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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New York Jets Uniform and Team History



Please click on the evolution of the Jets uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.


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New York Jets 1960 uniform
1960
The story of the New York Jets begins with the story of the AFL – the American Football League. The AFL began in 1960 as an 8 team rival league to the NFL. Both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and broadcast revenue. This was the way it was from 1960 to 1965 - two separate leagues, two separate champions (although few people would have honestly believed that the AFL champion could have beaten the NFL champs). Then in 1965 the two leagues agreed to merge. It was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL. In the interim, between 1966 and 1969, the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the “World Championship”. It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name “Super Bowl” came into being.

The New York Jets actually began life as the New York Titans when the AFL began in 1960. Joining the AFL as charter members were the: Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs); Denver Broncos; Los Angeles Chargers (now San Diego Chargers); Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans); Boston Patriots (now New England Patriots); Buffalo Bills; Oakland Raiders.

The Titans franchise was purchased for $25,000 by Harry Wismer, and played its games at the Polo Grounds. The 1960 squad went a respectable 7-7 in their inaugural season, finishing second in the AFL Eastern Division. The team featured such players as quarterback Al Dorow, running back Bill Mathis, split end Art Powell and the sure-handed, wide receiver Don Maynard.

This ’60 home jersey showcases the original ‘Titans’ color scheme of navy blue & gold. Notice the lack of any sleeve striping and the lack of any logo or identification on the team's helmet.


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New York Jets 1963 uniform
1963
Original owner Harry Wismer runs into financial difficulties midway through the 1962 season and is forced to sell the bankrupt team in February 1963. The AFL itself runs the franchise from November 1962 until the conclusion of the ’62 season, when it is bought by a group of 5 – spearheaded by Sonny Werblin – for $1,000,000. There were many reasons for the team’s financial difficulties, but none greater than their seeming inability to attract crowds. In their 1st three seasons they attracted season total crowds of 114,000 in 1960; 107,000 in 1961 and an incredibly dismal 36,000 in 1962 – no wonder they went bankrupt!

Upon purchasing the team, Werblin’s team changes the name of the ‘Titans’ franchise. The team is renamed the ‘Jets’ – in celebration of the space or ‘jet’ age, and the fact that their soon-to-be new home Shea Stadium is closely situated to LaGuardia Airport…and, of course, because it rhymes with ‘Mets’ – New York’s other new franchise.

Weeb Ewbank, after serving as head coach for the Baltimore Colts from 1954-1962, was brought on board to act as head coach & GM for the ’63 season. He would go on to become the become to win Championships in both the AFL & NFL, but we’ll save that story for a moment.

The ’63 season also featured brand new uniforms: a conversion from navy blue & gold to the beloved green & white – a color scheme used until the present day. Take a good look at the ’63 road uniform and you’ll see some interesting design elements: such as the unique shoulder and sleeve striping; the number schematic on the jersey’s sleeves; the unusual point or ‘serif’ of the uniform number ‘4’; and perhaps best of all, the helmet’s ‘jet’ logo!

Alas, all the new elements still didn’t help the Jets on the field, as they struggled to a 5-8-1 record, better only than the lowly Denver Broncos, but they bounced back a bit at the gate, drawing 112,000 fans.


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New York Jets 1965 uniform
1965
Welcome ‘Broadway’ Joe!

The story of the 1965 Jets can’t be told without telling the story of Joe Namath. This young, charismatic quarterback, fresh out of Bear Bryant’s football program in Alabama, was signed right out of college by owner Sonny Werblin for the unheard of sum of $400,000! Though the team would go 5-8-1 in Namath’s first year at the helm, good for second place in the AFL East, the Jets were aimed towards greatness, as we’ll soon see.

This ’65 home uniform, as worn by Namath, Wahoo McDaniel & Jim Turner, featured a new helmet logo. The jet was removed, and in its place, a football outline, containing the word ‘Jets’ and the initials ‘NY’. This same logo will be dropped in the early 70’s, then makes a comeback in the late 90’s.

