ESC's Game-Used News
This page features archived articles and information from Endzone's Game-Used News page
2010 Quick Hits (1/2/11)
- On Saturday, August 7th, the Broncos held a pre-season practice at INVESCO Field which was open to the public. On the same day, the Broncos honored the enshrinement of former great Floyd “The Franchise” Little to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having been granted league permission to wear ’44’ decals on their helments during this practice in honor of his induction. Floyd will also be honored with the presentation of his Hall of Fame ring during a ceremony at the September 26 home game vs the Colts
- Due to technical difficulties in formatting and uploading the file, there was a delay in posting the 2009 Uniform/Jersey Detail reference sheet. These issues have now been resolved and the .pdf file can now be accessed here.
- Patrick Scoggin, Executive Director of Endzone Sports Charities, has volunteered to serve on the committee to elect Randy Gradishar to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We are currently engaged with this group to explore ways in which we might assist in this endeavour to rectify the past injustice of Mr. Gradishar’s omission from this well-deserved honor. We will provide ongoing updates on this group’s progress. Stay tuned…
- For the 2010 season, the Broncos donned their orange home alternate jeresys for two games--on October 17 vs the Jets and on November 14 vs the division rival Chiefs. In a mid-November article, Dave Kreiger of the Denver Post suggested that the Broncos consider returning to the orange jerseys as their primary uniform and kicked off “Campaign Orange” encoraging fans to voice their opinions to the Broncos oraganization. A follow-up Kreiger article, indicated that the fans’ response had been unanimously in support of the change and also indicated that the Broncos’ coach, Josh McDaniels, along with CEO Joe Ellis were open to the change as well. As of November 19, the Broncos indicated that they had received over 1,000 e-mails. "We've got messages from 43 states as well as the nation's capital," Ellis said. "Also 12 countries, including Croatia, Cambodia, Tanzania and Afghanistan. All of them are expressing a desire for the team to make orange the primary jersey color." If the Broncos are going to switch back to their rightful uniforms in time for the 2012 season--which may be the next one the NFL plays, depending on the CBA negotiaions--the Broncos must inform the NFL by March 1. If you want to lend your voice to Campaign Orange you can send an e-mail to public.relations@Broncos.NFL.net .
Broncos “White” at Home (5/6/10) For 1957, three years before the formation of the American Football League’s Denver Broncos, the NFL instituted a uniform rule stipulating a standardized policy for teams to wear dark uniform jerseys when playing at home and white (or light) jerseys when on the road at their opponents’ field. Subsequent rule changes have provided some flexibility to this policy. While a majority of teams still adhere to this convention, current rules essentially allow the home team to elect their choice as to wearing either light of dark colored jerseys. Many warm-climate teams such as the Chargers and Dolphins, elect to wear lighter colored jerseys at home, particularly during the warmer weather of the first two months of a season.
Throughout their history, the Broncos have mostly maintained this standard white/away dark at home convention regarding jersey selection. Even during the penny-pinching early days of 1960-’61, they embraced this in spirit when light gold jerseys were worn as a part of the home uniform and white jerseys were worn on the road. There have, however, been exceptions during the past fifty years—some forced by the choice of the home team; others as the result of accidental “wardrobe malfunction”.
Below are identified instances over the past four decades where the Broncos have deviated from the standard home/road convention or worn alternate uniforms:
- September 19, 1971 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Dolphins
- October 3, 1971 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Chiefs
- October 10, 1971 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Raiders
- October 17 1971 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Chargers
- October 31, 1971 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Philadelphia
- November 7, 1971 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Lions
- November 14, 1971 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Bengals
- December 5, 1971 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Bears
- December 12, 1971 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- October 14, 1973 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Houston (Oilers)
- November 7, 1976 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Tampa
- October 23, 1977 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Cincinnati
- December 18, 1977 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Dallas
- October 28, 1978 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- December 17, 1979 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- September 14, 1980 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Cowboys
- September 21, 1980 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Chargers
- October 5, 1980 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Cleveland
- October 7, 1980 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Kansas City
- October 26, 1980 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at New York (Giants)
- November 9, 1980 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- October 25, 1981 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Buffalo
- November 29, 1981 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- November 28, 1982 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- December 12, 1982 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Los Angeles (Rams)
- September 18, 1983 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Eagles
- September 25, 1983 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Raiders
- October 16, 1983 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Bengals
- November 27, 1983 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- October 9, 1983 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Houston (Oilers)
- October 21, 1984 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Buffalo
- November 3, 1985 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- December 20, 1985 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Miami
- September 21, 1986 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Philadelphia
- October 20, 1986 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at New York (Jets)
- January 11, 1987 – orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Cleveland (“The Drive”)
- November 20, 1989 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Washington
- December 16, 1989 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Phoenix
- December 22, 1991 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- September 20, 1992 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Philadelphia
- October 12, 1992 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Washington
- September 11, 1994 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at New York (Jets)
- September 18, 1994 - orange “1965 Throwback” jerseys worn for game vs Raiders (NFL 75th)
- September 26, 1994 - white “1965 Throwback” jerseys worn for game at Buffalo (NFL 75th)
- September 11, 1995 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Dallas
- November 12, 1995 - orange “home” jerseys worn for road game at Philadelphia
- September 27, 1998- navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at Washington
- September 26, 1999- navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at Tampa
- September 23, 2001- navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at Phoenix
- December 2, 2001 - navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at Miami
- November 22, 2001 - orange “1986 Throwback” uniforms worn for road game at Dallas (Thanksgiving)
- November 24, 2002 - orange “alternate” jerseys worn for home game vs Colts
- September 22, 2003- navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Raiders
- November 3, 2003- navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Patriots
- November 16, 2003 - white “road” jerseys worn for home game vs Chargers (Shanahan Uniform-gate)
- September 26, 2004 - navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at San Diego
- October 3, 2004 - navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at Tampa
- November 28, 2004 - orange “alternate” jerseys worn for home game vs Raiders
- September 11, 2005 - navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at Miami
- October 9, 2006 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Ravens
- October 15, 2006 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Raiders
- November 19, 2006 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Chargers
- December 3, 2006 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Seahawks
- October 21, 2007 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Steelers
- October 29, 2007 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Packers
- November 19, 2007 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Titans
- December 9, 2007 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Chiefs
- December 30, 2007 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Vikings
- September 21, 2008 - orange “alternate” jerseys worn for home game vs Saints
- December 7, 2008 - orange “alternate” jerseys worn for home game vs Chiefs
- September 13, 2009 - navy “home” jerseys worn for road game at Cincinnati
- October 4, 2009 - orange “alternate” jerseys worn for home game vs Cowboys
- October 11, 2009 - brown “AFL Legacy” uniforms worn for home game vs (Boston) Patriots
- October 19, 2009 - white “AFL Legacy” uniforms worn for road game at San Diego
- November 9, 2009 - orange “alternate” jerseys worn for home game vs Steelers
- November 26, 2009 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Giants (Thanksgiving)
- December 20, 2009 - navy “alternate” pants worn for home game vs Raiders
Brisk Sales of Broncos Jersey Close Out 2009 (1/9/10) After a bright start to what was expected to be a rebuilding season, sales of Broncos jerseys/uniforms peaked from the period of September to December of 2009, notching over fifty sales transactions during this period (see summary of ‘Recent Sales’ below). While interest in football-related memorabilia is typically higher during the playing season, 2009 has yielded noticeably more sales when compared to the same period of years past.
While venues such as the online marketplace eBay and auctions houses including American Memorabilia and Grey Flannel were contributors as always, one new source and another old standby were responsible for most of this past years’ volume increase.
NFL Auction (www.nflauction.nfl.com), which offers memorabilia sourced directly from either the participating teams or the league, made its presence felt in offering nearly the entire team’s roster of game-worn “AFL Legacy” road jerseys worn durring the October 19th game played at San Diego. Offered under the umbrella of the “NFL Play 60”movement—the league’s initiative to make the next generation the most active and healthy—all proceeds from the auctions were to go to the program’s partners who each work in their own way to get children active for 60 minutes each day in order to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity.
Nearly two dozen jerseys were offered over a period of November and December with prices ranging from a low of $255 for the road “Legacy” jersey of Josh Barrett to a high of $2,040 for a similarly-styled jersey worn by rookie running back Knowshow Moreno.
New to the scene this year was JO Sports Co., Inc. (www.josportsco.com). Established in 2003, the Las Vegas (NV) based dealer entered 2009 with the first of a multi-year marketing deal with the Denver Broncos, which would bring Broncos game-worn/used items to the marketplace, having been sourced directly from the team. The company’s initial inventory consisted of a nice selection of complete uniforms (jersey, pants and socks) from the October 11th “AFL Legacy” game vs. the ‘Boston’ Patriots. Recent inventory additions include a sampling of navy home jerseys from the November 26th Thanksgiving Day game vs. the New York Giants as well as a few from the November 22nd game vs. the Chargers.
With straight-from-the-field authenticity being guaranteed, premium pricing for these rare pieces was typical, however, as of mid-December, several items, which had been in inventory for a number of weeks, were deeply discounted; some by up to 50% off of initial asking prices. Topping their offerings was the complete unifrom of rookie RB Knowshon Moreno , which was initially listed at $5,000 , however, neither the actual sale price, or whether or not this sale was actually consumated cannot be confirmed. At the low end of the scale are a small sampling of players whose jerseys are listed at $750 each (Fields, McBean & Peterson).
According to JO Sports Co. president Jarrrod Oldridge, there are still a very limited number of high-profile player’s jerseys yet to be added to inventory from this past season. Oldridge added, “We strive to (be) the place to go for all of your game worn Bronco’s game used memorabilia”.
eBay continues to be venue of choice for lower-valued itmes. Some of these are simply jerseys of either the lesser known, non-rostered, or exhibition season only players or jerseys while others come with scant evidence of on-the-field wear and/or somwhat dubious claims as to provenance. Despite this reputation, an occassional gem or two pops to the surface there. Two Broncos jerseys, one each home and road, dating from the 1962-’64 period, were offered in early October. The orange home jersey displayed obvious signs of wear and may possibly have been worn by either defensive backs Bob Zeman (1962-’63), Norman Bass (1964) or halfback John Griffin (1964-’66). The white road jersey displayed neither signifcant signs of use nor evidence of the application of a nameplate. Though worn or not, it is still believed to have at least been team-issued during the period. Both jerseys were sourced from the same seller and both were purchased by the same buyer, reportedly a noted collector of AFL memorabilia.
Looking back… Random Observations of the 50th Anniversary Season (1/9/10)
- Aside from the obvious and oft chagrined reappearance of the teams’ notorious vertically-striped socks, one of the most notable uniform notes of the past season was the wide variety of uniforms employed. Including the standard home and road uniforms worn only for about half of the season (and this year adorned with the team’s 50th anniversary commemorative patch), the team sported a total of six distinct uniform looks throughout the season. For back-to-back “AFL Legacy” games in October, the team reached back to it’s inaugural uniform styling of 1960-’61 for a home game against the Boston Patriots (on the 11th) and then a road contest at San Diego (on the 19th). For games against the Cowboys (Oct 4) and Steelers (Nov 9), players donned the orange alternate home jerseys. Additionally, on November 26th the Broncos went monochromatic wearing the navy alternate home pants for their Thanksgiving Day contest against the Giants and again on December 20th vs the Raiders.
- It would appear that the team-issued “Legacy” jerseys, worn in October, came in a very limited number of “cuts”. Kyle Orton wore the open-sleeved “quarterback” (Q) style whereas T Ryan Clady and C Casey Wiegmann both wore the sleevless, tight fitting “O” jerseys typical of offensive linemen. All others wore an “A” (alternate) cut jersey, which appears to be closely patterned after the “skill” jerseys.
- With a number of the 2009 season’s jerseys being made available this past year shortly after their use, some trends were reinforced. One of the most obvious it that the team continues to carry over jerseys from season to season as evidenced by a number of 2009 jerseys appearing with ‘08’ (2008) year tagging in the collar, including jerseys worn by Correll Buckhalter, Eddie Royal and Wesley Woodyard. One worn this year by LB Robery Ayers sported a year tag from as far back as 2004. Such delayed issue/reuse has been a practice that has continued to be employed on a regular basis since the team began using Reebok jerseys in 2001.
- One additional observation reinforced by examiniation of a number of the 2009 jerseys is the near-extinction of the manufacturer’s tail tagging. The reason for this is that, the jersey’s shirt tail has all but disapperated. NFL uniform rules state that the “Jersey must be tucked in... Short jerseys cut above the waist are prohibited” (source: Sales Transaction Archive), we have long struggled with how to compile dissimmilar items. In addition to listing the individual sales of the jerseys, we also would enter a line-item showing the “average” sale price where multiple sales have occurred. This average, however, could be somewhat misleading in that the data set from which the average was derived could contain both actual sales as well as unverified list prices. More recently, with the past seasons’ offerings of complete uniforms (jersey, pants and socks) from JO Sports Co., these sales have also been sometimes combined with other sales of jerseys only. In doing so, the aveage becomes somewhat skewed as the data set from which the average was derived included both “apples" and "oranges”. With the listed averages being of limited value, we have simply decided to remove these in future updates, leaving the user to perform whatever data analysis might be appropriate for their needs. Also, as a reminder to users of this information, the entries in this spreadsheet are color-coded with new entries (since the last update) shown in blue font, older entries in black font, and other teams’ jerseys of Broncos players shown in grey font (listed only where no sales of Broncos jerseys have been recorded).
Grey Flannel Auctions teams up with NFL Alumni (1/9/10) The NFL Alumni has chosen Grey Flannel Auctions, a purchaser and auctioneer of sports memorabilia, to assist former NFL players with the sale and marketing of their personal items and entire collections.
Grey Flannel will present Alumni members and former players an opportunity for extra income through the sale of their game-used jerseys, helmets, Championship rings, trophies, autographed items, etc.
For the past two decades, Grey Flannel has been the official appraisers for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition, for the past six years, they hav assisted the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) and its members in a similar capacity, offering free appraisials on the keepsakes and treasures accumulated throughout their playing careers.
Grey Flannel representatives will be traveling around the county offering retired NFL players free appraisals. Recently, complimentary appraisals took place in Baltimore, MD and Atlantic City, NJ. The next ones will be offered in Miami during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLIV.
Source: NFLA Pro Legends, December 2009, Vol 11, No. 6, p. 2
Varied Uni Styles Abound in ‘09 (9/7/09) With the Broncos kicking off their 50th anniversary season, the 2009 season will present the greatest variety of uniform styles in the team’s history. In a season marked by “AFL Legacy” celebrations throughout the league, the Broncos will hit the field in four unique uniform combinations, with five different jerseys to be worn.
Based on observations of pre-season action, little change is anticipated for the team’s standard uniform. Save for the addition of the team’s 50th anniversary patch to be affixed to the left chest of the jerseys, the navy and orange home jerseys (along with white pants sporting orange striping) and the white and navy road jerseys (matched with white pants with navy striping), remain materially unchanged.
Making their fourth season’s appearance, the orange “alternate” jerseys, first introduced in 2002 and also used in 2004 & 2008, will be worn for two additional games during the upcoming season. The Broncos will again roll out the orange tops (worn along with traditional “road” pants) while hosting the Dallas Cowboys on October 4 and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 9.
Graphic representations of Broncos’ 2009 uniform styles
During back-to-back weekends in October, the Broncos will celebrate the “AFL Legacy”, donning modern uniforms patterned after the teams’ original hand-me-down duds from 1960. In the home game on October 11, the team will host the New England (Boston) Patriots decked out in gold and brown uniforms, complete with brown, numbered helmets and the notorious vertically-striped socks. The following week, the team travels to San Diego to play the Chargers on the 19th; where they will wear the white and brown “road” version of the 1960-’61 unis. The team indicated that it was also investigating the possibility of wearing the gold/brown home “throwback” uniforms for one additional game, however, confirmation was not possible at the time of publication.
Broncos 50th Anniversary (left) and AFL 50th Anniversary patches to be worn on team’s 2009 uniforms
To commemorate the 50th anniversary season, two distinctly different commemorative patches (see above) will be affixed to the upper left chest of the team’s 2009 uniform jerseys. Current style jerseys (including orange “home” alternate) will be adorned with the unique Broncos 50th anniversary logo patch. Orange, navy blue, white and gold in color, the logo features the current horse-head logo superimposed over the number ‘50’. The words “Denver” and “Broncos” appear above and below, respectively, with the years ‘1960’ to the left and ‘2009’ to the right. During the two (or possibly three) occasions when the team dons its 1960-styled “AFL Legacy” uniforms, the jerseys will have the AFL 50th anniversary logo patch affixed. This patch will be worn by all former AFL teams on their respective AFL Legacy jerseys and is an adaptation of the original AFL logo with annotation regarding the “50th Anniversary Season”.
JO Sports Co. to Offer Broncos Gamers (9/7/09) JO Sports Co., Inc., a leader in bringing authentic game-used and autographed pro sports memorabilia to collectors, has reached an agreement to become official partners with the Denver Broncos. The company will now be the exclusive provider of game-used equipment sourced directly from the team.
The marketing agreement includes the distribution of game-worn jerseys, pants, helmets, sideline apparel, game-used footballs and other authentic memorabilia for the Broncos. It offers collectors and fans the opportunity to purchase highly sought-after and very personal NFL gear directly from a legitimate source, with ironclad provenance.
Established in 2003, JO Sports Co. currently has existing marketing agreements with the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders. In addition to the Broncos, other new teams added to the stable for 2009 are the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers. JO Sports Co. also has non-marketing agreements which allow the company to purchase and re-sell game-used memorabilia from the Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons. Along with its growing number of teams, the company also has over a dozen exclusive player contracts for game-worn and autographed memorabilia.
All game-used items will be secured by the team’s equipment staff, then tagged and shipped to JO Sports’ Las Vegas office where they will be photo-matched to the specific game in which they were utilized. All will come with a letter of authenticity from the team. Game-worn items will have the company’s revolutionary ThermoPatch applied to the inside. The patch is virtually impossible to remove and indicates the player, date worn and opponent. Each piece is then certified with a serial-numbered hologram, which is entered into JO Sports’ database.
“We are in the process of taking our JOSportsCo.com verification online,” said company president Jarrod Oldridge. “With this procedure, the collector can enter the serial number on each LOA to verify his or her item. At this point, we send each piece of memorabilia to our in-house photography studio. Once the collectible is photographed, it is again bagged and ready for sale.”
The agreements mean JO Sports Co. will be receiving some of the special 2009 AFL Legacy game jerseys and helmets from theBroncos, Jets, Chargers and Raiders and offering them for sale later this fall. They will also have the first game-used items from Broncos’ rookie Knowshon Moreno. Nearly all jerseys and equipment will be unwashed, allowing collectors to do their own photo matching via grass and blood stains, along with helmet and hit marks.
“It’s one thing to have a piece of memorabilia with a letter of authenticity but it is another to have that same piece of memorabilia with the LOA and a photo of the item being worn with matching marks,” said Oldridge.
The game-used items will be sold exclusively on the JO Sports Co., Inc. website at www.josportsco.com
NFL To Celebrate 50th Anniversary of AFL (5/2/09) The 2009 NFL season marks the 50th anniversary for the eight teams that played in American Football League, and plans to celebrate that benchmark were announced in March at the NFL Annual Meeting in Dana Point, CA.
The American Football League, which merged with the NFL in 1970, played its first season in 1960 with eight teams. They were the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Dallas Texans (Kansas City Chiefs), Boson (New England) Patriots, Titans of New York (Jets), Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles (San Diego) Chargers and the Houston Oilers (Tennessee Titans).
The NFL will highlight the 50th anniversary of those teams during "Legacy Games" throughout the 2009 season. During one home and one road game, former AFL teams will meet head-to-head while wearing their chosen historic uniforms.
The Broncos will sport uniforms patterned after the team’s look of 1960-’61, replete with vertically stripped stockings. The 2009 team will don the mustard and brown home uniforms on October 11 for their game with the New England Patriots (during which, the team’s 50th Anniversary Team will be announced). The following week, the Broncos will travel to San Diego to take on their division rival Chargers, wearing their brown and white road uniforms. Though unconfirmed, it is our understanding that the team is also negotiating with the league to possibly wear one of these two uniforms for a third game during the season as well.
