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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).
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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 –
green-bay-packers_helmet-history_1921-2016_16a_segment_c_.gif 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.

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.

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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

nfl_1956_map-w-final-standings_ny-giants-champions_post_h_.gif
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.)
baltimore-colts_helmet-and-uniform-changes_1955_1956_1957_d_.gif
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

nfl_1955_map_helmets_final-standings_cleveland-browns-champions_post_k_.gif
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…
nfl_1955_the-only-3-teams-with-helmet-logos_rams_eagles_colts_b_.gif1955 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).]
cleveland-browns_paul-brown_otto-graham_lou-groza_jim-brown_marion-motley_helmets-1946-61_b_.gif
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 {in 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.

___
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).

October 21, 2014

NFL, AFC West – Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers)./ Origins of nicknames./ Stadiums./ Title-winning teams.

Filed under: NFL>AFC West,NFL, divisions,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 5:29 pm



    Denver Broncos logos and helmet history (1960-2014), click on image below…

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Denver Broncos logos and helmet history (1960-2014)
Broncos helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniforms Database. Broncos uniforms png by fma12, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Broncos_uniforms.png. Photo of Broncos’ authentic Riddell helmet, from dickssportinggoods.com.

From May 2009, from the boards at Denver Broncos’ website, uploaded by White Dragon, ‘COMPLETE Denver Broncos Helmet History [1960-2009]‘ (forums.denverbroncos.com).

Origin of Broncos nickname…
A “bronco” is an unbroken or untamed horse, and it is a reference to Denver’s Wild West heritage. The Bronocos nickname came about by being the winning entry of a name-the-new-team contest that the new Denver AFL franchise had in early 1960. The winner (out of only 162 entries) was by Ward M. Vining. There was a previous pro team in Denver with the same name – an Independent minor league baseball club in the 1920s named the Denver Broncos. This makes the name even more fitting because the founder and first owner of the Denver Broncos AFL franchise was Bob Howsam, who was back then also co-owner of the old Triple-A team minor league ball club, the Denver Bears (the Denver Bears were owned by the Howsam family [Bob, his brother Earl, and his father Lee], from 1947-62). The Denver-born-and-raised Bob Howsam’s dream was to bring Major League Baseball to Denver (Howsam also later made his mark as GM of the Cincinnati Reds during their Big Red Machine era of the 1970s). [It took over 3 decades but in the end, Howsam later helped bring the dream of big league ball to the Mile High City when in retirement, he served on the Colorado Baseball Commission, which was successful in bringing about the Colorado Rockies, an MLB expansion team in 1993.]

    Stadiums the Denver Broncos have played in…

1959: an over-expanded minor league baseball stadium in Denver needs a new tenant…
The aforementioned Denver Bears minor league ball club, in 1959, were playing in a ballpark far too big for even the top tier of the minor leagues (it had been recently expanded to 23,000 and was in the process of being expanded yet again to 34,000, which is about double the size of what a Triple-A ball club could reasonably have as a stadium-capacity). This happened because Bears GM/co-owner Bob Howsam, who had led the stadium-expansion-move, had tried to get Denver a team in the never-realized Continental Baseball League, which was an attempt to create a third, rival, Major league in baseball. It never happened because MLB outmaneuvered the Continental League’s organizers by expanding from 16 to 20 teams and placing new franchises in 3 of the primary places the failed-Continental League had targeted (New York City [new franchise with Mets in 1962], Houston [new franchise with Colt 45s/Astros in 1962], and Minneapolis/St. Paul [dual-MLB-franchise shift with Washington Senators (I) moving north to Minnesota to become the Minnesota Twins & new MLB franchise in Washington, DC as Washington Senators (II) [side-note: the fourth expansion team in MLB circa 1961-62 was the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels in 1961]).

So the Denver Bears were saddled with a heavy debt from the re-build, and Howsam knew another team was needed for the venue or it would become a White Elephant and drag down his Denver Bears and his dream of Major League Baseball in Denver with it. A few years earlier (circa 1958), Howsam had already tried to buy the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals and move them to Denver. There were three others who also had, in the late 1950s, tried to buy-and-move the struggling Chicago Cardinals to their cities. They were Lamar Hunt (of Dallas), Bud Adams (of Houston), and Max Winter (of Minneapolis/St. Paul). Howsam would go on to become a founding owner of an AFL team in Denver in 1960, along with AFL creator Hunt (the leagues’ founder and founder/first owner of the Dallas Texans (II)/Kansas City Chiefs franchise) and Adams (who was the founder/first-owner of the Houston Oilers/Tenessee Titans franchise). [Winter would go on to be co-founder/first-co-owner of the Minnesota Vikings NFL franchise in 1961.] But, possibly aside from the Oakland AFL franchise, Howsam’s Denver Broncos franchise was the most under-financed in the new rival league in 1960. The penny-pinching ways of the early Denver Broncos became legendary (see illustration further below, and see the colors and logos section further below). Mounting debt forced Howsam to sell the Broncos in early 1961. He sold the Broncos to a consortium that had Gerald Phipps as the main shareholder [Phipps was owner of the Broncos from 1961-81]).

Bears Stadium/Mile High Stadium, home of the AFL’s Denver Broncos from 1968-69 & home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos from 1970-2000…
The Howsams constructed Bears Stadium in 1947-48 on a rat-infested area west of downtown Denver, on the site of an old city dump. The Denver Bears, who were then in the Class-A Western League (IV), began play there in August, 1948 (and played there for 45 years [later changing their name to the Denver Zephyrs] until they vacated Denver to make way for MLB’s Colorado Rockies and moved after the 1992 season to New Orleans as the still-in-existence New Orleans Zephyrs).

Bears Stadium, upon opening in August 1948 had a 17,000-capacity and was a single V-shaped bleacher stand built into the side of an existing hill there. In the illustration below, you can see how Bears Stadium looked in 1954 (the last year the Denver Bears were a Class A team; they moved a couple steps up the minor-league-ladder the following season in 1955 when they joined the Triple-A American Association). Circa 1957-59, when Bob Howsam tried to get a big-league-ball-club in the Continental League, capacity was increased to 23,000 (and the intention was to continue the expansion). When the Continental League never came to be, Howsam turned his attention to finding another tenant besides his Bears for the debt-laden stadium, and once the AFL franchise for Denver was secured by Howsam in the summer of 1959, the stadium expansion continued. The Denver Bears’ ballpark (the venue that would later be known as Mile High Stadium), was expanded to 34,000 prior to the Broncos’ AFL home debut in September, 1960. In 1968, after the stadium was bought by the City of Denver (from the second owner of the Broncos, Gerald Phipps), capacity had been expanded to 50,000 with the installation of the South Stand.

Below: an illustration featuring photos of Broncos’ Stadiums (and the precursor-stadium), and some of the more interesting gear worn by the team… denver_bears_denver-broncos_1960_brown-and-yellow_bears-stadium1954_mile-high-stadium1965_mile-high2001_h_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Black and white aerial photo of Bears Stadium 1954, by coloradoaerialphoto.com. Denver Bears logo ca. 1955, from baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Denver_Bears. Photo of Denver Bears’ exterior-stadium-sign circa late 1950s, by Lynn DeBruin at Denver’s own Field of Dreams [at sports.espn.go.com]. Color photo of Broncos versus Oilers from 1960, unattributed at remembertheafl.com/Broncos. Black-and-white photo of Mile High Stadium circa mid-1960s, unattributed at ballparksofbaseball.com/past/MileHighStadium. Illustration of Broncos’ dreaded brown-and-yellow-vertically-striped socks from remembertheafl.com/Broncos. Broncos helmet and jersey illustrations from gridiron-uniforms.com/broncos. White Horse sculpture at Mile High, photo unattributed at milehighreport.com. Aerial photo of Mile High Stadium’s last game on Dec. 23, 2000, photo by Phil Cherner at philcherner.com. Sports Authority Field at Mile High, photo by sportsauthorityfieldatmilehigh.com.

The Denver Broncos, initially saddled with the crushing debt that forced Howsam to sell the team in early 1961 after one season, never got their footing in the AFL, and never made the playoffs (nor had a winning season) in the AFL’s 10 seasons, and finished 39–97–4 in the league. Attendance was understandably poor for the first few seasons. The Broncos drew only 13,047 in 1960 when they finished 4-9-1; and they drew even worse the next year in 1961 at just 10,644 per game, when they finished 3-11. In 1962, new head coach Jack Faulkner helped improve the team, and improve the struggling team’s fan base, when the Broncos went 7-7 and drew 25,498 per game. And even though the Broncos got bad again the next few seasons, and even though attendance fell below 20K per game for a couple years, by 1965 the Broncos were drawing above 30K per game. And when the city of Denver bought Bears Stadium and renamed it Mile High Stadium in 1968 (and began another stadium expansion to 50,000), the Broncos surpassed the 40K per game mark…and their attendance has been healthy ever since. {source of AFL attendance figures (1960-69): THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE – ATTENDANCE, 1960-69, by Bob Carroll at profootballresearchers.org/Coffin Corner Vol. 13, No. 4 (1991) [pdf]}.

And when the Broncos joined the NFL in 1970, as part of the AFL/NFL merger, the Broncs sold out every game that season. With the exception of the replacement-players games in 1987, every Denver Broncos home game in the NFL (1970-86; 1988-present) has been sold out (!).

So, basically, the Broncos developed a strong fan-base despite the fact that the Broncos never had a winning season until 1973. In fact, the Broncos never made it to the playoffs until their run in the 1977 NFL season, when, coached by Red Miller, led by aging QB Craig Morton [1977 Comeback Player of the Year], bolstered by their Orange Crush defense, and spurred on by their loud and raucous fans at Mile High Stadium, the 12-2 Broncos went all the way to Super Bowl XII [12] in January 1978, losing to the Cowboys 27-10.

Another expansion took place at Mile High Stadium from 1975–1977. This raised the capacity to 75,000. The main component of this expansion was a movable, triple-decked stands along the east side, which when fully retracted toward the field, formed a horseshoe for Broncos’ home games. For Bears’ baseball games, the new movable stands were fully extended by 145 feet, so that the stadium could still fit a normal-sized baseball field.

Mile High – opened 2001 (a stadium originally called Invesco Field at Mile High; now called Sports Authority Field at Mile High)…
The Broncos played in Mile High Stadium until 2000. By the late 1990s it was becoming obvious that the stadium was outmoded, and so plans for a new stadium began. The stadium was to be paid for primarily by a sales tax scheme in the 7-county Greater Denver region (in the 1998-2011 time period), and that tax scheme expired when both the new football stadium for the Broncos, and the new baseball stadium for the expansion MLB team the Rockies, were all paid for (the sales tax to fund the stadiums expired on Dec. 31, 2011). Here is an article on that rather efficient-and-not-too-onerous tax scheme that got Denver 2 new major league sports stadiums, Tax off books, but not registers (denverpost.com article by Chuck Murphy from Jan. 27, 2012). The new Mile High opened on September 10, 2001. Its capacity is 76,425 for football. It is owned and operated by the Denver Metropolitan Football Stadium District.

    1997-98 Denver Broncos: back-to-back Super Bowl champions…

Broncos end AFC’s 13-year title drought…
{Note: see this list for reference for the following two paragraphs: Super Bowl Championship (1966–present) (en.wikipedia.org).}
The AFC’s 16 members include all 10 AFL franchises that merged with the NFL in 1970. The AFL won two of its four games ever played against the NFL (Super Bowls I-IV). Then the AFL’s evolution into the American Football Conference saw that entity dominate the early years after the AFL/NFL merger (1970-80 seasons), winning 9 of first 11 Super Bowl titles after the merger. Because the following two teams came over from the pre-merger NFL to the new AFC in 1970, when you subtract the Baltimore Colts’ Super Bowl title in the 1970 NFL season and the Steelers’ four Super Bowl titles (1974-75 seasons; 1979-80 seasons), the fact of the matter is that teams that originated in the AFL went 6-wins-and-4-losses in the first 15 Super Bowl match-ups (Jets win in the 1968 season, Chiefs in ’69, Dolphins in ’71 & ’72, Raiders in ’76 & ’80). When you look at it that way it is plain to see that history shows that the AFL had become on par with the NFL by the time of the merger, and a decade later its teams were still the equal-or-better of the old-guard NFL.

But then the old-guard-NFL reasserted itself in the 1980s and into the mid-1990s. The older teams became predominant, and non-AFL teams [all formed before 1961] won 15 of the next 16 Super Bowl titles from the 1981 season to the 1996 season (16 years with 6 teams from the NFC as champions with one exception – the Los Angeles Raiders winning the Super Bowl in the 1983 season). Going into Super Bowl XXXII [32] (on January 25, 1998), the AFC had not won a Super Bowl title in 13 seasons (the 1984 to 1996 seasons). The Denver Broncos changed that. With an aging but still effective John Elway at QB, and with RB Terrell Davis and WR Shannon Sharpe spearheading the offense, coach Mike Shanahan’s Broncos beat the reigning champs the Green Bay Packers 31-24, in a thrilling Super Bowl match-up in January 1998 (Super Bowl XXXII [32]). Then the Broncos repeated by beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-19 (in Super Bowl XXXIII [33]). The tide had turned in the old and still relevant AFL-NFL rivalry, and normal service was restored, so to speak. Since 1997 and up to 2014 it has been: AFC with 10 Super Bowl titles and the NFC with 7 Super Bowl titles.
denver-broncos_back-to-back-super-bowl-wins_1997-98-seasons__mike-shanahan_john-elway_terrell-davis_d_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Broncos 1997-98 helmet, illustration by Gridiron Uniforms Database. Photo of Terrell Davis by Sports Illustrated at sikids.com/photo_gallery. Broncos players jubilant after Super Bowl 32 victory, photo unattributed at this thread at reddit.con/r/football: 200 Days/200 Topics: Day 57: What single NFL photo hurts you the most emotionally? [Serious].
John Elway photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty via JohnElway.com. Mike Shanahan and John Elway following Super Bowl 33 win, photo by John Leyba/Denver Post at extras.mnginteractive.com.