An interesting note about 1965: As mentioned earlier, the AFL began in 1960 as an 8 team rival league to the NFL. Both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and broadcast revenue. This was the way it was from 1960 to 1965 - two separate leagues, two separate champions (although few people would have honestly believed that the AFL champion could have beaten the NFL champs).

Then in 1965 the two leagues agreed to merge – in part because of the Jets’ remarkable signing of Joe Namath. It was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL. In the interim, between 1966 and 1969, the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the “World Championship”. It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name “Super Bowl” came into being. Thus the 1965 season was the last season there was an AFL Champion that didn’t go on to compete against the NFL Champs but that really didn’t matter to 1965’s 5-8-1 Jets who missed post-season play for the 6th straight year.

Also note: The 1965 Jets were now playing their second season at Shea Stadium, which opened in 1964.


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New York Jets 1968 uniform
1968
Worlds Champions!

But first, a bit of background. In 1965, when the AFL and the NFL agreed to merge, it was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL. It was further decided that between 1966 and 1969 the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the “World Championship”. It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name “Super Bowl” came into being.

Thus the 1966 season saw the first meeting of the AFL and NFL champions, with the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers humbling the AFL’s KC Chiefs 33-10. (Even though the game was played in 1967, most football historians refer to this as the 1966 Super Bowl because it was the culmination of the 1966 season.) The NFL superiority was on display again in 1967, when the NFL’s Packers pounded the AFL’s Raiders 33-14.

Now came 1968 and the NFL’s best, the 13-1 Baltimore Colts, playing the AFL’s young, cocky NY Jets who finished 11-3 and above .500 for only the second time in their 9 year history. In the week leading up to Super Bowl III, the Colts were favored by as many as 17 points – but that didn’t faze the charismatic Joe Namath. Three days prior to Super Bowl III, in a show of bravado forever burned into the memory of Jets’ (and perhaps Colts’) fans, Namath had the audacity to “guarantee” a Jets’ victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

Then, the Jets went out, and took care of business – making them the first AFL team to ever win the Super Bowl! Though it would turn out to be the only championship to date in franchise history, the ’68 Super Bowl is often regarded by sports aficionados as one of the biggest upsets of all time. On the big day, Namath completed 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards, taking home game MVP honors – en route to a 16-7 Jets’ victory, in front of 75,000 football fans at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

This ’68 road jersey, worn by such Super Bowl champions as Namath, wide receivers George Sauer and Don Maynard, and running back Matt Snell, showcases a few minor modifications from earlier years, including a different sleeve stripe configuration and a green belt.


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New York Jets 1978 uniform
1978
The 70’s were a disappointing time for Jets fans as the team can’t get past the .500 mark in any 1970’s season. The 1978 Jets at least finish a respectable 8-8, one of four .500 seasons in the 70’s (1972, 1974, 1978, 1979).

This road uniform, as worn by Matt Robinson, Wesley Walker and Joe Klecko, featured some interesting changes…alterations that will grace the Jets’ uniform for the better part of the next decade. First, the team’s logo has been radically altered – consisting of the word ‘Jets’ in a sleek, modern font. What looks to be a supersonic-type jet is stationed just above the letters, branching off the ‘J’. Then the sleeve striping has been simplified to two thick horizontal stripes. Finally, large numbers have been added to the shoulders, and the collar has been changed from white to green.


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New York Jets 1986 uniform
1986
By now the Jets have left New York’s Shea Stadium for the larger, more football oriented Meadowland Stadium in New Jersey (they packed their bags after the 1983 season).

The early to mid 80’s jets have scratched their way back to respectability. The ’86 Jets got off to a terrific start – winning 10 out of their first 11 games, before settling for a 10-6 final record, good for second in the AFC East and a wild card playoff berth – only their fifth playoff appearance since their Super Bowl III victory (the other times being in 1969, 1981, 1982 and 1985).

