Earlier this off-season we saw the unveilings of two throwback uniforms to be worn at some point during the upcoming 2012 NFL season.

Both teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins, are long-time franchises turning the clock back to the 1930s, and to a time when NFL uniforms just weren’t designed the same way they are these days.

Lots of stripes in every direction, giant crests on jersey fronts, leather helmets, bizarre color schemes…it was a creative era!

Pittsburgh Steelers 1930s Throwbacks for 2012

While the Redskins uniform itself isn’t anything radical, unlike the black-and-yellow stripey goodness that is the Steelers throwback, the ‘Skins will be adding another fun “new” element to the uniform. For the first time a team throwing back to the 30s will wear a leather helmet, just like the good old days!

Perhaps I should clarify. The Redskins are actually wearing modern helmets designed to look as if they are made of leather.

Washington's throwbacks for 2012 with faux-leather helmet design

This is different from the usual method used when throwing back to this era, which was to design a helmet that was never worn with that set originally, basically a “if they DID use helmets back then, what would they look like” approach. The Steelers throwback uniform for this season is going that route.

So while we sit and wait for these fantastic throwbacks to make their on-field debut, let’s take a look back to the past…looking back on the past. Here’s a look at three of the more interesting early-era throwback uniforms we’ve seen on NFL fields over the years:

Pittsburgh Steelers 1933 Throwbacks, worn in 1994

Those Pittsburgh teams of the 30s really loved those stripes didn’t they? The 1933 Pittsburgh Pirates uniform shown above were worn by the Steelers during the NFL’s 75th anniversary celebrations in 1994, and they feature a gigantic City of Pittsburgh crest right on the chest.

When worn again in 1994, changes were made to the uniform to bring it up to modern times, aside from the obvious helmet vs. leather helmet and NFL 75 patch. The original 1933 look didn’t have a uniform number on the upper-right of the chest. Presumably, this was added to aid in-game officials and various media types as they tried to identify players.

The 1933 Pittsburgh Pirates NFL Team

The Pirates stuck with this unique look only for the one season in 1933 before adopting the design the Steelers will be wearing this season as their throwback.

For those wondering, the Pirates name remained up until the end of the 1939 season. The team adopted the Steelers name for 1940.

Philadelphia Eagles 1933 Throwbacks, worn in 2007

Yeah, this one definitely falls under the category of “bizarre color schemes” mentioned earlier.

In 2007 the Philadelphia Eagles decided to pay homage to the original Philadelphia NFL franchise, the Frankford Yellow Jackets, a team whose roots can be traced as far back as 1899.

Frankford Yellow Jackets, 1931

The Yellow Jackets joined the NFL in 1924 and won the league championship in 1926. Unfortunately, their stadium burned down before the 1931 season, leaving the team struggling to find a place to play. This in cmbination with the Great Depression led to the team’s demise mid-way through the 1931 season. The Eagles were awarded an expansion franchise for 1933.

While their hearts were in the right place with this tribute, the color combination is just regrettable. Sure, the original Yellow Jackets did indeed wear a yellow and powder blue combination, but it wasn’t nearly this offensive. The uniform materials of the day made them appear a lot less shiny, which while still a terrible combo, made them a lot more pleasant on the eye then what the Eagles of 2007 went with.

This uniform was just all kinds of terrible

Carrying over the design that appeared on the leather helmets was a nice touch, but again, it looks a lot sillier on the modern shell.

This was another case of modern uniform technologies and necessities ruining an otherwise decent throwback.

 Green Bay Packers 1929 Throwbacks, worn in 2010

Blue uniforms with a big yellow dot…I know that’s how I picture the Green Bay Packers.

There weren’t a lot of fans of this look when the Packers took to the field wearing this 1929 throwback during the 2010 season. How could there be? There isn’t a uniform out there that could top what the Green Bay Packers currently wear and have been wearing for several decades.

But, like looking back on photos of your bad 1980s haircuts, sometimes a team just has to swallow their pride and admit the looks of their past weren’t necessarily anything to be proud of.

For the throwback uniform the Packers paired this set with a dark brown helmet. Was it an early attempt to replicate the leather helmet? Either way it just looked wrong, but the helmet was nothing compared to what they did with the numbers.

The original 1929 Packers uniform

Do I need to say anything?

It’s obvious why this throwback didn’t hit the mark. Not only is it a fairly bad design to throw back to, they didn’t even throw back to it correctly, or come anywhere close. Seriously, replacing a small element of your uniform design (the number, in case you’re not seeing it) with a gigantic version of it in it’s place is never a good idea.

Just ask the Toronto Argonauts about what they wore during the Summer of 1995:

*shudders*  never again…

If you’re as nutty for uniforms and logos as this article author seems to be, you should probably check out Chris’s sports logo and uniform history website at SportsLogos.Net.

Comments (6)

  1. Now I love uniforms/kits in a lot of sports, but I don’t know a lot about American Football history, but that Toronto jersey is great, I know you guys like to keep things simple, but more Jerseys like that one would go well in the NFL.. And there’s nothing wrong with odd colour schemes

  2. Still love that Steelers shirt from ’94 with the huge crest. The new one is even better, with the horizontal hoops. The 2012 Redskins throwback is also very nice. As for the other examples mentioned here: better leave them buried and never ever bring them back. I am still waiting for longsleeved throwbacks in football. That would look great!

  3. I like the leather-look helmet the Redskins will be sporting. That should be a staple for ALL teams that use throwbacks to the leather helmet era…

  4. While i do agree the Packers look pretty dumb, they were kind of forced to go with the bigger numbers because of NFL regulations. They should have just gone with the jersey they wore in the ’94 season.

  5. As a Packers fan, I’m curious to see how the 1929 throwbacks would look with the Washington’s “leather” helmet, though I hope in the future they throw back to 1944, which is basically the 1994 throwbacks with matching pants.

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