    Colors and helmet logos of the Broncos…

Though the Denver Bears Triple-A ball club was wearing navy-and-red by the late 1960s, at one point in the history of the Denver Bears, the team (owned by Bob Howsam, who was of course the Denver Broncos first owner) was wearing brown (with red/orange) as its primary color {see this} [circa late 1940s/early 1950s]; at another point they were wearing gold-and-brown {see this Don Larsen throwback jersey at e.bay}. This photo shows an old Denver Bears pennant and a sign from Bears Stadium circa early-or-mid-1950s – both have brown in them. So what I am saying is that Bob Howsam had a history of using brown (and gold) in his team’s colors. This all might be a coincidence. The fact is that Howsam had his new Broncos organization on a rock-bottom low budget circa 1959-60, and the Broncos first GM Dean Griffing, a legendary tightwad perfectly happy to keep to the strict low budget, bought second-hand (probably third-hand) uniforms from a defunct college tournament in Tucson, AZ (the Copper Bowl). The uniforms featured a brown helmet (the player’s number on each side in white), a darkish-yellow jersey with brown numbers, shiny brown pants, and yellow-and-brown vertically-striped socks. The gear would have looked ridiculous anyway, but those socks made the whole team look comical – like a bunch of court jesters. The other thing was that the Broncos in 1960 only had to buy one set of uniforms, because the yellow jerseys could function as home darks or away whites and would not clash with any of the other AFL teams’ dark or white jerseys. Then Howsam sold the team to Gerald Phipps in 1961. Then in the summer of 1962 new coach Jack Faulkner had the team burn the vertically-striped socks in a bonfire ceremony following a training session at Bears Stadium…there were 8,377 Broncos fans in attendance for the immolation of the socks (a couple were saved for HoF posterity).

{For more on the brown-and-yellow Broncos uniforms of 1960-61, see this excellent article from EndZoneSportsCharity’s Denver Broncos Uniform History 1st GENERATION: 1960 – 1961.}

1962-64 – Pale Orange with White and Blue trim (with goofy-bronco logo)…
The Broncos switched to orange and blue first in 1962 (their third season), but there was very little blue (royal blue) in their gear in the ’62 to ’64 era. The pale orange helmets featured a cartoon-like bucking bronco (with giant lantern jaw making the horse look developmentally disabled). At first the goofy bronco logo was in royal blue (some games in ’62), but that was switched to a more-visible white later on in ’62 through ’64. From the Gridiron Uniform Database, {here are the Denver Broncos 1963-64 uniforms}.

1965-73 – Red-Orange with Royal Blue (goofy-bronco logo to blank blue helmet [1967], to red/orange-D-with-white-rampant-bronco logo on blue helmet)…
Then the Broncos switched their primary color to a sort of pastel red-orange – a color that is pretty unique in major-leagues sports history. That red-orange was paired with a grayish royal blue (Prussian Blue) {Broncos 1966 uniforms}. They finally got rid of the undignified goofy-bronco logo, and the Broncos organization must have figured a blank helmet was better than that (in 1967). In 1968, the once-iconic red/orange-D-with-white-rampant-bronco logo had its debut (see it here (photo from hugginsandscott.com)}. That D-with-the-white-bronco logo lasted from 1968 all the way to 1996. They should bring it back. Here is an excerpt from the Denver Broncos page at en.wikipedia.org,…”The logo was designed by Edwin Guy Taylor of Denver. A contest was held through Public Service of Denver to come up with a new logo for the team. Mr. Taylor’s submission was selected late in 1967 and adopted [in 1968].”…{excerpt from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver_Broncos/Logos_and_uniforms}.

1974-96 - Orange and royal blue (with iconic orange-D-with-white-rampant-bronco logo on blue helmet)…
In 1974, the red-orange switched to a standard orange (well, maybe an orange that had a touch of burnt orange in it). The next link shows the Broncos uniforms the only year they had the orange (and not red-orange) D in their helmet and a grey facemask {Broncos 1974: a classic look; please bring it back, Denver}. {Here} is what the Broncos wore in their first Super Bowl appearance in 1978.

1997-2014: Navy-Blue and Orange (with stylized-bronco-head logo [aka Cyber Horse], and tapered-orange-center-stripe on navy blue helmet)…
Navy blue replaced orange (or red-orange) as the primary color. The cyber-horse logo, designed by Nike, is an elongated-white-bronco-head-with-streaming-orange-mane. It looks pretty juvenile, the sort of thing an 8-year-old would think is cool. The uniforms were initially savaged in the Denver press (lots of fans did not like it as well…at first). However, it cannot be denied that the first season that the Denver Broncos wore their totally revised uniforms of very dark blue and orange with elongated-bronco-head helmet-logo {Broncos 1997}, they went all the way and finally won their first Super Bowl…then they repeated the next season. I think that success right off the bat with this uniform design is why the team still wears this style uniform and logo 18 years later, unlike teams such as the Giants and the Jets and the 49ers and the Bills (and Chargers), who have all gone back to updated versions of older and better uniforms and logos in the last few years.

    Kansas City Chiefs – logos and helmet history (1960-2014), click on image below…

kansas-city-chiefs_helmet-history_logos_1960-2014_segment_.gif
Kansas City Chiefs – logos and helmet history (1960-2014)
Texans/Chiefs helmet illustrations above from gridiron-uniforms.com/chiefs. Chiefs uniforms.png by fma12, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chiefs_uniforms.png. Photo of Chiefs 2012-13 Riddell helmet from thumbs3.picclick.com/d/w225/pict/251241604074_/KANSAS-CITY-CHIEFS-Riddell-Revolution-NFL-Football-Helmet.jpg. Dallas Texans’ 1960-62 wordmark logo from sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/kcdal/daltexans. Photo of Chiefs’ circa 1970s wordmark logo from fleersticker.blogspot.com.

Origin of Chiefs nickname…
Upon moving his AFL franchise the Dallas Texans to Kansas City, Missouri in 1963, oil-fortune-heir Lamar Hunt was faced with the quandary of having to re-name his franchise. But actually, as hard as it is to believe, Hunt (at first) wanted to keep the nickname and call the team the Kansas City Texans. It took his right-hand-man, Jack Steadman (who was the Texans/Chiefs GM and vice president of operations), to convince Hunt otherwise. The mayor of Kansas City then, H. Roe Bartle, who was very instrumental in the city being able to lure the AFL franchise away from Dallas, was nicknamed “the Chief” (from his days as a Scout Executive of the St. Joseph and Kansas City Boy Scout Councils 35 years previously when he formed a Native Tribes honor society within the Boy Scouts called The Tribe of Mic-O-Say).

The Chiefs became the winning entry (but not the most popular entry by far) into the local name-the-new-team contest that Hunt had organized. The most popular of the 4,866 entries (with 1,020 different names being suggested) were for the nicknames the “Mules” and the “Royals.” “Chiefs”, suggested by 42 entries, was third-most-selected in the naming contest; nevertheless Hunt selected Chiefs as the football team’s new nickname. At other sources (like here) it is said Hunt re-named the team the Chiefs in honor of the large number of Native Americans who (past and present) had called the region of western Missouri and the Great Plains their home. At that is technically true. And that notion is re-enforced by the first primary logo of the new Chiefs franchise {see it by clicking on the on the image above or here}.

But the Chiefs are also named after the nickname of that former Kansas City mayor, H. Roe Bartle who helped get the team to KC and who made good on his promise to Lamar Hunt that Kansas City would have a vast season-ticket paying fan-base there even before the team’s arrival. And this was swiftly accomplished, as in a short span of time (8 weeks) in early 1963, over 20,000 season season tickets were sold to pro-football starved fans in and around Kansas City – before the franchise had even moved out of Dallas, and before the folks who forked over cash for the season tickets even knew exactly which pro team the city was getting. As it said in the timeline/1963 section of the official Kansas City Chiefs website, “the team was officially christened the Chiefs on May 26th, in part to honor the efforts of Bartle.” {excerpt from http://www.kcchiefs.com/history/60s/ [dead link/ now available via Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/web/20080609053609/http://www.kcchiefs.com/history/60s/ }.

For more on this, see the following article at SBnation, How the Kansas City Chiefs Got Their Name (article by oldchiefsfan from May 18 2009). In the comments section there, 2 commenters who were proud childhood members of the Boy Scouts' Tribe of Mic-O-Say weigh in: jbj8609 says ..."My father and I are both members of MOS (in St. Joseph, MO, not the KC one), and I can confirm this to be 100% accurate. My dad has been “Tribal Historian” here for several years now and used to tell me this story many times. Always thought it was very cool"; bankmeister says..."I’m also a Mic-O-Say member with five consecutive years at Bartle, plus my mom has lived off of Roe Avenue for 25 years. H. Roe and the Chiefs mean a lot to me." {end of excerpts.} The Kansas City Chiefs is a great name that honors Native Americans. Unlike the racist name of another NFL team.

    Stadiums the Dallas Texans (II)/Kansas City Chiefs franchise have played in...

Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas (home of the Dallas Texans (II) from 1960-62)...
The Cotton Bowl began as Fair Park, a stadium built on the site of the Texas State Fair grounds, in 1930. Cut-and-fill construction was employed to build up berms for the stands, and this lowered the playing surface twenty-four feet below the original ground level. The stadium initially held 45,000 spectators; in 1936, the name was officially changed to the Cotton Bowl. The following year, 1937, the Cotton Bowl Classic college football Bowl game began being played there. But it wasn't a popularly-attended Bowl game until a partnership was created with the Southwest Conference starting in 1941 (and the Texas A&M versus Fordham game in '41 was the first Cotton Bowl Classic that was played to a sell-out crowd). By 1950 and through the 1960s, the Cotton Bowl could hold 75,000 (it has a 90,000-capacity now). The primary tenant, in its early days through to the mid-1970s, was the SMU Mustangs college football team; the failed NFL franchise the Dallas Texans (I) of 1952 played 4 of their scheduled 6 games there to sparse crowds, before the NFL front office took over the team and folded it at the end of the 1952 NFL season. In 1960, it would be the home of 3 football teams: the SMU Mustangs, the expansion NFL team the Dallas Cowboys, and the Dallas Texans (II), a charter member of the new rival-league, the AFL.

AFL founder Lamar Hunt, though Arkansas-born, was raised in Dallas, Texas (where his father's oil business was centered). His efforts to get an NFL team for Dallas circa 1958-59 had been unsuccessful. When he got the AFL off the ground and running in 1959-to-early-1960, there was never any doubt that he would have one of the 8 franchises in the new league and that it would be located in Dallas. This despite the fact that in the interim - in early 1960 - the NFL had awarded a Dallas franchise to someone else. So Hunt's Dallas Texans were instantly consigned to being the second-team-in-Dallas, simply by virtue of the fact that the NFL was more established. The red-and-yellow/gold Dallas Texans struggled to get media attention in their 3 seasons in Dallas, but in fact, in the team's first year in Dallas (1960), the AFL's Texans drew best in the debut-season of the AFL and outdrew the NFL's Cowboys (24,500 per game for the AFL Texans versus 21,417 per game for the Cowboys). Of course the first-year Cowboys were horrible (they went 0-11-1), while Hunt's Texans were competitive and fun to watch with a prolific-scoring offense (they went 8-6). But the next season, 1961, Texans' attendance plummeted almost 7K per game to 17,571, while the slightly-improved Cowboys (at 4-9-1) saw their attendance shoot up 33% to 24,521 per game. The writing was on the wall for Hunt. As football-crazy and as dynamic and growing as the city of Dallas was in the early 1960s, it still was not big enough to support two pro football teams. In the next season, 1962, even as an 11-3 team en route to the 1962 AFL title (see illustration below), the Texans were still unable to draw as well as they did their first year - they averaged 22,201 (the 5-8-1 Cowboys averaged only slightly less, at 21,778 in '63).

Hunt knew that once the Dallas Cowboys (inevitably) got competitive, they would totally overshadow the Dallas Texans and start claiming a much greater share of the ticket-paying public in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. So Hunt threw in the towel and began looking for a new home for his team. New Orleans, Atlanta and Miami and Seattle were also considered, but thanks to that huge season-ticket-drive in KC, Hunt moved his team 450 miles north to Kansas City.

    The Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs: 3 AFL titles & 1 Super Bowl title in a 10-year-span...

dallas-texans_hank-stram_abner-haynes_kansas-city-chiefs_kc-municipal-stadium_super-bowl-iv_len-dawson_buck-buchanan_curley-culp_h_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
1960-62 Dallas Texans helmet, illustration from gridiron-uniforms.com/chiefs. Albert Haynes, photo unattributed at sportsnola.com. Photo of 1962 Dallas Texans AFL Champions team photo, unattributed at media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Hank Stram with AFL championship trophy, photo unattributed at media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Abner Haynes in 1962 AFL title game, photo unattributed at ntmeangreenfootball.com. USA blank map by Zntrip at Blank map of the United States. Aerial photo of Kansas City Chiefs playing at Municipal Stadium, photo by Kansas City Chiefs at kcchiefs.com/municipal-stadium-tribute. Hank Stram being carried off the field by Chiefs players after their 1966 AFL Championship Game win over Buffalo, photo unattributed at mmbolding.com/AFL1966. AFL 10 years patch worn by Chiefs in Super Bowl IV, photo unattributed/ uploaded by remembertheafl.com at Super Bowl IV (en.wikipedia.org). Len Dawson taking the snap in Super Bowl IV vs. Vikings, photo unattributed at arrowheadaddict.com/2013/06/16/chiefs-history-and-an-anniversary. Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp tackling Dave Osborn in Super Bowl IV, photo from USA Today via spokeo.com.

Municipal Stadium (Kansas City), home of the Chiefs from 1963-71...
Opened in 1923 and originally called Muehlebach Field, the venue was built as a ballpark for the Kansas City Blues (V) (1902-54) of the American Association. The Kansas City Monarchs Negro leagues team also played there (from 1923-34; 1937-54). For that reason the ballpark was situated at the edge of Kansas City's inner-city neighborhood. Capacity was originally 17,000, with the main feature of the ballpark being a single, roofed stand that ran the whole of the first-base foul-line to the right-field-foul-pole, but on the other side the roof only stretched to third base (making the roof a rounded L-shape). In 1955, prior to the arrival of the Philadelphia Athletics MLB franchise, the city decided to almost completely demolish the stadium and rebuild from scratch. The city ran three shifts - the new stadium was built in 90 days, in time for the April 1955 MLB opening of the Kansas City Athletics (1955-67). The not-quite-V-shaped-roof remained, now in a double-deck form, and capacity for baseball was then 30,000. It was re-named Municipal Stadium.

When Lamar Hunt decided to move his Dallas Texans to Kansas City in early 1963, the stadium was renovated again, but in more of a jury-rigged way - temporary stands were erected in left field to expand the stadium's capacity each fall, but had to be torn down before the start of the baseball season the following year.

