By Phil Hecken
If you’ve been following Uni Watch for any amount of time, you know that on the weekends I enjoy highlighting the many research projects undertaken by UW readers, many of which are the first (and sometimes only) such documentation of important uniform history on the interwebs. On May 8th of last year, the “launch” of the Gridiron Uniform Database was first detailed on Uni Watch. The project is the remarkable collaboration of Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer, and Rob Holecko.
We began with Bill’s Story, continued with Tim’s Story, and concluded with a third part in which Tim & Bill got together with Rob to take the GUD to its own home on the net. Many of you read and enjoy the GUD (database and blog), and it is still the go-to source for pro football uniform history.
But as with all historians, Tim & Bill were not satisfied. It had been a long-held belief, as explained below, that the American Football League, which began as competition to the NFL in 1960, featured teams with nameplates (or “Name on Back – NOB”) from the outset (or at least from the beginning of the AFL’s regular season). It turns out that this is not the case — in fact, it’s not just an isolated incidence here or there, but was in fact a league-wide phenomenon.
And so, I turn this over to Tim Brulia and Bill Schaefer, who bring us yet another wonderfully researched dissertation on the AFL NOB:
A little more than a month ago, we at the Gridiron Uniform Database (GUD) blogged about a commonly mis-held notion by most pro football fans and historians regarding the American Football League’s team uniforms. Specifically, that the AFL eight charter teams kicked off in 1960 mimicking the innovation earlier that season of baseball’s Chicago White Sox by placing the players’ names on the backs (NOBs) of their jerseys just above the numbers.
Our blog stated that this was definitely NOT the case. We cited and showed several examples of where one or both teams did not have NOBs in game action. We were certain of a few teams that would eventually added the NOBs during the course of the season, but we weren’t sure exactly when the teams in question added the NOBs. Five or so weeks of intensive digging followed, first by Bill, then a little later by Tim. After discussing our findings with one another, we at the GUD believe we can can share with all of the Uni Watch faithful and our GUD followers, for the first time anywhere (as far as we know), a full chronicle, first by team and then by week, of the evolution of the placement of NOB’s during the course of the 1960 AFL season.
First off, are the three teams who stayed consistent for the entire season.
The Los Angeles Chargers wore NOB’s for the entire 1960 season on both sets (white and blue) of jerseys.
Now, the four teams that began the season with no NOB’s, but added them during the 1960 season, with the week the nameplates were added:
Buffalo Bills: The Bills opened the season with nameless jerseys for the first six weeks. The NOB blue jerseys debuted with a home game against the Oakland Raiders on October 23rd. They would not break out their NOB white away jerseys for another three weeks until their next road game at Oakland (well, against Oakland at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco!) on November 13th.
Dallas Texans: Lamar Hunt’s Texans went the first seven weeks of the season nameless. After a bye for week 7, the Texans started their NOB era with a road game in Denver on October 30th, confirmed by a photo found in the Library of Congress microfilm collection of the Denver Post. After another white NOB jersey tilt in Buffalo for week 9, the Texans wore red NOB’s for the first time on November 13 in the Cotton Bowl against the Broncos.
Houston Oilers: This was the one team that Bill and Tim had a hard time firming the handle on. After some discussion, it was determined that the Oilers started the NOB era with their home game at Jeppesen Stadium in Week 3 against the Raiders. The Oilers wouldn’t see the NOB’s on their white jerseys until four weeks later, in week 7 for their next road matchup at the Polo Grounds against the Titans. Part of the reason for Tim’s doubts may have been the difficulty in seeing the plain white lettering on the very light toned columbia blue jerseys as imaged in the newspapers of the day.
Oakland Raiders: The pre-Al Davis Raiders looked very much like the NFL’s Bears. Plain dark helmets, rounded numberals, triple stripes on the sleeves and socks. But that would change in a big way starting in Week 6 when Oakland broke out FULL NOB’s for their October 16th matchup with the Patriots. The names on the back didn’t just say “FLORES” or “SMITH” or “OTTO”, but instead said “TOM FLORES”, “JETSTREAM SMITH” and “JIM OTTO.” Oddly enough, the Raiders would go nameless with the white jerseys for the next two weeks before finally wearing the full NOB treatment in whites for their Friday night October 4th game in Boston.
Finally, the Boston Patriots did something rather odd. For the full season, the Patriots had some players with NOB’s and some players with no NOB’s for all 14 season games!! Really?? True. A very odd arrangement. Tim’s brother-in-law Shawn, a football fanatic and uniform follower, offered up what we think is the best (though unconfirmed) explanation. It is possible that the Pats made the NOB somewhat of a badge of honor by only affixing the nameplate on the 22 starters on offense and defense for the game. The backups would go nameless. Whatever the case, the with/without NOB story is definitely the case.
So, the following is a chronology by week on who wore NOB’s for 1960 (the Patriots will count as NOB’s with a *):
|Week||Teams with Name On Back|
|Week 1||Chargers, Patriots*|
|Week 2||Chargers, Patriots*|
|Week 3||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers|
|Week 4||Chargers, (Patriots* & Oilers bye)|
|Week 5||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers|
|Week 6||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Raiders|
|Week 7||Patriots*, Oilers, Bills (Chargers bye)|
|Week 8||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Bills, Texans|
|Week 9||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Raiders, Bills, Texans|
|Week 10||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Raiders, Bills, Texans|
|Week 11||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Bills, Texans (Raiders bye)|
|Week 12||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Raiders, Bills, Texans|
|Week 13||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Raiders, Bills, Texans|
|Week 14||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Raiders, Bills, Texans|
|Week 15||Chargers, Patriots*, Oilers, Raiders, Bills, Texans|
Hopefully, this puts to bed once and for all the “historical” claims that the AFL always had names on the back of the players’ jerseys. From 1961 through 1969, that was the case for all regular season and playoff games. As an interesting sidenote, the AFL All-Star Game, played after each season from 1962 through 1970, ironically never had the All-Stars jerseys with nameplates!
