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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.com/broncos. 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 to north to Minnesota to become 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 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.
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Photo and Image credits above -
Broncos 1997-98 helmet, illustration by gridiron-uniforms.com/1997_Denver. 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…

The following link is to a 1 minute and 58 seconds-long video (produced by the NFL and Tide detergent), {Denver Broncos uniform and uniform color history (video uploaded by Scott Sillcox at youtube.com)}.
1960-61 – Brown and Yellow/Gold (and vertically-striped socks)…
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 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 {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 light royal 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-neck-hair. It looks pretty juvenile, the sort of thing a 12-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 {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…

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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...

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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 1921-34; 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 that 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}. And some sources {here/3rd and 4th paragraphs there} say that 35,000 season tickets were sold before the franchise moved to KC, but that is an extremely exaggerated claim, seeing as how the 1963 Kansas City Chiefs did not draw anywhere near 30 K and actually drew over 13 K less than 35,000 - at 21,510 per game, and did not draw better than they did as the 1962 Dallas Texans (note: 10-year AFL attendance figures for the Dallas Texans (II)/Kansas City Chiefs can be seen in the illustration below, 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 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 incompatibilty 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 elevated 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-les 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)…
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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)}.
1960-61 – 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). 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 – first, with a logo that featured 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’ uniforms look classy whether they are wearing red-and-white, white-and-red, or all-white. But not the all-red. Hopefully they won’t continue following the abhorrent college-football-influenced trend of wearing jerseys-and-pants their dark color (in this case, all-red), like they did some games last year {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)…
oakland-raiders-est1960_early-uniforms_frank-youell-field_al-davis_oakland-coliseum_1967_daryle-lamonica_i_.gif
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…
oakland-raiders_super-bowl-xv_champions_tom-flores_jim-plunkett_cliff-branch_rod-martin_john-matuszak_b_.gif
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 became, 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.

oakland_o-co-coliseum_mount-davis_.gif
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 the 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 the football helmet that the eye-patch-wearing man in the shield-logo is wearing is 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. And aside for a couple years when their white jerseys had silver-and-black numbers as opposed to black numbers {1963, 1970, and 1997 alternate}, 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…

san-diego-chargers_helmet-history_logos_1960-2014_segment_c_.gif
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 Jetrs 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}. 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, was 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-vamped 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).

san-diego-chargers_balboa-stadium_1963champions_paul-lowe_lance-alworth_tobin-rote_sid-gillman_1963-chargers-helmet_i_.gif
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 colllege 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 uniforms, here}. 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)…
{1961 Chargers uniforms.} Upon the move to San Diego 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. 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)…
{1974 Chargers uniforms.} 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, the Chargers only wore their white jersey {1978 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 {here}.

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 helmets.} 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 http://www.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 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 http://www.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, http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/.



    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 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.

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 http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/1948.

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), who 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 1945-46 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 to 30,000 per game back then, the Boston Yanks were often drawing below 10,000 at Fenway Park. But how could you 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 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 Yankee-appropriate dark-blue-and-grey {‘1950 New York Yanks NFL uniforms‘. But it was too late – the team’s 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 agian, 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 other 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 pepetually 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 Spartans, who played 4 seasons in the NFL (1930-33) and finished in 2nd place twice. The franchise moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1934, chaged 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. Via espn.com, here is a classic photo of the 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]. 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.
___

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/.

September 27, 2013

NFL, AFC South – Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list / Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Titans), with titles won and stadiums played in.

Filed under: NFL>AFC South,NFL, divisions,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 9:54 pm

nfl_afc_south2013map_titles-list_.gif
NFL, AFC South – Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list
Photo of Vince Lombardi Trophy from mlive.com.


    Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Titans), with titles won and stadiums played in…

    Houston Texans logo & helmet history (2002-13) – click on image below

houston-texans_helmet-history_logos_2002-12_segment_d.gif
Houston Texans logo & helmet history (2002-12)
Helmet illustration above from Gridiron Uniform Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/texans.
Photo of Houston Texans helmet from sportsblink.com.
Illustration of Texans’ uniforms by JohnnySeoul at en.wikipedia.org.

Texans’ helmets at MG’s Helmets, mghelmets.com/texans.

[Note: for Houston Oilers - scroll down to the Tennessee Titans' section further down in this post.]

The Houston Texans’ franchise, which is the 32nd and newest franchise in the NFL, originally had been provisionally awarded to the city of Los Angeles, CA in March 1999, when the NFL gave the city of LA a 6-month deadline to get their plans together. But LA, at that point in time, could not provide either an ownership group or a viable stadium deal – whereas Houston had both in place for 2 years. So in October 1999, the NFL instead awarded the 32nd team to Houston, at the cost of $700 million. Entrepreneur Bob McNair headed the group in Houston, and the other major player besides the NFL franchise itself (which was to be named the Houston Texans) was the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLS&R). The stadium plan called for a venue to replace the Astrodome, but not have a fixed-roof like the Astrodome, but be a retractable-roof stadium. And have grass, not the accursed astroturf (note: the Astrodome originally was intended, circa 1965, to have grass for its playing surface, but it died for lack of sunlight, hence the invention of astroturf).

Houston Texans’ stadium
The Texans play at Reliant Stadium in Houston, which opened in 2002 and was the first venue in the NFL to have a retractable roof. The city of Houston and Reliant Stadium hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII (38) in February 2004 (won by the Giants over the Panthers).

The genius of the Houston stadium partnership which produced the 71,054-capacity Reliant Stadium was that the two primary tenants did not have configuration-issues, like all the attempts, during the era of multi-purpose stadium building in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s, of placing an NFL team and a Major League Baseball team in the same stadium. City planners back then thought they were pretty smart, building stadiums for both their MLB and NFL teams. What they didn’t really look into was the fact that these stadiums were doomed to be lousy venues for both sports. It basically ruined it for both teams. And it really ruined it for the fans, because all of those stadiums like Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia or Shea Stadium in NYC or the Astrodome were horrible venues – they were all hideous-looking, dreary giant concrete doughnuts, with stands were they shouldn’t be for both sports. A baseball field has such a radically different set of dimensions than does a football field. A baseball stadium needs a space that is a wide diamond shape which must flare out even further in three directions to form a giant-pie-slice-shape for the outfield. A football stadium only needs a space that is basically a giant rectangle. And rodeo works just fine in a giant rectangle. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo occurs each mid-March for a 20-day spell. I am pretty sure the smell of manure is gone by the time the Texans kick off their football season each August. All kidding aside, the Houston Texans are a franchise on the rise, and in 2012, for the second year in a row, the team played to over 100 percent-capacity and standing-room-only, en route to their second-straight playoff appearance. {NFL attendance at espn, here (2012)}.

Colors and helmet logo of the Houston Texans
The Houston Texans wear navy blue, red, and white. Well, actually they wear “Deep Steel Blue”, “Battle Red”, and “Liberty White”. Whatever. The Texans’ logo is an abstract depiction of a bull’s head, with a star for an eye (a reference to the Lone Star State of Texas). The logo was designed by someone who had a hand in the NFL-shield-logo redesign and the Cardinals helmet-logo redesign, Mark Verlander.

The Houston Texans have never made a Super Bowl appearance [no Super Bowl appearances in 11 seasons up to 2012]. They are one of only 4 teams in the NFL to have never reached a Super Bowl final. The other teams in this dubious category are the Detroit Lions (no Super Bowl appearances in all possible seasons [47 seasons up to 2012]), the Cleveland Browns (no Super Bowl appearances in 44 seasons up to 2012), and the Jacksonville Jaguars (no Super Bowl appearances in 18 seasons up to 2012).

    Indianapolis Colts logo & helmet history (1953-2013) – click on image below

indianapolis-colts-helmet-history_logos_1953-2013_segment_i.gif
Indianapolis Colts logo & helmet history (1953-2013)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/colts.
Baltimore Colts 1954-55, 1956, 1957 helmet illustrations from sportslogos.net//Baltimore_Colts.
Baltimore Colts 1954-photo of helmet & Colts’ players’ helmet from helmethut.com/Colts54.
Photo of Baltimore Colts alternate logo patch from ioffer.com/c/Football-NFL-1019564?page=6.
Baltimore Colts circa 1982 alternate logo from ioffer.com/c/Football-NFL-1019564?page=6.
30 years in Indianapolis jersey-patch-logo from, forums.colts.com/topic/18526-indianapolis-30th-season-logo.
Photo of Indianapolis Colts’ helmet from americansportscollectibles.com.
Illustration of Colts’ uniforms by JohnnySeoul at en.wikipedia.org.

Colts’ helmets at MG’s Helmets, mghelmets.com/colts.

1950: 3 teams from the AAFC join the NFL, including the original Baltimore Colts (I) (NFL, 1950/defunct)
In 1950, 3 teams from the rival-league the All-America Football Conference (1946-49) were allowed to join the NFL – the San Francisco 49ers (AAFC, 1946-49/NFL, 1950-2013), the Cleveland Browns (AAFC, 1946-49/NFL, 1950-1995; 1999-2013), and the Baltimore Colts (I) (AAFC, 1947-49/NFL, 1950/defunct). The first NFL franchise in Baltimore, Maryland was the green-and-silver Baltimore Colts of 1950 {Baltimore Colts 1950 NFL uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com/1950)}, who had began life as the Miami Seahawks, the weakest franchise in the relatively-well-capitalized AAFC. In the original green-and-silver Colts’ last year in the AAFC, they went 1-11, with crowds in the high-teens to low-20,000-per-game range. The green-and-silver Colts were by far the weakest of the three AAFC teams that the NFL let in, and the New York Yankees of the AAFC and the Buffalo Bills of the AAFC both had stronger teams and way more ticket-paying fans. But both these teams were not let in, because , in the New York AAFC team’s case, the NFL didn’t want to bring in any teams into cities which already had an NFL franchise; while in the Buffalo AAFC team’s case, several NFL owners felt that Buffalo was too small and too cold for an NFL team (ignoring the fact that Green Bay is way smaller and way colder). In their first and only NFL season, the green-and-silver Colts went 1-11 for the second straight year, drew only marginally better than they had in their last 2 seasons in the AAFC, and went bust, with the NFL buying back the franchise in January 1951.

Two years previous, circa late 1948, a different and similarly struggling NFL franchise – the Boston Yanks – were transferred to the league, and the owner was (for tax purposes) given a new franchise, which was the ill-fated New York Bulldogs of the 1949 NFL. The Bulldogs changed their name to the New York Yanks in 1950, did poorly and failed to get good crowds, and folded after the following season of 1951 {New York Yanks 1951 NFL Uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com). The league took the team back, and the following season used its roster (comprised of 12 players) to help fill up the roster of yet another soon-to-be-doomed franchise – the Dallas Texans of the 1952 NFL [not to be confused with the Dallas Texans of the 1960-62 AFL (present-day Kansas City Chiefs)].

The ill-fated Dallas Texans of the 1952 NFL – the precursor to the Baltimore Colts (II)
The Dallas Texans of the 1952 NFL wore dark-blue-and-white-with-silver-trim {1952 Dallas Texans uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com)}, and played only 4 games at the then-70,000-capacity Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Texans of the 1952 NFL drew really poorly despite the fact that the state of Texas has, to this day, always otherwise supported, and supported very well, gridiron football teams. Why? Because the 1952 Dallas Texans were really bad, combined with another factor which kept people from attending their games – out-and-out racism within the Dallas community. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page entitled ‘Cowboys – Steelers rivalry‘…”…The NFL owners voted 10-1 to award the assets of the Yanks to the Dallas group led by Giles Miller as opposed to the Baltimore group, which became the Dallas Texans. The lone holdout was Steelers founder and owner Art Rooney. Rooney, an Irish Catholic, was more tolerable to African Americans than the other owners (most of whom were Protestant and had their own discrimination towards Catholics) and was concerned about the racism that existed in the Southern United States at the time and the subsequent civil rights movement that would take place later in the decade. Rooney’s assumptions would be later proven correct: while the Texans struggled on the field, it also struggled at the gate partly because two of the team’s best players, George Taliaferro and Buddy Young, were both black, which made fans in Texas automatically turn away from the team simply because of prejudice.”…{end of excerpt}.

The 1952 Dallas Texans’ opening day crowd was only 17,000. That was their best attendance, and their low came in what would be the team’s last game in Dallas, versus the LA Rams (who had several black players) on Nov. 11, 1952, when they drew just 10,000. The league took the team over and had the Texans train in Hershey, PA, while the team’s last 2 home games were played in other locations – one at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, OH (where very few people attended, and the 1952 Texans got their sole victory over the Bears 24-23, because George Halas didn’t put his Bears starting team on until the 2nd half), and one at the Detroit Lions’ Briggs Stadium [Tiger Stadium] to end the season.

From the Pro Football Researchers’ site The Coffin Corner, here is an article about the Dallas Texans of 1952, ‘A DISGRACE‘ (from 1982, by Stan Grosshandler at profootballresearchers.org).

1953: the Baltimore Colts (II) (NFL, 1953-83) join the NFL as an expansion team. 31 years later, the Colts move, in the dead of night, to Indianapolis, in March 1984
So once again, for the fourth time in 10 years, the league had taken over yet another failed NFL franchise during the post-War era. The Dallas Texans failing in 1952 was the fourth failed franchise in the NFL in 9 years, after the Brooklyn football Dodgers failed in 1944, and after the original-green-and-silver Baltimore Colts failed in 1950, and after the New York Yanks failed in 1951. The following year, the NFL transferred the 1952 Dallas Texans’ roster – as well as its colors of dark-blue-and-white – to the second new NFL franchise in Baltimore, MD in 4 years – the Baltimore Colts (II) (NFL, 1953-1983/Indianapolis Colts, 1984-2013). The league does not acknowledge the link between the 1952 Dallas Texans and the 1953-to-present-day Colts’ franchise, despite the fact that both teams had the same colors of dark-blue-and-white and despite the fact that 12 players went from playing on the 1952 Dallas Texans to playing on the 1953 Baltimore Colts. Players like Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti (both Pro Football Hall of Famers), and George Taliaferro and Buddy Young. What’s more, all those 4 players also had played on the 1951 New York Yanks (two franchise-shifts earlier) as well. Oh, and the New York Yanks also wore dark blue and white.

The second NFL team in Baltimore was the blue-and-white Baltimore Colts (II) (NFL, 1953-83). The Baltimore Colts were a very solid team in the NFL for a 15-year span when, coached by Weeb Ewbank they won NFL titles in 1958 and 1959 (led by QB Johnny Unitas), then, for the 1970 NFL season, coached by Don McCafferty, the Colts were at the top of the football world in January 1971 when they won Super Bowl V (#5) over the Dallas Cowboys with a last-minute FG by kicker Jim O’Brien. Then the Baltimore Colts entered a protracted period of eventual decline before their owner, Robert Irsay, snuck his franchise out of town at 3 in the morning one cold March night in 1984, and covertly moved the team with a fleet of moving vans to Indianapolis, IN as the Indianapolis Colts (NFL, 1984-2013). Irsay was forced to do this because the Maryland legislature intended to seize the team. You see, the Colts’ venue, Memorial Stadium (which they shared with the MLB team the Baltimore Orioles), was in a crumbling state of disrepair, and Irsay was having a very hard time coming to a stadium agreement with Baltimore and with Maryland state officials. By this time (circa 1982-83) Indianapolis, Indiana was building a stadium – the Hoosier Dome – to attract an NFL team, and Irsay had visited the construction site in Indianapolis in February 1984. Here is what happened next, via an excerpt from the Wikipedia page entitled ‘Baltimore Colts relocation to Indianapolis‘…”Meanwhile in Baltimore, the situation worsened and the Maryland State Legislature inserted itself into the dispute — a move that would eventually force Irsay’s hand and result in the Colts’ final decision to depart. On March 27, 1984, the Maryland Senate passed legislation giving the city of Baltimore the right to seize ownership of the Colts by eminent domain. (An idea first floated in a memo written by Baltimore mayoral aide Mark Wasserman). Robert Irsay said that his move was “a direct result” of the eminent domain bill. [Colts' legal counsel Michael] Chernoff would say of the move by the Maryland legislature: “They not only threw down the gauntlet, but they put a gun to his head and cocked it and asked, ‘Want to see if it’s loaded?’ They forced him to make a decision that day.”…{end of excerpt}.

When Irsay found out on March 28th, 1984 that Baltimore now had the legal right to seize ownership of the Colts by eminent domain, Irsay contacted Indianapolis and 15 Mayflower moving vans were sent to Baltimore from the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis. Once they were loaded with every tackling dummy, paperclip, uniform, cleat and jock strap the Colts owned, all fifteen moving trucks took a different route to Indianapolis from Baltimore, as a diversion tactic, so the Maryland State Police could not enforce the eminent domain law that had just been signed. Once a truck got to Indiana, the Indiana State Police met each moving van and escorted it to Indianapolis. Thus went the Baltimore Colts to history’s dustbin. The bitter aftermath for Baltimore football fans can be told through this excerpt from ‘Indianapolis Colts‘ at en.wikipedia.org …”The move triggered a flurry of legal activity that ended when representatives of the city of Baltimore and the Colts organization reached a settlement in March 1986 in which all lawsuits regarding the relocation were dismissed, and the Colts agreed to endorse a new NFL team for Baltimore. Nonetheless, many of the prominent old-time Colts, many of whom had settled in the Baltimore area, were bitter and chose to cut all ties to the relocated Colts team. Most notable and vocal among them was Johnny Unitas, who recognized himself solely as a player for the Baltimore Colts until the day he died, with his estate defending that stand to this day.”…{end of excerpt}. There are very, very few Baltimore Colts fans in Maryland who remained Colts fans after the team moved to Indianapolis. So what did Baltimore do? The city schemed for another NFL team for over a dozen years until they found a potential candidate – and the city of Baltimore lured the Cleveland Browns (I) to move to Maryland and become the Baltimore Ravens (NFL, 1996-2013). The city of Baltimore might have lost the Colts logo, the Colts colors, and their Colts’ history, but the city of Baltimore now has 2 more Super Bowl titles to boast of. The city of Cleveland, once the NFL gave them a new Browns team in 1999, got back their much-beloved blank-orange helmets and their Browns’ history…and zero trips to the Super Bowl.

Colts’ Stadium in Baltimore
Memorial Stadium (1921-49 [first version]/ 1949-2002 [second version] was actually 2 different stadiums on the same site in a residential neighborhood in Baltimore called Venable Park. The original, built in 1921, was known as Baltimore Stadium, also known as Municipal Stadium, and also known as Venable Stadium. It was a horseshoe-shaped stadium (open-end-of-horseshoe facing south), with an earthen-mound exterior (like the Yale Bowl), and could seat 31,000. It hosted various college football games, and occasionally a big college game like the Army-Navy game. Midway through the summer of 1944, the minor league ball club the Baltimore Orioles of the International League had become homeless when their ballpark, Oriole Park, was destroyed by fire. The ball club began playing at Baltimore Municipal Stadium, went on a huge winning run, made it to the playoffs and won the 1944 Junior World Series over Louisville. The minor-league Baltimore Orioles at Municipal Stadium in late 1944 started drawing huge crowds, and their playoff games’ attendances was even higher than the attendances at the 1944 Major League Baseball World Series that October. The fact that Baltimore could produce such huge crowds – for minor league baseball, no less – caught the eye of the people running both Major League Baseball and the NFL, and Baltimore was now beginning to be considered a viable option for pro sports teams seeking to relocate. And in 1947, Baltimore got its first major league team since 1902 (when the Baltimore Orioles (II) of the American League had moved to New York City, NY to become the New York Highlanders [who later became the NY Yankees]). The problem was, that ‘major league team’ Baltimore got in 1947 was the weakest team in a rival-league to the NFL – the AAFC’s green-and-silver Baltimore Colts.

Below, photo of Municipal Stadium in Baltimore in 1947 / photo of the same venue as Memorial Stadium, during its expansion in 1953 [with the upper deck constructed).
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Photo and Image credits above -
gridiron-uniforms.com/defunct.html. oldestlivingprofootball.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=177342265. oldestlivingprofootball.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=177342266. gridiron-uniforms.com/images/1953_Baltimore.

As the AAFC vied with the NFL through the late 1940s, and the green-and-silver Baltimore Colts (I) continued to play at Municipal Stadium, the city of Baltimore decided to completely rebuild their venue, starting in 1949. Memorial Stadium was completed the next year, 1950, and originally seated 31,000. Turning its orientation 180 degrees, the new stadium was a single, horseshoe-shaped deck, with the open end facing north, [a shape and an orientation just like what became the second-incarnation of the Colts' horseshoe logo eventually (see Colts' logos section further below)]. With the NFL absorbing 3 AAFC teams after the 1949 season, the green-helmeted-Colts (I), now in the NFL for their first and only NFL season, began playing at the newly re-built Memorial Stadium in 1950. But then the original Colts went bust a few months later. When the NFL gave Baltimore another try 3 seasons later, in 1953, the Colts (II) became the second pro team to play at Memorial Stadium. One year later, the city of Baltimore hit paydirt again when they lured one of the weakest franchises in baseball, the St. Louis Browns, east to become the Baltimore Orioles (III) in 1954. With that baseball-franchise-move secured, the city of Baltimore expanded the venue, and an upper deck (roofless), was added (and completed the next year in 1954), making the capacity 47,800. By this time the blue-and-white expansion-team Baltimore Colts (II), coached by Weeb Ewbank, had had back-to-back 3-7 seasons in their first 2 seasons in 1953 and ’54. But after 2 more losing seasons, they had a winning record for the first time in 1957 when the Colts first began using Johnny Unitas as their starting QB.

Johnny Unitas – the first legendary QB of the Colts
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 1955 and ’56 to support his family, and he played semi-pro football for 6 bucks a game on the weekends.

The following year, Unitas got a second chance when Weeb Ewbank and the Baltimore Colts signed him in 1956 after a successful tryout. In 1957, Unitas got his shot when starting QB George Shaw got injured in the 4th game. The Colts went 7-5. In 1958, the Colts went 9-3, with Unitas leading the league in passing yardage and passing TDs, and with WR Lenny Moore gaining 928 yards receiving, and WR Raymond Berry gaining 724 yards receiving. The Colts won the NFL Western Division by a game over the 8-4 Chicago Bears and the 8-4 LA Rams, meaning they would face the Eastern Division champs, the 9-3 New York Giants, who featured a tough defense led by LB Sam Hff, and a potent offense featuring QB Charlie Conerly, end Frank Gifford, and flanker Kyle Rote. The Giants had had to play an extra game – a tiebreaker – versus the Cleveland Browns, and New York had beaten Cleveland 10-0 a week before the final. Because of the sheer excitement the 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 as the medium of television began to broadcast pro sports all across the country, the Colts versus the Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship became known as The Greatest Game Ever Played.

From youtube.com, uploaded by vslice02, ‘The Greatest Game Ever: 1958 NFL Championship – Sportscentury‘ [5:33 video] (youtube.com).

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Photo and Image credits above -
Illustrations of Colts & Giants 1958 helmets from gridiron-uniforms.com/1958
Photo of Unitas passing, baltimorepostexaminer.com/baltimore-colts-vs-the-new-york-giants-my-memory-of-the-greatest-game.
Photo of Giants D about to stop Ameche on 4th-and-goal, from sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com/tales-of-depression-and-sorrow-the-new-york-giants
Ameche’s TD, photo from nytstore.com/alan-ameche-1958-nfl-championship.

The 1958 NFL title game was played at Yankee Stadium, in The Bronx, NY, to a gigantic crowd of 64,185. It was the first NFL game, play-off or otherwise, that went to sudden-death overtime, and it featured two hard-nosed teams with offenses that had the capability to move the ball down the field with lightning-quick efficiency. The Colts were coached by Weeb Ewbank, who had got his pro coaching start under Paul Brown at Cleveland. 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’ 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’ 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 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 above, 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 7 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, he threw three staright passes to Raymond Berry, moving the ball 62 yards, to the Giants’ 13-yard line. A 20-yard FG by 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 the Colts scored on a 1 yard TD by Alan Ameche, to win the game 23-17.