Kansas City mayor H. Roe Bartle had helped get the team to KC, and had made good on his promise to Lamar Hunt that Kansas City would have a vast season-ticket paying fan-base there even before the team's arrival. Some sources say that Bartle promised to triple the crowds the team had drawn in Dallas (ie, 21.4 K times 3 equals 64 K) - but even if he did promise that, it would have been impossible because Municipal Stadium in Kansas City only held around 30,000 then, and even after expansion for football, it never had more than a 49,000-capacity {see this, stadiumsofprofootball.com/past/KCMunicipal}. The 1963 Kansas City Chiefs actually drew about 650 per game worse than they did the year before as the 1962 Dallas Texans (at 21,510 per game in 1963 versus 22,201 in '62) (note: 10-year AFL attendance figures for the Dallas Texans (II)/Kansas City Chiefs can be seen in the illustration above, and the source for those figures was at THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE - ATTENDANCE, 1960-69 By Bob Carroll at profootballresearchers.org.)

The Kansas City Chiefs upon arrival in KC in 1963 were reigning champions of the AFL, but the Chiefs then suffered a downturn in form and went 5-7-2 in '63; 7-7 in '64; and 7-5-2 in '65. Cumulative gate figures for those first 3 years in KC were 20,376 per game. So the fact that the Chiefs turned mediocre right when they arrived in KC certainly hurt attendances, and the crowds the Chiefs drew only got respectable after the Chiefs got good again - in 1966, when they tore up the AFL, going 11-2-1, winning the AFL Championship game (over the Bills, 31–7), and appearing in the first AFL-NFL Championship Game [aka Super Bowl I] (losing to the Packers, 35-10). In that great season of 1966, the Chiefs drew 37,010 (an increase of around 15.5 K over their ’65 attendance). Attendance-wise, the Chiefs have never looked back: they drew 45 K in ’67 (going 9-5); 48 K in ’68 (going 12-2); and 49 K in ’69 when they went all the way with an 11-3 record, beating the Raiders 13-6 in the last AFL Championship game and then winning Super Bowl IV [4] by upsetting the heavily-favored Minnesota Vikings by a score of 23-7 in the last game ever played by the AFL (see illustration above).

Following the Jets’ upset of the NFL’s Colts in Super Bowl III, the Chiefs’ similar upset of the Vikings in Super Bowl IV made it plain for all to see that the AFL was the deserved equal of the NFL. Actually, the AFL beat the NFL soundly in the last two match-ups between the two leagues, so it basically looked like the once-derided upstarts had actually surpassed their hide-bound rivals…in ten years flat. The Chiefs played their first two seasons in the NFL at Municipal Stadium (1970-71), then moved into their purpose-built Arrowhead Stadium in September 1972.

Arrowhead Stadium – home of the Chiefs since 1972…
To see how the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium came to be, we need to backtrack about 5 years, back to early 1967. Although having just lost in a convincing fashion to the Green Bay Packers in what we now call Super Bowl I, the Chiefs were nevertheless a solid and growing franchise circa early 1967. They had won 2 AFL titles in six seasons, and were now drawing in the 37,000-per-game range. Half a year later in the autumn of 1967, Chiefs were drawing around 45,000 per game [this after their first 3 years in KC when they had lackluster attendance, failing to draw above 22 K per game (1963-65/see attendance figures in illustration above]). All signs pointed to further attendance increases for the Chiefs. They were playing to nearly-full capacity at this point, and the aging Municipal Stadium, located in its inner-city neighborhood, was becoming inadequate for the them and their fans. Locations for a new stadium for the Chiefs and the Athletics were scouted by the city of Kansas City starting in early 1967, but a suitable location was never found, and so just across the county-line in Jackson County, Missouri, at the far eastern edge of Greater Kansas City, a location adjacent to an interstate highway interchange was designated. Hunt had operations-chief Jack Steadman work on the stadium design. Denver architect Charles Deaton was brought in by Steadman and it was Deaton who suggested that the two teams, playing as they were in sports that had such radically different configurations, would be better served if each team had its own stadium. Its own stadium that was configured to its own sport’s configuration (a rectangular-shaped stadium for the football team, and a half-circle-atop-a-triangle-shaped stadium for the baseball team). The 2 venues could share a parking lot complex which would reduce costs by sharing parking and highway expenses. This was the exact opposite of conventional wisdom of the time. The late 1960s was the heyday of the now-derided multi-purpose stadium era (an era that lasted up to the late 1980s), or as I like to call it, the Robert Moses Disease. Circa 1960 to 1988 or so, the urban planners running metropolitan areas ignored the basic fact of the fundamental incompatibility of putting the two very different sports into the same stadium, and forced ugly, astro-turf laden cookie-cutter, multi-purpose concrete stadiums on the public. The whole idea was “we can put our baseball team and our NFL football team in the same stadium, and who cares if the dimensions of the two sports fields are totally incompatible”.

I am not exaggerating in saying that Mr. Deaton’s visionary idea (which is the norm today), has helped to elevate the fan experience in both the NFL and in Major League Baseball. Once there were over a dozen multi-use stadiums in MLB and in the NFL, and they all sucked, because they were designed to host two very incompatible configurations. They were giant soul-less concrete doughnuts that gave the fan – for either sport – vast yawning empty spaces where there should have been seats, and sight-lines looking upon totalitarian-architecture backdrops of brutal concrete. [By 2010, following the Minnesota Twins opening of their Target Field, there was only one multi-purpose stadium still in use in both the NFL and MLB - Oakland's stadium, and its days are numbered.]

Here is an excerpt from the Kauffman Stadium page at en.wikipedia.org,…”In 1967, voters in Jackson County, Missouri approved the bonds for Truman Sports Complex, which featured a football stadium for the Kansas City Chiefs and a baseball stadium for the Kansas City Athletics, whose owner, Charles O. Finley, had just signed a new lease to remain in Kansas City. This was a very unusual proposal; conventional wisdom at the time held that separate football and baseball stadiums were not commercially viable.”…{end of excerpt from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kauffman_Stadium#History. The two stadium sports complex, what became known as the Truman Sports Complex, would prove to be twenty years ahead of its time.

But then a wrench was thrown into the works when, in October, 1967, MLB gave A’s owner Charlie Finley permission to move his Kansas City Athletics MLB franchise west to Oakland, CA (in 1968). The folks in and around Kansas City were so enraged about losing their pro ball club they pressured their elected officials to act. Partly thanks to the threat to introduce legislation in the US Senate to remove MLB’s antitrust exemption (put forth by Missouri Senator Stuart Symington), MLB hastily began plans for another round of expansion at the winter meetings in 1967, so both Kansas City and Seattle got MLB AL expansion franchises; and both San Diego and Montreal, Quebec, Canada got MLB NL expansion franchises, all 4 teams set to begin play in 1969.

At about the same time, the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority was created, and construction began in 1968 for the two-stadium Truman Sports Complex (named in honor of western-Missouri-born-and-bred President Harry S. Truman). The second-year Kansas City Royals began playing at the new 37,000-capacity Royals Stadium in April, 1972 (the venue is now called Kauffman Stadium in honor of the Royals’ first owner, Ewing Kauffman). The Chiefs began playing at the new 78,000-capacity Arrowhead Stadium in September, 1972 (after several renovations, Arrowhead, since 2010, now has a capacity of 76,416). The original two-stadium concept, initially designed by Denver architect Charles Deaton and Jack Steadman, was implemented in its final design by the Kansas City architectural firm of Kivett & Myers. The template for what was to be called Arrowhead Stadium is said to have influenced the design of several NFL stadiums. Both stadiums were very well designed and have had very good upkeep – both stadiums are still in excellent shape. And both teams have no plans of moving elsewhere (either out of town or into another costly new stadium), as opposed to the case with EIGHT now-demolished multi-purpose stadiums that were built in the USA in the same era or later. Specifically, in Minneapolis (Metrodome demolished in 2014), in Queens, New York (Shea Stadium demolished in 2007), in St. Louis (Busch Memorial Stadium demolished in 2005), in Philadelphia (Veterans Stadium demolished in 2004), in Cincinnati (Riverfront Stadium demolished in 2002), in Pittsburgh (Three Rivers Stadium demolished in 2001), in Seattle (Kingdome demolished in 2000) and in Atlanta (Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium demolished in 1997) [note: soon Candlestick Park in San Francisco can be added to this list of demolished multi-purpose stadiums, as with the vacating of the 49ers after the 2013 season, the dreary Candlestick Park has no primary tenant].

Below: the Truman Sports Complex -the first major league sports stadium complex in the USA which rejected the misguided multi-purpose stadium model.
truman-sports-complex_arrowhead-stadium_with-kaufman-stadium_jackson-county-missouri_b_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Chiefs 2012-14 Pro Revolution helmet, illustration by gridiron-uniforms.com/teams/2012_KansasCity.
Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium as seen from the nearby interstate highway, photo unattributed/ uploaded by KingmanIII at skyscrapercity.com/ [thread: Closest stadiums]. Arrowhead Stadium aerial photo, by Ichabod at en.wikipedia.org/ [Arrowhead Stadium page].


Below: Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams (photo circa 1960)…
lamar-hunt_bud-adams_afl_1960_b_1.gif
Image credit above -youtube.com/watch?v=W1sL0gf_LXI (youtube.com video uploaded by Scott Sillcox).

    Colors and helmet logos of the Texans/Chiefs

The following link is to a 1 minute and 53 seconds-long video (produced by the NFL and Tide detergent), Kansas City Chiefs uniform and uniform color history (video uploaded by Scott Sillcox at youtube.com)}.

1960-62 – Red and Yellow/Gold (map-of-Texas-with-gold-star-for-Dallas helmet-logo, on a plain red helmet)…
Lamar Hunt actually wanted the Dallas Texans to wear orange-and-sky-blue, but Bud Adams’ Houston Oilers had already chosen powder blue as their primary color, so Hunt had to come up with a different color scheme (thank goodness for that). Hunt chose a simple yet striking red-with-yellow/gold…the franchise has never worn any other colors. The Texans/Chiefs have also only worn a red helmet with no stripe detail (a wise decision because the inherent high-potency of the color red ends up being diluted by the often-at-cross-purposes imposition of a center stripe…especially when that red is paired with a shape in the logo that is slightly more complex than a block letter or a circle). First (1960-62), the red helmet had a logo that was the-state-of-Texas-with-gold-star-for-Dallas {see that nice design here in a game-worn helmet from the 1960-62 era}.

1963-2014 – Red and Yellow/Gold (arrowhead-with-interlocking-K-C helmet-logo, on a plain red helmet)…
When Hunt moved the team to Kansas City, the story goes he himself drew out the new logo in his kitchen on a dinner napkin…sketching out a design influenced by the San Francisco 49ers’ interlocking-S-F, but with an arrowhead framing the letters K-C instead of the football-shaped-oval on the Niners’ helmet. That design debuted in 1963 and, aside from a slight reshaping of the logo in 1974 (the arrowhead was made a bit smaller and the K-C a bit larger), it has remained the Chiefs helmet design for over 50 years. And rightly so. The Chiefs’ bold yet dignified helmet looks as sharp today as it did a half century ago; the same can be said for their uniforms {2013 Chiefs uniforms}.

    Oakland Raiders – logos and helmet history (1960-2014), click on image below…

oakland-raiders_helmet-history_logos_1960-2014_segment_c_.gif
Oakland Raiders – logos and helmet history (1960-2014)
Raiders helmet illustrations above from, gridiron-uniforms.com/raiders. Photo of Raiders 2012-13 Riddell helmet from, lnt.com/nfl-authentic-revolution-pro-line-full-size-football-helmets/oakland-raiders-authentic-pro-line-revolution-riddell-helmet. Raiders 2014 uniforms, illustration by JohnnySeoul at en.wikipedia.org.

Origin of Raiders nickname…
The franchise that became the Oakland Raiders was the last of the 8 charter members of the AFL in 1960. A year before when the league was being formed, that 8th franchise was originally intended to be placed in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. But when the NFL convinced the AFL-ownership-group in Minneapolis/St. Paul to take an NFL franchise instead, the Minnesota Vikings were born (set to start in the NFL in 1961), forcing the nascent AFL to scramble to find a location for the 8th team. The 6 other AFL owners were then coerced by Chargers owner Barron Hilton to put another team in California, following Hilton’s threat to pull out of the league if there was not another AFL team placed in the Golden State, so the 8th AFL franchise was placed in Oakland, CA. This despite the fact that the well-supported San Francisco 49ers were just a few miles across the San Francisco Bay from Oakland, and it would thus be an uphill battle for an Oakland-based AFL team to draw well. And this despite the fact that there was no stadium on the east side of San Francisco Bay, except for the California Golden Bears’ stadium in Berkeley, CA.

Here is how the formation of the AFL franchise in Oakland went {2 excerpts from Oakland Raiders/History at en.wikipedia.org}…”Upon receiving the franchise, a meeting of local civic leaders and businessmen was called, chaired by former United States Senator William F. Knowland, editor of the Oakland Tribune; Edgar Kaiser of Kaiser Steel; developer Robert T. Nahas; and Oakland City Councilman Robert Osborne. Also attending the meeting [was] Oakland Mayor Clifford E. Rishell [and 7 other city councilmen]…/…A limited partnership was formed to own the team headed by managing general partner Y. Charles (Chet) Soda, a local real estate developer, and included general partners Ed McGah, Oakland City Councilman Robert Osborne, F. Wayne Valley, restaurateur Harvey Binns, 1928 Olympic gold medalist Donald Blessing, and contractor Charles Harney, the builder of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, built on a bleak parcel of land he owned…”…{end of excerpts from en.wikipedia.org/Oakland Raiders/early years)}.

An example of how disorganized the early days of the Oakland/8th-AFL-franchise was, can be seen in the fact that for 9 days, the team was officially known as the Oakland Señors. This came about when the team’s first GM and one of the 4 co-owners, Chet Soda, organized a name-the-new-team contest held in the Oakland Tribune. Then on April 5, 1960 it was announced in the Tribune that the winning entry was for the nickname the Señors, a reference to the Spanish settlers of northern California. Here is what an article at Raider Nation Times.com has to say about that…{excerpt}…”Although somewhat appropriate due to Oakland’s large Hispanic community, the team became a local laughingstock as everyone knew Soda was renowned for calling his acquaintances Señor and extrapolated that to mean the contest was clearly fixed.”…{end of excerpt at Oakland Raiders Logo and Colors Have a Rich and Interesting History (raidernationtimes.com/article by Justin Smith – Jul 19, 2012). A classic line was made by future Raiders GM and then-Tribune-sportswriter Scotty Stirling, who said, “That’s no good, we don’t have the accent mark for the n in our headline type.” {quote from http://mentalfloss.com/article/25650/whats-nickname-origins-all-32-nfl-team-names by Scott Allen}. So, nine days later, the third-most-selected name was chosen, and the Oakland Raiders were born on April 14, 1960.

