Retro Preview: How they’d look today – 1958

As we await the launch of the Redblacks’ new Adidas-designed uniforms, we thought this would be a great opportunity to “look ahead” to what Ottawa’s first throwback uniforms might look like. With 120 years of Rough Rider football to draw from, there are definitely some great options to consider. In this short series, we’ll look at which year (or timeframe) we’d like to see remembered and why. Huge thanks to artist and CFL fan Nelson Hackewich for the concepts.

This week: Before the Legend was the Legend – 1958

A Little History

1959 Topps Russ Jackson Rookie Card

Back in the 1958, the Ottawa Rough Riders selected a smart and talented defensive halfback from McMaster University with the sixth overall pick. A Rhodes scholarship nominee and mathematics graduate, Russell Stanley Jackson made the decision to instead pursue football and went on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in CFL history. In a 12-year career, Jackson brought three Grey Cups, three Most Outstanding Player and four Most Outstanding Canadian Awards to Ottawa. Jackson was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

Amazing that this legendary career almost never happened.

As mentioned, Jackson was drafted as a DB. If not for injuries to incumbent American QBs (like today, CFL teams were disincentivized from starting Canadians at the position), Jackson may never have had a legitimate opportunity under centre.

Ronnie Stewart
Gerry Nesbitt
Milt Graham

Getting back to the uniform specifically, seems the Rough Riders wore them from roughly 1958 through 1960 (haven’t been able to confirm — any help appreciated!). They fared pretty well in them, too:

1958 – 3rd place – 6 wins 8 losses (Lost in IRFU final)

1959 – 2nd place – 8-6 (Lost in East Final)

1960 – 2nd place – 9-5 (Won Grey Cup!)

Ottawa would see greater success in the back-half of the 1960s, but let’s talk about that some other time πŸ˜‰

The Uniform

Home uniform circa 1958
Away uniform circa 1958

The helmets from this era were also fantastic in their simplicity, featuring just the player number.

A look at the Rough Riders helmets, circa 1960 (Scott Grant Photography)

Nothing beats the R, but the old-school look with player numbers on the helmet is a close second.

Becoming a bit of a broken record here, but this is yet another sharp, simple uniform that would work today just as it did in the 50s & 60s. The fact it also represents the beginning of the Russ Jackson era is a huge bonus.

Thanks for reading!

@DefendTheR

References

1. Forgotten Heroes: The Ottawa Rough Riders 1969-1996 by John Joseph Kelly http://www.blurb.ca/b/4027277-forgotten-heroes

2. Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_Ottawa_Rough_Riders_season)

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Retro Preview: How they’d look today – 1976

As we await the launch of the Redblacks’ new Adidas-designed uniforms for 2016, we thought this would be a great opportunity to “look ahead” to what Ottawa’s first throwback uniforms might look like. With 120 years of Rough Rider football to draw from, there are some great options to consider. In this short series, we’ll look at which year (or timeframe) we’d like to see remembered and why. Huge thanks to artist and CFL fan Nelson Hackewich for the concepts.

This week, we look at Ottawa’s last taste of Grey Cup glory, 1976.

History

The Rough Riders won the East in 1976, putting together a 9-6-1 season. The team was led by All-Stars TE Tony Gabriel (who would also be named the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian), RB Art green and LB Mark Kosmos, as well as All-Eastern QB Tom Clements.

  
Ottawa faced Hamilton (8-8) in the East Final, winning a tightly-contested game 17-15 at Lansdowne Park to earn a berth into 64th Grey Cup. Held at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, the Canadian championship pitted Ottawa against their sort-of nickname counterparts from Regina (11-5). A back-and-forth affair, Saskatchewan held a 20-16 lead late in the 4th quarter. With just 31 seconds remaining, Clements called for “Rob I, fake 34, tight end flag” in the huddle (not the call he received from the bench, by the way) and hit a streaking Gabriel in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. One of the iconic plays in CFL history, it is commonly referred to as “Clements to Gabriel” or simply “The Catch”.

  

Watch it here. Goosebumps every time.

  

The Uniform

And with that, here’s Hackewich’s take on the 1976 Rough Riders uniforms:

1976-style home uniform
1976-style road (away) uniform

One of the things we like best about (most of) the old Rough Riders uniforms is the simplicity. Nothing flashy, but a look that is timeless. The white jersey/red pant road uniform is a bold look with a very ’70s feel to it.

