From the Gateway to the Desert: History of the Arizona Cardinals Jerseys

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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1920s

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.

 

1930s

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

Cardinals 1956-2004 Jerseys

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.

Arizona Cardinals' Road Jersey

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

Cardinals 2005-Present Home Jersey

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.

 

Shop Arizona Cardinals gear at FansEdge!

 

My Take

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.

Related Article: Arizona Cardinals Helmet History

Gallery

Cardinals Alternate Jersey

 

Cardinals Color Rush

4 comments

  1. Ah the days when Chicago had 2 professional football teams! The Cardinals did well though to move to Arizona as they have one of the better stadiums in the league and who can beat that fall and winter climate. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the Cardinal’s color rush jersey and I agree that something more traditional might be a good move next time. It’s nice to see that the Cardinals’ colors were fairly consistent throughout their history and we’ll see what the future holds. Another great post!

    1. That stadium down in Glendale is one of the best in the league. I actually didn’t realize they had natural grass and they simply move the turf outside so it can catch sunlight. I’m with you when it comes to the jerseys. The older ones were so much better, and I think all Cardinals would love to wear the old Pat Tillman era look once more. 

  2. History is fun and adoring. It is so surprising to see that this Arizona Cardinal jersey are being put into consideration since  that very long time ago. All these chosen patterns of jerseys, over years are beautiful and cool. But the color pattern I would have loved most is the one chosen after death of of one of it’s member. It wint sound good to continue wearing that because of the reason behind it’s existence.Therefore, I will go for the jersey that was designed for the 1964. I like the white background and the red and black stripes.

    1. Hi, Stella, the black band around the jersey sleeve was quite common back then, but for some reason, they did away with it. I wish they’d return to it if such tragedies occurred, but hopefully we don’t see such tragedies in the near future! I’m with you, the 1964 design was a good one. 

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