Broncos VP of Communications, Jim Saccomanno displays elements of the 1960-style throwback uniforms
The NFL and the eight former AFL teams are planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary season with numerous events throughout the season. Additionally, the NFL Network, NFL.com and NFL Films will commemorate this anniversary with unique content and programming highlighting the history of the AFL and the original eight teams.
Game-worn jerseys and signed memorabilia will be auctioned at NFL Auctions throughout the season, with the money raised going to the NFL Player Care Foundation. It is our understanding that the Broncos road white/brown "throwback" jerseys will be made available through this outlet.
Reps of original AFL teams display jerseys and helmets to be worn for 2009 "Legacy" games
Below is a list of what each of the other original AFL teams will wear as their historic uniforms during the 2009 season:
- Bills - Unis commemorating the 1965 AFL Championship season with a white helmet featuring a simple red buffalo
- Chiefs - Red and white uniforms commemorating the Texans’ 1962 AFL Championship season with a red helmet featuring an outline of the state of Texas
- Patriots - Unis commemorating the 1963 divisional championship season with a white helmet featuring the original Pats’ logo
- Jets - Gold and navy uniforms based on the 1961 uniforms, including a navy helmet
- Raiders - White, silver and black uniforms based on the 1963 season; silver helmet with original logo
- Chargers - Unis commemorating the 1963 AFL Championship season including white pants with a yellow bolt down the legs
- Titans - 1960 uniforms with blue, white and red jerseys and a blue helmet with derrick logo.
Helmet Specs… The Sixties (5/2/09) While the Broncos’ uniforms of the early AFL days are most noted because of their infamous leggings, the helmets from this first decade were the most varied of any 10-year period in the teams’ history. From the simplistic design utilized by the inaugural 1960 team to the enduring and iconic royal blue style first introduced in 1968, over a half-dozen distinct styles found their way onto the heads of the Broncos players of the sixties.
For the most part, the Broncos organization assembled a rag-tag group of NFL has-beens, Canadian exports, and college wannabes in order to field their first team in 1960. There uniforms mirrored the shoestring budget mentality as used brown, gold and white attire was provided by General Manager Dean Griffing, complete with the dreaded vertically-striped hosiery.
The player’s helmets, however, were said to have been purchased new. These were painted a solid dark-brown color with a white, 1” center stripe added. In lieu of a team logo, the player’s uniform number adorned each side of the helmet in a 3” white sans serif font. Riddell, the Broncos’ predominate supplier of helmets during the AFL-era, essentially offered two helmet styles in 1960, the RK-4 and the TK-5.
Broncos Carl Larpenter and Al Day size up a young fan during 1960 training camp
The RK-4 was first introduced in 1954 and featured a 3-piece Kra-Lite® ABS shell which was slightly flared at the ear. Ventilation was provided via a series of 32 holes in the shell. The helmet’s suspension consisted of a leather-crowned, 3-loop, 6-point nylon-cotton webbing that was affixed to the shell via rivets. Leather jaw pads were also riveted into the shell.
The TK-5, introduced a year later in 1955, featured a similar suspension with a rubber crown. This was bound inside a rounded, one-piece TruKurv ABS shell with four ventilation holes. The jaw pads were now temporarily affixed with snaps, to accommodate ease of replacement and a grey snubber was added to the front of the helmet’s shell, providing additional protection for the bridge of the nose. The “TK” style shell came about with the newest technology of the day, whereas collapsible cores allowed now allowed for the oddly shaped shells to be formed in single-piece fashion. Elimination the sharp edges associated with the sectional shells, the one-piece shell could be considered as one of the greatest developments in the evolution of the football helmet. Both the TK-5 model, as well as the RK-4, would continue to be offered through 1966.
In 1961, while the aesthetic appearance of the Broncos’ helmets remained unchanged, Riddell introduced a third model to their offering. The RK-2 sported a flared 3-piece Kra-Lite® ABS shell with 6-hole ventilation. The suspension of this new model was reinforced, utilizing a riveted 6-loop, 12-point webbing with a rubber crown. Snap in jaw pads and a grey snubber were also featured.
QB Frank Tripucka in early 1962 action wearing a RK-4 with BT-5 single-bar facemask
For 1962, new head coach and general manager Jack Faulkner, felt that a new image was appropriate for the struggling team. At Faulkner’s request, Bob Bowie of the Denver Post designed the logo and general concept for the teams new uniforms incorporating the color orange for the first time in the team’s history. The new helmet would be painted a solid “cream-sickle” orange, with a 1” white center stripe added. The logo was a cartoon-ish bucking bronco, and was originally brown in color, the only color carry-over from the 1960-’61 seasons. Very quickly, it was recognized that the brown logo was not clearly visible due to the limited contrast between the brown and the orange helmet shell. By the sixth game of the season, the brown logos had been replaced by the more familiar white logo. Also in 1962, Riddell would begin offering what would become one of the era’s more popular and enduring models, the TK-2.
The TK-2 was initially fitted with a 1-piece polycarbonate rounded shell; however, by 1963 the experimental shell was replaced with one of ABS construction. The polycarbonate material was found to become so imbrittled in the presence of lacquer solvents and many detergents that nearly all of the strength properties were lost. With four ventilation holes, snap-in jaw pads and grey snubber, suspension was provided via 6-loop, 12-point riveted webbing with a rubber crown. This popular model would continue to be offered by Riddell in various configurations until 1978. The RAC-H2, introduced in 1965, and later the RAC-H8 were essentially the same shell with variations of updated Aero-Cell suspensions. In 1965, uniform numbering reappeared on the players’ helmets, in the form of white 2” NCAA style sans-serif numerals, placed at the rear of the helmet, straddling the center line.
End Lionel Taylor checks measurement in 1966 wearing RK-4 helmet
In 1966 the aesthetic styling of the helmet was updated slightly, resulting in a 1-year style. While the shell’s orange base color and single-color logo remained the same as its 1962-’65 predecessor, the center striping configuration was altered slightly, with the single white stripe being replaced by a 1” royal blue center, bordered by dual 3/4" white stripes.
Tombstone Jackson pursues Raiders QB during 1967 action
wearing TK-2 with Dunguard DG140 facemask
The 1967 season saw the team bringing in new coach/GM Lou Saban who revamped the entire uniform, including the helmet. The “orange crush” style uniform would, with periodic, minor cosmetic updates, become the standard uniform for the team for the next three decades. The helmet, however, would take one additional season before developing fully, resulting in yet another one-year style. For this season, the grey shells were to be painted a dark royal blue. The 1” center stripe would be white; bordered by dual 3/4" stripes, which were a reddish, dark orange. Missing from this helmet was the team logo, which was not to be finalized until later in the year, and not added to the helmets until the following year.
Billy Thompson wearing TK-2G helmet with BD-9 2-bar facemask in 1969
In 1968, the royal blue painted shells would have 1967’s stripping patter reversed, with a reddish orange 1” center stripe now being flanked by dual, white 3/4" outer stripes. Additionally, 1968 would see the first use of the “D” logo with a white snorting bronco rearing from the center of a bold orange “D”. Likely the most identifiable logo to be associated with the team, it would remain in place through 1996.
Mingo Receives AFL Alum Ring (1/17/09) Gene Mingo remains perplexed and as to why his on-the-field accomplishments during his pro football career have not been more widely recognized. For his 10-year career—four and a half with the Broncos—the formal acknowledgment has often eluded him. And while he remains waiting for the Ring of Fame to come calling, a less formal recognition served as a reminder that some do indeed recognize the efforts of some of the games’ early pioneers.
This past August, Tom Jacobsen, associate director of Endzone Sports Charities (ESC), met with Mingo to present him with an American Football League (AFL) Alumni ring, in thanks for his years of service to the AFL and more importantly to the Broncos organization and its fans.
Jacobsen’s parents (whose first date was to a Broncos game in the 1960 inaugural season) bought season tickets following the 1967 season ticket campaign and his family has attended every home game since, regardless of the weather. Tom reminisces that “many of my fondest memories, as well as those of my immediate and extended family, have a Broncos game somehow in the mix. In reflecting on all of the good times and memories that we experienced through the Broncos, I thought it would be great to find a way to give back to one of the folks that made it all possible.”
When Jacobsen became aware of the AFL Alumni rings, “I immediately thought this could be the perfect opportunity.” Put in touch with Gene, he instantly knew that Mingo was the perfect choice. “Gene’s unbelievable athleticism, his toughness and his passion made him one of the best and most important players from those first Broncos teams. After having a chance to meet with Gene personally, hear his life story as well as the great tales of his playing days, I and my family were incredibly honored to be able to give this ring to Gene and say ‘Thank You’”.
Thrilled with the ring, Gene commented, that he “(finds) it very hard to put into words my gratitude and appreciation to the Jacobsen family for purchasing me the exquisite memorable AFL Ring. I never dreamt that I would have the opportunity to wear this ring. I am not only proud but overjoyed to own it.” Mingo went on to express his deepest thanks to the Jacobsen family for sharing their long-standing support of the Denver Broncos by honoring him and presenting him with this gift. “They are true and loyal fans”, said Gene.
The ring was produced by Herff Jones—a world-renowned maker of high-quality high school, college and professional championship rings (including Super Bowl rings)—they retain some of the dies used for some of the original AFL rings produced in the 1960s. On the face of the ring is a simulated stone set above the letters “AFL” and surrounded by “AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE ALUMNI” in raised block lettering. One side has a relief of a football gridiron above a 'ribbon' with the team name. Below this is a football helmet in relief above a second ribbon with the player’s name. The opposite side has a relief of the American Football League logo.
Made available through the efforts of Ange Coniglio—a long-time supporter of the AFL and creator of the RememberTheAFL web site, Ange has paid the upfront costs in order to make these rings available to both AFL alumni and fans. If ring sales generate more than the costs paid, all excess funds will be sent in the name of AFL players and fans, to the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, with the stipulation that the funds be used to help a retired AFL players in need. Says Coniglio, “I neither want nor will I accept any profit from the sale of these rings.”
If you're interested in obtaining on of these yourself, more information is available at http://www.remembertheafl.com/AFLRing.htm including a printable ring order form, which can be sent directly to Herff Jones, along with appropriate payment (approximate costs range from $350 to $840, depending upon metal chosen).
ESC hopes to make the presentation of one of these rings a regular occurrence, selecting a deserving former Bronco to whom one of these rings will be presented each year.
Little Jersey at Auction Aids Style ID (1/2/09) A 1967-’68 style Broncos’ jersey was recently offered by American Memorabilia, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nevada during their auction which ended September 18. The rare Durene home jersey worn by Floyd “The Franchise” Little commanded an astounding winning bid of $18,863, including the 20% buyer’s premium.
1967-’68 home jersey of Broncos Ring of Famer, Floyd “The Franchise” Little, recently auctioned by American Memorabilia, Inc.
While a team-restored nameplate was this piece’s only detractor (and a minor one at that), of particular interest to ESC and other uniform historians was the presence of the never before seen tail tagging, positively identifying this era’s uniforms as having been supplied by Sand-Knit, a division of Medalist Industries.
Two previous exemplars of this style has been previously examined--home gamers of QB Steve Tensi, which we had the privilege of examining first-hand, and a war-torn jersey of Rich ‘Tombstone’ Jackson, which was uncovered and purchased by Endzone Sports Charities (ESC). In addition to missing the sewn-on nameplates, which were commonly recycled by the team, the manufacturer’s tail tagging was also missing on both, having long worn away from the underlying material. All that remained was the faint stitching marks from where the original tagging had once been affixed. Physical examination of these tag-less jerseys, along with supporting photo documentation had previously led to speculation that the early Duren jerseys of the “orange crush” style had been manufactured by Wilson Sporting Goods.
Unlike these previously examined samples, however, the recently-surfaced Little jersey had the distinction of retaining the original tail tagging. This included both the manufacturer’s size/laundering instructions tagging and, just above this was the identifier of the local sporting goods distributor, B&H Sport & Ski Center of Littleton, Colorado, from whom they were purchased. The “Sand-Knit” manufacturer’s tagging features the numeric sizing indicator in gold font centered at the top of the tag; below this is the Sand-Knit® name (black) and Medalist’s logo (black medal below gold ribbon). Below are three lines of laundering instruction in gold font with black underlining. Centered at the bottom of the label is the black text, “Sand-Knit Division” just above “Medalist Industries”. The separate and smaller distributor’s tag is located just above.
Numbers Game (1/2/09) In team sports, including professional football, the jersey number or uniform number is the number worn on the player’s uniform for the purpose of player and position identification. This number is typically displayed on the rear of the jersey, accompanied by the player’s surname and if necessary the player’s first name initial or, in rarer cases, the entire first name. Though slight variation in size exists, the rear number typically averages about 12” in height. The number is also displayed, usually in a slightly smaller font size (averaging about 10” in height) on the front of the jersey. Modern NFL jerseys will also feature “TV” numbers of approximately 4” height applied to the jersey’s sleeves or shoulders. These numbers are used to identify the player to officials, other players, and official scorers. In the NFL, the uniform numbers are also indicative of the player's position.
In 1952 the NFL initiated a system of assignment of jersey numbers; in 1973 this was updated and made more rigid. Most NFL also feature the uniform number displayed on the players’ helmets, typically on the back, however, the Pittsburgh Steelers historically have placed these numbers on the front, while others, such as the 1960-’61 Broncos featured the numbers predominately on the helmets’ sides.
Below is the numbering system established by the NFL, and in place since 1973:
- Numbers 1 through 19 are worn by quarterbacks, kickers, and punters. Since 2004, receivers have also been allowed to wear numbers between 10 and 19 if they so choose, even if there's an 80-89 number available.
- Numbers 20 to 49 are worn by running backs, tight ends (when an 80-89 number is unavailable), cornerbacks and safeties.
- Numbers 50 to 59 are worn by linebackers and offensive linemen.
- Numbers 60 to 79 are worn by members of both the offensive line (tackles, guards and centers) and defensive line (the defensive ends, defensive tackles and nose guard).
- Numbers 80 to 89 are worn by wide receivers and tight ends.
- Numbers 90 to 99 are worn by linebackers and defensive linemen.
- Numbers 0 and 00 are no longer used, though they were issued in the NFL before the number standardization in 1973.
It should be noted that this numbering system is based on a player's primary position. Any player wearing any number may play at any position on the field at any time, however, players wearing numbers 50 through 79 must let the referee know that they are playing out of position by reporting as an “ineligible number in an eligible position”. It is not uncommon for running backs to line up at wide receiver on certain plays, or to have a lineman play at fullback or tight end in short yardage situations. Also, in preseason games, when teams have expanded rosters, players may wear numbers that are outside of the above rules. When the final 53-player roster is established, they are reissued numbers within the above guidelines.
Regarding the history of the Broncos uniform numbers…
- Every uniform number has been worn at least once in franchise history
- Retired uniform numbers include those of #7 (QB John Elway, 1999), #18 (QB, Frank Tripucka, 1963) and #44 (HB Floyd Little, 1975)
- Numbers worn by only one player are #0 (FB John Olszewski, 1962), #9 (K David Treadwell, 1989-1992) and #18 (QB, Frank Tripucka, 1960-1963)
- Players who have worn three uniform numbers are G Frank Brunelli (#68 in 1966, #64 in 1967 & #72 in 1968-’71), LB Keith Burns (#56 in 1994-’98, #55 in 2000-’03 & #51 in 2005-’06) and TE Nate Jackson (#14 in 2003-’04, #89 in 2005-’06 & #81 in 2007).
NFL players to wear patch honoring Upshaw (Updated: 9/15/08) NFL players will wear a uniform patch this season to honor NFL Players' Association leader Gene Upshaw, who died Aug. 20. Upshaw died of pancreatic cancer just three days after he was diagnosed.
The league announced Monday that the patch will have the initials GU and the number 63, which he wore while playing for the Oakland Raiders. The patch will be worn on the left chest of jerseys and is scheduled to make its debut Thursday, when the New York Giants and Washington Redskins open the season. Upshaw's wife, Terri, and his three sons will participate in the coin toss.
The Raiders also will honor Upshaw in their opening game on Sept. 8 with a video tribute, and a replica of the uniform patch will be painted on the field in Oakland and at the Meadowlands.
Gene Upshaw (GU 63) memorial patch worn 9/8/08 (left) and helmet decal worn 914/08 (right)
Update [The following information has been updated from the previous information, originally posted on 9/2/08]: Originally it was stated that, “NFL players will wear a uniform patch this season to honor... Gene Upshaw”, implying that said patch would be worn the entire season. The patch, sewn on the left chest between the jersey’s collar and striping, was worn for the first game only, on Monday, September 8, 2008. For the Week 2 game, in lieu of the jersey patch, a smaller, similarly styled decal was applied to the left side of the team’s helmets, immediately above the uniform number decal
Tales of Retail Sales (8/31/08) Today, for generally under about $250, any NFL fan can log on to one of the scores of web sites and order a customized Reebok “Authentic” jersey. Within a short period of time, the fan is delivered a very close approximation of the professional-quality jerseys worn by players on the field. Knowledgeable collectors and uniform historians, however, can still readily point out the differences between the on-field apparel worn by the pros and the high-quality retail offerings.
Making this comparison in the present is relatively easy in that having both jerseys for a side-by-side evaluation, either physically or virtually, is quite achievable. When the topic turns to vintage retail jerseys, however, both the relative scarcity of such jerseys as well as the availability of comparable on-field jerseys makes comparisons difficult, if not impossible. This is one of the reasons that vintage retail jersey are, on occasion, incorrectly offered and passed off in the collectibles hobby as game jerseys.
As early as the mid-1970s, mail-order retailers advertising in the sports-related periodicals of the era were offering “official team jerseys”. Though a far cry from the quality of the on-field jerseys, such ads serve to point out that the NFL has been licensing and marketing player-based consumer apparel for well over thirty years.
By the late 1970s, the Broncos had been to their first Super Bowl, riding the crest of the wave that was the “Orange Crush”. They did so donning the bright orange nylon mesh jerseys from Russell Athletic. While the team’s jerseys of this period were distinctly Denver Broncos, the design and construction was fairly simplistic compared to the mixed high-tech fabrics and elaborate styling of today’s modern jerseys. Because of this rather straightforward design and construction, the pro-quality jerseys were fairly easily reproduced for mass marketing to the public. An advertisement in the 1977 Street & Smith’s Pro Football Annual offered customizable (any name and uniform number) “professional style, quality, authentic game jerseys”. No mention of manufacturer was made in the ad, and the jerseys were offered in a “full size range—S, M, L, XL, XXL”.
Late ‘70s retail jersey ad (left) and what is likely a retail jersey from Russell Athletic (right)
Recently on eBay, a seller offered what he believed to be an early- to mid-1970s game used/worn jersey from Russell Athletic. Possibly being attributed to either QBs Mike Ernst (1973) or John Hufnagel (1975), the seller was unable to ascertain which as there was no nameplate present [Note: nameplate removal was commonplace throughout the ‘70s where nameplates and/or jerseys would often be recycled to new jerseys and new players, respectively].
Examining the provided photographs of the jersey (see above right), we quickly eliminated Ernst as a potential wearer of the offered jersey as research shows that the team was utilizing Sand-Knit jerseys in 1973. While Russell was indeed the supplier for 1975, closer scrutiny raised additional questions regarding this possibility as well. The eBay jersey, while correctly from Russell, was identified with a manufacturer’s tail tag that appeared to be from a later period (circa 1977-’83). The indicated “collegiate” style sizing “L” was also unusual in that all previously examined Russell jerseys utilized “pro” sizing (ie 44, 46, 48, etc). Lastly, at first glance, the font of the numerical identifiers seemed a bit off when compared to both known exemplars as well as dated game photographs. The font appeared somewhat bolder than that used by Russell in ’75; much closer to the font used by Wilson during the 1978-’80 period. Conferring with former Broncos equipment manager Larry Elliott, Mr. Elliott stated that the organization, “never ordered jerseys with small, med. lg. etc... We did not use a collegiate sizing.” When taken in total, this information would tend to make us suspect that, rather than being a game jersey from the early- to mid-1970s, this was instead a retail jersey from the late-’70 to early-80s., similar to those available to the public at the time.
