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October 14, 2018

NFL 1961 season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Green Bay Packers.

Filed under: NFL>1961 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 8:26 am

nfl_1961_map-with-helmets_1961-standings_offensive-stats-leaders_home-jerseys_green-bay-packers-champs_post_d_.gif
NFL 1961 season, map with helmets/jerseys and final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Green Bay Packers.




By Bill Turianski on 14 October 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1961 NFL season
-1961 NFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1961 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-Article on Green Bay Packers’ “Heisman/Wisconsin” logo used in late -1950s/early-1960s, The Return of an Old Friend (by Chance Michaels at packersuniforms.blogspot.com from Sept 2010).

    1961 NFL Championship Game: the Green Bay Packers demolish the New York Giants 37-0.
    (The win started the Packers’ unequaled run of 5 NFL titles in 7 years.)

-Birth of a dynasty 1961 Packers would not be denied (by Martin Hendricks on Oct 5 2011 at Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

green-bay-packers_1961-nfl-champs_packers-beat-giants_37-0_new-city-field_vince-lombardi_paul-hornung_jim-taylor_ron-kramer_ray-nitschke_willie-davis_bart-starr_k_.gif

Photo and Image credits above -
1961 NFL title game ticket, from sports.ha.com. New City Field was covered with one foot of hay, to protect the turf from the cold, for a whole month prior to the 1961 NFL Championship Game, photos from Green Bay Press-Gazette Archive via packerville.blogspot.com. Packers TE Ron Kramer scores a TD mid-way through the 2nd Q (21-0), photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Packers FB Jim Taylor on a run, screenshot from pinterest.com via packersnews.com [link broken]. Packers HB/K Paul Hornung on a run, photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated at si.com. Packers MLB Ray Nitschke sacks Giants QB Y.A. Tittle, photo by Robert Riger at gettyimages.com. Packers DE Willie Davis sacks Y.A. Tittle, photo by Green Bay Press-Gazette at greenbaypressgazette.com. After the final whistle, Packers players carry their head coach, Vince Lombardi, off the field, photo by Green Bay Press-Gazette via lohud.com. Packers fans tear down the goal posts, photo by AP via archive.jsonline.com. Vince Lombardi with his 3 main offensive threats in 1961 (L-R): FB Jim Taylor, HB/K Paul Hornung, QB Bart Starr [photo from Dec 3 1961 after clinching the '61 NFL West], photo unattributed at reddit.com/r/OldSchoolCool. “Heisman/Wisconsin” logo used by Packers in late-1950s/early-1960s, packersuniforms.blogspot.com.

1961 Green Bay Packers: 6 All-Pro players; plus 9 from the ’61 Packers were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1961 AP, 1st team.
-Paul Hornung (HB/K): 1961 All-Pro (RB), and 1961 MVP [AP]; Hornung was inducted to the HoF in 1986.
-Jim Ringo: 1961 All-Pro (C); Ringo was inducted to the HoF in 1981.
-Bill Forester: 1961 All-Pro (LB).
-Henry Jordan: 1961 All-Pro (DT).
-Fuzzy Thurston: 1961 All-Pro (G).
-Jesse Whittenton: 1961 All-Pro (CB).
-Jim Taylor (FB); Taylor was inducted into the HoF in 1976.
-Bart Starr (QB); Starr was inducted into the HoF in 1977.
-Forrest Gregg (T); Gregg was inducted into the HoF in 1977.
-Herb Adderley (CB/KR); Adderley was inducted into the HoF in 1980.
-Ray Nitschke (LB); Nitschke was inducted into the HoF in 1981.
-Willie Davis (DE); Davis was inducted into the HoF in 1981.
-Vince Lombardi (Head coach of the Packers from 1959-67). Lombardi was inducted into the HoF in 1971.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1961 NFL…
Below: In 1961, four NFL teams introduced helmet-logos (Vikings, Packers, Lions, Giants).
nfl_1961_4-new-helmet-logos_vikings_packers_lions_giants_e_.gif
1961 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database.
-Expansion team (1961 Minnesota Vikings): the Vikings were so named to reflect the large Scandinavian population in the state of Minnesota. Since their inception in 1961, the Vikings have always worn a purple helmet with viking-horns on each side, with a bit of yellow trim at the base of the viking-horn. Unfortunately, this is a miss-representation of history, because viking invaders (Norsemen) never wore horned helmets. Just think for a moment how impractical and downright dangerous a horned helmet would be to wear into battle: you would always be snagging the horns on things, to say nothing about how it would throw your balance off. The fact is, the only time Norsemen wore horned helmets in battle was in the theatrical productions of Wagner operas first staged in the late Nineteenth century. ‘When Wagner staged his “Der Ring des Nibelungen” opera cycle in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.’ {-quote from history.com/news/did-vikings-really-wear-horned-helmets.} So the Minnesota Vikings helmet-logo is based on an historical myth, because vikings never wore horned helmets, at all, when they were busy invading, sacking and pillaging back in the 8th through 11th centuries.

-In 1961, the Green Bay Packers introduced their helmet-logo…‘The oval “G” logo was added in 1961 when [Vince] Lombardi asked Packers equipment manager Gerald ‘Dad’ Braisher to design a logo. Braisher tasked his assistant, St. Norbert College art student John Gordon. Satisfied with a football-shaped letter “G”, the pair presented it to Lombardi, who then approved the addition.’ {-from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bay_Packers#Logo.} The football-shaped-letter-G helmet-logo remains, though in 1970, the football-shaped-G became more oval-shaped (less pointed at the ends; see below).
Below: the Packers’ helmet-logo was introduced in 1961. In 1970, the Packers’ logo became more oval-shaped…
green-bay-packers_1969_1970_helmet-logo-made-oval-shaped_c_.gif

-In 1961, the Detroit Lions introduced their helmet-logo, of a blue rampant lion in silhouette. The blue-rampant-lion helmet-logo remains, and since 2003, the rampant-lion has had detailing: a thin black outline was added in 2002, and interior details in white were added in 2009.

Below: the Lions’ helmet-logo was introduced in 1961. It remains essentially the same, w/ outline added in 1970, and detailing added in the 2000s…
detroit-lions_1961_helmet-logo_rampant-lion_1970_2003_2009_c_.gif

-In 1961, the New York Giants introduced their helmet-logo, of their city’s initials, NY, in a bold lower-case sans-serif font, with the tail of the y stretched to fit under the n-y, thus forming a square-block shape. The block-shaped-lowercase-N-Y helmet-logo was dropped following the 1974 season, but was re-introduced in 2000.

Below: the NY Giants’ lowercase-NY helmet-logo was introduced in 1962; it remained for 14 years & was re-introduced in 2000…
new-york-giants_1961_helmet-logo_lower-case-ny-logo_1975_1976_2000_b_.gif"

___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Packers players on map page,
Reproduction of early-1960s Packers helmet, from ebay.com. Early-1960s Packers pennant, from sports.mearsonlineauctions.com. Bart Starr [photo circa 1964], photo unattributed at citelighter.com. Bart Starr and Paul Hornung [photo from 1962], photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated at si.com/nfl/photos.Jim Ringo [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at ebay via thepostgame.com. Forrest Gregg [photo circa 1964], photo unattributed at packers.com. Fuzzy Thurston and Paul Hornung [photo circa 1964], photo unattributed at valpoathletics.com.
Henry Jordan and Willie Davis [photo circa 1962], photo Vernon Biever at nfl.com via pinterest.com. Bill Forester [1963 Topps trading card], from footballcardgallery.com. Ray Nitschke [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at dailydsports.com/ray-nitschke. Herb Adderley [photo from 1961 or '62], photo unattributed at ebay.com via pinterest.com. Jesse Whittenton [photo from 1960], photo unattributed at packers.com. Jim Taylor [photo from 1961], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Max McGee [photo from 1961], photo by Marvin E. Newman at gettyimages.com.
Willie Wood

Offensive stats leaders on map page,
Bill Wade (Bears) [photo from 1961], photo by Ray Gora/Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com. Sonny Jurgensen (Eagles) [photo from 1963], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Jim Brown (Browns) [photo from 1961], photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated at si.com/nfl/photos/jim-brown-rare-photos. Jim Taylor (Packers) [photo from 1962], photo by Green Bay Press-Gazette via packershistory.net. Tommy McDonald (Eagles) [photo from 1960], photo unattributed at thenumerati.net.

-Blank map by anonymous US federal government employee, at File:StatesU.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1961 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

September 24, 2018

American Football League: 1960 AFL season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Houston Oilers. /+ Chart of Average Attendance, NFL vs. AFL (the 10 years they were in competition: 1960-69), including NFL/AFL/Super Bowl title-winners in the 1960s.

afl_1960_1st-season_map_w-final-standings_o-stats-leaders_champions-houston-oilers_post_m_.gif
American Football League: 1960 AFL season, map with helmets/jerseys and final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Houston Oilers




By Bill Turianski on 24 September 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1960 AFL season
-1960 AFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1960 AFL season (pro-football-reference.com).

The map… The map shows the 8 teams in the inaugural season of the American Football League (IV) (1960). At the lower-right of the map-page are the final standings of the 1960 AFL, along with home jerseys and helmets of the 8 AFL teams of 1960. At the bottom-right corner are the attendance figures for the 1960 AFL. The map lists all 8 original venues of the 8 charter members of the AFL, and it shows every location that the 8 original AFL teams have played in (1960-69 in AFL, 1970-2018 in NFL). At the upper-right of the map-page are standout players for the champions, the 1960 Houston Oilers. Below that are 1960 AFL offensive leaders in the following categories: Passing Yardage, Frank Tripucka, Denver Broncos. QB Rating, Tom Flores, Oakland Raiders. TD Passes, Al Dorow, New York Titans. Rushing Yardage and Yards from Scrimmage, Abner Haynes, Dallas Texans. Receiving Yards, Bill Groman, Houston Oilers. Total TDs, Art Powell, New York Titans.

The AFL versus the NFL…
In the late 1950s, just as the NFL was becoming a vastly popular sporting entertainment to millions of Americans, here is what the 12-team NFL thought about expansion, as represented by a quote from the Washington owner George Preston Marshall: “There is no excuse for expansion in the National Football League. We furnish football now, for free, through television. Expansion can only weaken the personnel.” The AFL proved this to be a fallacy. Principal founder of the AFL Lamar Hunt, co-founder Bud Adams, the other AFL owners, and all the players who played in the AFL, would prove that there was plenty of room for more pro football teams in America.

In 1960, the AFL started with 8 teams, and the eight ownership groups were dubbed “the Foolish Club”.
To a man, the NFL front office, as well as the front offices of all the 12 established NFL teams, were quite sure the AFL would soon be a bust. But by the mid-1960s, the NFL had realized that the AFL was for real. By the close of the 1965 season, the American Football League, after 6 seasons, had basically become a significant rival to the NFL. The AFL had increased its attendance remarkably. The AFL went from averaging 16 K per game in their first season in 1960, to averaging 31 K per game five years later in 1965. The AFL’s television contract with NBC, and the several major stadiums being built for AFL teams, were indications that in the late 1965/early 1966 time period, the AFL was starting to look like it was a success, a success that could only threaten the NFL. And the AFL was planning on expansion [the Miami Dolphins joined the AFL in 1966 and the Cincinnati Bengals became the 10th AFL team in 1968].

The AFL had a ten-year battle with the NFL that saw the AFL gradually gain more popularity, as the decade of the 1960s wore on. The first indication that the new AFL might be able to challenge the NFL was when the Houston Oilers signed 1959 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon [of LSU], despite the fact that the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams had signed Cannon two months earlier (the Oilers owner Bud Adams had offered Cannon $3,000 more per season plus a Cadillac). In June 1960, the Oilers’ record-breaking $110,000 contract with Cannon was upheld in court, and the AFL had poached the biggest prospect from out of the hands of the NFL. (The speedy Cannon went on to be the MVP of the 1960 AFL Championship Game {see illustration at the end of this post}.)

A major way in which the AFL was able grab the attention of sports fans was its style of play.
While the NFL of this era centered on the stodgy running game, the AFL was based on the decidedly more exciting passing game, throwing downfield play after play. Visionary head coach Sid Gillman of the Chargers introduced the vertical offense, stretching the football field by throwing deep downfield passes, instead of short passes. Gillman and his proteges were instrumental in making football into the modern game that it is today. But it wasn’t just the Chargers that were emphasizing the passing game in the new AFL: most teams there were doing it. And the league’s first champions, the Houston Oilers, under head coach Lou Rymkus, won titles with an aggressive passing game.

Rejected NFL QB George Blanda came out of retirement to join the Houston Oilers as a 33-year-old.
Blanda had been QB/K for the Chicago Bears from 1950-58, but he retired when he learned that George Halas intended to demote him to only placekicking duties. So when the AFL got started up, Blanda realized he could get another shot as a starting QB. And so, in 1960 and ’61, Blanda led the Houston Oilers to the first two AFL titles, setting a TD passing record that stood for 23 years. Blanda threw 36 TD passes in 1961. (That record was matched by YA Tittle of the NFL’s New York Giants two years later in 1963, and was not beaten until the NFL added 2 games to the season, and was first surpassed by Dan Marino in 1984; and is now held by Tom Brady with 50 TD passes.) One of Blanda’s main targets as he led the Oilers to those two consecutive AFL titles was Charlie Hennigan. Hennigan was a WR who had played for a small college in Louisiana (Northwestern State), and he had never gotten a chance in the NFL. He was working as a high school football coach and Biology teacher before the AFL came along. In 1961, Hennigan had 12 TD Receptions and his 1,746 yards receiving that season was a pro football record that stood for 34 years.

So much for the idea that more pro football teams circa 1960 would result in a weaker on-field product. Here were two guys – Blanda and Hennigan – who were shut out of the NFL, but who went on to glory in the new AFL, setting records that stood for decades. And again, with the record Blanda set in 1961 (as a 34-year-old), we’re talking about a record set for TD passes, one of the most exciting plays in pro sports. Here was the AFL in a nutshell: more chances for the players, and more excitement for the fans.

Average Attendance, NFL vs. AFL (the 10 years they were in competition: 1960-69); plus NFL/AFL/Super Bowl title-winners in the 1960s…
afl_vs_nfl_attendance_1960-69_title-winners_super-bowl_i-iv_winners_chart_e_.gif
Source for attendance figures: pdf at ProFootballResearchers.org [Coffin Corner newsletter, Sept 1991, by Bob Carroll], profootballresearchers.org/archives/Website_Files/Coffin_Corner/13-04-430.pdf. Helmet illustrations from gridiron-uniforms.com.

And so in the summer of 1966, the NFL headed off the threat of a mutually destructive competition between the two leagues, and negotiated a merger with the AFL. This merger created the Super Bowl in the 1967 season, setting the stage for a full AFL/NFL merger in 1970.

In 1959 there were 12 NFL teams, and absolutely no plans for expansion, despite its ever-growing popularity. And, it must be added, despite the fact that there were a whole host of cities shut out of the NFL and clamoring for expansion teams. In 1970, thanks to the success of the AFL, there were 26 NFL teams…and more to come.

In a ten-year-span, the AFL cut the crowd-size difference between the two leagues by almost ten thousand per game (9.8 K). By 1969, 7 of the 10 AFL teams were drawing over 40-K-per-game (NY Jets at 63 K, Oakland Raiders at 53 K, Kansas City Chiefs at 49 K, Denver Broncos at 46 K, San Diego Chargers at 46 K, Houston Oilers at 44 K, Buffalo Bills at 40 K). The AFL went from drawing a quasi-bush league 16.5-K-per-game in their first season, to drawing a very respectable 40.6-K-per-game in their final season of 1969. That was an increase of over 24,000 per game.
(Source: THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE ATTENDANCE, 1960-69 [pdf].)

And crucially, by the 1968 and 1969 seasons, the AFL became legitimate where it mattered the most…on the field.
In the end, the AFL proved to be the equal of the NFL by the very fact that the last two match-ups between an AFL team and an NFL team ended with the AFL team being the victor. In the 1968 season, the AFL’s New York Jets shocked the sporting world by beating the favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. And in the 1969 season, the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs upended the favored Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

So in 1970, all 10 teams of the AFL joined the NFL.
This is the only time in the 140-plus-year history of major league sports in the United States and Canada that a competing pro league was fully absorbed into the established pro league, on an equal basis, with no strings attached. Every other such major-leagues-merger was done piecemeal, where the established league got to pick and choose from the rival-league’s roster of teams, and then dictate the terms. Such as with the 8 American Association teams that joined the National League between 1887 to 1892. And such as with the 3 AAFC teams that joined the NFL in 1950. And as with the 4 ABA teams that joined the NBA in 1976. And as with the 4 WHA teams that joined the NHL in 1979. The NFL, circa the late 1950s, had bolted the door on cities like Houston and Boston and Denver and Buffalo and Oakland (and San Diego and Kansas City and Miami). But a decade later, they had to let the whole lot of them in.

57 minute video: Rebels with a Cause: the Story of the American Football League (video uploaded by FWP Film Network at youtube.com).

1960: original AFL teams from the Northeast (Boston Patriots, New York Titans, Buffalo Bills). [Boston Patriots changed name to New England Patriots in 1971; New York Titans changed name to New York Jets in 1963]. Shown on the map-segment below are all the venue-locations of the Patriots franchise, the Bills franchise, and the Titans/Jets franchise (1960-2018).
Original helmets, and primary logos, shown. With all locations the teams have played in (1960-2018).
afl-1960_boston-patriots_ny-titans_buffalo-bills_map_northeastern-usa_c_.gif

1960: original AFL teams from the Southwest (Houston Oilers, Dallas Texans [II]) [Houston Oilers (1960-96) moved to Memphis, TN (1997), and then to Nashville, TN (1998) and became the Tennessee Titans (1999); Dallas Texans (1960-62) moved to Kansas City, MO in 1963, and became the Kansas City Chiefs.].
Original helmets, and primary logos, shown. Shown on the map-segment below are all the venue-locations of the Texans/Chiefs franchise, and the Oilers/Titans franchise (1960-2018).
afl-1960_houston-oilers_dallas-texans_map_southwest-usa_c_.gif

1960: original AFL team from the Mountain West (Denver Broncos).
Original helmet, and primary logo, shown.
afl-1960_denver-broncos_map_mountain-west-usa_c_.gif

1960: original AFL teams from the West Coast (Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders) [Los Angeles Chargers (1960) moved to San Diego in 1961 (San Diego Chargers 1961-2016), and then moved back to Los Angeles in 2016; Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982 (Los Angeles Raiders 1982-94), and then moved back to Oakland in 1995]. Original helmets, and primary logos, shown. Shown on the map-segment below are all the venue-locations of the Chargers franchise, and the Raiders franchise (1960-2018).
afl-1960_los-angeles-chargers_oakland-raiders_map_west-coast-usa_d_.gif

    Houston Oilers, the 1960 AFL champions…

houston-oilers_1960_afl-champions_jeppesen-stadium_oilers-24_chargers-16_george-blanda_billy-cannon_k_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Chargers and Oilers 1960 helmets/jerseys by gridiron-uniforms.com/[1960 AFL title game]. George Blanda (close-up shot) screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. George Blanda takes a snap in 1960 AFL title game, photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com/2010/01/1961-oilers-defeat-chargers-for-first-[afl-title-game]. Billy Cannon, photo unattributed at fanbase.com. Blanda to Cannon for 88-yrad-TD, 3 screenshots from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. Oilers 1960 uniform, illustration by Gridiron Uniforms Database: gridiron-uniforms.com/[Seasons/1960/AFL/Oilers]. Shot from Oiler 1961 training camp, photo by NFL/Getty Images via smithsonianmag.com/history/the-american-football-leagues-foolish-club.

