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The Lost History of the NFL: A Throwback Concept Series

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In 2012, a young board member known as Lafarge ended a small NFL fauxback uniform series to take one a new, grand project. His vision? A series chronicling what the NFL might be like had all 32 teams existed since the 1930s. Consisting of hundreds of new designs, templates, and histories, the project would become the greatest concept thread in the history of the boards. Why do you not remember it, you ask? It was never finished and the idea lay abandoned for nearly a decade. However, in 2020, @mcrosby made a call into the ether for its return. And so, the Lost History of the NFL was reborn.

 

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Before I get into the concepts themselves, the series consisted of several rules in order to keep the series manageable.

 

1. Each team has three uniforms, worn once against each division rival. The teams shall wear uniforms of the same era. No repeats.
2. All uniform designs must be plausible for their era.
3. Uniform selection is prioritized as follows: Throwbacks, amalgams (combining elements of multiple real throwbacks), and fauxbacks.
4. All designs must be from before the AFL-NFL Merger and have not been worn as a throwback in real life.
5. Teams shall wear at least one dark and one light jersey. A color jersey may suffice as a light jersey in a color vs. color matchup.
6. No one-helmet rule.

 

Like any good NFL rule, the above rules shall be enforced inconsistently and at my own discretion.

 

The first division shall be posted momentarily in the next post.

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We begin our journey in the oldest division in the national football league, the NFC NORTH.

 

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Lions: This throws back to an oddity from the Lions’ days as the Portsmouth Spartans. Though records of the 1931 Spartans are scarce, pictures from their road matchup against the Giants show the team wearing several different designs, one of which, became the concept above. Most notably, the uniform featured a quite ridiculous striped design that converts well into a shoulder yoke for a modern template.

 

Packers: We’re all aware of the Packers’ blue circle throwback from the early 2010s, and history generally remembers those as the correct uniforms. However, a colorized picture from a Milwaukee newspaper exists, showing the team in yellow, a source that gridiron-uniforms lists as correct. Whether it’s correct or not, this uniform felt like a more interesting option than any of the other yellow Packers jersey of the era and serves as a fun reference to Green Bay’s sheer inability to not screw up a throwback uniform. (Now featuring a more era accurate number font, thank you packerfan21396)

 

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Bears: A simple throwback to their oft-used dark uniform during the 1937 season. This was the only time the Bears have ever worn an Orange-Blue-Orange helmet-jersey-pants combination.

 

Vikings: This design is a play on the Vikings’ color scheme and the origins of real life Vikings. As any child would know, the Vikings primary color, Purple, is created by combining red and blue, making the Vikings’ color scheme Red+Blue, Yellow, and White. Likely not coincidentally, the Scandinavian Nations, from which real life Vikings originated, each feature a national flag consisting of a nordic cross featuring some combination of red, blue, yellow, and/or white. Those flags are represented both by the color scheme of the uniform, but also by the cross-paneled leather helmet design.

 

Tomorrow, we head down south, to the league's youngest division!

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3 minutes ago, mcrosby said:

Can you link the original thread? 

 

I knew I'd forgotten something. Linked in the original post, and also right here.

 

 

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Good start, love me a late 20's circle Packers.  When it comes to throwbacks, you could change the throwback to modern standards or change the modern template to throwback standard.  Personally, I prefer the latter, which would mean that the circle in the front is 2010 massive rather than the 1929 size.  But I'm also okay with that circle size, but my only criticism then would be to slap on some boxtop 1's like you did for the Bears.  The Packers had the quintessential 20's number font that I wish could be reproduced for the modern-day throwbacks, but the Packers refuse and slap on their normal block instead.

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2 minutes ago, packerfan21396 said:

Good start, love me a late 20's circle Packers.  When it comes to throwbacks, you could change the throwback to modern standards or change the modern template to throwback standard. Personally, I prefer the latter, which would mean that the circle in the front is 2010 massive rather than the 1929 size.  But I'm also okay with that circle size, but my only criticism then would be to slap on some boxtop 1's like you did for the Bears.  The Packers had the quintessential 20's number font that I wish could be reproduced for the modern-day throwbacks, but the Packers refuse and slap on their normal block instead.