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 & Schuster, available at amazon.com here}.

The 6-year-old Baltimore Colts were pro football champions. The following season, in 1959, Unitas and his two main targets – WR Lenny Moore and WR Raymond Berry – led the Colts as part of the league’s top-ranked offense, and to a second-straight championship, again beating the Giants, this time by the bit-more-lopsided score of 31-16. This game was played at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium on Dec. 27, 1959, before a massive overflow crowd of 57,545 (which was about 10,000 more than official capacity of Memorial Stadium back then). The Colts scored 24 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. Unitas was voted the 1959 NFL MVP.

Unitas would go on leading the Colts all through the next decade and up to 1972, but his greatness was already established after those back-to-back NFL titles he helped the Colts win in 1958 and ’59. As his longtime Colts’ teammate Raymond Berry noted, what made Unitas great was ‘his uncanny instinct for calling the right play at the right time, his icy composure under fire, his fierce competitiveness, and his utter disregard for his own safety.’ {That quote is from this article, ‘Unitas surprised them all‘, by Bob Carter at espn.go.com/sportscentury.}.

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Photo credit above – spokeo.com/Johnny+Unitas+1/Sep+19+1965+Other+Photos

The Colts remained very competitive all through the 1960s, but only won one more NFL Championship – in 1968, when a young Don Shula was coach. But that 1968 Colts team lost, famously (or infamously) to the AFL’s New York Jets in Super Bowl III (in January 1969). The Jets, led by QB Joe Namath, were huge underdogs who just happened to be coached by none other Weeb Ewbank (who had been fired as coach of the Colts in 1962).

When the AFL/NFL merger came about two seasons later (prior to the 1970 season), the Colts were one of 3 NFL teams (the other two being the Browns and the Steelers), that the league had change over to join the 10 AFL teams in the new American Football Conference, in order to balance both conferences (AFC & NFC) at 13 teams. That same season, the Colts were back in the Super Bowl, now representing the AFC. The 1970 Colts were an unspectacular but well-balanced veteran team, led by a 37-year Johnny Unitas, with the team’s main strength in defense. The 1970 Colts’ defense was spearheaded by Pro Bowl DT Bubba Smith. Behind him were 2 solid linebackers: Pro Bowler Mike Curtis, who had 5 interceptions, and hard-tackler-pass-blocker-and-kick-blocker Ted Hendricks (a Pro Football Hall of Famer). In the secondary, Pro Bowl safety Jerry Logan had 6 interceptions for 92 return yards and 2 TDs that season, and safety Rick Volk had 4 interceptions for 61 return yards.

Super Bowl 5 is not is not really talked about much, or remembered too fondly these days because of the large amount of bad plays in the game. Later on it was often referred to as the ‘Blunder Bowl’ or the ‘Stupor Bowl’ because of all the poor play, penalties, turnovers, and refereeing mistakes. The Colts and the Cowboys committed a Super Bowl record 11 combined turnovers in the game, and the Colts’ 7 turnovers are to this day the most ever given up by the winning team in a Super Bowl. It was the first ever-Super Bowl game played on artificial turf, at the Orange Bowl in Miami (on January 17, 1971). Attendance was 79,204.

The uniforms worn in Super Bowl V are an interesting side note, because the Cowboys (who have always worn white jerseys at home since 1964) were forced to wear their unlucky old dark-royal-blue jerseys in Super Bowl V. {See this, ‘REMEMBER THE BLUE JERSEY JINX?‘, by Rob Vetrano at lonestarstruck.com).

Here is what it says about that in the Wikipedia page ‘Super Bowl V‘, …{exerpt} ‘As the designated home team, Dallas was forced to wear its blue jerseys for the Super Bowl under rules in place at the time, which did not allow the home team its choice of jersey color, unlike the regular season and playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl. Dallas had not worn its blue jerseys at home since 1964, as Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm opted to have the team wear white at home in order to present fans with a consistent look. … The designated home team was first allowed its choice of jersey color for Super Bowl XIII, allowing the Cowboys to wear white vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.’…{end of excerpt}.

Unitas started, but sustained a rib injury early in the second quarter, and back-up QB Earl Morrall stepped in. The Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 on a last-minute FG by rookie placekicker Jim O’Brien. Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley was given the MVP award – the only time a losing Super Bowl team had one of its players win the Super Bowl MVP. Howley said the award was meaningless to him.

Colts in the late 1970s and early 1980s
They sucked. In each of the Colts’ last 6 seasons in Baltimore, the team posted losing records including a 2-14 record in 1981, and an 0-8-1 record in the strike-shortened season of 1982. They were so bad that star Stanford University QB John Elway refused to sign with them after the Colts drafted him #1 in 1983. Elway could pull this off because he threatened to simply play pro baseball instead. So Elway, an eventual Hall of Fame QB, went to the Denver Broncos instead.

Colts’ stadiums in Indianapolis
The Colts – now named the Indianapolis Colts – moved into the brand-new Hoosier Dome in late August, 1984, four months after their clandestine departure from Baltimore. To say the Indianapolis Colts had a large fan base upon arriving in the Hoosier State would be an understatement. The public demand for tickets was so overwhelming that over 143,000 requests for Colts season tickets were made in just 2 weeks.

The Hoosier Dome was an air-pressure-supported dome stadium, like the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. The Hoosier Dome – primarily built to attract an NFL franchise – was part of the Indiana Convention Center, with the costs split between private and public money. The Hoosier Dome had an original capacity of 60 K, and its final capacity circa 2006-08 was 55.5 K. It had astroturf until 2004, then the field was laid with fieldturf. It was named the Hoosier Dome for eleven years, then naming-rights were sold and it became the RCA Dome (from 1994 up until the venue was demolished in 2008). The Colts played at the venue for 24 seasons (1984–2007). It was sort of bland and utilitarian, but it had served its purpose – namely, to attract, catch and hold an NFL team.

However, the Colts were a basement-dweller when they arrived in Indianapolis, and they remained so for 9 out of their first 10 seasons in Indianapolis. By the mid-1990s, though, the Colts, with RB Marshall Faulk, had turned into a playoff contender, and made it to the 1995 AFC championship game (where they lost to the Steelers). Robert Irsay died in January 1997 after years of declining health, and his son Jim Irsay stepped into the role of principal owner. Jim Irsay made a brilliant move right off the bat by hiring Bill Polian as the general manager. Polian was the architect behind the early 1990s Buffalo Bills (3 consecutive Super Bowl appearances during his tenure there), and Polian also built the expansion Carolina Panthers team (which had made it to the NFC championship game in their second season). The Colts would have the number 1 overall pick for 1998, and the Colts picked QB Peyton Manning (see 2 paragraphs below).

In 2008, the Colts moved in to another multi-purpose stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, which also has fieldturf, and is also roofed, but it is a retractable roof. It is the only retractable roof in the US with two moving panels that meet in a peak above the center of the stadium. The structure is quite a step up from the concrete-and-teflon Hoosier Dome. Lucas Oil Stadium, at 62,421 seat-capacity, holds about 7 K more capacity than the Hoosier Dome had in its latter years. The stadiums’s exterior is gabled and faced with a reddish-brown brick, and is trimmed with Indiana Limestone. The venue hosted Super Bowl XLVI (46), which was a thrilling encounter between the NY Giants and the NE Patriots, won by the Giants 21-17. Like when Jacksonville, FL hosted the Super Bowl, Indianapolis did not have enough hotel room occupancy, so many attendees ended up avoiding the price-gouging by booking rooms in Chicago and then driving or taking buses down to Indy (180 miles away).

Peyton Manning – the second legendary QB of the Colts
Peyton Manning is the son of former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints QB Archie Manning (and an elder brother of New York Giants QB Eli Manning). Peyton Manning graduated from Tennessee in 1997, was the #1 draft pick by the Colts in 1998 – and immediately stepped into the starting QB role. The Colts went 3-13 in 1998 in Manning’s rookie season. The following year, 1999, the Colts won ten more games and finished 13-3, but lost to the Titans in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Losing in the playoffs became a recurring nightmare for the high-scoring-but-defensively-porous Colts, as they also lost in the playoffs in 2000, in 2002, in 2003 (losing in the conference final to the Patriots), in 2004 (losing in the 2nd round again to the Patriots), and in 2005 (losing in the 2nd round to the Steelers). But in 2006, with total yardage leader Manning calling the plays and running their hurry-up offense, and with wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne both gaining over 1,300 yards, Tony Dungy’s Colts finally made it to the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLI (41) pitted the Colts (12-4) versus the Bears (13-3). It was on February 4, 2007, at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, and had an attendance of 74,512. It was the first Super Bowl played under rainy conditions. Indianapolis overcame a 14–6 1st quarter deficit to outscore Chicago 23–3 in the last 3 quarters. Peyton Manning completed 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards, with one TD pass and one interception. The Colts won 29–17, and Manning was voted Super Bowl MVP.

From USA Today, from Sept. 13, 2006, by Jim Corbett, ‘Gone in 40 seconds: Peyton Manning’s presnap routine‘ (usatoday30.usatoday.com).

indianapolis-colts_peyton-manning_.gif
Photo credit above -
usatoday.com.

Logos and helmets of the Colts
The first Baltimore Colts (the green-and-silver Colts that played 3 seasons in the AAFC, one season in the NFL, and then folded after the 1950 season), were named in honor of the horse racing industry in the state of Maryland and for the Preakness Stakes, which is one of the 3 Triple Crown thoroughbred horse races that occur each year (the Preakness Stakes is held in Baltimore at Pimlico Racetrack each May). The original Colts’ logo was a green colt with a football between its front legs leaping over an-H-shaped old-style goalpost {here is the 1950 Colts’ logo}. The second incarnation of the Colts in 1953 kept that logo, but in blue of course [the 1953 expansion Colts were named after the failed 1950 Colts, but there is no franchise-link other than the name and the aforementioned early colt-leaping-over-goalpost logo]. The 1953 expansion Colts wore, initially, a white helmet with a narrow dark-blue center stripe. They also wore a very bizarre stripe-detail for a few games in their first season (which you can see if you scroll back to the Colts’ helmet & logo history chart above, or if you click to this page at Gridiron Uniforms Database, here (Colts, 1953)) – two perpendicular blue stripes sort of made a cross at the top of the helmet (it was kind of a Phillips-screwdriver-like shape). As you might imagine, that odd design was soon scrapped. The Colts also wore plain dark blue helmets for a few games in their first year in ’53. Late the following season, 1954, the Colts’ second year, the Colts unveiled their soon-to-famous horseshoe logo. But it was a small white horseshoe on a dark-blue helmet, and the horseshoe logos were not in the center of each side of the helmet, but were, again bizarrely, at the back of the helmet behind the ear-holes and on either side of the center-stripe (see Colts’ 1954-55 helmet design below). The following year, 1955, the Colts again wore the blue-helmet-with-hidden-horseshoe. The following year, 1956, the Colts reversed the colors, so now the helmet was white and the horseshoe was blue. But the horseshoe, cryptically, still remained hidden on the back of the helmet. It was like the team was hiding their logo, afraid to show it off. Finally, in 1957 (the first year that Johnny Unitas was the starting QB, and the first year Baltimore had a winning record), the Colts unveiled their now-iconic white helmet with large blue horseshoes. Also in 1957, the Colts introduced their dual-shoulder-stripe look – also a look they have worn to this day – with the two arcing bands of the shoulder-stripes mirroring the horseshoe-logo’s arced shape. The story goes that the horseshoe’s open end is pointed up, so the good luck won’t drain out of the horseshoe. The Colts have never changed their logo since, or the basic design of their jerseys – only slightly changing, three times, their shade of blue (there have been 4 different Colts’ blue through the years/ see second illustration below), And why should they mess with something so simple and direct? Sometimes the most beautiful and powerful logos are the simplest. Plus all the white in the Colts’ uniforms sure suits old white-bread Indiana.

baltimore-colts54helmet_1st-horseshoe-logo_.gif
Photo credits above – helmethut.com.

Click on image below,
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/baltimore-colts_indianapolis-colts_the-teams-4-different-shades-of-blue-through-the-years1953-2013_segment_.gif
Colts’ blue: the 4 different shades of blue the Colts have worn (1953-2013)

Baltimore Colts: 1 Super Bowl title (1970).
Indianapolis Colts: 1 Super Bowl title (2006).
The Colts franchise is 2-2 in Super Bowl appearances -
In the 1968 season, the Baltimore Colts lost Super Bowl III (3) to the New York Jets by the score of 16-7.
In the 1970 season, the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V (5) over the Dallas Cowboys by the score of 16-13.
In the 2006 season, the Indianapolis Colts won Super Bowl XLI (41) over the Chicago Bears by the score of 29-17.
In the 2009 season, the Indianapolis Colts lost Super Bowl XLIV (44) to the New Orleans Saints by the score of 31-17.

    Jacksonville Jaguars logo & helmet history (1995-2013) – click on image below

jacksonville-jaguars_helmet-history_logos_1995-2012_.segment_d.gif
Jacksonville Jaguars logo & helmet history (1995-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/jaguars.html.
Photos of Jaguars’ dual-tone black-to-real helmet [2009-12] from bleacherreport.com/Gallery-top-NFL-helmets-rated.
Illustration of Jaguars’ 2013 uniforms by Fma12 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jaguars13_uniforms.png.
Photo of Jaguars’ 2013 front-jersey patch logo from nikeinc.com.
Photo of Jaguars’ 2013 spray-paint-accident helmet [gold-to-black color blend], from nationalsportsmemorabilia.com.

Jaguars’ helmets at MG’s Helmets, mghelmets.com/jaguars.

Jacksonville, Florida never has had a Division I college football team. This despite being situated right in the midst of the most fervent college football region in the country (the Deep South/South Atlantic Seaboard/North Florida region). What made it worse for Jacksonville football fans was the fact that their city was larger than almost all of the towns and cities that did have SEC or ACC or SWC football teams. So Jacksonville’s city leaders had been trying to get an NFL team since the 1960s. Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl Stadium had hosted the AFL All Star Game in 1967 and ’68, but after the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, Jacksonville was shut out. The best that Jacksonville could do in the 1970s and 1980s was have teams in failed rival-leagues – in the World Football League (WFL) with the Jacksonville Sharks (1974/folded before season ended); then the next year again in the WFL with the Jacksonville Express (1975/ folded along with the entire league in October 1975); and then a decade later in the United States Football League (USFL), with the Jacksonville Bulls (1984-85).

From ESPN, from Dec. 3, 2009, by John Zoni, ‘The apex of the World Football League‘ (sports.espn.go.com).

The ill-fated Jacksonville Sharks (1974/ folded mid-season) and the ill-fated Jacksonville Express (1975/ folded along with the entire WFL in October 1975)
jacksonville-sharks_wfl_1974-folded-mid-season_jacksonville-express_1975-folded-w-league-in-oct-1975_.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Photo of 1974 WFL game program from funwhileitlasted.net/2013/06/01/history-buffs-unveil-1974-world-football-league-trading-card-series.
Photo of Jacksonville Sharks’ pennant from ebay.com.
Photo of WFL ball from sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=zoni/091203.
Photo of first Sharks’ WFL game from wfl.charlottehornetswfl.com/season_book_1974.
Photo of 1975 Jacksonville Express media guide from funwhileitlasted.net/1975-jacksonville-express.
Photo of Express button-pin from stores.ebay.com.
Photo of 1975 Express helmet from helmethut.com/WFL/WFLExpress.
Logos from sportslogos.net/WFL/logos.

The Jacksonville Bulls of the United States Football League (USFL) (1984 & 1985) [2 full seasons]
The Jacksonville Bulls played in the final two seasons of the USFL, in 1984 and 1985. In 1984, they went 6-12, averaging 46,730 per game at the Gator Bowl – the best attendance in the USFL that season. The Bulls had the USFL single game attendance record – 73,227 for their game at the 80,000-capacity Gator Bowl versus the New York Generals, on March 4, 1984 [the USFL played a spring/early summer schedule]. In 1985, with the addition of 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier (who graduated from Nebraska, had played for the USFL’s Pittsburgh Maulers in 1984, and later played as a 2-time Pro Bowler for the Houston Oilers and the Atlanta Falcons), the Bulls improved to 9-9 in the final year of the USFL, and the Jacksonville Bulls drew well again at 44,325 per game. The USFL played 3 full seasons (1983-85), but closed up shop in early 1986, when their antitrust lawsuit against the NFL resulted in them winning the suit but only being awarded the sum of $3. {‘USFL‘ page at en.wikipedia.org)}. The Jacksonville Bulls’ large support made a strong case for Jacksonville getting an NFL expansion team. That happened 7-and-a-half years later, when, in November 1993, a month after awarding Charlotte, North Carolina the 29th NFL franchise (Carolina Panthers, NFL 1995-2013), the league awarded Jacksonville, Florida the 30th NFL franchise (Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL 1995-2013).
From Our Sports Central site, ‘Jacksonville Bulls‘ (oursportscentral.com).

jacksonville-bulls_usfl_gator-bowl_46k-per-game_bulls-wordmark-logo_mike-rozier_c.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Bulls’ wordmark logo (helmet logo), sportslogos.net/teams/United_States_Football_League.
Photo of RB Mike Rozier w/ Bulls from fs64sports.blogspot.com/1985-bulls-score-two-tds-in-4th-quarter.
Photo of Bulls’ helmet-logo-patch from ebay.com.
Photo of back of Bulls’ helmet from boards.sportslogos.net/topic/80445-the-usfl-with-davidsons-revo-template/page-2.
Photo of Bulls running out to a crowd of 72,000 at the Gator Bowl [March, 1984] from oursportscentral.com/usfl/bulls.

The biggest problem with Jacksonville getting an NFL team was the size of the city. It was big in one respect – area. Jacksonville’s city-limits sprawl to 747 square miles, which is more than twice the area of the most-populous city in the US, New York City (NYC is 302.6 square miles large by area). Jacksonville, whose city-population is around 836,000 {2012 estimate}, is the largest city by area in the country (except for 4 municipalities in Alaska). Jacksonville might be the 12th-largest city when measured by population within-city-limits, but it is the 40th largest metropolitan area in the country. That giant area that is officially the city limits of Jacksonville bloats their city-population figure. And as most everyone knows (but not this guy), it is a city’s metro-area population, and not a city’s city-population, that counts when you are talking about whether a city can support a major league team. Jacksonville’s metro-area population is 1.3 million {see this, ‘List of Metropolitan Statistical Areas‘. As well as being not that large, Jacksonville’s metropolitan-area is pretty thinly populated, too, and of all the major league cities in America (ie, cities with an NFL, MLB, NBA, and/or an NHL team), only Oklahoma City has a smaller population-density. Of the 43 American cities with a major league team, 7 are smaller in metro-area population than Jacksonville. Green Bay, Salt Lake City, Buffalo, Raleigh, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and Memphis have smaller metro-area populations than Jacksonville.

So let’s look at the 3 NFL teams from cities with a smaller metro-area population than Jacksonville – Green Bay, Buffalo, and New Orleans. Green Bay, Wisconsin, with a metro-area population of around 311,000, gets a lifetime pass on this. The beloved Green Bay Packers are the last of the small-market teams that comprised much of the early NFL. The Packers have fans everywhere, and Green Bay sells out every game (and besides, it is has Milwaukee, Wisconsin in its market). New Orleans, currently the 47th-largest city in the US by metro-area population, was about the 15th-largest city in the country when the NFL made the Saints the 16th NFL franchise in 1966, and besides, despite the drastic de-populating of the New Orleans area over the last couple of decades, the Saints still draw very well (at 99.9 percent-capacity last year, averaging 72,888 per game in one of the largest venues in the league, the Superdome). Buffalo, currently the 49th-largest metro-area in the USA, is the one NFL team that on the face of it, one could compare to Jacksonville in terms of barely-enough-population-for-an-NFL-team. But unlike Jacksonville, Buffalo has one medium-sized city 60 miles to the east (Rochester, NY, which is the 51st-largest metro-area in the US with about one million in its metro-area), another medium-sized city an hours’ drive to the north (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which has over a million in its metro-area), and a giant city about 2 hours’ drive to the north (Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which has over 7 million in its metro-area). Jacksonville has no cities at all like Toronto close by. Jacksonville does have Orlando, FL (with around 2.2 million) about 2 hours’ drive from the south, and Savannah, GA (with around 360,000) about 2 hours’ drive from the north, then there is the Space Coast/Daytona Beach, FL area (about 600,000). So Jacksonville only has about 4 or 5 million people within 2 hours’ drive, while Buffalo has over 10 million within two hours’ drive.

From the New York Times, from December 1, 1993, by Frank Litsky, ‘PRO FOOTBALL; N.F.L. Expansion Surprise: Jacksonville Jaguars‘ (nytimes.com).

Look at this map below, and check out Jacksonville’s fan base. On the map, the Jaguars’ fan base is about the size of the state of Connecticut, and is the second smallest fan base by area (ahead of only the New York Jets in Queens County, NY), and is the smallest NFL fan base when you translate their territory into demographic terms. I say that because Greater Jacksonville has around 1.3 million people, and the adjacent counties which comprise the rest of the Jaguars’ fan-base are sparsely populated, making the Jaguars’ fan-base population about 1.7 million (and that is being generous); while Queens County, NY (ie, the Jets’ fan-base) has a population of 2.2 million, plus there are many Jets supporters throughout Long Island as well as throughout the rest of the metro-NYC area. {Source of map, with the data accumulation for the map explained: ‘NFL Fans on Facebook [a map by Sean Taylor'}.
nfl-fans-on-facebook_a-map-by-sean-taylor_b.gif
facebook.com/notes/facebook-data-science/nfl-fans-on-facebook

...

Jaguars' Stadiums, in Jacksonville and in London, England
The Gator Bowl Stadium had opened in 1928, as a 7,600-capacity stadium known as the Fairfield Stadium, for the city's 3 high school football teams back then. After World War II, the Fairfield Stadium started hosting the then-new annual college postseason bowl game called the Gator Bowl, and 2 years later in 1948, its capacity was raised to 18,000 and the venue was renamed the Gator Bowl Stadium. The next year, 1949, its capacity was doubled to 36,000. In 1957, the Gator Bowl Stadium was again expanded and renovated, now with the capacity of 62,000. In 1974 it was expanded to a 72,000-capacity. By the mid-1970s, the attendance at the annual Gator Bowl each January regularly reached 60,000–70,000. The only other primary tenant was the annual Florida Gators/Georgia Bulldogs game - which since 1933 has been held in Jacksonville and since 1946 has been held at the Gator Bowl Stadium, with only three exceptions: in 1943, when Florida did not field a football team due to World War II, and then in 1994 and 1995, when the contest was held at the respective schools' campus stadiums due to the reconstruction of the venue for the debut of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. The structure was almost entirely razed in 1994, as part of the re-build. Jacksonville essentially built a new stadium. The new stadium was renamed Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (then it was known as Alltel Stadium from 1997 through 2006, and has been known as EverBank Field since August 2010). When the stadium re-opened in 1995, almost none of the original infrastructure remained from the pre-1994 days, except for the west upper deck (which was added in 1982) and the ramping system.

The city of Jacksonville and Alltel Stadium (as it was known then) hosted Super Bowl XXXIX (39), which was played in February 2005 (and was won by the Patriots over the Eagles). Jacksonville did not have near enough hotel capacity for the influx of attendees, so 5 ocean liners were commissioned to cruise up the St. Johns River and dock in the city to provide more hotel room capacity. This only underscores how small a city Jacksonville really is. Especially when you consider that Jacksonville is a warm weather coastal city, but it still does not draw a significant amount of tourist trade.

