By Phil Hecken
Yesterday, the Baltimore Indianapolis Colts announced they will be wearing a throwback for 2010. This in and of itself is not notable — lots of teams throwback. This year alone, the Packers, Bears and Eagles have all announced they’ll be wearing special throwback uniforms for the 2010 season. It had been widely rumored the Colts would as well, and on Monday, in a small ticker item, we got our first glance at the throwback helmet.
What was odd about this was (1) the team will be wearing a ROAD (white) throwback, and (2) they will be wearing it for their pre-season opener (August 15, 2010, against the San Francisco 49ers). I can’t ever recall a team wearing a throwback uniform during the pre-season, much less introducing it for their opener. I have no knowledge as to whether it will be worn during the season, but one could probably assume so.
Blue Helmets Return: The uniform the Colts will be throwing to is from the year 1955. The Colts have worn blue helmets twice in their history: the first time, in their inaugural season of 1953, they wore a plain blue helmet. Uni Watch historian Tim Brulia noted they wore the plain blue helmet for a “couple of night games and a day game.” In 1954, the Colts had both a blue and a white helmet; the white had a single blue stripe, while the blue was adorned with a white stripe and two horseshoes at the rear of the helmet. They would keep the blue helmet until the end of the 1955 season, never to be worn again. In 1956, the Colts switched to a white helmet with the blue horseshoes. For their Thanksgiving game in 2004, against the Lions, the Colts wore 1956 throwbacks. The 1955 and 1956 road (white) jerseys were identical. By 1957, the Colts moved to a uniform that has largely unchanged for more than 50 years.
According to the Colts press release, “The jerseys will be white with blue numbers and there will be three stripes on the sleeves below the jersey numbers. The pants will be white with a single blue stripe down the side, and the white socks will feature three blue horizontal stripes.”
In with the old: This is of course, not dramatically different from the uniform they wear today. As you are no doubt aware, the uniform they wear today is basically what they first wore in 1957. For a pretty good analysis of the Colts uniform history, check out my Super Bowl uni-history breakdown, and scroll down to the Colts section.
As mentioned above, the Colts threwback to their 1956 duds in 2004 (here’s another view). That is, to my knowledge, the only time (aside from 1994 for the NFL’s league-wide 75th anniversary celebration), they have ever “thrown back” (or worn a ‘alternate’ uniform). Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your perspective), the Colts didn’t really throw back in 1994, basically wearing their current uniform at the time (which technically, because of only minor changes, could have been a 1957 throwback). So, with this new 1955 “alternate,” this will be the first time “home” (Indy) fans will see their beloved Colts in a throwback. And the “white at home” is an odd choice, because they did NOT wear their white jerseys at home in 1955.
According to Timmy Brulia, in his tremendous “White At Home” research project, the Colts have only worn white at home a few times:
Colts: 1964 every home game except extra home game vs. Cardinals; 1965 every home game; 1980 vs. Steelers, Jets, Patriots, Cardinals and Browns; 1981 vs. Cowboys; 1995 vs. Bengals (blue pants) and Jets.
Yes, we all know how well the blue pants experiment (both photos from a game in Buffalo) went over.
How will it look? If history is any guide, the white jersey, single-stripe pants, and blue helmets will be a “new” look for a very traditional (uni-wise) team.
Not much reason was given for the throwback to 1955 (unless the Colts are borrowing the Los Angeles Dodgers odd gimmick of “55 since ’55″), but if the Colts were seeking to introduce an alternate (throwback), they had to go back pretty far into their history. It’s probably a LOT better than introducing a new alternate.
According to the press release, Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay states, “Our uniform design has changed little through the decades and is among the most recognizable in all of sports. This is a chance for our fans to see a Colts uniform with a different twist, in a classic throwback at Lucas Oil Stadium.”
So, how’d they do? I guess we’ll need to wait until the game to know for sure, but it looks like they have pretty much nailed, as best they can with modern materials and uniform cuts, the original. Not that they had too many changes to make. The most striking difference will of course be the blue helmet, while the rest of the uniform will not be much different from what they currently wear.
Will they wear that throwback during the regular season? Stay tuned.