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Saturdays in the fall are usually reserved for College Football here on Uni Watch, and with good reason — the colleges play on Saturday. Earlier this year the Pittsburgh Steelers unveiled a new throwback jersey for this season that they will debut tomorrow against the Washington Redskins. The throwback’s most well known visual comes from the team photo of the 1934 Pittsburgh Pirates, what the team was called before changing their name to the Steelers in 1940. As a founder of the Gridiron Uniform Database, and as one who claims himself as a Steeler fan, I take particular interest in the Steelers’ uniform history. For some games, in the day of the game edition of the newspapers, the paper would usually run a publicity photo of a couple players of the opponent. In spite of all of the publicity of the throwback jersey and the labeling of it as from 1934 by the Steelers, it seems to be based on ONE photograph, the team photo shot supposedly from 1934, and perhaps some surviving posed publicity photos taken before the season.
Unless the Steelers know something we do not know, this particular game is the only known game that the stripes saw action in a competitive game.
As for the current throwback, this being 2012, an NOB is added, the Nike swoosh is present and perhaps for the sake of clarity, the numbers are in white blocks as opposed to the yellow blocks that our research has indicated were actually worn on the original jerseys.
In any event, to publicly portray them as jerseys that were worn specifically during the 1934 season, we believe to be factually in err. The Big Ten was big time in 1962, and Saturday’s only games for the next few weeks will reflect that. Little by little the Astros are showing off their uniform, although this one was more of an accident (or was it)? Actually, the Creamer board had the first scoop on the new logo, with a pretty interesting writeup.
Maybe the Astros are getting screwed by MLB and Selig by having to move to the AL (and causing at least one interplague series for every set of series played), but at least they will look good. So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way. Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? Phil, thanks for posting my NFL concepts earlier this year, it was funny to see the website with the images suddenly get tons of hits once you posted the link. Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. A Robert Marshall special in honor of the impending Sooners victory over the visiting Irish tomorrow!
Does anyone else see blood splattered on the stripes of flag, on those Boston College wounded warrior uniforms? Please click on the evolution of the Steelers uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. Please read this terrific 1934 Pittsburgh Steelers uniform article written by the amazing Tim Brulia.
It explains a great deal about the 1934 jersey and what the Pirates (as the Steelers were then known) did and didn't wear that season.
1960 The 1960 Steelers were led by 34 year old veteran Bobby Layne, one of the brighter lights to don a Steelers jersey in this era. 1967 Much like the 1963 jersey, the 1967 black home jersey is very simple in design, but it works. 1975 Here we go again!Hard on the heels of their 1974 success, the 1975 Steelers pick right up where they left off, going 12-2 in the regular season, then knocking off the Colts 28-10 followed by the ever present Raiders 16-10.
1978 and 1979What a ride!After a two year hiatus, the 1978 Steelers do it again.After compiling a franchise best record 14-2 in the regular season, the Steelers beat Denver 33-10 and Houston 34-5 on route to Super Bowl XIII.
2004 The NFL's longest tenured coach, Bill Cowher, faced monumental challenges going into his 13th season in Pittsburgh following a 6-10 season in 2003, ending a two-year run atop the AFC North.
Celebrate the Steelers' uniform history by owning a piece of history:If you love the Pittsburgh Steelers and the history of the Steelers 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! If you are looking for the 12 Part blog "An Insider's Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products: Practical lessons from the Trenches", please click here.
The Pittsburgh Steelers throwback uniforms get their long overdue debut this weekend when the Black and Gold host Washington. MIssionTo provide the most up to date news, images, and opinions on today's top sneaker company. About six or seven years ago, when I began my original research into the team’s uniform history, I utilized the facilities of the Pennsylvania State Library in Harrisburg and dug into the microfilm collection of Pittsburgh newspapers.
I would surmise that the team picture is indeed from 1934, taken likely before the season started.


