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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Indianapolis Colts Uniform and Team History

Please click on the evolution of the Colts 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.

Fall 2022: To purchase a reasonably priced 8" x 24" plaqued mounted version of the Colts poster that's ready to hang on your wall, please visit Heritage Sports Stuff.

Baltimore Colts 1954 uniform - Indianapolis Colts 1954 uniform
The beginning of the Colts franchise began when the All-America Football Conference’s (AAFC) Miami Seahawks went bankrupt in 1946 and was relocated to Baltimore where they became the Colts. In 1950 the AAFC and the NFL merged and the Colts began their NFL career, only to be dissolved the following year by the league. After two seasons without the Colts in Baltimore, the Dallas Texans team folded and was relocated to Baltimore where they retained the Colts name to begin the 1953 season.

Weeb Ewbank was named head coach in the spring of 1954; the season which saw the Colts finish last in the Western Conference with a 3-9 record, losing their first game to the Los Angeles Rams 48-0. After winning the second game of the season the Colts went on to lose seven in a row.

Interesting fact: We’re led to believe that the NFL’s first cheerleading squad was the 1954 Colts cheerleading squad. It was made up of 12 women and was founded and organized by Thelma Mack (who was also one of the 12 cheerleaders).

An interesting fact about the helmets: plastic facemasks were ordered for the first time after dropping a 48-0 decision to Los Angeles.

This blue home jersey has white numbers on the front and white stripes on the sleeves. Notice the blue helmet with a white horseshoe on the back.

Baltimore Colts 1956 uniform - Indianapolis Colts 1956 uniform
Behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas and other stars such as
rusher Alan Ameche and receiver Jim Mutscheller, the Colts finished the season with a 5-7 record.

This was a history making year for the Colts, starting with DB Carl Taseff’s 90 yard punt return against Green Bay. Taseff also had a 96t return of a blocked field goal, and RB Lenny Moore ended the season with a 7.5 rushing average, the best in Colts history.
In his fifth game of the season, Moore also rushed 13-185, and 2 TDs, including 72 and 79 yard scoring bursts. He also produced a 70 yard rush at Cleveland in a 21-7 win, totaling 11-120 for the game and three 70+ yard rushes in 2 games.

QB John Unitas made his debut in a 58-27 loss in Chicago.

Note that the number has been added to the sleeve in this year. As well, they have changed the stripes on the arms so that they are all symmetrical. Also, they have gone to a white helmet with a blue horseshoe on the back with a blue stripe down the centre of the helmet.

Note: the helmet now has a metal guard on it to keep the players from injuring themselves.

Baltimore Colts 1958 uniform - Indianapolis Colts 1958 uniform
The Colts finish atop the Western Conference for the first time, with a 9-3 record. After the Browns and the Giants finished with identical records in the East, the Colts had to sit back and wait as the teams played at Yankee Stadium to decide on who would play for the NFL Championship. In the end New York shut down Cleveland winning the game 10-0.

One week later the Colts came to New York to face the Giants in Yankee Stadium, where a game of the ages took place. The Colts took a 14-3 lead into the half, only to have the Giants storm back in the second half. With the Giants leading 17-14, the Colts came back with a 20-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. In the extra frame, Colts full back Alan Ameche took the ball in the end zone to take the NFL Championship 23-17.

Rookie DB Lenny Lyles had a 101yard kickoff return vs. Washington to become the first player ever with two 100+ yard kickoff returns in the same season. The Colts also record their first shutout, winning 56-0 against the Green Bay Packers, marking their sixth straight win, and setting the club record for the largest margin of victory. As if that wasn’t enough, the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears 17-0, marking the first time the bears were blanked in 149 games.

The Colts clinched first in the Western Division winning 35-27 over the San Francisco 49ers before their second straight record crowd of 57,577.

Colts QB John Unitas tossed a scoring pass in his 23rd straight game to set a new NFL record. The old record was held by QB Cecil Isbell of Green Bay with 22 games in 1941-42.

The Colts found themselves in the World Championship game playing the New York Giants. The Giants were defeated in this “sudden death” game 23-17 at Yankee Stadium in front of 64,185 people on December 28.

