By Phil Hecken
The Big Day 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 has taken 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). Yesterday featured Rob Holecko, and if you missed that post, be sure to check it out now.
Today, I’m joined by resident Giants fan Heather L. Scott, who will take us for an amazing (and amazingly thorough) look at the uniform history of the New York Football Giants. Are you ready for some football?
Giants Uniform History
By Heather L. Scott
Originally named after the baseball club, the New York Giants were founded on August 1, 1925 when Timothy James Mara purchased the franchise for $500. They would later be renamed The New York Football Giants to avoid confusion. Although the Giants called the Polo Grounds at West 155th Street and 8th Avenue home, on October 4, 1925 they played their first game away in New Britain, CT against the All New Britain team. Despite a crushing 26-0 defeat, the NY Giants finished their inaugural season with an 8-4 record.
Still in its infancy, the NFL had not established a formal playoff format and so the team with the best record at the end of the season was considered the NFL Champion. The NY Giants took this title their third year in existence, 1927, finishing the season with an 11-1-1 record.
1929 saw an innovation incorporating raised felt cut outs into the sides of their light blue jerseys to help ball carriers hang on to the ball. This lasted only one season however and the team added numbers to the front and back in 1930.
It was not until 1933 when the NFL split into two divisions – Eastern and Western – that the first NFL Championship title game was played. On December 17, 1933 the NY Giants took on the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field in Chicago donning solid red jerseys with white numbers, tan pants and red, white and blue striped socks. Their leather helmets were also multi-colored with blue earflaps and red and blue skull coverings.
They would shed the solid look in 1934 opting to add white yokes to the red jersey with white numbers and a red yoke on the white jersey with blue numbers. The former is what they would wear when they hosted the Chicago Bears in what has become known as “The Sneakers Game.” Because of freezing rain the night before the game, the field froze. In the third quarter the Bears were leading 13-3 when the Giants changed their footwear to basketball sneakers with the idea that the sneakers would give them better traction. They proceeded to score 27 points in the fourth quarter to win 30-13.
A minor tweak came about in 1936. The NY Giants kept the white jersey with the red yoke and blue numbers, but made a jump from their tan pants to a darker blue-gray shade with red and white stripes down the back. They also changed the helmet to white with blue detailing.
1937 saw the introduction of the solid blue jersey with white numbers which would remain a staple for decades to come garnering the nickname “Big Blue.” This year also saw the return of the solid red jersey as well as the return of the tan pants and blue helmet with red accents.
They would continue this look into 1938 when Quarterback Ed Danowski, a former classmate of Wellington Mara’s at Fordam University, would lead the New York Football Giants to their second NFL Championship title against the Green Bay Packers and then again in the 1939 title match against the Chicago Bears.
A breakthrough in equipment came about with the Riddel plastic helmet in 1949 and, with the exception of logo additions and subsequent changes, the blue helmet remains the same today.
The red jerseys were replaced by white with red letters in 1953 and in 1954 red stripes were added to the sleeves. They would wear this white alternate in the first championship game to be played at Yankee Stadium in 1956. This win resulted in New York’s third title, defeating the Chicago Bears 46-7.
Two years later, on December 28, 1958, Big Blue would wear the jerseys for which they were nicknamed in what is known as the Greatest Game Ever Played – the NFL Championship game against the Baltimore Colts. Played again on the Giants’ home turf at Yankee Stadium, the game was the first championship game to be televised and Johnny Unitas is credited with the first Two-Minute Drill which tied the game in the last ninety seconds sending it to Sudden Death Overtime. To date, it is the only championship game to be decided in overtime.
1961 recorded the first year with images on helmets. The Giants sported its NY logo in white on the blue helmet. The Championship game between the Giants and the Green Bay Packers on New Year’s Eve marked the first contest to break the million dollar revenue mark.