I even dug through a rather surprisingly hyped game the Pirates played a week after the 1934 season closed, a charity game played against local collegiate All-Stars, and even there the Buccos wore the blacks they wore in ’34.
Just yesterday however, the Steelers posted this picture on their Facebook page that apparently shows an authentic prisoner jersey with white number blocks that is on display at the team’s office at Heinz Field.
Historical inaccuracies notwithstanding, these jerseys are sure to be an eye-popper when the Steelers take the field wearing them tomorrow!
Yes, for everyone interested, that game will mercifully be on ESPN3 only (apparently) today. Tim was assisted in his research by his Gridiron Uniform Database partners Rob Holecko and Bill Schaefer. To help maintain high morale throughout the country, the NFL, like Major League Baseball, decides to carry on at the advice of none other than President of the United States.
Then in one of the better Super Bowl games, the Steelers hold off the late charging Cowboys 21-17 in front of 80,017 fans in Super Bowl X at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Just like 1975, the Steelers face the Cowboys, and just like 1975, the Cowboys mount a large charge to make the game quite close, but when all was said and done the Steelers defeated the Cowboys 35-31 in Miami on January 21, 1979. This rounded numbering style is most often associated with the Chicago Bears, who have used it for almost 50 years. After twelve games in the 2005 season, the Steelers were 7-5 and in the midst of a three game losing streak. To update those findings with the new 2012 throwback, I decided to make another trip the PA State Library a few days ago to confirm what I found. For whatever reason, the Bucs decided to go with rather generic yellow jerseys and black jerseys for gamewear in 1934. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that. Similar to my NFL set, not every team is changing, but its comprehensive set and league wide, since in a lot of ways what makes a good uniform is that it is recognizable compared to the others in the league. Briefly summarized, he said that the games of baseball and football were too important to the people.
Note the lack of a face mask on the helmet, somewhat remarkable given the fact that players in the 50’s were increasingly large. This traditional 3-point Steelers logo – a marking that has graced the right side of Steelers helmets to this day! Rooney will fondly be remembered for being a smooth and unbelievably lucky gambler who invested $2,500 into an NFL franchise, and nearly 40 years later, turned it into a dynasty. Other teams have used it from time to time, including the 1960 Raiders.Note also the small NFL logo just below the neckline. At the unveiling of the new throwback, the Steelers stated that this throwback would hearken back to the 1934 season.
I searched the archives of the three Pittsburgh daily newspapers: The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph.
20 game against the Giants) were played under the portable lights at Forbes Field, because up until November 7th, the Pirates could not play at home on Sunday due to Pennsylvania’s blue laws. His number in the pic, 34, was clearly black, with the 3 and the 4 inside of YELLOW blocks superimposed over the black and yellow stripes! While the homage to these jerseys is laudable, it is a little disappointing personally that the Steelers apparently did not research this style as thoroughly as they could and should have, at least as far as when the uniform actually saw game action.
Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays.
Note that the uniform numbers on the sleeves have made their way higher on the jersey sleeve. This is an American Bicentennial patch that is located on the upper left part of the chest, and it was only worn in Super Bowl X on January 18, 1976 as part of the American Bicentennial celebrations.
A staple in the football community, it is not uncommon to mention Rooney in the same breath as Chicago Bear legend – George Halas. What happened after the twelfth game was the stuff of legend - the Steelers closed out the regular season with four straight wins and they needed all four just to make the playoffs as a wildcard team. For extra measure, I also searched the archives of the three daily Philadelphia papers from 1933 and 1934, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The (Philadelphia) Bulletin and the Philadelphia Record.
Each of the three night games discovered clearly showed the Pirates in the city seal jerseys. This football card of Heller is likely redone from the publicity photo found in the Record. Interestingly, while searching for something else, I landed upon this track-the-wienermobile weblog.