Weeb Ewbank and 12 players from “the greatest game ever played” would eventually become NFL Hall of Famers.

This white away jersey with blue numbers on the front and sleeves has a different look to it, as the stripes are now placed around the shoulders. Note the helmet now has two metal guards on it, for increased protection. Also note the blue horseshoe has moved from the back of the helmet to the side of the helmet.

Baltimore Colts 1968 uniform - Indianapolis Colts 1968 uniform
The period of time between 1966 and 1969 warrants a bit of explanation. The 8 team AFL began in 1960 as a rival league to the NFL - both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and TV revenue. And thus it was for 5 years - 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, and 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.

After the Colts finished the season 13-1, they went on to win the ’68 NFL Championship against the Browns 34-0, and moved on to Super Bowl III against the AFL’s New York Jets. A stunning upset followed as the Jets shocked the football world by beating the heavily favored Colts 16-7 in front of 75,377 people at Orange Bowl, Miami,

On August 3rd, 1968, Art Donovan became the first Colt ever to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had an 11 year tenure with the Colts.

The Colts blasted the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-7 as DB Bobby Boyd (25 yards), DB Charlie Stukes (60 yards), and DE Roy Hilton (13 yards) returned interceptions for scores. This was only the second time in the Colts history that a feat like this was accomplished. The last time was November 5th, 1950 against the Green Bay Packers.

QB Earl Morrall showed his true colors to his four former teams (Pittsburgh, San Francisco, NY Giants, and Detroit Lions) while filling in for injured QB John Unitas. In 14 games Morrall passed for 2909 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing 11 times for a total of 18 yards and 1 touchdown.

The Colts toppled the world champion Green Bay Packers 16-3, and earned the Coastal Division crown a day later with a Los Angeles loss. Colts defense helped the champion Packers out of their end zone to produce a four-game streak of not allowing a touchdown, the first time any NFL team had done that defensively since the 1937 NY Giants.

The win against Los Angeles capped a 13-1 season, holding 10 opponents to 10 points or less, five without a touchdown, and three scoreless. The Colts defense had something to be proud of when they surrendered an NFL-fewest 144 points.

This year in the playoffs, the Colts defeated Minnesota 24-14 for the Western Conference Title, and blanked Cleveland 34-0 for the NFL Championship and their first title since 1958 and 1959. The Colts also set a Club mark and an NFL-record with 15 wins in a season.

This blue road jersey for the Colts lowers the stripes around the shoulders and cuts the sleeves in half. Note that the player number now appears on the back of the helmet – something that is still around today.

Baltimore Colts 1969 uniform - Indianapolis Colts 1969 uniform
The Colts failed to make the playoffs this season, finishing with an 8-5-1 record, second to the Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL West Coastal Division – a bittersweet season after losing in the Super Bowl the previous season. It would also mark head coach Don Shula’s last stand with the team as he would move on to become Miami’s head coach. Shula left the team with a record of 71-23-4.

The Colts, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland join forces with the AFC teams to form the American Football Conference, as the NFL realigned for the 1970 season.

It is in this season that the Colts name their Pro Football Hall of Fame’s NFL 50th Anniversary Team: First-team named TE John Mackey, DE Gino Marchetti, and QB John Unitas. To the second-team, WR Raymond Berry, and DT Art Donovan were named, and RB Lenny Moore was named to the Third-Team. They later tabbed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Team of the 60’s: DB Bobby Boyd, TE John Mackey, and QB John Unitas.

P David Lee (57 punts for an average of 45.3 yards) has a great season as he wins the NFL punting title.

This blue home jersey is similar to the 1968 jersey, except for the longer sleeves and the NFL Patch on the left shoulder, which celebrates the NFL’s 50th anniversary. Note the metal cage added to the helmet. As you can see it wasn’t meant for style, it was meant for even greater facial protection.

Baltimore Colts 1970 uniform - Indianapolis Colts 1970 uniform
This season would prove interesting, as Don Klosterman is named General Manager, while head coach Don Shula leaves the Colts for Miami and Don McCafferty steps in to fill his shoes.

