Boston is a city of long-standing teams. The Boston Red Sox (1901), the Boston Bruins (1924), and the Boston Celtics (1946) are all charter or early expansion crews in their respective leagues. This reflects the legacy of a city that has been an essential part of the nation’s history.
The New England Patriots – in light of such sports history – don’t seem to fit. The last of the original franchises of the American Football League (AFL), the onetime Boston Patriots never had a home stadium in the city of Boston and were summarily disregarded for most of their early history.
This was partly because the Patriots were Boston’s fourth professional football team – the other three folded or left the area. However, despite being the only Boston area major professional sports team based outside of Boston, the Patriots have developed a passionate hometown reception that is arguably unmatched by any team in any league.
For those who love or hate the Patriots, the blue, red, white, and silver carry a lot of history and are certain to create an emotional response – good or bad. Fanatics has decided to look at the history of the Patriots’ jersey to understand how the Pats evolved to become one of the NFL’s signature teams.
Notable Uniform Changes
The Patriots’ jersey history spans over five decades, but everyday fans naturally see the team’s threaded past split into two eras — led by the changing of the logo in 1993. But the story isn’t quite that simple, of course.
The initial home uniform in 1960 featured a bright red jersey with white-trimmed navy blue stripes running across the shoulders and white chest; the stripes became staples on the uniforms. The first helmet was white with a red-trimmed white stripe and a tri-cornered hat logo on the sides with each player’s number below the logo.
During 1964, the first significant change to the Patriots’ jersey occurs. The team added a white-trimmed blue stripe to the sleeve at midarm, a feature seen on the following graphic. But folks know 1964 as the “Pat Patriot” year, obviously in reference to the team placing their iconic traditional logo on the helmets.
In 1971, the team shifts from “Boston Patriots” to the “New England Patriots” in conjunction with the AFL-NFL merger. As for the jersey, the rounded neckline remains and officials added a red, white, and blue ribbon to the collar. A similar ribbon replaced the ribbon at the cuff. The helmet number was also removed, leaving Pat Patriot by his brilliant lonesome.
The team’s jerseys underwent another remodel in 1976. On the white away-game jersey, the red number blocks received a blue outline. The ribbon on the collar was removed, and the sleeve ribbons were replaced with a wide blue ribbon with thin red outline ribbons. The player number on the helmet returned this year as well.
The sleeve ribbons on the away jerseys remain navy in 1978. The team’s indecision about the helmet number also continues, as the team removes them again this season.
The 1984 home jersey kept in line with the look of the 70’s, featuring white block numbers highlighted in blue on a red background. The shoulder stripes got a literal face-lift, sliding from below the numbers up over the shoulder pad area.
In honor of the team’s 25th anniversary, the Pats emblazon a specialty patch on the front-left as is typically seen among franchises. Some 25 years later, the Patriots would have another milestone to honor.
Of course, a few championships made their to Foxborough in that time as well.
1993 marked the biggest change in the history of the Patriots — at least in terms of their look. The full-bodied logo of Pat Patriot is left in the past, replaced with a more patriotic, stylized profile of his head in motion.
The final year before Robert Kraft bought the team, this year marks a complete redesign of the home jersey. Gone is the red jersey; in its place is a navy blue jersey with the NFL shield at the base of the collar, red number blocks with white borders on the chest, white shoulder numbers, and “Pat Head” logos on each sleeve. The “Pat Head” logo also appears on a new stripeless silver helmet; this marks the first time the team dons silver as a Patriots color.
Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots Fanatics Authentic Autographed Speed Replica Helmet
The year of 1996 featured the Patriots wordmark underneath the collar’s NFL Shield for the first time. The number blocks changed font and added a drop shadow, while the shoulder numbers and sleeve logos switched places. The player’s number returned to the back of the helmet.
Coinciding with Tom Brady’s introduction, the 2001 jersey displayed a shade of navy called “Nautical Blue.” The shoulder ribbons got reintroduced as solid silver bands; the white number blocks showed a new font, no shadows, and a red outline. The collar featured a silver band, capped by the NFL Shield.
The 2003 home jersey saw white with silver and red trim number blocks, and the front and back panels of the jersey outlined in red. The team replaced the collar’s NFL Shield with an “NFL Equipment Patch” symbol – standard for all post-2002 jerseys.
2004 was the introduction of the current Patriots jersey. The away jersey, for example, featured “Nautical Blue” numbers outlined in white and red, a blue stripe running along either side of the jersey – also outlined in red – and a “Nautical Blue” collar. The home jersey featured a “Nautical Blue” background, white numbers outlined in silver and red, a silver shoulder ribbon and collar, and a red outline on the front and rear panels’ seams.
The multi-colored shoulder stripes got left in the past, but remain a symbol for Pats throwback uniforms, as you can see below.
When the NFL rolled out its Color Rush initiative, it gave tradition-rich teams like the Patriots an opportunity to add accents honoring their esteemed past. New England did just that with the Patriots Color Rush jersey.
Unveiled in 2016, the Color Rush uni features an almost identical color scheme to the home jerseys along with similar white numbers and red borders. But they ditch the silver shoulder stripes and collar bordering for a throwback red-white shoulder stripe as a nod to the 70’s and 80’s.
Along with the Patriots red jerseys that serve as alternates and are accompanied by the throwback Pat Patriot logo, the Pats Color Rush threads are direct with their references to the past. The glory days may be here right now, led by Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, but the proud Pats franchise never forgets where they came from.
The Red, White, Blue, and Silver
If you are a New Englander, this is a good time to be a sports fan. All four major teams in the area have won their respective championships in the last 10 years, and Boston is currently undergoing a golden age of sorts.
While some find cause to dislike the red, white, blue, and silver that represents the team, there’s a level of respect that’s inherent. That comes naturally, through the five championships that have all been won since the turn of the millennium.
Are you a part of the #PatsNation? To show off your Patriot pride, Fanatics has a complete line of essential gear, including Brady jerseys and bobbleheads.
Tom Brady New England Patriots Bobblehead