Prior to 1965, players would throw the football in to the stands to celebrate a touchdown. This practice would become illegal during the 1965 off season and players would incur a fine if they continued with the “excessive” celebration. During a game in 1965, after the rule was put into practice, Homer Jones, a NY Giants Wide Out scored a touchdown. He wanted to celebrate, but did not want to get fined, so instead of throwing the ball into the crowd, he threw the ball into the ground, thus creating “the spike.”
Both the red socks and the red numbers on the white alternate were traded for blue in 1966. They also abandoned their gray pants for a more modern white with red and blue seams down the outside of the leg.
The 70’s proved to be the club’s most challenging decade. After a disappointing 2-2 start of the 1971 season, Quarterback Fran Tarkenton asked to be traded, only to go on to make three Super Bowl appearances with the Minnesota Vikings.
The change to the uniform in 1975 was probably one of the most unique. Lasting only one season while the team called The Yale Bowl home, the new NY logo replaced the solid NY and white was added to either side of the red stripe on the helmet. Blue and red stripes were added to the white jersey while worn with blue pants accented with a white and red stripe down the leg and blue striped socked completed the look. The blue jersey gained the addition of white and red stripes on the sleeve which was mimicked in their socks and the white pant had a more pronounced blue stripe flanked by red down the leg. Both sets of jerseys added a red outline to the numbers which would remain until the 2000 season.
As a result of moving team operations from New York to the Meadowlands in New Jersey, the NY logo was replaced with the GIANTS logo in 1976 and in 1977 names were added to backs. In 1979 the away uniform went white over white.
The omission of the white on the helmets in 1980 was the only change to these uniforms through the 80s although the 1986 season added a memorial patch for Carl “Spider” Lockhart to the jersey. The same season they went to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA to play the Denver Broncos in the team’s first Super Bowl where they wore their tried and true blue. The Beach Boys opened the game and, after setting a Super Bowl record of scoring 30 points in the second half, as Super Bowl MVP, Giants Quarterback Phil Simms, was the first player to announce that he was “going to Disney World.”
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew returned to the title game in Super Bowl XXV where they beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19 at Tampa Stadium in Tampa Bay, FL. This marked the first year the teams would wear Super Bowl XXV commemorative patches on the uniforms.
The New York Football Giants celebrated their 75th anniversary during the 1999 season with a commemorative patch and did the same to the left shoulder of the jersey in 2004 for their 80th anniversary.
The millennium brought change for the NY Giants when they returned to the NY logo and numbers on the helmet and returned to gray pants. The red numbers were outlined in blue on the white jersey and red detailing was added to the neckline of both jerseys.
2000 also marked the third time in fifteen years, the team would again go to the Super Bowl and would again wear blue against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL where Aerosmith was joined by Britany Spears, ‘N Sync, Nelly and Mary J. Blige to play the Halftime show. Ironically enough, Greg Gumbel was joined by former Giants Quarterback Phil Simms in the announcer’s booth for the game.
The Giants returned to the red throwbacks of the early 50s in the mid 2000s – in 2004 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and once in 2005, 2006 and 2007 against the Dallas Cowboys. They also added a memorial patch for Wellington T. Mara and P. Robert Tisch in 2005 and Gene Upshaw in 2007.
In 2007, the Giants traveled to Wembley Stadium in London, England on October 28th to play the Miami Dolphins in the first game of the International Series. Even with a rocky start to the season, they chipped away earning themselves a Wild Card spot where they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The following week the Giants took on division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, in the NFC Divisional Playoff game and won propelling them to the NFC Conference Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. After a stunning 23-20 win, the most unlikely team found themselves in Super Bowl XLII facing the undefeated New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. During the regular season, the Giants lost only one away game, the first game of the season at Texas Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. They won the contest wearing their road whites making them the first Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl in the expanded playoff format.
In 2009 Reebok introduced an innovation in sports apparel with the Seamless Compression Shirt. This breakthrough would provide ventilation, protection and ball security. Just as they did four years ago, the New York Football Giants will again be wearing their away whites today in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. This is the third playoff game this post season wearing their whites. Only in the Wild Card win over the Atlanta Falcons at home did they wear blue. The NY Giants went on to beat the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Division game and the nail-biting overtime win two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers to win the George Halas trophy in the NFC Championship game in white. Kelly Clarkson will sing the National Anthem and Madonna will perform during halftime. Today will also be the only day a Manning will take a snap in Indianapolis this season.