EverBank Field has a capacity of 76,867, but because of declining ticket sales in recent years, since 2005 that capacity has been reduced by about 9,500 - with massive tarpaulins covering whole swathes of the upper deck (see photo below), for most home games - like they do at poor-drawing MLB stadiums in St. Petersburg, FL (for Tampa Bay Rays games) and in Oakland, CA (for Oakland A's games).

jacksonville-jaguars_tarps-on-upper-deck-seats_e.gif
Photo credit above -
Photo unattributed at sheltonmedia.blogspot.com

There was no threat of declining attendance all through the Jaguars' first decade. The Jaguars started out so strong, making the playoffs in their second season in 1996, where they advanced with 2 playoff wins all the way to the 1996 AFC Conference final. Then the Jags also made the playoffs in the next 3 seasons (1997, '98, and '99). But the team fell into mediocrity by the early-2000s, and by 2004 they saw serious attendance declines so the following season (2005), they reduced the stadium capacity by almost 10,000 (to 67,246), and started using those embarrassing tarps to cover the upper decks. By 2009, the Jaguars were only drawing around 50,000 per game and had 7 of 8 of their home games blacked out in their home-television-market that year. Then the team slashed ticket prices. Jacksonville now makes some of the lowest profit on tickets per home game in the league, and their average ticket price in 2013 was third-lowest {see this, '2013 NFL Tickets: Team by Team Average Prices' (blog.tiqiq.com)}. In the last 3 years attendance has rebounded to around 62 to 64,000 per game, and around 92 to 96 percent-capacity (but don't forget that capacity has been reduced by 9,500, so the Jaguars aren't really playing to 94 percent-capacity, they are really playing to around 83 percent-capacity) (see recent Jaguars' attendance data in the caption below).
jacksonville-jaguars_low-attendance-in2009_everbank-field_wembley-stadium_c.gif
Photo credits above -
jacksonville.com.
tibsnews.com/jacksonville-jaguars-in-40-million-redevelopment.
jaguars.com/news/article-JaguarsNews/Jaguars-announce-four-London-home-games.
Photo of distant exterior of Wembley by Rob at landscapesofengland.co.uk and at flicker.com.

Now, starting in 2013, for the next 4 seasons, Jacksonville will be playing one home game per season in London, England. The owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan (who made his fortune in SUV and truck OEM parts [original equipment manufacturer parts]), has secured one Jacksonville Jaguars’ home game per season to be played at Wembley Stadium (II) in north-west London, which has hosted at least one NFL game annually since 2007. {see this, ‘Jags to play 4 London home games‘ (espn.go.com from 21 Aug. 2013)}. That doesn’t sound like an owner who has much confidence in his team’s fan base. Khan also recently bought an English first division football club – a Premier League club called Fulham FC, who are based in West London, less than 10 miles from where Jacksonville will be playing one game for each of the next 4 years. Fulham FC is a solid but unassuming club with a 25,000-capacity stadium that basically cannot be expanded much more (being situated in a residential neighborhood right up against the River Thames), and the club does well just to remain in the first division. If you connect the dots you can see that Khan’s NFL franchise will perhaps not be called the Jacksonville Jaguars in the near future. Maybe they will be called the Los Angeles Jaguars. Or maybe they will be called the London Jaguars. At the press conference announcing the Jaguars’ 4 London games, as it says in the article linked to above …’Goodell reaffirmed his commitment to expanding to multiple games in England and eventually establishing a franchise there’. Here is what a Jaguars fan said in response to a Florida Times-Union article about the Jaguars’ 4-games-in-London deal …’I am skeptical of the London maneuver for different reasons. It has very little potential to actually help Jacksonville. It may help the Jaguars, but not the City. Even if Brits become Jags fan, and actually fly all the way to the States to catch a game (which is far fetched), does anybody actually think they are going to spend the bulk of their money in Jacksonville? They are probably going to stay in Ponte Vedra or St. Augustine. And besides the actual game, they will be visiting Rat World in Orlando or traveling up to Savannah. Furthermore, 1 to 2 games a year being played in London is a slap in the face to loyal Jags fans. What’s good for the Jags isn’t always good for Jacksonville.’…(that comment was from BEARSHARK at jacksonville.com/jaguars/2013-06-19/story/jaguars-owner-shad-khan-stresses-commitment-london-game).

[Note: it has been brought to my attention that Shad Khan intends to financially support the coming waterfront re-development in Jacksonville, which of course, severely undercuts my premise that Khan may intend to move the Jaguars franchise out of Jacksonville/ see comments #2 & #3 at the bottom of this post, and thanks to commenter Rick for that.]

In case you are wondering, the air distance from Jacksonville, Florida to London, England is 4,266 miles (6,866 km.).

The colors and helmet logos of the Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars colors are teal, black, and yellow-gold. Their first helmet was black, with a snarling, teal-tongued Jaguar head, and a black facemask. In 2009, the team first started tinkering with dual-tone color effects. Here is what it says at ‘Jacksonville Jaguars/uniforms‘ at the team’s page on Wikipedia…’The final change made to the Jaguars’ uniforms in 2009 was to the helmet. The new helmet and facemask are black just like the old ones, but when light hits the new ones a certain way, both the helmet and face mask will sparkle with a shiny teal appearance. These are the first helmets in professional football which change color with different angles of light. The logo and number decals also incorporate this effect.’…{end of excerpt}.

{You can see Jaguars (and Vikings and Dolphins) uniform changes for 2013 at the following link at Gridiron Uniform Database, from Aug. 2013, by Bill Schaefer, ‘New for 2013‘ (nfluniforms.blogspot.com)}.

Now in 2013, along with an updated snarling-teal-tongued-jaguar’s-head logo, the Jaguars have unveiled their second dual-tone helmet. This one looks like the equipment manager had an accident with a can of black spray paint. The new Jaguars’ helmet is basically black in front and gold in back (with a black facemask) – with black color around the forehead and the helmet’s ear-flaps, and with the color shifting from matte-black to a brief section of a brownish color (around the logo at the center of each side of the helmet), then shifting to a metallic gold on the whole of the back of the helmet. Also in 2013, the teal in the Jaguars’ color scheme has been moved to a trim color, with the primary color now essentially being black (and with more gold than in the past). De-emphasizing the teal in their color scheme was probably a good decision, because teal as a major league sports team’s color is a played-out concept that most self-respecting sports fans want no part of these days – teal has basically jumped the shark. As to the new helmet, well, some people might like the new Jaguars helmet design. I decided to wait and see how they looked in a game on television, and now that I have seen the Jaguars’ new helmet in action, I can tell you what I think…I think the Jaguars’ new dual-tone helmet looks ridiculous, and with the extra-busy stripe detailing on the Jaguars’ new pants, the least-supported team in the NFL only looks more ridiculous.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have never made a Super Bowl appearance [no Super Bowl appearances in 18 seasons up to 2012]. They are one of only 4 teams in the NFL to have never reached a Super Bowl final. The other teams in this dubious category are the Detroit Lions (no Super Bowl appearances in all possible seasons [47 seasons up to 2012]), the Cleveland Browns (no Super Bowl appearances in 44 seasons up to 2012), and the Houston Texans (no Super Bowl appearances in 11 seasons up to 2012).

    Tennessee Titans logo & helmet history (1960-2013) – click on image below

tennessee-titans_helmet-history_logos_1960-2012_.segment_b.gif
Tennessee Titans logo & helmet history (1960-2012)
Titans/Oiler’ 50th anniversary patch from ioffer.com/i/houston-oilers-t-titans-50th-anniversary-afl-2009-patch.
Illustration of Titans’ uniforms by JohnnySeoul at en.wikipedia.org.
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/titans.
Photo of Titans’ helmet from americansportscollectibles.com/TEN-Titans-Helmets.

Oilers/Titans’ helmets at MG’s Helmets, mghelmets.com/titans.

From titansonline.com, from 2009, ‘Franchise Celebrates 50th Season‘.
From titansonline.com/history, ‘Houston Oilers logo history‘ (titansonline.com)’.

Here is a photo of a 1960 Oilers’ game program from grayflannelsuit.net [note: there are many other old AFL programs you can see at that site {at index at bottom of page there}].

The Houston Oilers – a team owned by an actual Texas oilman
The original NFL franchise in Houston, Texas was the Houston Oilers, who were a charter member of the AFL in 1960, and became an NFL team following the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, then moved to Nashville, Tennessee after the 1996 season, becoming the Tennessee Oilers in 1997 and then the Tennessee Titans in 1999. The 90-year-old Bud Adams was and still is the owner of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans’ franchise. Adams in his heyday was an outsize personality who was essentially a cartoon-version of a Texas oilman-come-to-life (ie, giant office with wet bar and water fountain, giant 10-gallon hats, and bluster to spare), who had a tendency to micro-manage his franchise. In early 1959, Adams had unsuccessfully tried to buy the NFL team the Chicago Cardinals. Another Texas oilman who also wanted to own an NFL franchise then came into the picture, AFL founder Lamar Hunt. Hunt, heir to the massive H.L. Hunt oil fortune, had also wanted to buy an NFL franchise, but found that, circa 1958, no NFL teams were up for sale, and that the ultra-conservative NFL had absolutely no interest in expansion (back then). So Lamar Hunt simply formed another pro football league. Lamar Hunt put together ownership groups in 6 cities (and eventually in 8 cities) and launched the American Football League (IV) in 1959, to begin play in 1960. Hunt himself became owner of the AFL charter member the Dallas Texans (the future Kansas City Chiefs). Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page on the ‘History of the Houston Oilers‘…”Adams was an influential member of the eight original AFL owners, since he, Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt and Buffalo Bills founder Ralph Wilson were more financially stable than the other five (all three would go on to own their franchises for over forty years, whereas the others pulled out by the 1980s).”…{end of excerpt}.

Early success for the Oilers after a crucial court case was decided in their favor
The Oilers were the first dominant team in the AFL of the 1960s, appearing in the first 3 AFL title games and winning the first 2 of them. Under coach Lou Rymkus, the Houston Oilers won the 1960 American Football League Championship Game, 24-16 over the Los Angeles Chargers before 32,183 at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston on Jan.1, 1961. The game was originally scheduled to be played at the then-101,000-capacity Los Angeles Coliseum, but the AFL league office hastily changed the venue to Houston so there would not be an embarrassing 60-thousand-empty-seats scenario. The following season, now coached by Wally Lemm, Houston again beat the Chargers, this time by the score of 10-3 (the Chargers had moved from LA down to San Diego by then, and the 1961 AFL final was played at the then-34K-capacity Balboa Stadium in San Diego, CA before a crowd of 29,556).

In both of the first two AFL title games, Houston halfback Billy Cannon was the game’s MVP. Cannon, as an LSU halfback out of Philadelphia, Mississippi, had been the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner. The bidding war to sign Cannon between the AFL and the NFL in early 1960 ended in a court case which the new league (and thus the Oilers) won. Here is Bud Adams’ recounting of how he signed Cannon from under the nose of the Rams and the NFL…{excerpt from page 24 of When the Grass Was Real, by Bob Carroll}…’ ‘I could just tell something was up because I couldn’t get [Cannon] on the telephone, couldn’t find him or anything. So I called Alvin Roy, who ran a health club in Baton Rouge where Cannon liftred weights. I knew Alvin had to know where Billy was. He said he hadn’t seen Billy, so I said, “Look, if you see him, will you just tell him that I’ll pay double whatever they paid him”. It wasn’t but fifteen minutes later that [Cannon] called me back. He had signed with the Rams, but I didn’t figure they’d blow the whistle on it, because he still had the Sugar Bowl to play. So we signed him under the goalposts after the Sugar Bowl’…{end of excerpt}.

The judge, in the suit that the Rams and the NFL had brought against the Oilers and the AFL, sided with the Oilers, reasoning that it would have been unfair to Cannon otherwise, and that the Rams had taken advantage of the naive Cannon and had not allowed him the knowledge of a better offer. Burn. Signing Billy Cannon gave the AFL instant credibility, and it was the first signing the new league made that put them on the map. It also didn’t hurt that Cannon was the real deal, and helped bring Bud Adams’ franchise the only two titles the team has ever won, to this day. Also prominent for the Oilers in their first few seasons was legendary QB/placekicker George Blanda. Blanda had been in the NFL since 1949, and would play up to 1975 (Blanda played until he was 48 years old, with 26 seasons in pro gridiron football, the all-time record; he retired as an Oakland Raider in January, 1976).

QB George Blanda, the ageless wonder who came out of retirement with the Oilers to become the unlikely king of the Touchdown Pass
George Blanda, the son of a Slovak-born Pittsburgh-area coal miner, had been QB and placekicker at Kentucky back when Bear Bryant was the coach of the Wildcats. Graduating in 1948, Blanda was a 12th round pick by the Chicago Bears in 1949. With the Bears he also saw some duty as a back-up linebacker in addition to his placekicking and back-up quarterback role. In 1952 Blanda threw his first TD passes – 8. The next year, 1953, now the starting QB, he threw 14 TD passes. But by 1958, his QB role had diminished to just 7 pass plays for the whole season, and he discovered that George Halas did not intend for him to continue his dual-role as quarterback and placekicker, but to only be the kicker for the Bears in 1959. Blanda would have none of that, so he retired. But a year later in 1960, with the appearance of a new rival league, a 33-year-old Blanda opted to come out of retirement and try his luck in the upstart AFL. With this development, some of the more hide-bound members of the pro football media then called Blanda an ‘NFL reject’. I guess George Blanda had the last laugh on that one {George Blanda at profootballhof.com}. Blanda was the starting QB/placekicker of the title-winning Oilers in 1960, and in ’61 the Oilers were AFL champions again as Blanda passed for 3,300 yards and a then-record-setting 36 TDs and was voted the 1961 AFL MVP (Dan Marino bested Blanda’s [and YA Tittle's] touchdown-pass record with 48 TD passes in 1984; then Peyton Manning of the Colts set the record with 49 TD passes in 2004; then Tom Brady of the Patriots set the current record with 50 TD passes in 2007). Also in 1961, Oilers’ flanker Charlie Hennigan set a record with 1,736 yards receiving (a pro-football record that stood for 34 years). George Blanda later said: “I think the AFL was capable of beating the NFL in a Super Bowl game as far back as 1960 or ’61. I just regret we didn’t get the chance to prove it.”

The Houston Oilers made the play-offs in 5 of the 10 AFL seasons, and were tied for the second-most AFL titles (tied with the Buffalo Bills with 2 AFL titles, and behind the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs franchise with 3 AFL titles). But because their heyday was in the AFL’s early years, when the new and somewhat disorganized league had a rather weak media presence, today the championship-winning Houston Oilers’ teams of 1960 and 1961 are largely forgotten by NFL fans. By the time the AFL/NFL merger took place (prior to the 1970 season), the Oilers were on their way to becoming a basement-dweller.
houston-oilers_george-blanda_billy-cannon_charlie-hennigan_1960-and-1961_afl-champions_b.gif
Photo-credits above –
George Blanda, unattributed at dubsism.wordpress.com/list-of-the-30-greatest-quarterbacks
Billy Cannon, unattributed at fanbase.com.
Photo of Charlie Hennigan trading card from remembertheafl.com/AFLHallofFamePhotos.htm#CharlieHennigan

Colors and helmet logos of the Oilers/Titans franchise
The original Houston Oilers wore light blue jerseys and light blue helmets with a plain-but-striking oil-derrick logo in white, with a thin white-center-stripe. Their pale blue was accompanied by red and white trim colors (red trim was added to the helmet-stripes in 1964). But why light blue? Because Bud Adams really liked that shade of blue. Silver, in the form of a silver helmet and silver pants, was added to the Oilers’ color scheme for the years 1966 to 1971 (6 seasons), and on the silver Oiler helmet the oil derrick was royal-blue-and-red. Then the Oilers dropped the silver, made the oil derrick white-with-red-trim, and switched back to light blue helmets for 3 seasons – 1972, ’73, and ’74. This spell coincided with the franchise’s low point, when the hapless powder-blue-helmeted Oiler teams of ’72 and ’73 both went 1-13. When ex-Chargers’ coach Sid Gilllman came in in 1974, the team improved to 7-7, and the next year, when the Oilers switched to white helmets in 1975, and went 10-4, they were already on their way to becoming the play-off-bound force they became in the late 1970s, when, coached by the gentlemanly U.A. ‘Bum’ Phillips and powered by the rock-solid running back Earl Campbell, the Oilers came up just short of a Super Bowl trip and lost in the AFC Conference Final for 2 straight seasons to eventual Super Bowl champions the Pittsburgh Steelers (in the 1978 and 1979 seasons).

That soon-to-be-iconic white helmet-with-red-and-blue-oil-derrick was what the Oilers wore from 1975 all the way to 1998. This white helmet originally had the stripe-detail and the derrick’s core-color as Oiler light blue, with grey facemasks – and that was for the first 6 years (1975 to ’80) of this helmet design. Then, the stripe-detail and the derrick’s core-color as a slightly darker blue (a pale royal blue a bit darker than the Oiler-light-blue of the team jerseys), and with red facemasks, from 1979 to 1998. This was the Oilers’ helmet for the final 22 seasons of the team’s spell in Houston (up to 1996), and the first 2 seasons the franchise was in Tennessee and still called the Oilers (1997-98).

When Adams moved his franchise to Tennessee in 1997, he kept the color scheme and the oil-derrick-logo for the 2 years the team was called the Tennessee Oilers (1997, in Memphis, TN; and 1998, in Nashville, TN). Then when the franchise changed their name to the Tennessee Titans in 1999, and the team finally moved into their purpose-built new stadium (see 2 paragraphs below), dark blue was added to the light blue/red/white color scheme, with the Titans’ uniforms being mainly light blue and navy blue (including navy blue pants). The franchise stayed with a white helmet, but with a totally new logo and a navy blue facemask. The Titan’s helmet also featured a flared pair of navy blue center-stripes which tapered out as they moved back from the forehead. The red in the Titans’ new color scheme only showed up in the detail of their new logo on their helmet.

The Titans’ official logo and helmet logo is an airborne circular-shield, featuring a cross-guard-bearing-sword-shaped ‘T’ and 3 stars (a nod to the 3-star-in-circle device on the flag of Tennessee) – the shield has a trail of flames, similar to a comet [in Greek mythology, the titan Prometheus was the bringer of fire to man via a blazing stone hurled from the heavens to Earth].

Oilers’ stadiums in Houston
The Oilers first venue was the well-remembered and cozy Jeppesen Stadium in Houston {Jeppesen Stadium at football.ballparks.com}. Jeppesen Stadium had a capacity then of 35,000 [the venue was the home of the Houston Cougars' NCAA football team from 1946–1950 and 1998–2012; the Oilers also hosted 2 AFL title games there in 1960 {see previous section} and in 1962 {see this about the longest pro football game ever, the '1962 American Football League Championship Game'}; also the MLS team the Houston Dynamo played soccer at Jeppesen Stadium from 2006 to 2011; the venue was demolished in 2012]. The Oilers played 5 seasons at Jeppesen Stadium, then in 1965 Bud Adams tried to negotiate a tenants’ lease with the owners of the then-newly-built Astrodome. The Houston Sports Authority, which owned both the MLB team the Houston Astros and the Astrodome, initially wanted more than Adams was willing to pay for rent, so Adams had his Oilers play for 3 seasons (1965-67) at another college football venue in the city, Rice Stadium (of Rice University), home of the Rice Owls – which had a gargantuan capacity of 70,000 back then [note: Rice Stadium hosted Super Bowl VII in January 1974]. Adams and the HSA/Astrodome owners finally reached an agreement after the 1967 season, and so the Houston Oilers moved into the Astrodome in 1968. The team would play there for the rest of the franchise’s years in Houston (for 29 seasons, until 1996). So in 1968, the AFL’s Houston Oilers became the first pro football team in the US to play in a domed stadium.

Oilers/Titans’ stadiums in the state of Tennessee
Bud Adams moved his franchise because he said the city of Houston wouldn’t work with him to find a suitable football-only replacement venue for the run-down Astrodome. But the problem was, Nashville wouldn’t have a new stadium ready for 2 more years, and the only other options in the state all had drawbacks…Nashville, TN’s Vanderbilt University wouldn’t let beer be served at their small-for-the-NFL, 40,000-capacity venue, so that was out. The Tennessee Volunteers’ huge 100,000-plus-capacity stadium, Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN was just too big, and Knoxville was too far off-the-beaten-track. The final option, which the franchise took for 1997 – the then-62,340-capacity Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN – turned out to be a terrible choice. First of all, at that time (ca. 1997), major road-work was being done on the main highway route from Nashville to Memphis, turning the regularly-2-hour-drive to a 5-hour-traffic-snarl nightmare, so very few Nashville-residents traveled to Memphis to see the Tennessee Oilers play in ’97. And meanwhile, Memphis residents, so mad at the NFL for all the years that the league refused to take seriously Memphis’ attempts to secure an NFL franchise, effectively boycotted Tennessee Oilers’ home games in Memphis. The stadium was less than half-full for 7 of the 8 Tennessee Oilers’ games the franchise played in Memphis (at around 27,000 or less), and the 1997 season-ending home game versus Pittsburgh ended in abject humiliation for Adams as tens of thousands of Steelers fans bussed down or drove down (or flew down) from the north end of the Appalachians and turned the Liberty Bowl into a de-facto Steelers’ home game, with an estimated three-quarters of the 57,000 in attendance there being Pittsburgh fans (Pittsburgh won, of course). Adams was so embarrassed by this case of poetic justice for his carpet-bagging franchise that he swallowed his pride and had the Oilers play 1998 at the dry, and too-small-for-the-NFL 40K-capacity Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.

The city of Nashville and Davidson County, TN would be the owners of the new stadium in downtown Nashville that the newly-renamed Tennessee Titans moved into in August, 1999. Now known as LP Field, the venue began as the 67,700-capacity Adelphia Coliseum, until that bent corporation went broke (eventually going belly-up with its boss, John Rigas, in jail). Then the venue was called The Coliseum for 4 years as they tried to scare up some more naming-rights money, which they did in 2006, which was also the year the last slight stadium-expansion took place. What’s LP? It is a manufacturing company specializing in wood-particle-board, based in Nashville, which was formerly called Louisiana-Pacific. Since 2006, the stadium has had a capacity of 69,143.

Music City miracle
My therapist told me it might be good for me to get closure on this incident & the mental-complex it has caused me as a Bills fan, if I talked about it, so I made the illustration below. Just kidding – us Bills fans can’t afford therapists! Anyway, hats off to Titans’ head coach Jeff Fisher, and to the 1999 Titans’ coaching staff, and to the 1999 Titans players – for coming up with this play, for practicing it every week that season, and for flawlessly executing the play…making for one of the most sublime moments in NFL history. Sigh.

Youtube video – ‘Music City Miracle-Actual TV Broadcast‘, uploaded by Chris Lee at youtube.com.

tennessee-titans_music-city-miracle_frank-wycheck_kevin-dyson_e.gif
Image credits above –
Music City Miracle-Actual TV Broadcast‘, uploaded by Chris Lee at youtube.com.
Helmet illustrations from gridiron-uniforms.com.
Graphic art: ‘Music City Miracle’ by Hmize, can be purchased at http://society6.com/hmize/Music-City-Miracle_Print.

The Houston Oiers won 2 AFL titles (1960, 1961).
The Titans/Oilers’ franchise is 0-1 in Super Bowl appearances (lost in the 1999 season to the Rams).

___

Thanks to Helmets, Helmets, Helmets site at http://www.misterhabs.com/helmets.htm, for the illustrations of the helmets on the map page.

Thanks to Sportslogos.net, for several of the logos and for dates of logos, sportslogos.net/NFL.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘AFC South‘ (en.wikipedia.org).

