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September 19, 2017

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

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

nfl_1955_map_helmets_final-standings_cleveland-browns-champions_post_k_.gif
NFL 1955 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Cleveland Browns



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

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

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

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

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

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

This time period (mid-1950s) saw only 3 NFL teams sporting helmet logos…
nfl_1955_the-only-3-teams-with-helmet-logos_rams_eagles_colts_b_.gif1955 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database

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

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

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

1955 NFL Eastern Conference
1. Cleveland Browns 1955: (9-2-1/1955 NFL champions), QB: Otto Graham.
{1955 Browns’ uniforms.} Under innovative head coach Paul Brown (whom the team was named after), the Browns simply dominated pro football in the immediate post-War era, first in the rebel-league the AAFC (winning all 4 AAFC titles), then playing in 6 consecutive NFL title games (1950-55), winning 3 of them. I don’t think many younger NFL fans understand this salient point…the Cleveland Browns of the AAFC joined the NFL in 1950, and promptly won the NFL title in their first season there! The Browns wore white helmets in their AAFC years (this being some of the last few years that leather helmets were worn). Then Paul Brown introduced a higher-visibility orange helmet for the Browns, upon entering the NFL in 1950. A white center-stripe was added to the orange helmet in 1952, which was the first year the Browns wore the modern plastic-shell helmets. Flanking center-stripes of brown were added in 1960. The Browns wore player-numbers on their helmets for a few years (1957-60), but switched back to the iconic plain-orange helmet that the franchise wears to this day. Although now the hapless Browns wear ugly brown facemasks (and appalling gear now), instead of the classic grey facemasks and understated uniforms they sported previously.
{Cleveland Browns uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}
Below is an illustration I put together in 2012 [originally, here...
NFL, AFC North - Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list (up to 2012 season) / Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers).]
cleveland-browns_paul-brown_otto-graham_lou-groza_jim-brown_marion-motley_helmets-1946-61_b_.gif
Image and Photo credits above – Helmet and uniform illustrations from Gridiron Uniforms Database. Photo of 1951 Bowman Paul Brown trading card from vintagecardprices.com. Tinted b&w photo of Otto Graham unattributed at gregandmark.blogspot.com/2009/12/otto-graham-episode. Photo of 1950 Bowman trading card of Lou Groza at vintagecardprices.com. Photo of Jim Brown from top100.nfl.com/all-time-100. Photo of Marion Motley in 1948 AAFC championship game from Cleveland Plain Dealer archive via cleveland.com.

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

3. New York Giants 1955: (6-5-1), QB: Charley Conerly.
{1955 Giants’ uniforms}. The New York football Giants have worn helmets of dark-royal-blue-with-red-accents for over 80 years. The first year with that color-scheme for their headgear was all the way back in 1931 (their 7th season) {1931 Giants’ uniforms}. The Giants tried white-helmets-with-blue-accents for a few years (1934-36), but went back to the much stronger blue-with-red, and have stayed that way since 1937. In 1949, the Giants introduced a subtle but effective red center-stripe on their dark royal blue helmets, and that look has stood the test of time {1949 Giants’ uniforms}. The similarly subtle-yet-effective small-case-‘ny’ logo was introduced in 1961 {1961 Giants’ uniforms}. They tried messing with their helmet in 1975 {1975 Giants’ uniforms}, adding white facemasks and needlessly adding flanking white center-stripes to their 1975 helmet, but which importantly had a very poorly-thought-out new NY-logo in a hideous font (that font can be described as dystopian-future-sans-serif). What a headache. That abomination lasted exactly one season, and then the all-caps-italicized-GIANTS logo was introduced in 1976. That logo lasted 24 years. Then, in 2000, the Giants went retro and futuristic simultaneously, reviving the small-case-‘ny’ logo, as well as the white-jerseys-with-red-numbers-/-silver-pants look they sported in the 1950s and early 1960s, plus adding a modern touch with a metallic sheen to their blue helmets, which were once again combined with grey facemasks.
new-york-giants_helmet-history_1925-2012_segment_.gif
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/giants.
{New York Giants’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}