Eighty-six years and many ups and downs, one thing remained the same – the New York Football Giants are blue through and through.
Thanks Heather! Fantastic writeup. Are you ready for some football now?
And in case you’re not ready…
I made this little *video* featuring past matchups of the Pats & the G-men to get you in the mood for the big game today…
If you enjoyed that, give it a comment or a like. Thanks!
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Bit of a shorter Colorize This! this week, but we still have the G&G boys, so it’s all good.
We’ll start with Gary Chanko:
Pitchers and catchers arrival is only about two weeks away. Time to start getting it on your mind.
To help with that I colorized a submittal by Dan Cichalski from last Monday’s Uni Watch News Ticker, a great vintage photo of the 1904 University of Nebraska baseball team. I understand they where originally known as the Waldos, that later in the decade was changed to what we now know as the Cornhuskers. I could be wrong about this but the photo seems to confirm Waldos was accurate.
So okay, maybe this was not exactly true and real Nebraska team photo looks more like this.
These uniforms are, well, distinctive. The player in the second row [4th from the left] is Clarence Steen. He is modeling the full Waldo in this amazing shot. By 1915 Clarence had advanced to the Omaha Western League club. And finally, we have his fully authenticated autograph.
Next up is the second half of the dynamic duo, George Chilvers, who has two for us:
First of two e-mails today.
You’ve probably seen this already as I had it on my Facebook page. Wigan Athletic 1964/1965.
Yes I’d seen it George, but the fine folks who don’t follow you surely haven’t ;).
And here’s the second of two from George:
And my second e-mail.
This is Pele with the World Cup. But the addition is that I have attached also a Word file of how I do it in Photoshop. I don’t know how easy it is to get a Word document embedded (particularly such a big file), but let me know if there’s anything you would like me to do with it if you think it would be useful.
And what was that about a word doc? Oh — right — here’s the third and final E-mail which contains the secrets of George’s magic:
I’ve put this now on Lulu for free download here or if someone really wants a printed copy (all 9 pages of it, at a cost though) here (slightly different titles – same content).
Awesome George! Be sure to check that out — whether you want to colorize or not — a tremendous read and a great resource.
And finally, we have Koutetsu Kaigun, who has shared colorizations with us before, and is back again:
I do not know if you remember me, but I sent you a few colorizations last year. Life and a new job assignment got in the way of me continuing with the hobby until recently. I present, for your approval, a sport that is not covered much on this half of the planet…Kendou (剣道). Basically it is Japanese fencing. This is from World War II and the participants are two Imperial Japanese Navy sailors.
That’s all for the colorizations today. Check back next time for more.
by Rick Pearson
Well, now, some things are just downright Un-American…
And, as always, the Super Bowl super-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 Michael Edenzon, who thinks the Oregon Ducks need another uniform:
Next up is W. Ross Clites, with a bunch of MLB ideas:
Attached are some things I’ve been sitting on for awhile.
The first one is a Yankees logo. Let it be known I hate the Yankees very much. But if they are going to flaunt their brand in my face, I at least want a say on what I must see. The Gilligan’s Island version of the Uncle Sam hat and the “Yank Rees” script need a little tweaking for the 21st century. And someone with an artistic mind, please explain how the old logo’s bat disappears in the center of the hat.
The next batch is for the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. If I’m going to live here, I need to at least create a new identity for the Cards. Notice, I dirtied up the feathers on the road bird to match the navy hat (which, by the way, is the best executed home/road branding strategy in baseball). It also shows the female cardinal some love, since the males are the solid red “pretty” ones.
The most plain Jane uniforms in the modern Major Leagues needs some minor piping and a sleeve patch. Why not use the interlocking STL? It is underused for how good it is.
