you!
OK, boys and girls — that will do it for today. I know all of you who aren’t football fans in general and Giants or Patriots fans in particular
haven’t even bothered to read this far are all waiting with baited breath for tomorrow, the Puppy/Kitten Bowl, the Big Game, and the Madonna half-time jubilee…so be ready. Tomorrow’s post should be even bigger than today. Thanks again to Rob Holecko for all his work on the Pats uniform history. Have a great Saturday.
“Nice article about Super Bowl L. The 12 year old in me hopes they keep the Roman numerals, just so years from now I can read Paul’s article about ‘Super Bowl LIX balls’.” — Keith Adelsberger