We believe the above to be as accurate as possible. However, if you might find a reason to dispute our findings, please do not hesitate to contact us at GUD, or via Paul or Phil here at Uni Watch. We take this opportunity to thank UW for this report and their enduring support of the GUD.
Thanks, Tim & Bill. All of us in the entire Uni Watch community are grateful for your efforts and those of Rob (and of course, Ricko as well) to bring us up to speed on the history of the American Football League.
by Rick Pearson
Careful, might be one of those “gateway” things…
Click to enlarge
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 Mike Engle, with a soccer patch (!), done in his best Vilkian style:
Did this way back in June 2010, but don’t think I ever sent it in! But the renewed chatter over how lame the US Soccer crest is (I can’t disagree) inspired me to send this to you.
Inspiration: The star-spangled crest is lame, but a star-spangled soccer ball is awesome! (Thank you, UEFA Champions League, for that idea.) So once I had a blue ball with white stars, I just had to use a red-and-white-hooped snake to complete the flag. (The snake alludes to the “Don’t Tread on Me” jerseys, which drew from the “Don’t Tread on Me” nautical flag.)
Next up is Lee Traylor, who sent this to Paul before the “Rename” contest and the Nike unveilings. I debated whether or not to run it, but because it was sent in before there were any “prohibitions” (and it’s a really well-done photoshop)…here it is:
Sent the link to my PhotoShop of RGIII in a Redskins uniform earlier and it got me thinking: with the ‘Skins trading up to get RGIII and Nike taking over equipment rights next year, any chance Washington makes some changes?
A former RGIII fan and current Cowboys fan,
Closing down the show is Joe Bozek, with a Bills concept:
For whatever reason, I also suffer from the uniform syndrome. This is my Buffalo Bills concept created before our current ones were released.
*Our throwback logo is featured on the collar
*”Buffalo” is Written across the chest
Keep up the good work.
-Joe in Buffalo
That’s it for today. Back tomorrow with more.
MoVi’s NC2A 5 & 1
Everyone’s favorite uni critic, the one and only Mothervilker, loves his college basketball almost more than he loves life itself.
Sadly, now, Jumpin Jimmer will be in a catatonic coma until the summer, when he WILL resume his 5 & 1 duties for the beautiful game…and then again in the fall (we can only hope) for amateur football.
Last time, the Vilkman bringeth no honorable mentions, so who knows if he’ll give us just five good games today…or if he’ll throw some of the lesser matchups the proverbial bone. But enough of my yakkin… here’s Champervilker:
Only seven games, from March 24th to April 2nd. That means one matchup will be left in limbo.
If you’re curious, it’s Baylor/Kentucky — Not good enough to be named Honorable Mention…it’s just…there.
However, there ARE Honorable Mentions from the women’s tourney, including one for the person who designed the Final Four floor. — The Nuggets should just keep that floor, eh?
And to UConn/Notre Dame — The Irish women’s uni looks a lot more Irish than the men’s. And speaking of men…
5. Louisville/Kentucky — The Wildcats salvaged this game from “&1” infamy, too.
4. Kansas/Kentucky — Seen enough Kentucky yet?
And the bad one: Florida/Louisville — Some white outlining would save the Gators’ unis, while the Cards need a whole bunch of white-out.
The big Best-Of-The-Tourney List is tomorrow. See you then!
How great was that? OK, well, it was still good, right? No? I kid, I kid. Thanks to the Zip-kid. He’ll be back tomorrow…after hiding his eggs.
Paul covered most of the new MLB stuff in yesterday’s post, but a couple things caught my eye or were brought up in yesterday’s comments:
• As promised, the O’s ditched their spring training black crown/orange brim helmet for their regular season tri-color beauties, but they didn’t quite match their even more beautiful earlier iteration.
• Just what we need — and something Paul will probably avoid watching at all costs — the Rockies are introducing Purple Mondays. Better than Black Mondays, I guess.
• I’m not really into helmets (football or baseball) but a few people have noticed the new, sleeker s100’s.
• So is this (yes, that’s from spring training, but still…)
• Here’s a rare sight: green ivy at Wrigley for Opening Day.
• Last NL opener for the Astros. Maybe they’ll get the first Interplague game next year — hopefully against the Crew.
• Got an e-mail from reader Diego Bauzá, who made a neat observation:
So this year, baseball had four opening days, and it seems that each stadium wanted to advertise it’s own first day of the season differently.
Has MLB always done this? I’m sorry for the quality of the Angels picture, I had to take it off my tv.
Good spot, although shortly after sending that E-mail, Diego noted that Yankees logo is from not 2012, since they opened in Tampa yesterday. Be interesting to see what they use when they open up NYS next week.
• Great video showing the difference between Cubs and Chisox fans (and the best pizza IS in New Yawk):
OK, everyone — that’s it for today. Thanks to Tim & Bill for the fantastic research on the early AFL. Everyone enjoy the first weekend of the greatest sport ever invented, and enjoy the Masters, too. For all those who celebrate — Happy Passover & Happy Easter. Catch you tomorrow…
Yeah, Phil. On June 1, the erstwhile Broadway Connie will assume duties as the new boss of a DC think tank. The whole damn family is going, too.
I’m enduringly fond of the Mets (feel better?), but I like to root for local clubs whenever possible. Nats look good, that W is sweet, and I really like ballparks convenient to mass-transit. Which is just one of many reasons to continue my profound dislike for all things having to do with the local NFL franchise with the insulting aboriginal cognomen.
— Conn Nugent