The Arizona Cardinals are a peculiar team. Despite being the oldest continuously run team in the NFL and a serious Super Bowl contender in 2015, they are often forgotten. While the team made up some ground in 2015 – buoyed by their NFC West title – in 2014, only the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars were less searched for in the league, according to Google Trends.
The Cardinals are still a hopeful bunch. Stopped only by the Carolina Panthers’ crushing offense in the 2015 playoffs, new coach Bruce Arians has made it his business to bring the Lombardi Trophy to the desert. With 21 wins in two seasons – the first time the team has managed that since the 1975-1976 season – the Arians-coached Cardinals have stirred up pride once again in the red and black.
Fanatics has decided to take a deeper look into the evolution of the Cardinals jersey to celebrate this much-maligned team and to discuss what’s in store for this franchise and its fans in the future
Arizona Cardinals Retro Scarf
Notable Uniform Changes
Legacy: The Chicago Cardinals
The original jersey is maroon (“Cardinal Red”), with a white “C” within a C-shaped insignia. The jersey has three sets of tan arm rings and sports a separate leather girdle meant to protect the kidneys. This protective feature is not incorporated into any other team’s uniforms at the time, but it is a precursor to the girdle/hip padding worn by football players today. The uniform also features leather pants and an optional leather helmet.
This uniform is the first to feature player numbers. It’s a long-sleeved red jersey with white shoulders, collar, and numbers – and it’s arguably the team’s first modern-style jersey.
The home jersey of the Cardinals’ last NFL Championship year is simplistic: just a long-sleeved red jersey with white number blocks. The helmet and the pants are white and otherwise unadorned.
As for the franchise-specific design, the Cardinals uniform remains minimal – the away jersey is simply a white long-sleeved jersey with red block numbers, matched with red pants that have two narrow white running stripes and a red helmet.
St. Louis or Bust
The Cardinals Head logo is added to the side of the helmet; additionally, the jersey remained white with red block numbers, players were often seen with their sleeves rolled up.
Riddell Arizona Cardinals Revolution Speed Full-Size Authentic Football Helmet
The 1975 jersey is similar to that of the ’60s, with the numbers now outlined in black. Cardinal red and black stripes are also added to the sleeves.
1986 sees the Cardinals introduce a new home jersey. With no striping and no number outlining, the jersey bears the simple look of earlier Cardinals jerseys. It is a red short-sleeved jersey with white front and back number blocks, and white television numbers.It is paired with white pants with a red running stripe, flanked with white and black stripes.
1988: An outdated Busch Stadium, a refusal by St. Louis to build a new stadium, and falling attendance numbers all convince William Bidwill – who became the sole owner of the team in 1973 – to move the crew. On a handshake deal, Bidwill moves his team in 1988 into the Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona. They dub the team the Phoenix Cardinals before settling on the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. As a celebratory move, the away jersey receives the state flag of Arizona over the sleeve stripes of the 1985 jersey.
1994: To observe the league’s 75th anniversary, the Arizona Cardinals introduce a throwback that wasn’t actually used by any former Cardinals team but is a new design influenced by the Cardinals’ first decade in the NFL. It features the current red used by the team but is a short-sleeved plain jersey in traditional Cardinals style. The sleeves include three white stripes and – aside from the white number blocks and the 75th Anniversary patch on the left shoulder – no other decorations
1998: The 1998 jersey sees two additions: the NFL Shield added to the base of the collar and a 100th Anniversary patch on the left shoulder to honor the franchise’s centennial birthday.
They change the 2001 away jersey: It features television numbers on the shoulders, the state flag on the sleeves, and five alternating stripes of red, white, and black near the cuff. The pants also shift to red with double white stripes.
The away jersey features red sleeves, shoulders, and side panels; black seams; and a red number patch and wordmark outlined in black.
Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals Nike Game Jersey – Cardinal
The Cardinals also produce a 2013 black alternate home jersey. In 2008, the Cardinals add a Super Bowl XIV patch to their jersey to celebrate the team’s first Super Bowl appearance.
Look Back to Look Forward
Currently, the Arizona Cardinals have retired nine jersey numbers, in their lasting history. The franchise retired their first numbers in 1948 – Marshall Goldberg and Stan Mauldin. The most recently retired number was in 2001 when Pat Tillman turned down a contract renewal to proudly serve the United States Army.
No. 88 – J.V. Cain
No. 99 – Marshall Goldberg
No. 77 – Stan Mauldin
No. 40 – Pat Tillman
No. 8 – Larry Wilson
The Cardinals, as the league’s oldest team, have had turmoil and successes worthy of a legacy. And that legacy spans more than a century. While the team doesn’t dominate like younger teams have in the NFL – for those who proudly wear the red, white, and black – there is always the assurance that the best is yet to come.
Do you celebrate “Big Red”? Fanatics has a full line of essential Cardinals gear to help you get in the spirit!