Mile High fashion: A colorful evolution of Broncos uniforms

January 27, 2014 Updated: January 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm
photo - Broncos players sported striped 'throwback' socks for Denver's game against the Patriots Sunday, October 11, 2009 at Invesco Field at Mile High. The Gazette, Mark Reis
Broncos players sported striped 'throwback' socks for Denver's game against the Patriots Sunday, October 11, 2009 at Invesco Field at Mile High. The Gazette, Mark Reis  

Aside from serving as mutual dating pools, fashion runways and the gridiron have little in common - or so it might seem. Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis put it like this:

"It was the uniforms. That's how we won those Super Bowls," said Davis, who led the team to back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. "In '95 and '96, those uniforms we had were hideous. But in '97, man, we were sleek."

Talk about a power suit.

"Obviously your uniform and your logo are a big deal," said Jim Saccomano, a longtime public relations agent and consultant for the Broncos. "At practice, you don't sit on your helmet. You don't sit on your logo. Just like you don't wipe your mouth with the flag. It's a little bit of the same thing - respect - maybe corny by comparison, but it's a big deal."

The evolution of Broncos uniforms is one of the more colorful, sartorial tales in the league, beginning with the team's founding in 1960. To save money, the general manager purchased (or acquired for free) used uniforms from a defunct minor league team in Arizona. The colors were seal brown and light gold, aka "mustard," and the uniforms featured the only sock in NFL history to boast vertical stripes reminiscent of a barber's pole.

"That first uniform was a thing to behold, and the team was so bad," said Saccomano. "I don't want to say people thought of them (the uniform) as an atrocity ... it was not the look you wanted. Not professional enough."

That uniform lasted two seasons, until the era of head coach Jack Faulkner, who revamped the team starting with its look. The change was celebrated with a ceremonial sock bonfire at the annual intrasquad scrimmage at Colorado School of Mines after training camp that year.

The new 1962 uniforms represented a "total remake" of the Broncos' look, Saccomano said. "They went to orange and blue, which at that time was a lot of orange and not much blue."

The Denver Post described the new shades as "dazzling orange, blue and white."

The 1962 uniform included a new logo on orange helmets, a caricature of a horse designed by Denver Post sportswriter and cartoonist Bob Bowie. In 1967, plain blue helmets were adopted for a season.

"The D with the horse on it began in 1968, and from '68 through '96 that stayed pretty much intact," Saccomano said.

Despite slight variations in the "tone of the orange" and the placement and number of stripes, the uniform remained relatively consistent through those years as well - "basically an orange jersey with white pants; one year, they had orange pants," Saccomano said.

In 1997, the Broncos changed their uniforms to a navy blue jersey with orange accents for home games, adopted the current logo design of a horse in profile, and went on to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

"The 'primarily blue' uniform was much more popular. The logo is much more established. If you look at the D with the horse on it, it's got skinny little legs. This is a stronger, better logo," Saccomano said.

Before the 2013 season, the team wore blue jerseys at home and white on the road with orange as the alternate color.

"Starting at the beginning of last year, Denver is back to orange at home, which is extraordinarily popular and well-received," Saccomano said. "It's the same uniform we've worn since 1997, but now blue is the alternate and orange is what we wear primarily."

The decision has been a popular one with fans and harkens to the team's formidable Orange Crush defense of the late 1970s.

"Now it's orange, orange, orange. Our fans love orange. I'd call that a big change, even though it doesn't involve a different uniform," Saccomano said.

When the Broncos take the field against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, they'll be wearing the team's signature brilliant shade.

"The AFC is the home team this year, and we wear orange at home, which will be really cool. Our fans will love it," Saccomano said.


Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364



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