___
Houston Oilers, on map page
Screenshot of AFL founders, Hunt and Adams, from video uploaded by Rusty Brewer at youtube.com.
Oilers players on bench [photo circa 1961], screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. Reproduction of 1960-61 Houston Oilers helmet, photo from supersportscenter.com. George Blanda [image from 1962], screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. George Blanda [photo circa 1961], photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com. Billy Cannon [circa 1960 photo, later colorized by John Turney], unattributed at pinterest.com but originally from nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com. Billy Cannon and Rich Michael [photo circa 1961], photo unattributed at profootballhof.com. Dave Smith [photo from 1961], photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Al Jamison [1961 Fleer trading card], unattributed at pinterest.com. Mark Johnston [photo from 1960], photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Bill Groman [1961 Fleer card], from amazon.com.


Offensive stats leaders on map page,
Frank Tripucka, [1961 Fleer trading card], from tradingcarddb.com. Tom Flores [1961 Fleer trading card], from footballcardgallery.com. Al Dorow [photo from 1st Titans game v Buffalo at Polo Grounds], photo by Ernie Sisto/New York Times at nytimes.com. Abner Haynes, [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Bill Groman [photo from 1960 AFL title game (on Jan. 1 1961)], photo by Darryl Norenberg via espn.com. Art Powell [photo from 1960 versus Oilers at Polo Ground], photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

Thanks to,
-Blank map by anonymous US federal government employee, at File:StatesU.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to Sportslogos.net for 1960-era AFL team logos. -Thanks to Buffalo Bills official site for original Bills logo (1960-61). -Thanks to Infinite Jets blog for hard-to-find full-color NY Titans logo.
-Thanks to the Pro Football Researchers.org, via their Coffin Corner newsletter, for this THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE ATTENDANCE, 1960-69 [pdf].
-pro-football-reference.com.
-Thanks to the contributors at AFL 1960 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

September 2, 2018

NFL 1960 season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Philadelphia Eagles.

Filed under: NFL>1960 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 5:22 pm

nfl_1960_map-with-helmets_1960-standings_offensive-stats-leaders_home-jerseys_philadelphia-eagles-champs_post_k_.gif
NFL 1960 season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Philadelphia Eagles




By Bill Turianski on 2 September 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1960 NFL season
-1960 NFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1960 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1960 NFL teams’ uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com).

1960: the NFL is in competition with a new rival league, the American Football League [AFL (IV/1960-69).] (The AFL later merged with the NFL in the 1966-to-1970 time period. The two leagues began playing a championship game starting in 1966 [later named the Super Bowl]; the two leagues’ conferences and schedules were combined in 1970.)

(Note: I will post a map of the American Football League 1960 season, in late September 2018.)

1960 was the NFL’s 41st season. The NFL had 10 teams through most of the 1940s. By the end of 1949, when the NFL’s 4-year battle with rival-league the AAFC ended, 3 of the AAFC franchises joined the NFL…Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Colts (I). So in 1950 the NFL went from 10 teams to 13 teams. But one of those 3 new teams from the AAFC immediately went defunct [Baltimore Colts I/1950 (1-11)/defunct]. So from 1951 to 1959 (9 seasons), the NFL had 12 teams.

In 1960, the NFL finally expanded past the 12-team size for good, when the Dallas Cowboys joined the league. Which made the NFL of 1960 an unwieldy 13-team league, but for only one season. Because plans were already in the works to add another new franchise, the Minnesota Vikings, for the next season, in 1961. And then two more teams would join the NFL later in the 1960s (to make it a 16-team league): Atlanta in 1966, and New Orleans in 1967.

The map… The map shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 13 NFL teams of 1960 (including the expansion team, the Dallas Cowboys; and including the franchise shift of the NFL Cardinals from Chicago to St. Louis) {also see illustrations further below in the 1960 NFL uniforms section}. Final standings for the 1960 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. At the far lower-right are the home jerseys/helmets worn in 1960. At the top-right of the map page is a section devoted to the 1960 NFL champions, the Philadelphia Eagles (also see next 11 paragraphs below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1960 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating: Milt Plum, Browns. Passing Yards and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards: Jim Brown, Browns. Yards from Scrimmage: John David Crow, Cardinals. Receiving Yards: Raymond Berry, Colts. Total TDs [tied]: Paul Hornung, Packers & Sonny Randle, Cardinals.

    The Philadelphia Eagles were champions in 1960, beating the Green Bay Packers 17-13.

The 1960 NFL Championship Game featured two teams that had won multiple championships in the past. The Packers had won 6 NFL titles at this point (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944). The Eagles had won 2 NFL titles at this point (1948 and ’49). But both teams had sunk into mediocrity through the 1950s, and both teams had sunk so low as to have been last-place-finishers two seasons earlier, in 1958.

The Packers were coached by second-year head coach Vince Lombardi, who at this point in time was a little-known former offensive coach of the New York Giants. When Lombardi arrived in Green Bay before the start of the 1959 season, the Packers had come off of their worst-ever record in ’58 (1-10-1); Lombardi turned the Packers in ’59 into a 7-5 team. And then the Packers won the West in 1960, with an 8-4 record, finishing one game ahead of the Lions and the 49ers.

The Eagles’ head coach was former San Francisco 49ers head coach Buck Shaw, who had totally re-built the Eagles in a 3-season-span, taking them from 2-9-1 in ’58, to 7-5 in ’59, to a league-best 10-2 in 1960. The Eagles clinched the East in 1960 in week 10 (with 2 games to spare). Buck Shaw was 61 years old, and would retire following the 1960 title game.

The Packers featured a group of players who would go on to further glory (and later induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame), but were relatively unknown at this time…QB Bart Starr, HB/K Paul Hornung, FB Jim Taylor, MLB Ray Nitschke. The Eagles featured 34-year-old QB/P Norm Van Brocklin, who had been part of the 1951 NFL-title-winning Los Angeles Rams, and who had the second-best passing numbers in 1960, behind only Johnny Unitas of the Colts. Van Brocklin had the option to call his own plays, and coach Shaw deferred to him with respect to strategy. Van Brocklin’s main target was the diminutive speedster Tommy McDonald (Flanker). The anchor of the Eagles was two-way player Chuck Bednarik, who was a starter at Center, and was also a much feared and hard-hitting Linebacker. Bednarik, who was 35 at the time, would, amazingly, end up playing 58 of the 60 minutes of the 1960 title game. (Van Brocklin, McDonald and Bednarik, as well as backup-QB sonny Jurgenen, would all later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)

Back then, the NFL rotated the title game between Eastern and Western champions’ venues. So the 1960 NFL Championship Game was slated to be hosted by the Eastern Conference champions, which meant that the Philadelphia Eagles would host the game at their venue, Franklin Field. Because Christmas fell on a Sunday that year, and because the league did not want to play the game on that big holiday, the game was scheduled for the 26th of December. Franklin Field, which was (and still is) owned by the University of Pennsylvania, had no lighting back then, so the game-time was moved forward to 12 noon, in order to avoid a twilight-gloom if the game went into overtime (as the 1958 NFL title game did). Game-time conditions were less than ideal: although it was a relatively mild 48 °F (9 °C), the field was a thawed frozen surface with scattered puddles, and it became muddy as the game wore on. The Packers, despite being the visiting team, and despite having a worse record than the Eagles, were a 2-to-3-point favorite. On hand was a crowd that numbered considerably more than the venue’s full-capacity (of 60,000)…portable bleachers, seating around 7,000, were installed around the stadium track, and the attendance was 67,325. But still, a local television blackout was enforced (why?), forcing many Eagles fans to drive to New Jersey or to Baltimore to watch the game.

1st Quarter: the Eagles give the ball up twice, deep in their end of the field, but escape with only a 3-point deficit…On the first play after the opening kick-off, Norm Van Brocklin’s deflected lateral was recovered by Packers DE Bill Quinlan, giving the Packers the ball on the Eagle 14. But the Eagles defense held firm: Lombardi went for it on 4th-and-2 from the 6 yard-line, and Chuck Bednarik smothered Packers RB Jim Taylor. The Eagles had the ball now, deep in their own end, but 3 plays later they turned it over again: a fumble was recovered by Packers LB Bill Forester, on the 22-yard line of Philadelphia. However, the Eagles D only gave up one first down, and after 5 plays, Lombadi elected to go for 3 points on 4th down this time, and Paul Hornung converted a 20-yard FG. Then the Eagles and the Packers traded punts; then the Eagles punted again. Then the Packers were driving into Eagles’ territory as the 1st quarter ended…Green Bay 3, Philadelphia 0.

2nd Quarter: an early-2nd-quarter FG by the Packers is answered with 10 points by the Eagles…The Packers’ drive stalled on the 17-yard line, and Hornung made it 6-0, with a 24-yard FG. Then the Eagles and the Packers traded punts. Then the Eagles finally started moving the ball, and scored a lightning-quick TD, after a pair of passes from Van Brocklin to Tommy McDonald (of 22 yards and 35 yards respectively). On the 35-yard-TD-pass, McDonald was knocked out of bounds after crossing the goal-line, right into the first row of the temporary bleachers. It was now 7-6, Eagles. Then the Packers went 3-and-out. The Eagles got the punt on their 26, and then Van Brocklin, now gaining confidence, threw a 41-yard completion to Split-End Pete Retzlaff, who made a fine over-the-head grab, this despite double coverage. Philly got to the Green Bay 8, but after 3 incompletions, they opted to kick, and Eagles K Bobby Walston converted a 15-yard FG. Then, with 3 minutes left in the first half, the Packers drove down the field, but once again failed to score from within the 20-yard-line, this time due to an errant Paul Hornung 17-yard FG-attempt that went wide-left…at Halftime, 10-6, Eagles.

3rd Quarter: no scoring…There were two crucial plays in the 3rd quarter. The first happened with the Packers on the Eagle 26, and driving once again. Paul Hornung was on a sweep; Hornung cut back, and was flattened by Chuck Bednarik and finished off by CB Tom Brookshier. The play put Paul Hornung out of the game (except for his kicking duties), and the pinched-nerve injury that resulted would plague Hornung for the rest of his career. This Packers drive failed (once again), when Jim Taylor was stopped by Bednarik on a 4th-and-2, inches short of the first down marker at the Eagle 24. Then the Eagles put together a drive that came up short when Van Brocklin was intercepted in the end-zone by Packers DB John Symank. Then the Packers went three-and-out. Then the second crucial play of the 3rd quarter occurred: in punt-formation, Green Bay WR/P Max McGee (who had noticed that Philly was not rushing the punter that day) faked the punt and ran up-field, untouched, for a 35-yard gain. The 3rd quarter ended with the Packers driving, at the Eagle 24, after a 14-yard pass play from Bart Starr to WR Gary Knafelc…with the score after 3 quarters: 10-6, Eagles.

4th Quarter: Packers regain the lead, but the Eagles drive to a late TD, and then hold the Packers as time runs out…As the 4th quarter began, the Packers finally found the end zone. From the Eagle 24, Green Bay moved 17 yards via three Jim Taylor runs and an 8-yard run by HB Tom Moore. Then Bart Starr connected with Max McGee for a TD, on a 7-yard slant-play. The Packers, who had gained significantly more first downs and yards throughout the game, reclaimed the lead, 13-10, with 13 minutes left. But the Packers were immediately on their back foot again. Because on the ensuing kickoff, Eagles rookie RB/KR Ted Dean ran it back 58 yards to the Packer 49. Van Brocklin drove the Eagles toward the Packer goal line, but passed the ball only once: 7 plays and a defensive holding found the Eagles on the Packer 5. Then the Greater Philadelphia-born Ted Dean made another huge play, with a five-yard TD run, on a sweep that was led by a key block from Guard Gerry Huth {see a photo of this title-winning play, in the illustration below}. The Eagles had reclaimed the lead (at 17-13), with 5:21 left in the game. The two teams then traded punts (again). Then the Packers got the ball on their 35 with just 1:05 left. They drove deep into Philadelphia territory, to the Eagle 22. With seconds to play (and no time-outs), Starr threw a short pass to Jim Taylor, who got past two defenders to the 8 before Bednarik and DB Bobby Jackson stopped him. Taylor tried to get to his feet, but Bednarik sat on him until time expired; then Chuck Bednarik said, “You can get up now, Jim, this game is over.”

The 1960 NFL title win was the Philadelphia Eagles’ last NFL title until the 2017 season, when the Eagles upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII [52]. As of 2017, the Green Bay Packers would go on to win 7 more NFL titles, including 5 NFL titles in the 1960s alone (among them, the first two Super Bowl titles). The 1960 NFL title game was Vince Lombardi’s only playoff loss in his entire head-coaching-career, a loss he learned something from. He later rued the missed points from chip-shot Field Goals he forsook, saying: “When you get down there, come out with something. I lost the game, not my players.” {-Quote from When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss, via this Jan. 2011 article by Jeré Longman, Eagles’ 1960 Victory Was an N.F.L. Turning Point (nytimes.com/sports).}

Below: 1960 NFL title game: Philadelphia Eagles 17, Green Bay Packers 13.
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Photo and Image credits above -
1960 Eagles and Packers helmets, illustrations by gridiron-uniforms.com/[1960]. Ticket from 1960 NFL title game, photo from pinterest.com. Franklin Field [view from top of the stands at 1960 title game], photo by AP via philadelphiaeagles.com. Pacers & Eagles captains shake hands after coin toss, photo by Philadelphia Eagles via courierpostonline.com. Norm Van Brocklin handing off to Bill Barnes (action from the 1st quarter), photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Chuck Bednarik making a tackle, photo by AP/colorization by John Turney at nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com. Rookie HB Ted Dean (#35) scoring the winning TD, a 5-yard run off a block from OG Gerry Huth (#65), photo by AP via nytimes.com/sports. Chuck Bednarik with Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor after 1960 NFL title game, photo by George Silk/Life magazine via flickriver.com. Bednarik, Van Brocklin and Ted Dean celebrate in the locker room with coach Shaw, photo unattributed at packershistory.net.

1960 Philadelphia Eagles: 3 All-Pro players; plus 4 from the ’60 Eagles that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1960 AP, 1st team.
-Norm Van Brocklin: 1960 All-Pro (QB/P), and 1960 MVL (AP); Van Brocklin was inducted to the HoF in 1971.
-Tom Brookshier: 1960 All-Pro (CB).
-Chuck Bednarik: 1960 All-Pro (LB/C); Bednarik was inducted to the HoF in 1967.
-Sonny Jurgensen: (QB) inducted to the HoF in 1983.
-Tommy McDonald (WR): inducted to the HoF in 1998.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1960 NFL…
1960: new helmet-logos (Cowboys & Cardinals)…
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1961 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database

-Expansion team (1960 Dallas Cowboys): the Dallas Cowboys wore white helmets their first 3 seasons. (The Cowboys’ distinctive blueish-silver helmet color, and pants color, were not introduced until 1964). The white helmet featured a large, plain dark-royal-blue star, and two thin dark-royal-blue center-stripes. The jerseys had contrasting shoulder-pad sections, with a large star at the top of each shoulder. {1960-63 era Cowboys: Eddie LeBarron and Don Mererdith (tailgatingjerseys.com).} {1960 Dallas Cowboys (gridiron-uniforms.com).}
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-Re-located team: in 1960, the St. Louis Cardinals, having just moved from Chicago to St. Louis, MO, introduced a helmet logo on their white helmets. The logo was a large frowning head of a cardinal (in deep red, with black around the cardinal’s eye, and a yellow beak), with the cardinal’s crest elongated so that, from the back of the helmet, the cardinals’ crests almost touch (you can see that in the link below). In a slightly altered form [2005], this logo remains to this day. Here is a photo of the original frowning-cardinal Cardinals helmet {Ken Grey game-worn 1960 helmet {helmet-hut.com)}. This helmet design is, in my opinion, one of the best ever seen in gridiron football. Especially as the years went by, and more and more NFL teams jumped on the colored-facemask-bandwagon, yet the Cardinals organization decided to keep the grey facemask. The re-design in 2005 made the cardinal more angry-looking in a cartoon-ish way {Cardinals helmet logos (sportslogos.net)} {Cardinals in huddle from 2009 (espn.com/blog)}. But at least the Cardinals kept the grey facemask.
st-louis-cardinals_arizona-cardinals_helmet_1960_2005_d_.gif

Other uniform-changes in the 1960 NFL…
-In 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles switched from silver pants to white pants. {1960 Philadelphia Eagles (gridiron-uniforms.com).}
-In 1960, the San Francisco 49ers added a some center-striping to their silver helmets: three red stripes (a thick stripe flanked by two thin stripes). {Photos, circa 1960-62, of San Francisco 49ers players (twitter.com/helmetaddict).} (The Niners would introduce a helmet-logo in 1962, and would switch from silver helmets and pants, to gold helmets and pants, in 1964.)

The following season of 1961 saw three more NFL teams adopt helmet-logos: in 1961 the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants would introduce helmet-logos, and the expansion-team the Minnesota Vikings would also sport a helmet-logo. So by 1961, of the 14 NFL teams, only four would not be wearing helmet-logos: the Browns, the Steelers, the Bears, and the 49ers. And in the following season of 1962, three of those teams would introduce helmet-logos, leaving only the Browns without a helmet-logo.
___

Eagles players on map page,
1960 Eagles uniforms, illustrations by Gridiron Uniforms database at gridiron-uniforms.com/[1960]. Circa 1958 Eagles helmet, photo by Heritage Auctions at ha.com. Circa 1960 Eagles pennant, photo from insidetheparkcollectibles.com. Tommy McDonald [photo circa 1961], photo by Neil Leifer via si.com. Pete Retzlaff [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at prod.static.eagles.clubs.nfl.com. Ted Dean [1961 Fleer card], from amazon.com. Norm Van Brocklin [photo from Sports Illustrated, Dec. 19 1960], photo unattributed at sacrificefly.blogspot.com. Chuck Bednarik [1961 Fleer trading card], from kronozio.com/1961-Fleer-Chuck-Bednarik. Chuck Bednarik [photo from 1960], photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images via si.com. Tom Brookshier [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Marion Campbell [1960 Topps card], unattributed at pinterest.com. Sonny Jurgensen [photo circa 1961], photo unattributed at pinterest.com.

