Tuesday, July 9, 2013

National Pro Quarterbacks,1961

This picture has been making the rounds lately. Taken by famed photographer Ralph Morse, it was published in the November 17, 1961 issue of LIFE magazine. It shows the starting quarterbacks for each of the NFL's teams (the AFL was in its second year of existence, but hadn't yet broken through to the big time).

(back, L-R) Milt Plum, Bobby Layne, Sam Etcheverry, Bill Wade, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Norm Snead & Zeke Bratkowski, (front L-R) Jim Ninowski, Fran Tarkenton, Don Meredith, John Brodie, Sonny Jergensen & Y.A. Tittle.
Of course, every football fan recognizes Bart Starr, although there's something appropriate about his unassuming place in the back row. Nothing flashy about him, always the good son, but getting the job done. And there's his future backup, Zeke Bratkowski, representing Los Angeles.

I think what I love most about this photo is the variety in the uniforms. There's almost no overlap in the color schemes. Three red jerseys, but each paired with a different color pants. I suppose you could say that the Lions (blue/silver) and Giants (blue/gray) and then the Colts/Cowboys (each blue over white) overlap, but even those are distinctive.

Even without their helmets, we can go right down the line. Browns, Steelers, Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Colts, Redskins, Rams. Lions, Vikings, Cowboys, 49ers, Eagles, Giants. You don't even need custom stripes or details to tell them apart; the color combinations are enough. The trend towards moving many teams to navy and black was still decades away.

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