By 1988, the Broncos had just recently appeared in two more back-to-back Super Bowls, and after a one year hiatus, would go to a third in four years. 1988 would also mark the end of the Russell Athletic era, with the supplier having had provided uniforms for the team, either exclusively or in part along with another manufacturer, since the early 1970s. With an updating of the jersey’s design, Wilson Sporting Goods would begin a seven-year run as the team’s exclusive uniform supplier, beginning in 1989. Almost, twenty years prior to this, however, Medalist Industries’ Sand-Knit division had provided at least a portion of the team’s uniforms from 1973 through ’76. In 1984 the company was sold to MacGregor Sporting Goods, a subsidiary of American Machine and Foundry (AMF), Inc., and the following year AMF was purchased in a hostile takeover bid by Minnesota-based, Minstar. These business dealings would mark the beginning of the end for Sand-Knit, but not before the company also dipped its toes into the retail market during its last hurrah.
Throughout the mid- to late-1980s, Sand-Knit retail jerseys were readily available, both via mail order (see add from 1988 Football Digest below offering “Medalist” pro jersey) as well as through traditional retailers. Two examples of such jerseys are the once pictured below (center) displaying manufacturer’s tagging consistent with style utilized circa 1985-’88, and a second with a later (circa 1987-’88) style MacGregor tag.
1988 retail jersey ad (left) and examples of Sand-Knit retail jerseys, center & right)
By 1989, as Wilson took the reigns as the team’s supplier, the most visible change in the design was in the sleeve striping pattern. Whereas the previous Russell jerseys utilized three distinct stripes separated by the underlying material, the new Wilson design had the stripes abutted to one another, with a significant widening of the center stripe. Both Wilson as well as other suppliers also made licensed retail jerseys available in this style. Shown below are examples of Wilson and Champion retail jerseys in this style. In general, it was also during the late-1980s to early 1990s where the “Authentic” jerseys of period began to be offered in styles more closely approximating the on-field apparel and when NFL Properties and its’ licensees began to market these offering much more aggressively.
Circa 1989 Champion (left) and 1995 Wilson (right) retail jerseys
For 1996, Nike was introduced at the team’s uniform supplier. During this first transitional year of partnership, Nike produced uniforms very similar to the previous design provided by Wilson. For 1997, in what was initially considered a somewhat controversial move, the Broncos in partnership with Nike, introduced a completely new uniform design. Like Wilson before them, Nike also produced a retail version of the on-field jerseys, which very closely approximated the jerseys worn by the players. Unlike the player’s jerseys which were produced in the US by Ripon Athletic, the retail variations were manufactured by foreign suppliers, typically in El Salvador and/or South Korea.
For the 2002 season, Reebok had secured a league-wide agreement to provide on-field and sideline apparel for all NFL teams, however, the Broncos had begun using Reebok one year prior to the league-wide agreement, in 2001. Aside from the change in manufacturer’s sleeve logos, there were only minor visible changes in the team’s uniforms, which also continued to be produced at Ripon’s Berlin, Wisconsin facility.
Circa 1999 Nike (left) and 1997-style circa 2002 Reebok (right) retail jerseys
Specifications of the current Reebok retail “authentics” include:
- Body constructed of 100% thick, high-quality Pro-Brite nylon for home jerseys and of polyester for white road jerseys
- Side panels, collars and cuffs constructed of 10-ounce 100% lycratalic spandex dazzle
- Engineered collar and cuffs of 100% polyester
- Engineered and constructed to duplicate “skill” positions jerseys
- Individual twill lettering for customized name applied to a sewn-down nameplate at the upper back with tackle twilled numbers at the centers of the back/front and on both sleeves
- Reebok® logo embroidered on each sleeve
- NFL® Equipments jock tag with numeric sizing is applies to the lower left bottom of the jersey
While in general, today’s retail jerseys give the appearance to the casual observer of being “identical” to their on-field counterparts, astute observers are able to identify the subtle differences between the teams’ game jerseys and the retail wanna-bes. For older jerseys, however, such differences can be ever more subtle. While not without exceptions, some general guidelines to observe to aid in identifying retail jerseys are as follows:
- Offerings from manufactures where the style-dating of the jersey does not match the known team supplier (ie an early-’90s jersey from Sand-Knit, a period when Wilson supplied the team’s on-field apparel or a ’97-style jersey from Reebok, who didn’t provide uniforms to the team until 2001)
- Jerseys from manufacturer’s who are not know to have ever supplied the team’s equipment (ie Adidas, Apex, Champion, Puma, Starter, etc.)
- Lacking markings typical of on-field jerseys (ie year-tagging on jerseys from 1993 and beyond, etc.)
- Non-conforming manufacturer’s tagging with style and/or placement differing from known standards for jerseys intended for of on-field use.
(With thanks to Dave Grob, Policy Director of MEARS, for inspiration and background research)
ESC Displays at 2008 Fan Fair (8/31/08) For the second consecutive year, Endzone Sports Charities was honored to participate in the Denver Broncos’ Fan Fair event held at INVESCO Field on June 7-8. Appearing in the Broncos’ Museum, Tom Jacobsen and I were once again on hand to display ESC’s Ring of Fame jersey and memorabilia collection, which features actual game jerseys representing the evolution of the team’s uniforms across five decades as worn by many of the team’s greatest players including Frank Tripucka, Rich Jackson, Jim Turner, Floyd Little, Charley Johnson, Louis Wright, Craig Morton, John Elway, Dennis Smith, Steve Atwater, and newest Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman.
ESC’s Exec. Director Patrick Scoggin poses in the Broncos Museum with “The Endzone Collection” at the 2008 Denver Broncos Fan Fair
Added to this year’s display was a 2001 home game jersey of the most recent Ring of fame inductee, RB Terrell Davis as well as game apparel from fan-favorite LB Karl Mecklenberg’s final season--his 1994 road “Throwback” game jersey and helmet and his complete uniform from the 1994 Pro Bowl, on loan courtesy of Mr. Mecklenburg. Also new to this year’s display was a selection of historically accurate reproduction helmets, professionally crafted specifically for our display by Curtis and company of Historic Helmets.
HOF Receives Memorabilia from Zimmerman's Career (8/31/08) Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008 Enshrinee Gary Zimmerman recently donated artifacts from his Hall of Fame career. The mementos include the helmet worn by Zimmerman during the 1994 NFL season, the jersey he wore during the 1996 Pro Bowl, as well as shoulder pads, shoes, and gloves.
Zimmerman and the other members of the Class of 2008 - Fred Dean, Darrell Green, Art Monk, Emmitt Thomas, and Andre Tippett were formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday Aug. 2.
Source: “Memorabilia from Gary Zimmerman's career” Pro Football Hall of Fame. 2008 (Jul 24). Online: http://www.profootballhof.com/hall/story.jsp?story_id=2772
Predominantly Orange, For Real (8/31/08) An article published August 15 in the Denver Post indicated that the Broncos will be dusting off their alternative home jerseys for two games during the 2008 season with Broncos players wearing orange jerseys for home games Sept. 21 against New Orleans and Dec. 7 against Kansas City.
Having been four years since these last saw the field, the Broncos were last clad in the alternative home jerseys for a November 28, 2004 Sunday night game when they blew an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in losing to Oakland, 25-24. According to the Post’s Mike Klis, “the all-orange look drew a scornful eye from Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. But as a compromise to a projected boost in merchandise sales, the Broncos are giving the orange jerseys another chance.”
ESC To Appear at 2008 Fan Fair (5/2/08) Once again, Endzone Sports Charities will participate in the Denver Broncos’ Fan Fair event to be held at INVESCO Field on Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8. Appearing in the Broncos’ Museum, we will once again be displaying our Ring of Fame jersey collection, which includes examples of actual game jerseys representing the evolution of the team’s uniforms across five decades and worn by many of the team’s greatest players. Hours are 11AM to 5PM each day and we encourage local area fans to stop by and say hello if you are planning to attend. Additional information about the event can be found at the Denver Broncos’ website.
New Info Re: Jersey ID (5/2/08) In the “it’s never too late to teach an ol’ dog new tricks” category, several recent examinations have shed new light on the categorization of Broncos jerseys from the 1978 through 1981 seasons as well as those from 1989-’90.
For the years, 1978 and 1979 Wilson Sporting Goods was known to have provided the team’s uniforms after a several-years run of Russell Athletic having provided the team’s apparel. These Wilson jerseys could be easily identified by the distinguishing design characteristic of having the shoulder yoke and torso sections connected with a sharp diagonal seam, running from the mid-front sleeve up to the mid collar. Even with limited examinations, extensive photographic evidence supported that this style was only in use for two seasons before 1980 saw the return of the horizontal seam, characteristic of a Russell design.
In years past, the 1978-’79 jerseys were categorized collectively, as limited examinations failed to yield any significant differences in jerseys from these two years. More recent examinations, however, have identified a subtle difference in the manufacturer’s tagging which seems to differentiate the two years. From the period of about 1974 through 1977, the Wilson tagging, which is found sewn to the lower left tail, can be identified by the red scripted Wilson logo at the top of the tag, with care instructions below and sizing indicator to the right, with the registered trademark symbol (®) found at the upper right corner of the Wilson logo. Additionally, the “s” in the logo, does not quite come to a close at the bottom. Though the consensus of hobby experts seem to agree that this style of logo was last used about 1977, its use seems prominent on what we are now categorizing at 1978-period jerseys.
Conversely for 1979, while the design of the jersey remains nearly indistinguishable from their ’78 counterparts, a slight change in the tagging style differentiates the ’79 jerseys. While the main layout of the tagging remains the same, with the Wilson script logo above the washing instructions and to the right of the size identifier, the style typically associated with the 1978 to ’85 period features a trademark symbol that is relocated to the lower right corner of the logo and with a slight change to the scripted letting as well. Most notably is the “s”, which now comes to a complete close at the bottom. Samples of the 1978 and ’79 tagging are shown below.
1978 (at left) and ’79-style Wilson manufacturer’s tags
In 1980, for lack of physical examinations, our photographic research seemed to support the presumption that the team returned to their long-time uniform supplier, Russell Athletic. The distinct diagonal seams that adorned the Wilson jerseys of 1978-’79 were gone, being replaced with a jersey featuring a horizontal yoke to body seam, characteristic of Russell’s design. It wasn’t until we had recently acquired one jersey and been provided the opportunity to examine another, that it was discovered that the supplier had indeed not changed, but instead, had radically altered the design to nearly mimic that of Russell’s. Broncos’ jerseys provided by Wilson, beginning in 1980, featured the same horizontal-seam construction as their Russell counterparts.
Limited in the past to only photographic study, available photos from this period seemed to lead us down an incorrect path. As a learning experience from this, one must consider that the typical lower-resolution photos of the period may not always provide indisputable evidence and thus caution must be taken to avoid “reading between the lines” of blurred pixels. And to think, people say that pictures don’t lie!
There are indeed other physical characteristics which distinguish the 1980-’81 Wilson jerseys from those of Russell Athletic, and these can be studied in detail in the respective “detail” sheets found on our Game Uniform Detail page, however, these minor details do not readily present themselves in most commonly available period photography of the day.
Similarly, the Wilson jerseys of the 1989 to 1990 period produced a comparable quandary. Nearly identical in physical characteristics, there is no significant variation between the jerseys from these two seasons that would allow the casual observer the ability to differentiate these. Recently, we have become aware that, again, a tagging style difference may separate the jerseys issued during these two seasons.
In the mid-1980s, while the Broncos were still donning Russell Athletic apparel, Wilson began utilizing a larger “Prestige” style manufacturer’s tag, which appeared to be fairly universal across their uniform product lines. Our initial awareness of the older-style tagging appearing on a few late-1980s to early ‘90s jerseys was thought to be somewhat of an anomaly. Recently, however, we were made aware of a jersey with this older (circa 1978-’85) style of tagging, bearing a manufacturing date code of “BU” (July 1989). Though this style of tagging would appear to remain uncommon for Wilson jerseys of the period, we have now examined a sufficient number of these to reinforce our belief that many, if not all Wilson-issued Broncos jerseys for the 1989 season would bare this style of tagging. We cannot, however, say with certainty, that some of the ’89 issues may have born the “Prestige” style of tagging as well. As originally theorized, we still believe that all of the 1990 issued jerseys all have the more recent “Prestige” style of tagging, as depicted below (at right)
1989 (at left) and ’90-style Wilson manufacturer’s tags. Date coding on tags indicates dates of manufacture of July 1989 and August 1990, respectively.
ESCs Detail Specification Sheets Updated (5/2/08) In late 2007, ESC began the process of updating our yearly detail specification sheets to a new format. The original, having been created separately as information for a new jersey was added, often lacked continuity and consistency. The information contained therein, was also, for the most part limited to the team’s jerseys.
The updated format now allows for specific information regarding the team’s helmets and pants for each year, though information for these is still sparse and in many cases estimated. As new information becomes available for these other uniform components, it can now be easily amended or added as needed, without disruption to the jersey information.
In going through each of these files to include the additional information, we also took the opportunity to edit previously available information to ensure more consistency. Having also recently added a significant number of new photographs to our photo reference library, we’ve taken the time to select new and improved game photos to be depicted as on-field representations of each year’s uniform.
Please take the opportunity to view these files, which are all viewable/downloadable in .pdf format at our Game Uniform Detail page. We would appreciate any feedback that you may have that will allow us to further improve this information at our next update.
ESC To Offer Free Authentication (5/2/08) In order to expand our growing reference database, Endzone Sports Charities (ESC) will be offering free examination/authentication for select styles of Broncos jerseys so that exemplars from specific periods/years can be more thoroughly documented.
If you have one or more Broncos game jerseys from the list below, we would like to hear from you. In exchange for the opportunity to personally examine and document your jersey, ESC will provide:
- Payment for two-way insured shipping of your item(s) to and from ESC’s location
- Either a nominal fee paid to owner, OR…
- A charitable donation by ESC to the NFL Alumni Dire Need Charitable Trust on behalf of the owner and a detailed ESC Letter of Opinion (up to a $75 value per item) based on our examination.
Jerseys sought include the following: 1960-’61 home or road, 1962-’64 road, 1965-’66 home or road, 1967-’68 road, 1969-’71 home or road; 1972 road, 1973 home or road, 1975 road, 1976 home or road, 1977-’78 road, 1979 home, 1980-’83 home or road, 1984 home, 1985-’86 home or road, 1987 home, 1988 road, 1989-’91 home or road; 1993 road, 1994 “Throwback” home or road, 1995 road, 1997-’98 home or road, 1999 home, 2000 road, 2001 home “Throwback”, 2002 home, alternate or road, 2003 road, 2004 home, alternate or road, 2005 road, 2006-’07 home or road.
Please contact us via e-mail if you have items which you would consider submitting under this limited-time, promotional offer.
New NFL Logo Unveiled For 2008 (5/2/08) Beginning with the 2008 National Football League draft, the league’s uniforms will be adorned with a new NFL logo. Nearly 30 years since the last change, the new design features a cleaner, more angular font, fewer stars—reduced from 25 to 8, one for each division—and a restyling of the football, which now appears similar to the one atop the Lombardi Trophy. Additionally, the colors used for the new logo are darker and the logo itself is taller and thinner.
Old (1980-2007 at left) and new (right) NFL logos
1960-’61 “Official” Colors IDd (5/3/08)
After fifteen years of research, ESC has finally uncovered the only known “official” reference to the Broncos team colors for the 1960 and ’61 seasons.
Having a near complete run of regular season programs from the inaugural season and a copy of the very rare 1960 Media Guide, not a single one of these publications made any reference to the teams’ colors. The teams’ uniforms, having been procured in used condition, were so inconsistent in color that it was impossible to derive a consensus from these either.
Generally yellow and brown in color, over the years we have seen the primary color being referred to as mustard, old gold, pale gold, etc., with the secondary color (brown) color being called by nearly as many monikers. It is well known that the brown pants varied wildly in hue, most likely coinciding with the extent of wear that each pair had seen prior to being inherited by the Broncos. Originally a dark brown color, some had faded to a nearly tan color by the end of the ’61 season. Even when “new” at the start of the 1960 season, some were know to have a satin sheen, while others were more drab or flat in this regard. There is no reason not to suspect that the gold home jerseys would not have exhibited similar color variations, also being hand-me-downs.
Recently ESC procured a copy of the program from the final 1960 exhibition season game, a Sep 2 contest against the Chargers in Los Angeles. The program included one-page team summaries for the Chargers and Broncos, as well as the Dallas Texans, who would be the Chargers; next opponent on opening day of the 1960 regular season. Each page included photos of several of each teams’ players along with brief personal stats and a team header which listed the name of each teams’ home stadium, its seating capacity, and the team’s colors. On page 23, highlighting the Broncos, the teams’ colors were listed as “Seal Brown and Light Gold”.
Fan Fair Tales (9/1/07) On June 2nd and 3rd, Endzone Sports Charities (ESC) was honored to have been invited to display our Ring of Fame jersey collection as a part of the Denver Broncos 5th annual Fan Fair event, which was held at INVESCO Field at Mile High. Incorporated within the “Broncos Museum” display, our collection game-used jerseys were displayed along side the Broncos collection of memorabilia which included the two Vince Lombardi trophies awarded for Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII as well as a half dozen Lamar Hunt trophies, representing AFC Championships victories following the 1977, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997 and 1998 seasons.
ESC’s display consisted of jerseys worn by Ring of Fame inductees Craig Morton, Jim Turner, Tom Jackson, Louis Wright, Dennis Smith, Gary Zimmerman and Steve Atwater in addition to the three players whose uniform numbers have been retired—Frank Tripucka (#18), Floyd Little (44) and John Elway (#7). Also on display was our 1960-’61 game sock as well as other historically significant memorabilia. Game jerseys of Ring of Famers Charlie Johnson and Rich Jackson as well as a couple of AFL-era vintage helmets were displayed courtesy of Tom Jacobsen.
ESC’s Patrick Scoggin with Ring of Fame placekicker Jim Turner
ESC’s Ring of Fame jersey and Bronco memorabilia display at the 2007 Broncos Fan Fair
The event, which was attended by nearly 10,000 Broncos fans, featured autograph sessions from players, coaches and alumni, photo opportunities, contests, raffles, memorabilia booths, field activities and a viewing of the team’s 2006 highlight film.
ESC is already looking forward to bigger and better things for the 2008 event. With the induction of former Broncos running back Terrell Davis to the Ring of Fame (see article below), we will add our 2001 home game jersey to the display along with a collection of reproduction vintage-style helmets provided by Historic Helmets as well as other historically significant memorabilia.
New Information Uncovered Regarding 1967-’68 Jerseys (9/1/07) AFL-era Denver Broncos jerseys remain elusive, with fewer than half a dozen having come to market publicly over the past decade or more. With their appearance being somewhat of a rare occurrence, opportunities to learn more about these early styles of jerseys are equally uncommon.
During the past two years, we have had the privilege of examining two different 1967-’68 vintage Broncos home jerseys. The first was that of Steve Tensi, a quarterback who played for the team from 1967 through 1970, which was acquired at auction by a local collector. The second, which was acquired by ESC, was that of Ring of Fame defensive end Rich “Tombstone” Jackson, whose tenure with the team spanned from 1967 through 1972. Obviously of similar manufacturer, these two shared identical design characteristics including Durene construction with 1/2-length sleeves, embedded knit sleeve striping, crew-neck rib-knit collar, and tackle-twill number identifiers. Two additional characteristics which these jerseys had in common were the elements that were missing. Both had their nameplates removed from the rear of the jerseys, as was commonplace for the period when the team often recycled game jersey for use in practice the following year(s). Secondly, due to extreme wear and subsequent laundering, the manufacturer’s tagging from both had long ago disappeared.
As such, the manufacturer of these jerseys was not readily identifiable. Based upon a composite of several pieces of information, a tentative identification of this unknown manufacturer was established. Examination of game photographs from this period established that the original manufacturer’s tag was affixed to the lower left tail of the jersey (see http://endzone.pscoggin.com/Graphics/reference/1968/1968_11_24_SmithP.htm ). Detailed examination of the Jackson jersey confirmed remnants of perimeter stitching in this area of the jersey measuring approximately 1 1/4" wide by 1” tall. This, along with comparison of other characteristics to known exemplars from the period has led to the tentative conclusion that theses jerseys were manufactured by Wilson Sporting Goods.
Representative sample of Wilson manufacturer’s tagging, circa 1968
This conclusion was presumed to be the standard for all 1967-’68 era jerseys. Recently, however, ESC made contact with a collector in possession of a road jersey from this period worn by reserve tackle Tom Cichowski. With manufacture’s tagging in tact, the white road jersey displayed two-part manufacture’s and care tags showing Rawlings as the jersey’s supplier. Sharing many of the same characteristics as the two home jerseys, the Cichowski jersey such as Durene construction with 1/2-length sleeves, embedded knit sleeve striping, crew-neck rib-knit collar, and tackle-twill number identifiers.