    Stadiums the Oakland Raiders/Los Angeles Raiders have played in…

Kezar Stadium in San Francisco (4 games in 1960); Candelstick Park (last 3 games in 1960, all 7 games in 1961)…
The University of California at Berkeley refused to allow the new Raiders to play at their Memorial Stadium, so the Raiders were forced to play across the San Francisco Bay in San Francisco at Kezar Stadium (home of the 49ers), for 1960. Despite being forced to pick over the remainders of available talent for their squad (all 7 other AFL squads had generally been formed before the Oakland AFL franchise got going), Oakland did not do too bad at all in their first season. With a lopsided total of 28 rookies in their squad and with only 14 veterans, the black-helmeted Raiders finished a respectable 6-8 (2 of those rookies were future Pro Football Hall of Famer Center Jim Otto, and a future Raiders head coach, the QB Tom Flores). But the Raiders in their debut season in 1960 drew an awful 9,612 per game (4 games at Kezar Stadium, then their final 3 home games at Candlestick Park). Then the bottom fell out in the Raiders’ next two seasons. After the Raiders had dismissed coach Eddie Erdelatz in late September 1961, his replacement, offensive line coach Marty Feldman fared no better, and in their second year at cold and windy Candlestick Park, the ’61 Raiders went 2-12 and drew an abysmal 7,655 per game.

Frank Youell Field, the temporary stadium the Raiders played in for 4 seasons (1962-65)…
A consortium led by Wayne Valley and including minority-owner Ron McGah purchased the Raiders in 1961, and the consortium threatened to move the franchise if Oakland city officials didn’t provide a venue in Oakland. This made the city construct Frank Youell Field, a temporary facility in downtown Oakland which held about 15,000 people initially (capacity increased to 22,000 the same year it opened in 1962), the use of which was shared with high schools.

From the Today In Pro Football History blog, …{excerpt}…”Stadium was constructed by the Oakland Recreation Commission as a temporary home for the Raiders until the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum was completed. Named for Francis J. Youell, a city council member and prominent local sports booster.”…{end of excerpt at Past Venue: Frank Youell Field, by Keith Yowell at fs64sports.blogspot.com)}.

So in 1962, the hapless Raiders finally played in Oakland, but they were still bad – Red Conkright replaced Feldman after 5 winless games in October ’62, and the Raiders finished rock bottom again, at 1-13. In their first season playing in Oakland they drew 10,985 at Frank Youell Field. The Raiders had no idea at the time, but they would have to play three more seasons at the temporary stadium while the building of the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium hit a series of delays. The reason why it took so long to get Oakland’s multi-purpose stadium built was that it was being built in conjunction with the basketball/hockey/events arena (the Oakland Coliseum, which is next-door to the stadium and shares a parking facility/ see photo in illustration below) – both venues being built by a city/county/non-profit partnership. Then the 54,000-capacity Oakland-Alameda stadium construction schedule (which started in the spring of 1962) was delayed for two years due to various legal issues and cost overruns. Then the original design of the arena (the Oakland Coliseum) had to be modified slightly in order to stay on budget, and that slowed the dual-stadium-construction-project even more. So the Raiders were stuck playing in the all-bleachers Frank Youell Field for 4 years. The makeshift “stadium” was located in an industrial area of downtown Oakland (as you can see in the photos in the illustration below). Frank Youell Field was torn down in 1969 so that nearby Laney College could use the site as a parking lot.

In January, 1963 Al Davis was hired…
In January, 1963 Al Davis was hired by Wayne Valley as head coach and GM of the Raiders. Davis, just 33, became the youngest ever pro football head coach. The Brooklyn-raised Davis had been assistant coach of the San Diego Chargers where he was backfield coach, and an adept scout, and a general fast-talk-artist not above blatant and fabricated self-promotion and outright lying to further his cause. As Valley later said, “Everywhere I went, people told me what a son of a bitch Al Davis was, so I figured he must be doing something right.” {quote from Al Davis page at en.wikipedia.org/Al Davis/Background and hiring}. Valley would regret this move 9 years later when Davis wrested control of the Raiders from him. “Davis’s theory is that people are motivated by fear,” said Bob Bestor, who resigned as Raiders’ business manager in the late 1960s to do publicity for the new Oakland Seals hockey team. “He thinks people perform better if they’re afraid.” {preceding quote from article by Leonard Shecter in Look magazine, The Most Hated Winner In Football: Al Davis In 1969 (thestacks.deadspin.com)}.

Davis intended to bring over an aggressive passing-oriented offense, the type he had seen become proficient at San Diego under visionary head coach Sid Gillman. For the 1963 season, Davis, despite being new to the organization, still had enough leverage this early on to actually convince the Raiders’ front office to change the team’s colors from black-and-yellow/gold with plain black helmets, to silver-and-black with silver helmets (with a distinctive shield logo), black jerseys and silver pants. From his experience coaching teams in the military (at Fort Belvoir, Virginia) and at a military school (the Citadel in South Carolina), Davis sought to motivate his players with relentless practice, drilling into them a pride for the team. Slogans became utilized. “Pride and Poise,” “Commitment to Excellence,” and “Just Win, Baby” are all registered trademarks of the Oakland Raiders. The turnaround for the Raiders was immediate – they went went 10-4 and Al Davis was voted AFL Coach of the Year. That 9-game improvement from the previous season (1-13 in ’62/10-4 in ’63) is a pro football record from the 14-game-era. The Raiders went from worst offense in the AFL in ’62 to second-best in ’63 (behind the Chargers, who won the 1963 AFL title). Though the Raiders slipped to 5–7–2 in 1964, they rebounded to 8–5–1 in 1965.

Then Davis left the Raiders organization for what turned out to be four months, when he was selected by the owners to replace Joe Foss as Commissioner of the AFL. This came about because the AFL owners wanted an aggressive commissioner to face off against the NFL. By the close of the 1965 season, the American Football League, after 6 years, had basically become a significant rival to the NFL. The AFL had increased its attendance remarkably. The AFL went from averaging 15 K per game in 1960, to averaging 31 K per game in 1965. The AFL’s television contract with NBC, and the several major stadiums being built for AFL teams were indications that in late 1965/early 1966, the AFL was starting to look like it was a success. The AFL was reaching the point where they were becoming able to compete on equal terms for players with the NFL. But aside from Sonny Werblin (NY Jets co-owner), most AFL owners wanted to be a part of the older, better-established NFL. They and most NFL owners feared continued escalation of player salaries.

The AFL was gaining on the NFL, and merger was becoming a possibility. AFL founder and Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt wanted the brash and dynamic Davis in the commissioner’s seat fighting the NFL, and Davis as a 37-year-old got the job in April 1966. Davis wanted AFL teams to go after NFL stars and basically scare the NFL franchises into thinking that they would be, for lack of a better word, raided by the AFL (there is Davis using fear as a motivator again). Lots of rumors about which NFL stars might jump to the AFL abounded in the early summer of 1966 – big-name players like Mike Ditka of Chicago and Alex Karras of Detroit and Paul Hornung of Green Bay. This happened because two player-raids were attempted. The Raiders went after LA Rams QB Roman Gabriel, and the Houston Oilers went after SF 49ers QB John Brodie – and both were signed in the early summer of 1966 by those AFL teams [but the two ended up staying with LA and SF respectively, because by then the AFL-NFL meger had been agreed to, and those contracts were nullified]. Glenn Dickey, a biographer of Al Davis {Just Win, Baby: Al Davis and His Raiders at amazon, here}, pointed out that Davis felt he was deceived by the owners, “He thought he had been hired to win the war with the NFL. In fact, the owners only wanted to force a peace. They were quietly negotiating a merger while Davis was fighting a war.”…{excerpt from Al Davis/AFL commissioner (en.wikipedia.org)}.

The AFL-NFL merger agreement was announced on June 8, 1966, with the creation of an annual title game to be first played in January 1967 (the AFL/NFL Championship Game, now called the Super Bowl), and with the AFL and the NFL to continue on as separate leagues for 4 more seasons (1966, ’67, ’68, ’69), and with a fully-integrated schedule and two balanced conferences implemented for the merger in 1970. Davis was not happy with the agreement, both because it required the Jets and Raiders to pay indemnities to the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers for establishing teams within their exclusive territories, and because it put him out of a job, because the merger made the office of the AFL commissioner redundant (Pete Rozelle would continue in his post as NFL commissioner under the merger agreement). Davis resigned as commissioner on July 25 (he was on the job for less than 4 months). Davis went back to the Raiders organization, now a 10% owner and now head of football operations (Davis would snatch total control of the Raiders franchise in 1972 when Valley was at the Olympics in Munich, Germany and Davis had his attorneys completely revise the ownership agreement, which third-ownership-partner McGah signed…and the courts upheld this).

Below: the first years of the Oakland Raiders (1960-67)…
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Photo and Image credits above -
Illustrations of Raiders 1960-63 uniforms by gridiron-uniforms.com/raiders. Frank Youell Field sign, photo unattributed at football.ballparks.com/NFL/OaklandRaiders. Aerial black-and-white photo, unattributed at football.ballparks.com. Frank Youell Field, black-and-white photo, unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com/2011/04/past-venue-frank-youell-field. 1963 photo of Al Davis on the sidelines talking to QB Cotton Davidson with back-up QBTom Flores in head-set with clipboard, photo by Ron Riesterer / Oakland Tribune at oaklandtribunearchives.tumblr.com. Aerial photo of Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum complex, unattributed at alamedainfo.com/san_leandro_bay_pg_3. Daryle Lamonica and Gene Upshaw, photo by USA Today via spokeo.com/Daryle+Lamonica. Photo of game event poster of Second AFL-NFL World Championship Game [aka Super Bowl II], from sportsposterwarehouse.com.

September 1966: Raiders move into the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium…
In 1966, Al Davis’ hand-picked successor as head coach was John Rauch. The Raiders were finally playing in the 55,000-capacity stadium they would play in for the next decade-and-a-half. The Raiders played to 95%-capacity in 1965, at 21 K per game in their last year at Frank Youell Field. The following year, 1966, finally at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, they averaged 36 K. By 1969, the Raiders were playing to 97%-capacity, drawing 53 K per game there.

In 1966 the Raiders finished 8-5-1, with starting QB Tom Flores and featuring a receiver corps that included Hewritt Dixon and Fred Biletnikoff (both WRs), as well ex-Oilers great Billy Cannon (at TE/HB). Then in the off-season the Raiders acquired back-up Buffalo Bills QB Daryle Lamonica in a trade. Lamonica was a strong-armed QB, and he threw a league-best 30 TD passes in 1967, as the Raiders tore up the AFL, with a league-best offense that averaged 33.4 points per game, and a defense that was second-best (the Oilers had the best D in the AFL in ’67). The Raiders then won the 1967 AFL Championship game over Houston, blowing out the Oilers 40-7. But just as the Kansas City Chiefs had been outclassed by the Green Bay Packers in the first Super Bowl the previous season, so too were the 1967 Raiders schooled by Lombardi’s Packers in Super Bowl II in January 1968, losing 33-14.

1976 season: Oakland Raiders win Super Bowl XI…
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Photo and Image Credits above -
Ted Hendricks, photo by USA Today at spokeo.com. Fred Biletnikoff, photo unattributed at tddaily.com/nfl/greatest-sb-players-no-44-fred-biletnikoff. Ken Stabler handing off to Clarence Davis with Mark Van Eeghen blocking, ;& John Madden being carried off field by Raiders players incl. Ted Hendricks, photos unattributed at democraticunderground.com.

1980 season: Oakland Raiders win Super Bowl XV…
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Photo and Image Credits above -
Jim Plunkett in pocket, photo unattributed at latinorebels.com/four-proud-latino-nfl-players-who-have-played-in-the-super-tazon. Plunkett about to pass to Cliff Branch for TD, photo unattributed at myfootballdvds.com. Rod Martin intercepting a pass, photo by Manny Rubio/USA Today via usatodaysportsimages.com. Tom Flores, photo by USA Today at spokeo.com. John Matuszack pursuing Ron Jaworski, photo by Peter Read Miller/Getty Imges via gettyimages.com.

Oakland Raiders move to Los Angles as Los Angeles Raiders; play in LA Memorial Coliseum for 13 seasons (1982-94)…
Al Davis wanted to leave Oakland because city officials refused to make improvements to Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. It primarily came down to their refusal to build luxury suites. In 1980 Davis signed an agreement to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles. League owners voted 22-0 against the franchise-move (five owners abstaining). Davis tried to move the team, anyway. The NFL took him to court, Davis counter-sued, and Davis won an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, clearing the way for the team’s relocation. “Sure, I expected the Oakland fans to get angry at me,” Davis said. “But I don’t remember any of them parading on the Oakland Coliseum, saying ‘Give him what he wants.’ In their mind, it’s their team. In my mind, it’s not.” {preceding quote from article at ESPN, Good guys wear black, by Mike Puma (espn.go.com/classic)}. Davis moved the Raiders to the Los Angeles Coliseum for the start of the 1982 season. The LA Coliseum had been vacant of a primary tenant since the end of the 1979 season, when the LA Rams moved a few miles southeast to Anaheim in Orange County (into the California Angels’ Anaheim Stadium).
1983 season: Oakland Raiders win Super Bowl XVIII…
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Photo and Image credits above -
Raiders helmet, illustration by gridiron-uniforms.com/Raiders. Derrick Jensen blocking Redskins punt, photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com/1984-raiders-overwhelm-redskins. Jim Plunkett, photo by Getty Images via espndeportes.com/blogs. Marcus Allen on a long gain, photo unattributed at taylorblitztimes.com. Lester Hayes celebrating win, photo by Focus In Sports/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Tom Flores being carried off the field, photo by Chris Hayt/Getty Images via espn.go.com/blog.

The Raiders played 13 seasons as the Los Angeles Raiders, then they returned to Oakland for the 1995 season. Here is an excerpt from the Oakland Raiders page at en.wikipedia.org..{excerpt}…”As early as 1986, Davis began to seek a new, more modern stadium away from the [Los Angeles] Coliseum and the dangerous neighborhood that surrounded it at the time…/…In addition to sharing the venue with the USC Trojans, the Coliseum was aging and still lacked the luxury suites and other amenities that Davis was promised when he moved the Raiders to Los Angeles. Finally, the Coliseum had 100,000 seats and was rarely able to fill all of them, and so most Raiders home games were blacked out on television. Numerous venues in California were considered…”…{end of excerpt from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Oakland_Raiders#1982-88}.