 

I actually didn't clarify that in the rules, because these are meant to be modern throwbacks, current uniform rules, particularly with numbers size will apply here.

 

In regards to the number font for the Packers, that's a good call. I think I looked primarily at the throwbacks when doing this design, which probably should've been a red flag. I'll get that fixed up for you.

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While the NFC North designs were almost entirely historical throwbacks of the 1930s, the AFC South teams has allowed (and in two cases, required) entirely new designs for each team and providing a bit more creative freedom as I re-imagine the NFL's youngest division as 1920s squads.

 

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Jaguars: During the 1920s and 30s several teams wore two diamonds on their chest and Jacksonville felt like the perfect franchise to incorporate that design. Downtown is home to the James Weldon Johnson Park, which has a diamond shaped fountain at its center. The use of a black diamond was informed by the Jaguars actual use of the color as well as the park's history, as it has been an historically popular location for civil rights rallies. Johnson himself, a Jacksonville native and leader of the NAACP, should be known to NFL fans as the writer of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" also known as the black national anthem, which was played prior to all Week 1 games and the Super Bowl this past season. A white number on the black diamond was chosen for legibility purposes, as many uniforms in the past did not include front numbers.

 

Titans: Where the Jaguars uniform design is a reflection of history, this Titans design is the exact opposite. Here, I decided to completely ignore the existence of the Oilers and pretend that the Titans existed. A large part of this project was examining ways to incorporate outdated 20s designs to work on a modern template. Ultimately, taking a cue from northwestern, I determined that high contrast between the front number and the stripes was the way yo go, with the jersey color acting as an outline to increase legibility. The vertical stripes mimic the common style of the era. Here, both stripes run perpendicular to the horizontal chest stripes, each creating the letter T. The helmet is based on the design of helmets that featured colored front patches with a tail (The most famous variation being the Princeton/Michigan design). The shape itself is a reference to the shape of Titans' current T logo. While brown pants were far and away the most popular choice in the era, some teams, most notably the Packers chose for Navy blue, so navy blue makes its appearance here to round out the set.

 

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Colts: In their first ever game in 1953, the third (and current) iteration of the Baltimore Colts wore a rather bizarre helmet design that feature two stripes crossing at the top of the helmet. It was the only game they wore that design before going to a traditional helmet stripe, but that design reminded me of the old panel leather helmets, and seemed like something an identity could be built around. This design is fully designed around the idea of crossed stripes. Most notably, the shoulder stripes, which are based upon the design of the Indianapolis flag, a symmetric cross meeting a circle with a star inside. While the city flag includes red, I decided to keep this design solely in Colts colors. This shoulder design combines two commonly used elements from the 20s, the shoulder stripe, and the shoulder logo.

 

Texans: Since the Texans have practically no actual uniform history, I decided to enact a change that I've wanted to see the actual team make for years, promotion of red to primary status. During the 1920s, most uniforms consisted of only two colors, so I wanted to incorporate that here. Initially, the uniform featured red strips on the front that formed an H, but that created legibility issues with the numbers. Therefore, I transformed the red H into a sublimated design on the white jersey and changed the numbers to red, with the sleeves featuring single thick red stripes. The helmet takes on a minimalist rendition of a common painted leather helmet style, with the top painted white featuring similar sublimated strips, and the bottom painted red.

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Today we head to the NFL's winningest division, the NFC East

 

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Eagles: This matchup takes us to the mid to late-60s at the beginning of the Eagles “lots of stripes era.” Though not as wild as the striping on the 1970s uniforms, these uniforms feature their own unique design, featuring both shoulder and sleeve stripes. This became a bit of a challenge, as current sleeve lengths required the stripes to be condensed, creating a sort of frame around the numbers. Ultimately, I think it works since the actual design would be impossible on most jersey cuts.

