Wednesday, December 16, 2015
The Wearing of the Silver and Black
In this photo from Super Bowl II, Packers quarterback Bart Starr tries to get away from Oakland defensive tackle Dan Birdwell.
What's striking to me is that Oakland Raiders uniform. The Packers uni Starr is wearing is close to the one Aaron Rodgers will don this Sunday, but there are a lot of little differences. The gray facemask. The solid green/gold stripes on the sleeves. The sock stripes. All minor changes (and all of them downgrades), but changes nonetheless.
But that Raiders uniform. The Silver and Black. Exactly as it was when they took the field that day in 1968. Sure, the materials are different, and the helmets have taken on a new shape in the intervening half-century, but the design elements are as they always were.
They even had names on the back of the jersey in 1968, which was pioneered by the AFL in 1960 but wouldn't be adopted by the Packers until 1970. And that might be the only design change, the old letters replaced with a sans-serif font.
With such a steady uniform history, it's easy to forget that the Raiders actually started out their existence as the gold and black, in jerseys that owed a little something to the Chicago Bears.
That was short-lived, and after a few minor tweaks the famous black-and-silver was introduced in 1963. The helmet logo was tweaked the following season, and to this day, the Raiders have an almost-perfect home uniform.
This was the basis for the throwbacks they wore in 2009 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the American Football League, and it's an interesting departure. Other than that, it's hard to suggest improvements to Al Davis's classic design.
In a league increasingly eager to shed its traditional aesthetic to chase the latest trends, there's something wonderful about seeing two old-school teams taking the field. And with the Raiders possibly abandoning Oakland for Los Angeles (again), this is a rare pleasure for these two devoted fanbases to watch.