Chicago Bears Uniform History
by Roy Taylor © 2007-2012
Many thanks to Bob Gassel and Dennis Maierhofer, who has blown
me away with his Bears History knowledge, for helping me out with details I did
not know (and was not alive to see). I also thank Michelle Cunningham and Emily
Kneusel for providing information on the Carroll College/Bear logo connection.
Lastly, thanks also to John Munzenmaier for some information on when true road
uniforms first appeared.
the Chicago Bears had their first uniform change since 2002, when the duds were
totally revamped by Nike when they became the NFL's official uniform supplier.
Official details on the new uniform are available
on Nike's website.
The major change is that the numbers on the jersey
have been moved from the sleeve to the shoulder, giving the jersey an entirely
different look. As of opening day 2012, the Bears have still not worn white
pants on the road since opening day 2009.
2010- In 2010 the Chicago Bears wore an accurate
throwback uniform for the first time since 1994. In celebrating the "Monsters
of the Midway" era (1940-1946), the Bears wore a navy jersey with orange block
numbers, white pants, and gray facemasks on a plain helmet. This combination
was worn in home games against the rival Green Bay Packers and Minnesota
Vikings, both Bears wins. Also notable this year was that again, the Bears
continued the hated practice (here anyway) of wearing their away jersey in the
home opener. They also wore navy pants in all games in which they wore white
jerseys. And they donned a #99 sticker on their helmets to mourn the January
2010 death of defensive end Gaines Adams.
2008-For the first time since the 2003 season, the
Bears wear white pants on the road exclusively. The orange alternate jerseys
were worn on October 19th against Minnesota. And thankfully to this
writer, the Bears abandon their 2005-2007 practice of wearing their road jersey
and navy pants in their home opener.
2007-Absolutely nothing unique to report about the
Bears' 2007 uniforms. They carried on two traditions I personally hate by
opening the season in white at home against Kansas City for the third time in
their history, then they wore the pumpkin orange jerseys also for the third
time, against Detroit. The Bears wore navy pants on the road for all eight road
games, as they did in 2004-2005 and 1984-1994/1996-1999. Like the rest of the
NFL, they wore "21" stickers on their helmets after Redskins safety Sean Taylor
2006-Once again the Bears open their home
schedule against Detroit, and once again they defy a time-honored tradition by
wearing white road uniforms at home. Also for the second year in a row, Chicago
dons its "alternative" orange jerseys against San Francisco. A notable change
is that the Bears wear their all-white road uniforms for the final two road
games against St. Louis and Detroit. I like 'em. And who could forget-the
Bears broke out their all-navy look for only the second time in history in the
Sunday night finale against Green Bay. Given that the only other time
they wore these were in another nationally-televised night flop against the
Packers, I firmly believe we'll never see these again. Which I think is
too bad, in my opinion they're pretty cool used sporadically.
2005 -Navy pants are again the uniform choice
on the road; the Bears have now not worn all white on the road since 2003. The
team pulls a shocker in their home opener, as they wear their road white
uniform with navy pants at home for the first time since the 1940's. For
shame. Also fairly shameful was the Bears' first unveiling of an official
"alternate" uniform, featuring bright orange jerseys, against San Francisco in
2004-The Bears wear their navy road pants for
all of their away games (except Thanksgiving) for the first time since 1999.
Just days prior to their Thanksgiving game at Dallas, the Bears announce they
will be wearing "1946" uniforms for the game as a part of the NFL's
"Thanksgiving Throwbacks" day. Most teams announce their choice of uniform
months in advance to celebrate the unique occasion, but the Bears do not
announce or unveil until the week of the game. The uniforms featured an orange
jersey of 1930's vintage with a white "C" on the helmet of 1960's vintage.
Definitely not 1946 replicas as claimed.
2003-Team wears navy pants on the road during
the preseason and the opener at San Francisco, then whites on the road for the
rest of the season. Small shamrock sticker on helmets mourns the death of Ed
McCaskey. On Monday Night Football to open new Soldier Field, the Bears wear a
commemorative patch that night only.
2002-White pants on the road exclusively. On
Monday Night Football in Champaign against Green Bay, the team wears navy pants
with their navy home uniforms for the first time in their history. Also,
according to a 2006 article by the Chicago Tribune's Maria Mooshil, the
NFL mandated the the Bears' blue to become slightly darker "to achieve
standardization among teams." According to this article, the Bears share
this shade of blue with Seattle, Buffalo and Houston, and it's called "Deep
Obsidian". Pantone calls it "Blue Nights". Goodbye navy, huh?
