The Arizona Cardinals jersey history begins all the way back in 1898 when they started off as the Morgan Athletic Club, but it wasn’t until 1920 did my sources begin collecting uniform data regarding the NFL’s oldest franchise. For this, I’ll start the team’s quick history at 1920 with a brief rundown through each decade.
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The Racine Cardinals, as they were known for a season, sported a maroon-like version of red along with a cream color along with white numbers. The base of the jersey was red with horizontal maroon and cream stripes running up the sleeves.
When the team became known as the Chicago Cardinals in 1921, the jerseys changed drastically, as became common in the early days of the NFL. The new-look jersey consisted of maroon along with wider horizontal stripes, featuring a cream-maroon-cream-maroon-cream-maroon pattern with white numbering.
In 1926, Chicago switched to a lighter-colored red, resembling that of their modern-look. Cream shoulder panels took over the jersey with a red base. White numbering remained, along with two horizontal cream shoulder stripes.
The Cardinals introduced a new jersey in 1927, consisting of vertical stripes at the front. The stripes were gray, which became the first time the color was used on the uniform.
In 1929, the team dropped both the striped look and the 1926 look, instead opting for a strange jersey with a red base toward the top and white toward the bottom. White numbering was accompanied by horizontal red and white striping at the base of the sleeves.
In 1930, a new look came yet again. This time a plain, red jersey with cream numbering spaces at the chest, allowing for red numbering at the front, and white on the back. This jersey also had cream cuffs at the base of the sleeves. It’s important to realize that until the 1960s, NFL jerseys resembled sweaters worn in the NHL rather than what is seen today.
In 1932, the Cardinals added a cardinal red jersey with white shoulder panels and white numbering.
In 1933, blue was added for the first time with a plain jersey and white number.
In 1935, both the red and blue uniforms were tweaked, with an even lighter color of red coming to the jerseys along with white Northwester stripes being added to both. The white shoulder panels on the red jerseys were dropped.
In 1937, the team dropped the blue jerseys and opted only for a plain, red jersey before reading the look in 1938. This look became standard for the team’s next nineteen seasons, until 1955.
Modern Era: St. Louis, Phoenix, and Arizona Cardinals, 1956-2004
In 1956, the Cardinals dropped the blue and added a plain, white jersey with red numbering, the first white jersey in the team’s history.
TV numbers were added to the sleeves in 1962.
In 1964, the team added sleeve stripes, whereas thin black and white stripes flanked a red. Numbers on the road look were also pushed closer to the sleeves.
In 1971, the Cardinals added a darker shade of red as a third jersey and added black outlines to the numbers on the white road jersey.
The team added a black band to the left side of their jersey in 1979 in memory of tight-end J.V. Cain, who died of congestive heart failure shortly before the season.
In 1982, the Cardinals added their helmet logo to the sleeves of their white jersey.
In 1989, two years after moving to Phoenix, the team added the Flag of Arizona to their sleeves on the road jersey, covering their sleeve stripes.
In 1994, the Cardinals added a red and white throwback jersey to commemorate the NFL’s 75th Anniversary. Three horizontal stripes graced the sleeves, along with the team’s old Chicago Cardinals wishbone ‘C’ logo. A small number appeared at the top-right-hand side of the jersey.
In 1996 the team tweaked their sleeve striping, as became a necessity in the late-1990s as teams started to opt for tighter-fitting jerseys, which became a mainstay early in the next decade. The black outlines were also dropped in 1996.
Present Era: 2005-Present
In 2005, the Cardinals had their very first drastic jersey redesign in over fifty seasons.
For the home red jerseys, white and red side panels and black piping appeared. White numbers appeared with black outlines, and the TV numbers were moved to the shoulders.
For the white look, red numbers with black outlines appeared, red shoulder panels graced the jersey as well, with white TV numbers. Red and white side panels also ran up and down the sides. Identical piping and side panels also appeared.
On both jerseys, the helmet logo appeared at the top of the nameplate.
In 2010, the Cardinals added a black alternate, with white and black side panels and red piping. White numbers featured red outlines.
Come 2017, the Cardinals wore their Color Rush look for the first time. This look featured red numbers, white outlines, red and black side panels, along with red shoulder numbering.
There’s a reason the Cardinals didn’t switch uniforms once upon a time; they worked. While they may not have been iconic, they nonetheless worked. The look since 2005 is far beyond dated; something that was stylish in the early-2000s but doesn’t dwell on much today.
The look was compounded in 2017 when the Color Rush jersey appeared for the first time. If the team was smart, they’d go back to their plainer look, which were beyond timeless.
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