Note also the fact that the helmet depicted now has a face mask, even though quarterback Bobby Layne still went without one in the 1960 season. Of special note, if you could see the right side of the helmet, you’d see the traditional 3-point Steelers logo – a marking that has graced the right side of Steelers helmets to this day! To this day, the Rooney family still helms the Steelers football club in the person of President Daniel M. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck, and to the upper left thigh of the pants, beginning in 1991. They gave their running game a facelift, by ousting prospect Amos Zereoue and signing all-purpose tough guy Duce Staley. It features yellow and black stripes throughout, with the players’ numbers in black set inside a white rectangle per each digit surrounded by a think black outline. Perhaps they just wanted to identify them as simply being from 1934 both because of the team photo and because of the 1994 throwbacks also being from the 1933 season. In 1944, the Steelers would merge again, this time with the Chicago Cardinals – forming the Card-Pitts.
Thus when we report that the 1954 Steelers went 5-7good for 4th in the 6 team NFL East, we shouldn’t be overly surprised. Also note that the 1960 helmet did not have a logo on it – this began in 1962, and even then only on the right side of the helmet. The story goes that when the logo was proposed in 1962, owner Art Rooney wasn’t 100% sure if he liked the logo – so he had it placed on the right side only!
The only major exception to this practice was in 1994 when the teams wore their throwback uniforms – in these cases, the teams did not wear the NFL shield patch.Did you spot the mini Steelers logo on the left shoulder?
Google archives has the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (as well as the Pittsburgh Press) in its online archives. Or maybe the organization simply wasn’t aware how specifically inaccurate they were about what year the jersey was worn. The tradition has been upheld ever since.As much as we love this jersey, the team does no better than a 4-9-1 record. On defense, younger, faster players like CB Ricardo Colclough and LB Dedrick Roper replaced aging veterans like Dewayne Washington and Jason Gildon.
I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. As with all of our research at The Gridiron Uniform Database, we are always open to further refinement with new documentation, but what we have presented here is what we believe to be fact, to the extent that we have been able to prove within our research.
From 1957 to 1963 the Steelers were led by quarterback Bobby Layne, defensive tackle Ernie Stautner and running back John Henry Johnson, and they considered themselves were legitimate division contenders.
And 1968 was worse – the Steelers would go 2-11-1, and then in 1969 they hit rock bottom as they went 1-13-0. While the pic of the Google archive is too dark to tell, the microfilm image at the state library does show the evidence of horizontal stripes on the sleeves. If indeed the jersey on display is of 1933 and 1934 vintage, then it appears that we seem to have a discrepancy as to whether or not the jersey had black and white stripes (which now seems to be fully discounted by all), or black and yellow stripes with numbers in yellow squares, or black and yellow stripes with numbers in white squares.
But the "dynasty years," which coincided with the team's move to the AFC at the time of AFL-NFL merger, were still a decade away. If it can be confirmed that this is indeed a truly authentic jersey in display at the Steeler office, then the GUD will adjust its database accordingly. A terrific 7-4-3 – one of only 8 winning seasons between 1933 (when the team was founded) and 1971. If not, we will stand by the Warren Heller photo as the correct convict jersey worn only in a game in 1933 against the Dodgers, yet in 1934 in the team photo and various publicity photos. In week 2 the team looked like it suffered a major setback when Tommy Maddox went down with a leg injury in a road game against the Baltimore Ravens; Roethlisberger stepped and played the rest of the game. There, two Pirates are clearly seen in the prisoner jersey and the stripes clearly extend on the players’ jersey backs. The Steelers lost the game, but remarkably that would be the last defeat they would suffer the rest of the regular season. While not clearly visible, there is no evidence at all of the players numbers inside of white blocks on the jersey fronts. From that loss the team came together and Roethlisberger proved he was ready for the big leagues, finishing the season with 196 completions for 2621 yards, 17 TD and 11 interceptions, and their defense allowed opposing teams more than 20 points in only three games the rest of the way.



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