Offensive stats leaders on map page,
Milt Plum, 1961 Fleer card, from tradingcarddb.com. Johnny Unitas [photo circa 1964], photo by Focus In Sports/Getty Imgaes via pinterest.com. Jim Brown [photo from 1960], photo unattributed at jimbrown.clevelandbrowns.com. John David Crow [photo from 1962], photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Raymond Berry [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Sonny Randle [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com. Paul Hornung, photo by Neil Leifer/Getrty Images via gettyimages.com.
___
Thanks to…
-Blank map by anonymous US federal government employee, at File:StatesU.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1960 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

June 16, 2018

Gridiron Football: NFL representation in the largest metropolitan statistical areas (USA & London, England).

Filed under: NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 12:02 pm

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Gridiron Football: NFL representation in the largest metropolitan statistical areas (USA & London, England)



Sources…[note: data was retrieved on 2 March 2018; some population data may have changed depending upon when the links below are later accessed]…
-List of metropolitan statistical area [in the USA];
-London Commuter Belt (en.wikipedia.org).

The chart shows all cities in USA (plus London, England) which have a metropolitan statistical area population of over 1 million. The NFL teams from each city are shown at the far right (via current [2018] helmet-logos).

I made this chart because, like millions of other sports fans, I am very curious about what the NFL’s short-term – and long-term – plans are, with respect to expansion and re-location of franchises. The average NFL fan would undoubtedly be interested. But fans of embattled franchises would be even more interested in the subject. That is, fans of such teams as the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles (formerly San Diego) Chargers, the Oakland (formerly Los Angeles) Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the the Buffalo Bills…because their team might be one that moves out of their present location. And that moves to London, England (or, in the Raiders’ case, to Las Vegas, Nevada).

It looks like it is inevitable that there will be an NFL team in London: all signs point to it. {See this, Potential London NFL franchise (en.wikipedia.org).} And there doesn’t look like there is any real wish on behalf of the NFL, or its owners, to have another round of expansion. Because it does not appear that the market would bear it (it would really have to be a two-team-expansion). And also, a 32 team league, as the NFL currently is, is just too perfect a number to mess with. Perfect in the sense that divisional-alignments, playoff set-up, and scheduling are very optimal in the current 32-team format.

So, once again, some NFL fanbase is most likely going to get screwed, and the home-town-fans of that team will be absolutely devastated to see their team re-locate to England. But that’s how the NFL rolls. Treating their fans like pawns. However much joy will be bestowed upon sports fans in England to see an NFL team grace their shores…that joy will NEVER outbalance the grief that will be bestowed upon one set of fans in the USA who lose their NFL team. When that NFL franchise uproots and moves to London, it will be just one more example of the diabolical nature of the NFL.

This chart is similar to the one I made for Major League Baseball {here}.

May 28, 2018

NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & top offensive players + 1959 NFL attendance data. / 1959 NFL Champions: Baltimore Colts.

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NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & attendance data




By Bill Turianski on 28 May 2018. twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1959 NFL season.
-1959 Baltimore Colts season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1959 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1959 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1959] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of late-1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1959. (Note: this map includes the newly-incorporated states of Alaska and Hawaii, both of which were granted statehood in 1959.) Final standings for the 1959 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. There also is a small section devoted to 1959 NFL attendance data. At the top-right of the map is a section devoted to the 1959 NFL champions, the Baltimore Colts (also see the next 8 paragraphs, and the illustration, below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1959 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating: Charley Conerly, Giants. Passing Yards and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards and Rushing TDs & Total Yards from Scrimmage and Total TDs [tied]: Jim Brown, Browns. Receiving Yards & Receiving TDs and Total TDs [tied]: Raymond Berry, Colts.

    In a re-match of the 1958 NFL title game, the 1959 Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants (again).

The Colts were the reigning champions, but they had a hard time of it to win the Western Conference in ’59. They had to gain 2 games over San Francisco, and did so, late in the season, with two wins over the 49ers, and the Colts ended up at 9-3, one game above the Bears. The Giants, however, won the Eastern Conference easily, clinching in week 10, and the Giants had the best record in the league in 1959, at 10-2. The New York Giants also had the best defense in ’59, allowing only 14.1 points per game (170 PA), and the Giants also had the second-best offense (with 284 PF). Meanwhile, the Colts were the most potent offensive threat by far (374 PF), averaging 34.1 points. As to the Colts’ defense…well, on paper, the Colts’ D was only ranked 6th-best in terms of points allowed that season (251 PA); nevertheless, the Colts had the most interceptions by far (40, which was 18 more than any other team). And in the end, it was the Colts’ swarming defense, and particularly their ability to pick the ball off, that would decide the 1959 NFL title game.

Because of the NFL’s rotating-home-venue-for-title-game rule back then, the Western Conference was slated to host the 1959 title game, so that meant Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium would host the event, which was on Sunday December 27, 1959. A full-capacity-crowd (57,545) was on hand: the game had been sold out the day after the Colts won the Western Conference championship. Odds-makers were “ambivalent”: Colts by 3 1/2 in Baltimore, Giants by 3 1/2 in New York City. Game-time conditions were mild: 51°F with a slight breeze.

The Colts scored early in the 1st quarter, with a 60 yard pass play from Johnny Unitas to HB Lenny Moore. But then the formidable Giants defense shut the Colts down for the remainder of the first half, and deep into the 2nd half as well. Yet meanwhile, the Colts defense was containing the Giants, and the much-vaunted New York offense could only muster 9 points (off of 3 Pat Summerall FGs). So, midway through the 3rd quarter, the Giants held a slight lead, at 9-7.

Then, late in the 3rd quarter, the game turned on a 4th-and-1 play. The Giants had the ball on the Colts’ 27, which would have been a relatively easy 34-yard FG attempt. However, with their narrow 2-point lead, the Giants decided to go for it, and ran a running play. FB Alex Webster was stopped cold for a 1-yard loss by Colts DT Ray Krouse. The Memorial Stadium crowd erupted, and the momentum was shifting.

Then the Colts answered with 24 points, starting with a swift march down the field that culminated in a 4-yard Johnny Unitas option-rush-TD. The Colts led 14-9 at this point, with 12 minutes to go. Both offenses were then held to 3-plays-and-a-punt. Then, in 3 consecutive possessions, the Giants turned the ball over, via interceptions. The first of the 3 turnovers occurred with the Giants back on their 7-yard line: New York QB Charley Conerly’s pass was picked off at midfield by Colts All-Pro DB Andy Nelson, and Nelson returned it to the Giants’ 15. Two plays later, Unitas used a misdirection-play to connect with TE Jerry Richardson at the 8, and Richardson reached the end zone, and it was now 21-9 Colts.

Then the Giants made another turnover: Conerly’s 3rd-and-eight pass was intercepted by Colts DB Johnny Sample, who streaked 45 yards to a TD, and it was now 28-9 for the Colts. And then three minutes later, with New York at the 50 yard line but even more desperate, Johnny Sample made another interception, this time off of a Frank Gifford halfback-option. Sample returned the pick-off 24 yards, to the Giants’ 26. A few plays later, Colts K Steve Myhra made it 31-9, with a 25-yard FG. It was much too late in the game for New York to mount a serious comeback, although the Giants did drive for a late TD. That made it 31-16, and that was the final score.

And so the small-market Baltimore Colts had defeated the big-city Giants for the second straight year. Johnny Unitas had an MVP-worthy 18-for-29/264 yds/2 TD/0 Interceptions performance, and HB Lenny Moore had 124 yds from scrimmage and a TD. The Colts faithful stormed the field after the final whistle, and had a celebratory goal-post-razing. And then the joyful mob swiped every memento they could get their hands on, including DT Gino Marchetti’s helmet, the sideline benches, and even the iron goal posts themselves (which were smuggled out of the stadium, and later cut into mantle-piece-worthy trophies). Colts DE Art Donovan, who would go on to have a second career as a raconteur and an in-demand late-night talk-show guest, quipped, “Isn’t it great? The Giants shot their mouths off all week. But we played the football.”

But due to the epic battle that was the 1958 NFL title game [aka the Greatest Game Ever Played], the re-match in ’59 (and the repeat Colts’ victory), was fated to be a barely remembered thing (see a 2009 article from the Baltimore Sun for more on that, below).
-The greatest game nobody remembers (Mike Klingaman at baltimoresun.com).
baltimore-colts_1959-nfl_championship-game_colts-31_giants16_memorial-stadium_c_
Photo and Image credits above- 1959 NFL title game program, photo unattributed at goldenrankings.com/nflchampionshipgame1959. Aerial shot of Colts v Washington at Memorial Stadium [photo circa 1960], photo by Robert F. Kniesche attributed (for once) at pinterest.com/[Colts v Washington]. Unitas in pocket under pressure, photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images via gettyimages.fr. Conerly pursued by Marchetti and Donovan, color-tinted photo unattributed at gatorrick15.wixsite.com. Johnny Sample, 2nd interception, photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Colts fans’ celebratory goal-post-razing, photo by AP via si.com. Colts’ ’58/’59 champions logo, image from ebay.com.

1959 Baltimore Colts: 7 All-Pro players; plus 6 from the ’59 Colts that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1959 AP, 1st team. -Johnny Unitas: 1959 All-Pro (QB), and 1959 MVL (AP & UPI & Bert Bell Trophy); Unitas was inducted to the HoF in 1979. -Gino Marchetti: 1959 All-Pro (DE); Marchetti was inducted to the HoF in 1972. -Jim Parker: 1959 All-Pro (OT); Parker was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Raymond Berry: 1959 All-Pro (WR); Berry was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Lenny Moore: 1959 All-Pro (HB); Moore was inducted to the HoF in 1975. -Gene Lipscomb: 1959 All-Pro (DT). -Andy Nelson: 1959 All-Pro (S). -Art Donovan: (DT) inducted to the HoF in 1968. -Weeb Ewbank: (Head coach of Colts from 1954-62); Ewbank was inducted to the HoF in 1978.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1959 NFL… There were very few uniform changes in the 1959 NFL (see Packers and 49ers sections below). However, it would be a different matter in the next few seasons, as more teams finally introduced helmet logos. But as of 1959, just 4 teams wore helmet logos (Rams, Eagles, Colts, Washington). 1959 was the third year that the NFL had mandated that all home teams were to wear their dark jersey, and all road teams were to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. This was to ensure that television viewers watching NFL games on black-and-white TVs would not have trouble differentiating between the two teams (because in the past, both teams often ended up wearing a dark-colored jersey). This rule would last 7 seasons (1957-63). Then in 1964, teams were given the option of wearing their white jerseys at home; that rule exists to this day.

-In 1959, the Green Bay Packers, now under the leadership of new head coach Vince Lombardi, introduced new uniforms, the template of which has remained the Packers’ signature look to this day. Gone were the white helmets that had been part of the Packers’ uniforms for the previous three seasons, and gone was any navy blue, and also gone was the dark-bluish-forest-green color the Packers had toyed with in the 1956-58 time period {see my 1958 NFL post for more on that/scroll down to ’58 uniforms section there}. While the Packers had worn kelley-green in the late-1940s-to-mid-1950s time period, starting in 1959 the green was now plain-dark-green. The gold was still yellow/orange, and that would be the Packers’ helmet color once again. The helmet featured a dark-green/white/dark-green center-striping. But the new Packers helmet was otherwise blank…the Packers’ now-iconic football-shaped-G logo would not be introduced until 2 years later, in 1961. {1959 Packers uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com).} The Packers experimented with dark-green facemasks during this time, but abandoned it, probably because the green paint was prone to easily flake off, as you can see in the following post from the excellent packersuniforms.blogspot.com. (Note: The Baltimore Colts also experimented with a colored facemask in this era [a dark-blue facemask]. But the first team-wide introduction of colored facemasks did not occur until 15 years later, when the Chargers got Riddell to embed the color (yellow) into the rubberized coating of the facemask. {See this article by Paul Lukas at espn.com, Uni Watch’s Friday Flashback: How the Chargers started the colored face mask revolution.})

Green Bay Packers helmet history –
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Green Bay Packers Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/packers.

-In 1959, the San Francisco 49ers switched, yet again, from gold to silver helmets (plain silver helmets). The 49ers switched from gold to silver pants as well in ’59. And the Niners also slightly changed the detailing on their white jerseys, introducing a second arced shoulder stripe (similar to the striping on the Colts’ jerseys {1959 49ers uniforms}. All this chopping and changing was blurring the 49ers visual identity during this era. The 49ers of the 1952 to 1964 time period could not make up their mind what their look should be, switching their helmet color 5 times in a 13-year-span…from silver to red to white to gold to silver to gold. {You can see that in Gridiron Uniforms Database’s SF 49ers page.}

___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Colts… Colts’ Raymond Berry-style helmet w/ butterfly-facemask [reproduction of helmet from 1960-63 era], from ebay.com. Johnny Unitas [photo from 1958 title game], photo by Neil Leifer at neilleifer.com. Jim Parker, [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at profootballhof.com. Raymond Berry [photo from 1960 v Eagles]], photo by Focus on Sports/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Retro Colts logo from ebay.com. Gino Marchetti [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at forum.russellstreetreport.com/[Baltimore football greats...]. Andy Nelson [photo from 1959 title game], photo unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com/[Baltimore Colts]. Jim Mutschellar [photo circa 1960], photo by Baltimore Sun at baltimoresun.com. Art Donovan [photo circa 1958], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Lenny Moore [photo from 1958], photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images at gettyimages.com/robert-riger-archive. Gene Lipscomb [photo from 1959], photo by John G. Zimmerman/Getty Images at gettyimages.com.

1959 Offensive stats leaders…
Charley Conerly [photo from 1959], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com. Johnny Unitas [photo from 1959], photo from Complete Pro Sports Illustrated magazine via nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/[Johnny Unitas feature]. Jim Brown [1959 Topps card], from sportsviews.com. Raymond Berry [photo from 1963], photo by Walter Iooss, Jr/Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

Map was drawn with assistance from images at this link… worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1959 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

January 30, 2018

NFL 1958 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Baltimore Colts./+ 1958 NFL attendance data & info on 1958 NFL teams’ uniforms.

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NFL 1958 season, map with helmets and final standings; champions: Baltimore Colts./+ 1958 NFL attendance data



By Bill Turianski on 30 January, 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1958 NFL season
-1958 NFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1958 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1958 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1958] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1958. Final standings for the 1958 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map page. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. At the lower-right-corner of the map page there is a small section devoted to 1958 NFL attendance data (also see attendance section further below). At the top-right of the map page is a section devoted to the 1958 NFL champions, the Baltimore Colts (also see next 12 paragraphs and the illustration below). And at the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1958 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Passing Yards: Billy Wade, Rams. Rushing Yards and Rushing TDs and Total Yards from Scrimmage and Total TDs: Jim Brown, Browns. Receiving Yards: Del Shofner, Rams.

    Johnny Unitas led the 6-year-old Colts to the 1958 NFL title, over the NY Giants 23-17 (first-ever OT game)

Johnny Unitas, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, was a Pittsburgh-born graduate of Louisville University. At college, he played the dual role of QB and Safety for the Redbirds. Unitas had been a 9th round selection by his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 1955. But Unitas was cut by the Steelers in the ’55 preseason, with Steelers coach Walt Kiesling under the impression that Unitas was not smart enough to run an NFL offense, even though Kiesling (duh) never even let Unitas take one snap during the entire preseason. So Unitas worked in construction jobs in Pittsburgh in the latter half of 1955, to support his family, and he played semi-pro football for 6 bucks a game.

In the following year of 1956, Unitas got a second chance, when, after a successful tryout, Weeb Ewbank and the then-4-year old Baltimore Colts signed him. A few games into the ’56 season, backup-QB Unitas got his shot, when starting QB George Shaw was injured in the 4th game; and in 1956 the Colts finished 5-7. The next year, 1957, with Unitas now the starting QB, the Colts went 7-5…this was the team’s first winning season. And 1957 was also the first time the Colts drew above 40 K per game (attendance in ’57 for the Colts increased by 6.9 K, to 46 thousand per game). In the following season of 1958, the Colts shot out of the gate, winning their first 4, and the fans continued to flock to Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The Colts saw an eye-popping 16.9-K-increase in crowd-size, to 53.6 K (which was an impressive 93 percent-capacity), at the 57.5-K-venue [which they shared with MLB's Baltimore Orioles]. The Baltimore Colts (a small-market team) had the third-best attendance in the NFL in 1958 (see attendance section on the map-page, as well as the league-attendance section further below).

So in 1958, the Colts won the Western Conference, going 9-3. The Colts had the league’s most potent offense, averaging 31.75 points per game. Unitas led the league in passing yardage and passing TDs (2,007 yards and 19 TDs). Unitas’ three main targets in ’58 were Hall Of Famers Lenny Moore (HB) and Raymond Berry (End/WR), as well as Jim Mutschellar (TE). Lenny Moore, who was a running back and not a wide receiver, gained a league-second-best 938 yards receiving, while Raymond Berry gained 724 yards receiving (which was the 4th-best that season), and TE Jim Mutschellar gained 504 yards receiving. The Colts ground game was spearheaded by FB Alan Ameche and HB Lenny Moore: Ameche gained a league-2nd-best 791 yards (second only to MVP Jim Brown of the Browns), while Moore ran for 598 yards. And Lenny Moore also had a league-best 1,536 yards from scrimmage. So, the Colts offense was dominant in ’58, and the Colts defense was second-best in that year (behind only the Giants). The Colts’ front four featured two future Hall of Famers: DE Gino Marchetti, and DT Art Donovan. And the Colts had the most prolific secondary that season, with 35 interceptions (including 8 pick-offs by both Ray Brown and Andy Nelson, and 7 by Carl Taseff). The dominance that the Colts had in the NFL Western Conference in 1958 can be seen in the fact that the Colts had the league’s best point-differential by far: +178 pd (which was almost triple the Giants’ pd, of +63).

The Colts had clinched the NFL Western Conference title in the 10th week, and thus, crucially, were able to keep key players rested on the bench for their last 2 regular-season games (which they lost). The Colts won the West by a game, over the 8-4 Chicago Bears and the 8-4 LA Rams. That meant the Colts would face the Eastern Conference champs, the 9-3 New York Giants, who featured a tough defense led by DE Andy Robustelli and LB Sam Huff, and a potent offense featuring the wily 37-year-old-veteran QB Charlie Conerly, star Halfback/End Frank Gifford (the 1956 league MVP), and Flanker Kyle Rote.

But, to get to the 1958 title game, the Giants had to play an extra game – an Eastern Conference tiebreaker – versus the Cleveland Browns, and New York had beaten Cleveland 10-0, a week before the Championship game. So the Colts players were much more rested than the Giants players. The Giants had won the title 2 seasons before (in 1956), 47-7 over the Bears, on a frozen surface at Yankee Stadium. Two years later, for this Giants versus Colts title game of 1958, game-time conditions were much better: 44ºF (7ºC) and dry, with virtually no wind. About 20,000 Colts fans from the Baltimore-area had made the trip up to Yankee Stadium for the game, by car, bus, and specially organized trains. There was a full-capacity crowd of 64,185 on hand at Yankee Stadium. The Colts were 3.5 point favorites (probably due to both the Colts’ offensive capabilities, as well as the Colts being the more rested squad).