The NFL and AFL would merge this season, but it doesn’t bother the Colts as they finish atop the AFC East Division with an 11-2-1 record. In their first game as a member of the AFC, the Colts would top the San Diego Chargers 16-4, while snapping WR Lance Alworth’s NFL record streak of receptions in 96 consecutive games.

The Colts would visit the Bills and go on to clinch the Eastern Division title with a 20-14 win. They blew away the Cincinnati Bengals 17-0 in the AFC Divisional Playoff game, and would move on to take on the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship game. The Colts playing at home in Baltimore took the game 27-17 and headed to Super Bowl V.

The Colts went into the Super Bowl at the Orange Bowl in Miami facing the Dallas Cowboys and went into the half down 13-6. When the second half began, the Colt’s defense took over, not allowing a point from the “Boys” while the offence collected 10 points to go on and win Super Bowl V 16-13.

This white jersey changed only the length of the sleeves, which went from long-sleeved to ¾ length sleeves. Note the helmet was also changed in order to use a smaller metal cage for the protection of the players.

Baltimore Colts 1975 uniform - Indianapolis Colts 1975 uniform
After losing three straight seasons with three different coaches, the Colts were relieved when new head coach Ted Marchibroda led them to a 10-4 record, tying them with the Dolphins for top spot in the AFC East.

What a year as the Colts defeated Chicago 35-7, holding rookie RB Walter Payton to 8-0 rushing. They also rallied back from a 28-7 second-quarter deficit, for a 42-35 win - the largest comeback win in club history. It would later be broken twice in 1995.

Not only was this a great year for the team, it was also a fantastic season for a few talented players. This year would see the Colts have three 100+ performers in a game with RB Lydell Mitchell (27 carries for 112 yards), WR Glenn Doughty (3 carries for 102 yards) and WR Roger Carr (2 carries for 136 yards and 1 touchdown receiving), as well as a 300+ yard passer in QB Bert Jones with14-22-306, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. This marked only one of three games in club history with such an outstanding performance.

RB Lydell Mitchell also rushed for 119 yards in a 21-0 win in New York against the giants to become the first Colt with a 1000+ yard rushing season, and Colts former star RB Lenny Moore was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not a bad year for the Colts, I’d say!

The Colts defeated Miami 10-7 at 12:44 of overtime on December 14th, with K Toni Linhart’s 31-yard field goal providing the win and the advantage in the divisional race.

This was truly the greatest turnaround season in NFL history, going from 2-12 to 10-4 after a 34-21 win over New England. The team’s ninth straight win earned them the AFC East Title. They went on to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Playoffs, but were only a bump in the road for the eventual Super Bowl Champion Steelers, as they fell 28-10.

This blue home jersey keeps the same style as previous years, changing only their helmet. Note the added bar and the color change to blue. We have also added a picture of a neck guard, as it was in this year that they became popular throughout the league.

Indianapolis Colts 1984 uniform
The Colts are on the move as they re-locate to Indianapolis. Unhappy over their playing facilities, they were lured by the offer a new 61,000 seat indoor stadium. Ticket sales skyrocketed, selling 143,000 in only two weeks. They finish the season in fourth place overall in the AFC East with a 4-12 record, which is still something to be proud of considering their 1982 campaign ended without a win finishing 0-8-1.

In their last game of the season, which they lost to the New England Patriots 16 – 10, Hal Hunter took the reins after coach Frank Kush resigned after only 13 games. Hunter filled in for 3 games that season.

The Colts tabbed for Pro Football Hall of Fame 1960 – 84 NFL All-Star Team. The first team included WR Raymond Berry, DE Gino Marchetti, OG/T Jim Parker, QB John Unitas (inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979), HC Don Shula, and the second team included LB Ted Hendricks and TE John Mackey.

This blue home jersey looks the same as most seasons uniforms with the exception of the added horseshoe with the players number on the side of the pants. They have added a blue belt as well as a solid blue stripe below the number on the pants. The helmet has changed this year bringing the bars on the mask closer together.