Thanks to pro football historian Bob Carroll, for his excellent history of pro football in the 1960s, When the Grass Was Real, published in 1993 by Simon & Schuster, and available at amazon.com here}.

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/.

January 31, 2013

NFL, 1936 season and 1937 season – with a map featuring 1937 final standings and 1937 uniforms & thumbnail profiles of the 10 teams / Plus the greatest triple threat in NFL history, Sammy Baugh / Plus Helmet History charts of the 9 currently-active teams from 1937 (Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, and Rams).

1937-nfl-map_w-helmet-histories_post_.gif
NFL, 1937 map, with all-time helmet histories



Note: Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the Helmet History charts of the 9 currently-active teams from 1937 (1937 NFL teams: Chicago Bears, Chicago Cardinals, Cleveland Rams, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York football Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh football Pirates, Washington Redskins).

    1936 NFL -

1936 NFL teams’ uniforms can be seen at the following link, ‘1936 NFL teams [uniforms]‘ (uniformdatabases.com/1936.html).

The 9-team NFL that made up the 1936 NFL season looked like this (teams listed in final order of finish):
Eastern Division
Boston Redskins, 1936 NFL Championship Game finalist.
Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers
Philadelphia Eagles

Western Division
Green Bay Packers, 1936 NFL Championship Game finalist.
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Chicago Cardinals

In 1936, the NFL played its 17th season. It was the first season where each of the teams played an equal amount of games (12 games). Yes, that is correct – it took 17 years for the NFL to finally have a season with a balanced schedule [this is one of several reasons why the NFL doesn't really like to mention, let alone celebrate, the league's fly-by-night and quasi-bush-league early days]. The 1936 NFL champions were the Green Bay Packers, who beat the Boston Redskins 21-6, in a game played at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, NY. The 1936 NFL Championship Game was the only NFL title game [pre-Super Bowl era] in which the team with the home field advantage declined to play at their own stadium, and instead elected to play at a neutral site. The Boston Redskins, who had won the Eastern Division, had rights to home field for the 1936 title game (it was done on a rotating basis back then). The Redskins moved the venue to New York City because the Boston Redskins’ owner, George Preston Marshall, was so angry about the small turnout for what would be the last game the Boston Redskins played in Boston, Massachusetts. That game, their final game of the 1936 regular season, was a 30–0 win over the Pittsburgh (football) Pirates, and only 4,813 fans showed up at Fenway Park in Boston (where the Redskins played then). So in spite (and Marshall was a spiteful man), Marshall had the 1936 title game moved to New York City at the Polo Grounds, where the New York (football) Giants played their home NFL games [renting the stadium from the stadium-owners, the New York (baseball) Giants of the National League]. [Note: on the map page you can see 2 photos of the Polo Grounds, as it looked for Giants' NFL games (one is an action photo from a 1937 NFL game of New York vs. Brooklyn, and another photo is an undated aerial photo of the Polo Grounds in football configuration)].

The 1936 NFL Championship Game was the 4th that the league had played {origins of NFL playoffs, here, ‘NFL/Playoff and championship history/Early years/1932 playoff game/Before the Super Bowl (en.wikipedia.org)}. The Western Division winners were the Green Bay Packers, who were the last-surviving small-town team in the NFL and who had won 3 straight NFL championships in 1929, 1930, and 1931.

1936 NFL Championship Game, Green Bay 21, Boston 6, at Polo Grounds, New York City. So in 1936, Green Bay claimed their fourth NFL title [all-time, the Packers have won 9 NFL Championship titles and 4 NFL Super Bowl titles].

    The 1937 NFL season

1937 NFL teams’ uniforms can be seen at the following link, ‘1937 NFL teams [uniforms]‘ (uniformdatabases.com/1937.html).

For 1937, the NFL added a 10th team, with the expansion team the Cleveland Rams. The Cleveland Rams were only technically an expansion team, because the same owner, and 4 players, were part of the 1936 Cleveland Rams of the AFL of 1936 [this AFL, AFL (II) was the second of four rival-leagues called the AFL, the last, of course, being the successful AFL of 1960-69, which ended up getting all 10 of its teams into the NFL in 1970 with the AFL/NFL merger].

If you are interested in reading further on the Rams’ early days, you can click on the following link, to my profile of the franchise here, ‘NFL Thumbnail Histories: the Cleveland Rams/ Los Angeles Rams/ St. Louis Rams.’

Like the 1936 Cleveland Rams of the AFL (II), the 1937 Cleveland Rams of the NFL wore red and black. [The Rams changed to dark blue and yellow-orange the following season, 1938.] The Rams were placed in the Eastern Division, balancing the two NFL divisions then at 5 teams each. Most importantly, the NFL returned, after a 3-year spell, back to a league set-up that featured an even number of teams. [Having an even number of teams is something that is always helpful for an organized league to have, because it makes scheduling less complicated, but it is even more important for a gridiron football league to have an even number of teams - because an odd number of teams means that one team has to sit out each week.]

The other change in league membership in 1937 was that the Redskins franchise moved from Boston to the nation’s capital in Washington, DC. The Redskins began playing at the Major League baseball team the Washington Senators’ Griffith Stadium (you can see an undated photo of the Redskins playing at Griffith Stadium on the map page [lower center of page]).

The 1937 NFL regular season
Midway through the 1937 NFL’s 11-game season, the Chicago Bears, coached by owner George Halas and led by an aging but still effective Bronko Nagurski at fullback, were unbeaten (5–0) in the Western Division, while the New York Giants were leaders in the Eastern Division (4–1). At the Polo Grounds on October 31, the Bears and the Giants played to a 3–3 tie. The Giants and Bears held their leads in their divisions through the middle and latter parts of the ’37 season, with the Bears clinching a spot for the title game with a 13–0 win over Detroit at the University of Detroit Stadium on November 25th.

The Giants, on the other hand, lost their lead. On December 5, the final game of the 1937 season had Washington (7–3 and .700) traveling to New York (6–2–2 and .750). A win or a tie would have given the Giants the Eastern title, but the Redskins, propelled by rookie QB Sammy Baugh, won 49–14, and got the division crown and the trip to Chicago to face the Bears in the 1937 NFL Championship game. The Redskins were coached by former New York Giants End Ray Flaherty (who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976). But despite the Redskins’ potent and innovative passing-oriented offense, the Redskins were the decided underdogs to the dominant pro football team of that era, the Monsters of the Midway, the Chicago Bears.

Below, 1937 NFL final standings of the regular season…
nfl-1937-standings_.gif

    1937 NFL Championship Game, December 12, 1937 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL.
    Washington Redskins 28, Chicago Bears 21.

It was so cold there that day at Wrigley Field on the North Side of Chicago that spectators tore up parts of the stadium to build large bonfires to keep warm. Both teams wore rubber-soled shoes to gain a better footing. The frozen, ice-shard laden and slippery surface of the field left players cut, bloody and dazed. The lead in the game changed hands 4 times. But the ahead-of-its-time passing-oriented offense of the unheralded Redskins prevailed in the end. The Redskins’ rookie QB Sammy Baugh went 17 for 34 for 352 passing yards and 3 TD passes. Those were unheard-of numbers for that era. Redskons’ coach Ray Flaherty further exploited Baugh’s passing prowess in that game by inventing, on that very day there in Chicago, the behind-the-scrimmage-line screen pass. Sammy Baugh completed three long touchdown passes in the 3rd quarter – 55 yards and 78 yards to End Wayne Miller; then the 35-yarder to Wingback Ed Justice that took the lead for good. The Washington defense held the Bears scoreless in the 4th quarter, and the Washington Redskins were professional gridiron football champions for the first time. Attendance was 15,878.

Below, via youtube.com, a newsreel of the 1937 NFL Championship Game, December 12, 1937 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL – Washington Redskins 28, Chicago Bears 21
Newsreel: World Football Crown – 1937‘ (Pathegram newsreel via Youtube.com, posted by weidvideos).

Below is an illustration which includes a screen-shot from the 1937 newsreel of the 1937 NFL Championship Game (linked to above) between the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins…
nfl_1937-championship-game_washington-at-chicago_sammy-baugh_e.gif
Image and Photo credits above -
Illustration of Bears’ and Redskins’ uniforms from uniformdatabases.com/1937.
Screenshot of Pathegram newsreel via Youtube.com, posted by weidvideos.
fs64sports.blogspot.com.
pophistorydig.com.


1937 Washington Redskins season‘ (en.wikipedia.org) [note: this link includes a team photo of the Redskins at Soldier Field in Chicago in Aug. 1938, 8 months after they had beaten the Bears for the title at Wrigley Field.]


From the Washington Redskins’ official site, from Feb.12, 2012, by Michael Richman, ‘Flashback: Redskins’ First season In D.C.

From NFL Network – ‘Top Ten Most Versatile Players, number one: Sammy Baugh‘ (3:31 video from nfl.com).
In the video linked to above, pro football historian Ray Didinger says, “You’re talking about one guy who was Peyton Manning, Ray Guy, and Ronnie Lott, all in one…” That one guy was Sammy Baugh, the QB/P/DB of the Washington Redskins for 16 seasons from 1937 to 1952. Slingin’ Sammy Baugh was a Texas-born halfback out of TCU. Baugh helped pioneer the quarterback’s role in the modern football game. Baugh, like many of his contemporaries, played both offense and defense – he excelled as a defensive safety, plus he took the Redskins’ punting duties. Baugh threw for 168 TD passes in a 16-year career for Washington. Baugh retired in 1952. In 1963 he was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

From TheHogs.com, the salient points of Sammy Baugh’s NFL career…
» Drafted 6th overall in the first round of the 1937 draft.
» All-NFL seven times.
» NFL passing leader six times.
» NFL passing, punting AND interception champ, 1943.
» Only player to lead the NFL in an offensive, defensive, and special teams category.
» Top punter in NFL history.
» Career records: 21,886 yards, 187 TDs passing, 45.1-yard punting average, 31 interceptions.
» Only player in Redskin history to have his jersey retired (33).


From the Pop History Dig, ‘Annals of Sport – “Slingin’ Sammy” [Baugh]‘.

    Helmet Histories of the 9 oldest-still-active NFL teams (all teams still active from at least 1937)

Est. 1898 as the Independent semi-pro team the Morgan Athletic Club of Chicago, IL (Morgan Athletic Club {Independent}, 1898). / Name changed to Racine Normals (Racine Normals {Independent}, 1899-1901) [Racine being the street where the team's football field (Normal Park) was located, in the South Side of Chicago]. / In 1901 name changed to Racine Cardinals (Racine Cardinals {Independent}, 1901-06;1913-18; 1918-19). / Joined NFL [APFA] in 1920 as the Racine Cardinals (NFL [APFA], 1920-21). / In 1922 name changed to Chicago Cardinals (NFL, 1922-1959). / In 1960 moved to St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Cardinals (NFL, 1960-1987). / In 1988 moved to Greater Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Cardinals (NFL, 1988-93). / In 1994 name changed to Arizona Cardinals (NFL, 1994-2013).
Arizona Cardinals Helmet History -
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Arizona Cardinals Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/cardinals.

Est. 1919 as the Independent semi-pro team the Decatur Staleys (of the A.E. Staley Co.) of Decatur, IL. / Joined NFL [APFA] in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys (NFL, 1920). / In 1921 moved to Chicago, IL: Chicago Staleys (NFL [APFA], 1921). / In 1922 their name changed to Chicago Bears (NFL, 1922-2013).
Chicago Bears Helmet History -
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Chicago Bears Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/bears.

Est. 1919 as the Independent semi-pro team the Green Bay Packers (of the Indian Packing Co.) of Green Bay, WI. / Joined NFL [APFA] in 1921, Green Bay Packers (NFL, 1921-2013).
Green Bay Packers Helmet History –
green-bay-packers_helmet-history_1921-2012_segment_k.gif
Green Bay Packers Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/packers.

Est. 1925 as an NFL expansion franchise, the New York (football) Giants (1925-2013) of New York City, NY.
New York Giants Helmet History -
new-york-giants_helmet-history_1925-2012_segment_.gif
New York Giants Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/giants.

Est. 1929 as the Independent semi-pro team the Portsmouth Spartans of Portsmouth, OH. / Joined NFL in 1930 as the Portsmouth Spartans (NFL, 1930-33). / In 1934 moved to Detroit, MI as the Detroit Lions (NFL, 1934-2013).
Detroit Lions Helmet History -
detroit-lions_helmet-history_1930-2012_segment_.gif
Detroit Lions Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/lions.

Est. 1932 as an NFL expansion franchise, the Boston (football) Braves of Boston, MA (NFL, 1932). / In 1933 changed name to Boston Redskins (NFL, 1933-36). / In 1937 moved to Washington, DC as the Washington Redskins (NFL, 1937-2013).
Washington Redskins Helmet History -
washington-redskins_helmet-history1932-2012_segment_b.gif
Washington Redskins Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/redskins.

Est. 1933 as an NFL expansion franchise, Philadelphia Eagles (NFL, 1933-2013).
Philadelphia Eagles Helmet History -
philadelphia-eagles_helmet-history_1933-2012_segment_.gif
Philadelphia Eagle Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/eagles.

Est. 1933 as an NFL expansion franchise, Pittsburgh (football) Pirates of Pittsburgh, PA (NFL, 1933-39). / In 1940 changed name to Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL, 1940-2013).
Pittsburgh Steelers Helmet History -
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Pittsburgh Steelers Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/steelers.

Est. 1936 as the Cleveland Rams of Cleveland, OH, a team in the second [of 4] AFL leagues that existed in the 20th century, the AFL (II) of 1936. / Joined NFL in 1937 as the expansion team the Cleveland Rams (NFL, 1937-45). / In 1946 moved to Los Angeles, CA as the Los Angeles Rams (NFL, 1946-1994). / In 1995 moved to St. Louis, MO as the St. Louis Rams (NFL, 1995-2012).
St. Louis Rams Helmet History -
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St. Louis Rams Helmet History
Image credits above – http://www.uniformdatabases.com/.

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Photo credits on map (going clockwise from the upper left of the map page)-
Green Bay’s City Field (1920s) from packers.com/Stadium History/Other Homes.
Brooklyn football Dodgers at Ebbets Field photo from: Brooklyn Ballparks.com.
Large action photo of New York football Giants vs. Brooklyn football Dodgers at the Polo Grounds from 1937: AP photo via brooklynbeforenow.blogspot.com.
Polo Grounds aerial view: history.giants.com.
Washington Redskins playing at Griffith Sradium photo [date and opponents indeterminate] from bleacherreport.com.
Sammy Baugh photo, 1940 vs. Bears from
Sammy Baugh color-tinted photo from: fs64sports.blogspot.com, ‘List of the day, Best Passing Yardage Seasons, 1940s NFL‘.
Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field aerial photo: stadiumsofprofootball.com.
Comiskey Park [Chicago Cardinals] from SportsE-cyclopedia.com

_
Thanks to the FootballDatabase.com, for score lines from 1937.
Thanks to mlb.com, for this article, ‘Football at Wrigley has long, storied past‘.

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Special thanks to Gridiron Uniform Database, for allowing billsportsmaps.com use of their NFL uniforms illustrations, http://uniformdatabases.com/.

October 14, 2012

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).

Filed under: NFL>AFC North,NFL, divisions,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 7:03 pm

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NFL, AFC North – Map
Helmet iilustrations above from misterhabs.com/helmets.

    Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers).

    Baltimore Ravens logo & helmet history (1996-2012) – click on image below

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Baltimore Ravens logo & helmet history (1996-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.uniformdatabases.com/.

The first NFL team in Baltimore was the green-and-silver original Baltimore Colts (I) (AAFC, 1947-49 / NFL, 1950 / defunct). The under-capitalized Colts of 1950 went 1-11 in their only NFL season and folded. Here are the uniforms of the 1950 NFL Baltimore Colts [I] (gridiron-uniforms.com)

The second NFL team in Baltimore was the blue-and-white Baltimore Colts (II) (NFL, 1953-83). The Baltimore Colts were a very solid team in the NFL for a 15-year span when they won NFL titles in 1958 and 1959 (led by QB Johnny Unitas), then, for the 1970 NFL season, the Colts were at the top of the football world in January 1971 when they won Super Bowl V (#5) over the Dallas Cowboys with a last-minute FG by kicker Jim O’Brien. Then the Baltimore Colts entered a protracted period of eventual decline before their owner, Robert Irsay, snuck his franchise out of town at 3 in the morning one cold March day in 1984 and moved the team with a fleet of moving vans to Indianapolis, IN as the Indianapolis Colts (NFL, 1984-2012). Irsay was forced to do this because the Maryland legislature intended to seize the team! You see, the Colts’ venue, Memorial Stadium (which they shared with the MLB team the Baltimore Orioles), was in a crumbling state of disrepair, and Irsay was having a very hard time coming to a stadium agreement with Baltimore and with Maryland state officials. By this time (circa 1982-83) Indianapolis, Indiana was building a stadium – the Hoosier Dome – to attract an NFL team, and Irsay had visited the construction site in Indianapolis in February 1984. Here is what happened next, via an excerpt from the Wikipedia page entitled ‘Baltimore Colts relocation to Indianapolis‘…”Meanwhile in Baltimore, the situation worsened and the Maryland State Legislature inserted itself into the dispute — a move that would eventually force Irsay’s hand and result in the Colts’ final decision to depart. On March 27, 1984, the Maryland Senate passed legislation giving the city of Baltimore the right to seize ownership of the Colts by eminent domain. (An idea first floated in a memo written by Baltimore mayoral aide Mark Wasserman). Robert Irsay said that his move was “a direct result” of the eminent domain bill. Chernoff would say of the move by the Maryland legislature: “They not only threw down the gauntlet, but they put a gun to his head and cocked it and asked, ‘Want to see if it’s loaded?’ They forced him to make a decision that day.”…{end of excerpt}.

It took the city of Baltimore 13 years to get another NFL team, when they lured the Cleveland Browns (I). [ Cleveland Browns (I) (AAFC, 1946-49/ NFL, 1950-1995/ franchise dormant from 1996 to 1998/ Cleveland Browns (II) (NFL 1999-2012). ] The Baltimore Ravens (NFL, 1996-2012) came into being in 1996 when Art Modell, then-owner of the Browns, announced that he intended to relocate his franchise, the Cleveland Browns, to Baltimore. The huge controversy that resulted with this ended when representatives of the city of Cleveland and the NFL reached a settlement in February 1996. Then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue promised the city of Cleveland that an NFL team would be located in Cleveland, either through relocation or expansion, no later than 1999. The agreement also stipulated that the Browns’ name, colors, uniform design and franchise records would remain in Cleveland. 5 seasons later, in 2000, with several ex-Cleveland Browns players still on their roster, the Baltimore Ravens under Head coach Brian Billick and led by LB Ray Lewis and the stingiest defense in NFL history (conceding only 10.3 points per game), won Super Bowl XXXV (#35) by beating the New York Giants 34-7.

Stadiums the Baltimore Ravens have played in -
For their first two seasons after their hasty and controversy-laden relocation from Cleveland, Ohio the newly-renamed-and-officially-called-an-expansion-team Baltimore Ravens began play (in 1996 and in 1997) at the 53,000-capacity Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, MD. Memorial Stadium was pretty outdated by then and would eventually see the wrecking ball in 2002. Memorial Stadium was also former home of the Baltimore Colts until they relocated in the dead of night to Indianapolis, Indiana in 1984. Memorial Stadium was also home of the MLB team the Baltimore Orioles, before the Orioles got their own ballpark, Camden Yards, in 1992. Memorial Stadium opened in 1922, but was much smaller until the 30,000-capacity second version of Memorial Stadium opened in 1950. 4 years later the city of Baltimore poached their first big-league-club, when in 1954, they lured the Major League Baseball team the St. Louis Browns to relocate and become the third incarnation of the Baltimore Orioles (III) (MLB, AL 1954-2012).

The second and current home of the Baltimore Ravens is M&T Bank Stadium, which was opened in 1998 and which has a capacity of 71,000 and was built and is operated by it’s owner, the Maryland Stadium Authority.

The Ravens are so-named in honor of Baltimore-resident Edgar Allan Poe, whose macabre poem “The Raven” is one of the many famous works the much-celebrated 19th century writer produced. The Ravens’ colors are black, purple, and yellow-gold. The Ravens’ first logo was an un-credited copy of a logo design submitted to the Maryland Sports Authority by a Maryland resident who then sued (and won his suit but was only awarded a settlement of $3). You can see that story and images associated with it in the Baltimore Ravens logo & helmet history by clicking on the image above.

Baltimore Ravens: 1 NFL Super Bowl title (2000).
The Baltimore Ravens are 1-0 in Super Bowl appearances, beating the Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV (#35) in the 2000 season.


    Cincinnati Bengals logo & helmet history (1968-2012) – click on image below

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Cincinnati Bengals logo & helmet history (1968-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.uniformdatabases.com/.

From bengals.com/team/history/bengals-logos.html, ‘Bengals Logos – Then & Now‘ (bengals.com).

The Cincinnati Bengals’ NFL franchise came to be because of a confluence of two things. The Major League Baseball team the Cincinnati Reds were looking for a new stadium to replace their run-down Crosley Field at the same time that former Cleveland Browns Head coach and GM Paul Brown was seeking a new pro football franchise in Ohio. Paul Brown had been fired by Cleveland Browns’ owner Art Model in January 1963, and was initially trying to get an NFL franchise for either Columbus, OH or Cincinnati, OH. When the Cincinnati Reds reached an agreement with Hamilton County in Ohio to build a multi-purpose stadium, an ownership group fronted by Paul Brown was able to get an AFL franchise in 1967. If you are wondering why Brown got an AFL franchise rather than the NFL franchise he was seeking, it is because at that point in time (1967), it was known that the NFL would be merging with the AFL in 1970. Paul Brown got a jab back at the Browns’ owner by choosing as his new team’s helmet color the same color as the Browns’ helmet – orange. The Bengals have always played in orange-and-black, and since 1981 have featured a helmet and uniform-detailing that have a tiger-stripe design. The Bengals were established in 1968 in the AFL, and played in the last 2 AFL seasons before the 1970 merger. Paul Brown, as part-owner and Head coach, coached the Bengals for 8 seasons, making the playoffs in 1970, 1973, and 1975, but losing all 3 of those playoff games. Brown retired from coaching after the 1975 season, and maintained ownership of the Bengals until his death at the age of 82 in 1991. His son Mike Brown is majority owner of the Bengals today.

Stadiums the Cincinnati Bengals have played in -
1). Nippert Stadium [home of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats' football team], in 1968 and ’69. It had a capacity back then of 28,000.
2). Riverfront Stadium, the home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1970-2002 and the home of the Cincinnati Bengals from 1970 to 1999. Riverfront Stadium had a capacity of 59,000 for football.
3). Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals got their own purpose-built stadium in 2000. The Paul Brown Stadium has a capacity of 65,500 and is owned and operated by Hamilton County, Ohio.

The Bengals are 0-2 in Super Bowl appearances, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 26-21 in Super Bowl XV! (#16) in the 1981 season, and losing again to the San Francisco 49ers 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII (#23) in the 1989 season.

    Cleveland Browns logo & helmet history (1946-1995/ 1999-2012) – click on image below

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Cleveland Browns logo & helmet history (1946-1995/ 1999-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.uniformdatabases.com/.

    The Cleveland Browns, est. 1946 as a team in the rival league called the AAFC (1946-49)

The white-helmeted Cleveland Browns were the flagship franchise of a rival pro football league called the All-America Football Conference, which challenged the NFL in the late 1940s. The Browns origins date to 1944, when taxi-cab magnate Arthur ‘Mickey’ McBride secured the rights to a Cleveland franchise in the soon-to-be-formed All-America Football Conference. The AAFC existed for 4 seasons, starting in 1946, and for it’s first 3 seasons it had 8 teams, and in it’s final season in 1949 it had 7 teams.