 

Washington: Due to the recent name change of the Washington Football Team I felt that bringing back imagery of the offensive name would undermine the name change, so I decided to alter the ideas behind the imagery into a design that fits the new name. In the 1960s WFT had two different helmet designs, a feather that acted as a helmet stripe, and an arrowhead similar to that of Florida State. While examining these design, inspiration struck. I took the long stripe element of the feather and combined it with the point and the color scheme of the arrowhead, creating a helmet stripe representing the Washington Monument. The rest of the uniform remains unchanged from the original design.

 

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Giants: The chest stripe design has long been popular for concept artists and here I decided to bring it back. While this version was the lesser worn of the chest stripe designs of the 1930s, legibility concerns led me to pick the version without any white on the chest.

 

Cowboys: Originally this was designed to feature a large star centered on the chest. However, the shape did not work with numbers.To deal with this, I decided to make the star smaller and placed it on the upper left chest, in the same position as the Steelers, Jaguars (former) Jets’ (former) patches. This obviously mimics the imagery of a sheriff’s badge, which has regularly been associated with cowboy culture for decades. The sleeves and socks feature multiple thicker stripes as was popular in the era. Finally, while drawing wing designs on the helmet of another team, I realized that when straightened, the lines and points form the top of a star. 

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Next up: The AFC West, the only division made up entirely of original AFL teams.

 

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Chiefs: Kansas City has one of the most consistent uniform histories in the NFL, having made only two or three major changes in their 61 years of existence. Because of this, I wanted to create a design that was drastically different from any of their actual uniform designs. To do this, I decided to once again travel to the 1920s and feature a design inspired by old school leather strips. The strips on this jersey are designed to emulate the heart/fountain symbol on the Kansas City flag, extending from the waist before splitting and then dropping back down on the sleeves.

 

Raiders: This is a design where I took some historic liberties. Nobody in NFL history has worn diagonal sashes, however, the phenomenon of diagonal striping isn't that uncommon. Many designs featured upside-down chevrons and others had designs creating an upward facing chevron. I decided to combine the two ideas to create an X-shaped design inspired by the crossed swords on the raiders logo. The helmet features a front panel helmet design inspired by the famous Las Vegas sign.

 

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Broncos: The Broncos orange crush uniforms are iconic, and I wanted to make a design based around their design but an earlier era. Before the packers used it in 1960, the color-white-color stripe design was actually very uncommon, so I decided to make the design with the traditional three stripe design and blue socks with orange stripes. The helmet design is a front panel based on the mountains from the Denver Flag.

 

Chargers: Though the color-white-color stripe design wasn't common, it was used briefly in the late 40s by the Boston Yanks. This design is built around creating an earlier version of the Fouts era design, featuring a blue-yellow-blue sleeve stripe. This design, like many chargers designs is built around the lightning bolt design. Here, the stripes are inspired by Dartmouth's unique helmets, and combine that stripe design with a lightning bolt design.

 

 

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One thing I wish I could get a better read on is the number font for a lot of these teams. I think one of the coolest things about early football uniforms was a lack of standardization in both size and shape, and only showing 11's doesn't allow for that, if that makes sense. Maybe using a famous player number (20, 22, 7, 81 for the lions, 15, 14, 36, 92, 4, 12 for the packers, etc.)

 

For the Texans specifically, I think a darker red or red/orange would look great, and the helmet design feels reminiscent of the Astrodome, actually. Maybe making it a slightly more overt reference (with like a circle at the top or something) might make it feel more connected to the city the way that others are. I also don't know about the sublimated H, I think something you could do that could keep the H in the design is make the vertical bars of the H into shoulder stripes, while the crossbar of the H becomes a stripe similar to Indianapolis' on the shoulders.

 

I love this series tho, and will probably come back to comment more about some other teams in the future. Kickass stuff, fr

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