In the opening round of the playoffs, they rout the 11-5 Kansas City Chiefs 35-15 in the AFC Wild Card game. Next up were the Cleveland Browns, led by Bernie Kosar. In a wild game that took two extra periods to decide the winner, the Browns squeak by the Jets 23-20 on the strength of a 27 yard Mark Moseley field goal. This was after the Browns had scored 10 points in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter to tie the game.

Jets’ fans took some comfort in the fact that the Browns would face a similar ‘last minute’ overtime loss the very next week – at the hands of the Broncos – in a game known for Elway’s infamous march downfield dubbed ‘The Drive’.

This ’86 Jets home uniform was worn by such notable Jets as Al Toon, Freeman McNeil and Ken O’Brien. Note the white collar and thick, green singular stripe down the pant legs.


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New York Jets 1990 uniform
1990
The Jets of the late 80’s struggle for respectability, and the 1990 Jets are no exception, finishing 6-10 and out of the playoffs. While not as numerous as Giants fans, Jets fans remain extremely loyal to their beloved Jets, and they draw almost 500,000 fans to their 8 home games – an excellent achievement.

Look closely at the 1990 road uniform pictured here and you’ll notice the addition of thin, black outlines surrounding the jersey’s stripes and numbers. This trim can also be seen sandwiching the thick, white stripe on the side of the pants. Also note the arrival of green pants, almost shiny in appearance. The Jets’ pants have had a zippered front for the past decade, but now they’ve returned to a laced front.


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New York Jets 1993 uniform
1993
This 1993 home uniform largely mirrors the road ’90 uniform – right down to the thin, black trim surrounding the numbers & stripes.

Look carefully and you’ll see a small NFL shield on both the jersey’s neckline and the left thigh of the pants. If you look closely at almost all NFL uniforms worn from 1991 on, you’ll note this same small NFL shield patch on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck, and to the upper left thigh of the pants, beginning in 1991.

On the left shoulder of this ’93 jersey is a patch commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Jets’ January 12th, 1969 Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl III at the conclusion of the 1968 season. The patch says ‘Twenty Fifth Anniversary’ at the top, ‘Super Bowl III Champions’ at the bottom, with ‘1969’ & ‘1993’ sandwiching the Jets’ logo of the mid-late 60’s.

In their 4th and final season under coach Bruce Coslet, the 1993 Jets finish 8-8, missing the above .500 mark for the 5th straight season. This prompts Jets management to change coaches yet again, this time in favor of Pete Carroll.


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New York Jets 1994 uniform
1994
The ’94 season marked the NFL’s 75th anniversary. To help celebrate this milestone, most teams wore special ‘throwback’ sweaters commissioned by the NFL (note the diamond patch on the left shoulder signifying this occasion!).

The ’94 Jets home uniform pictured here honors the beautiful Jets’ uniform as worn by the Super Bowl Champs in 1968. Notice also the fact that the 1994 helmet featured the mid-late 60’s helmet logo, the popular football-shaped logo.

Look carefully and you’ll see a small NFL shield on both the jersey’s neckline and the left thigh of the pants. If you look closely at almost all NFL uniforms worn from 1991 on, you’ll note this same small NFL shield patch on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck, and to the upper left thigh of the pants, beginning in 1991. The only major exception to this practice was in 1994 when the teams wore their throwback uniforms – in these cases, as is the case here, most teams did not wear the NFL shield patch on their jersey or pants.

As for their record, the 1994 Jets fell to 3-13, their worst mark ever. And it got worse in 1995, when they finished an abysmal 1-15. But the tide was about to turn…


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New York Jets 1998 uniform
1998
Bill Parcells is now running ‘Tuna Ball’ in the Big Apple!

With Vinny Testaverde at the helm, and a balanced offence led by the likes of Curtis Martin, Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet – the once ‘mediocre’ Jets of the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s have finally been transformed into a virtual powerhouse and a threat for the AFC title.

Parcells took control in 1997, after the Jets worst ever 1-15 record in 1996, and immediately turned the team around. They finished 9-7 in 1997, only their 5th above .500 finish since 1970.

