With the Bengals’ 50th anniversary on the horizon, how can the team honor its history? One interesting option may be to wear throwback uniforms.
NFL teams usually do a great job celebrating their history. Former players are honored at ceremonies and names are placed all around stadiums. Furthermore, each team’s legacy is constantly replayed in the form of highlight reels and ESPN documentaries. Another way that some teams stay connected to their history is by wearing throwback uniforms. Some of these ensembles are loved while others are maligned. Some teams choose to go way back before the Super Bowl while others go back just a few decades. Either way, isn’t it time for the Bengals to honor their history and throw on a uniform from their past?
The Bengals have one of the more interesting inceptions of the NFL teams. When Paul Brown was fired by Browns owner Art Modell, Brown was familiar with the uniform concept in Cleveland. He used the Brown and Orange gear as the groundwork for the Bengals uniforms. When the team debuted in 1968, their uniforms were essentially the same as the Cleveland Browns. The only major difference was the word Bengals written across both sides of the helmet. Eventually, the Bengals changed their home uniforms from brown to black, but the design stayed about the same.
In 1981, the team changed their uniforms to those worn in both of their Super Bowl appearances. They traded in the text and single dorsal stripe on their helmets for the unique design still in use today. This design marked the inception of the trademark stripes spanning across the helmet. They also added striping to the shoulders. These were the uniforms worn during possibly the best era in Bengals football. Seeing them evokes images of Ken Anderson, Icky Woods, and Boomer Esiason.
In 2004, the team changed their uniforms to
those that they still wear today. The more complex design kept the same helmet but added white striping down the side of the home uniforms. In addition, the shoulder striping was altered to look more clean and modern. The team later added an orange alternate uniform. In 2016, a “color rush” uniform was worn for a Thursday night game against the Dolphins. The uniform seemed to be the antithesis of the phrase “color rush.” It kept the orange and black striped helmet but the jersey and pants were white with black accents.
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The Bengals have had many small uniform changes over the years. However, the two best options are the 1968 and the 1981 changes. If the team wanted to honor Paul Brown and the team’s creation, they could wear the original solid orange helmets and the Brown jerseys. A throwback day vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers wearing their Bumblebee uniforms would be a great game for fans of both teams.
Another great option would be the uniforms that the team wore during their two Super Bowl appearances in 1982 and 1989. As mentioned before, the Bengals had their best seasons during this era. In addition, these teams had some of the most memorable players in franchise history. It would be great to see these classic threads on the field again.
What’s The Occasion?
Fans would love to see a nod back to the original uniforms. Giving a shout out to Paul Brown and the unique way the Bengals uniforms were created would be a classy move. Sure, they weren’t the most glamorous looking uniforms but they are historical nonetheless. The fact of the matter is that it’s fun to go back to the early days of a team and appreciate the history. In addition, the team’s 50th anniversary of the franchise is coming up. This could be a great reason to finally throw on the old threads.
If the team opted to go with the uniforms they wore during the Super Bowl, it would be a nice acknowledgment of those great teams in the 80’s that got so close to bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.
From an administrative standpoint, a throwback event would be a great way to promote a particular game or a series of games. Former players could be brought back and honored, parents could reminisce about the old days to their kids, and the history of the Bengals could be re-discovered. In addition, sales of a throwback uniform could give a nice boost to the team’s revenue. Let’s not pretend that wouldn’t be a great incentive.
Let’s Get This Done
Creating a throwback uniform seems like it would have no downside for the Bengals franchise. It has great potential to create revenue, give credit to past players, and generate buzz around a team that needs a boost after below average season. Furthermore, fans would probably be excited just because something new is happening, meaning that there is some hope for change in the future. Who Knows, maybe wearing those throwbacks will give the team the spark they need to finally break through and win some playoff games.