4. Chicago Cardinals 1955: (4-7-1), QB: Lamar McHan.
{1955 Cardinals’ uniforms}. The Chicago Cardinals usually wore white helmets, but in the 1950s they would wear red helmets for night games. The Chicago Cardinals were always obscured by the more-dominant Chicago Bears, and it was only a matter of time before the franchise moved to greener pastures…5 years after 1955, the franchise relocated to St. Louis, MO. And 28 years after that, the franchise moved from Missouri to Arizona (in 1988). Both times they moved, they kept their colors of deep-red-and-white (with black trim added in 1964). When the Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960, the Cardinals introduced their bold frowning-cardinal-head logo, which in my opinion is one of the best helmet logos ever {1960 St. Louis Cardinals’ uniforms}. The Cardinals tweaked the helmet-logo in 2005, with the cardinal looking more angry and more cartoon-like {2005 Arizona Cardinals’ uniforms}. But at least they kept the grey facemasks. {Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Detroit Lions 1955: (3-9), QB: Bobby Layne (also, Harry Gilmer).
{1955 Lions uniforms.}
The Detroit Lions started out as the southern-Ohio-based Portsmouth Spartans, who wore purple-and-gold and were one of the last vestiges of the small-town-era of the early NFL (the Green Bay Packers of course being the last vestige of small-town NFL teams). After 4 NFL seasons (1930-33), and just missing out on the 1932 NFL title, the Portsmouth Spartans moved to Detroit as the Lions, and switched to their now trademark “Honolulu Blue” and Silver. In their second season in Detroit, the Lions won the 1935 NFL title {1935 Lions uniforms}, then stayed competetive on into the late 1930s, but were basement-dwellers through most of the 1940s. But the 1950s were the glory days of the Detroit Lions. The Lions have a modern history of failure, but in the 1950s, led by QB Bobby Layne, the Lions won 3 NFL titles (1952, ’53, ’57), beating the Browns all three times in the title games. Even so, several seasons in the 1950s saw the Lions with 3-or-4-win seasons, and 1955 was one of those seasons. The odd thing about the 1950s Lions was that for a while, the team ended up having gold helmets (and not their customary silver helmets). This happened in 1953 (and the Lions won their second NFL title that year) {1953 Lions}. Not only was the entire Lions squad in 1953 wearing gold helmets, but there is photographic evidence that as late as 3 seasons later (1956), some players on the Lions were still wearing a gold helmet, instead of a silver helmet (see link 5 sentences below for that photo, and an article). How the helmet turned gold probably wasn’t intentional (initially), and can be attributed to the fact that circa 1953, the plastic-shell helmets were still new, and processes for turning the blank helmets into an NFL team’s colors had not been perfected (the process back then involved spray-painting the insides of the clear-plastic-shell helmets). The Lions’ gold helmets of the 1953-56 era was the unintended result of a helmet-painting process where the paint turned from a silver color to a definite gold color (and then the paint degraded further, so that all the Lions 1953 helmets now show green splotches where a copper-colored pigment in the helmet paint turned green {1953 Bobby Layne game-worn helmet}. And then in the following seasons some Lions players opted to keep wearing their 1953-issue (gold) helmet, while the rest of the Lions squad were wearing newly issued ’54 and ’55 silver helmets. The following article at the Gridiron Uniform Database Blog goes very deep into this {…“Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold…” by Bill Schaefer from November 2013 at nfluniforms.blogspot.com).} The Lions introduced their rampant-blue-lion logo in 1961, on a helmet with blue-silver-blue center-stripes {1961 Lions}; the silver center-stripe turned white in 1968 (and was augmented by thin black stripes in 2009). Blue facemasks were worn from 1984-2002. Black facemasks were worn from 2003-16. The rampant-lion was given detail in 2009. Grey facemasks were re-introduced in 2017, when the Lions went back to a just-silver-and-blue helmet (good move) {2017 Lions helmet}.
{Detroit Lions’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}
___
Thanks to all at the following links…
-1953 NFL [Illustrations of 1953 NFL teams' uniforms] (gridiron-uniforms.com).
-Blank maps… USA, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, and coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
Otto Graham photos: color photo unattributed at ottograham.net/proc.html; shot of Graham scoring TD in 1955 NFL Championship Game, photo by AP at si.com/nfl/photos/2012/12/16-4cleveland-browns-epic-moments.
-NFL 1955 stats leaders photos: Alan Ameche (961 yds rushing), [photo from 1955 (v 49ers)], photo by Frank Rippon/NFL at nfl.com. Pete Pihos of Philadelphia Eagles (864 yds receiving), [photo from circa 1948 (v Rams)], photo by AP via pennlive.com/philadelphiaeagles. jpg Otto Graham (94.0 QB Rating), photo [from 1954] unattributed at pinterest.com.
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

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