In January 1989 Davis began negotiating with the city of Oakland to return the franchise there, and an agreement was reached in March 1991, but various delays kept the team from returning until 1995 to the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium (the stadium, still home of the A’s and the Raiders, is called O.co Coliseum now). In 1995, Davis finally got his coveted luxury suites, thanks to the Frankenstein-monster that the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium has now become, complete with a gigantic looming Death Star-like stand behind the center field wall (see below). The multi-tiered-stand now blocks the view that baseball fans once had of the Oakland Hills behind center field. Its derisive name is Mount Davis.

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Photo credits above – both stadium-photos unattributed at baseballfeelings.com/2011/04/how-al-davis-killed-oakland-coliseum.

    Colors and helmet-logos of the Raiders

The following link is to a 1 minute and 50 seconds-long video, Oakland Raiders uniform and uniform color history (video uploaded by Scott Sillcox at youtube.com)}.

1960-62 – Black and Yellow/Gold (plain black helmet)…
Like the Broncos early days, the first-year Oakland Raiders franchise was pretty cash-strapped, and, like the Broncos, the Raiders’ first color-scheme was the result of second-hand uniforms bought on the cheap. From the Al Davis page at en.wikipedia.org…”The Raiders, in their first season, had adopted the colors—and cast-off uniforms—of the University of the Pacific, black and gold.”…{excerpt from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Davis/Youngest_coach_in_the_AFL. It was actually black and yellow/gold. The helmets were plain black in 1960. In ’61 and ’62 a yellow-gold center-stripe was added to the black helmet. The helmets were also the old MacGregor style – a style with bulging ear-holes that had their heyday about a decade earlier, and they looked pretty dated circa 1960-62. Al Davis changed that when he came aboard in early 1963 as the Raiders head coach and GM (and designer of the Raiders’ new uniforms). Here is a photo from Al Davis’ first season with the Raiders, the photo taken in training camp, where you can see the old black Raiders’ helmet [worn by then-backup QB Tom Flores, on the left of the photo], and the new helmet of silver-and black-with-proto-shield-logo [1963-only helmet] worn by QB Cotton Davidson on the right of the photo {see it here}.

1963 to present – Black and Silver (with shield-logo [in proto-type-stage] on the silver helmet in 1963; with shield logo revised in 1964/ no changes in helmet-design since 1964)…
Al Davis was color-blind, and saw primarily only grays; Davis would go on to have a personal style which involved only the wearing of white, black or gray. The Raiders’ colors reflect this. Davis designed the Raiders uniforms right upon joining the organization in 1963. Their dark (home) uniforms had absolutely no white in the jersey (black with silver numbers) or pants (silver with a black stripe). The prototype-shield-logo was at first ill-conceived because the football helmet that the eye-patch-wearing man in the shield-logo is wearing is still the old plain-black helmet, not the team’s new silver helmet. That was corrected the next season in 1964 {link to those logos: Raiders’ primary logos, here}.}. So the Raiders’ helmet has not changed one bit since 1964. With the re-working of the shield-logo, the Raiders’ look was established. Only one slight variation in the Raiders’ uniforms has been [temporarily] changed since 1964…for a few years, when their white jerseys had silver-and-black numbers as opposed to black numbers (in 1963, in 1964, in 1970, and in 1997 [alternate]/ see this photo, from 1970, of C Jim Otto and QB Daryle Lamonica, in those smart-lookiing white-Raiders-jerseys-with-the-silver-and-black-numbers). In other words, the Raiders organization has not messed with their look at all. Which has proven to be a wise policy. The Raiders in their black jerseys (with silver numbers and no white at all) give them one of the most intimidating appearances in pro sports. And the Raiders in their white jerseys (with black numbers and no unnecessary trim at all) look understated and dignified.

    San Diego Chargers – logos and helmet history (1960-2014), click on image below…

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San Diego Chargers – logos and helmet history (1960-2014)
Chargers helmet illustrations above from, gridiron-uniforms.com/chargers. Chargers 2014 uniforms, illustration by JohnnySeoul at en.wikipedia.org. Chargers helmet, photo from wallstickers-decals.com/store.

Origin of Chargers nickname…
The Los Angeles Chargers, charter member of the AFL in 1960, were nicknamed the Chargers through a confluence of three things: 1) the winning entry in a name-the-new-team contest (the winner won an all-expenses-paid vacation to Mexico City); 2) the act of yelling “Charge” when a horse brigade attacks; 3) the colloquial term for buying with credit cards (charging it). The idea of a charge coming from a lightning bolt also entered into the name, and that can be seen by the lightning bolt’s prominent part of the Los Angeles Chargers’ first logos (official logo and helmet logo) – the lightning bolt has always been the Chargers’ logo.

Chargers founder/original owner Barron Hilton had created the then-prominent credit card Carte Blanche in 1954 (it was acquired by [the company now called] Citicorp in 1978, and is now part of their Platinum card). Carte Blanche credit card was created in conjunction with the Hilton Hotels chain (Barron Hilton is an heir to that fortune). Meanwhile, through the 1950s, Los Angeles-resident Hilton had been impressed by the famous USC Tojans marching band’s stirring ritual, at the LA Memorial Coliseum, of sounding the bugle and getting the Trojan fans to yell “Charge!”, right before kickoff. A “charger” is also the Medieval term for an armored war-horse that bore a knight into battle. Along with the aforementioned lightning-bolt, the first Chargers’ logo had a horse’s head within the shield {here}.

Now there are some (like some of the suits who run the NFL, or simply Chargers fans in denial) that don’t want it known or don’t want to admit that an NFL team was partially named after a credit card – and a rich-person’s-type of credit card at that. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s entry on the subject does not mention the credit-card-angle {here}, but then, that article is a PR exercise that refuses to acknowledge, for example, that the New York Jets were named after the fact that they played next to Laguardia Airport. Hilton later denied the credit-card connection to the name {here/second paragraph there, which says “Hilton named his team the Chargers, but denies that he did it to create synergy with his new credit card business.”}. But the businessman who bought the San Diego Chargers from Hilton in 1966, Gene Klein, says Hilton told him that the Chargers were named after a credit card [or specifically, the active-verb that describes what one does with a credit card]. Klein says so in his autobiography, First Down and a Billion {at Amazon, here}. And in this 1-minute-&-41-seconds youtube video, a football historian connected with the PFHoF (Joe Horrigan) contradicts the PFHoF’s website’s stance on this when he does say that the Chargers’ nickname was partially the result of Hilton’s credit card company, {see this, San Diego Chargers uniform and uniform color history video uploaded by Scott Sillcox at youtube.com}.

Here is an article at the Mental_floss site about origins of NFL nicknames, What’s in a Nickname? The Origins of All 32 NFL Team Names (mentalfloss.com article by Scott Allen). Here is the text from the Chargers section in that article…
{excerpt}…”Team owner Barron Hilton sponsored a name-the-team contest and promised a trip to Mexico City to the winner in 1960. Gerald Courtney submitted “Chargers” and Hilton reportedly liked the name so much that he didn’t open another letter. There are varying accounts as to why Hilton chose Chargers for his franchise, which spent one year in Los Angeles before relocating to San Diego. According to one story, Hilton liked the name, in part, for its affiliation with his new Carte Blanche credit card. The owner also told reporters that he was fond of the “Charge!” bugle cry played at the Los Angeles Coliseum.”…{end of excerpt}.

So in 1959, Barron Hilton, heir to the Hilton hotel fortune and creator and head of a then-new credit card company called Carte Blanche, decides to call his new AFL team the Chargers. Then he later insists that naming them the Chargers had nothing to do with the fact that the most common term for purchasing something with a credit card is to “charge” it. He insults the intelligence of sports fans with this. {Also see this thread from a Chargers fan forum, Origin of the name “Chargers.” (forums.chargers.com/showthread.php?t=42100).}

    Stadiums the Los Angeles Charger/San Diego Chargers have played in

1960: the Los Angeles Chargers play their debut season at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum…
Built for the city of Los Angles and for the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans college football team, and [currently] jointly-owned by the State of California and the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Memorial Stadium was opened in 1923, with a single-tier and rows of bleachers in a horseshoe shape, and with an initial capacity of 79,000. Before the city hosted the 1932 Olympics, capacity was increased by adding rows of seats at the top (to 79 rows), making the capacity 101,500. The NFL’s Cleveland Rams, after the 1945 season, moved to LA and played at the Los Angeles Coliseum from 1946 to 1979 (the AAFC’s Los Angeles Dons also played there, from 1946-49). For a while the Los Angeles Rams (the only pro/major-league team in town from 1950-57) played to massive crowds there – in 1958 the Rams averaged a then-NFL-record 83,528 per game in their 6 home games that year. In 1953, the capacity at the giant stadium had been increased again, and was a jaw-dropping 123,500 (this remained until 1964, when capacity was scaled back to 97,000; the LA Coliseum currently has a capacity of 93,600).

So in 1960, this 123,00-capacity stadium was the venue for the Rams, the USC Trojans, and a new team, the Los Angeles Chargers, a charter-member of the new rival-pro-football-league. To say the venue was too large for the new team would be an understatement…the Chargers averaged 15,665 their first and only year in LA (that is a mere 12.6 percent-capacity). As Bob Carroll says in his analysis of AFL attendance figures {linked to previously and at the end of the following quote},…”The Los Angeles Chargers, with perhaps the league’s most exciting team, played to tiny houses while L.A. fans stayed home and watched the Rams on the tube. Barron Hilton was happy to take his money-losing winners to San Diego for 1961.”…{end of excerpt from THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE ATTENDANCE, 1960-69, by Bob Carroll [pdf])}. The Chargers won the AFL Western Division in 1960, then lost to the Houston Oilers in the first AFL Championship game, played at the LA Memorial Coliseum to a crowd of only 32,100 (and to over 80,000 empty seats). The LA Chargers fell to the Oilers 24-16. Soon after that, Hilton decided to move his Chargers 90 miles south to San Diego.

1961: the Los Angeles Chargers move 90 miles south-east to San Diego, as the San Diego Chargers, and begin playing in Balboa Stadium (1961-66)…
Balboa Stadium was built by the city of San Diego for the Panama–California Exposition (1915-17). Following that the 23 K-capacity stadium was used for high school football until 1937, when auto racing was staged there on the 1/4 mile dirt track in Balboa Stadium. Racing was held there up through the early summer of 1961, when the venue was re-vamped and expanded to 34,000-capacity to become the home of the AFL’s Chargers (the San Diego Chargers played there for 7 seasons (1961-66). The stadium wasn’t re-modeled so great though – there was a running track, which separated the fans by another 30 yards or so. Nevertheless, attendance was decent and encouraging the first season in San Diego – the Chargers saw an increase of 12 thousand – from 15.6 K in their only season in LA to 27.8 K in their first season in San Diego. Of course it helped that the 1961 Chargers were very good and very entertaining (they went 12-2 and made it to the 1961 AFL Championship game, where they again lost to the Oilers, this time at Houston’s Jeppesen Field, and this time losing 10-3). But the the next year (1962) attendance fell off as the team’s fortunes nosedived (finishing 4-10), and San Diegans stayed away from Balboa Stadium in droves (the Chargers drew 5.3 K less in ’62, at 21.9 K per game). Attendance bounced back in 1963 when the Chargers drew 27.3 K in their title-winning season of 1963 (see illustration below). But the Chargers never drew above 28.9 K at the 34 K-capacity Balboa (which they did in 1965 en route to their fifth appearance in the AFL Championship game, which they lost to Buffalo for the second-straight year [the Chargers won 1 AFL title and lost 4 AFL Championship games in a six-year span, 1960-65]). It wasn’t until the Chargers moved into San Diego’s new 50,000-capacity multi-purpose stadium, originally called San Diego Stadium, in 1966, that the team ever drew above 30 K. By 1969, the time the AFL was winding down and on its way to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Chargers drew a healthy 46,311 per game (at 92.6 percent-capacity).

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Photo and Image credits above -
Chargers 1960-73 helmets and 1960-84 jerseys, illustrations by gridiron-uniforms.com/chargers. Aerial photo of San Diego Stadium (Jack Murphy Stadium), photo by Getty Images via wptv.com/sports/qualcomm-conundrum-cracks-in-the-sidewalk. Aerial photo of Balboa Stadium circa 1965, photo unattributed at nfl.com/photoessays [San Diego Chargers]. Paul Lowe on a run, photo by San Diego Chargers at chargers.com/gallery/Chargers-to-Honor-1963-Championship-Team. Lance Alworth, b/w action photo unattributed at talesfromtheamericanfootballleague.com/lance-alworths-archive-chargers-home-jersey. Tobin Rote and Paul Lowe on the cover of Sports Illustrated, via remembertheafl.com. Sid Gillman and Tobin Rote on sideline, photo by Robert L. Smith/NFL via nfl.com/photos. Photo of Chargers’ Lance Alworth 1963 helmet (All American badge year) (Authentic Reproduction), by http://www.helmethut.com/charg.html . Lance Alworth, color photo by Getty Images at at bleacherreport.com/articles/1198408-the-50-best-teams-in-nfl-history.

San Diego Stadium/Jack Murphy Stadium/Qualcomm Stadium – home of the Chargers since 1967…
The new stadium that opened in 1967 was built by the city of San Diego. The Chargers played the first game ever at the stadium on August 20, 1967. San Diego Stadium was renamed Jack Murphy Stadium in 1980, in honor of local sportswriter Jack Murphy, who was instrumental, circa the mid-1960s, in getting the stadium built (since 1997 it has been called Qualcomm Stadium). The stadium was also home of the San Diego Padres. The Padres of the National League played there from 1969-2003 (they now play in their own purpose-built ballpark, Petco Park).