1976 was the first year the Rough Riders wore this jersey/pant combo, which they stuck with through the 1979 season.

As it is the uniform worn by the last Ottawa team to win the Grey Cup, have to think it is a front-runner for the first retro uniform to be worn by the Redblacks. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out. The 40th anniversary would be a great time to do it, wouldn’t it?

Thanks for reading!

@DefendTheR

References

1. Forgotten Heroes: The Ottawa Rough Riders 1960-1996 by John Joseph Kelly 
2. Wikipedia 

Nevill’s Take: Redblacks home helmets need more red!

Our man @NevillCarney – he of several Ottawa Redblacks-related exploits – has an idea for the Redblacks home (black) helmets heading into the 2015 season. Have a read and vote below to let us know what you think!

With all the free agent signings last week, it really looks like the RedBlacks will see a drastic improvement in Year 2.

Another area I feel the team can improve is their look on the field. As I have indicated earlier on Defend the R, I haven’t been the biggest fan of their current look.

Realizing that their jerseys can’t change after a mere season (the uniform manufacturer, Reebok, apparently likes to keep the same set for a minimum of 2-3 years before changes are made), I offer the suggestion that they improve the helmet design and add more red; something that is in the hands of the Ottawa equipment managers rather than Reebok.

Here’s my proposal:

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Ideally, with training camp right around the corner, I would love to spread the word and see if this can’t reach the @RedBlacks directly.

With them having their locker room sale for all of last year’s game-worn gear, they will be preparing to order 2015’s inventory soon.

Maybe we can catch them at the right time! What say you, Ottawa? Yay or Nay?

Nevill

READER’S TAKE: Why I don’t like the new Redblacks jerseys

While the large majority are giving the Ottawa Redblacks two enthusiastic thumbs up for their new uniforms, even some of the most loyal Ottawa CFL fans have their gripes. The following comes from Nevill Carney, he of some great Redblacks jerseys concepts and one of the dudes behind the Redblacks Theme Song. Nevill left the following in the comment section of this post and allowed us to re-post here, for your consideration.

Our comments are captured in bold.

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I was looking forward to this unveiling since the name and logo were unveiled a year ago. I cannot describe how bland these look! My heart literally sank as the first pics of the road jersey were released. My first thought: “where is the RED?!” Then, when the home jerseys came out, I was at least happy about them being black.

No doubt the lack of red was surprising. More on that later.

NEGATIVES

– Take away the numbers and logos from the jersey and you have a very dull looking shirt. Very much like the BC Lions home/away set. Fans will have to get numbers put on them to complete the look. (I can say now that Toronto and Edmonton have the best look in the CFL as their arm striping is sharp and creates a sense of movement when on the field)

Pretty common for a football jersey, since the number is such a prominent part of the design.

– Lack of arm striping. For OSEG, who wanted to link to the past Rough Rider teams, I really thought they would have some striping on the arms. The concepts that I had designed a while back were my hopes of what to see.

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Above is Nevill’s last concept. Really sharp, I thought. Great vintage look.

I was also surprised at the lack of striping, although the white jersey does have the more modern take on striping with the black trim on the shoulders & extending all the way down the sides.

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– Away uniform is depressing. It looks like a recoloring of Saskatchewan’s current road whites. Weren’t we trying to get as far away from what the GreenRiders were doing? I despise the white helmet. Stick with ONE black helmet for both uniforms. Establishing your brand in year one is VITAL. Look at the NFL teams; how many have multiple helmets?

In fairness, there are only so many jersey templates a team can use and those are likely determined by Reebok.

As for multiple helmets, I personally love it as a concept and love how the Redblacks white helmet looks.

I have heard the ‘stick with one helmet’ argument a couple times over the last few days, but don’t really get it. If a team can have 3 jerseys, no reason you can’t have multiple helmets. Baseball teams have different home/away/alternate hats, hockey teams often have different home/away helmets. Why not football?

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Odd side note: last year, every West team in the CFL had an alternate helmet (SSK actually had 2). None of the East teams did.

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Weird, eh?

– REDBLACKS plastered under the collar and above the front numbers. For OSEG, a business that has claimed to be supportive of both official languages since Day 1, this was a huge mistake. It now makes the English name of the team dominant over the French. I realize that they have “Rouge et Noir” on the front bumper of the helmet, but fans will not be buying the helmet. In order to offset this, they should have replaced it with “Ottawa.” The Renegades did this and it looked great.