The AAFC was the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward. Several of the AAFC owners were actually better capitalized than some of the NFL owners at the time (back then, basically, NFL teams other than the Bears, the Giants, and the Redskins were usually in poor financial shape). The AAFC challenged the NFL directly in the USA’s 3 biggest cities – in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Dons, in Chicago with the Chicago Rockets, and in New York City with 2 teams…the New York Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (AAFC, 1946-48).

It may surprise some folks that the AAFC actually outdrew the NFL. From 1946 to 1949, the AAFC, averaged 38,310 a game, versus the 27,602 per game that the NFL drew back then {see this pdf, THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 2, No. 7 (1980). “ALL-AMERICA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE”, By Stan Grosshandler.

    Below: map of the AAFC, with selected AAFC uniforms and logos

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AAFC (1946-49) map
Image credits above – map of 1940s USA from etsy.com/listing/99272564/vintage-usa-map-1940s. Illustrations of AAFC uniforms from uniformdatabases.com/defunct teams, uniformdatabases.com/browns, uniformdatabases.com/49ers. Photo of LA Dons ticket from: qualitycards.com. Photo of 1949 AAFC Chicago Hornets media guide from ebay.com. Photo of 1946 Cleveland Browns game program from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cleveland_Browns_game_program,_September_1946.png. Logos of AAFC teams from logoserver.com/AAFC and logoshak.com [look in NFL section near botom of 1st page there].

What made the AAFC a better draw than the NFL in the late 1940s? The huge popularity of the Cleveland Browns there in northeast Ohio, who drew 60,000 to fill Cleveland Municipal Stadium in their first AAFC game on September 6, 1946 (you can see the game program for that first Cleveland Browns game on the AAFC map above), and went on to draw between 40,000 and 50,000 for most of their home games in the AAFC. But it wasn’t just the Browns that were drawing above or near the NFL average – 3 other cities that had no NFL franchises at the time – San Francisco, Baltimore, and Buffalo – had AAFC teams that were drawing in the mid-20,000s-to-30,000s-per-game-range. Those 3 teams were the red-and-silver San Francisco 49ers {here are the uniforms of the 1948 AAFC San Francisco 49ers (), the green-and-silver-Baltimore Colts {here are the uniforms of the 1948 AAFC Baltimore Colts (gridiron-uniforms.com) and the original Buffalo Bills (AAFC, 1947-49), who wore dark-blue-and-silver {here are the uniforms of the 1949 AAFC Buffalo Bills (gridiron-uniforms.com). Of those 3, Baltimore had the smaller crowds (low 20K range), Buffalo played almost to capacity in their 30K-capacity stadium, and San Francisco drew the highest of the three, often drawing above 30,000 and even getting 40,000 a few times. Another solid and very-good-drawing team in the AAFC was the New York football Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49), who lost to the Browns twice in the AAFC championship game – by score of 14-9 in 1946 in front of 41,000 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, and in the following season (1947) the football Yankees lost again to the Browns in the title-game, by the score of 14-3 in front of an impressive 60,000 at Yankee Stadium. The AAFC Yankees, like their baseball namesakes, wore dark-navy-blue as their primary color, and added a secondary color of grey {here are the uniforms of the 1947 AAFC New York Yankees (uniform-databases.com). The Yankees of the AAFC probably would have been able to survive as an NFL team had the NFL allowed them to join in 1950, but the NFL chose not to let in any AAFC teams from cities which already had an NFL team or teams (ie, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City).

The only problem with the AAFC, one that would prove to be it’s undoing, was the fact that the Cleveland Browns were too successful, and that, coupled with the fact that the AAFC had no draft, made all the other teams in the league unable to stay competitive with the Browns. A very telling statistic was this…the last 2 AAFC title games, both played in Cleveland, only drew 22,000, because everyone knew it was a foregone conclusion that the Browns would win those games (they won over the Bills 49-7 in front of 22,981 in 1948 and 21-7 over the 49ers in front of 22,550 in the last ever AAFC game in 1949 {see this, ‘AAFC/championship games‘ (en.wikipedia.org)). Another problem was the weakness of the last 2 AAFC franchises to form – the Brooklyn team and the Miami franchise (which moved to Baltimore after losing $350,000 as the Miami Seahawks in 1946). The Brooklyn team closed up after the third AAFC season (1948) and merged with the Yankees AAFC team for the league’s last season in 1949 (they were officially called the Brooklyn-New York Yankees, but no one called them that). The Miami-to-Baltimore franchise was always under-capitalized and the green-and-silver original Baltimore Colts (I) were never able to muster the large support that the second (blue-and-white) Baltimore Colts (II) had. The Baltimore Colts of the AAFC were the weakest of the 3 teams that the NFL allowed to join in 1950 and only lasted one season. As it says in the AAFC page ar en.wikipedia.org, …{excerpt}…’There was some sentiment to admit the Bills rather than the Colts, as the Bills had better attendance and the better team. However, Buffalo’s size (only Green Bay was smaller) and climate were seen as problems’…{end of excerpt}. The NFL chose the Colts (I) instead of the Bills (I) as an expansion team in 1950, and the city of Buffalo would have to wait another 20 years before they got a modern-day NFL franchise.

Three AAFC franchises joined the NFL in 1950 – the Cleveland Browns (NFL, 1950-95; 1999-2012), the San Francisco 49ers (NFL, 1950-2102), and the short-lived original Baltimore Colts (I) (NFL, 1950/defunct).

In less than 4 years, the NFL went from officially ignoring and publicly mocking the AAFC to allowing three teams from the AAFC to join the NFL in 1950. In 1946, NFL commissioner Elmer Layden had remarked that the new AAFC should, “first get a ball, then make a schedule, and then play a game.” That sarcastic statement, often later paraphrased in the media as “tell them to get a ball first” would not be forgotten. Especially when you consider what an ex-AAFC team did 4 seasons later…the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in their first season in the NFL in 1950, with virtually the same squad that that steamrolled through all four years of the AAFC.

    The Cleveland Browns – from the AAFC champions to NFL champions in 1950, as an expansion team

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Image and Photo credits above -
Helmet and uniform illustrations from uniformdatabases.com/browns.
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.

The Cleveland Browns were founded in the 1946 as a charter franchise of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), with Paul Brown, the team’s namesake and a pioneering figure in professional football, as its first Head coach and General Manager. Paul Brown first made his name as a 34-year-old Head coach who led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the school’s first national football championship (in 1942, as the AP #1). During World War II, Paul Brown served in the U.S. Navy near Chicago as a coach and instructor at the Great Lakes Naval Station, where he coached the football team. Later, in 1946, when he formed his first Cleveland Browns team, Brown utilized the contacts he had made within both the college football world and within the military. For example, during his time in the Navy there at the Naval Station near Chicago, Paul Brown first met his future Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Otto Graham, who was attending Northwestern University and who became a Navy flier. Brown then signed Graham in April 1945 plucking a future-gridiron-star before any NFL team could ever draft him. Many of the Cleveland Browns players in 1946 were military veterans. With standout players such as Otto Graham (at QB, running a then-innovative T-formation offense), pioneering player Marion Motley (a running back and linebacker and one of the first black players in pro football in the modern era), and northeast-Ohio-born Lou Groza (who doubled as the team’s placekicker and as an offensive tackle), the Cleveland Browns won all 4 AAFC championships.

From ‘Paul Brown‘ (en.wikipedia.org),
{excerpt}…’Brown is credited with a number of American football innovations. He was the first coach to use game film to scout opponents, hire a full-time staff of assistants, and test players on their knowledge of a playbook. He invented the modern face mask, the taxi squad and the draw play. He also played a role in breaking professional football’s color barrier, bringing some of the first African-Americans to play pro football in the modern era onto his teams.’…{end of excerpt}.

Under Paul Brown not only did the Browns win all 4 of the AAFC championships, the team also drew huge crowds, averaging a record-setting 57,000 per game in the first season of the AAFC in 1946. Cleveland Browns’ crowds were often above 50,000, and the Browns averaged a much, much higher gate than the NFL of the late 1940s. The Browns continued to succeed after moving to the NFL in 1950. Cleveland won the NFL championship in its first NFL season, and won two more titles in 1954 and 1955. By then, the Browns had appeared in 10 straight championship games (4 in the AAFC, then 6 in the NFL), and won 7 of them.

In 1957, the Cleveland Browns drafted, in the first round, the Syracuse football and lacrosse star Jim Brown (no relation to Paul Brown). Jim Brown, who grew up in Long Island, NY and whose father was a professional boxer, was a powerful full back with unmatched strength and speed. The Cleveland Browns of the late 1950s and early 1960s would build their teams around the force of nature that was Jim Brown.

The Art Modell era, 1951 to 1995
Art Modell was a 35-year old NYC advertising executive when he bought the Browns in 1961 from a group of shareholders led by National Insurance Company. A power struggle between Paul Brown and Art Modell, which also involved Jim Brown, developed. Here is an excerpt from the en.wikipedia page on the Cleveland Browns… {except}…
…’Journalist D.L. Stewart recounted in Jeff Miller’s book on the AFL, Going Long, “As you well can imagine, Jimmy Brown and Paul were not thick. The buzz was that Jimmy had Modell working for him, and Paul took exception to that”… {end of excerpt}. Not only was Paul Brown being alienated by the owner, but chemistry in the locker room was turning sour – many young Browns players circa 1960, who had not been part of the first great Browns teams of the 1940s and early 1950s, resented Paul Brown’s autocratic coaching style. Art Modell fired Paul Brown in January, 1963. The last title-winning team of the Cleveland Browns (in 1964) was coached by long-time Browns’ assistant coach Blanton Collier. Jim Brown would play 9 seasons for the Browns (1957-65) and would amass a staggering set of statistics. After playing just 9 NFL seasons, Jim Brown had the most career rushing yards (12,312 yards), was record holder for single-season rushing yardage (1,863 in 1963), and he was the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (106), total touchdowns (126), and all-purpose yards (15,549). After the 1965 season, Jim Brown retired to begin an acting career in Hollywood (which was a shame seeing as how he probably had a couple of good years left in him). Jim Brown was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, and in 2002 Jim Brown was named by Sporting News as the greatest pro football player in history {see this via wayback machine, ‘Football’s 100 Greatest Players: No. 1 Jim Brown‘(The Sporting News).

The Cleveland Browns have since then been only moderately successful, reaching the league’s playoffs a scant 15 times and appearing in the AFC championship game 3 times (last in 1987, when they lost to the Broncos 38-33).

Conditions at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium worsened throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Modell got the city of Cleveland to agree to improve Municipal Stadium, and then a new-stadium-referendum was set to be voted on in November 1995. But during this time period, Modell was secretly in discussion with representatives of the city of Baltimore. At this point in time, NFL franchises were threatening to relocate, or were actually relocating, at an alarming rate. There were 3 other franchise-relocations that occurred in the NFL in a 4-year period from 1994 to 1997: Rams from LA to St. Louis in 1994; Raiders from LA back to Oakland in 1994; and Oilers from Houston to Memphis to Nashville as the Tennessee Titans from 1997-98. NFL owners were using the threat of taking their franchise to another city as a way of basically getting a new stadium for free, at the expense of the city and the taxpayers. But the thing was, Modell announced the proposed Browns move to Baltimore on November 6, 1995, the day before the voters could actually vote on the new stadium issue (which voters approved, on Nov. 7, 1995, but was scrapped and a different stadium plan later went forward). From the ‘Art Modell‘ page (en.wikipedia.org)…
{excerpt}…”The reaction in Cleveland was hostile. Modell had promised never to move the team. He had publicly criticized the Baltimore Colts’ move to Indianapolis, and had testified in favor of the NFL in court cases where the league unsuccessfully tried to stop Al Davis from moving the Oakland Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles.”…{end of excerpt}.

The result was that Modell moved the Cleveland Browns’ front office and the Cleveland Browns’ player roster to Baltimore, Maryland – where the State of Maryland, trying to fill the vacuum left by the departure of the Baltimore Colts 13 years before, promised Modell a new stadium. Art Modell never set foot in Cleveland again.

Cleveland Browns supporters raised such an outcry that the NFL was forced to make the unprecedented move of forcing Modell to return the Cleveland Browns’ records, history, colors, and uniform design back to Cleveland to await the re-birth of the Cleveland Browns’ franchise. So officially, the Baltimore Ravens were an NFL expansion franchise, and the Browns’ franchise remained dormant for three seasons (1996-98). And then the Browns’ franchise was re-activated in 1999, with the team stocked with new players via an expansion draft. Wait a minute – an expansion draft? I thought, to placate the enraged Browns fans, the NFL was declaring that the 1996 Ravens, not the 1999 Browns, would be called the expansion team. So why did the NFL call the procedure to stock the Cleveland Browns’ roster in 1999 an expansion draft? They are not being consistent here (see this logo, Browns Expansion Draft Logo}. So even the NFL itself, by calling the procedure which stocked the Browns roster an expansion draft, can’t keep up the façade that the Browns today are the same franchise that Modell absconded with in 1995. The return of the Browns’ history, records, colors, and uniform designs is all very well and good from the Browns fans’ perspective, but it is not what the actual history of the event was. Because the squad moved to Baltimore. Calling the Ravens an expansion team in 1996 but then acknowledging that the Browns needed an expansion draft to fill their roster in 1999 is a complete contradiction. The whole thing smacks of historic revisionism and is intellectually dishonest. Browns fans can stare all they want at their overly-romanticized orange-helmet-with-no-logo, but that’s not gonna change what really happened in 1995 and ’96. And that was this…a football team moved from Cleveland to Baltimore after the 1995 season, and all those players who played for the Cleveland Browns in 1995 were now playing for the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. To insist that the Browns (I) and (II) are the same franchise is to believe that actual history is secondary to some other things, like pretending your team just took a nap for 3 years. Modell took that 1995 Cleveland Browns team and turned it into the 2000 Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champions. That is what happened. The NFL might call the Ravens an expansion team, but they were the only “expansion team” in the history of the world that didn’t need an expansion draft because they already had a whole roster of Cleveland Browns players. Declaring that the Cleveland Browns established in 1999 are a continuation of the same Cleveland Browns’ franchise first established in the NFL in 1950, and calling the Baltimore Ravens an expansion team is an airbrushing of history. Actually, I have a better word for what it is. It is a lie.

‘A Little History of Brownie the Elf’ (clevescene.com), posted by Vince Grzegorek.

Stadiums the Cleveland Browns have played in –
Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH. The Browns played here from 1946-1995. Capacity – 1946: 83,000/ 1995: 78,500.
Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH. When the Browns’ franchise was re-activated in 1999, the team moved into their new purpose-built stadium built by the city of Cleveland. Capacity: 72,300.
cleveland-browns-stadium_aerial_b.gif
bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view. clevelandbrowns.com/stadium.

The Cleveland Browns won 4 NFL Championship titles (1950, 1954, 1955, 1964),
The Browns have never appeared in a Super Bowl final. The Cleveland Browns are one of only 4 teams in the NFL to have never reached a Super Bowl final (the other teams in this dubious category are the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Houston Texans).

    Pittsburgh Steelers logo & helmet history (1933-2012) – click on image below

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Pittsburgh Steelers logo & helmet history (1933-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.uniformdatabases.com/.

In 1933, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania relaxed the Blue Laws, which had prohibited, among other things, pro football games played on Sundays. That finally cleared the way for the NFL to establish a stronger presence in the state. So in 1933, three new franchises joined the NFL, two of them from the Keystone State: the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Pittsburgh (football) Pirates. [The third new team was the Cincinnati (football) Reds, who only lasted one and a half seasons.] As per the common practice of the time, the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL mimicked the city’s Major League Baseball club, the Pitsburgh (baseball) Pirates of the National League, with their name. The Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL (1933-39) chose as their colors the colors of the flag of the city of Pittsburgh (you can see it by clicking on the image above)). The first logo of the team was the coat-of-arms of the city of Pittsburgh, which is in the center of the flag (you can also see it in the illustration below).

Now, in a situation unique to pro sports, all 3 Pittsburgh major-league-teams wear black-and-gold colors. In 1933, the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL were the first present-day franchise in the city to wear balck-and-gold, although the short-lived Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL did wear gold-and-black when they existed in the NHL, from 1925-26 to 1929-30 {to see the uniform and logos of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL, see this). The Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball did not start wearing black-and-gold until 1948 {see this from the Baseball Hall of Fame site Dressed to the Nines, ‘Pittsburgh (NL, 1946-1954)‘ (exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org). That was 14 years after the NFL’s Pirates/Steelers began wearing black-and-gold. The Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL began wearing black-and-gold colors in 1980-81 {see this ‘Pittsburgh Penguins’ jersey fronts‘ (jerseydatabase.com). The Pittsburgh football Pirates and the Steelers wore yellow-gold helmets before switching to black helmets in 1963. That time period also was when the Steelers began using their variation of the Steelmark logo (see illustratiion below). For the last 5 games of 1962 the Steelers debuted their first Steelmark logo {see this ‘Steelmark‘ (en.wikipedia.org)}, which, like the original Steelmark logo introduced by Pittsburgh’s U.S. Steel in 1960, had the word “Steel” next to 3 star-like shapes. It was on a yellow-gold helmet, and the logo was much larger than the present-day Steelers logo. [Note, this helmet design has been used recently by the Steelers as part of a throwback alternate uniform (in 2007-09, and also in 2011.] The following season, 1963, the Steelers intoduced the helmet design that has pretty much stayed the same for the last 50 years. Their second version of the Steelmark logo added “-ers” to the word on the logo, so it now read ‘Steelers’. The team was given permission to add “ers” in 1963 after a petition to the American Iron & Steel Institute. The thick grey circular outline and 3 star-like shapes (called hypocycloids [diamond shapes]) remained. As the team had done with the short-lived yellow-gold Steelmark helmet the year before, the Steelers had their 1963 black helmet design have no logo on the left side of the helmet. Here’s what it says about that in an article from the Steelers’ official website…
{excerpt}…
…”The Steelers are the only NFL team that sports their logo on only one side of the helmet. At first, this was a temporary measure because the Steelers weren’t sure they would like the look of the logo on an all-gold helmet. They wanted to test them before going all-out. Equipment manager Jack Hart was instructed to put the logo only on one side of the helmet – the right side. The 1962 Steelers finished 9-5 and became the winningest team in franchise history to date. The team finished second in the Eastern Conference and qualified for the Playoff Bowl. They wanted to do something special for their first postseason game, so they changed the color of their helmets from gold to black, which helped to highlight the new logo. Because of the interest generated by having the logo on only one side of their helmets and because of their team’s new success, the Steelers decided to leave it that way permanently. Today’s helmet reflects the way the logo was originally applied and it has never been changed….”
{end of exerpt}. From steelers.com, ‘History of the Steelers Logo‘.

pittsburgh-pirates-steelers_logos_1933-2002_e.gif
Image and Photo credits above – Photo of Steelers hekmet from fansedge.com/Pittsburgh-Steelers-Authentic-Helmet. Illustrations of Steelers helmets and uniforms from uniformdatabases.com/Steelers. Logos from sportslogos.net. Text except from http://www.steelers.com/history/logo-history.html.

The owner of the new Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL was Art Rooney. Since it’s establishment in 1933, the ownership of the Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers franchise has remained within the Rooney family. The NFL’s Pittsburgh Pirates played 7 seasons with that name, then in 1940, the Pirates changed their name to the Steelers, in honor of the region’s steel-making industry. The Pirates/Steelers were a poor-to-mediocre team for their first decade, and finally managed to have a winning record in their tenth year, in 1942 (at 2nd place in the NFL East, with a 7-4 record).

At the height of World War II, in 1943, the Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles were forced to temporarily merge, due to the lack of able-bodied men on the domestic front. The Eagles provided the bulk of the roster, and the team was officially called “the Eagles”, with no city designation. The 1943 Phil.-Pitt. team wore the Eagles’ colors of green-and-silver. Fans soon took to calling them the “Steagles”, and the name stuck. The Steagles played 4 home games in Philadelphia, and 2 home games in Pittsburgh. They finished 5-4-1.

The next year, the Steelers were again forced to temporarily merge due to lack of personnel – in 1944, the Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals, and were officially called “Card-Pitt.”. The team wore the white helmets of the Cardinals and the Cardinals’ dark red jerseys, and had an alternate uniform of dark blue jerseys (and white helmet). 3 home games were played by Card-Pitt. in Pittsburgh, and 2 were played in Chicago. The 1943 Chicago Cardinals had been 0-10, and the 1944 Card-Pitt. team finished 0-10 as well. Journalists started to derisively call them the Carpets (a take on the phrase Card-Pitt.), as in “everyone walked all over them”.

Through the 1940s and the 1950s, and into the mid-1960s, the Steelers were pretty much the worst franchise in the NFL (not counting expansion teams, like the Saints). They had won no titles, and were chronically cash-strapped. But the “lovable losers” finally began to prevail, through solid scouting, and then the arrival of coach Chuck Noll, in 1969. Franco Harris’ “immaculate reception” in the 1972 playoffs versus the Raiders was like an indication from the Gods of Football that their time had finally come. Those Steelers were led by QB Terry Bradshaw, RB Franco Harris, DE Mean Joe Green, and LB Jack Ham. All four of those players had been selected by Noll in the 1969 through 1972 NFL drafts. That laid the foundation for a squad that brought Super Bowl titles to Pittsburgh in the 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979 seasons. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won the most Super Bowl titles – 6 – with their last Super Bowl title won in the 2008 season, over the Arizona Cardinals, led by Head coach Mike Tomlin.

Below – the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s
pittsburgh-steelers_1970s_4-super-bowl-titles_bradshaw_harris_greene_ham_noll_d.gif
Photo credits above -
Terry Bradshaw on SI cover (1974) from sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault.
Photo of Franco Harris from nacnn.com.
Photo of Jack Ham and Mean Joe Greene in discussion by Gojovich/Getty Images via examiner.com/slideshow/the-steelers-of-the-1970s.
Photo of Vince Lombardi Trophy from mlive.com.
Photo of Coach Noll being carried off field on the shoulders of Harris and Greene from steelersuk.com/history/seventies/chucknoll/75.

Stadiums the Pittsburgh Pirates (NFL) and the Pittsburgh Steelers have played in -
For 31 seasons (1933-63), the Steelers shared Forbes Field with the Pittsburgh baseball Pirates, which had a capacity of 41,000 in that era. In 1958, though, they started splitting their home games with the football-only Pitt Stadium three blocks away at the University of Pittsburgh. From 1964 to ’69, the Steelers played exclusively at the on-campus facility before moving with the baseball Pirates to Three Rivers Stadium on the city’s Northside, which had a capacity of 59,000 for it’s football configuration. The Steelers played 31 seasons at Three Rivers Stadium, from 1970 to 2000). Then in 2001 the Steelers moved into their state-of-the-art and purpose-built stadium, named Heinz Field after the condiments-king H.J. Heinz Co., which is based in Pittsburgh. Heinz Field has a capacity of 65,050.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 6 Super Bowl titles (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008).
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-2 in Super Bowl appearances -
In the 1974 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl IX (#9) over the Vikings by a score of 16-6.
In the 1975 season, the Steelers won Super X (#10) over the Cowboys by a score of 21-17.
In the 1978 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XIII (#13) ovr the Cowboys again by the score of 35-31.
In the 1979 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XIV (#14) over the Los Angeles Rams by the score of 31-19.
In the 1995 season, the Steelers lost Super Bowl XXX (#30) to the Cowboys by the score of 27-17.
In the 2005 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL (#40) over the Seattle Seahawks by the score of 21-10.
In the 2008 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XLII (#42) over the Arizona Cardinals by the score of 27-23.
In the 2010 season, the Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV (#45) to the Green Bay Packers by the score of 31-25.

___

Thanks to Pro-footballl-reference.com/Teams, for info on game dates, records, etc, pro-football-reference.com/teams.

