Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Cowboys uniform dish

Good stuff, from my brother in Denham Springs, LA, who is in the football equipment and uniform business. Thanks, bro(!):
In Super Bowl V, both the Colts and the Cowboys had their uniforms stolen the week of the game...forcing both teams to have to use their away jerseys. Plus, the navy jersey jinx was already in place before the Super Bowl.

The Cowboys helmet color, now referred to as "Cowboys Blue" is a mixture of Carolina Blue - or, more specifically: Columbia Blue and Raider Silver. In those days, you had to apply each coat separately. These days the paint is blended. Tex Schramm developed the concoction cocktail because it looked better through television lenses, was more versatile, and was unique.

Kansas State uses Cowboys Blue on their helmets, and think how good it looks - even with purple accent - on television. Remember, Tex Schramm was a television marketing executive [Greg's note: and thus understood the television money available to the NFL], and his decisions were always based on the game being more fan friendly for television viewers.

Tex Schramm, and long time equipment mgr. Buck Buchannon, were Russell Athletic men - though at that time it was called Russell Southern. In your favorite picture, Tony Hill is in a Russell jersey. Russell's jersey colors are unique to them. Russell created unique color shades, and other manufacturer could not duplicate Russell's colors. When you sell a school a full set of uniforms, every year the school either sells their torn jerseys, or maybe gives the seniors their own jerseys. Russell's unique colors insure that their competition cannot fill a partial order to replace only the old, torn jerseys of the school, because the partial order of new jerseys would not match the color of the old jerseys. When I sold Riddell against Russell, my only hope was that the school had lots of sr's, and went deep into the playoffs, and tore up lots of jerseys, and maybe then I could sell them a complete set of new jerseys.

Russell's colors are definitely the prettiest, and are also unique. Examples are Univ. of Kansas blue, and Washington State crimson.
In the late 70's, with the Cowboys as Russell's bell cow, Tex Schramm sat down to develop a better navy game set. In the 50's, basketball uniforms were often shiny, reflective polyester fabric. Schramm figured such reflective fabric would be better for tv.

His problem was the 50's era reflective fabric did not stretch. Russell developed Antron, which was a shiny polyester which did stretch, which is what was needed for football pants. Vern Lundquist called the Cowboys' shiny pants: "Disco pants."
Greg's note: here's a link to the only picture I can find of the dark bright jerseys + shiny disco pants. The football card site would not allow me to import the picture to the blog.
For the next 10 years, game pants were made with (coaches speak): "shiny front, and regular back" until the cost and trademark exclusivity was finished. Today, 90% of all game pants are full Antron, front and back. The problem for Tex Schramm was color options. His Columbia Blue wasn't available in Antron. Thus, Schramm had to utilize silver if he wanted to continue being innovative.

Also at that time, Schramm and Buchannon decided to change the helmet stripes from royal to navy, to match the jerseys. I believe this may have been in '77. The change to navy helmet stripes wasn't as drastic for fans to accept, as it came after the one bi-centennial year of one royal and one red helmet stripe.
Complicating the helmet stripe issue were the helmets themselves. Staubach wore the same helmet - Bill Kelley's helmet - which Singletary broke 20+ of while at Baylor. Staubach later wore a Maxpro Super Pro helmet which had a clear coat finish on the outside, with the paint inside of the helmets. Royal stripes on Bill Kelley helmets looked navy on tv.
Greg's notes: and thus may have influenced the decision to go to navy stripes on all of the team helmets, so as to conform the entire team with the most visible star's helmet.

The superior cosmetics of the navy helmet stripe are a lesson for anyone who cares to look: an official color scheme ought not prevent a team from going to a superior look. Tex Schramm was also ahead of his time in this area, as we can see by modern teams' integration of colors which are not in their official scheme. Black, anyone? Anyone? Univ. of Tennessee girls basketball: turquoise? Newly created teams now typically have several colors in their "official" scheme.

A second lesson: How a helmet is perceived on television, and from a distant stadium seat, is more important than how a helmet is perceived up close. The navy helmet stripe utilizes the same principle as a theater performer who wears pancake make-up. Back to bro:
Jerry Jones signed the multi million $ deal with Nike. Nike used multiple manufacturers - nothing was made at the same locations, and there are different color lots. Nike uniforms are all over the place. Also, JJones moved away from royals and columbia blue's of Tex. Schramm, to put his stamp on his boys with navy's and more traditional silvers.
Greg's notes: Here's a link to video of Darrell Green chasing down Tony Dorsett, in 1983, on MNF. Tony is wearing the Tex Schramm dark uniform + disco pants for the first time. Last month, ABC/ESPN named this one of the all-time MNF games. Dallas did get the last laugh, after a big comeback netted a 31-30 victory.

I would like to see an interviewer ask Staubach why he wore the Kelley helmet. There's a chance Staubach wore it simply b/c he liked the look: i.e. the Kelley helmet, on his head and body, combined with his body language on the field, created the swashbuckling and heroic look Roger Staubach ought to have. If this were true, I don't fault Staubach. Staubach had no way to know of possible (unproven) additional neurologic danger, and the Kelley helmet did look excellent on him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check your facts, the dallas Cowboy jerseys in the 70's and early 80's were made by Southland out of Terrell Texas not Russell Southern