Good point. Could have gone with OTTAWA on the front of both jerseys, or otherwise have REDBLACKS on one and ROUGE ET NOIR on the other. The bumper is a neat feature but also seems like a bit of an afterthought.

POSITIVES

– Sawblade logo on both arms. Nailed it. I was hoping for this and bam. Likely the main reason why I will be buying a home jersey rather than settling on a t-shirt to wear to games.

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– Black home jersey/black helmet. Traditional; enough said.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

– I would have really liked it if the Redblacks took a page from Fury FC and presented options of uniforms for the fans to vote on. This would have made the fans feel included (unlike the choosing of the team name fiasco from last year) and important enough to have a say with where the franchise is headed.

In fairness to OSEG, the ‘Name Our Teams’ campaign wasn’t actually a contest.

I am on the fence with getting one of these but I will for the sake of supporting the team (the home not the terrible away jersey).

C’mon now!

We have a so-so name, a terrific logo and now a “meh” set of uniforms. 1.5/3 for overall branding at this stage from this season ticket holder’s opinion. I can only hope that we have a retro design come to pass and become our regular set.

Not sure if it will be retro, but it sounds like we will definitely have a red third jersey later this summer. In this Ottawa Sun piece writer Aedan Helmer and OSEG president Jeff Hunt tell us:

A red third jersey will be unveiled later in the summer, and while Hunt said they went for the classic look for the home and away duds, β€œthat (third jersey) is going to be different.”

So, that answers the lack of red in the home & away set. But how ‘different’, exactly? We shall see…

Regardless, I’m stoked for kickoff and to have Ottawa return to the CFL regardless of what they are wearing. Go Ottawa!

Thanks Nevill!

@OTTRoughRiders

Redblacks unveil jersey… numbers ;)

As if the excitement of their first official team activity wasn’t enough, the Ottawa Redblacks also gave fans a peek at what to expect from the team’s uniforms at their inaugural mini-camp this past week in Richmond, VA.

Here are a couple of photos that provide a good look (courtesy of the Ottawa Redblacks and the Ottawa Sun):

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For lots more photos, check out the Redblacks Facebook page.

As expected, the jersey numbers have the same saw blade slice style as the Redblacks ‘R’ logo.

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So, it’s not a traditional number style, but it definitely works on the practise jerseys. As long as there isn’t too much more going on with the jerseys, other than a little bit of shoulder striping, it should make for a great looking uniform. Hope they opt for a simple font for the player names as well.

As for the colour options, pretty standard stuff – black, white & red. Found this tweet particularly inciteful:

@OttRedandBlacks: @Redblacks dark practice jerseys are black so very likely the real jerseys are too. Every #CFL team follows suit with their practice jerseys.

Makes sense, although I still have a sneaking suspicion the team could go with a red home jersey, as opposed to black. At any rate, with a third jersey likely coming this fall, and with jersey combination mixing & matching becoming so commonplace in pro football, good chance we’ll see both black and red jerseys worn at home regularly.

With the jersey launch date rumoured to be May 10th, we’re now just under a month away from the big reveal. While we wait, whose name/number are you thinking about for your first Redblacks jersey? We put together a quick poll:

Mini-Camp Coverage

Couldn’t end this mini-camp post without a shoutout to the Redblacks social media team and The Ottawa Sun’s Tim Baines for the excellent coverage from Richmond. Both provided piles of great photos, videos, interviews and incite. Was fun to follow the action, giving fans a sense of the atmosphere and some of the personalities we have to look forward to this season.

Kudos to the Ottawa Sun for sending Baines to Richmond. Shame the Ottawa Citizen didn’t send Gord Holder or anyone else. The Sun’s domination on Redblacks coverage in the city continues.

Redblacks jersey numbers?

On the day of the Redblacks Expansion Draft, an astute CFL fan noted that the Redblacks official site was using this number template on its player pages:

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An interesting find. Definitely matches the cut-out style on the Redblacks R logo, as below:

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If this is indeed the number template they’re going with, it certainly points to a non-traditional jersey style. Not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly an ambitious choice. High risk, high reward, I suppose.

Interesting to note that the team has since removed the player number references from all player pages. Simply because numbers haven’t officially been assigned to players yet? Or cleaning up an unintended mini-leak? Pure speculation at this point. Pretty enjoyable speculation, actually πŸ™‚

#RNation