Thanks to ebay.com, for image of 1950s-era playing card with 1951-59 Pittsburgh Steelers’ logo,ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1950s-1960s-PITTSBURGH-STEELERS-Playing-Card.
Thanks to Logoserver for Pittsbutgh Steelers’ 1951-60 logo. logoserver.com/NFL.html,
Thanks to ioffer.com or the photo of the Steelers’ white-jersey-front logo patch – ioffer.com/i/pittsburgh-steelers-logo-jersey-gray-border-patch.

Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page, for many of the old logos and for dates of logos, such as Pittsburg Steelers 1962 “Steel” Steelmark logo (on yellow-gold helmet), sportslogos.net/Steelers 1962 Helmet [with 'Steel' Steelmark logo on yellow-gold helmet].
http://www.sportslogos.net.

Thanks to Logo Shak, for some old logos, such as logoshak.com/Bengals [1968-69 Cincinnati Bengals logo].
http://www.logoshak.com.

Thanks to vintagecardprices.com, for the photo of the 1951 Bowman Paul Brown card.

Helmet photos -
Thanks to sportsmemorabilia.com/baltimore-ravens-authentic-helmet.
Thanks to sportsmemorabilia.com/sports-products/cincinnati-bengals-authentic-helmet
Thanks to sportsmemorabilia.com/sports-products/cleveland-browns-pro-line-helmet.
Thanks to fansedge.com/Pittsburgh-Steelers-Authentic-Helmet.

Thanks to us.fotolia.com/id/41049590, for road signs.

Thanks to The Helmet Project, for dates of helmets and info, http://www.nationalchamps.net/Helmet_Project/.

Thanks to Helmets, Helmets, Helmets site, for helmets on the map page, and for dates of helmets, http://www.misterhabs.com/helmets.

Thanks to JohnnySeoul at each NFL team’s page at en.wikipedia.org, for 2012 NFL uniforms, such as ‘AFCE-Uniform-BUF.PNG‘.

Thanks to Remember The AFL.com (remembertheafl.com), which is now on my Blogroll.
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Special thanks to Gridiron Uniform Database, for allowing billsportsmaps.com use of their NFL uniforms illustrations, http://uniformdatabases.com/.

October 13, 2012

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.

Note – I am posting this AAFC map and parts of my upcoming NFL, AFC North post here, so that there will be a stand-alone article on the AAFC in my archive. The NFL, AFC North post, which will include a slightly-longer text-and-illustrated history of the Cleveland Browns (as well as the other 3 teams in the division) will be posted on Sunday Oct. 14.

    Below: map of the AAFC, with selected AAFC uniforms and logos

aafc-map_browns_49ers_1st-buffalo-bills_miami-seahawks_1st-baltomore-colts_la-dons_chicago-rockets_brooklyn-dodgers_ny-yankees_segment_e.gif
AAFC (1946-49) map
Image credits above – map of 1940s USA from etsy.com/listing/99272564/vintage-usa-map-1940s. Illustrations of AAFC uniforms from uniformdatabases.com/defunct teams, uniformdatabases.com/browns, uniformdatabases.com/49ers. Photo of LA Dons ticket from: qualitycards.com. Photo of 1949 AAFC Chicago Hornets media guide from ebay.com. Photo of 1946 Cleveland Browns game program from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cleveland_Browns_game_program,_September_1946.png. Logos of AAFC teams from logoserver.com/AAFC and logoshak.com [look in NFL section near botom of 1st page there].


    The Cleveland Browns, est. 1946 as a team in the rival league called the AAFC (1946-49)

The white-helmeted Cleveland Browns were the flagship franchise of a rival pro football league called the All-America Football Conference, which challenged the NFL in the late 1940s. The Browns origins date to 1944, when taxi-cab magnate Arthur ‘Mickey’ McBride secured the rights to a Cleveland franchise in the soon-to-be-formed All-America Football Conference. The AAFC existed for 4 seasons, starting in 1946, and for it’s first 3 seasons it had 8 teams, and in it’s final season in 1949 it had 7 teams.

The AAFC was the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward. Several of the AAFC owners were actually better capitalized than some of the NFL owners at the time (back then, basically, NFL teams other than the Bears, the Giants, and the Redskins were usually in poor financial shape). The AAFC challenged the NFL directly in the USA’s 3 biggest cities – in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Dons, in Chicago with the Chicago Rockets , and in New York City with 2 teams…the New York Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (AAFC, 1946-48).

AAFC Stadia -
The Cleveland Browns played at the 78,000-capacity Cleveland Municipal Stadium (and would play there until 1995). One of the teams in the AAFC played in the same stadium that their NFL city-rival were playing in – from 1946 to ’49, the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA hosted both the Los Angeles Rams (NFL) and Los Angeles Dons (AAFC). The Brooklyn football Dodgers (AAFC) played at the Brooklyn baseball Dodgers’ Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY (note: the NFL’s Brooklyn football Dodgers played 15 seasons in the NFL but had folded two years before [in 1944]). The Chicago AAFC team, first called the Rockets then called the Hornets, played at Soldier Field (however, the NFL’s Chicago Bears played at Wrigley Field back then, and would not play in Soldier Field until 1971]. The New York football Yankees of the AAFC played at Yankee Stadium (while the NFL’s New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds back then). The Buffalo Bisons, who changed their name to the Buffalo Bills (I) in the second AAFC season in 1947, played at the first version of War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, which only had a capacity of 30,000 and did not have the giant looming roofed grandstand (which was built in 1960). The Baltimore Colts (I) of the AAFC played in Balltimore’s Municipal Stadium, which only had a single deck back then and a capacity of 30,000 (back in the 1946 to 1953 time period) [the second incarnation of the Baltimore Colts (II), also played at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium from 1953 to 1983]. The San Francisco 49ers of the AAFC played at Kezar Stadium, which was (and still is) a utilitarian-single-stand-with-bleachers-bowl-shape stadium with a 59,000-capacity that was built in a residential neighborhood of San Francisco which was adjacent to Golden Gate Park. The Forty-Niners played at Kezar Stadium from 1946-49 in the AAFC and from 1950 to 1970 in the NFL. The hapless and doomed Miami Seahawks played at the Orange Bowl to tiny crowds, then packed up and moved to Baltimore in ’47.

It may surprise some folks that the AAFC actually outdrew the NFL. From 1946 to 1949, the AAFC, averaged 38,310 a game, versus the 27,602 per game that the NFL drew back then {see this pdf, THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 2, No. 7 (1980). “ALL-AMERICA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE”, By Stan Grosshandler.

What made the AAFC a better draw than the NFL in the late 1940s? The huge popularity of the Cleveland Browns there in northeast Ohio, who drew 60,000 to fill Cleveland Municipal Stadium in their first AAFC game on September 6, 1946 (you can see the game program for that first Cleveland Browns game on the map page above), and went on to draw between 40,000 and 50,000 for most of their home games in the AAFC. But it wasn’t just the Browns that were drawing above or near the NFL average – 3 other cities that had no NFL franchises at the time – San Francisco, Baltimore, and Buffalo – had AAFC teams that were drawing in the mid-20,000s-to-30,000s-per-game-range. Those 3 teams were the red-and-silver San Francisco 49ers {here are the uniforms of the ‘1948 AAFC San Francisco 49ers‘ (gridiron-uniforms.com), the green-and-silver-Baltimore Colts {here are the uniforms of the ‘1948 AAFC Baltimore Colts‘ (gridiron-uniforms.com); and the original Buffalo Bills (AAFC, 1947-49), who wore dark-blue-and-silver {here are the uniforms of the ‘1949 AAFC Buffalo Bills (gridironuniformds.com)}. Of those 3, Baltimore had the smaller crowds (low 20K range), Buffalo played almost to capacity in their 30K-capacity stadium, and San Francisco drew the highest of the three, usually drawing above 30,000 and even getting 40,000 a few times. Another solid and very-good-drawing team in the AAFC was the New York football Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49), who lost to the Browns twice in the AAFC championship game – by score of 14-9 in 1946 in front of 41,000 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, and in the following season (1947) the football Yankees lost again to the Browns in the title-game, by the score of 14-3 in front of an impressive 60,000 at Yankee Stadium. The AAFC Yankees, like their baseball namesakes, wore dark-navy-blue as their primary color, and added a secondary color of grey {here are the uniforms of the ‘1946 AAFC New York Yankees‘ (gridironuniforms.com/Defunct teams)}. The Yankees of the AAFC probably would have been able to survive as an NFL team had the NFL allowed them to join in 1950, but the NFL chose not to let in any AAFC teams from cities which already had an NFL team or teams (ie, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City).

The only problem with the AAFC, one that would prove to be it’s undoing, was the fact that the Cleveland Browns were too successful, and that, coupled with the fact that the AAFC had no draft, made all the other teams in the league unable to stay competitive with the Browns. A very telling statistic was this…the last 2 AAFC title games, both played in Cleveland, only drew 22,000, because everyone knew it was a foregone conclusion that the Browns would win those games (they won over the Bills 49-7 in front of 22,981 in 1948 and 21-7 over the 49ers in front of 22,550 in the last ever AAFC game in 1949 {see this, ‘AAFC/championship games‘ (en.wikipedia.org)). Another problem was the weakness of the last 2 AAFC franchises to form – the Brooklyn team and the Miami franchise (which moved to Baltimore after losing $350,000 as the Miami Seahawks in 1946). The Brooklyn team closed up after the third AAFC season (1948) and merged with the Yankees AAFC team for the league’s last season in 1949 (they were officially called the Brooklyn-New York Yankees, but no one called them that). The Miami-to-Baltimore franchise was always under-capitalized and the green-and-silver original Baltimore Colts (I) were never able to muster the large support that the second (blue-and-white) Baltimore Colts (II) had. The Baltimore Colts of the AAFC were the weakest of the 3 teams that the NFL allowed to join in 1950 and only lasted one season. As it says in the AAFC page ar en.wikipedia.org, …{excerpt}…’There was some sentiment to admit the Bills rather than the Colts, as the Bills had better attendance and the better team. However, Buffalo’s size (only Green Bay was smaller) and climate were seen as problems’…{end of excerpt}. The NFL chose the Colts (I) instead of the Bills (I) as an expansion team in 1950, and the city of Buffalo would have to wait another 20 years before they got a modern-day NFL franchise.

Three AAFC franchises joined the NFL in 1950 – the Cleveland Browns (NFL, 1950-95; 1999-2012), the San Francisco 49ers (NFL, 1950-2102), and the short-lived original Baltimore Colts (I) (NFL, 1950/defunct).

In less than 4 years, the NFL went from officially ignoring and publicly mocking the AAFC to allowing three teams from the AAFC to join the NFL in 1950. In 1946, NFL commissioner Elmer Layden had remarked that the new AAFC should, “first get a ball, then make a schedule, and then play a game.” That sarcastic statement, often later paraphrased in the media as “tell them to get a ball first” would not be forgotten. Especially when you consider what an ex-AAFC team did 4 seasons later…the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in their first season in the NFL in 1950, with virtually the same squad that that steamrolled through all four years of the AAFC,

The Cleveland Browns – from AAFC champions to NFL champions in 1950, as an expansion team.
browns_paul-brown_otto-graham_lou-groza_jim-brown_marion-motley_helmets-1946-61_k.gif
Image and Photo credits above -
Helmet and uniform illustrations from uniformdatabases.com/browns.
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.

    The Cleveland Browns – from AAFC champions to NFL champions in 1950, as an expansion team

The Cleveland Browns were founded in the 1946 as a charter franchise of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), with Paul Brown, the team’s namesake and a pioneering figure in professional football, as its first Head coach and General Manager. Paul Brown first made his name as a 34-year-old Head coach who led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the school’s first national football championship (in 1942, as the AP #1). During World War II, Paul Brown served in the U.S. Navy near Chicago as a coach and instructor at the Great Lakes Naval Station, where he coached the football team. Later, in 1945-46, when he formed his first Cleveland Browns team, Brown utilized the contacts he had made within both the college football world and within the military. For example, during his time in the Navy there at the Naval Station near Chicago, Paul Brown first met his future Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Otto Graham, who was attending Northwestern University and who became a Navy flier. Brown then signed Graham in April 1945 plucking a future-gridiron-star before any NFL team could ever draft him. Many of the Cleveland Browns players in 1946 were military veterans. With standout players such as Otto Graham (at QB, running a then-innovative T-formation offense), pioneering player Marion Motley (a running back and linebacker and one of the first black players in pro football in the modern era), and northeast-Ohio-born Lou Graza (who doubled as the team’s placekicker and as an offensive tackle), the Cleveland Browns won all 4 AAFC championships.

From ‘Paul Brown‘ (en.wikipedia.org),
{excerpt}…’Brown is credited with a number of American football innovations. He was the first coach to use game film to scout opponents, hire a full-time staff of assistants, and test players on their knowledge of a playbook. He invented the modern face mask, the taxi squad and the draw play. He also played a role in breaking professional football’s color barrier, bringing some of the first African-Americans to play pro football in the modern era onto his teams.’…{end of excerpt}.

Under Paul Brown, not only did the Cleveland Browns win all 4 of the the AAFC’s championships, the Browns also drew huge crowds, averaging a record-setting 57,000 per game in the first season of the AAFC in 1946. Cleveland Browns’ crowds were often above 50,000, and the Browns averaged a much, much higher gate than the NFL of the late 1940s. The Browns continued to succeed after moving to the NFL in 1950. Cleveland won the NFL championship in its first NFL season, and won two more titles in 1954 and 1955. By then, the Browns had appeared in 10 straight championship games (4 in the AAFC, then 6 in the NFL), and won 7 of them.

    Enter Art Modell, exit Paul Brown, and the start of Cleveland Browns fans’ trials and tribulations…

Then Art Modell, who made his money in the New York City advertising industry, bought the team in 1961, fired Paul Brown two years later, and reigned over a team that won just 1 more NFL championship title but never made a Super Bowl appearance, then announced he intended to moved the team to Baltimore in 1996 despite the fact that the city of Cleveland was about to vote on a new stadium referendum (which passed). Art Modell never set foot in Cleveland again after he took the Browns’ front office and the Browns’ player roster to Baltimore, to become the Baltimore Ravens (NFL, 1996-2012). Cleveland Browns supporters raised such an outcry that the NFL was forced to make the unprecedented move of forcing Modell to return the Cleveland Browns’ records, history, colors, and uniform design back to Cleveland to await the re-birth of the Cleveland Browns’ franchise. That occurred in 1999. The only problem was – Modell took that 1995 Cleveland Browns team and turned it into the 2000 Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champions. So Browns fans might have got their team back, but they will always wonder what might have been if the ’95 Browns had remained in Cleveland.

___

Thanks to Logoshak for many of the AAFC logos.
Thanks to logosever.com for several AAFC logos.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘All-America Football Conference‘.
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page at sportslogos.net, for some logos and for dates of logos.
Thanks to The Gridiron Uniform Database for allowing billsportsmaps the use of the site’s helmet and uniform illustrations,
uniformdatabases.com/defunct teams [APFA, NFL, AAFC), uniformdatabases.com/browns,
uniformdatabases.com/49ers.

October 3, 2012

NFL, AFC East – Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list (up to 2012 season) / Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets).

Filed under: NFL>AFC East,NFL, divisions,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 8:56 pm

nfl_afc_east-2012map_titles-list_segment_e.gif
NFL, AFC East – Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list
Photo of Vince Lombardi Trophy from mlive.com.

    Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets).

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buffalo-bills_helmet-history_logos_1960-2012_segment_c.gif
Buffalo Bills logos & helmet history (1960-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/bills.html.
Photo of Buffalo Bills’ replica helmet from amazon.com/Riddell-Buffalo-Bills-Replica-Helmet.

The Buffalo Bills were established in the AFL (1960-69), and became an NFL franchise in 1970, as part of the 1970 AFL/NFL merger. The Bills are named after the old AAFC team called the Buffalo Bills (I) (AAFC, 1947-49). That first version of the Buffalo Bills in the late 1940s in the All-America Football Conference, was, according to Wikipedia, named after a name given to the male bison – a “billy” {see this, ‘Buffalo Nills/History‘ (paragraph 3)}. As a life-long Buffalo Bills fan this is news to me. If that’s the case than why did the Buffalo Bills of the AAFC feature a logo that had Buffalo Bill Cody riding a buffalo? {See this, ‘AAFC‘ (logoserver), and see Buffalo Bison/Bills [AAFC] illustration further down}. I am beginning to think that that bit of information is a bit of Wikipedia vandalism, because the two following sites refute that claim…This site (history.buffalobills.com), says that the 1947 Buffalo Bills were named after Buffalo Bill Cody. So, in fact, does the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website, in this chart ‘Franchise nicknames‘ (profootballhof.com). The Buffalo Bills, either version, have to be named after world-famous 19th century Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody. In no possible way could they not be named after Buffalo Bill Cody, because the phrase Buffalo Bill was so well-known and was in popular currency then. That’s because Buffalo Bill was not just famous in America, he was world-renowned. Sure, most of the young folks today would probably not know of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West revues, but in 1947 they sure would have, and some older folks back in 1947 would have actually gone to Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West revues – the guy toured widely and extensively and elaborately and to huge popularity, in the US and in Canada, and in Europe, for 30 years – from the 1880s all the way up to the first decade of the 1900s. As the narrator in the 9-minute documentary video in the following link says, Buffalo Bill Cody was America’s first superstar.

Buffalo Bill “Beyond the Legend” (9:03 Video uploaded by Little Bighorn Productions at youtube.com).
buffalo-bill-cody_galloping-bison-with-oval-portrait-logo_1887_c.gif
Imagr credit above – Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming via http://www.studio360.org/2011/jul/15/.

So what I’m saying is that in 1960, when the Buffalo Bills (II) were established, the only way you would not have instantly thought of Buffalo Bill Cody if you heard the phrase “Buffalo Bills” would be if you lived in a cave. So how about it, Buffalo Bills’ organization, how about finally placing a representation of old Buffalo Bill Cody in red-and-blue on, say, a Bills’ shoulder-patch-logo or something – the Buffalo Bills’ organization should advertise the fact that the Bills are named after Buffalo Bill Cody – America’s first superstar – rather than what the organization has been doing for the last 50 years, which is to never, ever acknowledge the origins of their nickname. The fact that the Buffalo Bills are named after Buffalo Bill Cody is a cool bit of history that the franchise should be proud of.

    The Buffalo All-Americans and their 2 disputed NFL titles

The Buffalo Bills are the second NFL franchise from Buffalo, NY. The first was the Buffalo All-Americans, a charter member of the APFA [NFL], who played from 1920 to 1929, finishing off as the Buffalo Bisons (I), before folding in late 1929 at the onset of the Great Depression. The Buffalo All-Americans wore orange and black {here are the uniforms of the NFL’s 1921 Buffalo All-Americans (gridirons-uniforms.com/[Defunct Teams/Buffalo All Americans 1921])}. The Buffalo All-Americans have claimed two disputed NFL titles – the first two league titles in 1920, and in 1921. The Buffalo All-Americans officially finished in 3rd place in the first NFL [APFA] season in 1920, at 9-1-1. But with modern NFL tie-breaking rules, which the NFL instituted in 1972 – but not retroactively – the 1920 Buffalo All-Americans would be co-champions (at .814 Pct.) with the official champions of 1920, the Akron Pros (NFL, 1920-26), who went 8-0-3. [In the NFL, from 1920 all the way until 1971, ties were, illogically, thrown out of the computation when arriving at a team's winning Pct. Finally, in 1972, the NFL revised this, and ties were established as a .500 Pct. result (ie, half a win and half a loss)].

In 1921, in the second season of the APFA [NFL], the Buffalo All-Americans went 9-1-2, while the Chicago Staleys (the present-day Chicago Bears) went 9-1-1. The rules of the league stipulated that the Buffalo All-Americans and the Chicago Staleys should have been co-champions (because, as mentioned, ties were thrown out). But the league owners, influenced by the lobbying of Chicago Staleys’ player/owner George Halas, voted to award only the Chicago Staleys the 1921 title, fabricating, on the spot, a new rule that said a second match-up between two teams which were tied in the standings “counted more”. Here is what it says at ‘1921 APFA season/Def Facto championship game‘(en.wikipedia.org)…{excerpt} “The league then implemented the first ever tiebreaker: a rule, now considered archaic and removed from league rulebooks, that states that if two teams play multiple times in a season, the last game between the two teams carries more weight. Thus, the Chicago victory actually counted more in the standings, giving Chicago the championship. Buffalo sports fans have been known to refer to this, justly or unjustly, as the “Staley Swindle,” and have cited it as the first evidence of a sports curse on the city.”…{end of excerpt}.

The Buffalo All-Americans beat the Chicago Staleys 7-6 in Buffalo on Thanksgiving Day in 1921, then lost to Chicago 10-7 in Chicago on December 4, 1921 – and then later on the league voted that the second game “counted more”. After the fact. Changing the rules after the fact is by definition crooked.

{From subjectsummary.com/1921-NFL-Championship-controversy [see the 10th and 11th points, halfway down this page]. {éxcerpt}…”Halas decided to declare that the title belonged to Chicago and began to persuade the other owners in the league to give his Staleys the title. The new rule stated that a rematch counts more than a first matchup, which handed the championship to Chicago.”…{end of excerpt}.

    The Buffalo Bills (I) of the AAFC (franchise est. 1946/ merged with Cleveland Browns in 1950 when the Browns joined the NFL)

The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was formed in 1946. It competed with the NFL for 4 seasons, and actually outdrew the NFL (see 6 paragraphs below at AAFC pdf). Then, after the 1949 season, 3 of the 7 teams from the AAFC joined the NFL for the 1950 season. Two present-day NFL franchises came from the AAFC – the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers. The other team that went from the AAFC to the NFL in 1950 was the original Baltimore Colts, who wore green-and-silver and who only played one NFL season (1950) before folding {Baltimore Colts [I] NFL 1950 uniforms (uniformdatabases.com/Defunct teams)}. [The Baltimore Colts (II) [colors: blue-and-white] were formed in 1953 as an NFL expansion team]).

The Buffalo AAFC team formed in 1946 was originally called the Buffalo Bisons (II) (1946), then in their second season, the franchise, which was owned by James Breuil of the Frontier Oil Company, had a local contest to pick a new name. The winning entry – Buffalo Bills – worked a tie-in with the team-owner’s company in that both referred to the Wild West. Here is an excerpt from that page titled ‘Nicknames’ at the Pro Football Hall of Fame site {‘Nicknames‘ (profootballhof.com)}…

{excerpt} …”BUFFALO BILLS – Buffalo’s team in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946 was the Bisons. In 1947 a contest was held to rename the team, which was owned by James Breuil of the Frontier Oil Company. The winning entry suggested Bills, reflecting on the famous western frontiersman, Buffalo Bill Cody. Carrying the “frontier” theme further, the winning contestant further offered that the team was being supported by Frontier Oil and was “opening a new frontier in sports in Western New York.” When Buffalo joined the new American Football League in 1960, the name of the city’s earlier pro football entry was adopted.”…
{end of excerpt}.

So in their second season, in 1947, the Buffalo AAFC franchise changed their name to the Buffalo Bills (I). With the 1947-49 AAFC Buffalo Bills, the similarity to world-famous 19th century Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody was used as a play on words in their logo (see 5 paragraphs below). The Buffalo Bisons/Bills of the AAFC never won a title in the four seasons that the AAFC played – the Cleveland Browns won all four AAFC titles. After Buffalo’s first, poor season in 1946, when the Buffalo Bisons went 3-10-1, the Buffalo Bills (I) were competitive, going 8-4-2 in 1947; and then 7-7-0 with a league final appearance in 1948 (losing to the Browns 49-7 in Cleveland in the 1948 AAFC title game); and in their last season of 1949, the original Bills went 5-5-2. The Buffalo Bills of the AAFC drew very good for the time-period, drawing in the high-20,000s-to-30,000-per-game-range, which was higher than the NFL average for that time, which was 27,602 per game for the 1946-49 time period. But the NFL refused to allow the AAFC Buffalo Bills (I) to join the league in 1950, because they insisted Buffalo was too small and the climate was too cold for it to support an NFL franchise. In other words, the NFL conveniently ignored the fact that there was a team already in the NFL that was from a city that was smaller and colder than Buffalo – Green Bay. Although 4 owners voted against the Buffalo Bills joining the NFL in 1950, the opposition to Buffalo entering the NFL in 1950 coalesced around two owners – Chicago Bears’ owner George Halas and Los Angeles Rams’ owner Dan Reeves.