Because of the sheer excitement that the closely-fought game caused, and because it was the first NFL championship game to be broadcast nationally on television (on NBC, to an estimated audience of 10.8 million homes), and because of its pivotal timing in the late 1950s (just as the medium of television had begun to broadcast pro sports nation-wide), the Colts versus the Giants in the 1958 NFL title game came to be known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. From youtube.com, ‘The Greatest Game Ever: 1958 NFL Championship‘ (5:33 video uploaded by vslice02 at youtube.com).

The 1958 NFL title game was the first NFL game, play-off or otherwise, that went to sudden-death overtime. It featured two hard-nosed teams with offenses that had the capability to move the ball down the field with lightning-quick efficiency. The Giants were coached by Arkansas graduate Jim Lee Howell, who coached the Giants from 1954 to 1960. Howell’s two main assistant coaches are both in the Pro Footballl Hall of Fame – the Giants’ defensive coach in 1958 was future Cowboys’ head coach Tom Landry (whom Howell had converted from a Giants LB to defensive coordinator 2 years previous in 1956); the Giants’ offensive coach in 1958 was future Packers’ head coach and football demi-god Vince Lombardi (whom Howell had hired from West Point, where Lombardi was Army’s offensive line coach 4 years previous in 1954). The Colts were coached by Weeb Ewbank, who had got his pro coaching start under Paul Brown at Cleveland, and was hired as the Colts’ head coach in their second season (in 1954). Ewbank gave the Colts an unusual pre-game talk… “Not known for emotional speeches, Weeb gave one to his men before the game, reminding them of how they were unwanted by other teams. ‘Unitas, Pittsburgh didn’t want you. We got you for a 75-cent phone call. Lipscomb, the Rams got rid of you. We got you for a hundred bucks. Berry? One leg shorter than the other, with bad eyesight to boot. … So you should win this game for yourselves’…” {-Excerpt from goldenrankings.com/[1958 NFL Championship Game]).

The Giants/Colts 1958 title game had multiple big plays, swift scoring drives, and changes in momentum – the biggest when, in the 3rd quarter with the Colts leading 14-3, the Giants stopped Baltimore on a fourth-and-goal-to-go on the 1 yard-line, for a 4-yard-loss (see color photo in the illustration below, where Unitas is about to hand off to Alan Ameche for that 4-yard-loss). Then the Giants went 95 yards for a TD in 4 plays. That drive was highlighted by a 86-yard pass play from deep within the Giants’ own territory: QB Charlie Conerly threw to WR Kyle Rote downfield left-to-right across the middle. Rote broke a tackle at mid-field, but then he fumbled when hit from behind at the Colts’ 25…Giants RB Alex Webster, who was trailing the play, recovered the fumble and ran it all the way to the 1-yard line. RB Mel Triplett then scored on a 1-yard TD run, and the Giants were back in it, now behind by only 4 points, at 14-10. The Giants then went ahead 17-14 early in the 4th quarter – Conerly’s 46-yard completion to TE Bob Schnelker set up his 15-yard TD pass to Frank Gifford.

In the dying minutes of the 4th quarter, the Colts took over with 1:58 to go, at their own 14-yard line (after a Giants punt). Unitas then put together one of the most famous drives in football history. After two incomplete passes, Unitas made a clutch 11-yard completion to Lenny Moore on third down. After one more incompletion, Unitas threw three straight passes to Raymond Berry, moving the ball 62 more yards, to the Giants’ 13-yard line (Berry had 12 receptions for 178 yds, the most yards from scrimmage in the game, and an NFL title game record.) A 20-yard FG by K Steve Myhra with 7 seconds left sent the game into sudden-death overtime…the first overtime game in NFL history. In OT, the Giants won the toss but failed in their first possession. Then Unitas and Baltimore drove 80 yards on 13 plays on the tired New York defense, and, aided by a key block at the goal line by TE Jim Multschellar, the Colts scored on a 1 yard TD by Alan Ameche, to win the game 23-17. Here is something that has went a little bit forgotten amidst all the hoopla surrounding this game…Johnny Unitas had called all 13 plays of the winning drive.

The 1958 NFL title game became known as The Greatest Game Ever Played…
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Photo and Image credits above -
Illustrations of Colts and Giants 1958 helmets from gridiron-uniforms.com/[1958]. Game program, unattributed at goldenrankings.com. Screenshot of video [Yankee Stadium, exterior shot], image from video uploaded by NFL at youtube.com, ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ 1958 NFL Championship: Colts vs. Giants. Photo of Unitas in pocket, photo unattributed at chatsports.com. Raymond Berry diving catch in ’58 title game, photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images at gettyimages.com. Screenshot of Giants D about to stop Ameche on 4th-and-goal, unattributed at sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com. Photo of Unitas passing long, late in game, from baltimorepostexaminer.com. Unitas watches after handing off to Alan Ameche (winning TD in OT), photo by Neil Leifer at neilleifer.com. Colts fans carry Ameche off the field as the goal-posts are torn down, photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated via darkroom.baltimoresun.com. Fans carry Ameche off the field, screenshot of video uploaded by NFL at youtube.com.

The broadcast of the game by the NBC television network is credited with growing, almost overnight, the fan interest in the NFL. The 1958 NFL Championship Game marked the start of the popularity-surge for the NFL… a popularity-surge that has not abated to this day. As pro football historian Bob Carroll notes in his book When the Grass Was Real …’The next morning…for the first time in history, the National Football League was the number-one topic at watercoolers from sea to shining sea. Among the oohs over Johnny Unitas’s passes and the ahhs over Sam Huff’s tackles came many plaintive wonderings why “our town” didn’t have its own pro football team.’…{end of excerpt from page 12 of When the Grass Was Real, by Bob Carroll, published in 1993 by Simon and Schuster, available at amazon.com here}.

-Video: The Greatest Game Ever Played – 1958 NFL Championship Highlights – Colts vs Giants (12:31 video [fuzzy color video] uploaded by Savage Brick Sports at youtube.com).
-From Golden Rankings, 1958 NFL Championship Game, Baltimore Colts @ New York Giants [illustrated article in chart form] (goldenrankings.com).

1958 Baltimore Colts: 6 All-Pro players; plus 6 from the ’58 Colts that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1958 AP, 1st team.
-Johnny Unitas: 1958 All-Pro (QB), and 1958 MVL (AP & UPI & Bert Bell Trophy); Unitas was inducted to the HoF in 1979.
-Gino Marchetti: 1958 All-Pro (DE); Marchetti was inducted to the HoF in 1972.
-Jim Parker: 1958 All-Pro (OT); Parker was inducted to the HoF in 1973.
-Raymond Berry: 1958 All-Pro (WR); Berry was inducted to the HoF in 1973.
-Lenny Moore: 1958 All-Pro (HB); Moore was inducted to the HoF in 1975.
-Gene Lipscomb: 1958 All-Pro (DT).
-Art Donovan: (DT) inducted to the HoF in 1968.
-Weeb Ewbank: (Head coach of Colts from 1954-62); Ewbank was inducted to the HoF in 1978.

1958 NFL attendance figures, and notes on stadia.
In 1958, the NFL was in the midst of its steadily-increasing popularity, and broke 3 million total attendance for the second straight year. There were 3,132,346 tickets sold for the 72 regular season games of the 1958 NFL season, making an average attendance of 43,504. The public were being captivated by the NFL, and the turnstiles told the tale: in a 5 year span, the NFL increased its average attendance by a staggering 11.1 thousand per game…in 1954, the NFL averaged 32.4 K; five years later, in 1958, the NFL was averaging 43.5 K.
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Credits above – sources for figures: pro-football-reference.com/years/1958/attendance.htm; packershistory.net/1958PACKERS/GAME9. Helmet icons: gridiron-uniforms.com/[1959]. Chart: billsportsmaps.com.

In 1958, the highest drawing NFL team was, once again, the Los Angeles Rams, who drew an astounding 83.6 thousand per game. Second-best-drawing team was the 9-3 Cleveland Browns (at 67.1 K). The Baltimore Colts drew third-best (at 53.6 K [which was a league-2nd-best 93.1-percent-capacity; only the Packers at their Green Bay venue filled their stadium better]). Two more teams drew above 50-K: the reigning-champs the Detroit Lions (at 53.4 K), and the San Francisco 49ers (at 52.4 K). And two more teams drew in the mid-40-K-range: the New York Giants (45.7 K) and the Chicago Bears (43.9 K). So there you go: in 1958, these were the 7 NFL teams that were drawing big-time crowds…Rams, Browns, Colts, Lions, 49ers, Giants, Bears. Then there was a rather large divide between those 7-high-drawing teams, and the other 5 NFL teams of 1958.

1958 NFL attendance: A chasm of 12-thousand-per-game separated the top 7 draws (see above) and the 5 lower-drawing teams (see below).
Just as the NFL was becoming more popular circa 1958, there were still 5 franchises that were under-performing at the turnstile. Each of these low-drawing NFL teams back then had their own reasons for drawing poorly. The Chicago Cardinals drew so poorly because the team was doomed to being the after-thought-team in the Windy City, thanks to the Bears’ predominance there (and so the Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis two years later, in 1960). The Pittsburgh Steelers were just so consistently bad back then (or at best, mediocre), and were bad for so long, that their crowd-sizes were perpetually stuck in the mid-20-K-range. But also, the aging Forbes Field, which the Steelers rented from MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, was pretty decrepit at this point and had a somewhat small capacity of around 41,000. Washington, like the Steelers, also had to rent from an MLB team and play in an outdated venue; plus, Washington in the late-’50s was in the midst of a 13-year-slump without a winning season, and crowds at Griffith Stadium had plateaued to the point that they were drawing only 1.2 K better than they were eight seasons earlier in 1950 (Washington drew only 25.4 K in ’50; and 8 years later in ’58 they were only drawing slightly better at 26.6 K). So, in an 9-season-span (1950 to ’58), while the NFL as a whole increased its average attendance by over 14 thousand per game, Washington increased their crowds by only twelve-hundred or so per game.

The Packers’ low attendance in 1958 is a complicated issue. First off, one would expect a drop-off in attendance for the Packers in ’58, because 1958 was the absolute worst season the Green Bay Packers ever had (1-10-1). The Packers were the only NFL team that had two venues, and from 1933 to 1994, the Packers played 2 or 3 games each season in Milwaukee (they played 4 games in Green Bay and 2 home games in Milwaukee during the 1958-60 time period). In 1958, the Packers were not able to draw higher than the 29.7 K they averaged that season for two reasons: small capacity in their new venue in Green Bay (City Stadium (II), which opened in 1957), and low attendance in Milwaukee. The Packers’ City Stadium (II) [now called Lambeau Field] only had a capacity of 32,500 back then. In 1958, the Packers had the league’s best percent-capacity figure, that is, for their four Green Bay home games. The Packers played to an average of 30.8 K in their 4 home games in Green Bay (which was a solid 94.8 percent-capacity). But in their two home games in ’58 at Milwaukee County Stadium (which had a much larger capacity of 43.7 K), the Packers drew poorly: 24.5 K v Rams in October and then only 19.7 K v 49ers in late November. The Packers fortunes would improve vastly with the arrival of Vince Lombardi in the following season of 1959, and the team would, um, pack even more fans in their soon-to-be-expanded stadium, and by 1961, the Packers were back to their title-winning ways. And despite being located in the smallest NFL market by far, the Green Bay Packers have been playing to basically-full-capacity ever since then. And after the 1994 season, the Packers’ organization came to the conclusion that, because demand for tickets was so great, they no longer needed to play a few of their games each season in Milwaukee. But as early as 1958, looking at the poor support Milwaukee residents gave the (admittedly bad) ’58 Packers, one could say that the small-town Green Bay Packers could already could stand on their own, without the crutch of a big-city venue.

There was one more team that was drawing significantly below the NFL average of 43-K in 1958, and that was the Philadelphia Eagles (see next two paragraphs).

1958: Philadelphia Eagles move into Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania…
Franklin Field dates back to 1895, with its current structure installed in the 1920s. When the Eagles played there (for 13 seasons, from 1958-70), it had a capacity of 60 thousand. It was, and still is, the home of the Ivy League college football team the Penn Quakers. It was also the home of the annual Army-Navy Game from 1899-1935. As the Stadiums of Pro Football.com site says, “Franklin Field is the answer to a trivia question that even the most dedicated NFL fans might not know. It is the oldest football stadium in the country.” {-Quote from Frankiln Field at stadiumsofprofootball.com.} The Eagles move to Franklin Field was beneficial purely because it was a move from a baseball park to a venue designed for rectilinear sports like gridiron football. The Eagles moved into Franklin Field not as renters (the U. of Penn is a not-for-profit organization), but the Eagles donated about $75-to-100-K per year to stadium upkeep. However, the Eagles were not allowed to profit from sales of food and drink, or from parking fees. So, it was not an ideal set-up, and the Eagles later jumped at the opportunity to move into the city’s new multi-purpose venue, Veterans Stadium, in 1971 (which, of course, was also the home of the Philadelphia Phillies MLB team [from 1971-2003]).

Prior to 1958, the Eagles, like the Steelers and like Washington, had played in an MLB ballpark that was antiquated. Since 1942, the Eagles had played at Connie Mack Stadium [aka Shibe Park], which only had a capacity of around 39,000, unless temporary bleachers were installed (as the Eagles were doing during their dual-championship-era of 1948 and ’49). And, like Pittsburgh and like Washington, the Eagles circa the mid-to-late-1950s were also bad, so this contributed to their small crowds. The Eagles drew worst in the league the year before, in 1957, when, in their last season at Connie Mack Stadium, and as a 4-8 team, they drew only 21.6 K. The next year (1958), with the move over to Franklin Field, the Eagles increased their crowd-size by 7.4-K-per-game (to 29.0 K per game). Their attendance had increased thanks to the venue-change, and despite the fact that Eagles were in a re-building mode and were really bad in ’58 (finishing last in the East, at 2-9-1). The next season of 1959, the Eagles, under aging-but-still-very-effective QB Norm Van Brocklin, vastly improved (to 7-5), and that helped to draw 10-thousand-more per game to Franklin Field (the Eagles drew 39.2 K in ’59). And then in 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles would be NFL champions. These days, the Eagles draw very well and have no attendance issues (well, other than a disproportionate amount of unruly fans).

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1958 NFL…
1958 was the second year that the NFL had mandated that all home teams were to wear their dark jersey, and all road teams were to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. This was to ensure that television viewers watching NFL games on black-and-white TVs would not have trouble differentiating between the two teams.

Below: Washington’s ‘feather-helmet’ (worn from late 1958 through to 1964; replaced by the feathered-spear helmet)
washington-redskins_1958_feather-helmet_h_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[Washington 1958]; helmet photos from helmethut.com.

-In 1958, Washington introduced the ‘feather-helmet’, which was worn for the last two games of the season. Washington was the fourth NFL team to introduce a helmet-logo {here are the first three helmet-logos in the NFL}. The feather-helmet was an unusual back-of-the-helmet-oriented logo, of a large feather, in pale-red-and-white, on a brownish-burgandy helmet {1958 Washington}. {Here is a photo from 1960, Washington v Eagles, that shows the feather-helmet from several angles.} The weird feather-logo helmet lasted 7 years, and that was replaced in 1965 by a diagonally-positioned gold-spear-with-feather logo {1965 Redskins uniforms}. Washington’s feather-helmet had the same problem that the original Colts’ horseshoe helmet (of ’54) had…the logo was oriented to the back of the helmet, making it hard to see from the front.

-In 1958, the Chicago Cardinals ditched their alternate red-helmets, wearing only a (plain) white helmet {Cardinals 1958}. The Cards kept the plain white helmet again in ’59, and then upon moving to St. Louis in 1960, introduced their now-iconic frowning-cardinal-head helmet, which in my opinion is one of the best looking helmets ever made {1960 Ken Gray game-worn Cardinals helmet {helmet-hut.com)}.

-In 1958, the Los Angeles Rams ditched their yellow/orange [aka gold] jerseys, which the Rams had worn for some games in every one of their 14 previous seasons (going all the way back to their last year in Cleveland {1945 Cleveland Rams}). {Here is what the Rams looked like in 1957, when they were the only NFL team to sport 3 different jerseys; here were the rather plain 1958 Rams uniforms.} {Here is a photo of Rams HB Frank Arnett from 1958, on the bench during a Rams game at the LA Memorial Coliseum. By the way note, in the background of this photo, the huge crowd at the Coliseum that day; again, this was when the Rams were drawing 83 thousand per game, which was 40 thousand per game more than the league-average.} The Rams have worn yellow/orange jerseys a few times in the modern era {throwback-uniforms in 1994, and an alternate uniform (color rush) in 2014}.

-In 1958, the Green Bay Packers did not wear any gold in their uniforms (no yellow/orange gold or metallic-gold). Green Bay, in ’58, for some strange reason, only wore dark-forest-green-and-white at home, and wore white-and-dark-blue on the road…and their helmet was a plain white helmet with a dark-green center-stripe. This Packers’ alternate helmet-and-color-scheme of white-and-dark-forest-green was worn for parts of 3 seasons (1956, ’57, ’58). Green Bay’s 1958 gear was the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when any shade of gold was not in their colors. It was also, coincidentally or not, the Packers’ worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and eminently forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers.} {Here is the only color image I could find of this shade of Packers green: photos of Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr from pre-season 1956.} It really is a forgotten period in the history of the Packers. By the way, if you look closely at the ’58 Packers home jersey you can see that the green had a bit of blue in it: a dark-bluish-grey-shade-of-green (ie, forest-green), not the simply-dark-green they have worn since 1959. So, after their strange 3-year-experiment with white helmets and a weird shade of dark-bluish-green, in 1959, with the arrival of coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers began wearing their current color-scheme of gold (yellow-orange) and plain-dark-green. A couple years after that, the Packers’ introduced their football-shaped-G-logo. The Packers’ helmet logo was introduced in 1961…which just so happens to be the year that the Packers started winning NFL titles again.
___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Baltimore Colts…
Colts’ Raymond Berry-style helmet w/ butterfly-facemask [reproduction of helmet from 1960-63 era], from ebay.com. Johnny Unitas, photo [from commemorative issue of Baltimore Sun, following Unitas' death in 2002], photo unattributed at nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/[Johnny Unitas feature]. Unitas and Colts offensive line after a snap, Life magazine photo [from 1960], photo unattributed at grayflannelsuit.net/blog. Jim Parker [segment of 1959 Topps card], from ebay.com. Gino Marchetti [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/[Baltimore Colts]. Raymond Berry [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Gene Lipscomb [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at helmethut.com. Lenny Moore [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at nflpastplayers.com/lenny-moore. Art Donovan, photo [from 1958 preseason] by Baltimore Sun at baltimoresun.com. Alan Ameche [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at pinterest.
1958 Offensive stats leaders…
Johhny Unitas (Colts) [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at chatsports.com. Billy Wade (Rams) [1960 Topps card], from footballcardgallery.com. Jim Brown (Browns), [action-photo from 1958 game v Steelers], photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images via gettyimages.co.uk. Del Shofner [photo from 1958 game v Colts], photo by Al Paloczy/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images at gettyimages.com.

Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1958 season (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to pro-football-reference.com and to packershistory.net for attendance data from 1958; thanks to Mike at sports-reference.com/feedback for swift reply and correction of Packers’ attendance discrepancy, of 1958 week 9 game, at pro-football-reference.com.
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

December 17, 2017

NFL 1957 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Detroit Lions./+ 1957 NFL attendance data & info on 1957 NFL teams’ uniforms.

nfl_1957_map-w-final-standings_detroit-lions-champions_post_k_.gif
NFL 1957 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Detroit Lions



By Bill Turianski on 17 December 2017 twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1957 NFL season
-1957 Detroit Lions season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1957 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1957 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1957] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1957. Final standings for the 1957 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. There also is a small section devoted to 1957 NFL attendance data. At the top-right of the map-page is a section devoted to the 1957 NFL champions, the Detroit Lions (also see the next 6 paragraphs and the illustration below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1957 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating & Passing Yards & Passing TDs: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards & Rushing TDs: Jim Brown, Browns. Total Yards from Scrimmage & total TDs: Lenny Moore, Colts. Receiving Yards: Raymond Berry, Colts.

The 1957 Detroit Lions are champions, demolishing the Cleveland Browns 59-14, and winning their third NFL title in 6 years.
During the 1950s, in just a 6-year span, the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns faced each other 4 times in the NFL title game. They had previously met in 1952, 1953, and 1954, with Detroit winning in close games in ’52 and ’53, and with Cleveland winning big in ’54. But in 1957, the underdog Detroit Lions won big over the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, thanks to 5 turnovers and the steady leadership of back-up QB Tobin Rote.

The betting line was Browns by 3 points, and the Las Vegas odds-makers probably gave that 3 point edge to Cleveland because it was a case of a veteran coach (Paul Brown) versus a rookie coach (the Lions’ George Wilson). And also, the Lions’ team leader and longtime-QB, Bobby Layne, was out injured. And looking at the regular season stats, Detroit had, on paper, a mediocre +20 points difference, which was only 6th-best in the league that year. But the Browns had never won in Detroit. Plus, the Lions were the hottest team in the league at that point, having won their last 4 games, and 6 of 7 (including beating Cleveland 20-7 in week 11). And the Lions were coming off a Tobin-Rote-led 24-point comeback-win over the 49ers, in the Western Conference tiebreaker playoff game, a week earlier. So, the oddsmkers might have thought Cleveland were favorites, but there were plenty of signs pointing to a Detroit win.

1957 NFL Championship Game: Detroit Lions 59, Cleveland Browns 14…
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Photo and Image credits above – Aerial photo of Briggs Stadium, circa mid-1950s, photo from Virtual Motor City via photos.metrotimes.com. Detroit Lions 1950s-era logo [2014 retro-redesign], image from irononlogo.com. Interior shot of Briggs Stadium, circa mid-1950s, photo by Wayne State University via Virtual Motor City via photos.metrotimes.com. Photo of Tobin Rote [in 1957 NFL title game], by Marvin E. Newman at gettyimages.com. Illustrations of Lions and Browns 1957 helmets, by gridiron-uniforms.com/[1957]. Bobby Layne, on crutches, hugs Tobin Rote post-game, photo by AP via freep.com. Detroit Free Press front page [Dec. 30 1957], photo from freep.com.

Aided by two 1st-quarter turnovers (1 FR, 1 INT), all 3 possessions by the Lions in the first quarter led to scores (1 FG, and then two 1-yard-TD-runs: the first by QB Tobin Rote, and then another 1-yard-TD by HB Gene Gedman). Then, early in the 2nd quarter, Detroit pulled a trick play…Tobin Rote, who was also the place-holder for Field Goal attempts, called for a fake-FG in the huddle. It resulted in a 26-yard TD pass to End Steve Junker. That made it 24-7, and the rout was on. A 19-yard interception for a TD, by Lions DB Terry Barr, gave the Lions a 24-point lead at halftime (31-7). In the 2nd half, the Browns scored an early 3rd quarter TD, but the Lions answered with 4 TD passes, 3 by Rote, and the final TD pass by 3rd-string QB Jerry Reichow. In the 3rd quarter, Rote threw a stupendous 78-yard-pass to End Jim Doran, and then a 23-yard-TD-pass to Steve Junker. In the 4th quarter, Rote threw a 32-yd-TD-pass to End Dave Middleton. And so, with the game safely in hand, Rote was substituted for Reichow, who then threw a 16-yard TD pass to HB Howard ‘Hopalong’ Cassady. Final score: Lions 59, Browns 14.

The 45-point margin of victory by the Lions made it the most lopsided NFL title game since the Bears’ 73-0 win over Washington in 1940. The Lions had won their fourth (and last) NFL title.

1957 Detroit Lions: 3 All-Pro players; plus 7 from the ’57 Lions that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1957 AP, 1st team.
-Jack Christiansen (DB/KR): 1957 All-Pro; Christiansen was inducted into the HoF in 1970.
-Joe Schmidt (MLB): 1957 All-Pro; Schmidt was inducted into the HoF in 1973.
-Lou Creekmur (OT): 1957 All-Pro; Creekmur was inducted into the HoF in 1996.
-Bobby Layne (QB); Layne was inducted into the HoF in 1969.
-Yale Lary (DB/P); Lary was inducted into the HoF in 1979.
-Frank Gatski (C); Gatski was inducted into the HoF in 1985.
-John Henry Johnson (FB); Johnson was inducted into the HoF in 1987.

Two games into the next season (1958), the Lions front-office decided to stick with Tobin Rote, and part with the older and more expensive Bobby Layne. Layne was traded to the basement-dwelling Pittsburgh Steelers, and it is said that an incensed Layne predicted that the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. He was right. The Detroit Lions have gone 1-10 in the playoffs since 1957, and are the oldest NFL franchise that has never won a Super Bowl title. They haven’t even made it to a Super Bowl: the closest that the Detroit Lions have ever got to a Super Bowl appearance was a loss to Washington in the 1991 NFC championship game. As of late December 2017 [with the Lions failing to qualify for the playoffs], it has been 60 years and counting since the Lions have been the NFL champions. There is just one thing I don’t understand…why is the player who led the Lions to their last NFL title, Tobin Rote, not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? (See following link.)

-From the Detroit Athletic blog, Tobin Rote belongs in Canton (by Howard Bak at detroitathletic.com/blog).
-From the Detroit Free Press, 1957 Detroit Lions: Full 60th anniversary coverage (freep.com/story/sports).
-From Golden Football Magazine site, NFL Championship Games: 1957, Cleveland Browns @ Detroit Lions [illustrated chart-style article] (goldenrankings.com/nflchampionshipgame1957.html).
-Video of 1957 NFL Championship Game (at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, MI), Detroit Lions 56, Cleveland Browns 17 [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 1]; [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 2]; [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 3] (videos uploaded by Vol Brian at youtube.com).


1957 NFL attendance.
Note: also see the 1957 NFL Average Attendance chart at far-lower-right of the map page {source: pro-football-reference.com}.
In 1957, the NFL was in the midst of its steadily-increasing popularity, and broke 3 million total attendance for the first time. There were 3,062,449 tickets sold for the 72 regular season games of the 1957 NFL season. That averaged out to 42,534 per game (up an impressive +3,914 per game or up 10.1%, from 1956). The highest drawing NFL team was once again the Los Angeles Rams (at 68 K). Second-best draw was the 8-4 San Francisco 49ers (at 65 K), who drew 19-thousand-more-per-game than in 1956 (a league-best 43.9% increase). The 49ers drew so well in ’57 because they had an almost-championship-caliber team, one that came very close to winning the Western Conference (Detroit beat them in a rare conference [divisional] playoff tiebreaker game). So Bay Area fans responded by flocking in droves to Kezar Stadium, to see the Niners. Third-best attendance in 1957 was Detroit (at 55 K). The Detroit Lions of the 1950s, who won 3 NFL titles in that decade (1952, 1953, 1957), really packed them in at Briggs Stadium [aka Tiger Stadium], back then. Fourth-best crowd-size in 1957 was the much-improved Cleveland Browns (at 54 K), who featured rookie sensation Jim Brown (rushing yardage-leader & Rookie of the Year). The Browns had the second-best attendance improvement (17-thousand-more-per-game or +36.2%, from 1956). The other NFL teams of 1957 which drew above 40-thousand were: the reigning champions the New York Giants (at 48 K), the Baltimore Colts (at 46 K), and the Chicago Bears (at 44 K). The Colts are noteworthy here, as it was the still-young franchises’ first plus-40-K-attendance season (6.9-K more per game than in 1956). Their increase in attendance came thanks to the galvanizing presence of Johnny Unitas, who, in his first full-season as their starting QB, led the Colts to their first winning season (7-5). Unitas led the NFL in passing yardage and QB rating in 1957. In the following two seasons (1958 and ’59), the Colts would be champions.

New stadium for Green Bay in 1957. One more thing with respect to attendances deserves a mention…1957 was the first season of Green Bay’s new City Stadium (II) [renamed Lambeau Field in 1965]. The stadium the Packers had played in from 1932 to ’56, the bare-bones City Stadium (I), had just a 25,000-capacity {see this aerial photo circa mid-1950s}. A few years previously, the then-basement-dwelling Green Bay Packers had been told by the league office to either build a bigger stadium or move full-time to Milwaukee (Green Bay played 3 of their 6 home games, each season, in Milwaukee, during this era; in 1958 they started playing 4 in Green Bay and 2 in Milwaukee). When the Packers opened their new stadium in 1957, City Stadium (II) had a 32,500 capacity. {Here is an aerial photo of the first game played at what is now called Lambeau Field, from Sept. 29 1957.} The Packers were drawing 22.4 K in the last 3 games at the old stadium in 1956 (which was 89.7 percent-capacity). In 1957, the Packers drew to almost full-capacity for their first 3 games in the brand-new City Stadium (32.1 K at 98.7 percent-capacity). And remember, this was when the Packers were really bad (3-9 in ’57; 1-10-1 in ’58). The next year of 1958, the Packers drew 27.9 K overall, averaging 30,824 in their 4 home games in Green Bay (which was a solid 94.8 percent-capacity), but in their two home games in ’58 at Milwaukee County Stadium [capacity: 43.7 K], the Packers drew worse: 24.5 K v Rams mid-season and then only 19.7 K v 49ers in late November. So their brand-new and 7.5-K-larger stadium was being filled pretty well, despite how bad the Packers were in this era. The problem was the Packers’ Milwaukee games in the 1956-58 time period: they were getting lousy attendance (like less than 50 percent-capacity in the 43.7-K Milwaukee County Stadium). One might be tempted to say that that was an example of how the small-town Packers were no longer able to hold their own in the modernizing NFL of the late 1950s. But the problem wasn’t in their small-town venue (in Green Bay). The Packers’ attendance problem was in their big-city venue, in Milwaukee. (How ironic, and a foreshadowing of the fact that the Packers, way down the road, in 1995, stopped playing games in Milwaukee, because they could sell out Lambeau Field easily and they did not need the crutch of the big-city venue in Milwaukee anymore.) Today, the only thing that still remains from Lambeau Field’s original structure of 1957 is some concrete that comprises the nearest stands to the field, and the structural steel below that. {For more on that, see this article with a great photo of old City Stadium (II)/Lambeau Field circa early 1960s, Lambeau Field started with a chain-link fence around it (by Cliff Christl, Packers team historian, at packers.com)}. Lambeau Field is the oldest continually-operating NFL stadium, and after the Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park and the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field, Lambeau Field is the third-oldest continually-operating major league venue in the USA and Canada. (Lambeau Field now has a 81.4-k-capacity.) The next NFL team to change their venue would be the Philadelphia Eagles in the following year (1958), when the Eagles moved from the decaying Connie Mack Stadium [aka Shibe Park], into the much-larger Franklin Field.


Helmet and uniform changes in the NFL in 1957.
{1957 NFL uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database site.}
-In 1957, it became mandatory in the NFL for home teams to wear their dark jersey, and for the visiting team to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. Previously, NFL teams could wear whatever colored jersey they wanted, even if the two teams both ended up wearing dark-colored jerseys. And some teams only wore one jersey the whole season (as the Bears, the Lions, and the 49ers did, the season before, in 1956). This rule change showed the growing influence that television had on the NFL…the rule change was necessary because, on their black-and-white televisions, viewers at home could not distinguish between the two teams when both were wearing dark-colored jerseys. So home-team-dark-jerseys, and visiting-team-whites, was mandated.

-In 1957, the Baltimore Colts would introduce their large-horseshoe-in-center-of-helmet logo, which the Colts franchise still uses to this day; likewise the Colts new jersey design which featured arced shoulder stripes {1957 Colts}. The Colts had previously worn a small-horseshoe-on-the-back-o-f-the-helmet {see this illustration I made for my 1956 NFL post}. Sixty years later, the Colts wear still this exact same helmet-design, with only the dark blue color having changed (and only very slightly, see this illustration I made in 2013, Baltimore/Indianaplois Colts: the 4 shades of blue the Colts have worn}.

-In 1957, the San Francisco 49ers switched their helmet-color from white to gold (a blank metallic-gold helmet), and they also switched to gold pants {SF 49ers 1947-48 gold helmets/3-stripe-red-jerseys [YA Tittle]}. Both the gold helmets and gold pants had been first worn by the 49ers back in 1949, when the team was in the AAFC. Also in 1957, the white jersey of the 49ers had a unique red-gold-red striping {1957 49ers}; {here is a very nice color shot of the 1957 49ers [running out onto the field v Rams at LA Coliseum}...a very nice look, but in the following season of 1958, the Niners went back to their plain-one-color-striping on the sleeves of their white jerseys, which was in the same style as the red jersey's striping, and which dated back to 1950, and which is still worn to this day. The 49ers would keep the gold-helmets-and-pants for one more season ['58], before switching back again to silver helmet and pants (and then introduced the S-F-in-football-logo on that silver helmet in 1962), then the Niners switched back to gold helmet and pants once again, for good, in 1964.

-In 1957, the Chicago Bears, because of the new dark-jerseys-at-home/light-jerseys-away rule, wore white jerseys for the first time in 17 years (worn last in 1940) {1957 Rick Casares game-worn jersey.} (The Bears still wear essentially the same white jersey to this day.)

-In 1957, the Cleveland Browns added jersey-numbers to their orange helmets. {Reproduction of 1957 Jim Brown helmet (pasttimesports.biz).} {1957 Browns.} {black-and-white photo of 1957 Browns helmet w/ jersey-numbers [Jim Brown].} This was the first instance of the color brown on the Browns’ helmet (brown stripes flanking the center-white-stripe appeared in {1960}). The Browns would only wear this jersey-numbers-on-helmet style for 4 years (1957-60).

-In 1957, the Green Bay Packers’ alternate helmet-&-color-scheme of white-and-dark-forest-green was worn (this color-scheme existed for 3 seasons for the Packers [1956, '57, '58]). The Packers wore this white-and-dark-forest-green gear only once in ’56 (on opening day). But here, in 1957, when the NFL introduced the aforementioned rule that said home teams must wear dark jerseys at home and light-colored jerseys on the road, the Packers wore the white-and-dark-forest-green colors for all 6 of their road games {1957 Packers}; {1957 Packers at Rams, with Packers in white helmets-and-jerseys-with-dark-green-trim}. Then, in the next season (1958), the Packers wore white-helmets-with-dark-forest-green-jerseys for all 6 home games (and wore a very similar-looking white-with-dark-blue-trim for all 6 road games), making it the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when gold (yellow-orange or metallic-gold) was not in their colors. 1958 was also the Packers’ worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and eminently forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers.} In 1959, with the arrival of coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers began wearing their current color-scheme of gold (yellow-orange) and dark-green. And were much better.

-In 1957, the Los Angeles Rams wore white jerseys for the first time ever (they only had worn yellow/orange or blue or red/black ['37] or red ['49] jerseys previously). Like the Bears, the Rams had been wearing only one uniform for several seasons (the Rams wore just a yellow/orange jersey from 1951 to ’56). The Rams were the only NFL team in 1957 that had three jerseys (blue, yellow/orange, white) {1957 Rams}.

-In 1957, the New York Giants introduced a subtle alteration of their helmets, placing jersey-numbers on the front of their blank-dark-blue-helmet-with-red-center-stripe. This helmet-design does not get noted at Gridiron Uniforms Database, but at MG’s Helmets, and at the Helmet Project site, the numbers-on-front-of-helmet design for the Giants of this era is noted, but just not by a specific year [when the design originated]. Well, I’ve looked at plenty of 1950s-era Giants helmets recently, and I can tell you for sure that the numbers were added to the front of Giants’ helmets in 1957 (and the jersey-numbers stayed on the front of Giants helmets all the way up to 1974). All you have to do is look at this photo from the Giants’ 1956 title-march {1956 NY Giants on the bench: Gifford, Beck, Conerly, Webster}, and then look at this photo from 1957 {Giants defense takes down Jim Brown, 1957}. The Giants put those jersey-numbers on the front of their helmets in ’57. Even without the Giants’ small-case-NY logo {which wasn’t introduced until 1961}, that ’57 Giants helmet-design with the jersey-numbers on the front was a pretty solid look. I wish more teams would utilize that look (like the Steelers do; see below).