Differences between the home and road jerseys are subtle and not easily discerned through photographic examination of game photos from the period. These differences become more readily noticeable when comparing the jerseys side-by-side. On the orange home jersey, the sleeve’s “TV” numbers are affixed lower on the sleeve relative to the sleeve’s embedded stripping, with only about 1/4" separating the bottom of the uniform number from the top edge of the striping. Also on the home jersey, the ribbed-knit sleeve cuffs measure approximately 1 1/4" in width. In contrast, the road-white Rawlings jersey displays more spacing between the sleeve’s uniform numbers and striping (approximately 1 1/4") and the ribbed-knit cuffs are slightly wider at approximately 1 1/2" in width. Also, the road-white jersey displays more width of underlying of the white material between the colored sleeve stripes, as opposed to the scant 1/8” of orange material separating the contrasting stripe on the home jersey.
Sleeve details of 1967-’68 Rich Jackson home (left) and Tom Cichowski road jerseys
With a closer physical inspection of the Cichowski road jersey, it is likely that additional subtleties would also present themselves. As new information becomes available, it will be disseminated here as well.
Broncos To Memorialize Fallen Teammates (9/1/07) For the 2007 season, members of the Denver Broncos will memorialize fallen teammates Darrent Williams (CB, 2005-2006) and Damien Nash (RB, 2006) who both passed unexpectedly this past off-season. The players will don a white circular sticker on the rear of their helmets with the imprinted numbers 27 and 29—representing Williams’ and Nash’s uniform numbers. The sticker will be placed on the left side of the helmets, immediately above each player’s own uniform number identifier.
Helmet decal displaying uniform numbers 27 and 29 in memory of Williams and Nash
NFL teams are permitted to honor deceased players with decals affixed to their teams’ helmets throughout the season that follows a player’s death. During May’s quarterback camp, head coach Mike Shanahan said that the sticker is only the beginning of the Broncos’ plans to honor the players.
Terrell Davis Named To Ring Of Fame (9/1/07) On Friday, July 28th, Denver Broncos President Pat Bowlen announced that Terrell Davis was voted into the team’s Ring of Fame. The selection was made by the Ring of Fame committee, which includes Bowlen, former General Manager John Beake, former team defensive coordinator Joe Collier, and former play-by-play voice Larry Zimmer of KOA radio.
Davis played for the Broncos from 1995-2001 and still holds 12 all-time Broncos records.
Among his honors and accomplishments, Davis:
- Was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXXII following the 1997 season.
- Was the NFL regular season MVP in 1998.
- Is one of just five players to rush for 2,000 yards in a season (1998).
- Holds the NFL record with seven consecutive postseason games rushing for 100 yards, with all those games being Bronco victories.
- Is the only player in NFL history to have accomplished all four of the above.
Davis became a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 as well, and advanced to the final 25 in this past year’s voting.
He will be inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame on Sunday, Sept. 23 when the Broncos host the Jacksonville Jaguars, which has been designated as the team’s annual Alumni Reunion game.
ESC’s “Endzone Report” To Receive Facelift (9/1/07) Periodically since 1996, ESC has published The Endzone Report, a newsletter focused on our organization’s educational/research activities and charitable projects. While distribution of the publication has varied over the years, the target audience was typically the Broncos’ alumni with whom we had directly worked in any number of our charitable endeavors. At last count this amounted to somewhat less than 100 former players.
In recent years, as more Broncos’ alumni had become involved in our projects, much of the focus of the newsletter has migrated to covering their involvement in these projects. This past summer, ESC decided to refocus the format of this newsletter to more directly focus its content on the alumni’s activities. According to ESC director Patrick Scoggin, the newsletter will now be more of a networking medium, allowing former Broncos to connect to one another.
Commensurate with the format change, ESC plans to also expand the distribution of the publication to many more alumni than it has reached in the past. Whereas past distribution was limited to fewer than a hundred, we will now include these as well as all alumni living within the state of Colorado, as well as any outlying residents to whom we can deliver electronically.
Fact and Fiction: Exceptions to the “Game-Used” Rules Abound (4/30/07) The old adage states that the only things that can be counted upon with any certainty is taxes and death. In the realm of collecting game-used jerseys, there seem to be no other certainties that can be added to this list. Despite years of historical research and documentation, we maintain the position that about the only thing that can be consistently counted upon as being absolute is that nothing is absolute.
Variations in physical characteristics such as lettering/numerical fonts, materials, tagging, cuts and manufacturers all result in a plethora of deviations from the accepted “standard”. While important to have a comparative standard to which like items can be compared, collectors must recognize that the appearance of variations is to be expected in many cases. The authenticity of a given item in question needs to be assessed on the totality of information available and usually not based on a single disparity.
ESC’s site includes a collection of Broncos’ uniform detail pages which provide a basic framework for comparison. It is not our intent that these would be expected to be the final word in specifying the one and only standard for self-authentication. Rather, they provide information that has been gathered over time, sometimes from a single exemplar and at times through a process of amalgamation having inspecting multiple like items. As our research is an ongoing process, this data is continually updated as new information becomes available. Within our existing base of knowledge, known exceptions to standards exist and it is just as likely that many more undocumented exceptions are probable as well. Below we have identified some of the non-standard anomalies that we have encountered, all integrated within otherwise acceptable and legitimate, authentic jerseys:
Nameplates: Prior to the late-1970s, before the days of free-agency; when many players would remain with the same team for their entire career, it was customary for nameplates to be removed from jerseys and recycled for use on the following season’s game jerseys (with the old jerseys often being also recycled for practice wear the following year). The reason behind this was financial—for a team operating on limited budget, the tackle-twill lettering was a considerable added expense to the cost of the jersey. While the standard for nameplates was to use lettering affixed to a nameplate of “self” material (of the same composition as the jersey), the practice of recycling sometimes resulted in deviation from this. Such can be seen on the exemplar jersey of placekicker Jim Turner from circa 1972. In 1971, what appeared to be the team’s last mass use of Durene jerseys, Jim Turner joined the team in a trade with the Jets. Also on the roster was running back Clem Turner, thus necessitating the application of first-name initials to the nameplate. In 1972, as the team transitioned to nylon mesh jerseys, both Turners remained on the roster. The circa ’72 Turner jersey shows a nameplate of Durene material with tackle-twill lettering affixed to the nylon mesh jersey.
Durene nameplate on circa 1972 nylon mesh jersey of Jim Turner
Annotations: Equipment staff will often make hand-written annotations on the game jerseys and other equipment to aid in identifying customizing requirements, post-wash sorting, etc. Such annotations are at the discretion of individual staff members and will vary accordingly. In some cases, particularly with pre-1993 jerseys, annotations may refer to the year of use as with the “91” tail tagging annotation on the 1991 jersey of Robert Perryman (see below left). In other cases, a similar annotation will refer to the player’s uniform number, to aid in application of the correct numeric identifiers to a “blank” jersey of an appropriate size. Such can be seen on the tail tagging of a 1994 jersey of safety Dennis Smith, who wore #49 (see below right).
Manufacturer’s tagging annotations denoting year of use (left) and uniform number (right)
Manufacturer’s Tagging: Study of manufacturer’s tagging is often one of the factors in helping to determine the vintage of a jersey in question. Astute collectors are usually aware of what periods are covered by which manufacturers and moreover, how the styles of tagging changed over time. Tagging inconsistencies can, however, lead to misidentification for those unaware that exceptions can and do arise. In 1989, when the Broncos switched from Russell Athletic to Wilson jerseys, the new togs were tagged with Wilson’s “Prestige Teams” labels. A few of the jerseys from the 1989-’90 seasons can be found, however, with the previous style of Wilson tagging, more appropriate to the 1985 to 1987 period, a time when the Broncos were wearing Russell Athletic jerseys, exclusively.
Typical “Prestige Teams” (left) and atypical (right) mid-80s-style Wilson manufacturer’s tagging applied to 1989-90 jerseys
Year Tagging/Style Incongruities: The application of uniform year tagging came into use in 1993 for the Broncos. With the advent of this feature, one would think that determining the period of use for a given item would be fairly cut and dried. History has proven that this is not always the case. In one example, a pair of Wilson pants tagged for 1994, had the Wilson/Sport logo affixed to the right front of the pants, a feature seen only on apparel worn in 1995.
Pants year tagged for used in 1994 (left) with the 1995 Wilson/Sport logo affixed (right)
In similar example, a 1995 Wilson jersey of Ring of Fame tackle Gary Zimmerman was converted for use in 1996 by sewing a Nike manufacture’s tag over the Wilson manufacturer’s tag and year tag, as well as replacing the Wilson sleeve logos with those from Nike. In this example, it is presumed that, after having extensive fitment customization performed on the ’95 Wilson jersey, Zim was unwilling go through the refitting process again the following year.
1995 Wilson-1996 “Nike” conversion tagging from jersey of Gary Zimmerman
Cut Inconsistencies and Customization: Beginning in 2001 with the introduction of Reebok (Ripon Athletic) manufactured uniforms came the advent of manufacturer customized jerseys. As opposed to prior years when jerseys could be order with either open sleeves or those bloused with elasticized banding as the only option, the new Reebok jerseys were made available in a variety of factory-custom “cuts”. Linemen’s “O” jerseys could be procured with additional Spandex to ensure a tight fit and little more than armholes in lieu of sleeves; quarterback’s “Q” jerseys provided an open sleeve which provided ample sleeve cuts to ensure a full range of motion while passing; “S” cut jerseys for skill players had a more restrictive elasticized sleeve and a trimmer body cut, to account for the typically smaller shoulder pads worn by these players. Other cuts include those designed for defensive linemen (D) and linebackers (L), each style having its own distinct characteristics. Further, all of these styles can also be order from the manufacturer with alterations to the standard body length.
In addition to the designed variation inherent with the multitude of factory styles offered, many players are also prone to adding further custom tailoring to their jerseys. Shortening of body length and/or adding elastic to the jerseys tail, sleeve alterations, and body tapering are a few of the more common customizations.
As a result of both the number of styles offered, compounded by the customizations that often occur, establishing a “standard” regarding physical characteristics for any of these Reebok-era jerseys can be daunting.
Other Tagging Inconsistencies:
In 1993 and 1995 the year tagging affixed to the tail of the Wilson jerseys can be found with both blue and orange colored embroidery. Of note is that all 1994 jerseys examined to date have exhibited orange embroidery only, though it is quite possible that exception exist for this year as well. Additionally, for all years of the Wilson Prestige Teams era (1989-95), the sizing and manufacturer’s coding “flag” tags can be found sewn on the bottom or either side of the manufacturer’s tagging and in varying font styles and sizes. No particular pattern has been determined regarding the variations amongst these flag tags.
Variations in 1995 tail tagging including differing font color on year tagging and differences in location of the sizing/coding “flag” tags
Three Broncos Semis For Hall of Fame (1/1/07) Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis was one of three first-year eligible players to make the list of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2007 along with offensive lineman Bruce Matthews and guard Randall McDaniel.
2007 Hall of Fame semi-finalists Terrell Davis, Randy Gradishar and Gary Zimmerman
Joining the former league and Super Bowl MVP are linebacker Randy Gradishar and offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman. Gradishar was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2003 while Zimmerman has been a finalist in 2003, 2004 and 2006. On November 16th, the Hall of Fame's Board of Selectors chose the 25 semifinalists from the list of 111 preliminary nominees that was announced in late October. That list included four former Broncos who did not make the semifinalist cut: safety Steve Atwater, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, former head coach Dan Reeves and cornerback Louis Wright.
To be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a nominated player must have been retired at least five years. For a non-player, there is not a mandatory retirement period, but a coach must be retired before he may be considered. A contributor, who is a nominee who has made outstanding contributions to pro football in capacities other than playing and coaching, may still be active in his pro football career.
The Class of 2007 will be determined at the Selection Committee's annual meeting on Saturday, February 3, 2007, in Miami, Florida, the day before Super Bowl XLI. The election results are announced immediately following the meeting at a press conference at the media headquarters. Hall of Fame bylaws stipulate that between three and six new members will be selected each year.
Davis, in his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, amassed 7,607 rushing yards over his seven-year career and holds almost every Broncos rushing record. He also won three league rushing titles and was the league's Most Valuable Player in 1998, as well as the MVP of Super Bowl XXXII.
Gradishar spent 10 years at linebacker for the orange and blue, never missing a game. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and is also the all-time leader in tackles for the Broncos, finishing with 2,049.
Zimmerman came to the Broncos in 1993 via a trade from the Minnesota Vikings. He was named All-NFL four times (1986-88, 1996), NFL Lineman of the Year in 1987, and second-team All-NFL of the 1980s. He helped lead an offensive line that was integral in helping Denver win its first Super Bowl in 1997.
Also among the 25 semifinalists was wide receiver Andre Reed, who spent training camp in 2000 with the Broncos.
Williams Dies at 24 (1/2/07)Tragedy struck the Broncos and the National Football League on Monday morning when cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in the overnight hours of New Year's morning.
He was 24 years old.
Williams was just hours removed from playing extensively during the Broncos' season-ending 26-23 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a game in which he logged three tackles and returned a pair of punts for 50 yards, including a 34-yarder that was his longest of the season.
The Oklahoma State product joined the Broncos as a second-round draft pick in 2005 and immediately made an impact upon the team, rising to the first team before the campaign was halfway complete. He finished his first year as a first-team All-Rookie selection by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers Association, logging 58 total tackles, intercepting two passes -- one of which he returned for a touchdown at Oakland -- and adding a sack.
"(Darrent) lived his life to the fullest," his mother, Rosalind Williams, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He had a big heart and helped many people," Rosalind Williams said. "He's going to be sorely missed by his family and friends and he has a big family. I don't mean just blood relatives. It is such an extended family because there's so many people that loved him."
Many of them were in the Broncos' locker room.
ESC Interviews 1960 Broncos Alum Frank Bernardi (9/5/06) In August-September 2006, Patrick Scoggin of Endzone Sports Charities had the opportunity to pose questions to former Denver Bronco Frank Bernardi. An alumni of the University of Colorado, Mr. Bernardi was a defensive back, playing six games with the team during its’ inaugural 1960 season.
ESC: How did you come about joining up with the fledgling American Football League (AFL)’s 1960 Broncos?
FB: I was released from the Chicago Cardinals in early fall of 1959. While looking for an opportunity to start a career, I came across a fast-food franchise, similar to McDonalds that was called "Golden Point' and they were ready to open in the Boulder area. I bought the franchise and was moving to Colorado in January of 1960. In late '59, the new AFL was created and Denver was one of the selected cities to field a team.
I called Fred Casotti to get the name of the team and its owners. Bob Howsam, owner of the Denver Bears baseball team was the owner. So I wrote to Bob and said, “I'm coming to Denver and would like an opportunity to play for your team.” The day after mailing that letter, I received a letter from Bob asking if I would consider playing for the Denver team. Our letters had crossed in the mail and that's my story! I was a Bronco.
ESC: What were some of your more memorable experiences in than first training camp at the Colorado School of Mines?
FB: First was the sheer number of athletes that showed up for tryouts. It was like a mini-invasion of football jocks! Some had played at the high school level, some played college from different division levels, some only played on the sandlots. The training table at the School of Mines was the school's cafeteria. We all went through it as if we were the students and got limited portions. After the evening meal, a group of us would go into Golden and fill up on pizza, etc. Lastly, the sleeping facilities were barracks-style—Army costs on the floor of the field house. Everyone was in the huge, open expanse of the field house.
ESC: There are stories that say nearly 300 would-be players came and went through the turnstiles during that first year’s camp. Once the dust settled and a team was established, did you form any close bonds with any of the other players from that Broncos team?
FB: I established no relationships. Once the team was decided upon, I played the exhibition season and broke my leg the first league game... since the Broncos didn't have up-to-date rehab facilities, I used CU for my rehab, so I never got close to anyone because I was living in Boulder and running my business.
ESC: And have you managed to keep in touch with any of them over the years?
FB: The Broncos hold a reunion every year for former players where we get to exchange our 'fantasies'. I visit with former members of the 1960 team; unfortunately, they are fewer each year. It's still great to see them and catch up.
ESC: While in many cases those early AFL squads were somewhat rag-tag, there were also some aging NFL stars as well as some diamonds in the rough who helped comprise those squads. Who were some of the better player that you remember playing with/against during that first year in Denver?
FB: Several of my 1960 teammates were All-Americans, including Al Carmichael (USC), Jimmy Sears (USC), Frank Tripuka (Notre Dame), Bud McFaddin (OK), Bob McNamara (MN) and of course Lionel Taylor (NM Highlands), a super end!
ESC: You had played with the Chicago Cardinals in 1955 through 1957. Was the transition from the NFL to a brand new AFL team a culture shock?
FB: Culture Shock? BIG TIME ! The facilities were terrible, the training table was terrible, game day travel was terrible, and preseason housing was terrible. Everything was TERRIBLE!!!
ESC: You had been a two-way player with the Cards, playing both defensive and offensive halfback (in addition to punting and placekicking), whereas Denver coach Frank Filchock utilized you strictly on the defensive side of the ball. Was it easier for you to just focus on the single position and play only defensive back?
FB: Playing one position gives more time to concentrate on that position and to develop techniques to enhance your ability. Also, it minimizes the percentage of injury.
ESC: What were your impressions/what are your memories of head coach Filchock?
FB: Filchock was easy going and mild mannered, however, I knew my defensive coach better.
ESC: During the first two years of the teams’ existence, coach Filchock’s staff consisted of two assistants. Quite the departure from today’s staff that numbers 10 times that. How did three coached manage to effectively coach a professional team?
FB: Coaching wasn't the problem. Most of the players at this level need little coaching. It was preparing for the next game based on scouting reports and what the opponents strength's and weakness'. We usually prepared as a squad so everyone was involved at the same time.
ESC: The first three games of the 1960 regular season were played on the road, and as it is understood, to minimize travel expenses, the team stayed on the road never returning to Denver during this period. Was this really the case, and if so, how/where would you practice for the next upcoming game?
FB: Yes, we remained on the road, and don't recall if we traveled to the next game right away or stayed where we played, and then went to the next city. I don't recall where we were for practice facilities, but it seems to me we used our hotel grounds where available or used the game site practice field.
ESC: You broke your leg early on into the season. Did you continue to travel with the team during your rehabilitation or did you remain in Denver?
FB: I stayed in Denver on away games. They did not start out using chartered planes for travel. We each got a separate ticket for next destination, thus we took different planes, and different departures, and hopefully ended up in the right city. They may have changed this travel procedure after I was injured. I assume they did not invite me on the away games because I was an extra cost to them.
ESC: Did you return to the active roster before the end of the regular season?
FB: No, I was out for the season.
ESC: I’m sure every member of the 1960-’61 teams gets asked, but as our interest does lie with the team’s uniform history, what were your thoughts on the team’s brown & gold uniforms of those first years?
FB: I thought the colors belonged in the circus, and most others shared that thought. The socks drew the biggest protest. I suppose they are worth more than what they cost then, but when we saw them the first time, no one thought they were really serious... Lots of chuckles... and more.
ESC: How do you see the game having changed in the 35 or so years since you last played?
FB: The players are bigger, faster, and stronger; techniques are more advanced. The philosophy is more detailed and the offensive and defensive schemes more complex. Salaries... OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!
ESC: Could you tell us a bit about your career (or careers) since retiring from pro football?
FB: I spent two years as franchise owner, than went into the investment industry as a stock broker.
ESC: And what are you doing now?
FB: I’ve retired as investment officer from Colorado National Bank (now U.S. Bank).
ESC: You’ve remained a Colorado resident over the years. Have you remained a Broncos fan?
FB: I’m STILL A BRONCO FAN! The Broncos’ Pat Bolen, does a first class job for the former players in his Annual Reunion.
ESC: What about the Cardinals, do you still follow them as well?
FB: I don’t follow the Cardinals at all. Maybe if they were in Chicago, I would.
ESC: As a former player, did you share in a bit of pride when the Broncos won their back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1997 and 1998?
FB: I have pride in being a Bronco Alum.
ESC: What’s your assessment of the current team? What do you think their chances are of returning another championship to Denver?