In 1998, they keep right on rolling, finishing 1st in the AFC East with a 12-4 mark. In the AFC Divisional Playoff game, they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-24 in a thriller, then go on to face the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game. It wasn’t to be, however, as the Broncos beat the Jets 23-10 on their way to their second straight Super Bowl victory. But the fans’ patience has been rewarded – the Jets are once again back to respectability – and then some.

As far as the uniform is concerned, the 1998 Jets have opted to keep the ‘retro’ style of their late 60’s / early 70’s uniforms – first showcased by the ‘94 ‘throwback’ jersey. Note the unusual horizontal and vertical striping format on the sleeves, as well as the old-style Jets’ logo on the upper left breast/shoulder area. The small, now traditional NFL shields can be seen on the jersey’s neckline and the left thigh of the pants. Look carefully at the pants, and you’ll also see that the Jets have reverted back to the double stripe style – used in the 60’s. Finally, the ‘old-school’ football-shaped helmet logo was so popular among fans in the 1994 throwback uniform that it has been reintroduced on the helmet.


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New York Jets 2000 uniform
2000
As the Jets enter the new millennium, the organization has melded design elements from both modern and past uniforms. This 2000 uniform still features the ‘retro’ style of Jets’ uniforms from the 60’s – including the helmet logo, and unusual sleeve striping. Look closely and you’ll see the thin, black trim surrounding the jersey’s sleeve numbers – an element introduced in the 90’s. But it remains a simple and elegant design, not over done. Perhaps a uniform, much like a sports franchise, needs a good balance of old and new design elements working together in harmony in order to be successful.

After such a fantastic start to his Jets career, Bill Parcells “kicks himself” upstairs after he has health concerns during and following the ’99 season. In 1999 the Jets lose Vinny Testaverde in their season opener and struggle admirably to an 8-8 record, while the 2000 Jets, under new head coach Al Groh, do one better and finish 9-7, narrowly missing the playoffs.


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New York Jets 2003 uniform
2003
2003 was not a banner year for Herm Edwards’ Jets. Edwards, now in his third year as head coach, was hoping for a strong start to the season but it wasn’t to be. Fourth-year QB Chad Pennington broke his wrist in a preseason game against the New York Giants, leaving the starting quarterback duties to veteran pivot Vinny Testaverde. The Jets started the season with 4 straight losses, they had a bye week and won games in weeks 6 and 7. Chad Pennington would return to the line-up in week 8, but that did not change their fortunes as the team went on to lose six of their last ten games, leaving them well short of the playoffs with a 6-10 record.

With respect to the team uniform in 2003, the Jets continued to wear the “retro” style uniform that first resurfaced in 1994, a look that is reminiscent of the Super Bowl champion Jets of the late 1960’s. This white-on-green home jersey features a green torso with white detailing on the shoulders and white short sleeves with green cuffs. There are large white numerals on the front and back and small white “TV “ numbers on the sleeves, below the shoulder.

The jersey has two patches: a NY Jets logo patch on the left shoulder and a small “NFL Equipment” patch at the bottom of the collar. The same “NFL Equipment” patch can also be found on the upper left thigh of the pants. If you look closely at every NFL uniform worn from 2002 onward, you will notice an “NFL Equipment” patch on the jersey’s neckline and on the upper left thigh of the pants. This “NFL Equipment” patch is larger (it’s a bit bigger than the size of a golf ball) than the previous “NFL shield” patch (about the size of an average postage stamp) that had been worn on uniforms in the same two places almost without exception since the 1991 season.

Please note that the pants are white with green striping down the side. The pants have a lace-up fly and are fastened at the waist with a green belt that features the Jets logo on top of the buckle.

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Celebrate the Jets' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the New York Jets and the history of the Jets franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 12 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 12 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)



If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our New York Jets YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhtfm1fCFr0 or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/New-York-Jets-c124/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.

And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox

And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Jets.

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This blog was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 18, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at ssillcox@rogers.com !

Many thanks!!!
Scott

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