Chris Creamer

chriscreamer

Sports logo and uniform guru, enjoys extremely random sports facts. Founder and operator of SportsLogos.Net since its establishment in June 1997.

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Some players have such an impact on their teams and fan bases that the idea of them wearing the uniform of another team is just… unfathomable. But it happens, and it happens a lot more these days. Free agency and the salary cap could be to blame, or it could be a lack of loyalty and ties to any one team. Who’s to say.

In 2012 we’ll see another such legend suit up in a uniform we’d never have previously imagined when Peyton Manning sheds his Indianapolis Colts duds in exchange for a Denver Broncos uni. While it may be hard to see today, in 20-or-so years people are going to forget Manning ever played for the Broncos, let’s be honest.

Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the more legendary players who signed up for a season or two at the end of their careers with a team many of us would have never associated their names and faces with…

Joe Namath, Los Angeles Rams

Yes, I know it’s weird, that’s the whole point of this post, but it’s true: Broadway Joe did indeed take his act from New York to L.A. following a legendary career as a New York Jet. Namath’s forgettable career as a Los Angeles Ram lasted all of four games during the 1977 season.

Namath led the NY Jets to their only Super Bowl title at Super Bowl III in 1968, playing 12 seasons with the Jets and making 126 starts at quarterback from 1965-1976. Over two seasons from 1968-69, the Namath-led Jets went 21-7.

In May of 1977 the Jets waived Namath and he signed with the L.A. Rams quickly thereafter. He made four starts with the Rams that year but suffered an injury and didn’t make another appearance, retiring at the end of the ’77 season and never playing again.

Johnny Unitas, San Diego Chargers

After 17 seasons as the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Colts, during which his teams won a Super Bowl and an additional three NFL Championships, Johnny Unitas moved across the country to San Diego to finish his career as a Charger at the age of 40.

Johnny’s Baltimore Colts teams went an incredible 117-61-4 in the 182 games he started for them, and he had 2,796 completions for 39,768 yards (oh-so-close to 40k).

In 1973, Johnny Unitas was traded to the San Diego Chargers to be their starting quarterback. Unitas lasted four games, during which the Chargers went 1-3, before he was replaced by rookie QB Dan Fouts. He made one last appearance in Week 8 before spending the remainder of the season on the sidelines.

Unitas retired following that 1973 season but was able to surpass the 40,000 passing yards mark while he was with the Bolts.

O.J. Simpson, San Francisco 49ers

Perhaps at this point, seeing O.J. Simpson in anything other than a prison uniform would be considered by most as him being in the “wrong” uniform, but alas we’ll stick to the football side of things here.  Like the first two on this list, The Juice went to California after spending several seasons back east.

Simpson spent the first nine seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Buffalo Bills, rushing for over 10,000 yards during that time.

Prior to the 1978 season, the Bills traded the injury-plagued Simpson to San Francisco where he would play the final two seasons of his career. O.J. played 23 games with the 49ers from 1978-1979 where he rushed for another thousand yards. When Simpson retired following the 1979 season was ranked 2nd all-time for rushing yards with 11,236.

And then yadda, yadda, yadda, he’ll be eligible for parole in 2017.

Joe Montana, Kansas City Chiefs

Four (yes, FOUR!) Super Bowls, eight Pro Bowls, two MVP awards. That was Joe Montana’s career as a San Francisco 49er. Montana played 13 seasons with the 49ers,  the final seasons riddled with injuries which limited him to just one appearance over two years.

Because of the injuries, and the emergence of Steve Young as San Fran’s new quarterback, Montana was traded to Kansas City in April 1993.

Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs is weird for two reasons. First, the obvious: h eisn’t wearing a San Francisco 49ers uniform. But more importantly, the #19?! Montana in anything other than a #16 jersey is just criminal. Montana was reportedly offered the #16 (which had been retired by the Chiefs) but he turned it down.

Unlike the others on this list,  Montana was actually quite successful during his time in a wrong uniform. He spent two seasons with the Chiefs, throwing for over 5,000 yards and guiding the team to a 17-8 record over that span. The Montana-led Chiefs made it to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Bills during Buffalo’s string of four consecutive AFC crowns.

After the 1994 season Montana announced his retirement at a special ceremony in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.

Bonus: Joe Montana, New York Jets

Yes, you’re right! Joe Montana never played for the New York Jets. He did, however, wear the uniform in a commercial for one of the Madden NFL video games. Advertising the new ability to trade players, in the commercial Joe gets sacked and magically transforms from his KC Chiefs outfit into this NY Jets uniform exclaiming “Oh man!  I just bought a house!”. He kept his #19 too.

We’ll do this again sometime soon, and we’d love to hear who you’d like to see featured in a future edition of the NFL’s Legendary Players in Wrong Uniforms.

Check out Chris’s sports logo and uniform history website over at SportsLogos.Net.

 

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.