FB: After the first two preseason games, they look sharp, and if they can maintain this attitude, success could be in their future, but the league has so much talent, that injuries can and do alter the weekly march to the top. Luck and good breaks play a big, BIG part and the “football G-d” has got to be in your huddle!
ESC: Any closing thoughts that you’d care to share with our readers on your time as a Denver Bronco?
FB: The only thing that detracts from today’s' game is antics the individual player act out after a score or an individual makes a sack or a tackle and pops up strutting and pounds his chest like "King Kong". He's doing his job; that's what he is getting paid for. Unfortunately, the fans today, in general, accept this kind of demonstration and applaud it. Too bad!
ESC Offering Jersey Authentication Service (4/30/06) Effective May 1st 2006, Endzone Sports Charities (ESC) is pleased to announce broader availability of its’ jersey authentication services. Previously available only on a limited basis, this servicelimited exclusively to Denver Broncos jerseyswill now be made available to the general public. By limiting items that we will accept for examination to only those items which fall within our area of expertise, we can offer our clients unparalleled service with a unique fee structure that is both competitively priced for our commercial clients as well as being tax-advantaged for individuals as well.
ESC will provide authentication services by one of the hobby’s most respected collectors and researchers, Patrick Scoggin. Patrick is considered by collectors and dealers alike throughout the hobby as the foremost expert regarding Denver Broncos uniforms. With over 15 years experience collecting and authenticating Denver Broncos game-used apparel and memorabilia, Scoggin owns a historically significant collection of Denver Broncos game-used memorabilia covering the teams’ four-decade history, including many unique one-of-a-kind items and he maintains an extensive team-related uniform reference library consisting of various media including photographs, literature and video.
Unique to ESC will be its’ fee structure. ESC will charge an industry-low non-tiered single base fee for any jersey that we examine. It will be our policy to do so since we will spend practically the same amount of time with the $150 common player’s jersey as we will with the $2,000 star or vintage jersey. Likewise, just as we will spend the time to document why, in our opinion, your jersey may be correct, if it is not, we will take the time to document the reason(s) for this as well. Also, as the secondary mission of ESC is to provide financial support to positively impact the lives of others, 100% of the fees collected from our authentication services are to be forwarded as a fully tax-deductible donation to the NFL Alumni in support of its “Caring for Kids” charitable efforts throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
For more detailed information on our jersey examination services or to submit an item for authentication, visit our Authentication Page.
Former Broncos DT Lewis P. “Bud” McFadin Passes Aaway (1/15/06)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Former Denver Broncos defensive tackle Lewis P. “Bud” McFadin, a five-time NFL/AFL All-Star who was a member of the inaugural 1960 Broncos team, passed away Monday at the age of 77.
McFadin played for the Broncos from 1960-63 and appeared in all 56 games for the club during that period. He was tabbed an Associated Press All-Pro in each of his four seasons in Denver and participated in the AFL All-Star Game from 1961-63.
McFadin joined the Broncos after playing his first five professional seasons (1952-56) with the Los Angeles Rams, who selected the University of Texas All-American guard in the first round of the 1951 NFL Draft. He was voted to the NFL Pro Bowl in each of his final two seasons with the Rams, including the 1955 campaign when he also received Associated Press All-Pro recognition.
A native of Iraan, Texas, McFadin played his final two seasons with the AFL’s Houston Oilers from 1964-65.
In 11 professional seasons, McFadin appeared in 125 career regular-season games and scored 24 points (3 fumble recoveries, 2 field goals). He also recorded one interception.
The funeral service for McFadin will be held Thursday at 4 p.m. at Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Victoria, Texas (1147 Reinecke Road).
Source: DenverBroncos.com - http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.php?id=338&storyID=5329
ESC Interviews Former Broncos Equipment Guru Larry Elliott (1/1/06)
In December 2005, Patrick Scoggin of Endzone Sports Charities had the rare privilege of posing questions to former Denver Broncos’ equipment manager Larry Elliott. Responsible for handling the large amounts of equipment needed to outfit and supply a professional football team, Mr. Elliott, served in the capacity as the Broncos’ equipment manager’s from 1965 through 1982. In addition to his primary duty, Mr. Elliot was also responsible for pre-season training camp arrangements and road game lodging.
ESC: Tell us how you came about joining the Broncos in 1965.
LE: I was contacted by the equipment manager at the Air Force Academy that the Broncos were looking for an equipment manager. I had worked for Artus Smith, the equipment manager at the Academy for a year and half in 1959 and 1960. I contacted the Broncos about the job in February and was hired in May 1965.
ESC: What were your specific responsibilities as the Broncos' equipment manager (EM)? What was your typical day like?
LE: Each day was started off by checking the equipment for practice, doing about 200 pounds of laundry, making sure the practice field was set up for practices, and making sure everyone had what they needed. The day started about 6:00a.m.; we went home each night about 6:30p.m. ¬
ESC: What was your game day routine? Walk us through a Sunday in the life of a NFL equipment manager.
LE: I would arrive at the stadium about 3 hours before the team to make sure the uniforms were in the lockers, check the shoulder pads for any repairs that might be needed, also the helmets to make sure the face mask were OK and that they had air in the bladders inside the helmets. We would put out rolls of t-shirts, socks, and supporters. Game day socks and any miscellaneous gear the player might need for the game. Check the game footballs for the proper amount of air, if I recall in the beginning of my tenure we only had to have 12 game balls, then it went to 24, 6 for each quarter and now they have special footballs for the kickers. Then we would get ready for pre-game practice by setting up the field with all the items we needed on the sidelines, such as water, head sets for the coaches, footballs, etc. During the game we would be available for any repairs of equipment, sometimes there would be several facemask repairs and then at other times we would be lucky and have no repairs of any equipment. After the game we would gather up all the uniforms, help some of the players pack their bags of equipment, make sure everything was packed such as our extra gear we carried and about an hour after the game call it day. Usually at least a 12-hour day. The following day we would go to the practice and unpack everything and send the game uniforms off to the cleaners and do the rest of the laundry ourselves another 12- to 13-hour day.
ESC: How did games differ when preparing for games on the road? As the EM, what was your preparation like in terms of the logistics of moving the team and its' equipment?
LE: Because we had to leave the practice facilities for home games the same as road games, there wasn't that much difference. We had a moving company haul us to either the stadium or to the airport if we were playing out of town.
ESC: You served as the Broncos' EM from 1965 to 1982. How did the job evolve over that 17-year period?
LE: Well that is tuff to answer. The players in the early years played the game for a small amount of money and the fun of the game to when I left the Broncos the players were playing for the size of monies in the contracts. Plus when the money got bigger they seemed to play more for themselves than a team aspect. Also the equipment for the players was much better. The helmets were better designed to take the hits; the shoulder pads were better in absorbing the hits on their bodies. There also were better facilities thorough out the league.
ESC: As the team's EM, did you have the authority to make decision regarding which uniform manufacture to use from year to year or what that decision made elsewhere within the organization?
LE: During my 17 years, I made all decision regarding the equipment being used by the Broncos.
ESC: It would appear that, with a few minor exceptions-using Sand-Knit home jerseys in the early to mid 1970s and Wilson jerseys for a couple of years in the late 70s-you made a move to Russell (Southern) Athletic uniforms about 1971 or '72 and then stuck with them for a long period of time. What was the reason behind your preference for Russell?
LE: The quality of the Russell uniforms was much better and stood up to the beating the uniforms took. I also really enjoyed my relationship with the Russell organization and their salesman.
ESC: In the early 1970s, the team transitioned from Durene type jerseys to the nylon mesh type which, with minor modification is still being used today. Our research seems to indicate that, before settling on Russell for good, for a couple of years during this transition, Medalist Sand-Knit home orange jerseys were being worn while Russell was providing the white road jerseys. Was this part of the evaluation process of the “new style” of jersey?
LE: I do not recall using Sand-Knit for home and Russell for away, but if we did, then I was testing Russell to see if they would hold up as good and also to see how the mesh jerseys would withstand the treatment of the ball game.
ESC: In years prior to the league and teams negotiating directly with uniform and equipment manufacturers as they do today, you would instead have to order your uniforms through one of the their wholesaler representatives. Was there one local Denver-area business that you’d established a relationship with over the years to act as your "middle man" for this purpose?
LE: Yes, I had a great relationship with Jack Hunt of B&H Sport and Team. We meet my first year with the Broncos and we still see each other almost every year now. Jack is not only a great person he was the most qualified person in the sporting goods business in Denver. He worked hard to make sure you got what you needed and that it was always on time.
ESC: Early in your career--in the late 60s and into the 70s--it would appear that the team reused at least a portion of the teams' game jerseys from one year to the next. Would you agree that this was a typical practice?
LE: Yes, only because budgets were low then and we recycled all our equipment. We had helmets recertified, shoulder pads sent out for reconditioning, along with jerseys and pants.
ESC: What was the team's "typical" annual equipment budget during this period?
LE: Well the first year I think my budget was $12,000 dollars. I didn't realize I had a budget and I spent $20,000 dollars. When I left, my budget was in the neighborhood of $150,000. You have to realize the increases in cost, plus we had more players and staff to buy for in 1982 than in 1965.
ESC: At what point in time did the team regularly start purchasing a fresh full set of uniforms for each new season?
LE: I am not sure but I think in the early 1970's. When budgets started to increase and also the players sizes started to change some, so we started purchasing full sets of uniforms.
ESC: In a given season, how many jerseys would each player typically be issued?
LE: Most of the time, we had an extra jersey for each player. Sometime it was another new one or one that had been used the year before.
ESC: Did players at certain positions--such as running backs or linebackers--who were more likely to see greater wear, often have extra jerseys prepared/issued?
LE: You know it didn't seem to matter which position they played. A lot of times it was either the surface we were playing on, grass compared to synthetic turf. Sometimes it would be the linebackers or other times the wide receivers, or running backs. It was never the same.
ESC: Were new jerseys/uniforms typically broken out in the preseason or would you hold these until the start of the regular season?
LE: You know it was a mixed bag because of the turnover of the players. Some were new and some were old. We usually started the season with as many new uniforms as possible.
ESC: During your tenure, did you have any players that you can recall as having stood out in your mind for having particular uniform requirements regarding extreme sizing, special customization, or any other odd requirements?
LE: We had several players with big heads that required special sizing on helmets. On the opposite end of that Floyd Little had a very small head and we had to order a size 6 1/2 for him. We always kept two of these on hand in case one broke during the season. Also Jim Turner shoe size was a 10, however on his kicking shoe he wore a size 8 1/2, he curled his toes up in his kicking shoe. He wanted his kicking foot almost numb when he kicked. Please don't ask me why, he was a kicker and they were different. A great person though.
ESC: Though the example given is somewhat before your time, in a 1964 training camp photo, the players were shown wearing what appeared to be the original 1960-'61 brown & gold/brown & white game uniforms for training camp practice. After you joined the organization, did this trend continue with the prior seasons' game uniforms being recycled for the following seasons' practice jerseys?
LE: Yes in the beginning, but in the early 70's we bought separate practice jerseys, however, we did continue to recycle game pants for practice use.
ESC: If requested, were players granted the opportunity to retain their old jersey at the end of a season/career?
LE: Only at the end of their career unless they were donating it to a special cause of theirs. This was regarding players and not the organization.
ESC: How did you/the team typically handle disposal of old jerseys/uniforms? Were these thrown away, donated to schools, otherwise given away, etc.?
LE - We used them for practice. The organization did donate some for special reasons, and some were sold at the stadium ticket office.
(Equipment manager Larry Elliot, standing at right, is assisted by trainer Allen Hurst in loading spare Broncos uniforms for shipment to Vietnam, circa 1970)
ESC: Today, it is fairly rare to find a pre-1978 Broncos' game jersey on the secondary collectables market with the player's original nameplate still affixed, what was the reason/protocol for removing these before being released from the team's facility?
LE: Well the cost to make a nameplate was expensive, plus the players did not like seeing their names on the jersey being worn by someone else. Times have changed today though.
ESC: Try as we might in our research, we’ve not really been able to determine a definitive rhyme or reason as to when or where tackle-twill nameplate lettering was used versus when heat-set vinyl lettering was used? Understanding that tackle-twill was the costlier of the two options, did you generally have a preference of one style over the other?
LE: Sure the heat-set was cheaper, but did not last as long as the tackle twill. Also, once you heat-set the nameplate, it was permanent and that player’s only. I believe that I preferred the tackle-twill because you could take it off and put another player’s name on the jersey. Say for example, you cut a player during the season and a new player came in that wanted that number, you could take off the old nameplate and just put a new one on that jersey.
ESC: You were a part of the Broncos organization for a long time... During their early struggles in the '60s, though their first winning season in '73, to their first Super Bowl in '77… What was your most memorable moment as part of this team?
LE: Well to be honest it probably was the Super Bowl. I was able to take my whole family to New Orleans and my two oldest sons were ball boys for the game. Craig Morton gave me one of the game jerseys he wore in that game. All the work we had to go through for that game would always be with me.
ESC: Have you maintained any ties, professional or otherwise with the Broncos since your departure in '82?
LE: I belong to the alumni association. I have attended several of the Alumni weekends since leaving. Steve Antonopulos and Jim Saccomano are the only two still with the organization I worked with. I do talk to Steve every once in awhile.
ESC: What about long-time Equipment Assistant Ronnie Bill? I think he came as part of the franchise’s original charter. Isn’t he still around?
LE: Ronnie is retired now. He retired last year. Yes, Ronnie was part of the original charter, however, he was a part-time employee until Lou Saban became the head coach and I asked that Ronnie become a full-time employee. He was my assistant for 15 years. After 15 years he was put in charge of building maintenance and my last two years I had Bill Harpole one year and my last year my oldest son Tim was my assistant. After I left Bill Harpole became the head equipment manager and Ronnie was moved back into the equipment room.
ESC: Are you still a fan of the game and do you follow the team on Sundays some twenty years later?
LE: Sure, I watch the games every Sunday. I still have eight season tickets, however my oldest son Tim buys four of them and Jim Bergles, a dentist in Pueblo (CO), buys the other four. Jim Bergles and I have been friends for 30 years. In fact, Jim used to drive up from Pueblo on Sundays to help on the sidelines of home games. We are golfing buddies.
ESC: What have you done since and what are you doing now?
LE: I am now retired but I do work part time at Fox Hollow Golf Course in Lakewood, Colorado. I work in the pro shop and really enjoy the people I work with. I retired from the Colorado School of Mines as the equipment manager there on a Friday and started at the golf course on the following Monday. That was 6 years ago. All five of our children live in Denver and we have 10 grandchildren, so my wife and myself are as busy now as when I worked with the Broncos.
ESC: Nowadays, many EM's, recognizing the value of sports memorabilia, take advantage of their opportunities and amass sizable collections of their own. Did you collect much memorabilia during your nearly two decades with the Broncos?
LE: I did but most of my memorabilia disappeared. It seems that my children got rid of most of it. That is OK though, I am not much into collectibles anyway.
ESC: Kind of a weird twist on the “my mother threw out my baseball cards” story. You’d think that with the memorabilia boom, you would have probably been sitting on a pretty valuable nest egg had you kept hold of more of it. No regrets?
LE: No, because my kids tell me that it wasn't that valuable at the time. It is hard for me to believe anyway that people pay so much money for memorabilia.
ESC: In the past ten years or so, there has been a tremendous development of interest in game-worn sports memorabilia. What's your take on this?
LE - Everybody should be able to do their own thing, and if memorabilia is your thing then go for it.
Broncos Endzone to Expand & Receive Facelift (1/1/06) Beginning with changes in this month’s update, a gradual revision and expansion of the Broncos Endzone web site is now underway. Having recently expanded our hosting capacity, over time we are looking forward to adding additional uniform research resources.
Beginning this month, regular readers will notice more subtle changes… In November and December of 2005, all of the annual detail pages were reformatted and many were revised, incorporating new and additional information and/or graphics. Having recently adopted a new e-mail address, we have also eliminated our e-mail link on most pages, opting instead for a separate page providing a form which will allow for direct submissions of messages to us. For those with a need to e-mail us from outside our site, our new e-mail address, is endzonesports @ msn.com. Also apparent will be the streamlining of the site as information from several former pages is consolidated into a more easily navigated site.
In the coming months, it is our hope that the site will take on a more dramatic new look as we begin our search for assistance in the areas of both graphic and web design. While we have the conceptual design in place, converting the image to reality may take awhile considering that we are committed to remaining a privately funded, non-commercial site. Though the cosmetic changes may not progress as quickly as we’d like, we’ll do our best to ensure that we continue to provide top-quality content as we always have. Stay tuned...
ESC’s Scoggin to Write Guest “Musings” Column at www.JimYackel.com (1/1/06) Humbled and honored, Endzone Sports’ Patrick Scoggin has been asked to contribute a guest column to Jim Yackel’s Weekly Editorial Musings column at www.jimyackel.com. With a little over a month to sharpen pencil and wit, the musings column is tentatively set to post on February 12th.
NFL Goes International (1/1/06) To commemorate the NFL's first regular- season game outside the United States--the Arizona Cardinals faced the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, October 2nd in Mexico City--all of the league's players (with the apparent exception of Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer) wore a green Futbol Americano sticker on their helmets for the day’s games.
Broncos.com Interview Valenti
(9/7/05). As a collector of game-used jerseys, one’s best friend could easily be the team’s equipment manager. Not necessarily as a source of items for the collection, but at the very least as a source of information about the items that are being collected.
Earlier this summer denverbroncos.com interviewed Broncos’ current equipment manager Chris Valenti and queried him on several aspects of his job. Several of his responses to questions posed provided information of particular interest to Broncos’ uniform/jersey collectors.
From this interview it can be determined that the current practice is that each player is issued one (each home and road) jersey for the entire season. Each player also has a back up jersey prepared in case the primary one becomes unusable for some reason. The uniforms are hand scrubbed, laundered and repaired each week with the goal of making everything look new. Like the jerseys and pants, helmets receive touch-up paint and are re-decaled on a weekly basis in order to maintain a polished appearance. Players will generally use the same helmet for the entire year and are given the helmet at years’ end. Regarding purported game-worn helmets being offered on eBay, Valenti states that since “the helmets are actually given to each of the players at the end of every season so if it is being sold, it would have been obtained from the player himself.”
As to cleats, players are allowed to wear any type of cleat that they would like to. However, only two brands are allowed to show their logos on the field, those being Nike and Reebok. A player may choose to wear another brand, however, if he does so, all logos must be covered. If a player is lucky enough to get a shoe contract from one of the two mentioned brands, then their shoes are provided for them as part of the contract. For those players without contracts, the team provides them with the shoes they need to perform.
"Unique" Elway Jerseys Abound
(5/8/05). In 1994, the National Football League, in recognition of its' 75th anniversary, celebrated in part, by asking its' member teams to don uniforms paying homage to teams of the past. For a home game in Denver versus the Raiders on September 18th and a road game in Buffalo on September 26th against the Bills, the Broncos wore "throwback" uniforms patterned after the style worn by the 1966 AFL-era team.
As these two distinct modern jerseysone orange home and one white roadwere each used for only one game each, it is fair to say that they constitute the rarest of any post-merger-era Broncos jersey style. As was the common practice during the mid-90s, the team equipment staff would likely have prepared two of each jersey for each player on the team's roster at the time one prepared for game use and one made "game ready" and held in reserve in case the actual game jersey should be damaged beyond repair during play. In theory, for each player who took the field for each of the two games, during the '94 season, there should be a single game-worn/used jersey as well as possibly a single "team-issued" (though not worn/used) jersey. Though possible that exceptions may exist, it would be expected that this would be the standard.
With that said, one would have to question the abundance of these Throwback jerseys that have appeared on the market and auction circuit in recent years. In its' recent "Opening Day" auction, which ended April 7, 2005, American Memorabilia of Las Vegas, NV offering what appeared to be its third, apparently different road throwback jersey of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. Lot #20, which closed at $2,221 (including 15% buyer's premium) was described as a "scarce 1994 Denver Broncos road throwback gamer with an absolutely perfect silver signature" displaying "solid game use". In their October 2004 auction, lot 48 was cataloged with "Awesome quarterback wear" and "signed in perfect black Sharpie on back" and sold for $6,335 (including buyer's premium) while in September of 2002, Lot #115 (which brought $4,637, including premium) was unautographed with only "light QB wear". All three of these jerseys were sized 48 and authenticated for American Memorabilia by Lou Lampson. When contacted by ESC, a representative of American Memorabilia stated that, “we have to go by our authenticator’s opinion”, despite that fact that the authenticator will apparently churn out a letter for a newly submitted piece every couple of years, which flies in the face of common sense.
