Ol' Ricky's Redskins Tales - Jerseys
Vince Lombardi arrived in 1969 and suddenly everybody was talking about the Redskins. Ol’ Ricky even started watching that season despite older fans saying the team wasn’t very good.
Lombardi knew looking good is part of being a winner (wife says that to me whenever I think I’m going somewhere with her only to learn I need to change.) So, Lombardi made some changes to the uniform. Suddenly, there was the R on the helmet with a slightly new shade of burgundy jersey and those awful mustard-yellow pants that Bruce Allen brought back in recent years.
Mostly, Lombardi borrowed from the Green Bay Packers’ look where he won five titles. The Packers stole it from the Cleveland Browns.
Lombardi switched jerseys from longtime maker Sand Knit to Rawlings where his brother-in-law happened to be a salesman. The problem was the jerseys arrived only days before the opener and were a lighter shade. Some said it was wine or cranberry red. It wasn’t quite burgundy.
Lombardi never saw the new helmets. They weren’t ready so the team waited until 1970 and by then Lombardi was dying of cancer. The new ones changed spears and added a single stripe.
By 1971, new coach George Allen replaced Lombardi’s changes with an American Indian on the helmet. Bobby Beathard changed the look again in 1989 and then Bruce Allen returned to the mustard pants.
Nowadays, Ol’ Ricky reads defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio wants an all-white look to return. Ugh, Ol’ Ricky hates that look. You know what looks good? Winning.
Tomorrow: Ol’ Ricky remembers Joe Don Looney, who was exactly what his name suggested. Lots of stories in my book and these are the types of tales I’ll tell on my “Pizza and Pigskins Tours” later this summer.
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.