From a strictly aestheticism perspective, the Cardinals jerseys are compositionally a mess. Players have a cardinal on an angled baseball bat up by their necks and a script that is lower than nearly every other team in the league. That bird is hanging out there so far away from the bulk of the design; it is atrocious. Plus, the Coca-Cola “C” needs to go. I get it, people love the cursive “Cardinals” but it’s not like it has been their identity for 100 years. Why does the cursive “s” abruptly stop like that? I took a page out of the (now AL West) Astros playbook: give a non-cursive “s” a tail. I also dropped the center of gravity of the whole thing down a tad.
Lastly, I come to my beloved Cleveland Indians. I’ve had this concept in play for years; so much so that many front office guys in Cleveland know this proposal quite well. Here is a brief piece of the letter I wrote to them awhile back:
As you will notice the jersey colors shift so that red has now become [then] Cavs wine with gold accents. My first proposal is to unify Cleveland under a common palette. My second alteration proposal is simple. It is the reason there are unhappy Native Americans throughout the world still flooding forums and probably also your mailbox daily. It is the reason I have to maneuver around protesters at the Home Opener each season. I love Chief Wahoo, do not get me wrong. I was devastated when he shrunk on the caps after the 2002 season. At the same time, I agree that he needs an overhaul. The ’48 Wahoo is far too over-the-top with its politically incorrect stereotypical features, but at least the skin color is not red. The Cavs secondary color makes a nice color for a new Wahoo, updated to maintain his playful smile and eyes that fans are accustomed to (not making him stern-looking like the Washington Redskins). Yet, the update does offer a more distinguished, realistic Native American. We have to remember the Indians name should always honor the culture, not mock it.
We close today with Alexander Tsipis, who gets an “A” for “effort” in my book…but that BFBS…ugh:
This is my first design and I don’t have photo shop or whatever people use to get those cool templates. I had to use Office and use the free draw tool so its not very good.
The helmets for this Lions alt would be the helmet that you made.
Love your site,
Wayland High School
That is it for this week’s tweak show. Back with more next time.
In Case You Missed It Friday: 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!
On Friday, Paul put this at the bottom of that day’s post:
As for Sunday, I’ll be watching the game with Phil, and at some point we’ll raise a glass to our late fathers, both of whom were big Giants fans and would have loved to see their favorite team playing for another title. Whatever your Sunday plans are, enjoy the game, and don’t forget to watch the Puppy Bowl during halftime. Go Big Blue!
A bit earlier in the week, Paul asked me if I’d like watch the game with him — I figured, ‘geez, you’re not going to some big party or some ESPN thing or some other gig,’ but I really appreciated the offer and I accepted.
When I was a kid, and then once I got lot older I always watched the playoffs (even when the Giants weren’t in them) with my dad. We celebrated SB XXI & SB XXV together, missed the one Giants loss to the Ravens (I was married at the time), and then again saw the Giants knock off the
19-0 Patriots in 2008. I remember the day like it was yesterday, and it was a very warm day in New York — we actually went out golfing that morning, we were both kind of nervous and needing to bide time till the game. It was one of the greatest nights for Giants fans and a particularly strong bonding moment for us. He got sick with West Nile Virus later that year and was never the same.
We watched the part of the last Super Bowl (Packers versus Steelers) in his hospital room, but I had to leave before the half because I had to “cover” the game for a sports reporting class. I never thought that would be the last football game I’d ever see with him.
Like Paul mentioned earlier this summer in his very touching eulogy to my father, Paul and his pop, and I and my dad, had hoped to get to one Mets game all together. We probably would have gone to a Giants game as well, had the opportunity presented itself — unfortunately, that never happened either. So I echo Paul’s thoughts in lifting a glass to our fathers today. I know they’ll be watching from ‘on high’ as we cheer Big Blue on. Miss ya pop.
Everyone enjoy the Big Game (or not, I know there are some who can’t stand the spectacle, or who just aren’t into football, or whatever) today. But just remember, it is just a game — the sun will still rise in the East and life will go on.
Have a great day.
“Jim Vilk most definitely approves. Great stuff, guys!” — Jim Vilk