Catalog listings of three apparently different Elway road Throwback Elway jerseys, each authenticated by Lou Lampson and offered in separate American Memorabilia Inc. auctions in 2002, 2004 & 2005 respectively.
Our research has uncovered that, in addition to the previously mentioned trio from American Memorabilia, at least three others have passed through the doors of Grey Flannel over the years. One was offered as lot #1130 in their May 2001 "Spring Training" auction and sold for $9,300. We were also aware of two other road "throwbacks" with Grey Flannel letters of authenticity (M.N. 949B, dated 7/10/95 and R.V. 342E, dated 2/9/98). Of note is that all three of these were of different sizes (44, 46, and 48 respectively).
Further muddling matters, an October 2000 article in the Denver Rocky Mountain News highlighted several pieces of Broncos' memorabilia that were part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's collection. One of the items mentioned was "John Elway's complete Throwback uniform from the 1994 season." Contacting Jason Aikens of the Hall of Fame, we made an inquiry as to whether the hall possessed Elway's orange home jersey or his road white and also inquired as to the jersey's size. Mr. Aikens responded stating, "Our Elway throwbacks jersey is white and size 44."
Though unconfirmed, it is suspected that at least some of these jerseys may have originated from a lot that was created though a business partnership. In 1995 a Denver-area memorabilia dealer was contacted about purchasing the remaining stock of unused Wilson Throwback jersey blanks. The dealer acquired these jersey blanksthe same exact blanks as those provided to the teamand had the entire lot made up as Elway jerseys with appropriate numbers and nameplates. The dealer entered into an agreement with John Elway whereas, in exchange for his autograph on a number of the jerseys, which the dealer would retain for sale, John would be given a quantity in payment for his services, to do with as he wished. It is suspected that these likely were given away as gifts, donated for charitable functions and the like, with no way of telling exactly how many of these may now be circulating accompanied by "game worn" credentials.
Though not neatly as prominent, the orange home jerseys are apparently not without multiples either. The first that we are aware of was sold at auction by Grey Flannel in November of 2000 (a size 46 which brought $8,349 including 15% premium) and a second which recently closed at Vintage Authentic's March 31st, 2005 auction (lot #16, a size 48 selling for $3,680 including buyers premium with a "9/18/94 vs LA" notation on the Wilson tail tag written in black Sharpie).
Flashback 1989: Outfitting The NFL (5/8/05). Equipping an NFL team can be a challenging, not to mention expensive, task.
The most visible portion of a player's "equipment" is his uniform. Uniforms help give a team its personality. They also bond the players on a team in a special fraternity that ties the wearers to a past tradition.
For the most part, NFL teams are free to choose their own uniform colors and designs. There are certain uniform standards established by the league, however, and compliance is moni-tored by NFL observers at every game.
All NFL teams are required to have one set of colored jerseys and one set of white jerseys. At one time the league rule stated that the home team would wear colored jerseys and the visit-ing team would wear white. Now the rule is that the home team has first choice.
Some superstitions have inevitably developed regarding the success a team has in either its col-ored or its white jerseys. As a result, some interesting psychological dramas have been played out over the choice of uniform colors.
Some NFL coaches always prefer to have their teams play in the all white uniforms because of a longstanding belief that players appear larger in white.
There is sometimes even a strategy behind the size of a uniform jersey. Offensive linemen often will wear jerseys that are actually too small for them so that the fit is skin tight. The reason? Defensive linemen won't have anything to grab onto. And now that pass blockers are allowed to use their hands more while protecting the quarterback, defensive linemen have become more conscious of wearing tight-fitting uniform jerseys as well.
The design of a team's helmet also has been used to gain an edge. In 1978, the New York Jets changed uniforms and went from white to green helmets, so that they would be the only team in the AFC Eastern Division that didn't wear white. They thought the green helmets would prove advantageous to a quarterback trying to pick out receivers.
Footwear has changed right along with hel-mets and jerseys. The advent of artificial play-ing surfaces has resulted in new types of footwear for NFL players. There is a different kind of shoe for every surface, and every NFL player is equipped with a variety of shoe surface options.
Gloves also are a part of some players' equip-ment. Offensive linemen wear thick, heavy gloves to protect their fingers from the rigors of line play. Wide receivers and tight ends some-times wear thin gloves on cold days to keep their hands warm.
Underneath the colorful uniform jerseys and pants there is another uniform: a layer of pro-tective equipment that has been designed and upgraded through the years to help prevent injury. The NFL also has standards that require all players to wear the same basic padding.
Shoulder pads, elbow pads, hip pads, thigh pads, and knee pads are all part of an NFL player's armor, in addition to his jockstrap, mouthpiece, and helmet.
A player's most important piece of equipment is his helmet. Football helmets have undergone dramatic evolution, from the flimsy leather headgear worn in pro football's early days to the energy absorbing, plastic helmets of the space age that contain air cells or liquid to lessen the effects of shock. New helmet designs constantly are being tested for improved safety measures to reduce the risk of head injury.
Actually, there have been a number of novel inventions during the past decade that have revolutionized some elements and theories sur-rounding football equipment.
A player with severely bruised, or even cracked ribs may still be able to play football, thanks to the flak jacket, which features a net-work of shock absorbing, air-filled tubes encased by a lightweight, plastic shell. And experiments, looking well into the future, have been done with spring-operated pads that will prevent rota-tion of the knee and disperse any severe shock on the knee joint upward to the leg and upper thigh (which can absorb the impact more eas-ily). Work also has been done on a pulley--operated pad system that works like an automo-bile seat belt in holding the neck steady during a heavy blow.
Presently it can cost a team as much as $100,000 or more to equip its players for an entire season. Even a simple item such as adhe-sive tape can entail a considerable expense. Every player has his ankles taped before practice or a game (by league rule), and many players also have other areas taped as well. One NFL trainer estimates that he will use more than 300 miles of tape during the course of a 20-game season, at a cost of nearly $30,000.
Source: Broncos GameDay, October 1, 1989 (Courtesy of The Illustrated NFL Playbook)
State of the Hobby Roundtable (9/3/04). What is the current state of the game-worn hobby? Is the future bright or dismal? These are the questions on many collectors’ minds. We thought what better way to find out than to pose these questions to a panel of some of the hobby’s best known and most trusted experts. What follows are the responses from our esteemed panel, which consisted of:
- Murf Denny (MD) of Brule, Wisconsin has been involved in collecting and being a jersey dealer since the early 70's. Dealing in jerseys and memorabilia from many college and professional teams, his web site is at www.murfandpat.com
- Mark Hayne's (MH) addiction to the game-used football jersey hobby started in 1974 when he obtained a Birmingham Americans jersey after the team's equipment was repossessed by the local sporting goods store at the end of the season. Witnessing one football league after another come through Birmingham, he got into the selling end of the hobby having access to buying jerseys and other equipment after each league folded. By the late 1990s, he had expanded his business to include acquisitions from several NFL teams.
- A life-long fan of the game of football and the Denver Broncos, Patrick Scoggin (PS) has been collecting football-related memorabilia for nearly 30 years and has come to be known as an expert in the area of Broncos’ uniform history. He is also the webmaster of Broncos Endzone
- After only a few years as a collector, Jim Yackel (JY) of Jim's Jerseys dove head first into the business of selling game-worn football, baseball and hockey uniforms in 1999. Although a relative newcomer, Jim quickly established himself as one of the hobby's most trusted sellers of game-worn/used uniforms
Q: What do you feel is (are) the driving factor(s) behind the recent growth in popularity of collecting game-used/worn football jerseys?
MD: To tell you the truth I have not seen it. I have sold a fair amount of defunct WLAF and USFL jerseys but only when they are available to me. I just haven't seen a jump in football jersey collecting over any other sports. With the economy in shambles the sale of "luxury" items such as sports jerseys has cooled some.
MH: I think that it is mostly a matter of more people becoming attuned to game-used/worn jerseys being available and more easily accessible. Until the last few years, most NFL teams were not especially accommodating in making their jerseys available. Sometimes it was simply a matter of nothing being available as some teams were using prior seasons' jerseys for practice, or else keeping them on hand to use as spares in future seasons. And then there were some teams such as the Lions who simply put them in boxes and stored them on shelves in a far back corner of the equipment room. In the last few years, teams have become more marketing savvy and realize that they can make money selling their team's game-used/team-issued jerseys. Rarely seen 10 years ago, there are now some teams that have "tent sales" each year. A few teams make their jerseys available through the team gift shop, and others offer jerseys through their website. Not only are teams making their jerseys more easily available, most teams order a lot more jerseys than they did in the past (for a variety of reasons). All of this results in more items available.
PS: A couple of things if I'd have to guess. In the early to mid-1990s, the trading card companies, looking for a new way to boost sales when the autographed "insert" cards started to loose their luster, turned to memorabilia and the Satanistic practice of cutting game worn jerseys into 1" swatches and gluing said pieces of material onto cardboard. I think that this opened the eyes of a lot of collectors and nudged them towards the genre of collecting game apparel and other memorabilia in addition to (or instead of) trading cards. Secondly, the growth of the Internet and the resulting enterprises such as eBay have provided both buyers and sellers a more instantaneous, albeit impersonal way to interact. Suddenly every potential buyer has a direct information pipeline to every potential seller.
JY: The growth of the hobby can be attributed almost exclusively to the late 1990's Internet boom. With all of the dealers having websites, and with the proliferation of game-worn/used items on eBay, the hobby has been exposed to countless sports fans and collectors who otherwise may not have been aware that game-worn/used uniforms were available. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Internet has also overexposed the hobby. This overexposure has created the glut of gamers being available, reducing the values of them as collectibles. It has also made it easier for those individuals with larcenous souls to pass fraudulent items.
Q: Are you finding it more difficult as of late to find desirable jerseys for purchase/resale?
MD: With the popularity of the Internet the team web sites have tapped a new outlet for the game used equipment. The use of eBay and their own sites has allowed many of them to get much higher prices for a lot of their equipment. It is a two edged sword. Their fan base keeps the prices much higher than the collector would normally pay for used equipment. A "fan" is willing to pay a much higher price for what they may see as a piece of equipment that has never been available. Whereas the collector over the years has been able to wait for a dealer to negotiate a lower price by buying all that teams equipment.
MH: Yes and no. From a resale standpoint, it seems a lot more difficult to work directly with teams in making bulk purchases. NFL teams are a lot more attuned to marketing the jerseys themselves, whether making them available through charities or selling them at "tent sales" and other similar venues. From a collecting standpoint, it is a godsend. Up until the last few years, most NFL teams were not attuned to selling their jerseys to collectors and fans, so there just weren't many alternatives other than hoping that dealers of game-used equipment could come up with a bulk buy. As a smaller dealer, I am more and more dependent on finding jerseys on the secondary market. But from the collecting standpoint, eBay has opened a whole new world.
PS: Yes, but likely for different reasons that the others. As a historian, I'm really only interested in acquiring items that represent styles that I'm unfamiliar or less familiar with. As my breadth of knowledge expands, there become fewer and fewer "unknowns" on my want list. As a collector, this difficulty comes from my own self-imposed collecting niche of seeking one jersey from each of 18 different players spread across a 45-year span of a teams' history. While I've nailed down about half of them, the others just don’t pop up that often. While I could easily open up the parameters of what I collect making purchases easier to come by, the size of my collection is not nearly as important as its exclusivity. Besides, from a collecting standpoint, half of the fun is in the chase.
JY: Yes indeed. I'm being offered more and more team-issue and game-ready pieces, along with "quirky" items such as jerseys being year tagged one year but not actually used until the following season. And those 2001 NFL jerseys that have the "NFL Equipment" neck logo added for use in 2002. Too may collectors have this misguided belief that a NFL team would never recycle in such a manner. It makes these items tough to sell.
Q: What do you see as the impact of online auctions (i.e. eBay) on the game-used jersey collecting hobby?
MD: It has allowed the teams fans to get involved with their teams used equipment. Unfortunately they drive the prices much higher than they normally would be. These high prices keep many dealers from ever approaching the teams. It also is a new outlet for the "bad guys" to dispose of their fakes while hiding on the Internet.
MH: Good and bad. As mentioned above, the positive is that it has opened a whole new world for collectors by making things available that may have never entered the marketplace otherwise. There are a lot of folks out there who aren't really collectors that have acquired a few items of their favorite team over the years through a variety of means. Plus, there are folks who worked for teams, are best friends with a player's third cousin, or perhaps an equipment manager's next-door neighbor who have been given items for whatever reason. These people had no outlet to sell these items prior to the Internet as they probably weren't attuned to publications such as Sports Collectors Digest and weren't getting any guidance from the local card shop owner. With eBay, I think that we are seeing a lot of these items hitting the marketplace. The negative is that it brings about a lot of confusion, not to mention a lot of bad items and dishonest people. For the most part, I have found in my dealings that 99.9% of the folks are honest. The problems is that many folks aren't attuned to the hobby and game-used jerseys in particular. When it comes to eBay and other similar on-line auctions, the buyer needs to be very, very careful, and as always, perform plenty of research before bidding. Caveat Emptor!
PS: From my standpoint, which is a rather unique one, it has been nothing short of phenomenal! Keeping in mind that my primary motives stem from historical interest, there is something to be learned from each and every piece out there--the good, the bad and the ugly. It provides a worldwide venue, which has brought numerous pieces of valuable information my way, not to mention the tangible bobble or two that has been added to my personal collection via this venue. eBay and other Internet-based auctions in general have helped bring the wide-world of jerseys to my desktop. I can now be an active, real-time participant in the process. On the down side, as a collector, I've learned that one must wade through a ton of garbage to come across the occasional rare gem. While the Internet makes every jersey owner a potential direct seller, it does not, by any means, make him/her an expert. Poorly or inaccurately described items, exaggerations or fabrications, and just flat-out fraud are just some of the pitfalls that a potential buyer must be aware, and hopefully avoid.
JY: In my view, eBay's impact is more negative than positive. The game-worn jersey marketplace is becoming over-saturated, and eBay is the primary contributor to that. Also, eBay is a terrific place to dump phony game-worn items if you have that evil tendency. Mislisted items by inexperienced collectors and sellers on eBay are also a serious problem. Replica items listed as "game jersey" or "game worn jersey" for example. eBay is the new opiate of the masses, especially where this business is concerned.
Q: What sort of effect has NFL Auctions had on your business and the hobby in general?
MD: It has driven the price of game worn jerseys much higher than they normally would be and made "collectible jerseys" for the common uniform collector almost unaffordable.
MH: Initially, it seemed to have a negative impact on my business, but it now appears to have minimal effect. What it does create is a lot of curiosity from my perspective. I would occasionally see a jersey in the auction of a player (same team and style) that I also had on my price list. My jersey would be at a lower price, yet I would see some of my better customers actually bidding MORE for the NFL Auctions jersey (sometimes a whole lot more than my price). Another oddity is that guys who insist that any jersey they buy from me must show game wear never blink an eye to spend twice the money for a "mint" NFL Auction jersey (such as "game-cut", "team-issued", etc.). NFL Auctions is great for the hobby in that it makes items easily available to collectors and the money goes to charity. The negative is that it gives some collectors a false sense of the value of their collection. Also, just because you spend $1,500 on a jersey in NFL Auctions doesn't mean that you are going to get anywhere close to that amount if you decide to sell it three years later.
PS: My observation is that items put forth in these auctions sell for extremely inflated prices. What's the reason for this? A couple of possibilities exist. As in many charity auctions, bidders are often less interested in the item than they are in making a contribution to the cause. Somewhat unlikely in this case. Though the NFL's charitable recipients represent truly worthy causes, the bidders to which these items are being marketed are hardly part of the black-tie charity gala crowd. The second and more likely possibility is that these buyers, so desperate to be assured of authenticity, will pay double a jersey's real market value, just for the privilege and security of buying it direct from the source. From where does this desperation come? Again, two possibilities. First from honest collectors, tired of being victimized by the previously mentioned sins of the current marketplace (i.e. poor/inaccurate descriptions, exaggerations, fabrications, fraud, etc); secondly, from the just-on-the-bandwagon novices who've jumped headfirst into the hobby without doing their homework and now must effectively pay others to do it for them. Both of these scenarios are a sad reflection on where the hobby is at today.
JY: NFL Auctions is also contributing to the over-saturation of the game-worn/used jersey marketplace. Too many uniforms being put up for auction. This over-saturation is only serving to drive down the value of all game-worn/used items. That hurts my business. NFL Auctions is also misleading new collectors into believing that all game-worn jerseys, regardless of the seller, have PSA/DNA certification.
Q: What are your views of third-party authentication, issuance of Letters/Certificates of Authenticity, etc.?
MD: They appear to be a necessary evil. Our Letters of Authenticity mean that we stand behind everything that we handle. The only thing that I require is that the buyer proves to us that the item is bad. Our letters list the buyer and we will not re-issue it to someone else.
MH: Simply said, collectors need to do their own research and homework. For the price of a couple of jerseys, you can put together an impressive library of research material. Just as important is networking with other collectors who have experience or specialize in certain teams, eras, etc. And don't forget dealers who can provide valuable information as they have owned and seen more jerseys than probably most of the professional authenticators. If a collector plans to be in the hobby for awhile, they will end up spending a fair amount of money. Why depend on someone else to convince you that the items you are buying are real when you can do it yourself?
The short version of my problem with authenticating services is that I have yet to meet anyone in my 30 years in this hobby who is an expert on everything. The professionals do make mistakes as it is inevitable and the nature of the beast. Compounding the issue is that there are some who try to be all things to all people and end up straying into areas beyond their expertise. My personal opinion is that an authenticator should only authenticate, an appraiser should only appraise, and a dealer should only sell. Once the lines are crossed, there is a somewhat conflict of interest.
PS: I tend to be ambivalent on the subject of 3rd-party authentication. While firmly in the school of belief that a responsible collector owes it to himself and to the hobby to become his/her own expert, I also understand that such knowledge does not come overnight and without cost. To those who are likely to loose sleep unless they get what they believe is an objective, unbiased professional opinion, I say have at it. As to seller's COAs, the concept itself is so wrought with conflict of interest that I question why anyone bothers with them.
JY: I am no fan of third party authentication. I have nothing personal against the gentlemen who offer this service, however, they are only human, and they do make mistakes. They at times venture into areas where they have little or no experience. Too many collectors view the work that these authenticators do as gospel truth. I include a COA with every item that I sell, but only because the marketplace demands that I do. One of the strongest selling points of a Jim's Jerseys COA is that they are printed on soft paper which makes them suitable for bathroom use. My bottom line is this: If you don't feel confidant that the item is the real deal, you don't sell it!
Q: Are you finding that customers are more concerned with LOA/COA than the actual item they may purchase?
MD: Unfortunately their main concern is the letter. We do provide them if requested and we do stand behind our letters forever.
MH: Some customers seem to get hung up on this issue, especially some of the guys who seem to be fairly new to the hobby. The demand for COAs seemed to rise with the advent of eBay and NFL Auctions, but it seems to have ebbed over the past year. I think that some collectors want the COA for no other reason than to make the item easier to sell if they decide to part with it down the road. Sadly, I think that some collectors won't lift a finger to verify if an item is good once they have a COA in hand. And that is the main reason I dislike COAs - they tend to make some collectors become lazy in doing their own homework.
PS: To some this piece of paper is of paramount importance. To me personally, they are of negligible value. As an educated hobbyist, I feel that I can be fairly sure of an items' authenticity even before it is in my hands. To begin with, I'm generally dealing with someone whom I know and trust, I've done my homework to enable me to ask intelligent questions, I've gotten the answers needed to sooth any concerns, and when able, I've verified the items' provenance. If these requirements cannot be addressed to my satisfaction, it's easier for me to walk away from a deal than to pursue one that will torment me later. No letter or certificate will make a questionable item more than what it is.
JY: It seems that many customers are obsessed with COAs. That piece of paper carries more weight that the Magna Carta in many eyes. I may have to reverse my policy to read: "Every Jim's Jersey COA comes accompanied with a game-worn/used item closely matching the description on the document."
Q: How does the lack of standard terminology (i.e. over/misuse of terms such as "authentic", "game jersey", etc.) affect the hobby?
MD: I always tell them to do all the research they can on their purchases. Ask questions. My advice is always "When in doubt - don't". If you have doubts now your doubts will only get bigger over the years.