-In 1957, the Pittsburgh Steelers, like the Browns, introduced jersey-numbers on their yellow/orange-gold-with-black-stripe helmets {1957 Steelers}. The Steelers wore this style for 5 years, from 1957-61 {The next link show this style of helmet, 1960 Steelers [Bobby Layne in Steelers huddle].} In 1962, the Steelers got rid of the large-jersey-numbers-on-the-side-of-helmet, and kept the plain yellow/orange-gold-helmet-with-black-stripe, and then later in the ’62 season they finally introduced a logo…the Steelers’ US-Steel-with-starbursts logo (Nov. 1962). {Here is a shot of safety Willie Daniel in the 1962 Steelers’ gold-helmet with US-Steel-and-starbursts logo, which was worn for the last 5 regular season games in 1962.} The US-Steel-logo-with-starbursts on a black helmet was introduced in Jan. 1963. The US-Steel-with-starbursts logo has always been worn on only the right-side of the Steelers’ helmet. In 1963, along with the introduction of the modern-day black-helmet-with-US-Steel-logo, the Steelers re-introduced jersey-numbers on the helmet, but smaller numbers worn on the front of the helmet…a look that the NY Giants pioneered in 1957 (see Giants’ section above). The Steelers have worn the small-jersey-numbers on their helmets ever since 1963…{Steelers helmet circa 1963 (John Baker)}; { Steelers’ helmet ca. 1980 (Jack Lambert)}; {Steelers’ helmets ca. 2016}.
___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Detroit Lions…
Detroit Lions mid-1950s-era leather helmet and plastic-shell helmet, photos unattributed at The Football Book published by ESPN via uni-watch.com/2007/10/30/uni-watch-book-club-the-football-book/. Bobby Layne, 1st photo (color) by George Gellatly at nfl.com. 2nd photo of Bobby Layne, photo unattributed at nflpastplayers.com/bobby-layne. Lou Creekmur, photo by Frank Rippon/NFL at nfl.com. Color photo of four 1957 Lions players [Charlie Ane, Howard Cassady, Tobin Rote, Yale Lary], photo unattributed at helmethut.com. Tobin Rote, 1st photo: 1959 Bazooka trading card from footballcardgallery.com. 2nd photo of Tobin Rote: photo of Rote from 1957 NFL Championship Game, by Marvin E. Newman at gettyimages.com. John Henry Johnson, photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Joe Schmidt, photo unattributed at sportsattic2.com/nflphotos/Schmidt,Joe. Jack Christiansen, photo unattributed at profootballhof.com/players/jack-christiansen.
1957 NFL Offensive leaders…
Johnny Unitas [photo from preseason 1957], photo by Ozzie Sweet/Sport magazine [Dec. 1958] via nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/[Johnny Unitas feature]. Jim Brown [photo from 1957 v Cardinals], photo by Cleveland Browns via waitingfornextyear.com. Lenny Moore [photo from preseason 1957], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Raymond Berry [photo of 1957 Topps card], from myalltimefavorites.com/indianapolis-colts.

Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1957 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

November 9, 2017

NFL 1956 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: New York football Giants.

Filed under: NFL>1956 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 1:06 pm

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NFL 1956 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: New York football Giants



By Bill Turianski on 9 November 2017; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1956 NFL season
-1956 New York Giants season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1956 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1956 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1956] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and primary jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1956. Final standings for the 1956 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. In the bottom-right-corner are 1956 NFL attendance figures by team. At the top-right of the map is a section devoted to the 1956 NFL champions, the New York Giants (also see next 9 paragraphs below). At the right-hand-center of the map page, are 1956 Offensive leaders in the following categories…QB Rating: Ed Brown, Bears. Passing Yards & TD passes: Tobin Rote, Packers. Rushing Yards & total TDs: Rick Casares, Bears. Total Yards from Scrimmage: Frank Gifford, Giants. Receiving Yards & TD receptions: Billy Howton, Packers.

The New York Giants demolished the Chicago Bears in the 1956 Championship Game, 47-7 (played at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 30, 1956). The Giants were coached by Jim Lee Howell (Howell is best known for, in 1954, giving both Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry their first NFL coaching jobs). In 1956, the Giants had a balanced team, with the league’s 3rd-best-Offense and the 4th-best-Defense. They were led by the then-34-year-old, and long-time-Giants-QB, Charley Conerly, and featured the 1956 NFL Most Valuable Player, halfback Frank Gifford. The Giants’ defense was spearheaded by a bruising front four that included DE Andy Robustelli (who had just been traded from the Rams). The ’56 Giants had a swift-and-hard-hitting linebacker corps that featured that season’s Rookie of the Year, Sam Huff, and a defensive backfield that included a veteran interception specialist, Emlen Tunnell. (Tunnell had been the first black player to play for the Giants, eight years previously, in 1948.)

In the 1956 final, the New York football Giants faced a team which had the NFL’s highest-scoring offense that year – the Chicago Bears. There was mixed-snow-&-freezing-rain falling before the game, and by game-time, the field was frozen solid. After checking the field conditions, coach Howell ordered the whole team to leave their cleats in the locker room and wear sneakers, for better traction on the frozen field. The Bears, repeating something that happened 22 years earlier [in the 1934 NFL title game in NYC, which they also lost], did not wear the sneakers they had brought. {See this article from the Chicago Tribune, Carved In Ice: Bears-Giants ‘Sneaker’ Title Game}.

So the Giants, in their Pro Keds sneakers, on that frozen field at Yankee Stadium, ran circles around the Bears. Charlie Conerly threw two TDs, including one to Frank Gifford. Gifford was the main offensive force, with 161 yards from scrimmage including a 67-yard pass play. Giants fullback Mel Triplett rushed for 71 yards and a TD. And fullback Alex Webster racked up 103 yards from scrimmage, and ran for 2 TDs. {You can see a photo of FB Alex Webster (in sneakers) on a big-gain pass-play in the 1956 title game, in the photo-section at the top-right of the map page.} The blowout was pretty much sealed late in the 2nd quarter, after Giants DT Rosey Grier had sacked the Bears’ QB Ed Brown for a 9-yard-loss on the one-yard-line, forcing the Bears to punt. The punt was blocked by Giants guard/lineman Ray Beck {see him in photo on Giants’ bench, talking with Frank Gifford, at the top-right-center of the map-page}. And then the blocked punt was recovered in the end zone for a TD by Giants rookie DB Henry Moore. That made it 34-7 for the Giants at halftime. And then the Giants scored 13 unanswered points in the 2nd half, to make it a 47-7 final score.

Video: 1956 Football Championship (27:50 video uploaded by Newton Minnow at youtube.com).

1956 was the first year the New York football Giants played in Yankee Stadium. (The New York football Giants, as a renter of the New York baseball Giants, had played at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan ever since the gridiron football team was formed, in 1925.) They left the decaying Polo Grounds and moved the mile east, across the Harlem River, to the South Bronx and Yankees Stadium. And with that move, the Giants’ attendance increased a whopping 26 thousand per game and more than doubled – from 21 K in the Polo Grounds in 1955, to 47 K at Yankee Stadium in 1956. (The New York football Giants would play 18 seasons at Yankee Stadium, before the 1973-76 Yankee Stadium renovation forced them to seek a temporary venue in New Haven, CT at the Yale Bowl [the Giants played in New Haven for the latter-part of the 1973 season and all of the the 1974 season], then in 1975 the Giants played one season at the New York Jets’ venue [Shea Stadium in Queens, NY]. Then in 1976, the Giants moved into Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.)
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/new-york-football-giants_move-from-polo-grounds_to-yankee-stadium_1956_r_.gif
Photo credits above – Photo of the Polo Grounds in NFL configuration [photo circa 1955], photo unattributed at football.ballparks.com/NFL/NewYorkGiants. Shot of Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium [photo circa 1956], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants. Photo of New York Giants playing at Yankee Stadium [photo from 1960], photo by Neil Leifer at neilleifer.com/new-york-giants.

In the 1956 NFL season, the Giants had finished 8-3-1, which was a game-and-a-half better than the 2nd-place-Eastern-Conference-finisher, the Chicago Cardinals. Their win over the Bears in the 1956 Championship Game got the Giants their first NFL title in 18 years, and their fourth NFL title up to that point. The Giants would not win another NFL title for 30 years (1986 season). (The Giants now have won 8 NFL titles including 4 Super Bowl titles [last in the 2011 season].) The 1956 New York Giants featured 5 Pro Football Hall of Fame players on their roster (Emlen Tunnell, Andy Robustelli, Rosey Brown, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff), as well as two coaching greats who were early in their careers, and who also were later inducted into the Hall of Fame: Vince Lombardi (Giants’ Offensive coordinator) and Tom Landry (Giants’ Defensive coordinator) {photo of Lombardi & Landry circa 1956}.

6 New York Giants players made the 1956 NFL All-Pro team…
-Frank Gifford (Halfback). Frank Gifford was voted 1956 Sporting News & UPI Most Valuable Player [Pro Football HoF, 1977].
-Sam Huff (Linebacker). Sam Huff was named 1956 NFL Rookie of the Year [Pro Football HoF, 1982].
-Emlen Tunnell (Defensive back) [Pro Football HoF, 1967].
-Andy Robustelli (Defensive End) [Pro Football HoF, 1971].
-Rosey Brown (Offensive Tackle) [Pro Football HoF, 1975].
-Rosey Grier (Defensive Tackle).

Here is a detailed and comprehensive look at the title-winning 1956 New York football Giants,
From Big Blue Interactive.com, The 1956 New York Giants [illustrated article] (by Larry Schmitt on May 30 2015 at bigblueinteractive.com).


1956 NFL Attendance
Home average attendance (6 home games)
Los Angeles Rams: 61,189.
Detroit Lions: 55,161.
Chicago Bears: 48,476.
New York Giants: 47,063.
San Francisco 49ers: 45,314.
Baltimore Colts: 39,745.
Cleveland Browns: 36,941.
Washington Redskins: 29,148.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 28,392.
Philadelphia Eagles: 24,431.
Green Bay Packers: 24,054.
Chicago Cardinals: 23,545.
Source: pro-football-reference.com/1956/attendance.


Helmet & unifom changes for 1956 NFL…
As of 1956, NFL teams could wear their dark jersey and the visiting team could actually also wear their dark jersey for the same game. Circa the mid-1950s, because of the increasing importance of televised broadcasts of NFL games, that would soon change. You see, if both home and road teams were wearing dark colored jerseys (or both wearing light-colored jerseys), it made it very hard for television viewers to differentiate between the two teams (this was the era of black-and-white television). Here, at gridiron-uniforms.com/[1956, week 1], is an example of color-clashes in NFL games, from the opening week of the 1956 season; note in this link that you can see that 4 of the 6 games in that week would have been very hard to watch on a black-and-white television. That would change the next year (in 1957), when it became mandatory in the NFL for home teams to wear their dark jersey, and for the visitors to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey.

In 1956, three teams ended up wearing their white jerseys more of the time than their dark jersey….the Browns (eleven times in white, including all their 6 home games), the Giants (8 times in white, including 4 of their 7 home games [including the Championship Game versus the Bears]), and the Eagles (7 times in white, including 3 of their 6 home games). The Colts wore their white jersey six times, including in 3 of their home games.

The Colts also changed their helmets in 1956 – from a blue helmet to a white helmet, and the Colts continued to feature their prototype-horseshoe-logo – worn on the back of their helmet (see illustration below).

In 1956, four teams did not wear a white jersey: the Bears, the Packers, the Rams, and the 49ers. And three of them only wore one jersey…the Bears (midnight-blue jersey), the Rams (yellow/orange [aka gold] jersey), and the 49ers (red jersey). The Packers wore two different color schemes…a strange dark-forest-green-and-white jersey for their first game, and then the Packers wore dark-greyish-blue-and-gold jerseys for their next 11 games (see more on that further below, in the ’56 Packers section).

[To see info on who wore what, and when, in 1956, go to gridiron-uniforms.com/[1956] and then click on numbers “1|2|3|4…[etc]“, found below the header that reads “1956 NFL Teams”.]

-In 1956, the Baltimore Colts went from blue to white helmets, retaining the small-horseshoe-at-back-of-helmet logo (see images below for the prototype-Colts-horseshoe logos from the 1954-56 era). Some players on the ’56 Colts wore a dark-blue facemask (see following link). {Here are photos of a reproduction of a 1956 Colts helmet (helmethut.com).} (In the next year of 1957, the Colts would introduce their large-horseshoe-in-center-of-helmet logo, which the Colts franchise still uses to this day.)
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Above: helmet and jersey illustrations by Gridiron Uniform Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/[Colts].

-In 1956, the Green Bay Packers wore white helmets for the first of three seasons (1956-58); and in 1956, the Packers’ alternate color-scheme of white and dark-forest-green was introduced, and it too only lasted for 3 seasons (1956, ’57, ’58). {Here is the only color image I could find of this shade of Packers green: photos of Forrest Gregg & Bart Starr from pre-season 1956.} It really is a forgotten period in the history of the Packers. {Here is a black-and-white photo of Packers QB Tobin Rote in the 1956 Packers dark-green-and-white uniforms (it is from that aforementioned 1956 opening day game of Packers v Lions.} {Here are Gridiron Uniform Database’s illustrations for the uniforms of the 1956 Green Bay Packers.} The Packers wore their dark-forest-green-and-white gear only once in ’56 (as mentioned, on opening day), but in the following season of 1957, when the NFL introduced that rule that said all teams must wear dark jerseys at home and light-colored jerseys on the road, the Packers wore the white-and-dark-forest-green for all their 6 road games {1957 Green Bay Packers}. Then, in the season after that (1958), the Packers wore dark-forest-green-and-white for all 6 home games (and wore a very similar-looking white-with-dark-blue-trim for all 6 road games), making it the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when gold (yellow-orange or metallic-gold) was not in their colors. It was also their worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and eminently forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers}.)

-In 1956, the San Francisco 49ers switched their helmet-color from dark-red, to white, and wore gear that basically emulated the nearby Stanford college football team (ie, just white helmets and red jerseys, with no silver or gold at all…a very plain look). {Here are photos of 1956 49ers trading cards ; here is the uniform of the 1956 San Francisco 49ers.} The Niners not only looked dull in 1956, but they also looked too much like the Chicago Cardinals of 1956. (The 49ers’ helmets would change again the following season of 1957, to metallic-gold, before switching again back to silver, then to back gold once again, for good, in 1964.)

-In 1956, Washington changed their helmets (yet again), from burgandy, back to metallic-gold. In the early 1950s, Washington had worn a metallic-gold helmet with a burgandy-red center stripe, but in 1956 and ’57 Washington wore a Notre-Dame-style all-metallic-gold helmet {see this 1958 Gene Brito trading card, with Brito in the ’57 Washington uniform}. {Here is a page that shows many color photos of Washington uniforms circa 1950 to ’80, mikestanhope.com/[Washington].} (Washington would keep the gold helmets until late in the 1958 season, when the team introduced their feather helmet [white-and-red-feather on back of burgandy-colored-helmet/used from 1968 to 1964].)
___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
1956 New York Giants…
Helmet, photo by sports.ha.com/mid-1950-s-new-york-giants-helmet-attributed-to-charlie-conerly. NY Giants players on bench [photo from 1956]: Frank Gifford (16), Ray Beck (61), Charley Conerly (42), Alex Webster (29), photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants. Frank Gifford [photo ca. 1956], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/08/09/frank-gifford-passes-away. Sam Huff [photo ca. 1958], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Charley Conerly, [Dec. 3 1956 issue of Sports Illustrated], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants/. Rosey Grier [photo ca. 1957], photo by Robert Riger at gettyimages.com. Andy Robustelli, [1981 retro-trading-card], from ebay.com ar. Emlen Tunnell [photo circa 1955], photo by Associated Press via nytimes.com/football. Alex Webster [photo from 1956 NFL Championship Game v Bears], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants/. Rosey Brown [photo circa 1955], photo by David Durochik/Associated Press via nfl.com/photoessays.

1956 NFL Offensive leaders…
Ed Brown (Bears), 1956 Topps trading card, photo from psacard.com. Tobin Rote (Packers), [1955 action photo v Browns], photo from Bettman Archive via Getty Images via packershistory.net/[1955 Packers, game 5]. Rick Casares (Bears) [1957 color photo], original photo unattributed at windycitygridiron.com/forgotten-bears. Frank Gifford [1955 action photo v Colts], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com. Billy Howton (Packers) [1954 photo], photo by Vernon Biever via si.com/nfl/photos/2010/10/20rare-nfl-photos-by-the-late-vernon-biever.

-Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com.
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1956 season (en.wikipedia.org).
-Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

September 19, 2017

NFL 1955 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Cleveland Browns.

Filed under: NFL>1955 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 11:50 am

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NFL 1955 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Cleveland Browns



By Bill Turianski on 19 September 2017; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1955 NFL season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1953 NFL [Illustrations of 1955 NFL teams' uniforms] (gridiron-uniforms.com).
-1955 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).

-Cleveland Browns 1955 (clevelandbrowns.com/team/history/year-by-year-results).

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1955. (Alternate uniforms and alternate helmets can be seen in the links to Gridiron Uniform Database pages, in the 1955 NFL teams section further below.) Final standings for the 1955 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. At the top-right of the map is a small section devoted to the 1955 Sporting News & UPI Most Valuable Player, Otto Graham (QB of the Cleveland Browns). At the far-right/center are offensive leaders: QB Rating (Otto Graham), Receiving Yards (Pete Pihos of the Eagles), Rushing Yards (Alan Ameche of the Colts).

The 1955 NFL season was the 36th season of the league. Defending champions the Cleveland Browns, who had beaten Detroit 56-10 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game, won the NFL title for the second-straight year, again in convincing fashion…on December 26, 1955, before 87 thousand at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Browns, led by QB Otto Graham, beat the LA Rams 34-10. Graham was voted the UPI and the Sporting News MVP for the 1955 NFL season. Otto Graham had thus led the Cleveland Browns to 10 straight pro football title games, winning 7 of them (all 4 AAFC titles [1946-49], then NFL titles in 1950, 1954, and 1955). Graham, who had retired after the 1954 season, came out of retirement during the 1955 pre-season, when it was apparent that the Browns had no suitable replacement for him. Graham retired for good after the 1955 title game, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a decade later, in 1965 (which was the third year that the HoF, est. 1963, inducted players).

The NFL of this era (1951 to ’59) featured just 12 teams. There had been 10 teams during the late 1940s, when the NFL was competing with the All-America Football Conference. When the AAFC “merged” with the NFL for the 1950 season, three AAFC teams joined the NFL…the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers, and the first Baltimore Colts (I/est. 1947 in the AAFC and est. 1950 in the NFL). That made the NFL a 13-team league, but only for one year (1950). That was because the original Baltimore Colts team (who wore green-and-silver) only lasted one season in the NFL, going 1-11 and playing to lackluster support in 1950, then folded. But the NFL gave the city of Baltimore another shot a couple years later, and this time, the blue-and-white Baltimore Colts (II/est. 1953), who were formed out of the remains of the ill-fated 1952 Dallas Texans, became an established and successful franchise in Baltimore, before moving to Indiana in 1984 as the Indianapolis Colts.

The NFL of 1955 was a league right on the cusp of success. That success in the following decades would be tied to television broadcasts of NFL games, but for now, the NFL was not that much of a profitable enterprise, was resistant to expansion, and still played second fiddle to both Major League Baseball and College football – in terms of media exposure, popularity, and revenue. In this era, the only truly stable NFL franchises were the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the Chicago Bears, and the highest-drawing team, the Los Angeles Rams. The watershed moment for the NFL in terms of becoming a popular American institution was three years in the future. That would be the 1958 NFL Championship Game, dubbed the Greatest Game Ever Played.

This time period (mid-1950s) saw only 3 NFL teams sporting helmet logos…
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1955 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database

Up to 1957, there were only 3 NFL teams with logos on their helmets…the trail-blazing Rams (ram horns helmet logo introduced in 1948), the Eagles (eagle-wings helmet logo introduced in 1954), and the Colts (horseshoe-logo introduced in 1954, albeit a smaller white-horseshoe-on-blue helmet, with the now-famous big-blue-horseshoe-on-white-helmet not being introduced until 1957). By the late 1950s, the proliferation of helmet-logos in the NFL was about to begin. And again, this is also tied to television broadcasting, because by the late 1950s, NFL front offices began to realize that a helmet with a logo would add immeasurably to the team’s brand-value. By 1963, every NFL team (with the exception of the Cleveland Browns) would sport a television-friendly helmet-logo.