Here is Wikipedia’s entry on the subject…
{excerpt from ‘Buffalo Bills (AAFC)/’ at en.wikipedia.org}…”There was some controversy over Buffalo’s exclusion from the enlarged NFL. Buffalo had experienced more success on the field and at the gate than Baltimore, and the original three-team plan would have left the league with 13 teams, not only a odd number, but also one considered to be bad luck. The move had left Buffalo as the only AAFC market without an NFL team post-merger, and one that had outdrawn the NFL average in fan attendance. With that in mind, Buffalo fans produced more than 15,000 season ticket pledges, raised $175,000 in a stock offering, and filed a separate application to join. When the vote to admit Buffalo was held on January 20, 1950, a majority of league owners were willing to accept Buffalo; however, George Halas, who had a longstanding animosity toward Buffalo’s previous NFL franchise, and Dan Reeves blocked the Bills’ entry into the league. League rules required a unanimous vote, but the vote, which included the other AAFC teams that were already admitted, was only 9-4 in favor. League commissioner Bert Bell had already put out a schedule based on the 13 teams, and Reeves cited as his excuse for voting against admission was simply that “it was silly to vote in a new city without first having a good idea where my teams would be playing and when.”
…{end of excerpt}.

The man who made the Chicago Bears, George Halas, the man whose initials are on the sleeves of the Chicago Bears’ jersey to this day, twice shafted the city of Buffalo – first in 1921 by convincing the other owners to make up, after the fact, a new rule to deny the Buffalo All-Americans a rightful share of the 1921 title, and then in 1950 by voting against Buffalo entering the NFL. The Buffalo Bills of the AAFC were drawing higher than the NFL-league-average, but the NFL didn’t want them? Where is the logic in that? So the NFL owners barred the high-drawing Bills from entering the league, but let in the original Baltimore Colts of 1947-50, even though they knew the original Baltimore Colts were very shaky financially and did not have good support – and then those Baltimore Colts folded after the 1950 NFL season and entered history as a confusing footnote.

Buffalo was the 14th-biggest city in America in 1950, with a metopolitan-area population of around 895,000 {see this, ‘Top 20 U.S. Metropolitan Areas by Population, 1790-2010, Approximate Populations in Thousands‘ (peakbagger.com).
Here is the 1950 NFL final standings {1950 NFL (pro-football-reference.com}.
So, in 1950, in the 13-team NFL, the top 11 of the top 12 most-populous cities in America had NFL franchises (Boston did not have an NFL team in 1950, but had failed in the past to support 3 different NFL franchises there [see the New England Patriots' section further down in this post] and both New York City and Chicago had 2 NFL teams each), while 13th-largest city then – Minneapolis, MN – did not. But the Minneapolis-based Minnesota Golden Gophers were a big college football team that had won a consensus national title in 1940 and played in a 52,000-capacity stadium, whereas there has never, ever been a large college football program in western New York to compete with a pro team in Buffalo (11 years later in 1961 the Minnesota Vikings joined the NFL). And the NFL said that Buffalo – the 14th-largest city in the USA in 1950 – was not big enough? The position the NFL owners had to barring Buffalo in 1950 looks more like restraint of trade than any sort coherent plan for expansion. And when you factor in the city of Rochester 60 miles east of Buffalo, and the nearby Canadian cities of Hamilton and Toronto (both of which are less than 2 hours by car away from Buffalo), the catchment population (defined as one-hours’ drive away, meaning Rochester+Buffalo+Hamilton, Ontario) for a Buffalo franchise was well over a million-and-a-half people in 1950 (Buffalo’s 1950 population being around 895,000 as listed in the previous link), and the Buffalo Bills’ 60-mile-radius market is now well over 2.7 million people [current population figures...Buffalo, NY metro population, around 1.1 million; Rochester, NY metro population, around 1.0 million; Hamilton, ON, Canada metro population, around 700,000; plus one-and-a- half hours' drive away is Toronto, ON, Canada, with around 5.1 million {all 2011 figures}).

Here is what the pro football historians' newsletter called the Coffin Corner, in an article by Stan Grosshandler (from 1980), has to say about the Buffalo Bills of the AAFC being denied entry into the NFL in 1950...
{excerpt}..."Buffalo, a success both at the gate and on the field, was denied entry and owner Jim Breuil had to settle for a share of the Cleveland team. One of the odd facts of the war [between the NFL and the AAFC] is that the loser, the AAFC, averaged 38,310 a game while the NFL averaged only 27,602…”{end of excerpt).
pdf, THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 2, No. 7 (1980). “ALL-AMERICA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE”, By Stan Grosshandler.

buffalo-bisons-1946uniforms_buffalo-bills-1949uniforms_aafc_buffalo-bills-1949-logo-buffalo-bill-cody-with-helmet-and-football-uniform-riding-a-buffalo_d.gif
Image credits above –
Buffalo Bisons (II) AAFC 1946 uniforms and Buffalo Bills (I) AAFC 1949 uniforms from uniformdatabases.com/defunct.html. Buffalo Bill Cody logo [Buffalo Bills (I) AAFC 1947-49 logo], uploaded by Faulkster at fanbase.com/photo/406607.

    The Buffalo Bills (II) (est. 1960, AFL, 1960-69/ joined the NFL in 1970 as part of the AFL/NFL merger)

The Buffalo Bills (II) were established in the American Football League in 1960, as a charter member of the then-8-team league. The Bills’ owner was, and still is Ralph Wilson, Jr. (who as of 2012 is 93 years old). Wilson was heir to an automobile franchise in Michigan. At the time (circa 1959), Ralph Wilson was a part-owner of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Wilson’s link to the Lions is shown by the Bills’ first color scheme – for their first two seasons the Buffalo Bills of the AFL wore silver-and-blue, like the Lions. [It might be a coincidence or it might not be, that the Bills of the AFL had the same color scheme that the previous pro football team in Buffalo had a decade before. I could not find any facts about this one way or the other. My guess is that Wilson & Co. knew that the Buffalo Bills of the AAFC wore blue-and-silver, which made it even more logical for the Bills of 1960 to carry on the colors of the last pro football team in the city and acknowledge their owner's former ties to the Detroit Lions simultaneously]. The Buffalo Bills switched from blue-and-silver to blue-white-and-red in 1963, and that year they also introduced their red-standing-bison logo, which they placed on their now-white helmets. Blue jerseys remained from the last color scheme, a slightly brighter shade of royal blue, now with red and white trim. The Bills kept white helmets when they changed their logo in 1973 to their blue-charging-bison-with-diagonal-red-streak logo. This has been the Buffalo Bills’ logo since 1973 all the way up to 2012. In 1984, the Bills changed their helmets from white to red because the bulk of the teams in their division then (Colts, Dolphins, and Patriots) all wore white helmets and it made it hard for Bills’ quarterbacks to see their receivers down-field. Red helmets were worn by the Bills from 1984 to 2010, then the Bills returned to their early 1970s look of the charging bison crest on a white helmet with classy retro-look grey facemask.

The Buffalo Bills of the NFL – that is, the Buffalo Bills from 1970 to the present-day – have never worn silver-and-blue. So here is my throwback uniform concept – every year since 2007, the New York Jets wear, as an alternate uniform, their franchises’ original colors of navy-blue-and-gold a couple times a year…so why not have the Buffalo Bills wear, as an alternate uniform, the striking 1946 Buffalo Bisons’ uniforms, complete with the silver-and-blue flying-wing helmet (you can also see the 1946 Buffalo Bisons’ uniform in the illustration above, top left). Or at least use the following as a Bills’ throwback uniform – the 1960 Buffalo Bills’ uniforms, which featured a silver helmet with players’ number in blue block-serif font {‘Buffalo Bills 1960 AFL uniforms‘ (uniformdatabase.com).


Like the Buffalo Bills (I) of the AAFC before them, the Buffalo Bills of the AFL played in the city of Buffalo’s run-down and poorly-maintained War Memorial Stadium, aka “the Rockpile” (which was opened in 1937, and was partially demolished in 1988). The antiquated War Memorial Stadium evoked such a bygone era that they filmed most of the baseball-game-scenes in the 1984 film The Natural, starring Robert Redford, at War Memorial Stadium. War Memorial Stadium had a capacity of 46,500, but that was hard to substantiate, seeing as how many of the bleacher seats were falling apart. Writer Brock Yates said that the stadium “looks as if whatever war it was a memorial to had been fought within its confines.” Yeah, the place was a dump – but it was our dump. It gave the Bills a pretty good home-field advantage, because visiting players would invariably be shocked and stressed out by the appallingly inadequete facilities there. The Bills played at War Memorial Stadium for all 10 seasons of the AFL and for their first 3 seasons as an NFL team (1970-72).

war-memorial-stadium_buffalo-bills_h.gif
Image and Photo credits above – aerial black-and-white photo from stadiumsofprofootball.com. B$W photo of 1966 Bills in the hyddle at War Memorial Stadium from tumblr.com. Two screenshots of video of War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo uploaded by broadwayfillmore at youtube.com.

Then in 1973 the Bills moved 11 miles south-east, out to the suburbs, and into an 80,000-capacity stadium in Orchard Park, NY. Now called Ralph Wilson Stadium, the stadium was originally called Rich Stadium, and was one of the first examples of a pro sports team using naming rights to pull in revenue ['Rich Products' (en.wikipedia.org)]. At the time (the mid 1970s and the 1980s), the Bills played in one of the largest stadiums in the NFL.

After a 1999 renovation, the capacity of the Ralph Wilson Stadium was reduced by about 4,500, and subsequent renovations have put the present-day capacity at 73,079. That makes the Buffalo Bills’current stadium capacity [2012] the 11th-largest in the 32-team NFL {see this list with clickable columns at en.wikipedia.org/List of current National Football League stadiums}. The capacity reductions were done in part so the Bills wouldn’t fall victim to the NFL’s draconian black-out rule. These days, despite the fact that the Bills pretty much suck, they hardly ever get blacked out. So there’s that. But Buffalo has the longest streak in the NFL without making the playoffs (12 years now). And to be perfectly frank about it, the wide right kick, the 4 straight Super Bowl defeats, and the soul-destroying failure by the Bills’ kickoff team to stop the kickoff-return-via-lateral-pass by the Tennessee Titans in the 1999 playoffs will never really go away. Unless the Bills finally win a Super Bowl.

Since 2008, Buffalo has played one of their 8 home games each season in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the retractable-roof stadium Rogers Centre [formerly called Skydome] (capacity 54,000 for football), which is to American Bills fans a constant nagging reminder that the Buffalo Bills could very well, in some dystopian future, end up as the Toronto Bills.

The Buffalo Bills won 2 AFL titles (1964, 1965).
The Bills are 0-4 in 4 Super Bowl appearances [lost in the 1990 season to the Giants, lost in the 1991 season to
the Redskins, lost in the 1992 season to the Cowboys, and lost in the 1994 season to the Cowboys).

...


...

miami-dolphins_helmet-history_logos_1966-2012_segment_f.gif
Miami Dolphins' logo and helmet history (1966-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/dolphins.html.
Photo of Miami Dolphins' replica helmet from cardiacsports.net.

The first pro football team in Florida was the short-lived 1946 Miami Seahawks of the AAFC. The Miami Seahawks were a charter member of the AAFC and wore orange and white. They were a disaster. But the team never really got a shot at establishing itself, because the ridiculous 1946 AAFC schedule really hurt the team - the Miami Seahawks had to play 7 of their first 8 games on the road. By the time the Seahawks were set to play their last 6 games, all of them at home, the team was 1-7, and attendance dropped off from 28,000 (in their first home game) to just around a 9,000 average for those later 6 home games. The ownership was also the most under-capitalized in the AAFC, plus it hurt the franchise that Miami was not at all a very big city in the 1940s (it was even smaller than Buffalo back then). With the Miami Seahawks over $350,000 in debt, the AAFC front office stepped in and took over the franchise after the 1946 season, and moved the Miami Seahawks to Baltimore, where the franchise was originally planned to be (before stadium issues arose). The Miami Seahawks became the (original) Baltimore Colts (I) (AAFC, 1947-49/ NFL, 1950 / defunct), who wore green-and-silver and, like the latter incarnation of the Colts, played at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, and who, in 1950, joined the NFL along with 2 other AAFC teams, the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers. But these Baltimore Colts also went bust, lasting just one NFL season (1950). [The city of Baltimore got a more stable NFL franchise 3 years later when, in 1953, the Baltimore Colts (II) were formed (NFL, 1953-1983/ moved to Indianapolis as the Indianapolis Colts, NFL 1984-2012).
...

    Miami Dophins (est. 1966 as an AFL expansion team/ joined the NFL in 1970 as part of the AFL/NFL meger)

It would be another 19 years before Florida got another pro football team, and this time Miami got an AFL franchise after the NFL prevented the city of Atlanta, GA from acquiring one. In 1965, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle learned that the AFL was intent on placing a team in Georgia, and had awarded a franchise to a group of investors contingent upon the city of Atlanta approving the deal. So Rozelle literally took the next plane flight down to Atlanta, and made the city choose between an AFL or an NFL franchise. Back then, with the instability of the AFL, that choice would be a no-brainer and Atlanta opted for the NFL - hence the Atlanta Falcons (NFL, 1966-2012). So this unclaimed AFL franchise, for $7.5 million, went to a group in Miami that was headed by lawyer/politician Joe Robbie and entertainer Danny Thomas. A contest for the name of the new team got over 19,000 entries, with 622 entries suggesting the name "Dolphins". The Miami Dolphins' team colors were selected as "aqua and coral". The Dolphins' turquoise blue has morphed a number of times - it started as more of a greenish-blue that was a bit dark {here, 1966}, then from 1970 to 1979 it was a much more lighter blue-green {here, 1970), then in the 1980 to 1990 period it turned much darker and into a more greenish hue that resembled teal {here, 1984}, then from 1991 to '96 {1995, here} it got lighter again and looked more like it's 1970s-era light turquoise, then when the team re-did it's color scheme in 1997 to turquoise-orange-navy blue, the jerseys got way more darker and teal-like again {1998, here}. You can see all these uniform changes that the Dolphins have had through the years at the Miami Dolphins' page at the Gridiron Uniforms Database. (gridiron-uniforms.com/dolphins).

The Dolphins are one of the few NFL teams that regularly wears white as it's home jersey (many other teams do it maybe once or twice a season {see this, 'White at Home in the NFL' {uni-watch.com)}, and Dallas always does it). In 1972, the Dolphins started their tradition of wearing white jerseys - for home day games - in order to give a bit of a disadvantage to visiting teams, who would have to wear their dark jerseys in the hot Florida sun. Here are the uniforms the 17-0 Miami Dolphins wore each game in 1972 (gridiron-uniforms.com/1972_Miami).
miami-dolphins_1972_17-0_undeferated_griese_csonka_kuechenberg_.gif
Photo credit above - unattributed at.dholmes.com.

Coincidence or not, the start of this tradition for the Dolphins of wearing white jerseys at home games coincided with the 1972 Dolphins' perfect season. The 1972 Dolphins are the only NFL team to go undefeated in the regular season, then go on to win the Super Bowl. The Dolphins then went on to win the Super Bowl in the following season of 1973, becoming the second NFL team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles, after Green Bay (since then, Pittsburgh - twice, San Francisco - twice, Dallas, and New England have also won back-to-back Super Bowl titles).

The Dolphins' Head coach during this era was Don Shula, who eventually became the most successful Head coach in professional gridiron football history in terms of total games won. Don Shula won 347 NFL games as head coach, and retired as Dolphins' head coach in 1995. Shula's Dolphins teams posted losing records in only 2 of his 26 seasons as the helm.
don-shula_redskins_dolphins_most-wins-as-head-coach-in-nfl-history_e.gif
Photo and Image credits above - Don Shula as Redskins player, ebay.com. AP file photo via USA Today. Dolphins' helmet from uniformdatabases.com/teams/1972_Miami.html.

Six future Football Hall of Fame members played for Miami during the 1970s, including fullback Larry Csonka, quarterback Bob Griese, and linebacker Nick Buoniconti. '[Miami Dolphins'] Pro Football Hall of Famers‘ (en.wikipedia.org). The Dolphins, after the Super Bowl titles in the 1972 and 1973 seasons, have never won another Super Bowl title, but they came close a couple times in the 1980s when Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino was their QB – losing in the Super Bowl to the Redskins in the 1982 season, and then losing in the Super Bowl to the 49ers in the 1984 season.

The Dolphins’ first stadium was the famous, but eventually run-down and obsolete Orange Bowl stadium, which was located east of downtown Miami in the city’s Little Havana district. This stadium opened in 1937 and was demolished in 2008, and was also home to the Miami Hurricanes’ college football team, as well as the huge annual college football bowl game, The Orange Bowl, from 1938 to 1995. For most of the latter part of it’s lifetime, the Orange Bowl had a capacity of around 72,000, and it hosted no less than 5 Super Bowls (the Orange Bowl stadium hosted Super Bowls 2, 3, 5, 10, and 13). The Miami Dolphins played their first 21 seasons at the Orange Bowl stadium (from 1966-69 in the AFL, and from 1970-1986 in the NFL). Then in 1987 the Dolphins moved 12 miles north to the suburb of Miami Gardens, FL and into Joe Robbie Stadium, which has a capacity of around 75,000 and, after 6 name changes, is now known as Sun Life Stadium.

There is an urban legend that every year all the surviving members of the 1972 17-0 Miami Dolphins meet up and pop the champagne and celebrate, after the last team in the NFL that season loses it’s first game (meaning the 1972 Dolphins’ perfect season has yet again failed to be duplicated). This is false – one year, 3 of the ex-1972-Dolphins who live in Coral Gables, FL – Bob Griese, Dick Anderson, and Nick Buoniconti – met in a parking lot there and popped a bottle of champage to celebrate after the last undefeated team that year finally lost a game, but it only happened once. Nevertheless, the urban myth took off from there and now it is a hackneyed trope of some media outlets (such as the Jim Rome radio show) that the 1972 Dolphins are bitter old men glorifyng in the lack of perfection of the other NFL teams. Here is the fact-checking and myth-debunking site Snopes.com’s page on the subject, ‘Miami Neat‘. The Dolphins players from the 1972 team might not be making a big deal of that 17-0 perfect season, but the Miami Dolphins’ front office sure was for a while – in both 1997 and 2002, the Dolphins featured a front-jersey-logo-patch that was in honor of the 1972 team – for the 25th anniversary of the perfect season (in 1997), and for the 30th anniversary of the perfect season (in 2002). You can see them at the Dolphins’ logo & helmet history {here, again}.

Miami Dolphins: 2 Super Bowl titles (1972, 1973).
The Dolphins are 2-3 in Super Bowl appearances [lost to the Cowboys in the 1971 season, lost to the Redskins in the 1982 season, and lost to the 49ers in the 1984 season].

new-england-patriots_logos_helmet-history_1960-2012_segment2a_.gif
New England Patriots’ logo and helmet history (1960-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/patriots.html.
Photo of New England Patriots’ replica helmet from cardiacsports.net.

There were several NFL teams that had played in Boston, Massachusetts before 1970. The first was the Boston Bulldogs, who lasted only one NFL season (in 1929). This team was actually the relocated and hard-luck Pottsville Maroons, of Pottsville, PA (NFL, 1922-28), who, like the Buffalo All-Americans, have a claim for a disputed NFL title (in 1925). The next NFL franchise in Boston was the Boston Braves/Redskins, from 1932 to 1936, who started out in dark-blue-and-gold colors {Boston Braves’ 1932 NFL uniform (gridiron-uniforms.com/redskins)}, then switched to burgandy-and-gold in their second season when they changed their name to the Boston Redskins {Boston Redskins 1933 NFL uniforms gridiron-uniforms.com/redskins)}. This Depression-era NFL team played at two different Major League Baseball stadiums in Boston – first at Braves Field (later called Nickerson Field) and then at Fenway Park. The team had lousy support – even in the Boston Redskins’ final season (1936), when they reached the NFL Championship Game (losing to the Bears), they could barely draw 10,000 per game at home. This situation resulted in the Boston Redskins’ franchise moving to Washington, DC after the 1936 season, where they promptly won their first NFL title in their first season in the nations’ capital in 1937, and where they refused to integrate and employ black players on their team until threatened with Civil Rights legal action by the Kennedy Administration in 1961, and where, to this day, they maintain their racist nickname of the Washington Redskins (NFL, 1937-2012).

Then there was the Boston Yanks. 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 who wanted to locate the franchise at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, NY (the franchise 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 1945-46 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 (and for a good reason…naming your team “the Yanks” in Boston would be like trying to start a football (soccer) club in Manchester called Liverpool United). After the 1948 season the Boston Yanks moved to New York City, to become the New York Bulldogs (NFL, 1949-50), then the New York Yanks (NFL, 1950-51), but in NYC, the franchise never had a shot at success because they had to compete with the popularity of the New York Giants’ NFL team. So after the 1951 season, the franchise was revoked and folded by the NFL. The franchise was reported by the NFL to have been “sold back” to the league, but that most-likely-bogus claim by the NFL has no substantiation. The NFL was no money-maker back then.

    Boston Patriots (est. 1960, AFL, 1960-69/ joined the NFL in 1970 as part of the AFL/NFL merger; changed name to New England Patriots, 1971-2012)

The New England Patriots began as the Boston Patriots – the last of the 8 original franchises of the AFL (1960-69). Principal owner of the franchise was Billy Sullivan, a former sportswriter and PR-man for the Boston Braves (the former MLB team), as well as the PR Man for Boston College athletics, and for Notre Dame athletics. The new team’s nickname was the result of the most popular suggestion in a local naming contest, and honored the Revolutionary War heroism of Bostonians. The logo was an angry-looking Revolutionary War-era soldier in Minuteman militia garb and a tri-corner hat, in a three-point footballl stance, about to hike a football. The Boston Patriots’ colors were red-white-and-blue, and they wore white helmets and red home jerseys. In their first season, the Boston Patriots sported a confusing look on their helmets – their first helmet-logo was a floating blue tri-corner hat above the players’ number in red {see it here, Boston Patriots Helmet Logo (1960) (sportslogos.net). But the next season, 1961, and all the way up to 1992, the Boston Patriots and then the New England Patriots sported on their helmets their three-point-stance-Minuteman logo (the fellow in the logo was dubbed “Pat Patriot”). In 1993, the Patriots changed their colors to silver-navy blue-red (the official colors of the New England Patriots are nautical blue, new century silver, red, and white). The Patriots’ silver helmets feature a logo that is the grey-skinned floating head of an American Revolutionary War soldier in profile, wearing a tri-corner hat which inexplicably has red and white ribbons streaming out of the back of it. For some reason, the face of the Patriot soldier on the present-day New England Partiots’ helmet looks very much like Elvis Presley.