MH: It causes confusion on many levels, especially to the inexperienced collectors. I have learned that the only solution is to read the description very carefully, study the photos, and ask questions. After all, what one person calls "authentic" might actually be "game-worn", and what another person calls a "game jersey" might not be anything more than a nice replica.
PS: It is surprising to me how many old-timers (collectors and pros alike) are confused by the lack of standardize terminology, I can hardly imagine the bewilderment of a novice. My personal preference would be to ban the term "authentic", as through overuse, misuse, and abuse, it has become meaningless. But get rid of one and along comes another… While web surfing recently, I came across the term "Replithentic". What in the @%$& is Replithentic?!?
JY: The lack of standard terminology and semantic misuses are causing problems. We need to remove the word "authentic" from the game-worn/used lexicon. Why? Because authentic is also used to describe the top-caliber replica jerseys that are "just like what the players wear on the field!" The term "game jersey" is also misused in that same vein. I'm still wondering what the heck a "game cut" jersey is!
Q: There seems to be more "team-issued (not game-worn)" jerseys in the hobby. What are your thoughts on this trend?
MD: As teams dump their inventory they let everything go. Team issued, game worn jerseys and sometimes even some prototypes. Some collectors don't mind the team issued stuff as long as it was from the team.
MH: In recent years, I am guessing that teams are ordering more jerseys than they did in the past. Just a theory of mine, but with jerseys being worn very tight these days, they tend to get banged up much easier and probably wear out quicker. Therefore, teams are perhaps ordering larger quantities than a decade ago as more replacements will be needed during the season. Plus, some players wear a new jersey each week, so teams are probably ordering more sets for everyone. Under these theories, teams would naturally end up with a lot more "team-issued" items than they did in the days of having two sets per player and then "recycling" those in subsequent years. Another reason for the number of "team-issued" jerseys in the hobby is that teams are probably ordering more for charity and other giveaway purposes. Additionally, players could be placing orders through the team or equipment manager so that they can give them to family, friends, agents, associates, and charity purposes.
PS: To each his own. From the standpoint of either historical research or my personal collection, I have no interest in this type of item. I want the jerseys with sweat stains in the pits, blood on the sleeves and rips across the shoulders. Having one just like the player might have worn just doesn’t appeal to me. While there seem to be a lot of these out there, it my mind they're in a differently category than the true game-used/worn jersey and not competing for the same collectors' money.
JY: Because of the explosive popularity of game-worn jersey collection, players and teams have become hip to the hype. Players, especially star players, are being issued a larger number of jerseys than ever before. In many cases, more jerseys than the player can wear during the course of the season. Some of the jerseys end up in charity auctions and team promotions and may not have been considered for player wear. More jerseys being offered for the player--more jerseys on the market.
Q: Do you think that the collecting of game-used football jerseys will ever reach the popularity of collecting baseball and hockey jerseys?
MH: I just don't see it for several reasons. In my opinion, baseball and hockey jerseys are more popular than football jerseys for the simple reason that they look a whole lot better. Also, for guys who like to wear jerseys, football jerseys do not fit very well (especially the recent vintage, which are tapered to fit snuggly). Football is the Number 1 spectator sport in the U.S., but baseball is the most popular for collectors.
PS: Baseball has a whole lot of history, a gap that will not likely be made up by football. While football has surpassed baseball in terms of spectator popularity, sports collectors in general remain much more passionate about baseball. As for the popularity of hockey over football, I can only wonder… I'd surmise that the Canadians skew the stats.
JY: What hurts football jerseys is that many collectors like to wear game-worn jerseys. Contemporary football jerseys are not very apparel-friendly, because of the tapering of the body and the shortened sleeves and in many cases, tails. Collectors like to fit comfortably into these jerseys, and unless they are physically fit, they may not. It's this overriding factor that may keep football jerseys a step behind their baseball and hockey counterparts.
Q: Do you believe that it is possible that the hobby of collecting game-worn football jerseys has become too popular?
MD: I doubt it. Higher prices have caused many older collectors to just quit collecting all types of jerseys and I just don't see football jerseys becoming that popular due to the internet auctions sites. The equipment will still sell but to fans and not collectors.
MH: It can never become too popular. The more that enjoy it, the better!
PS: Ah, that elusive point of equilibrium, where once reached, everyone is happy. Our hobby, like most things economic, is in a constant state of flux. Too many collectors or too may jerseys? It really depends on what side of the equation one is biased towards. If the market seems to have overreacted to some particular stimulus, time will eventually heal all wounds, moving it back again.
JY: The collecting of game-worn/used jerseys in general has become too popular. This hobby needs to remain a bit esoteric to be at its healthiest. What makes gamers desirable is their relative scarcity when compared to trading cards and other memorabilia. Demand for game-worn jerseys has risen in the last couple of years, and unfortunately supply has risen to meet demand. As I mentioned before, players, agents, and teams have become hip to the game-worn uniform hype, so more and more uniforms are being worn by the players, contributing to the market over-saturation. Because of the now plentiful supply, these jerseys are not retaining their values. Game-worn jerseys should be one of a kind, unique pieces of sports history. That uniqueness is disappearing.
Q: In your opinion, what is the "magic bullet" that will fix the ills of the hobby as it is today?
MD: A better economy. The game worn jerseys and equipment we sell is "luxury" items and certainly not necessary. The collectible market becomes one of the first places a bad economy seeks out. However, the quality stuff will always be in demand.
MH: To quote Alvin Lee, "I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do, so I leave it up to you."
PS: Jersey collecting has most definitely seen a tremendous surge of interest/growth over the recent past. So much so that I would characterize the hobby's situation as something akin to "growing pains". Like a gangly, awkward teenager, collectively we're no longer and infant, but not yet mature enough to be able to find our place in the world as an adult. The collector base needs to mature, shaking off the thrill-seeking Johnny-come-lately who lacks the passion to become a long-term collector; for those that remain, it's back to school. The league needs to encourage its' member clubs to present a unified, consistent approach as a supplier (not seller) of the desired commodity. Dealers need to recognize that "we're not in Kansas anymore" and for better or worse, the competition is changing… adapt or perish.
JY: What the hobby needs is a leveling-off of demand. You must think that it's strange that a dealer like myself, who makes his living from selling these items, would want to see demand cool. If current trends continue, the demand will certainly relax. When the demand subsides, teams will not be so eager to market their uniforms--whether it be by selling to a dealer or self-marketing. That action will create a level of scarcity. That scarcity will raise the value of game-worn jerseys and make them special and unique collectibles again. The relaxed will also help to discourage scofflaws from creating and marketing phony jerseys.
Q: What do you see as the hobby's future?
MD: In the future I visualize the teams using the Internet exclusively to dump their goods. Some teams now sell "raffle tickets" at the games to dispose of their game-used equipment. The raffles get unbelievable prices for even common jerseys.
MH: Having been in the hobby for 30 years, I have seen the peaks and valleys of interest in game-used football jerseys. Football jerseys have always lagged in popularity and tended to have a niche market. I see that continuing as it will probably always be less popular than baseball and hockey for the reasons previously mentioned. I see teams getting more involved in marketing the game-used items themselves, especially having seen that there is a definite demand. However, they will eventually discover what many of us already know. Linemen jerseys don't sell for the most part, the shelf life of all but the big stars is rather short, retailing jerseys to "picky" collectors requires an understanding of the hobby, and there will be many more jerseys available than prospective buyers (especially once the novelty wears off after a couple of years). The teams will grow tired of all this and eventually lose interest when they discover that it is not a huge money-making venture. Then it's back to where we started--sell it in bulk to the dealers as it is a much easier way to clear shelf space in the locker room and/or the retail store.
PS: In time, the recent surge of interest will subside though the aftermath will leave the collecting landscape looking different that it was before. I see the Internet taking a more dominant role. I see teams/leagues, while remaining closely involved overall, actually further removed from the individual transactions. I see a collector base returning to its roots, leaner and meaner (i.e. fewer, but more knowledgeable).
JY: The future is cloudy. There needs to be a flushing-out so to speak. The demand needs to cool or else the pot will boil over and extinguish the flame. If that happens, if the mania subsides, the hobby will be rejuvenated and the future will be bright.
Broncos to Don Orange Jerseys for ‘03 (9/3/04). This past summer, the Denver Broncos announced that they would don their orange third jerseys for the team's Sunday night home game against the Oakland Raiders on November 28. This game will mark the first appearance of the alternate uniforms since November 22, 2002, when the team donned them for another Sunday night game, against the Indianapolis Colts (see Broncos Re-Equip For '02 at News Archives Page).
Brandishing the orange togs for one game a season comes with a stamp of approval from team owner Pat Bowlen who had indicated in March of this year that the team would wear the alternate jerseys again, if given the opportunity.
Broncos Memories Stored in Canton (9/3/04). After over four decades, Denver has finally seen its first career Broncos' player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In addition to John Elway's bronze bust, the team has been represented in Canton, Ohio, in other ways as well. Uniform items that are a part of the Hall's collection include:
- The 1960-61 vertically striped, brown-and-yellow socks worn by Broncos players in the early American Football League days are in the Other Leagues exhibit.
- Original Bronco and Ring of Fame receiver Lionel Taylor's jersey is in the same display.
- John Elway's 1986 jersey from "The Drive" is on display in an exhibit devoted to the first century of pro football (1892 to 1992).
- Mike Anderson's 2000 jersey, worn December 3, when he broke Corey Dillon's rookie mark of 246 rushing yards with a 37-carry, 251-yard effort in a 38-23 win against the New Orleans Saints, is in an exhibit of modern-day mementos.
- Elway's 1996 jersey, the final year for the old Orange Crush style, is in the enshrinees' mementos room.
- Elway's 1998 uniform and the football he used to reach the 50,000-yard passing mark on Nov. 22, are in the enshrinees' room.
- Terrell Davis' 1998 jersey, worn when he became the third running back to reach 1,000 yards in seven games, is on display.
- Glyn Milburn's 1995 jersey and shoes worn when he set the record for most combined yards (404) in a Dec. 10 game.
- 1994 Throwback uniforms worn by Elway and Gary Zimmerman
Source: DeBruin, Lynn. Barrel of Broncos memories stored in Canton. 2004 (Aug 6). Rocky Mountain News.
New Info Leads To Re-Dating of Turner Jersey
(3/26/04). The more experience one has in dealing with game-worn jerseys, the more likely one is to realize the (lack of) depth of ones' knowledge. Such was the case recently as we were in the process of digitizing our archive of video tapes. While reviewing the 1972 Broncos team highlight film, "The Season of ’72", we spotted what appeared to be a familiar looking jersey… An orange, home jersey worn by Ring of Famer Jim Turner, distinguished by the rather unique nameplate markings of "J. TURNER".
Much like the Turner jersey in ESCs collection, I wondered how many could have had the first initial added to the nameplate during his nine year Bronco career. I surmised that it had to have occurred at least twice… Once in 1972 as evidenced by the recently viewed video and at least a second time in January of '78 since ours was known to have been a '77 vintage that was worn during Super Bowl XII. How did we know this? Not from any irrefutable provenance, in-depth research or other evidence. Nope. We just took the word of the guy from which we'd obtained it, based on the fact that he had no motivation to misrepresent it. Pretty naïve huh? Well, that's pretty much the way things were back in the day.
Today, forensic research is much more apt to point us towards the truth. As such, we started by asking what we knew about this so-called "1977" Jim Tuner jersey. In addition to the first initial addition to the nameplate, our jersey also had an additional unique feature to aid in its dating. Although the jersey was a nylon-mesh, typical of Russell jerseys of the 1970s, the nameplate material was a nylon-cotton blend durene fabric.
As to the first name initial, these are generally used only when more that one player of the same last name is on a teams' roster in a given year. In 1971 and 1972 there were two Turners on the Broncos' rosters, Jim, the Ring of Fame placekicker and Clem, a running back, thereby necessitating the use of first initials for both players during these two years. As no other player named Turner played for the team during Jim's career, these would have been the only two years that his jersey would have likely have had the first-name initial.
In previous examination of photographic evidence, 1972 is regarded as the first year in which nylon-mesh jerseys were worn by the Broncos making 1971 the final year of widespread wear of the durene jerseys. The Turner jersey in question displays a durene nameplate with tackle-twill lettering, sewn onto the back of a nylon-mesh jersey. While unconfirmed, it is suspected that the nameplate was likely removed from Turner's 1971 durene jersey and recycled for use onto the back of the '72-era nylon-mesh jersey.
In addition to the direct evidence, there is also some additional comparative evidence which comes into play. When comparing the Turner jersey to the white Floyd Little jersey from our collection, which was estimated to be from the 1972 to '74 period, the similarities are numerous. Design and fabrication details are nearly identical aside from some minor dimensional differences due to sizing (the Little jersey is a 44 and the Turner jersey, while not tagged, appears to be a 42). At the same time, such reclassification negates the inconsistencies between the subject Turner jersey and a Bobby Maples home jersey that was also presented as an exemplar of a 1977 vintage jersey (hemmed vs. banded sleeves and tackle-twill vs. heat set lettering). Based upon this new evidence, the Turner jersey that was previously classified as a 1977 jersey is being reclassified as a 1972-era jersey.
And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Horse of a Different Color (1/3/04).
In each of the past three seasons, the Broncos have taken the field at least once wearing an alternate uniform. In 2001 it was the 1987 "Throwbacks" for the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas (see 2001 detail) and in 2002, it was the orange mirror-image of the home jersey unveiled during the November 24th game versus the Indianapolis Colts (see 2002 detail).
For 2003, the team reached back to the 1997 exhibition season and revived the monochromatic look of the dark blue pants worn with the home jerseys. Debuting at the home opener (September 22nd versus the Raiders), the trousers reappeared for a second time on November 3rd (versus the Patriots).
For more detail and other uniform related news as covered by the Denver-area media, see the 2003 detail page.
Wearing the alternate dark pants, LB Al Wilson (left) celebrates after making a tackle during the 2003 season home opener (Sep 22nd vs. Oakland Raiders).
Broncos’ Auction (Finally) Offering Game Jerseys (1/3/04).
In these days where a game-used jersey's provenance must be authenticated, verified and certified, the one sure way to feel comfortable with your acquisition is to go straight to the source. Beginning with the 2003 season, jersey collectors could do just that, obtaining game-used memorabilia directly from the Broncos.
In 2002, the Broncos became one of several NFL teams who started offering collectibles--primarily autographed items--provided by the team and its players via NFL Auctions on eBay. With proceeds benefiting the Denver Broncos Charity Fund , over 350 completed auctions since August of 2002 have raised nearly $65,000 for the organizations' charitable efforts.
In October of 2003, the Broncos began offering game-used jerseys worn by players in the current season's action, just weeks prior to the auction. Through the course of the regular season, a total of ten jerseys were auctioned from players including Kennoy Kennedy, Ashley Lelie, John Mobley, Deltha O'Neal, Clinton Portis, Rod Smith and Al Wilson. Winning bids ranged from a very affordable $243 for a Deltha O'Neal gamer to a high of $5,862 for Clinton Portis' shirt from the November 23rd game versus the Bears. Not including the mentioned extremes of the range, the average price was about $838 per jersey (for additional detail, see sales data in our transaction archive in Mircosoft Excel 97 (.xls) format).
Odds 'n' Ends (9/6/03). With each new update, it is our intent to offer an article (or articles) that is timely, relevant, and substantial, so as to be of interest to both of the readers who follow this site on a regular basis. Alas, there are times when, even with four months to prepare and ponder, either nothing of real interest has taken place or, I've procrastinated too long and haven't the time to undertake the project/article that was intended… This is one of those times. With two great ideas on the back burner, I had decided to wait, confident that some newsworthy gem would effortlessly drop into my lap. Come late August, both great ideas remain at simmer, with no easy-pickings having found their way to me. As such, what follows are a collection of notable, but minor tidbits of information, that by themselves, would have never stood alone. Under the circumstances, however, they will have to stand together and pass for this episode's entry.
Amongst all of the junk one must wade through on that electronic auction monolith known as eBay, a real gem surfaces from time to time. Case in point was the circa- 1976 Broncos' home jersey of former Dolphins' great Jim Kiick which auctioned in August (for $454). Of particular interest to The Endzone was not so much the wearer of the jersey, but that fact that it represented a vintage previously unexamined. The surfacing of an apparently legitimate Sand-Knit jersey from 1976 tests some prior assumptions, chiefly that Sand-Knit jerseys were only used circa 1973-'74 and that Russell Athletic was predominately used thereafter. For further information, see the 1976 detail page.
In my pants… Through at least two different recent events (the team's uniform sale in March 2002 and this past summer's Fan Fest), the Broncos have broken with tradition and made uniform pants available to the public. Outside of the immediate geographic region, these have been spread across the countryside via eBay. Thirty-nine percent of all the Broncos' items found listed for sale from May through August were uniform pants; this represents 63% of all the Broncos' items having sold on eBay during the same time period. The pants offered ranged in years from 1994-'96 and 1997-'98 and in price from $49 to $148.
Will the real authenticator for American Memorabilia please stand up??? Not that this Las Vegas-based auction house doesn't come up with some nice pieces, but they also seem to occasionally let one slip through the cracks. Somewhat surprising considering the staff of experts that it touts as part of its "100% Authentic" pledge. The culprit in this past June's auction was, once again, a game-worn jersey from the personal collection of former Broncos QB Craig Morton. This particular offering was touted as Craig's “1982 Final Denver Broncos Jersey”. The jersey depicted, however, was of a style and tagging that would have suggested a jersey from the 1985-'88 period… Well after Morton's retirement. Such features that we would have thought easily recognizable by the retained football expert, based upon his reputation.
On The Auction Block (5/5/03). As a prelude to the 2003 edition of summer camp, two auction houses are set to offer a number of Broncos lots that are sure to pique the interest (and possibly the scorn) of game-used/worn collectors.
Grey Flannel’s 2003 Summer Games auction is set to conclude May 21st and features three prominent Broncos items. The first (lot # 186) is a blue home jersey worn by future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway during the teams’ first Super Bowl season campaign in 1997. Second up (lot # 187) is a game helmet worn by running back Terrell Davis in 1998 when “TD” helped lead the team to a second straight championship season with a 2,008-yard effort. Finally, up for bid is a white road jersey, worn by WR Rod Smith during the 2001 when he led the NFL with 113 receptions. Parties interested in these or any of the several hundred other lots can visit the web site at www. greyflannelauctions.com/. Two weeks thereafter, American Memorabilia concludes its’ auction on June 5th with four more significant items up for bid. First up is what is described as “Craig Morton Game Worn 1982 Final Denver Broncos Jersey”. This lot (#19), however, should be viewed with a good deal of skepticism as both the tagging as well as the style of the jersey itself would seem to indicate a much later vintage. For the underbidder from Grey Flannel’s auction, lot #66 features a John Elway game worn 1998 home jersey with Elway’s 1997 game worn helmet being offered in lot #149. Next up is what is being offered as Floyd Little’s game worn helmet from his rookie (1967) season. While the suspension helmet being offered may very well be one of Little’s there are some undisclosed inconsistencies. While the shell’s white center stripe would seem to indicate a ’67 vintage (the only year of the white center on the blue helmet), the presence of the “D” logos would suggest a later vintage as the logos did not appear on the Broncos’ blue helmets until 1968.
It should be noted that an attempt to contact American Memorabilia via e-mail regarding the discrepancies with the Morton jersey and Little helmet was unsuccessful as the link from their web site ( www.americanmemorabilia.com/) yielded an invalid e-mail address (given as AmericanMemorabili@hotmail.com). Also notable is that this is the second questionable Morton Broncos’ jersey to be offered at auction by the Las Vegas-based company (see “Players Not Always The Best Authenticators” article from 7/29/01 below).
Broncos Re-Equip For '02 (12/30/02). For 2002, two new additions to the Broncos uniform stable were introduced... An alternate jersey/uniform and a new logo to identify "NFL Equipment".
Most obvious was the introduction of the third "alternate" jersey that made its appearance on November 24th during the home game versus the Indianapolis Colts. Returning to a uniform that is without question, "predominantly orange," the jersey is, for the most part, a mirror image of their home jerseys, with the blue and orange color scheme reversed. The jersey are orange with white numbers and blue trim and were complimented by the team's normal road pants, which are white with blue and orange trim.
