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Uniform Historical Facts

Bills Uniform History Fact Of The Day The Countdown Until Uniform Unveiling

buffalobills.com

Do you remember Buffalo's first jersey in 1960?

What about the white helmets with a blue and red charging buffalo that the Bills wore from 1974-83?

Send us your memories of Buffalo's uniforms and helmets - webmaster@bills.nfl.com

Fact #1 - When they started play in the American Football League in 1960, the Bills wore blue jerseys with gray numbers at home and for road games wore white jerseys with blue numbers. The rest of the uniform for both home and road contests included plain white pants with no stripe and plain royal blue socks. The helmets were silver with blue numbers on the side. The color scheme of gray/silver and blue was similar to that of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, to whom the Bills had several connections. Owner Ralph Wilson was a Lions fan growing up and was at one time a minority owner of the team while the Bills first coach, Buster Ramsey, came to Buffalo after serving as the Lions defensive coordinator.

Fact #2 - After playing the 1960 and ’61 seasons in their original silver/gray and blue uniforms, the Bills made a switch prior to the 1962 regular season. In the July 14, 1962 edition of the Buffalo Evening News, Bills beat writer Jack Horrigan reported that, “(Coach Lou) Saban decided to ‘brighten up’ the Bills new uniforms by adding scarlet and making more use of white than the former silver-blue combination.” The team first wore the new look for the 1962 regular season opener vs. Houston and though the Oilers won 28-23, Evening News reporter Larry Felser described the new outfits as “the Bills sharp new uniforms.” The new look also saw the team’s silver helmet replaced by a white one with a red standing buffalo and a single red stripe down the middle.

Fact #3 - In 1962 and ’63, the blue jersey had two broad white stripes surrounding a single red one over the shoulder while the white jersey had double blue stripes separated by a red one in a style popularized by UCLA’s college team. It is believed that the striping style coincided with the arrival of head coach Lou Saban in 1962. Saban came to the Bills from the Patriots, and Boston wore similar striping on their uniforms. That jersey style lasted two seasons until 1964 when the stripes were moved to the end of the sleeve and the stripes became thinner. It is this style of jersey that the Bills wore during their AFL championship seasons of 1964 and ‘65.

Fact #4 - The 1973 season saw another significant change to the Bills uniform when the team switched to blue pants with its white jerseys. The blue pants had a white-red-white stripe down each side and also had a blue belt. Running back O.J. Simpson was wearing that style of uniform pants on 12/16/73 at Shea Stadium when he became the first player in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards in a season on the strength of a 200-yard rushing performance against the Jets. That season was a big one in Bills history as it was also the team’s first year at its new stadium in Orchard Park, now known as Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Fact #5 - During their first decade of play in the 1960s, the Bills helmet underwent several changes. The helmet worn in 1960 and 1961 was silver/gray with royal blue numbers on the side. From 1962 through 1964, the team wore white helmets with a red standing buffalo on the side and a red center stripe. In 1965, two blue stripes were added to either side of the single red stripe down the center of the helmet. Those helmets also featured the players’ numbers on the back next to the stripes. That style of helmet was worn from 1965-73.

Fact #6 - In 1974, the Bills helmet underwent another change. From 1965-73, they wore white helmets with a red standing buffalo on the side and blue-red-blue stripes down the center. In ’74, the red standing buffalo was replaced by a blue charging buffalo like the one that is used today. From 1974-78, the helmets featured gray facemasks but in 1979, dark blue facemasks replaced the gray ones and remained through the 1983 season.

Fact #7 - In February of 1984, the Bills announced that they were switching their helmet color, going to red after wearing white headgear since 1962. While the color changed, the charging buffalo on the side and blue facemasks both remained. It was speculated that the color switch was to help quarterback Joe Ferguson distinguish his receivers from opposing defenders, especially the three division opponents (Dolphins, Patriots, and Colts) who also wore white helmets. Ferguson threw 25 interceptions in 1983 and 17 in 1984.

Fact #8 - Seven of the last eight NFL teams to change their uniform design made the playoffs in their first season with the new look. The trend started in 1996 when the Eagles earned a Wild Card berth after changing attire. In 1997, the Buccaneers advanced to the Divisional Playoff while the Broncos won Super Bowl XXXII in their new uniforms. In ’98, the Jets advanced to the AFC Championship Game and in ’99 the Titans reached Super Bowl XXXI. In ’00 the Rams earned a Wild Card spot while the Giants made it to Super Bowl XXXV. The only recent team not to make the playoffs in their first season with new uniforms was the ’00 Patriots who made up for it by winning the Super Bowl at the end of the 2001 campaign, a season in which there were no uniform changes.

Fact #9 - Through the years, the Bills have made additions to their uniforms to mark significant occasions. For the 1984 season, the Bills wore a patch on the left shoulder of their uniforms to recognize the 25th anniversary of the American Football League. In 1986, the Bills added the initials “PJM” to the front of their helmets above the facemask in memory of long-time team executive Patrick McGroeder, who passed away in February of that year. In 1994, the team wore a patch on the right side of the jersey to celebrate the team’s 35th anniversary and also wore a patch on the left side of the jersey to recognize the 75th anniversary of the National Football League.

Fact #10 - In 1979, the Bills again altered the look of the helmets slightly, this time switching to blue facemasks. In 1980, the Bills began the practice of wearing white jerseys with blue pants at home games. That year, they also started a four-year run of wearing wide-mesh jerseys for warm-weather games.

Fact #11 - After introducing them in 1973, the Bills stopped wearing the blue pants in 1986, opting to wear the white pants with blue and red stripes for all games. The next year, 1987, the team switched from blue facemasks to white ones. It marked the first time the team used white facemasks, as previous ones worn were either gray or blue.

Fact #12 -Since they switched to the red, white, and blue look in 1962, the numbers on the Bills uniform have remained pretty consistent. The blue jerseys have featured white numbers outlined in red and the white jerseys have had blue numbers outlined in red. The most-issued jersey in team history has been #75, worn by 21 different players in regular season action. That’s followed by #86 (20 players) and #21 (19 players). Aside from “0” or “00” which have never been worn, the most uncommon jersey number had been #2, worn by just one player (Steve Christie).

Fact #13 -As part of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Celebration in 1994, each team wore a ‘throwbacks” uniform for at least one game. The Bills wore a uniform modeled after the team’s 1964-65 version. The most distinguishing features of the throwbacks uniforms included a white standing buffalo against the red helmet and red, white, and blue striped socks. The Bills wore these uniforms for two games - a 15-7 road win at Houston (white jerseys) on 9/19/94 and a 27-20 home victory over Denver (blue jerseys) on Monday night, 9/26/94.

 

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