-From Todd Radom.com, How TV and Roy Rogers Helped Put Logos on NFL Team Helmets (by Todd Radom on Feb. 23 2016 at toddradom.com).

    NFL teams in 1955 (listed in order of 1955 NFL standings), with helmet histories noted…
    1955 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database

1955 NFL Eastern Conference
1. Cleveland Browns 1955: (9-2-1/1955 NFL champions), QB: Otto Graham.
{1955 Browns’ uniforms.} Under innovative head coach Paul Brown (whom the team was named after), the Browns simply dominated pro football in the immediate post-War era, first in the rebel-league the AAFC (winning all 4 AAFC titles), then playing in 6 consecutive NFL title games (1950-55), winning 3 of them. I don’t think many younger NFL fans understand this salient point…the Cleveland Browns of the AAFC joined the NFL in 1950, and promptly won the NFL title in their first season there! The Browns wore white helmets in their AAFC years (this being some of the last few years that leather helmets were worn). Then Paul Brown introduced a higher-visibility orange helmet for the Browns, upon entering the NFL in 1950. A white center-stripe was added to the orange helmet in 1952, which was the first year the Browns wore the modern plastic-shell helmets. Flanking center-stripes of brown were added in 1960. The Browns wore player-numbers on their helmets for a few years (1957-60), but switched back to the iconic plain-orange helmet that the franchise wears to this day. Although now the hapless Browns wear ugly brown facemasks (and appalling gear now), instead of the classic grey facemasks and understated uniforms they sported previously.
{Cleveland Browns uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}
Below is an illustration I put together in 2012 [originally, here...
NFL, AFC North - Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list (up to 2012 season) / Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers).]
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Image and Photo credits above – Helmet and uniform illustrations from Gridiron Uniforms Database. Photo of 1951 Bowman Paul Brown trading card from vintagecardprices.com. Tinted b&w photo of Otto Graham unattributed at gregandmark.blogspot.com/2009/12/otto-graham-episode. Photo of 1950 Bowman trading card of Lou Groza at vintagecardprices.com. Photo of Jim Brown from top100.nfl.com/all-time-100. Photo of Marion Motley in 1948 AAFC championship game from Cleveland Plain Dealer archive via cleveland.com.

2. Washington 1955: (8-4), QB: Eddie LeBaron.
{1955 Washington uniforms.} Washington wore a duller shade of burgandy in this mid-1950s time period. Actually Washingtons’ burgandy color back then had more brown in it, and less red, and was more like plum. Washington’s modern-day burgandy color dates back to 1969, which was also when their gold color stopped being old-gold (brownish-gold) and was switched to the brighter yellow-orange gold they still wear {1969 Washington uniforms}. 3 years after 1955, in 1958, Washington was the fourth NFL team to introduce a helmet-logo…it was an unusual back-of-the-helmet-oriented logo – of a large feather, in red-and-white, on a brownish-burgandy helmet {1958 Washington}. The weird feather-logo helmet lasted 7 years, and that was replaced by a diagonally-positioned gold-spear-with-feather logo {1965 Redskins uniforms}. Washington wore the spear helmet-logo for just 5 seasons. They should have kept it: in my opinion it is a very strong emblem, and proof of this can be seen in the fact that Florida State have basically created their brand on the back of this now iconic symbol. Washington switched from burgandy helmets to yellow-orange helmets with a capital-R-with-feathers logo, for a two-year period, in the early 1970s, when former Packers head coach Vince Lombardi was the Washington GM and head coach. Then Washington switched back to burgandy helmets in 1972, with the Indian-in-profile-with-feathers logo they still use to this day, and with white-burgandy-gold-burgandy-white center-striping. Yellow facemasks were introduced in 1978. {See a condensed evolution of Redskins’ helmets in this nice illustration, unattributed at pinterest, here.}
{Washington uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}

3. New York Giants 1955: (6-5-1), QB: Charley Conerly.
{1955 Giants’ uniforms}. Red was the Giants’ primary jersey color in their early days, and all the way up to the early 1950s, but the New York football Giants have worn helmets of dark-royal-blue-with-red-accents for over 80 years. The first year with that color-scheme for their headgear was all the way back in 1931 (their 7th season) {1931 Giants’ uniforms}. The Giants tried white-helmets-with-blue-accents for a few years (1934-36), but went back to the much stronger blue-with-red, and have stayed that way since 1937. In 1949, the Giants introduced a subtle but effective red center-stripe on their dark royal blue helmets, and that look has stood the test of time {1949 Giants’ uniforms}. The similarly subtle-yet-effective small-case-‘ny’ logo was introduced in 1961 {1961 Giants’ uniforms}. They tried messing with their helmet in 1975 {1975 Giants’ uniforms}, adding white facemasks and needlessly adding flanking white center-stripes to their 1975 helmet, but which, more importantly, had a very poorly-thought-out new NY-logo in a hideous font (that font can be described as dystopian-future-sans-serif). What a headache. That abomination lasted exactly one season, and then the all-caps-italicized-GIANTS logo was introduced in 1976. That logo lasted 24 years. Then, in 2000, the Giants went retro and futuristic simultaneously, reviving the small-case-‘ny’ logo, as well as the white-jerseys-with-red-numbers-/-silver-pants look they sported in the 1950s and early 1960s, plus adding a modern touch with a metallic sheen to their blue helmets, which were once again combined with grey facemasks.
Here is a great article on Giants uniforms from the Big Blue Interactive site, Becoming Big Blue – A History of the New York Giants Uniforms (by Larry Schmitt on July 8 2013 at bigblueinteractive.com).
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Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/giants.
{New York Giants’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}

4. Chicago Cardinals 1955: (4-7-1), QB: Lamar McHan.
{1955 Cardinals’ uniforms}. The Chicago Cardinals usually wore white helmets, but in the early-and-mid-1950s they would wear red helmets for night games. And when, in 1957, the NFL made it a rule that home teams wore dark jerseys and road team wore white, the Chicago Cardinals wore red helmets (with white jerseys/red pants) for all their away games. But that was the last time the Cards sported red helmets (1957). The Chicago Cardinals were always obscured by the more-dominant Chicago Bears, and it was only a matter of time before the franchise moved to greener pastures…5 years after 1955, the franchise relocated to St. Louis, MO. And 28 years after that, the franchise moved from Missouri to Arizona (in 1988). Both times they moved, they kept their colors of deep-red-and-white (with black trim added in 1964). {1960 St. Louis Cardinals’ uniforms.} When the Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960, the Cardinals introduced their bold frowning-cardinal-head logo, which in my opinion is one of the best looking helmets ever made {1960 Ken Gray game-worn Cardinals helmet {helmet-hut.com)}. The Cardinals tweaked the helmet-logo in 2005, with the cardinal looking more angry and more cartoon-like. {You can see the difference between 1960-cardinal and 2005-cardinal here (sportslogos.net).} {2005 Arizona Cardinals’ uniforms.} But at least they kept the grey facemasks.
{Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

5. Philadelphia Eagles 1955: (4-7-1), QBs: Adrian Burk & Bobby Thomason.
{1955 Eagles’ uniforms.} A Depression-era expansion franchise (est. 1933), the Eagles were named after the emblem of the National Recovery Act, which was an eagle (see this article, The Other NRA (Or How the Philadelphia Eagles Got Their Name), by Rebecca Onion at slate.com). As mentioned earlier, the Eagles, in 1954, were the second-ever NFL team to introduce a helmet logo. This was a few years after the Eagles had sported an unusual helmet-design, sort of a proto-logo, which some call the feather logo {see this, 1948 Eagles’ uniforms}. But it wasn’t really a feather, it was simply the silver top-and-center-section of the helmet, painted in along a seam-line of their primarily green leather MacGregor helmets; {Steve Van Buren circa 1948}. This design lasted from 1941 to 1949; it was on those quirky MacGregor helmets from ’41 to ’48, then the last year they wore it, in ’49, they were playing with the new plastic-shell helmets {helmethut.com/Eagles49 [Pete Pihos 1949]}. It looked pretty cool. The Eagles, perhaps not incidentally, won titles with this helmet (1948 & ’49 NFL titles). I don’t really think it was a coincidence that the eagle-wings helmet logo the Eagles came up with a few years later very closely resembles the general wavy-line shape of that “feather” helmet of the late 1940s. {1954 Eagles’ helmet.} It also, of course, looks pretty cool. And the Eagles of this era also, perhaps not incidentally, were title-winners (1960 NFL title). So why mess with it? The Eagles have tweaked it several times, though, starting in the early 1970s, when they reversed the colors so it was a green-eagle-wings on a white helmet (plus sweet black-bordered numbers on the jerseys) – a very under-rated uniform {1973 Eagles}. In 1974, the Eagles went back to green helmets, and re-introduced silver into the uniforms. Since 1996, the Eagles have worn a much darker shade of green, dubbed midnight-green, and introduced black facemasks; these days the Eagles now feature black more prominently {2016 Eagles}.
{Philadelphia Eagles’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

6. Pittsburgh Steelers 1955: (4-8), QB: Jim Finks (led 1955 NFL in passing yardage).
{1955 Steelers uniform.} Pittsburgh only wore one uniform in 1955. In the pre-Super Bowl era (before 1965), the Steelers were a cash-strapped and perennial last-place team most seasons. They always wore yellow-orange (gold) helmets. In 1953, they added a black center-stripe to the helmets, then added player-numbers for a few years (1957-61). In November 1962, the Steelers introduced their now-famous US-Steel-with-starbursts logo {1962 Steelers.} It was also on a yellow-orange helmet, with a narrow black center-stripe. The Steelers wore that design for the last couple games of the 1962 season, but they just put the helmet-logo-decals on one side of the helmet, in case it didn’t look too good and then they wouldn’t have to scrape off so my decals (true story). Turned out the logo (and the blank-side of the helmet) looked good, {1962 Steelers helmet.}. A few months later, in a post-season exhibition game in January 1963, the Steelers decided to try the logo out on a black helmet, and then the Steelers debuted the black-helmet-with-Steel-logo for the 1963 regular season, and the Steelers never did end up putting a logo on the left side of their helmet. That was a genius move.
{History of the Steelers logo (steelers.com/history).}
{Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database

1955 NFL Western Conference
1. Los Angeles Rams 1955: (8-3-1), QB: Norm Van Brocklin.
{1955 Rams uniform.} Like the Steelers, the Rams only wore one uniform in 1955, but the LA Rams could easily afford more gear, seeing as the Rams were hands-down the top draw in the NFL back then (often drawing well above 60 K at the then-100-K+-capacity LA Memorial Coliseum). The Rams started out in Cleveland and wore red-and-black their first season in the NFL {1937 Cleveland Rams.} The Cleveland Rams are one of the only Major League teams to ever win a title and then re-locate before the following season. This happened in 1945/46, when the 1945-title-winning Cleveland Rams decided to move to Los Angeles rather than face the prospect of being out-drawn and overshadowed in 1946 by the brand-new Cleveland Browns of the AAFC. So the Cleveland Rams moved to LA in 1946 and became the first Major League team on the West Coast. And a couple year later the Rams became the first team to sport a helmet-logo. The first helmet logo in the NFL was the famous golden Rams horns worn by the 1948 Los Angeles Rams (and are worn to this day by the franchise). The Ram’s-horns logo was created by LA Rams halfback and defensive back and off-season commercial artist Fred Gehrke. He came up with the idea, presented it to the Rams owner, and ended up painting every Rams player’s leather helmet in the dark-blue-and-yellow-orange ram’s-horn design (this took Gehrke the whole summer of 1948, and he got paid 1 buck per helmet, and then he was obliged to keep pots of blue and gold paint in his locker that whole 1948 season in order to repair and repaint scuffs and dings on his teammates’ helmets.
{Article on Rams 1948 helmet here, billsportsmaps.com/[category/nfl-1948-season].} The next year {1949}, the Rams front office tried to tweak the uniform by getting rid of the dark blue and playing in red, but that garish look lasted just the one year, and the Rams wisely went back to blue the next year (1950). By then the Rams were playing in the plastic-shell helmets and the ram’s-horns were decals. The Rams got rid of the yellow-orange and wore white Ram’s-horns for 9 years (1964-72). After moving to St. Louis, MO in 1995, the Rams kept their dark-blue-/-yellow-orange uniforms the same for several years, then switched their yellow-orange to metallic-gold in 2000, which was the season after the franchise won its first and only Super Bowl title (in 1999). When the Rams moved back to LA in 2016, they re-introduced the white ram’s horns in an alternate uniform, and in 2017 re-adopted the white ram’s-horns look.
{Los Angeles Rams’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

2. Chicago Bears 1955: (8-4), QB: Ed Brown (also: George Blanda).
{1955 Bears uniform}.
The Bears were one of the strongest NFL franchises all through the first 4 decades of the NFL (1920s-50s), and the Bears are still the second-most-successful NFL franchise (with 9 NFL titles, behind only the Packers’ 13 NFL titles). The Bears won their 8th NFL title in 1963, but by the early 1970s the rot of the late George Halas era had set in. It then took the Bears 22 years to win their 9th title (and only Super Bowl title), in the 1985 season. And it is now 31 more years without another title. The Bears have not actually always worn midnight-blue-and-orange. Gridiron Uniforms Database has shown, through research into old news clippings, that the franchise, which started out in Decatur, Illinois as the Decatur Staleys, wore red jerseys for their first three seasons (1920-22). {1921 Chicago Staleys [Bears].} {1922 Chicago Bears.} {See this article at the Uni-Watch.com site from June 2014, The Chicago Bears Weren’t Always Blue-and-Orange, by Phil Hencken and Bill Schaefer [of the Gridiron Uniform Database] at uni-watch.com.)} The Bears also have not always only worn plain dark-navy-blue helmets…in the 1930s, their helmet designs varied wildly, from Michigan-Wolverine-type striping {1932 Bears}, to white helmets or bizarre orange-helmets-with-starburst-navy-blue-converging-stripes {1934 Bears}, to plain orange helmets or rather nice navy-blue-helmets-with-3-orange-center-stripes {1937 Bears}. But by 1940, the Bears had gotten rid of the excess flourishes in their gear, and their modern-day look was established {1940 Bears}. And right when they had finally nailed down their (very solid) look, in the early 1940s, the Bears began their greatest era ever, with 4 NFL titles in 7 seasons (NFL titles in 1940, ’41, ’43, and ’46). {George Halas with Sid Luckman, ca. 1947.} From 1941 to 1954, the Bears did not wear a white jersey (for 15 years). {Here is a nice color photo from 1948, Bears v Cardinals.} In the early 1950s, the Bears began sporting their unique rounded-and-sans-serif numbers (as opposed to the block-shaped-and-serif numbers that were standard template for the rest of the NFL teams). And for a long time, like up to the early-1990s, the Bears were the only NFL team that had a significantly different font for the numbers on their jerseys {Bears 1958 uniform illustration by Heritage Sports Art.com/Bears} {Mike Ditka ca. 1962}. The Bears’ pointed-C- helmet-logo was introduced in 1962 (a white C); the orange-pointed-C-with-white-trim helmet-logo was introduced in 1973; midnight-blue facemasks were introduced in 1982.
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Chicago Bears Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/bears.
{Chicago Bears’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

3. Green Bay Packers 1955: (6-6), QB: Tobin Rote.
{1955 Packers uniforms.}
The Green Bay Packers pre-date the NFL by one year, and started out in 1919, as the company-team of a central Wisconsin meat-packing concern called the Indian Packing Co. The semi-pro Packers turned pro 2 years later, joining the NFL in the league’s second season, in 1921. As you can see in the next link, {1921 Green Bay Packers}, the Packers did not originally have green in their uniforms. Why did the Packers wear navy-blue-and-gold originally? Probably in emulation of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish college football team, who of course, have always worn navy-blue-with-plain-gold-helmets, and who were, without any doubt, the most famous football team in the USA in the 1920s (and on). Here is what the Packers looked like when they were in the middle of their still-unprecedented 3-straight-title-wins of 1929/’30/’31 {1930 Packers.} The Packers first sported green in their color-scheme in 1935 {1935 Packers.} For a 23-year stretch (1934 to 1957), the Packers basically couldn’t decide whether to wear blue-and-gold or green-and-gold, switching between the two color-schemes 8 times…but they never wore navy-blue along with green on the same article of clothing (also sort of like the Notre Dame college football team, which only brings out the green gear once in a while, for big games). This latter part of this time period, from the late 1940s to the late 1950s – when the Packers had an identity-crisis in regards to their colors – also just happens to coincide with the Packers most futile years. When the Packers were in the middle of a basement-dwelling 7-season/23-wins-and-60-losses stretch (from 1948 to ’54), here is what they wore {1951 Packers.} Those green pants the Packers wore in 1951 look pretty bush-league. It got worse, as you can see in the following link…{1958 Packers.} White helmets for the Packers? Talk about erasing your brand-identity for no good reason! Oh, and by the way, the 1958 Packers, in that wishy-washy dark-greyish-green-and-white gear, had their worst season ever (1-10-1). Coincidence? I think not. But salvation was just around the corner, because Vince Lombardi arrived in Green Bay the next season, and he put the team in the uniforms-of-champions that we all associate with the Pack {1959 Packers.} Two season later the Packers’ football-shaped-G logo was introduced {1961 Packers/first season with football-shaped-G-logo}. And since then, the Green Bay Packers, the biggest community-owned pro sports team in the world, have not messed with their uniforms in any fundamental way…except for one small detail: in 1983, dark-green facemasks were introduced.
{Green Bay Packers’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

4. Baltimore Colts 1955: (5-6-1), QB: George Shaw.
{1955 Colts uniforms.}
The Baltimore Colts of 1955 were a 3-year-old-expansion team. Circa 1955, the Colts still had not yet established themselves…both in terms of on-field success, or in terms of a visual identity. Their uniforms then did feature the soon-to-be iconic horseshoe-logo (although in reverse colors to what it later became). But the horsehoe logo circa 1954-56 was not prominently displayed – it was placed on the lower-back of each side of the helmet (behind the ears). It was as if the franchise was unsure of the logo, and was hiding it. I mean, why even bother having a helmet logo if you are going to place it on the lower-back part of the helmet, where it is hard to see? Well, the Colts finally realized this, and two seasons later, in 1957, they placed the horseshoe-logo, now much larger, front-and-center on the helmet. Also in 1957, the Colts introduced the uniform design that has been in use by the franchise ever since. This uniform design features jerseys that look simple but are rather brilliant: the jersey has two arced stripes on the shoulders, which mirror (in reverse) the arc of the horseshoe on the helmet. You don’t even have to notice that to notice how bold-yet-understated the Colts’ uniform-design looks. I mean, I spent over 40 years looking at Colts uniforms before I realized that their jersey-stripes mirrored the horsehoe’s shape on their helmet. (I finally realized that when I put together this Colts uniform-history-chart… billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/indianapolis-colts-helmet-history_logos_1953-2013_2v.gif, which is from this post from 2013.) Exactly one year after they introduced these built-to-last uniforms, and led by QB Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts were NFL champions (in 1958 and 1959). In 1984, the Baltimore Colts moved to Indiana, as the Indianapolis Colts; they did not mess with their uniforms when they moved. In fact, there have been very few changes in the Colts’ uniforms in the 60 years since 1957 (and you can see them in the chart I made at the link in the previous sentence). But for all intents and purposes, the look the Colts established in 1957 remains to this day. Colts’ facemasks: white facemasks from 1978-94; blue facemasks from 1995-2003; grey facemasks re-instated since 2004. Some might say the Colts uniforms are boring. I say they look like champions.
{Indianapolis Colts’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