    Colors and helmet-logos of the Chargers…

1960 – Dark “Collegiate Blue” and Yellow/Gold (white helmet with arc-shaped-lightning-bolt logo in blue-with-yellow-outline)…
Collegiate Blue is basically dark-sky-blue (or dark powder-blue). I actually could not find any reason why Barron Hilton chose dark-powder-blue and yellow/gold as his football team’s colors. But I am going to go out on a limb and just say it…he was copying one of Los Angeles’ two big college teams’ colors – the UCLA Bruins football team wears powder-blue and gold. After all, Hilton had already copied from another…in naming the team the Chargers, Hilton had partially borrowed an aspect of the other big college football team in town, the USC Trojans, with their bugle-spurred cry of “Charge!” [see origins of Chargers nickname section further above]). Their first year in LA found the Chargers in a pretty dark shade of collegiate blue, with the white helmet’s arced-lightning-bolt logo in blue-with-yellow-outline (the numbers were also in these two colors) {1960 Los Angeles Chargers helmet (helmethut.com)}. The Chargers were the first pro football team to have a logo-design incorporated into their pants-stripe…a lightning bolt, of course (you can see the whole history of the Chargers’ pants-stripe logos in the Chargers logos and helmet-history illustration at the top of the Chargers section here {or here}. The lightning-bolt logo on their white helmet was revised (and perfected) the following year when the team moved down to San Diego.

1961-66 – Collegiate Blue and Yellow/Gold (white helmet with arc-shaped-lightning-bolt logo in yellow-with-black-outline)…
{HoF OT Ron Mix (and the rest of the Chargers’ offensive line) in the 1961-65 Chargers dark-jersey gear [photo from either 1964 or 1965].}
{1961 Chargers uniforms.} Upon the move to San Diego, the Collegiate blue was now a shade lighter – appropriate in that the very bright blue evokes San Diego’ pleasant weather and sea-side charm. (You can see the difference between the 1960 and 1961 Chargers’ powder-blue in the illustration a couple paragraphs above). The helmet now featured what has become the iconic Chargers helmet – a white helmet with a grey facemask, an arced-lightning-bolt logo in yellow-with-black outline, and the player’s number, under the bolt-logo, in a black sans-serif font. Sheer perfection. The keys to the brilliance of this helmet design is the combination of all the negative space in the helmet with the bold arc of the lightning-bolt logo…and the black outline and the black number under the bolt. There is no other black in the Chargers color-scheme, but for some reason it is so appropriate there as a trim color on the helmet. The black, especially the black number, somehow pulls it all together (and you can see what I mean about that when you look at all the other color-variations of the arced-lightning-bolt logo…they all seem lacking somehow). The fact that lightning bolts are never curved in nature, but are on the Chargers helmet, is a point often overlooked. But the curve-in-the-lightning-bolt is why I think the Chargers bolt logo is so much better than Air Force Academy’s football helmet logo {here}…the curve of the Chargers’ bolt follows the curve of the football helmet itself so it becomes more cohesive. When you combine this stunning and eye-catching helmet-design with the Chargers’ powder-blue and gold in the jersey and pants, well, it just does not get any better. In my opinion the San Diego Chargers’ 1961 helmet is the greatest helmet-design in the history of gridiron football. Of course, after years of widespread fan-acclaim during periods of NFL throwback uniforms, the modern-day Chargers refused to bow to public pressure and simply re-adopt this helmet-design, and just had to mess with it (why?), by making the facemask navy blue (why?) and getting rid of the player’s number (why?) and screwing around with the lightning-bolt logo by ditching the black and having the yellow bolt now be trimmed with an overly-busy combo of powder-blue and navy-blue. But I digress. The 1961 Chargers helmet was used these years: 1961-65; 1967-73; 1994 [throwback uniform]; 2002-06 [throwback uniform]; 2009 [throwback uniform].

1966 – Collegiate Blue and Yellow/Gold (white helmet with arc-shaped-lightning-bolt logo in dark-blue)…
The Chargers front office messed with the helmet-logo, making the lightning-bolt logo dark blue. That helmet did not look tougher, it looked neutered. {Here is Chargers RB Keith Lincoln in the 1966 Chargers helmet (the opposing team is wearing another mid-1960s helmet-fail [Denver Broncos 1965-66 pastel-red/orange-helmet-w/-goofy-horse-logo).} It lasted one year, and in 1967 it was back to the yellow-with-black-outline bolt (aka the 1961 Chargers helmet). The Chargers' yellow pants made their debut in 1966 (history of Chargers pants colors can be seen here).

1967 - Dark Collegiate Blue and Yellow/Gold (white helmet with arc-shaped-lightning-bolt logo in yellow-with-black-outline)...
1961-style classic bolt helmet is back. This time the front office messes with the jerseys, making the powder-blue much darker, so the 1967 Chargers sported Dark Collegiate Blue {here}. That color just seems off. It belongs on upscale dinnerware or guest-bathroom walls, not football gear. In the photo at the following link, of QB John Hadl at the new San Diego Stadium in 1967, you can see how odd the color looks, especially because the socks are still light-powder-blue, but the jersey color looks like a mixture of navy-blue and sky-blue {here}.

1968-73 - Light Collegiate Blue and Yellow/Gold (white helmet with arc-shaped-lightning-bolt logo in dark-blue)...
Back to the light powder-blue first worn in 1961, now even brighter. The Chargers finally nail it down in this traffic-stopping uniform. The Chargers evoked even more of sunny southern California with their 1968-73 uniforms {here}. The '68-to-'73 jerseys had the lightest shade of powder-blue the Chargers ever used. The following link shows this style uniform in its last season...here is Johnny Unitas as Chargers' QB in one of his last 4 games in the NFL in 1973. These uniforms were worn by the Chargers for 6 seasons. It was too good to last...and it took mid-1970s sensibilities to kill this masterpiece.

1974-84 - Royal Blue and Yellow/Gold (dark-blue helmet with yellow facemask and arc-shaped lightning-bolt logo in yellow-with-dark-blue-and-white-outline)...
{Here is the great 'Bolts QB Dan Fouts in the 1974-to-'84 Chargers gear.} Dark royal blue replaces the bright-powder-blue; yellow pants remain. Helmets are also now dark royal blue, and are a darker shade of blue than the jerseys. Yellow facemasks, (which are, for the NFL, the first colored facemasks worn by the entire team), replace the grey facemasks. Interesting trivia...in 1978 and in 1983, the Chargers only wore their white jersey {1978 Chargers uniform; 1983 Chargers' uniform}.

When these uniforms came out in 1974, I was enthralled with them (yellow facemasks!; no more "boring" white helmets for the Chargers!). But what do 9-year-old kids know about good design? Heck, for that matter, what did the mid-1970s know about good design? The 1970s gave us such crimes against nature as burnt-orange shag rugs and avocodo-colored kitchen appliances (both of which featured in our household, and millions of other households, back then). Not counting white facemasks, aside from a couple of anomalies, the Chargers were the first NFL team to have a colored facemask (except for some players' helmets of the 1953 Chicago Cardinals {see this}, and except for some players helmets of the 1956 Baltimore Colts {here}. Now, well over half the NFL teams have colored facemasks (in 2014, 22 of the 32 teams in the NFL teams have colored facemasks on their primary helmet).

Colored facemasks have jumped the shark. Give me grey facemasks any day. Besides, why make it harder for your team? Why have colored facemasks, because all you are accomplishing (besides a gaudy look), is giving your team vision problems. If you play in a colored facemask, you are going to be visually impaired by being distracted by seeing that color all the time, instead of seeing fully what you really need to see...which is, what is going on in the field all around you. The first team to "see the light" and reverse the trend of colored facemasks was the New York Giants, who went back to grey facemasks in 2000. Now the Colts and the Bills and the 49ers and the Browns have also went back to grey facemasks in recent years [the only NFL teams that have only-ever worn grey facemasks are the Cowboys, the Raiders, and (beside that aforementioned exception in 1953), the Cardinals].

1985-87 – Dark Blue and Yellow/Gold (dark-blue helmet with yellow facemask and arc-shaped lightning-bolt logo in yellow-with-dark-blue-and-white-outline)…
{1985 Chargers uniforms}. The jerseys in this 3-year period became a darker shade of blue. Yellow pants were replaced by white pants, and those white pants featured a snazzy dark-blue-stripe-with-lightning-bolt-inside.

1988-2006 – Navy Blue and Yellow/Gold (navy-blue helmet with navy-blue facemask and arc-shaped lightning-bolt logo in white-with-dark-blue-and-yellow-outline)…
{1988 Chargers uniforms.} The Chargers made their blue even darker, to navy blue – on both the helmet and the home jersey. The yellow/gold was de-emphasized to only a minor trim color (even the lighning-bolt on the helmet was no longer yellow). In the third year of this design (1990), navy-blue pants were introduced. In 1994, the NFL’s 75th anniversary season, as part of their throwback uniforms for some games, the Chargers finally again wore their 1961-style white helmet-with-bolt-and-black-numbers {1994 Chargers}.

2007-14 – Navy Blue with Yellow/Gold and Collegiate Blue trim (white helmet with navy-blue facemask and revised-arc-shaped-3-color-lightning-bolt logo)…
{2007 Chargers uniforms.} As already mentioned, the Chargers sort of bowed to fan pressure and re-introduced the white helmet, but they basically took all the good elements out of the 1961 Chargers helmet-design – no number anymore, no grey facemask, no black trim-color. And the worst thing is they refuse to wear the 1961-style helmet anymore, with one exception, {2009 Chargers uniforms.} Bring back the 1961 Chargers helmet!
___

Many details in the post here come courtesy of pro football historian Bob Carroll’s epic and hilarious book about pro football in the 1960s, When the Grass Was Real – Unitas, Brown, Lombardi, Sayers, Butkus, Namath, and All the Rest: The Ten Best Years of Pro Football (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993) {at amazon, here}.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘AFC West‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
Thanks to OSC forum, http://www.oursportscentral.com/boards/showthread.php?t=1789 for AFL-attendance-figures-text-blocks.

Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use the football uniforms illustrations (helmet illustrations and jersey/uniform illustrations), at gridiron-uniforms.com.

December 30, 2013

NFL – All-time highest scoring teams (1920 to 2013, regular season/points per game) – #1: 1950 Los Angeles Rams, #2: 2013 Denver Broncos, #3: 2007 New England Patriots, #4: 1961 Houston Oilers (AFL), #5: 1941 Chicago Bears.

Filed under: NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 11:52 pm

Note, this illustration was included, after posting, into this post I made in November 2013 {click on the following, http://billsportsmaps.com/?p=24182}. That post talks about the highest-scoring teams and eras in the NFL. I made the illustration below afterwards, because in the interim, the 2013 Denver Broncos became one of the highest scoring NFL teams ever (second-highest after the 1950 Los Angeles Rams). I decided to make the illustration below also as a stand-alone post, so it would not get lost in the shuffle.




All-time highest scoring teams (1920 to 2013, regular season/points per game) -
#1: 1950 Los Angeles Rams, #2: 2013 Denver Broncos, #3: 2007 New England Patriots, #4: 1961 Houston Oilers (AFL), #5: 1941 Chicago Bears.
nfl_highest-scoring-teams_1950-la-rams_2013-denver-broncos_1967-afl-houston-oilers_1941-chicago-bears_e.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Helmet illustrations,
helmet illustrations from The Gridiron Uniforms Database at gridiron-uniforms.com.
1950 Rams,
Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin photo, from Corbis at corbisimages.com/stock-photo/bob-waterfield-and-norm-van-brocklin-standing.
Crazy Legs Hirsch, action photo from profootballhof.com/fact-or-fiction-hall-of-famer-elroy-hirsch-was-nearly-stripped-naked-by-fans-after-a-game.
Tom Fears, action photo from fanbase.com/Tom-Fears/photo.
2013 Broncos,
Peyton Manning, photo from USA Today Sports Images sports.yahoo.com/blogs.
Demaryius Thomas, photo unattributed at commercialappeal.com.
2007 Patriots,
Tom Brady. photo from Sports Illustrated via imageslides.com/Sports/gallery/4345-Past-10-NFL-MVP-Winners#9 .
Randy Moss, photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images via bleacherreport.com/articles/722541-dallas-cowboys-all-time-biggest-draft-misses.
1961 Houston Oliers (AFL),
George Blanda, photo from casualadultgamers.com/thread-All-Time-Teams.
Bill Groman, photo from spokeo.com.
1940 Chicago Bears,
Sid Luckman, photo public domain from en.wikipedia.org.
George McAfee, photo from profootballhof.com/Bears-vs-Packers-in-1941-NFL-Playoff-Game.
Hugh Gallarneau, photo from whatifsports.com/article_1941BearsPackers.
___
Thanks to pro-football-reference.com.
Thanks to the Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com permission to use their helmet illustrations, http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/.

November 11, 2013

NFL, 1948 season, map of the teams with 1948 scoring leaders. / Plus a short article on high scoring NFL seasons and high scoring NFL teams. / Plus the 1948 Los Angeles Rams’ golden-horned helmet designed by Rams player Fred Gehrke – the first helmet logo in the NFL. / Plus the 1948 NFL championship game, aka the Blizzard Bowl. / Plus, all-time helmet histories of the 9 currently active NFL teams from 1948 (Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, Rams).

Filed under: NFL>1948 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 10:49 pm

Please note – All helmet and uniforms illustrations on the map, and in the charts, and in the illustrations here, are from The Gridiron Uniform Database site, and were used by billsportsmaps.com here with permission from gridiron-uniforms.com.

1948_nfl-map__segment_b.gif
NFL, 1948 season, with offensive stats leaders & helmet histories of the 9 oldest NFL teams (Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, and Rams)
NFL helmet and uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database.



    NFL, 1948 season

From Pro FootbalHall of Fame site, ‘NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1940s‘ (profootballhof.com/history).

1948: the highest-scoring season in the NFL
There are 3 reasons why the 1948 NFL season stands out. The first reason is, even though it pre-dated the passing era, 1948 was actually the NFL season that had the highest scoring average – 23.6 points per team (per game). From coldhardfootballfacts.com, from July 10, 2010, by Kerry Byrne, ‘The Spirit of ’48: a mind-blowing statistical orgasm‘. However, a mitigating factor must be mentioned. There were a few really bad defensive teams in the NFL in 1948, and, for example, the Eagles (who went on to be the 1948 NFL champions, and who had the league’s third-best offense in 1948 at 31.3 points per game) scored their season-high of 45 points in 4 games that year, three of which were against the three worst defenses in 1948 – the Lions (33.9 points allowed per game), the Giants (32.3 points allowed per game), and the Boston Yanks (31.0 points allowed per game), [more on the hapless Boston Yanks further down in this post] {see this, pro-football-reference.com/years/1948}. But to just blame the points surge in 1948, and also in the high-scoring era of 1947-to-1967, on just some bad defensive teams would be a disservice to teams like the 1948 Chicago Cardinals (32.9 points per game), and the 1948 Chicago Bears (31.7 points per game), and the 1948 Philadelphia Eagles (31.3 points per game). These teams, as well as the 1948 Los Angeles Rams and the 1948 New York Giants, really did have some offensive punch and some real standouts in their squads (illustrations of 1948 offensive leaders are shown on the map page {click on image above} and also further below).

