American-born football has been through countless changes and transformation over the span of 139 years. The uniforms trends were not always great, but they created some of the famous team looks. These looks continued to evolve into fashion trends that we see today.
With Super Bowl LIV just ending a few months ago, the passion for the sport has not faded. That being said, let us take a look back into the rich history of football team uniforms, how they came into existence, what trends were followed back in the day – and how the fanfare developed among the people.
1. The early years of football uniforms
Although various forms of American-style footballs existed in the world, it was the official game rules decorated by a student from Yale who gave birth to the Football we know and play today. During the time when football was considered as a friendly competition between the teams, uniforms were never part of the culture.
Players would simple clothing outfits in shaded colors to elevate class and standards, which became a normal thing between the two parties. But the change in the accessories and uniforms started happening when a player designed a protected headgear for the players in the late 1900s.
With the sport being cultivated from one state to another, the prominence expanded, and more people became involved in football. This emergence gave birth to new teams in different cities, allowing the football to gain popularity in the country.
But uniforms were still not part of the professional circuit, until the early 20th century. Due to the challenging weather conditions in the Northeastern region, and before the introduction of proper football stadiums, most of the football uniforms portrayed an apocalyptic vibe.
The earliest set of uniforms would be designed from quality leather and wool. Similarly, the players would wear them with boots along with fur-coats, which at times would look funny, but was followed almost everywhere.
But things did take a turn, and that too for good as football uniforms started getting more fashion frenzy. Teams started taking uniforms more seriously, and competition emerged between the teams. Another interesting thing to note is that the first-ever headgear was all leather-based covering a large part of the face.
The plastic-based helmets were not introduced until the early 1950s, while the logos came afterward.
2. Technicolor uniforms – A defining moment for football uniforms
The era of the 60s brought in a new wave of colorful and exciting football uniforms in the professional market. Uniforms had now bolder colors, playful combinations, and prominent sports logos. This was all possible because of the introduction of plastic-based helmets with complete face-masks and air-controlling bladders.
Because of the plastic materials, the artwork was introduced in the helmets, and soon artistic logos took over as branding.
3. The era of Super Bowl
The era of the 70s is the era of Super Bowl, where basically three teams (Dallas, Las Vegas, and Pittsburg) won almost every practical trophy between 1970 and 1982. As a result of their ultimate performance in the professional circuit, their uniforms were donned by people from different states.
With football becoming more commercial than ever and sponsorships, branding, and marketing taking over the sport and contributing a large revenue to the teams and the league, uniforms became a standard.
Sports brands like Puma, Nike, and Adidas introduced various uniform designs catered towards players and their performance. During the period when these three teams were dominating in the professional field, color combinations took a toll on other sports teams as well.
While several teams experimented with their color combinations and choice of uniforms, a lot of teams struggled to create an impact both on and off the field. The Saints were dubbed as favorites, but there was never a spark in their performance.
Teams like the Bengals carried out fashionable trends, but unlike previous years, their resurgence faded slowly, just like their uniforms.
In the late 70s, the NFL decided to include two new teams. These teams were different from the ones present in the league, and their uniforms were colorful. The Seahawks came with all guns blazing and their green-colored uniforms and instantly became a hit among the locals.
The Buccaneers had a beachy color palette, which was considered as the revolution of fashion.