5. San Francisco 49ers 1955: (4-8), QB: YA Tittle.
{1955 49ers uniforms.}
Like the Browns, the 49ers were an AAFC team before they joined the NFL in 1950. The San Francisco 49ers changed their helmet-color 9 times before they finally settled on the gold helmets that all NFL fans know. It seems obvious that a gridiron football team named after a gold rush would wear gold helmets, and the Niners actually did wear gold (leather) helmets in their second season {1947 49ers}. But in their early days, the 49ers wore helmets that were usually white {1946}, or red {1954}, or silver {1962}. That last link shows the first year the 49ers had a helmet-logo {again, 1962}. That lasted two seasons, then the 49ers finally went with gold helmets in 1964 {1964 49ers}. So in 1964, the 49ers trademark look was introduced…a gold helmet with grey facemasks and with the plain-but-dignified football-shaped-SF-logo and with red-white-red center-stripes, and a jersey with 3 stripes on the upper-arms that had no gold in it at all, and with gold pants. That classic uniform-design was used for 32 years. The helmet-logo got a black oval outline in 1996 {1996 49ers}. But in 1996, the 49ers changed a whole lot more as well, and, in my opinion, the changes were not for the better…the helmet got center-stripes of black-red-black, plus they made the facemasks deep-red. And they also messed with their jerseys and pants in 1996: to a garish look with drop-shadow numbers in gold and black. Now, I know the Niners had worn drop-shadow numbers before (in 1955 and ’56, as a matter of fact), but after they had worn their classic gear for over 3 decades, it just didn’t work. The additions really ruined the 49ers’ look in this time period. The red facemasks and the loud jerseys made them look like an arena football league team. It also broke their visual link to their championship-glory-days. The lack of gold pants for the 49ers only existed for 2 seasons (1996 and ’97), but those tacky jerseys lasted another 11 years. Then the 49ers wisely went back to their classic look in 2009 {2009 49ers}. I guess you could say less is more. And grey facemasks always look better.
{San Francisco 49ers’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

6. Detroit Lions 1955: (3-9), QB: Bobby Layne (also, Harry Gilmer).
{1955 Lions uniforms.}
The Detroit Lions started out as the southern-Ohio-based Portsmouth Spartans, who wore purple-and-gold and were one of the last vestiges of the small-town-era of the early NFL (the Green Bay Packers of course being the last vestige of small-town NFL teams). {1932 Portsmouth Spartans.} After 4 NFL seasons (1930-33), and just missing out on the 1932 NFL title, the Portsmouth Spartans moved to Detroit as the Lions, and switched to their now trademark “Honolulu Blue” and Silver. In their second season in Detroit, the Lions won the 1935 NFL title {1935 Lions uniforms}, then stayed competetive on into the late 1930s, but were basement-dwellers through most of the 1940s. But the 1950s were the glory days of the Detroit Lions. The Lions have a modern history of failure, but in the 1950s, led by QB Bobby Layne, the Lions won 3 NFL titles (1952, ’53, ’57), beating the Browns all three times in the title games. Even so, several seasons in the 1950s saw the Lions with 3-or-4-win seasons, and 1955 was one of those seasons. The odd thing about the 1950s Lions was that for a while, the team ended up having gold helmets (and not their customary silver helmets). This happened in 1953 (and the Lions won their second NFL title that year) {1953 Lions}. Not only was the entire Lions squad in 1953 wearing gold helmets, but there is photographic evidence that as late as 3 seasons later (1956), some players on the Lions were still wearing a gold helmet, instead of a silver helmet (see link 5 sentences below for that photo, and an article). How the helmet turned gold probably wasn’t intentional (initially), and can be attributed to the fact that circa 1953, the plastic-shell helmets were still new, and processes for turning the blank helmets into an NFL team’s colors had not been perfected (the process back then involved spray-painting the insides of the clear-plastic-shell helmets). The Lions’ gold helmets of the 1953-56 era was the unintended result of a helmet-painting process where the paint turned from a silver color to a definite gold color (and then the paint degraded further, so that all the Lions 1953 helmets now show green splotches where a copper-colored pigment in the helmet paint turned green {1953 Bobby Layne game-worn helmet}. And then in the following seasons some Lions players opted to keep wearing their 1953-issue (gold) helmet, while the rest of the Lions squad were wearing newly issued ’54 and ’55 silver helmets. The following article at the Gridiron Uniform Database Blog goes very deep into this {…“Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold…” by Bill Schaefer from November 2013 at nfluniforms.blogspot.com).} The Lions introduced their rampant-blue-lion logo in 1961, on a helmet with blue-silver-blue center-stripes {1961 Lions}; the silver center-stripe turned white in 1968 (and was augmented by thin black stripes in 2009). Blue facemasks were worn from 1984-2002. Black facemasks were worn from 2003-16. The rampant-lion was given detail in 2009. Grey facemasks were re-introduced in 2017, when the Lions went back to a just-silver-and-blue helmet (good move) {2017 Lions helmet}.
{Detroit Lions’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}
___
Thanks to all at the following links…
-1953 NFL [Illustrations of 1953 NFL teams' uniforms] (gridiron-uniforms.com).
-Blank maps… USA, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, and coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
Otto Graham photos: color photo unattributed at ottograham.net/proc.html; shot of Graham scoring TD in 1955 NFL Championship Game, photo by AP at si.com/nfl/photos/2012/12/16-4cleveland-browns-epic-moments.
-NFL 1955 stats leaders photos: Alan Ameche [photo from 1955 (v 49ers)], photo by Frank Rippon/NFL at nfl.com. Pete Pihos of Philadelphia Eagles [photo from circa 1948 (v Rams)], photo by AP via pennlive.com/philadelphiaeagles. Otto Graham photo [from 1954 (v Eagles)], photo unattributed at pinterest.com.
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

November 18, 2015

NFL, 1988 season: map with helmets./+ an illustration for Super Bowl XXIII [23] champions the San Francisco 49ers./+ top-3-leaders in 1988 Offensive stats (QB Rating, Rushing Yds, Receiving Yds)/+ a brief history of the oldest team in the NFL – the Cardinals (who moved to Phoenix, AZ in 1988).

Filed under: NFL>1988 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 8:00 pm

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NFL, 1988 season: map with helmets


    NFL, 1988…

By Bill Turianski on 18 November 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

The 1988 NFL season & Super Bowl XXIII (23)…
-NFL 1988 standings, etc, here, 1988 NFL_season/Final standings (en.wikipedia.org).
The NFL was coming off a 1987 season which saw a 24-day player-strike that shortened the season by one game [to 15 games]. Reigning champions in 1988 were Washington.

The biggest change in the NFL in 1988 was, of course, the franchise shift that saw the NFL’s oldest team – the Cardinals – move from St. Louis, Missouri to Greater Phoenix, Arizona {see the short article at the foot of this post}. The Cardinals remained in the [NFC] East Division (finishing 7-9). (The Cardinals became part of the re-vamped NFC West in 2002.)

The playoff races in the NFL in 1988 were very tight in several divisions, with a 3-way/10-6 tie for first place in the NFC West going to the San Francisco 49ers, via the tiebreakers; and with a 2-way/10-6 tie for first place in the NFC East going to the Philadelphia Eagles, also via the tiebreakers. (The New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants both went 10-6, yet failed to make it to the postseason.) And in the AFC West, the Seattle Seahawks won their last 2 games to eke out a divisional title (by going 9-7). To round out the playoff teams, in the AFC, along with Seattle, it was Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland (wild-card), and Houston (wild-card). In the NFC, along with San Francisco and Philly, it was Chicago, Minnesota (wild-card), and the LA Rams (wild-card).

Cincinnati and Buffalo shared the best record in the AFC at 12-4, and the two would meet in the AFC Championship game, with QB (and 1988 NFL MVP) Boomer Esiason leading the Bengals over Jim Kelly’s Bills, 21-10. In the NFC, the Bears had the best record at 12-4, with their divisional rival the Minnesota Vikings posting the second-best record in the conference as an 11-5 wild-card team. In the NFC Championship game, the Bears fell 28-3 to the 49ers. San Francisco (who went 10-6) were led on offense by then-10-year-veteran Joe Montana (QB, and 2000 HoF inductee), third-year WR Jerry Rice (a 2010 HoF inductee), and then-6-year-veteran and 1988 Offensive Player of the Year-winner Roger Craig (RB). And the 49ers featured an effective-yet-actually-only-8th-best defense, spearheaded by DE/LB Charles Haley (in his third year then, and a 2015 HoF inductee) and DB Ronnie Lott (a then-8th-year-veteran, and a 2000 HoF inductee).

Head coach Bill Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers might only have had the 8th-best Defense in 1988, and the Niners might have only had the 7th-best Offense in ’88, but their championship caliber was quite evident when they coasted through the playoffs (beating the Vikes 34-9, and then the Bears 28-3). So in Super Bowl XXIII (23), in Miami, on January 22, 1989, San Francisco faced Cincinnati, in a re-match of Super Bowl XVI, which had been played seven years earlier in 1982. Once again, San Francisco beat the Bengals, this time by the score of 20-16. Here is an excerpt from Super Bowl XXIII (en.wikipedia.org)…”The game is best remembered for the 49ers’ fourth-quarter game-winning drive. Down 16–13, San Francisco got the ball on their own eight-yard line with 3:10 on the clock and marched 92 yards down the field in under three minutes. They then scored the winning touchdown on a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game.”

Super Bowl XXIII (23): San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16…
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/san-francisco-49ers_super-bowl-xxiii_jerry-rice_roger-craig_joe-montana_john-taylor_bill-walsh_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Jerry Rice, one-handed-grab from 1st quarter, photo by Lennox McLendon/AP via timelines.latimes.com/nfl-super-bowl-timeline-history. Roger Craig with 40-yard gain to start 4th quarter, photo by Getty Images via wcpo.com/sports/sports-photo-gallery/a-look-back-at-the-bengals-last-super-bowl-25-years-later. Montana in the pocket, set to throw in the 4th quarter on the 92-yard game-winning drive, photo by Richard Mackson/SI via siphotos.tumblr.com. John Taylor catching the winning pass with 34 seconds left, photo unattributed at mirror.co.uk. Bill Walsh being carried off the field by players, photo by AP via 49erscast.blogspot.com/2012/07/Bill Walsh: Noviembre 30, 1931 – Julio 30, 2007. Joe Montana, photo by Focus On Sports/Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

This was the 49ers’ 3rd Super Bowl title
This was the 49ers’ 3rd Super Bowl title. Bill Walsh retired after the win, and the pioneering offensive strategist (the father of the West Coast Offense) was inducted into the Pro Football HoF in 1993. Under new head coach George Seifert, the Niners would repeat as champions the following season [1989]. The 49ers currently [2015] have won 5 Super Bowl titles, which is second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 6 Super Bowl titles, and puts them tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the second-most Super Bowl titles {see this, List of Super Bowl champions/Super Bowl appearances by team (en.wikipedia.org).

1988 NFL Offensive Leaders (Regular season, top 3 of: QB Rating, Rushing-Yards, Receiving-Yards)…
[Note: you can click on image below to see it in a separate page.]
nfl_1988-season_passing-rushing-receiving-leaders_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
QBs:
Boomer Esiason (Cincinnati), photo unattributed at djgourdoux.files.wordpress.com; Dave Krieg (Seattle), photo unattributed at cbstampa.files.wordpress.com; Wade Wilson (Minnesota), photo by USA Today via spokeo.com.
RBs:
Eric Dickerson (Indianapolis), photo by USA Today via spokeo.com; Herschel Walker (Dallas), photo unattributed at rodswp.files.wordpress.com; Roger Craig (San Francisco), photo by George Rose/Getty Image via bleacherreport.com.
WRs:
Henry Ellard, photo by USA Today via spokeo.com. Jerry Rice, photo unattributed at rankopedia.com; Eddie Brown (Cincinnati), photo by USA Today via spokeo.com.

A brief history of the oldest team in the NFL – the Cardinals, who moved to Arizona in 1988…
The Cardinals (est. 1918 as the Racine Cardinals [of Racine Street in Chicago]), were a founding member of the NFL [APFA] in 1920, when they were located on the South Side of Chicago. A year later, in 1921, Chicago had another pro football team, with the arrival of the Decatur Staleys/Chicago Staleys/Chicago Bears’ franchise (who played on the North Side of Chicago at Wrigley Field). This permanently hobbled the Cardinals. The presence of the Bears in the Windy City ensured that the under-capitalized and poorer-half-of-Chicago-based Cardinals were always playing second fiddle, with a fraction of the media attention and eventually a fraction of the fan support that the Bears enjoyed. It sure didn’t help that the Staleys [Bears], upon arrival in Chicago, were winners…the Chicago Staleys were voted the 1921 APFA title-winners [the title was disputed by the Buffalo All-Americans, who were tied with the Chicago Staleys in the 1921 APFA final standings, and should have been voted co-champions/ see this, 1921 NFL Championship controversy (en.wikipedia.org)].

Meanwhile, the Cardinals were a competitive team in the 1920s, but were a basement-dweller all through the 1930s, and in fact through most of their 40 years in Chicago. In the pre-Super Bowl era of the NFL (1920-65), the Cardinals were the second worst of any team [formed before 1960], with one disputed title (in 1925/ title disputed by the Pottsville Maroons), and one outright title (in 1947, over the Philadelphia Eagles). Back in the first 46 years of the NFL, only the then-title-less Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers were a worse NFL team than the Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals.

By the late 1950s, it was inevitable that the Chicago Cardinals would have to move the franchise to survive, and after “trying out” Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota as a potential franchise-site in 1959 (when they played their last two home games in Bloomington, MN [at the future home of the Minnesota Vikings and the MLB's Twins]), the Cardinals franchise moved to St. Louis in 1960. The NFL was actually very satisfied with this franchise-shift, and only too happy to see the Cardinals leave Chicago, because it helped block the brand-new rival-league the AFL (of 1960-69) from trying to place a team in St. Louis.

Right upon moving to St. Louis, the Cardinals debuted their stunning white-with-large-frowning-Cardinal-head helmet {see illustrations below; also see this, 1960 St. Louis Cardinals [helmets & uniforms] (gridiron-uniforms.com)}. In their 28 years in St. Louis, the St. Louis football Cardinals played at the same venues as the St. Louis baseball Cardinals – first in Sportsman’s Park, then, from 1966 to 1987 at the multi-purpose concrete doughnut that was Busch Memorial Stadium (II). Under the 15-year-long leadership of QB Jim Hart, and later in the mid-1970s, led by the innovative offensive tactician and head coach Don Coryell, the St. Louis football Cardinals were often a very competitive team, with three 9-win seasons in the mid-1960s, and three 10-or-11-win-seasons in the mid-1970s. But they either folded in the playoffs, or just came short of qualifying for the playoffs. The St. Louis football Cardinals were hampered by playing in very tough divisions (stuck with the NY Giants and Cleveland and Philadelphia in the 1960s, and stuck with Dallas and Washington in the 1970s). The Cardinals failed to make the playoffs despite posting a winning percentage above .600 on six different occasions (in 1963, in 1964, in 1966, in 1968, in 1970, and in 1976). The Cards did make the playoffs in 1974 and ’75, losing in the first round both times.

The Cardinals’ stadium situation deteriorated as the 1980s wore on, and when it became obvious that there was no solution in sight and that the city of St. Louis was refusing to build or co-fund a stadium for the football team, the owners – the Bidwill family – decided it was time to move on again. In Chicago, the Cardinals were ignored because of the Bears; in St. Louis, despite a solid-and-fervent-fanbase, they wore out their welcome. Attendance was dwindling, but that was perhaps thanks to the team perpetually coming up short, and because of the rightfully-enduring popularity of the baseball Cardinals. But it also was because of the fact that the essentially-absentee-owner Bill Bidwill did various things which resulted in alienating much of the fanbase. The team was continually at the bottom of the payroll scale in the league, and the Bidwill family acted like aloof lords who refused to deign the fan-base-rabble with so much as an acknowledgement-of-their-existence. That would not change in the early days of the franchise’s tenure in Phoenix, where Bidwill price-gouged NFL-starved Arizonans, with league-high ticket prices. In 1988 and into the early 1990s, the Phoenix Cardinals under the Bidwill family were charging the highest average-ticket price in the NFL, for an inferior product, in a bad venue. (It was supposed to be a temporary situation at Sun Devil Stadium for the Cardinals, but the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late 1980s derailed any progress on a new venue, and the team was stuck playing in that decrepit stadium for 18 years.)

[Below, old-content-disclaimer: the images below first appeared here, NFL, NFC West: map, with brief team and league history, and titles list.]
Arizona Cardinals Helmet History -
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Arizona Cardinals Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/cardinals.

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Above: Helmet illustrations and shoulder patch illustration from: gridiron-uniforms.com/

The Cardinals in the state of Arizona have actually never played in the city of Phoenix – for their first 18 seasons (1988 to 2005), the Phoenix Cardinals played in nearby Tempe, AZ at Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium. (Tempe, AZ is adjacent to, and is just east of, Phoenix.) The Cardinals changed their name to the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. Then in 2006, they moved to another suburb [9 miles NW of downtown Phoenix] – Glendale, AZ, and into the futuristic movable-roofed University of Phoenix Stadium (cap. 68,000-to-78,000), which was site of Super Bowl XLIX (49) in Feb. 2015. The best season the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals have had was in 2008, when, led by an aging-but-still-effective QB Kurt Warmer and by WR Larry Fitzgerald, the 9-7 Cards caught fire in the playoffs and secured the franchises’ first trip to the Super Bowl. But in Super Bowl XLIII (43) on Feb.1 2009, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, the Cardinals came just short of glory, in a thrilling 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Thanks to Wapcaplet & Angr, for the blank map of USA, at File:Map of USA without state names.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to the now-defunct misterhabs.com/Helmets, aka Helmets, Helmets, Helmets site. At that site I got most of the helmet illustrations on the 1988 map; some helmet illustrations I found at each team’s page at en.wikipedia.org… ‘National Football League‘.
Thanks to MG’s Helmets, for the helmet illustrations of the 2 Super Bowl teams (Cincinnati & San Francisco).
Thanks to Pro-football-reference.com, at 1988 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards.
Thanks to Gridiron Uniform Database, for allowing billsportsmaps.com use of their NFL uniforms illustrations.
Thanks to the contributors at 1988 NFL season (en.wikipedia.org).

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