Indianapolis Colts 1988 uniform
The Colts finished second to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East with a 9-7 record, thus enabling the Colts to participate in a playoff game since 1977. Unfortunately they fall to the home team Cleveland Browns in Municipal Stadium on Jan 9 in front of 78,546 people. The final score of this Divisional Championship game was 38-21.

On Sept 25th, K Dean Biasucci hits five field goals to tie a club record as the Colts topped Miami 15-13. Biasucci became one of 14 kickers at the time, as well as the first Colt, to hit twice from the 50+ range (50, 51) in the same game.

And if that wasn’t enough for the Colts, RB Eric Dickerson (in his second year with the team) led the league in rushing yards. He rushed 36-166 during a game against Buffalo which resulted in two late Colts td’s, which led the Colts to a 17-14 win. Dickerson ended the season 388-1,659, 14 td’s rushing/36-377, 1 td receiving, 2,036 yards rushing from scrimmage to become the first Colt since RB Alan Ameche (1955) to win the NFL rushing title. Eric accounted for 41.8% of the team’s seasonal net yards, one of only two 40+ seasonal percentages in club history.

Note on the pants of this uniform the number and the horseshoe are gone. The cage on the mask is changed again this year, making it easier for the players to see. Note the side of the pants have gone back to the double blue stripe.

Indianapolis Colts 1993 uniform
Another disappointing season for the Colts as they finish with a 4-12 record and don’t make it into the playoffs.

Indianapolis even brought back head coach Ted Marchibroda, who left the team in 1979, for the 1992 season. However, he would leave the team once again in 1995 with a 30-34 record.

QB Jeff George had a good season, considering the teams dismal record, passing for 2526 yards and 8 td’s.

Notice the patch on the left shoulder. It was added to celebrate the teams 10th anniversary in Indianapolis.

Note as well the mask on the helmet. The eyes are left open while the metal bars protect the jaw area.

Also, if you look closely at this jersey, you will note a smaller patch, the NFL shield, on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck and upper left thigh of the pants beginning in 1991 - an exception being in 1994 when teams occasionally wore "throwback" uniforms celebrating the NFL's 75th anniversary.

Indianapolis Colts 1997 uniform
Yet again a losing season as the Colts go 3-13. However, a silver lining was right around the corner as a young quarterback named Peyton Manning joined the team in 1998. Although he had a slow start in his first season, Manning would lead the 1999 Colts to their best season since 1968 when they went 13-1.

Note the horseshoe on the left shoulder of the jersey. This was used to honor the passing of owner Robert Irsey.

Also, if you look closely at this jersey, you will note a smaller patch, the NFL shield, on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck and upper left thigh of the pants beginning in 1991 - an exception being in 1994 when teams occasionally wore "throwback" uniforms celebrating the NFL's 75th anniversary.

Note also the helmet. The mask is changed with the removal of a protective bar.

The pants have changed as well as the stripes on the side of the pants are doubled once again.

Indianapolis Colts 2001 uniform
After two successful seasons, the Colts have a tough year, with the result of head coach Jim Mora being let go. They finish the season with a 6-10 record.

QB Peyton Manning had another great season passing for 4131 yards and 26 td’s.

If you look closely at this jersey, you will note a smaller patch, the NFL shield, on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck and upper left thigh of the pants beginning in 1991 - an exception being in 1994 when teams occasionally wore "throwback" uniforms celebrating the NFL's 75th anniversary.

The helmet has a slight change in the mask, as another bar has been added. As well, if you could see the back of the helmet, you would see an American flag honoring the heroes of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

Indianapolis Colts 2005 uniform
Text yet to be written for this Season.

Indianapolis Colts 2006 uniform
Text yet to be written for this Super Bowl Winning Season.


Celebrate the Colts' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Indianapolis Colts and the history of the Colts 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 14 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 14 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 Indianapolis Colts YouTube video at or go directly to the artwork website 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 (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

And please search my blog archive for other blogs on the history of the Colts.


This blog was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 17, 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 !

Many thanks!!!

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