Beginning with the 2002 season, the NFL has initiated a program that allows teams to unveil a third jersey for wear during one home game over the next five years. In addition to Denver, six clubs have chosen to take advantage of the initiative for the inaugural year.
Another new initiative for 2002 was the introduction of the "NFL Equipment" logo. The Broncos, along with the leagues' 31 other teams, saw the new logo applied to jerseys, pants and other on-field apparel in place of the NFL shield which first appeared on jerseys in 1991. The new logo actually incorporates the NFL shield within a round-cornered inverted triangle field with the word "Equipment" arced over the shield.
WR Ashley Lelie in alternate uniform (left) and CB Deltha O'Neal models 2002 road uniform with "NFL Eqiuipment" logos.
Does Size Really Matter? (8/25/02). On occasion, you may find yourself in the midst of examining a jersey for evidence of wear, proper tagging, etc., only to get to the size tag and... "Whoa! I thought he wore a 44 and this is a 48! What's going on here?!?" Or when answering my e-mail... "What's the 'right' size for a Goldie Sellers jersey?" And my answer is, "Well, that depends."
Though size is a factor to be considered when examining a jersey, it is not a deal-killer when it comes to authentication. For a variety of reasons, a player may have worn more than one size through a career, season or even within the same game. Three primary factors may come into play when it comes to sizing variability.... Player geometry, weather, and supplier changes.
Changes in the size of a player and/or his padding can be one factor. Keith Traylorwho in 1992 was a 260-lbs. linebackermore than likely wore a different sized jersey than in 2000, while playing as a 304-lbs. defensive tackle. And John Elway, who gained only 13 lbs. through a 17-year career, went from wearing size 42 to a size 46. Not to accommodate his expanding girth, but rather to accommodate ever bulkier rib/kidney padding.
Cold weather can also be a factor affecting a player's jersey size. In one instance, a team (the Chiefs) issued a total of 4 jerseys to each player on the roster-one each home and road in the player's "standard" size as well as one each home and road jersey up-sized by one size to accommodate the player's cold-weather under garments. A particular player may have suited up in one size jersey to start the game and at halftime, changed into a larger size as inclimate weather rolled in.
Finally, there can be significantly different cuts in size from one manufacturer to another. In comparing sized 46 Wilson an Nike jerseys side by side, there was a 2" difference in the armpit-to-armpit measurement… A 4" difference in actual chest size. As teams switched from one manufacturer to another, player's jersey sizes may have changed as well.
UPDATE... Players Not Always the Best Authenticators (8/25/02). From our 3rd-quarter update last year, an article detailed how a misrepresented jersey wound up on the national auction circut "in the hands of some unsuspecting collector who has paid a premium" (See 7/29/01 article below).
We recently received a sample of the 2002 Donruss Elite Throwback Threads game-worn memorabilia card #TT-14 of quarterback Craig Morton. A caption above the photo on the back reads, "This is a photo of the actual jersey from which this swatch was taken." The photo depicts the same jersey as was sold at last year's American Memorabilia auction. While I don't feel nearly as sorry for the buyer who paid a premium, the downside is that the jersey is now in the hands of numerous unsuspecting collectors.
New Helmet Available (8/27/02). Described as "The first helmet using new technology, designed with the intent of reducing the risk of concussion", many players have been seen wearing the new Riddell Revolution helmet. For more information, see the Product Fact Sheet at the Riddell web site.
Spring Cleaning Benefits Collectors/Fans (5/11/02). On Saturday, March 9th, the Broncos' held a garage sale of sorts, ridding the teams' closets (or lockers if you will) of clothing no longer needed. To the delight of Broncos' fans and collectors, the team placed their used 1997 through 2000 seasons' apparel up for public sale.
Held at the team's stadium gift shop, jerseys-both game-worn and team-issued-were available for $80, plus sales tax. A limited number of pants were also available ($50) as were other odds and end such as sideline capes and coaches' shirts.
One collector who attended the sale indicated that there were approximately 200 people who attended the one-day sale in hopes of acquiring one of the 300 or so jersey that were made available. Selection was on a first-come, first-served basis with fans lining up at the gift shop's doors well before the 9AM opening time. Without a limit, many shoppers purchased multiple pieces.
Several entrepreneurs wasted no time in brining some of these items to a broader market. By Sunday, March 10th, at least three different individuals or businesses had placed items purchased the day before up for sale on the eBay auction web site. Looking for a quick profit, most jerseys offered were listed with minimum bids ranging from $99 to over $200.
As would be expected, there were no star names in this lot. From the sample offered, most of the game-worn/used jerseys were from players well down the depth charts, active only on special teams play, if that. Some of the so-called "worn" items showed little or no wear whatsoever. Likewise, most of the team-issued pieces appeared to be early season issues for players who would never make the final cut and appear on the teams' roster for the year.
Many of the "no-name" jerseys failed to sell at even a slight premium over their $80 cost, while the majority of the better jerseys offered on eBay fetched an average price of $186. A few notable names included QB Jeff Brohm, TE Byron Chamberlain, RB Vaughn Hebron, WR Travis McGriff, DE Maa Tanuvasa and LB Nate Wayne.
Throwbacks Make A Return (1/1/02). The predominately orange Bronco uniforms of the late 1980s made a one-time return to the field this past Thanksgiving day when Denver suited up against the Cowboys in Irvin, Texas.
The Cowboys also took a step back in time donning the popular "Double Star" style jerseys, marking the first time that Denver has donned a "thowback" style uniform since 1994 (see the 1994 "Throwback" Jersey Detail Page).
Whereas the Broncos wore both a home and road version of the 1965-style uniforms for the NFL's 75th Anniversary season celebration, this year's 1987 Throwbacks were only to be seen in the home orange variation. Apparently, even this one appearance may have been one too many for team owner Pat Bowlen. According to Denver Post sports writer Adam Schefter, the team allowed each of the players to take home his uniform and helmet. "In other words, Bowlen never wanted to see them again."
Team-issued 2001 Reebok "1987 Thowback" game jersey of RB Mike Anderson
eBay/NFL's "Auction For America" Benefits Victims & Collectors (1/1/02). Shortly after the September 11th tragedy, the NFL, along with its member teams, joined eBay in its "Auction for America" campaign to benefit the victims of the terrorist attacks. The proceeds from these auctions are being donated to numerous charities on behalf of eBay and the donors of the auctioned items.
Broncos' fans and collectors of game-used memorabilia have also had the opportunity to add authentic from-the-field jerseys from the 2001 season to their collections with 11 different players' jerseys being publicly offered since October (See "Recent Transactions" below). According to a November 6th report in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, a total of 14 jerseys were forwarded to the NFL specifically for this event including two jerseys each from Brian Griese, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Jason Elam, Al Wilson and Rod Smith; and one jersey each from Bill Romanowski and Deltha O'Neal. Other items for the event sent to the NFL by the Broncos include autographed footballs, mini helmets and shoes.
Through just the first month of the campaign, items donated by the Broncos had generated nearly $10,000 via eBay's auction site. The Broncos items have raised more donations than all but two other NFL teams (behind only the 49ers and Rams) with a game-worn Brian Griese jersey selling for $4,328 (the second highest priced item after a Rams' Marshall Faulk jersey at $6,501). An NFL spokesman indicated that his office has so many Broncos items in inventory, the team is likely to move into first place among their NFL rivals by the time the Auction for America closes later this month.
In Honor of the Fallen (9/23/01).
Following the tragic events of September 11th, the NFL (rightfully) postponed games scheduled the second week of the season (September 17th and 18th). Upon their return to the field on the 23rd, the Broncos, along with all other NFL teams, had the player's helmets adorned with a US flag. The decal was placed to the right side of the back of the helmet where, on the Broncos' helmets, the uniform number decal is usually present. On the modified helmets, the NFL shield logo has been displaced further to the (player's) left to provide room for the uniform number decal, which resides between the NFL shield logo and the center stripe (see photo at right).
Players in the NFL are donning a flag on their helmets as a tribute to America and everyone affected by the nation's tragedy
QB Brian Griese prepares to take first snap of 2001 in Reebok uniform.
Denver Dons Reebok Unis for 2001 (8/19/01). As originally reported in January (See Broncos to Don New Duds, 1/20/01 below), the Denver Broncos will take the field this year in uniforms manufactured by Reebok.
In December of last year Reebok International, Ltd. signed a 10-year agreement with the NFL, making Reebok the exclusive supplier for all 32 NFL teams' on-field uniforms and sideline apparel, practice apparel and headwear beginning in the 2002 NFL season.
For 2001, the Broncos are one of 20 teams that will make the move to Reebok. Five teams will wear Adidas and five teams will wear Champion while the Cowboys will be the only wearer of Nike uniforms.
An initial observation of the teams' new uniforms during the first preseason game (see photo above left) would seem to indicate that there have been no significant changes to the Nike designed style first introduced for the 1997 season. The only obvious change being the Nike "Swoosh" logo, which previously appeared on the jerseys' sleeves below the numbers, has been replaced by Reebok's logo.
Players Not Always The Best Authenticators (7/29/01). Phil Wood's Uniforms column in the May 18th issue of Sports Collectors Digest pointed out to collectors that players aren't always the best sources of authenticity. Mr. Wood noted that "many players, if not most, pay little attention to the uniforms they wear. They know if it fits or not, and what team they're playing for, and the number (though sometimes memories fail on that as well), but as far as the manufacturer, tagging, trim, etc., ex-players are not particularly reliable." This should serve to remind both collectors and dealers alike that, in most cases, there are no irrefutable sources of authenticity.
A case in point.... A recent major auction conducted by American Memorabilia included what was offered as "Craig Morton's Denver Broncos's Game Used Autographed Super Bowl XII Jersey." The auction catalog's description of the item stated, "Very difficult to obtain a game use (sic) jersey of this magnitude. Especially with provenance of this caliber. COA Craig Morton."
Upon examination of the photo which accompanied this offering (see photo at right), it was noted that the manufacturer's tagging affixed to the jersey appeared to be inconsistent with the item's description. The orange mesh Russell Athletic jersey, described as having been game-worn in 1977-'78, included a tagging style which did not come into use until the early 1980s. The two game-used Super Bowl XII jerseys that we've had the opportunity to examine had no manufacturer's tagging whatsoever. A Russell Athletic jersey tag, if tagged at all in '77, would have been brown and gold in color (See tagging style depicted in Fig. 75-1 at 1975 Game-Worn Jersey Page), rather than red and blue.
When this incongruity was brought to the attention of the dealer conducting the auction, a representative responded by saying, "As the provenance is directly from the "Craig" himself (sic), you can bid with confidence." In this case, the dealer was apparently willing to place blind faith in the player's recollection and didn't want to confuse the issue with fact.
Unfortunately, the auction continued unabated and closed at a whopping $2,200... Nearly $1,500 higher than the last recorded sale price! Though probably unintended, the sad result is that yet another questionable piece has made it to the market and is now in the hands of some unsuspecting collector who has paid a premium, probably based, at least in part, on the player's claim of authenticity.
Endzone's Beginner's Guide to Collection Game-Used Jerseys includes the following applicable advise regarding the purchase of game-used/worn items: Do your research, don't bet the bank on COAs/LOAs (regardless of their source) and if there's any doubt in your mind, don't buy it.
The Broncos' Endzone Web Site Featured as "Site of the Week" in SCD (5/27/01). Our thanks to columnist Tom Kessenich who identified The Broncos' Endzone web site in the June 8, 2001 issue of Sports Collectors Digest as Site of the Week. The article in Mr. Kessenich's "Collecting on the Web" column (found on page 46) is transcribed as follows:
EndzoneSports cashes in on game-used craze
Few trends have captured collector's fancy in recent years quite like the game-worn craze. From game-worn jerseys to balls, bats football helmets and even towels, collectors can't seem to get enough items that they can find which at one time, were as close to the action as you're going to get.
Patrick Scoggin understands this mindset all too well. And he has created a Web site he hopes will not only satisfy fans of the Denver Broncos (which is the main focus of the site), but game-worn collectors as well.
"The site is an extension of my personal passion for uniform history and collecting game-worn jerseys," Scoggin said. "These items represent a personal, identifiable piece of gridiron history."
The site ([now] located at endzone.pscoggin.com) is self-designed and maintained by Scoggin. It features numerous items of interest for Broncos and game-used collectors, such as general specifications for the team's jerseys from 1960 to present; detailed information for selected years and a beginner's guide to collecting game-used jerseys. There is also the Endzone's Marketplace where collectors can post free announcements to buy, sell, and/or trade Broncos' game-used/worn apparel and equipment, and Endzone's Game-Used News & Price Guide, featuring up-to-date information and pricing data.
"While the majority of our content is currently limited to our specific area of specialty (the Broncos), I hope to be able to expand the scope to include more detailed information of use to all collectors of the genre and/or specific detail related to other team's uniforms and jerseys," Scoggin said. "Any hope for expansion, however, is dependent upon the expertise and input from other collectors and dealers."
Capturing the attention of collectors in a specific area is one way for a Web site to not only create a name for itself, but become an entity of interest in the hobby. By taking advantage of the wide amount of interest in game-used items, Scoggin's site has the potential to grow beyond its central area of focus and become a useful tool for collectors everywhere.
Grey Flannel's 2001 Summer Games Auction Features Elway Items (4/28/01). Grey Flannel Auctions' 2001 Summer Games auction, scheduled for May 10th, includes two game used items attributed to former Broncos' quarterback and future Hall of Famer, John Elway.
Lot #1129 is listed as a "1996 John Elway Denver Broncos Game-Used Helmet." The item's description reads, "This 'Riddell' helmet was worn by the future Hall of Famer, John Elway during the 1996 season...." Unlikely as the helmet described and depicted is the new style helmet that was not used until 1997. This maybe a case of either a simple typographical error or a case of poor homework on the part of Grey Flannel. Either way, with a reserve price of $2,000, any interested collector would be well advised to ask questions before placing a bid.
Also on the auction block is lot #1130 which is a "1994 John Elway Broncos "TBC" Road Mesh Game-Used Jersey." The text accompanying this item states, "This 1994 'Turn Back the Clock' road jersey has on the left tail the 'Wilson' exclusive label with the size tag '44' adjacent.... The jersey shows game-use and appears to have no alterations of any kind." The reserve for this item is set at $1,750.
The listing of this item would seemingly represent quite a coup for Grey Flannel as this would be the second 1-of-a-kind Elway jersey offered via Grey Flannel's semi-annual major auctions as Elway's orange home TBC jersey was sold at Grey Flannel's Fall Classic auction in November 2000 for $8,349 (see article dated 11/27/00 below). Research has indicated that each of the home orange and road white jerseys represent unique pieces as they were used for only one game each. As indicated on our 1994 "Throwback" detail page, the Thowback jerseys "were used in games on September 18th vs. the Raiders (home) and September 26th at Buffalo" (road). Our research was validated by the Broncos' media relations staff who confirmed that these were the only two games in which the team donned the "Turn Back the Clock" or "Thowback" style uniforms.
Broncos to Don New Duds (1/20/01). It would appear that, after a five-year run in Nike duds, the Broncos will switch to a new uniform supplier for the 2001 season and well beyond.
On December 19, 2000 the National Football League and Reebok International, Ltd. announced having reached an agreement to form an exclusive alliance. Under the terms of the deal, Reebok will become the exclusive rights holder to supply all 32 NFL teams' on-field uniforms and sideline apparel, practice apparel and headwear beginning in the 2002 NFL season. The ten-year agreement will run though the 2011 season. Additionally, the NFL will grant Reebok a 10-year exclusive license beginning in the 2002 NFL season to manufacture and sell NFL licensed merchandise including sideline apparel, footwear and an NFL-branded apparel line.
The deal was reviewed as part of the agenda at the recent NFL owner's meeting and it was indicated that "Reebok is expected to have 20 of the 31 teams ready to commit to its brand in time for the 2001 season (Associated Press, 1/17/01)."
While the Broncos were not specifically mentioned as one of the teams that will be added to the Reebok stable for 2001, it was indicated that "The Cowboys will be the only wearer of Nike equipment next season, while five teams will wear Adidas and five teams will wear Champion (ibid.)." As such, it can be assumed that the Broncos will be one of the 20 teams in Reebok uniforms for next season.
It's not known as to whether or not the change in manufacturers will be accompanied by any design changes. With the current Nike inspired "swoosh" design but 5 years old, any significant changes are unlikely.
Grey Flannel's Fall Classic Auction Features 1-of-a-Kind Elway Jersey (11/27/00). Grey Flannel Auctions' 2nd Fall Classic auction, which concluded November 9th, included a one-of-a-kind game worn jersey of former Broncos' quarterback and future Hall of Famer, John Elway, the 1994 home (orange) "Thowback" jersey worn during the September 18th contest versus the division rival Raiders (lot #1188). When the hammer fell, the jersey reached a final sales price of $8,349 (including buyer's premium)... the second highest recorded price for an Elway gamer (record price of $10,186 established at Grey Flannel's Summer Games auction in June, 2000 for a '97 home jersey). Additional information on this style of jersey can also be found on our 1994 detail page.
COAs... Worth the Paper They're Written On? (05/28/00). One of the caveats often stressed to novice collectors is the value of Certificates of Authenticity (COAs). Our Beginner's Guide to Collecting Game-Used Jerseys notes that, "the COA... is nothing more than the opinion of the seller or authenticator...." A concept that even the more experienced collector must keep in mind. Even reputable dealers/authenticators can make mistakes and it is paramount that the buyer does his/her homework prior to plunking down their hard-earned greenbacks.
A case in point... An item offered on eBay was described as a 1988 Game Used/Worn Jersey of Tony Dorsett w/ autograph and 3 COA's including (two notable dealers listed w/ documents shown in photo). The photos that were posted with this listing, however, raised at least one eyebrow. As the image at the right shows this is clearly a Wilson jersey which was first used by the Broncos in 1989... Russell Athletic provided the teams' jerseys from the early 80s through 1988. Dorsett's last active year was 1988 as he spent the '89 season on IR, having sustained a knee injury prior to the beginning of the season. As Dorsett would have worn a Russell jersey in '88 and did not play once the team had converted to Wilson jerseys in '89, such an item would have to at least be viewed with a skeptical eye.
Mystery Duds?!? One of the primary methods of research utilized by collectors of game-used equipment and apparel is the detailed examination of photographic images. Over the past several months, we have been examining photos from the mid-80s and came across a number of photos which have caused somewhat of a mystery.
The photos in question are of quarterback John Elway, one of which (shown here) is from a 1986 promotional scratch-game card series of 24 Broncos players issued by area McDonald's restaurants. The source of the mystery as seen in the photo is a Champion manufacturer's logo which appears on the left sleeve between the striping and hem (as shown by red arrow). This occurrence is an oddity in that Bill Harpole, who was the team's equipment manager from 1983-'86 insisted that Russell Athletic was the Broncos' uniform supplier during his tenure and that, to the best of his knowledge, Champion was NEVER used as the team's supplier. Uniform expert Dave Miedema also pointed out in his Uniformity newsletter, "Also interesting is the style of the number 7 on Elway's jersey...not consistent with the normal, serif-bearing block numbers that Denver normally used in that era, but consistent with numbers on various other teams' Champion-supplied jerseys in the not-to-distant past."
Confronted with the McDonald’s photograph, Harpole suggested that, in spite of the live-action appearance of this photo, the photo was, more than likely, the product of a staged photo shoot. Further photographic evidence would, however, refute this assertion. A second live-action photo from the cover of the October 29, 1986 issue of The Sporting News also faintly shows Champion’s "C" logo on the left sleeve of Elway’s jersey.
Further investigation included a review of NFL Films’ Miraclemakers and Heartbreakers: The 1985 Denver Broncos and Mile High Champions: The 1986 Denver Broncos. During the 1985 season, Elway is wearing a white road jersey with sans serif-style numbering in road games at Kansas City (Nov. 27), Los Angeles (Nov 24) and Pittsburgh (Dec 1). A brief shot of Elway behind center in the Kansas City game also clearly depicts the Champion logo on the quarterback’s left sleeve. The 1986 video highlights of games at New York (Nov. 23) and Kansas City (Dec 7) also show Elway wearing a jersey with the sans serif style numerals, characteristic of the Champion style.
It should be noted that this anomaly has only been observed during the 1985 and '86 seasons, and only with the white, road jerseys. Also of note is that the use of the Champion jerseys seem to be limited to John Elway. Other players observed in the previously listed games all wear what appear to be Russell Athletic-style jerseys.
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