2001-Team wears a "Salute to Solider Field"
patch on their home uniforms all year. While wearing white pants on the road
all year, the socks have changed in 2001 to the standard road socks usually
worn with navy road pants (navy, orange, navy stripes). All NFL players again
wear the American flag decal on their helmets.
2000-Black shoes make their triumphant return
to the uniform during the first preseason game at the New York Giants, and
still remain (through 2004). In a midseason surprise, the Bears switch to white
pants on the road for the first time since 1995. They debut the look at Buffalo
on November 12th. With the white pants they wear their home socks-three orange
stripes bordered by navy.
1999-"34" patch is worn to mourn Walter
Payton's death for the final eight games of the season.
1995-Bears wear white pants on the road for
the final 2 away games. This is the first time the team has appeared in white
pants on the road since 1983. With their white shoes, players look like ghosts.
1994-A replica of the 1920 uniform is worn
against Green Bay, Minnesota and the New York Jets as a part of the NFL's 75th
anniversary. At Detroit on October 23rd, for some reason Curtis Conway's arm
numerals are on his shoulder pads instead of the sleeves. The NFL's 75th
Anniversary patch is worn for all 18 regular season and playoff games this
1993-According to the Chicago Tribune, new
coach Dave Wannstedt announces in February that the team will be wearing white
shoes in 1993.
1992-A tribute patch is worn during the final
three games to honor Mike Singletary, who is retiring following the season.
1991-A small football patch with the number
"91" appears on the uniform for the final 2 regular season games and playoffs
to mourn the death of rookie defensive tackle Fred Washington, killed in a car
accident three days before Christmas.
1990-Bears become first team in many years to
wear black shoes as a regular part of their uniform. The shoes remain until
Dave Wannstedt's arrival in 1993. Only two other teams in the 1990's will wear
black shoes: Indianapolis in 1994-1997 and Tampa, starting with their uniform
redesign in 1997. In 2005 more than half the teams in the NFL will wear black
shoes. In 1990, Bear receiver Glenn Kozlowski says he loves the black shoes.
They make normal players look slower, he says, so in his case he believes they
actually make him look faster. Also during this season, all NFL players wear an
American flag decal on their helmets in support of US troops during Operation
1984-A permanent change to the uniform is
made with the addition of "GSH" to the left sleeve of home and road jerseys,
celebrating the life of founder George S. Halas. On the road the team begins to
wear navy pants with an orange stripe. The team wears this road uniform from
1984 until the last 2 road games of the 1995 season.
1983-After founder George S. Halas' death in
October, the team wears a large football with the monogram "GHS" on their left
1982-Facemask color changes from gray to navy
1979-Team President George "Mugs" Halas, son
of founder George S. Halas, dies tragically the morning of the Bears' season
finale. The team wears a black armband the next week in the playoffs.
1971-1973-Sleeve stripes disappear from the
home uniforms in 1971 and 1972. During certain, but not all, road games between
'71 and '73, the white jerseys feature block numerals. In 1973, the white
helmet "C" changes to orange with a white border.
1970-All NFL uniforms required to show
player's last name on the back. As such, Bears do this for the first time.
1969-NFL's 50th anniversary logo patch worn
on shoulder during the 1969 season.
1962-Plain blue helmet changes to include a
white "wishbone" C that will become the Bears' logo. I have uncovered no
documented evidence that proves the origin of this logo. Of course it's the
same as the Cincinnati Reds', University of Chicago Maroons, and Carroll
College Pioneers. According to this link from the Carroll College Library, the
Bears may have "borrowed" the logo from that school during the 1940's. Until
someone that was there at the time can comment, the jury is out as far as I'm
1950's-Chicago's unique rounded-font numbers
appear for the first time at the end of the 1940's and remain with the uniform
to this day. Standard uniform is a navy jersey with white numerals, bordered by
orange, with orange stripes on the sleeves. In 1957 the true road uniform is
introduced, and the team wears white jerseys and white pants on the road.
1940's-In the early part of the decade, the
team wears white jerseys with navy pants. Numbers are of a block font through
the latter part of the decade. Numbers are at times orange and other times
white. Jersey is black during the early part of the decade.
1930's-It's probable the team wore five or
more different uniform combinations during the decade. They included white
jerseys with canvas pants, orange jerseys with navy pants, and radically
striped socks, shoulders and helmets. Several photos from 1936 show the team
with sleeve stripes, shoulder stripes, massive sock stripes, and helmet stripes
like the University of Michigan.
1920's-When A.E. Staley directed Halas to
move his football team to Chicago in 1921, he allowed the coach to take along
the uniforms. They featured tan pants, navy or black jerseys with vertical
canvas stripes sewn on. The canvas stripes' function was to help players hold
on to the ball. From all photos I have seen, the team kept this uniform design
throughout the 20's.