Throwback – Baltimore Ravens

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Team Colors
Note: Names not official
Purple
Black
Gold
White

The Ravens have more helmet mascots/emblems than most teams in the NFL.  Their first helmet emblem was submitted by Frederick E. Bouchat. He was excited to have a football team back in Baltimore. In his excitement he faxed a design concept to the Maryland Stadium Authority. The team showed off their uniforms, with a shield emblem that greatly resembled his original design he faxed not too long ago. Fred sued the Ravens for copyright infringement. He won the case but got only $3 in damages. Later Ravens owner Art Modell changed the emblem to an angry raven with a B superimposed on its head. No doubt this was also done to stop any potential royalties to Fred.

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Throwback – Cincinnati Bengals

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Team Colors
Note: Names not official
Black
Orange
White

The Bengals deserve way more credit than they receive for their role in the modern gridiron football.  These things began in Cincinnati before they were cool:

  • (Game Long) No Huddle Offense – No Huddle Offense is normally used near the end of the first half or the end of a game. The offense would huddle quickly (if at all), then the play is called out in coded words or phrases (“audibles”), and finally the snap is done with a “silent count” (the quarterback makes a gesture such as a toe step or an arm wave as a timer for the offense, rather than shouting a countdown).  Ideally this would tire out the defense and give them no time to settle on the quarterback’s snap count. Sam Wyche, head coach of the Bengals in 1988, is credited for using NHO throughout the game.
  • West Coast Offense – Football was almost exclusively a running offense before the West Coast Offense became popular. WCO has the offense make short yard gains or first downs with quick passes to multiple receivers. Ideally this would spread out the defense and improve the odds of a deep throw connecting. Bill Walsh was the Bengals assistant coach in the early 1970s. Bengals game footage during his time there showed a proto West Coast Offense. Bill went on to refine WCO  while coaching at Stanford University, and it thrived during his head coaching days with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s.
  • Zone Blitz – A response to the West Coast Offense. The play assigns defense players to specific players (or zones).  This extra movement is meant to confuse the offense about the defense’s block assignments and their own play positioning. Zone Blitz was rarely used in professional football until it was made over by Dick LeBaeau, Bengals defensive coordinator in the 1980s.

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Throwback – Cleveland Browns

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Team Colors

Note: Names not official
Brown
Orange
White

When the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) merged with the NFL, one of the teams that lived on in the updated NFL was the Cleveland Browns.  For about 15 years (1950-1965), the Browns dominated football.  They had deep playoff runs and multiple NFL Championships in their name.   You can thank head coach and namesake Paul Brown for that.   He is credited as the first for using game film, as in actual celluloid film, to improve his players and scout opponents.  His reputation as a dictator was warranted.  No one brought it up because he crafted a winning team.  When things started going sour in the 1960s Brown’s stubborn pride became prominent. He seemed more concerned with his status as Greatest Coach Forever Amen than how his team was performing on the field. Wait, film your dudes and opponents? An insulated coaching process? Tons of head coaching success and national fame? Someone sweeps the bad stuff under the carpet? This pattern sounds familiar. Makes me wonder if current Patriots coach Bill Belichick looks to Paul Brown the way Napoleon idolized Alexander the Great.

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Throwback – Pittsburgh Steelers (né Pirates)

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Team Colors

Note: Names not official
Black
Yellow

How does a city gain and maintain its own colors?  Pittsburgh has a perfect answer.  Pittsburgh’s flag has black and yellow stripes.  Founder and Pittsburgh native Art Rooney named the football team after the established baseball team in 1933.  Art also adopted the city’s flag colors and design.  This included the black and yellow stripes on the away uniforms for the inaugural season.  Thankfully he placed the stripes only as arm bands the following season.  The Pittsburgh Penguins, the city’s professional hockey team, adopted the black and gold color scheme in 1980.  You have to give it these professional teams for consistency.

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Throwback – Houston Texans


throwback-hote2Team Colors
Note: Names not official
Dark blue
Red
White

Throughout the history of professional football, I’m glad that in every major association or league there was a team based somewhere in Texas called the Texans.  Your other name choices when this team was formed (roughly in 2000)  included: the Bobcats, Stallions, Toros, and Apollo.  Maybe in another state those other names are fine but this is Texas, damn it.  Good thing current Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt gave the blessing to have the Texans come back to life.  Remember, the Kansas City Chiefs were the original Houston Texans before their move.
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Throwback – Indianapolis (né Baltimore) Colts

throwback-baco2 Team Colors
Note: Names not official
Blue
Grey
White

No courtesy notifications were sent to Baltimore that a popular source of revenue/city morale is going away.  Robert Irsay just loaded a fleet of moving trucks and hauled ass to Indianapolis as soon as Indianapolis sweetened their loan deal.  So by midday of March 29, 1984 the Baltimore Colts were no more.  Robert Irsay’s Midnight Ride also took with him the Colts history he shaped in Baltimore (including Superbowl wins, historical rosters, records, and team colors). For all parties involved this situation sucked.  Baltimore Colts fans witnessed their team slide from playoff perennials to mediocrity.  They wanted their team to be relevant again yet all they witnessed were politicians and Bob Irsay playing chicken.  Baltimore legislature liked the goodwill the Colts gave them but had no money to foot the bill for stadium repairs.  Their city coffers did not have that kind of funding to support the Colts*.  Robert Irsay rightly believed that retrofitting and upgrading Memorial Stadium could help bring the Colts back to playoff contention.  Irsay also did not have that kind of funding.  Irsay also knew a good deal when he saw one.  He left for new opportunities and left Baltimore to spiral into a violent crack town in the 1980s and 1990s.  He should have left a press statement or give a press conference to explain the move to long time Baltimore Colts fans. The Baltimore Ravens with their Superbowl victories have helped ease the hurt.  There is a generation of children that only know the Ravens as their team in the Baltimore area.  Their parents and older relatives would have to retell the glory of the true team that came before, the Baltimore Colts, and the scary story of Robert Irsay’s Midnight Ride.

*  I am assuming local politicians had good intentions.  Like many local political stories I’m sure there was corruption and dick waving that played a factor into Robert Irsay’s Midnight Ride. Continue reading