Why do the Pittsburgh Steelers keep
, like the ones they were wearing while the New England Patriots wiped the field with them last night? The point of a throwback sports uniform is—OK, fine, the point of a throwback uniform is to get suckers who've already bought all the regular merchandise to
for the alternative merchandise. But shouldn't the throwback throw back to something worth remembering?
The Pittsburgh Steelers wear black helmets. The Steel Curtain teams of the 1970s
. The Super Bowl losers of 1995-96
. The 2005-06 Super Bowl champions
. The 2008-09 Super Bowl champions
, except when they were wearing yellow helmets in tribute to a team that didn't win the Super Bowl.
Yes, long ago, when helmets were made of leather, the Steelers wore yellow ones. But this "throwback"? A hard modern helmet in yellow with the Steel logo on it? Here's who wore that one, non-nostalgically: the
. That's it. Bobby Layne wrapping up his career. They went 9-5 and finished in second place. Having the Steelers dress up as the 1962 Steelers is like having a national holiday for William Henry Harrison.
Or it's like having the Colts
in tribute to the 1955 Baltimore Colts (record: 5-6-1).
By 2014, if the Steelers keep their habit of wearing their yellow helmets twice a year, they will have worn them more times than the 1962 Steelers ever did.
When the New England Patriots want to wear
every now and then, that's fine. Pat Patriot was around for a long time. He went to the Super Bowl. And the Philadelphia Eagles should swap out their dumb teal for the old
as often as possible, till they realize the error of their ways, like the Chargers did, and de-redesign their full-time uniforms to incorporate the better, older look.
But teams like the yellow-topped Steelers and blue-topped Colts are just doing bad history and bad brand management. NFL teams only have 16 regular-season games a year to show off their regular identity. The yellow helmet represents 1/48 of the Steelers' modern history. If you have to wear them at all, try once every three years.