The early years of the Boston Patriots saw the team hampered by not having a solid and dependable stadium to play their home games in. The Patriots played in 4 different venues in and around Boston before they moved out to the suburbs in 1971. The Patriots’ first venue was the home of the former National League team the Boston Braves, now called Nickerson Field (which these days, in a very different configuration, is owned by Boston University and is now home to the Boston University Terriers’ men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer teams). From 1963 to 1968, the Boston Patriots played at Fenway Park. That might sound great, but, owing to the different field dimensions, football played in baseball parks is usually a bad fit, as you can see by this undated photo (probably from late 1960s) of Fenway Park as a football venue (football.ballparks.com). In 1969, the Boston Patriots played outside of the city center of Boston, in the suburb of Chestnut Hill (6 miles west of downtown Boston), at Boston College’s Alumni Hall, which only had a capacity of 26,000 back then. The vagabond Patriots moved again the following year of 1970, which was their first in the NFL following the AFL/NFL merger. Their fourth venue, in 1970, was the 30,000-seat Harvard Stadium (in the Alston neighborhood of Boston, which though owned and operated by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard University, is on the other side of the Charles River and is within the city limits of Boston). The Patriots played 7 NFL games in this stadium, then finally got a purpose-built stadium of their own the next year, in 1971. The stadium was a 60,000-seater (originally called Schaeffer Stadium, then Sullivan Stadium, then finally called Foxboro Stadium). Because of the stadium’s distance from Boston, the franchise tried to re-name their team the Bay State Patriots (after the nickname of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts). But the NFL wisely put the kibosh on that strange moniker, and so, in March 1971, the franchise, more sensibly, re-named itself the New England Patriots. The only problem was that their new stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts and the new stadium on the same site that replaced it in 2002 (Gillette Stadium, capacity 68,000) was and still is 21 miles SE of Boston and is actually closer to Providence, Rhode Island (20 miles NE of Providence) than it is to downtown Boston. Plus there is only one main thoroughfare (and only 2 lanes) from the stadium back to Boston and it turns the road into a nightmare traffic jam after every home game.

The newly re-named and re-located New England Patriots started out as a basement-dweller (1971-75), but turned into a mediocre to decent to very good football team thereafter. Under Head coaches Raymond Berry (in the 1985 season) and then under Bill Parcels (in the 1996 season), the Patriots made it to two Super Bowls in a losing capacity, before finally winning a Super Bowl title (in their 42nd season as a franchise) in the 2001 season, under Head coach Bill Belichick. After a one-season-gap, and still with the manners-challenged-but-tactical-genius Belichick as Head coach, the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Patriots, still under Belichick, have made 2 more Super Bowl appearances since then, but though favorites in both games, lost both to the New York Giants (in the 2007 and the 2011 seasons). In the last eleven seasons (2001-11), the Patriots have made the playoffs 9 times, and are one of the strongest franchises in the NFL these days, which only makes Boston-centric sports fans even more insufferable.

    The Snowplow Game, December 12, 1982: Patriots 3, Dolphins 0.

Below is my all-time favorite moment in New England Patriots’ history…the Snowplow Game of 1982. In NFL lore, the Snowplow Game refers to a regular-season game played in a snowstorm between the Dolphins and the Patriots on December 12, 1982, that finished 3-0, thanks to the snowplow of a Schaeffer Stadium grounds crew worker named Mark Henderson. The incident happened during a blizzard, on an icy and frozen field, with 4:45 left to go in the 4th quarter of a scoreless tie between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. With 4th down for the Patriots and with the ball on the Dolphins’ 7-yard-line, Patriots’ Head coach Ron Meyer ordered stadium grounds crew worker Mark Henderson to make one crucial modification to his job that day, which was, for the sake of visibility, to periodically clear the yard-lines of snow. So on his snowplow tractor, as he was clearing the 10-yard-line, Henderson made a quick veer to the spot where Patriots’ kicker John Smith was about to attempt a field goal. The referees did not prevent this. Moments later, Smith converted the 33-yard FG. {Here is a youtube video of the play,’Snow Plow Game 1982 Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots‘ (2:14 video uploaded by insidetheredzone at youtube.com)}. The Patriots held the Dolphins for the remainder of the game. Dolphins’ Head coach Don Shula reacted furiously, but the call stood, and the final score was New England 3, Miami 0.
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Photo and Image credits above – black-and-white photo of Henderson on snowplow tractor with ref glancing at him is unattributed at usatoday.com. Helmets are from Gridiron Uniform Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/1982. Screenshot of television image from.youtube video uploaded by insidetheredzone at youtube.com. Screenshot (large image above) of kick attempt immediately prior to the snap is unattributed and is from a Google Image search preview of a former item at ioffer.com [ here ].

New England Patriots: 3 Super Bowl titles (2001, 2003, 2004).
The Patriots are 3-4 in Super Bowl appearances [lost to the Bears in the 1985 season, lost to the Packers in the 1996 season, lost to the Giants in the 2007 season, and lost to the Guiants in the 2011 season].

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New York Jets logos & helmet history (1960-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database at http://www.gridiron-uniforms.com/jets.html.
Photo of New York Jets’ replica helmet from cardiacsports.net.

The New York Jets’ franchise began life as the New York Titans, a charter member of the AFL (1960-69). The Titans wore navy blue and gold their first year (1960), then navy blue and yellow in 1961 and 1962 {New York Titans 1962 AFL uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com/1962_NYTitans). Because a new NYC stadium was not yet ready (Shea Stadium in Queens, NYC, NY would not open until 1964), the Titans had to play in the old and decrepit Polo Grounds in northern Manhattan Island, which was the former home of the New York Baseball Giants before they bolted to San Francisco, California in 1958, and was also future home (in 1962 and 1963) of the 1962 Major League Baseball expansion team the New York Mets.

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Photo and Image credits above – remembertheafl.com/TitansJets.htm.
NY Titans 1960 helmet from uniformdatabases.com/jets.

In three years flat, before the franchise was purchased and re-named and completely turned around by a consortium headed by Sonny Werblin and including Leon Hess, the New York Titans managed to become over 1 million dollars in debt ($1 million in 1963 equals around $7.5 million in 2012 terms {see this, CPI Inflation Calculator}). The Titans were under-capitalized and run by someone – ex-Washington Redskins’ radio announcer Harry Wismer – who was out of his league as a major league pro sports owner. Here is a an excerpt – a quote from former New York Titans/Jets linebacker Larry Grantham – from a New York Times article from October 14, 2007, by Larry Anderson, ‘Blue and Gold, Then Green and White as the Titans Became the Jets
…“ What was it like playing for the Titans?” linebacker Larry Grantham recalled… “Well, we dressed in a rat-infested locker room at the old Polo Grounds, and when Wismer announced there were 30,000 people at the games, maybe there were 10,000 people, if that many “….{end of excerpt}.

By 1962, Wismer’s checks were bouncing and players weren’t being paid, and Dallas Texans’ (future Kansas City Chiefs) owner Lamar Hunt actually payed the salaries of Titans players at one point (that’s how important a New York City-based franchise was to the AFL). By the Titans’ third and last season, in 1963, Wismer was trying to get the few Titans’ fans attending home games to move up all the way to the seats in the front rows at the Polo Grounds, so the television cameras wouldn’t show so many empty seats.

A five-man syndicate headed by Sonny Werblin saved the team from bankruptcy, purchasing the Titans’ for 1 million dollars. The new ownership group changed the team’s name to the New York Jets and changed their colors to green-and-white (now dark-green-and-white). The new owners hired Weeb Ewbank as the GM and Head coach in 1963. In 1964, in their first season at Shea Stadium, the Jets went a mediocre 5-8-1 but drew an AFL-record-at-the-time 42,710 per game. Then attendance rose even more as the team improved, to 62,433 per game in 1967 when the Jets went 8-5-1, led by the league’s passing-yardage-leader, the 3rd-year QB Joe Namath, a western Pennsylvania native and former Alabama Crimson Tide star. The next season, 1968, five seasons into the grandfatherly Weeb Ewbank’s tenure as GM and Head coach, the Jets finally broke through – big time.

In 1968 Weeb Ewbank and quarterback Joe Namath led the Jets to prominence when the AFL’s New York Jets defeated the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts of the NFL in Super Bowl III (in January, 1969 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida) and solidified the AFL’s position in the world of professional football. It also made the NFL wake up realize that not only was the AFL no joke league, but that it was a serious rival whose best team just beat their best team.

In the illustration below, you can see, at the upper-left, Namath and his offensive line in a Jets’ pass play during Super Bowl III; and at lower-right you can see one of Namath’s legendary pool-side press conferences there in Miami in the days leading up to the game; and at the bottom of the illustration is an image of the cover of the official game program for Super Bowl III. [Note: some of the images below were found at the incredible photo-and-fact-filled website called Remembering The AFL.com (remembertheafl.com), which is highly recommended.].

    Super Bowl III, Orange Bowl, Miami FL, January 12, 1969.
    New York Jets (AFL) 16, Baltimore Colts (NFL) 7.

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Photo credits above – nydailynews.com/sports/football/super-bowl-game-by-game [Gallery]. Namath pool-side & Super Bowl III game program from remembertheafl.com/SuperJets.htm [1968 Jets' season Gallery].

The End.

Just kidding, but actually, in terms of the good news, that’s pretty much where the story of the New York Jets ends, because ever since January 1969 when Broadway Joe Namath very publicly guaranteed victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III, then delivered that shock upset victory which turned the pro football world upside-down, it’s all been busted opportunities for the Jets, with paltry success (no more Super Bowl appearances) and a fan-base filled with seething resentment over being forced to exist right under the shadow of the New York Giants. But let’s get back to 1963, and discuss the Jets’ stadium history.

In 1963, Harry Wismer’s debt-laden New York Titans were purchased by the Sonny Werblin group. The year after the ownership change, the team finally moved into the new Shea Stadium out in Queens, NY, where the NY Jets played for 20 seasons (1964 to 1983). Shea Stadium came to be after a 5-and-a-half-year period which saw the city of New York try numerous means to find a Major League Baseball team to replace the devastating loss in 1958 of two MLB teams – the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Baseball Giants, both of whom moved to California. Here is Ballparks.com’s summary of the events leading to Shea Stadium construction, via 2 excerpts from their page on ‘(Shea Stadium‘ (ballparks.com}…

{excerpt}…” Shea Stadium is named after William Alfred Shea, an attorney who was instrumental in acquiring a new team for New York following the city’s abandonment by the Giants and the Dodgers in the 1950s. Appointed chairman of the Baseball Commission by then New York mayor Robert Wagner, Shea first tried to get the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the Philadelphia Phillies to move to New York, but had no luck. He then tried to organize a third major league, the Continental League, in 1958, with a franchise for New York, but the league died before a single game was played. In 1960, National League owners decided to expand to 10 teams and awarded franchises to Houston and New York. There were rumors that New York would be rejected unless it guaranteed construction of a new stadium. At Shea’s suggestion, Wagner sent telegrams to each owner with such an assurance, and the Mets started play in 1962. “…

{excerpt}…” Shea Stadium is the noisiest outdoor ballpark in the majors because it is in the flight path of La Guardia Airport. The story goes that when the city scouted out stadium sites in 1962, they went during the winter, when flight paths into La Guardia are different, so they never anticipated the aircraft noise. ”
…{end of excerpts}

Shea Stadium (capacity 60,000 for football) was a stadium that ticked off all the boxes for a poor fan experience, starting with the fact that it was built within a web of highways literally miles away from an actual restaurant or tavern or even a convenience store and had zero ambiance or charm. But the worst thing about Shea Stadium (I know, I saw 7 Mets games there in the early 1990s) was the fact that you needed ear-plugs there because it sat on the heavily-used flight paths of jet planes taking off from and landing at nearby La Guardia airport. Every couple of minutes – over 100 decibels roaring above you.


Jets’ nickname
There are conflicting explanations for why the New York Jets are called the Jets. Here is one explanation {see this, specifically the side-bar at the left, at ‘New York Jets‘ (sportsecyclopedia.com), which says “Named in 1963 after the Jets that flew overhead at Shea Stadium, their home starting in 1964 from nearby La Guardia Airport. It also gave them a name that rhymed with Mets, who they shared Shea Stadium with at the time.”} Then there is what the Pro Football Hall of Fame site says in the chart which I have already linked to in this post, ‘Nicknames‘ (profootballhof.com), which says, “New York’s original AFL team was called the Titans. When Sonny Werblin took over the franchise in 1963, he changed the team name to Jets to reflect the modern approach of his team and the star-studded performances he hoped his team would produce.”. That second explanation sounds like public relations double-talk to me. How could it be such a coincidence that the New York Mets were formed in 1962, then one year later, a football team in New York City changes it’s name to the Jets, which just happens to rhyme with Mets, both of whom just happen to be moving to a new stadium the following year, which just happens to be next to an airport, where jets can be found? That’s impossible. The Jets were named to rhyme with the Mets and to signify that they played in a stadium next to an airport. So why does it say otherwise in the Pro Football Hall of Fame site? I have a theory…the Jets finally moved out of Shea Stadium after the 1983 season mainly because of all the onerous scheduling restrictions that the city of New York (the stadium’s owner) put on the Jets. The Mets were primary tenant and got first dibs on any given scheduling date – in fact, each season, the Jets couldn’t play there until the Mets finished their last home-stand of the season in late September. …Here is an excerpt from the ‘Shea Stadium‘ page at en.wikipedia.org,

{excerpt} …” For most of the Jets’ tenure at Shea, they were burdened by onerous lease terms imposed at the insistence of the Mets. Until 1978, the Jets could not play their first home game until the Mets’ season was finished. Even after that year, the Mets’ status as Shea’s primary tenants would require the Jets to go on long road trips (switching Shea from baseball to football configuration was a rather complex process, involving electrical, plumbing, field and other similar work). The stadium was also not well maintained in the 1970s. The Jets moved to Giants Stadium for the 1984 season, enticed by the additional 15,000+ seats offered there “.
…{end of excerpt}.

So my theory is that there was so much resentment within the New York Jets’ organization towards the New York Mets’ organization, and to the stadium authority, over the problems that the Jets had with their tenancy at Shea Stadium, that the Jets’ organization stopped saying their nickname ever had anything to do with the Mets, or with Shea Stadium’s location next to an airport, and they came up with that blather that Sonny Werblin “changed the team name to Jets to reflect the modern approach of his team and the star-studded performances he hoped his team would produce”.

I’ll leave the final word on the subject to someone who contributed an answer to the question of “Why did the Jets change their name from the Titans?” at Jetsinsider.com/ forum from Aug. 2006…
Why did the Jets change their name from the Titans? …’The New York Titans changed their name with new ownership and a team that was going to play their games in Shea right next to Laguardia Airport. A Jet which is fast and sleek only made sense. It also had the “ets” as did the Mets”…
- ganooch at Jetsinsider.com, here jetsinsider.com/forums (commenter #9, ganooch). Thanks, ganooch, you said it the best.

So like the Giants had done in 1976, the Jets moved to New Jersey as well. The Buffalo Bills are and have been the only NFL team since 1984 that plays it’s home games in the State of New York.

Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ was opened in 1976, and had a capacity of 80,000. The Jets’ move in 1984 to their local rival’s stadium was a bit humiliating, to say the least, for the Jets’ organization and especially for it’s fans, and goes a long way to explaining the massive chip-on-the-shoulder that the average Jets fan has. In 2001, the Jets came up with a solution to the the embarrassing situation that they played in another NFL team’s stadium. No, they didn’t get their own stadium – an attempt at a getting a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan proved to be impossible. So starting in 2002, they spent millions per year on something else. They spent $750,000 per game covering over every blue wall and every Giants’ logo on the stadium’s surface in Giants Stadium with huge green vinyl coverings and banners that had Jets logos and Jets’ signage. Covering the entire blue Giants’ signage and wall surfaces with Jets’-green vinyl banners was pretty desperate, and didn’t hide the fact to any NFL fans watching on television that the New York Jets were the only NFL team that played in another NFL team’s stadium (see the article at the following link, ‘Home Is Wherever the Jets Hang Their Banners‘ (nytimes.com [article by Richard Lezin Jones, from October 17, 2004]).

I don’t know where all those big green vinyl Jets banners are today, but since 2010, the Jets haven’t had to use them. Since 2010, the Jets have played, still along with the New York Giants, in MetLife Stadium, capacity 80,566, a stadium built adjacent to the former site of Giants Stadium. Both teams contributed funds to build the stadium, and it was built by and is owned and operated by the MetLife Stadium Company, LLC, a joint venture between the New York Giants and New York Jets. And crucially, for the sake of Jets fans everywhere, the stadium is distinguished by an interior lighting system, first employed in Allianz Arena in Munich, Germay, that switches colors on all walls and surfaces within and without the stadium depending on which team is playing at home.

The New York Jets won 1 AFL Championship Game (1968).
New York Jets: 1 Super Bowl title (1968).
The Jets are 1-0 in Super Bowl appearances.
___
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page, for many of the old logos and for dates of logos, http://www.sportslogos.net.
Thanks to Logo Shak, for some old logos, http://www.logoshak.com.
Thanks to The Helmet Project, for dates of helmets and info, http://www.nationalchamps.net/Helmet_Project/.
Thanks to Helmets, Helmets, Helmets site, for helmets on the map page, and for dates of helmets, http://www.misterhabs.com/helmets.
Thanks to JohnnySeoul at each NFL team’s page at en.wikipedia.org, for 2012 NFL uniforms, such as ‘AFCE-Uniform-BUF.PNG‘.

Thanks to the Coffin Corner Newsletter for AAFC and AFL attendance figures, pdf – ‘AFL Attendance 1960-69‘.

Thanks to Remember The AFL.com (remembertheafl.com), which is now on my Blogroll.
.
Special thanks to Gridiron Uniform Database, for allowing billsportsmaps.com use of their NFL uniforms illustrations, http://uniformdatabases.com/.

December 6, 2011

NFL, 2002 Season: map with helmets.

Filed under: NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 9:21 pm

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In 2002, the NFL added it’s 32nd franchise, the Houston Texans. And also that season, the NFL also underwent its most extensive re-alignment of its divisional format since the AFL/NFL merger of 1970. In 2002, in place of the 6 divisions, 8 divisions were instituted – 4 in the AFC and 4 in the NFC.

The major changes were:
-Seattle Seahawks switched conferences, to the NFC (NFC West).
-Arizona Cardinals moved from NFC East to NFC West.
-newly-formed AFC South comprised of Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans.
-newly-formed NFC South comprised of Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
-both the AFC Central and the NFC Central were renamed AFC North and NFC North.

The scheduling format was also tinkered with. One of the new elements that was long overdue was the elimination of the situation where teams were often playing every team in the other conference more than every team in their own conference. A team could actually go on forever not playing a team in their own conference if they finished, year-in, year-out, in certain places in the final standings. It was a pretty basic and glaring flaw. Another scheduling modification in 2002 was the drop from 4 games to 2 games per team that were scheduled the following season based on final standings. In other words, since 2002, good teams have not been punished with as tough a schedule the following season; and poor teams have not been rewarded with as soft a schedule the following season. And wins per first-place teams has increased since 2002, as the second link coming up shows (at the [1]-footnote below). First link is to the en.wikipedia page on the ‘2002 NFL season/Expansion and re-alignment [see third paragraph and down]‘…
Here is an excerpt from that Wikipedia article…”The league also introduced a new eight-year scheduling rotation designed so that all teams will play each other at least twice during those eight years, and will play in every other team’s stadium at least once. Under the new scheduling formula, only two of a team’s games each season are based on the previous year’s record, down from four under the previous system (the previous system also used standings to determine interconference match-ups). An analysis of win percentages has shown a statistical trend upwards for top teams since this change; the top team each year now averages 14.2 wins, versus 13.4 previously.[1]…”(end of excerpt).
[1], from June, 2008, from MIT-alumni-run site called The Fount.info ‘16-0: The myth of Perfection ‘.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII [Super Bowl 37], which was played in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium.
_
Thanks to misterhabs.com/Helmets , aka Helmets, Helmets, Helmets site. At that site I got most of the helmet illustrations on the 2002 map, except for the helmet illustrations of Atlanta, Dallas, Oakland, New Orleans, and San Francisco; as well as new Buffalo, recently new Detroit, recently new Arizona, recently new SF, recently new Indy, all of which I found at each team’s page at en.wikipedia.org… ‘National Football League‘.
Thanks to the Helmet Project site, for putting the dates on some helmets.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘National Football League‘.

November 14, 2011

NFL, 1966 and AFL, 1966: location-maps, with final standings / Plus NFL, 1970: location-map with final standings / Plus a short article on the 1966 agreement which led to the 1970 AFL/NFL merger.

Filed under: NFL, divisions,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 9:11 pm
    NFL, 1966 location-map with final standings…

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    AFL, 1966 location-map with final standings…

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Helmet illustrations seen above and on 1st, 2nd and 3rd map pages from MGhelmets.com/nfl.



In 1970, the 16-team National Football League merged with the 10-team American Football League [AFL (IV, 1960-69)]. The agreement to merge had been in place since June, 1966. The first aspect of the merger was the institution of a deciding-game between the two leagues. This game was initially called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, and matched up the champion teams of each league, beginning in January 1967 [with the teams playing for the AFL/NFL championship title of 1966]. The first of these games was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and was, strangely, broadcast simultaneously by NBC and CBS, and was not a sell-out. In that game, the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 to win AFL-NFL World Championship Game I.

This gridiron football championship game, which was signified by the rather pompous use of Roman numerals to differentiate each subsequent game, would eventually become known as the Super Bowl. [The NFL's 2011 season will be decided on February 5, 2012, in Super Bowl XLVI (Super Bowl 46), at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.]

Almost from the start, circa 1966-68, many media outlets were referring to the game as ‘the Super Bowl’, but the first game officially known as the Super Bowl was the third one [Super Bowl III, January 1969 (Jets vs. Colts).]

Between 1966 and 1969 (4 seasons), the NFL and the AFL played separate regular seasons, as well as separate playoff formats. At that time, the NFL had 15 teams in 1966, then 16 teams from 1967-69, with the addition of the New Orleans Saints in ’67. At that time, the AFL had 9 teams in 1966, then 10 teams from 1968-69, with the addition of the Cincinnati Bengals in ’68. In this time period (the 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969 seasons of both the NFL and the AFL), the Green Bay Packers won AFL-NFL World Championship Games I and II, while the New York Jets won Super Bowl III, and the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl IV. It is worth noting that circa 1959 to 1964 or so, many, many people associated with the NFL (the owners especially) considered the AFL to be a joke league that was way weaker than the NFL. But the AFL got the last laugh…the NFL lost the last two match-ups between an NFL-championship-game-winner and an AFL-championship-game-winner, with Broadway Joe Namath and the Jets under Weeb Ewbank stunning the Baltimore Colts in the 1968 season finale (in Super Bowl III, in January 1969); and the Kansas City Chiefs under Hank Stram similarly up-ending the favored Minnesota Vikings in the 1969 season finale (in Super Bowl IV in January, 1970).

When the 1970 NFL season rolled around, 3 teams had moved over from the pre-1970- NFL to the AFC, in order to even out the size of the 2 new conferences (at 13 teams each). Those three teams that moved over from the ‘old’ NFL to the new AFC were the Pittsburgh Steelers (1933-present), the Cleveland Browns (1950-1995; 1999-present), and the Baltimore Colts (1953-1983/moved to Indianapolis, IN as the Indianapolis Colts, 1984-present).

Here is a cool advertisement from 1966 which shows the NFL teams’ helmets back then (note: the illustrator of this Norelco ad made an error with the Cowboys helmet-logo, making the points on star too wide, but otherwise this is a great illustration that even correctly shows the Bears’ and the Lions’ and the Cardinals’ unusual facemasks of that era) {thanks to this blog, packerville.blogspot.com for that}.

    NFL, 1970 – Location-map

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NFL, 1970
___

Thanks to MG’s Helmets, http://www.mghelmets.com/, for the helmets on the NFL, 1966 map; the AFL, 1966 map; and the NFL, 1970 map.
Thanks to Adsense admin.
Thanks to thefind.com/merchandise; thanks to ebay.com.
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos.net.
Thanks to LogoShak.

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