    Below – the 20 highest scoring NFL seasons, as measured by average number of points scored per team

The chart below shows the 20 highest-scoring seasons in the NFL – not by total points (because that would skew the list to all the years recently when there have been the most number of teams [32 teams]), but by points per game (per team) average. Note how the list of the 20 highest-scoring seasons includes many of the recent seasons (the 4 most-recent NFL seasons), as well as many seasons from the 1940s (3 seasons), and from the 1950s (5 seasons), and the 1960s (4 seasons) – but zero seasons from the 1920s or the 1930s or the 1970s. In fact, if you go to the link at the bottom of the chart – to the page at Pro-football-reference.com where I got the data, you will see that the 17 lowest-scoring seasons in the NFL were all from the 1920s and the 1930s, and that the highest-scoring season from the 1970s was only the 44th-highest scoring year in the NFL (in 1975) [please note, to get the list at Pro-football-reference.com to show highest-scoring-average by season, click on the word 'Pts' at the top of the column at the far right-hand side of the chart there].

Please note: chart below will be updated once more, after all the final regular season games are played (ie, after Dec. 29, 2013).

nfl_all-time_most-points-per-game_per-team_1948-highest_2013-currently-second-highest_2m_.gif
Data for chart above from: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/NFL/scoring.htm.

You might be thinking…’the scoring record in the NFL had to have been broken in the last couple years.’ And you would be pretty close to being right, because 2012 was the fifth highest points-per-game average in the NFL, and 2013 was the second highest. The NFL averaged 23.4 points per game (per team) in 2013, which was 0.2 points per game less than the NFL record still standing from the 1948 season.

The recent points-per-game numbers in the last several seasons of the NFL (2007 to 2013 NFL season) is a continuation of a trend towards more points-scored in the NFL…2007 was the 20th-highest (at 21.7 pts. per game), then 2008 was the 12th highest ever (at 22.0), then 2009 saw a momentary dip at 25th-highest ever (at 21.5), then 2010 was the 11th-highest ever at (22.0), then 2011 was the 10th-highest ever (at 22.2), and then last year [2012] was the 5th-highest ever (at 22.8), and now 2013 was the 2nd-highest ever (at 23.4). So it is really starting to look like it is only a matter of time before the team average scoring record set in 1948 is broken.

In case you are wondering, the NFL record for most points per game by one team was set two seasons after 1948 by the 1950 Los Angeles Rams, at a staggering 38.8 points per game {‘1950 Los Angeles Rams‘ (pro-football-reference.com)}. But like the situation two years previous [as mentioned in the first paragraph], the 1950 Rams played several games against very poor defenses- 3 of their 12 games in 1950 were against two of the worst defenses ever in the NFL, 2 games versus the 1950 Green Bay Packers, who gave up 406 points (or 33.8 points allowed per game); and one game versus the soon-to-be-defunct 1950 Baltimore Colts [the green-and-silver former-AAFC Baltimore Colts, who folded after one season in the NFL], who gave up 462 points (for a sieve-like 38.5 points allowed per game), went 1-11 and folded. Those green-and-silver Baltimore Colts of 1950 lost to the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 70-27 that season at Memorial Coliseum in LA. Those 70 points the LA Rams scored on October 22, 1950, as well as the 65 points the Rams scored one week later against the Detroit Lions, will always make it very hard for a modern-day NFL team to break the single season average scoring record, especially when you consider that teams in 1950 were playing one-quarter less games – 12 games instead of the present-day 16 games per season – so that 70 points and those 65 points factors in larger. {The 1950 boxscore for that Rams 70, Colts 27 score, plus a photo below the boxscore link (a photo of of Rams’ QB Bob Waterfield running for a TD as the Colts defenders are literally giving up the chase), can be seen in my post on the Cleveland/Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, here, scroll down the page half-way to the 9th paragraph there.}.

{see this, by Joe Dorish at Yahoo contributor network from Oct. 4 2013, ‘Highest Scoring Teams with Best Offenses in NFL History [top 5]‘ (voices.yahoo.com).

Below,
Illustration of the All-time highest scoring teams (1920 to 2013, regular season/points per game) -
#1: 1950 Los Angeles Rams, #2: 2013 Denver Broncos, #3: 2007 New England Patriots, #4: 1961 Houston Oilers (AFL), #5: 1941 Chicago Bears.

nfl_highest-scoring-teams_1950-la-rams_2013-denver-broncos_1967-afl-houston-oilers_1941-chicago-bears_e.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Helmet illustrations,
helmet illustrations from The Gridiron Uniforms Database.
1950 Rams,
Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin photo, from Corbis at corbisimages.com/stock-photo/bob-waterfield-and-norm-van-brocklin-standing.
Crazy Legs Hirsch, action photo from profootballhof.com/fact-or-fiction-hall-of-famer-elroy-hirsch-was-nearly-stripped-naked-by-fans-after-a-game.
Tom Fears, action photo from fanbase.com/Tom-Fears/photo.
2013 Broncos,
Peyton Manning, photo from USA Today Sports Images sports.yahoo.com/blogs.
Demaryius Thomas, photo unattributed at commercialappeal.com.
2007 Patriots,
Tom Brady. photo from Sports Illustrated via imageslides.com/Sports/gallery/4345-Past-10-NFL-MVP-Winners#9 .
Randy Moss, photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images via bleacherreport.com/articles/722541-dallas-cowboys-all-time-biggest-draft-misses.
1961 Houston Oliers (AFL),
George Blanda, photo from casualadultgamers.com/thread-All-Time-Teams.
Bill Groman, photo from spokeo.com.
1940 Chicago Bears,
Sid Luckman, photo public domain from en.wikipedia.org.
George McAfee, photo from profootballhof.com/Bears-vs-Packers-in-1941-NFL-Playoff-Game.
Hugh Gallarneau, photo from whatifsports.com/article_1941BearsPackers.

In 2013 the team average scoring record had a chance of being broken as well, by the 2013 Denver Broncos. The Broncos under Manning finished 13-3 and averaged 37.9 points per game. (Note: also in 2013, Peyton Manning broke the NFL record for TD passes, with 55 TD passes). The Broncos’ 37.9 points per game was 0.9 points per game less than the NFL record set by the 1950 Rams. The Rams of that era had an unusual [read: totally unheard of and unprecedented in NFL history] tandem-QB arrangement of Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin – both played all 12 games and both had over 120 completions. But don’t forget, those 1950 Rams played against two of the worst defenses ever, while the worst defenses Manning and the Broncos have faced were the 4-12 Oakland Raiders, who averaged 28.3 points allowed per game (453 points allowed), the 4-12 Jacksonville Jaguars, who averaged 28.0 points allowed per game (449 points allowed), and the 2-14 Houston Texans, who averaged 26.7 points allowed per game (428 points allowed). That is not as bad as the 1950 Packers defense (about 6-to-8 points-allowed-per-game worse) or the hapless 1950 Colts (I) defense (about 10-to-12 points-allowed-per-game worse). So to be simplistic about it, the 1950 Rams, as potent as their Bob Waterfield/Norm Van Brocklin-led offense was, still ended up having a bit more “inflated” offensive stats by virtue of the cumulatively worse defenses they faced.

The Broncos didn’t break the Rams’ 1950 NFL record for most points scored per game, but the Broncos broke the NFL record for most points scored by a team in a season, with 606 points. That record had been held by the 2007 New England Patriots, who scored 589 points that season, but then ended up losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl that season. Which brings up an important point – the highest-scoring team in the NFL does not usually win the NFL title that season. As the list below shows, the highest-scoring team in a season has won the NFL title in only 26 of the 93 seasons so far (27.9 percent of the time).

Below, NFL, all-time list of seasons that the league’s top scoring team won the title [since 1920], (with the team’s points per game average listed)
1923, Canton Bulldogs (20.5).
1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets (13.6).
1931 Green Bay Packers (20.7).
1932 Chicago Bears (11.4).
1936 Green Bay Packers (20.6).
1941 Chicago Bears (36.0).
1943 Chicago Bears (30.3).
1946 Chicago Bears (26.2).
1949 Philadelphia Eagles (36.4).
1951 Los Angeles Rams (32.6).
1955 Cleveland Browns (29.0).
1958 Baltimore Colts (31.7).
1959 Baltimore Colts (31.6).
1961 Green Bay Packers (27.9) / 1961 AFL champions, Houston Oliers (36.6).
1962 Green Bay Packers (29.6) / 1962 AFL champions, Dallas Texans (27.8).
/ 1963 AFL champions, San Diego Chargers (28.5).
/ 1964 AFL champions, Buffalo Bills (28.6).
/ 1966 AFL champions, Kansas City Chiefs (32.0).
/ 1967 AFL champions, Oakland Raiders (33.4).
1969 Minnesota Vikings [NFL champions but lost Super Bowl IV to the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs] (27.1).
1971 Dallas Cowboys (29.0).
1972 Miami Dolphins (27.5).
1979 Pittsburgh Steelers (26.0).
1989 San Francisco 49ers (27.6).
1991 Washington Redskins (30.3).
1994 San Francisco 49ers (31.6).
1996 Green Bay Packers (28.5).
1997 Denver Broncos (29.5).
1999 St. Louis Rams (32.9).
2009 New Orleans Saints (31.9).

One note – in the list above I included the Vikings’ meaningless 1969 NFL championship title (it is meaningless because, like the Colts’ 1968 NFL championship title, both of those NFL teams went on to lose the Super Bowl that season to AFL teams [Jets and Chiefs]). For the purposes of this exercise, I had to include that, though, and I also felt it necessary to include the AFL seasons (see four sentences below). So there have been 26 NFL titles won by the top-scoring team that year – in 93 NFL seasons (2013 is the 94th NFL season). That means that only 27.9 percent of the time, the top scoring team in the NFL has gone on to be the champions that season. Which only goes to prove, once again, the old adage that Defense wins titles. The wild-and-woolly and high-scoring AFL is an entirely different matter though, seeing as how in 60% of the seasons the AFL played (6 out of 10 seasons), the highest scoring team in their league that year won the AFL title.

    1948 NFL offense leaders (passing, rushing & receiving, with TD leaders noted)

1948_nfl_offensive-stats-leaders_s-baugh_t-thompson_c-conerly_s-van-buren_c-trippi_e-angsman_m-kutner_p-pihos_t-fears_h.gif

1948 NFL offensive leaders [Note: 1948 NFL was a 12-game season.]
NFL Passing Yardage/TD passes:
-Sammy Baugh (Washington Redskins): 2,599 Yds/22 TD passes (plus 1 rushing TD).
-Charlie Conerly (New York Giants): 2,175 Yds/22 TD passes (plus 5 rushing TDs).
-Tommy Thompson (Philadelphia Eagles): 1,965 Yds/25 TD passes (plus 1 rushing TD) (TD pass leader for 1948, with 25 TD passes).

1948 NFL Rushing Yardage/combined TDs:
-Steve Van Buren (Philadelphia Eagles): 945 Yds/10 TDs (rushing TD leader for 1948, with 10 rushing TDs).
-Charley Trippi (Chicago Cardinals): 690 Yds/10 TDs (6 rushing TDs and 2 receiving TDs and 2 punt-return TDs).
-Elmer Angsman (Chicago Cardinals): 638 Yds/9 TDs (8 rushing TDs and 1 receiving TD).

1948 NFL Receiving Yardage/combined TDs:
-Malcolm Kutner (Chicago Cardinals): 943 Yds/14 TDs (recieving TD leader for 1948 plus overall TDs-scored leader for 1948, with 15 TDs [14 receiving TDs & 1 rushing TD]).
-Pete Pihos (Philadelphia Eagles): 766 Yds/11 TDs.
-Tom Fears (Los Angeles Rams): 698 Yds/4 TDs.

Photo and Image credits above & on the map page -
Sammy Baugh, nfl.com/75th Anniversary Team.
Tommy Thompson, [1950 Bowman trading card], miamimigraine.blogspot.com/2010/06/tommy-thompson.
Charlie Conerly, fanbase.com/photo.
Steve Van Buren, [1950 Bowman trading card], vintagecardprices.com/card-profile/154925/1951-Bowman-Steve-Van-Buren.
Charlie Trippi , sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/azchi/cardschipictures.
Elmer Angsman , ebay.com/elmer+angsman.
Mal Kutner, thegamingtailgate.com/forums/showthread.php?1980-NCAA-Football-12-Countdown-Thread.
Pete Pihos, screenshot of an NFL Films video at youtube.com via fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/remembering-pete-pihos-pioneering-tight-end.
Tom Fears, fanbase.com/Tom-Fears/photo.
Illustrations of helmets from Gridiron Uniforms Database.

The second reason the 1948 NFL season it noteworthy is because it had the first-ever appearance of a logo on a football helmet
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 [since 1995 known as the St. Louis Rams]). The Rams’-horn logo was created by LA Rams halfback and defensive back and off-season commercial artist Fred Gehrke. Here is an excerpt from the ‘Fred Gehrke‘ page at en.wikipedia.org…
{excerpt}…’In the mid-1940s Gehrke toyed with the notion of painting a football helmet. Rams coach, Bob Snyder suggested that Fred paint a helmet with the ram horns on it that he could present to the team’s owner Dan Reeves. Fred painted two ram horns on an old college helmet and presented the design to Reeves, who was intrigued by the design. Reeves then contacted the NFL for a ruling on legality of having a football helmet painted. It was reported that the answer Reeves received from NFL was “You’re the owner; do what you want!” Reeves then tasked Gehrke to paint 75 helmets at $1.00 per helmet. The project took Gehrke the entire summer of 1948. The newly painted helmets debuted during a pre-season match-up between the Rams and Redskins at the Los Angeles Coliseum before a crowd of [77,000]. Upon seeing the new helmets the crowd began cheering which was followed by a five-minute standing ovation. To this day, Gehrke’s rams horn logo is still worn by the team.’…{end of except}.

Here is a good article on Gehrke and his designing of the Rams helmet logo, from Sports Illustrated, from Sept. 5 1994, by Mark Mandemach, ‘Rembrandt Of The Rams
Fred Gehrke got out his brushes and changed helmets forever
‘ (sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault).

1948_los-angeles-rams_1st-logo-on-football-helmet_desinged-by-rams-player-fred-gehrke_f.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
helmethut.com/leatherram.
toddradom.com/athletes-as-artists-andrew-mccutchen-and-the-1948-la-rams.
gridiron-uniforms.com/1948.
profootballhof.com/history/infographic-wednesday.

