On April 8, the Atlanta Falcons gave fans a welcome distraction when they unveiled their first uniform redesign in 17 years. While team staff began pouring through mountains of market research—message boards, social media, chat rooms, focus groups—about three years ago to determine what fans wanted in a new look, the responses confirmed what they already knew.
“The players have been asking for black, the fans have been asking for black, DQ [head coach Dan Quinn] was a black uniform supporter,” says Falcons CMO Morgan Shaw Parker. “It was resounding; everybody wanted black.”
Parker calls the new home uniform—a black jersey, black pants, and the letters “ATL” displayed front and center on the chest—a “modern interpretation” of the team’s 1966 inaugural uniform, which was the inspiration for the 2020 redesign. The collection features four main looks: the black-on-black home uniform, white-on-white away uniform, a red-and-black alternate uniform that features a unique gradient jersey, and a replica 1966 throwback uniform. All four new jerseys will be available for fans to purchase online beginning April 14. (Although, the team cautions, shipments may be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on supply chains.)
The helmet, meanwhile, remains black and features a 30-percent larger Falcons logo with prominent silver outlining and a new silver face mask. And while Parker says the team would have loved to have had a throwback red helmet to pair with the 1966 replica uniform, NFL rules dictate a team can only have one helmet color. The Falcons will instead sport a black helmet with the team’s classic logo when wearing the throwback uniform.
The NFL allows teams to change their uniforms once every five years, so the Falcons will play in their new digs until at least 2025. In honor of the new look, we decided to take a look back at the team’s uniform history.
The Falcons debuted with black jerseys and white pants as their signature look, with red stripe accents on the pants, shoulders, and socks. The helmet was the reverse—bright red with a bold black center stripe. A solid white uniform was also used, not too dissimilar to the new 2020 white uniform. One interesting detail about the original uniform—since red and black were the University of Georgia’s colors, the Falcons had thin gold stripes on the helmet to acknowledge hometown school Georgia Tech.
In 1971, the Falcons retired the solid black jersey in favor of a solid red jersey with white numbers and black and white stripes on the sleeve, along with white pants. The white uniform remained similar, as did the red helmet. The uniforms were redesigned in 1978 to put the falcon logo, not the number, on the sleeves. (Numbers moved to the shoulders.) The red jersey was worn with silver pants and featured silver numbers and stripes. In 1984, the face mask was changed to black, and the falcon logo was moved to intersect the stripes on the sleeves in 1987.
After two decades, 1990 brought back the black jersey, paired with silver pants, along with a white and silver uniform. The jerseys ditched the sleeve stripes and the helmet became solid black. The look was adjusted slightly in 1997 with different stripes on the pants and red, rather than black, numbers on the white jerseys.
2003 saw another major overhaul as the team introduced its new, current falcon logo. The Falcons name was added to the chest and colorblocked sleeves replaced the previous solid design on black primary and white alternate jerseys. Pants were white with a thin stripe that flared outward. A red alternate jersey was also introduced and became the primary jersey from 2004 onward, as the black jersey and pants became occasional alternate uniforms.
The biggest eye-catcher is an alternate uniform with a red-black gradient, an unusual design for any NFL jersey. The numbers have been redesigned and the team name on the front has been changed from “Falcons” to “ATL.” A thick red stripe along the side of all three new designs flows seamlessly into the pants. The 1966 throwback alternate uniform pays homage to the team’s origins.