Before I get to the 3rd way in which the 1948 NFL season stands out from all the rest, I’ll add a fourth reason, an asterisk if you will. 1948 was the last season that the bizarrely-named Boston Yanks played in the NFL. It is kind of hard to believe, but there actually was once a professional sports team from Boston that was called the Yanks. Their owner was a New York City-based talent agent named Ted Collins (he managed the popular singing star Kate Smith). Collins didn’t really want an NFL franchise located in Boston – he wanted to locate the franchise at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, NY (his NFL team finally got to Yankee Stadium 6 years later, but not for long). The Boston Yanks (NFL, 1944-48) wore green and yellow {here are the Boston Yanks’ ghastly 1946 NFL uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com/defunct teams). The Boston Yanks played from 1944–1948 to a lopsided losing record of 14-38-3, and to vast public indifference – when most every other NFL team was drawing 20,000 to 30,000 per game back then, the Boston Yanks were often drawing below 10,000 at Fenway Park. But you really could not blame Boston sports fans for not supporting the Boston Yanks – supporting a team in Boston named after the much-hated New York Yankees would be tantamount to treason.

After the 1948 season the Boston Yanks were folded and for a tax write-off the NFL allowed Collins to have a “new” franchise, which he moved to New York City, to become the New York Bulldogs (NFL, 1949), who played some home games in ’49 at the Polo Grounds in northern Manhattan, NYC, NY, and the 1949 New York Bulldogs also played a couple games in Boston. For some reason, the 1949 New York Bulldogs wore sky-blue-and-silver, which made them look more like lap dogs. In 1950, Collins was finally able to get his team to play in Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, NYC, NY, so he (finally) changed the team’s name to the New York Yanks (NFL, 1950-51), but in NYC, the franchise never had a shot at success because they were very bad in 2 of their 3 years in NY (going 1-10-1 in 1949, 7-5 in 1950, and 1-11-1 in 1951), and they had to compete with the vast popularity of the New York Giants’ NFL team.

In 1950, in their second year in New York City and their first year as the Yanks, the team wore sky-blue-and-white (why?) {1950 New York Yanks NFL uniforms}. In the third and last year of the franchise, 1951, the New York Yanks wore the more Yankees-appropriate dark-blue-and-grey {1951 New York Yanks NFL uniforms}. Those uniforms are actually kind of nice. They would be pretty much the same uniforms that the 1952/soon-to-be-defunct-Dallas Texans NFL team wore (see 2 sentences below). But it was too late – the New York Yanks’ debts had piled up and Ted Collins threw in the towel, and the NFL ‘bought back’ (read: took over) the worthless franchise, and folded it. The 12 players who remained on the 1951 New York Yanks’ roster (including future Hall of Famers Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti) were assigned to another soon-to-be-defunct-new-NFL-franchise, the short-lived Dallas Texans of 1952 (who wore almost the exact same uniforms as the 1951 NY Yanks – {1952 Dallas Texans NFL uniforms}). The NFL had to step in again and take over the 1952 Texans (who ended up 1-11 and never drew higher than 17,000 in their 4 home games in Dallas), and once again the remaining 12 players still on the defunct team’s roster (including, once again, future Hall of Famers Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti) were assigned to a new franchise for 1953 – the Baltimore Colts (II) (present-day Indianapolis Colts). That Dallas Texans team of 1952, which had its roots in the failed Boston Yanks/New York Bulldogs/New York Yanks team – that was the last failed franchise in the NFL. Here is a great little article about the Boston Yanks, from April 2009, by Jay Schreiber, from the, er, baseball blog at NYTimes.com, ‘Remembering a Team of Rivals‘ (bats.blogs.nytimes.com).

    Brief summary of the 1948 NFL season

1948 NFL season‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
[Note, during this season and during the 1946 to 1949 time period, the NFL was fending off a challenge from a rival pro football league, the All-America Football Conference (the AAFC). For more info on that, you can see my recent post on the Cleveland Browns and the AAFC by clicking on the following, 'AAFC (1946-49) featuring the Cleveland Browns - map with selected uniforms and logos of the teams: Baltimore Colts (I), Brooklyn football Dodgers [AAFC], Buffalo Bisons/Bills (I), Chicago Rockets/Hornets, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Dons, Miami Seahawks, New York football Yankees [AAFC], San Francisco 49ers‘.]

There were 10 teams in the 1948 NFL, and for the second season, teams were playing a 12-game schedule as opposed to the 11-game schedule which the league had from 1937 to 1946. All teams played home-and-away games versus all the other teams in their division (8 games), and they played 4 of the 5 teams in the other division. All the NFL teams (that is to say, all the NFL franchises) from 1948 still exist, except for the previously-mentioned Boston Yanks (the ones that still exist being the Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, and Rams). This was the last season that players were only allowed to use leather helmets, because, while the new plastic-composite helmets were available and some colleges had started using them, they were banned in 1948 in the NFL because it was felt by the league officials that the much harder plastic helmets were being used more as a weapon than as protection (hmm, that sounds like what some critics say to this day).

Winner of each division would advance to the NFL Championship Game, which was played back then not at the home of the team with the better record, but rather, hosted on a rotating basis between the two divisions. As the Western Division had hosted the previous title game in 1947 (won by the Chicago Cardinals over the Philadelphia Eagles at Comiskey Park (I), by a score of 28-21), in 1948 it was the Eastern Division’s turn to host the title game.

1948 Eastern Division
In the Eastern Division, in the 5th week, the Philadelphia Eagles took a half-game lead on the Washington Redskins after beating them. 5 weeks later, the Eagles took the lead for good with their second win over Washington, putting the Eagles at 7-1-1 and Washington at 6-3. The Eagles finished 9-2-1, and advanced to their second title game in a row (and their second playoff game ever in their 16-year history). The Redskins had won 2 NFL titles at this point in time (their first title coming in 1937 in their first season in Washington DC [following 6 seasons in Boston]; and their second title in 1942). The Redskins were about to enter a long period of futility, with only 3 winning seasons in the next 21 years (up to 1969). As for the New York football Giants, well the Giants were in the midst of a several-seasons slump and, having won their first NFL title in their 3rd year in 1927, and after having won two more titles in a 5-year span (in 1934 and in 1938), the Giants would win only one more title in the pre-Super Bowl era in the NFL (ie, pre-1966 season), in 1956 (though the Giants came close many times otherwise). The Steelers were also in the East then, but the perpetually cash-strapped Steelers were the worst-team-ever in the NFL back then (and were the worst-ever up to the AFL/NFL merger in 1970). Of course, after that, the Steelers became the dynasty they are today, but 65 years ago, the Steelers were also known as the Lovable Losers.

1948 Western Division
In the Western Division, although the Los Angeles Rams were competitive and would finish at 6-5-1 in 3rd place (and would make it to the NFL title game for the next 3 seasons and then win their only NFL title in LA 3 years later in 1951), for all intents and purposes, the 1948 West was really all about the two Chicago teams. The Windy City was the only city in the NFL back then that boasted two NFL teams – the Monsters of the Midway (the Bears) and the perpetually overshadowed Cardinals (who would move to St. Louis 11 years later). The Chicago Bears were the most successful team in the NFL at this point in time, with 7 titles including the 1946 championship (Green Bay had the second-most titles then, with 5, but the cash-strapped Packers were, at this point, about to begin their worst run, with 12 straight seasons without a winning record [and would not have a resurgence until coach Vince Lombardi came to Green Bay starting in 1959]). To round out the NFL teams of this era, the Detroit Lions were horrible in 1948, but were on the cusp of their greatest period ever. The Lions had begun life as the second-to-last small-town team in the NFL – the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, who played 4 seasons in the NFL (1930-33) and finished in 2nd place twice. The franchise moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1934, changed their name to the Detroit Lions, and won their first title the following year in 1935. After 1948, the Lions began rebuilding and would go on to win titles in back-to-back seasons in 1952 and 1953, and win their fourth and last NFL title four years later in 1957.

For the two seasons of 1947 and 1948, the normal Bears/Cardinals dynamic was up-ended. Following massive player-spending prior to the 1947 season, the Cardinals, led by future-Hall of Fame running back Charley Trippi, were temporarily the dominant of the two (of course it didn’t last, and the Cardinals have never won a title since 1947). Here is an excerpt from the 1948 NFL page at Wikipedia (linked to above),
…{excerpt}…’[T]he Cardinals and Bears both had records of 10–1 going into the final week. A record crowd of 51,283 packed Wrigley Field on December 12 to watch. The Bears took a 21–10 lead, on George Gulyanics’ [touchdown run] as the fourth quarter began. Charley Trippi’s touchdown cut the margin to 21–17, but the Bears had the ball and time on their side. The turning point came when the Cards’ Vince Banonis picked off a pass from Johnny Lujack, and ran the ball back to the Bears’ 19, and [Cardinals' running back] Elmer Angsman scored the winning touchdown three plays later for the Western Division title and the trip to the championship.’…{end of excerpt}.

For the second-straight year, the usually-downtrodden Cardinals had beaten out the usually-dominant Bears for the divisional title. Some say that that 24-20 loss to the Cards in the last week of the 1948 season was one of the worst losses the Bears ever suffered. The gentleman who wrote the following article says it was the worst ever loss for the Bears. From ChicagoNow.com, from Dec. 13 2011, by Captain Meatball, ‘Top 10 Toughest Losses in Chicago Bears History [#1. Chicago Cardinals 24, Chicago Bears 21, 1948]‘ (chicagonow.com).

    1948 NFL Championship Game

The final reason why the 1948 NFL season stands out is the title game that year
The 1948 NFL Championship Game, featuring the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Chicago Cardinals, was played in a full-scale blizzard in Philadelphia that almost was postponed. It is testament to the hardiness of the Philadelphia sports fan that the inclement weather did not depress turnout – the game drew a sell-out crowd of 36,000. I guess it wasn’t technically a sell-out, because admission was free if you helped shovel snow.

    1948 NFL Championship Game – Philadelphia Eagles 7, Chicago Cardinals 0.

The 1948 NFL Championship Game was played in a blizzard at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1948. Attendance was a full-capacity 36,309. The game was a re-match of the 1947 NFL final, which the Cardinals had won 28-21 at Comiskey Park (I) in Chicago, Illinois the previous December.

The 1948 NFL title game was the first NFL title game that was televised (by ABC), though it was not broadcast nationwide (the first nationwide television broadcast of an NFL title game was by NBC in 1958). The snowfall that day in Philadelphia was so heavy that the NFL commissioner Bert Bell considered postponing the game, but because broadcast rights had already been given to ABC and because the players on both teams wanted to play despite the snow storm, Bell decided to play the game. (It is very doubtful the game would have been played were it to happen today – and with the NFL now playing a Super Bowl this season in a cold-weather location in northern New Jersey in February 2014, this possibility of a snow-storm-during-an NFL-title-game suddenly now exists again.).

From youtube.com, ‘Football Championship Game 1948 Eagles Cardinals‘, a 1:15 video uploaded by historycomestolife [no sound] (youtube.com). [Note: that long pass play by the Eagles, shown in the video, was called back because of an offensive penalty...the reason why it was still featured in the newsreel of the game is that the snowy conditions prevented there being many significant offensive plays that day]. [Note: here is a much longer Youtube video of the 1948 title game, with sound, a 15:41 video uploaded by Caladiscafrosis, '1948 NFL Championship Game'].

The start of the 1948 title game was delayed 30 minutes, as the grounds crew needed the help of both teams’ players to remove the extremely heavy, snow-laden tarp. It snowed so hard all game that the yard-line markers were invisible, and the referee had to basically guess where the ball was to be placed after each down and where the first down line was. The snowfall was so heavy that, at the start of each play, players in the offensive backfield could not even see the opposing defensive backs 15 or 20 feet away. {Here is a classic photo of the freezing Eagles players on the bench that day [in that photo you can see the odd-shaped MacGregor leather helmets that the Eagles wore during the 1944 to '48 time period, which featured a more elongated, quasi-cone-head shape and a different set of seams than the more standard Rawlings leather helmets that most other NFL teams used in the early post-War era] (photo unattributed at goldenrankings.com/[NFL Championship Game 1948]).}

Because of the white-out/blizzard conditions, both teams spent the bulk of their ball possession in three-and-outs and a punt. There was no threat of a score until early in the 4th quarter, when the Eagles recovered a Cardinal fumble on the Cardinals’ 17. Four plays later, Eagles RB Steve Van Buren ran in a 5-yard TD. The Eagles’ defense then held the score, and the Eagles were the 1948 NFL champions.

The Eagles would repeat as champions in 1949, beating the Los Angeles Rams 14-0 in muddy conditions at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with Steve Van Buren rushing for a then-title-game record 197 yards, as well as scoring both TDs. Steve Van Buren played 9 seasons for Philadelphia, and was a 7-time All-Pro, and was the first RB to gain 1,000 yards in a season twice (in 1947 and ’49). Van Buren was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. He passed away at the age of 91 in 2012.

From the New York Times, from Aug. 25, 2012, by Andy Barall, ‘Remembering Steve Van Buren, Hall of Famer for Eagles‘ (fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com).

1948-nfl_championship-game_eagles7_chi-cardinals0_steve-van-buren_blizzard-conditions_b.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Illustrations of Cardinals and Eagles’ 1948 uniforms from gridiron-uniforms.com/1948.
Photo of Steve Van Buren being pursued by Cardinals defenders from Getty Images via usaprepares.com/survival/winter-is-going-to-be-much-colder-than-normal-and-therell-be-a-big-storm-for-super-bowl-predicts-farmers-almanac.
Color photo of Steve Van Burennashvillegman.hubpages.com/hub/Philadelphia-Eagles-All-Time-Rushing-Yardage-Leaders
Photo of Steve Van Buren scoring winning TD from Cold Hard Football Facts.com site via secondlevelfootball.com/2012/08/24/steve-van-buren-1920-2012.
Photo of Eagles’ post-game celebrations from profootballhof.com via phillypressbox.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/steve-van-buren-the-eagles-legend.
Photo of 1948 NFL title game program from sports-memorabilia-museum.com/football-history/1948-nfl-championship-program.
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Thanks to Etsy.com/ Vintage Inclinations, for the base map of United States circa 1940s, http://www.etsy.com/listing/99272564/vintage-usa-map-1940s-united-states-of.

Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, ‘1948 NFL season‘.

A big thanks to Pro-Football-Reference.com, for most of the stats used in this post.

Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use the football uniforms illustrations at http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/.

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