The Los Angeles Chargers jersey history is a long one, dating back to the old AFL days in the 1960s. While the jerseys themselves have remained consistent from a design standpoint, the colors have changed at one point or another almost twenty times over the course of the team’s history.
You read that right.
So, are you ready to break the team’s look down by the decade?
The 1960s: First Season in Los Angeles and Move to San Diego
When the Chargers debuted in 1960, they bore iconic powder blue jerseys with white numbers, a yellow outline, a white stripe at the shoulders and within the stripe, a navy blue lightning bolt outlined in yellow, with white numbers at the sleeves.
The road uniform included powder blue numbers, a yellow outline, a powder blue shoulder stripe that included a white lightning bolt and yellow outline, along with powder blue numbers at the sleeves.
1961 saw a minor change in both jerseys. The home powder blues dropped the navy lightning bolts at the white shoulder stripe, opting instead for yellow bolts outlined in navy while the road jersey switched from the white to yellow lightning bolt with a white outline.
In 1967, the jersey saw its first relatively major overhaul. The team dropped the powder blue and opted for a darker shade. They dropped the outline on both the numbers and lightning bolt on the shoulders. The sleeve numbers also disappeared.
The new home jerseys featured the new shade of blue, white shoulder striping with a yellow bolt embedded in the striping, with white numbers on the front and back.
The road jerseys included blue shoulder striping with a yellow lightning bolt, and blue numbering.
In 1968, the team again changed the look, dropping the darker shade of blue and returned to the powder blue. Numbers on the jersey sleeves also returned, as did outline on the lightning bolt.
In 1973, the next major change came to the jerseys. On the home jersey, the numbering changed from white to yellow, trimmed with white outlines. The road jersey remained almost the same except for the addition of yellow trim to outline the powder blue numbers.
In 1974, the entire uniform saw a major overhaul, this time returning to the darker shade of blue the team first unveiled in 1967. This look became known as the “Air Coryell Uniform,” as Don Coryell would become head coach of the team from 1978-1986.
The home jersey featured the new, darkened shade of blue with yellow numbers, white outlines, the usual white striping on the shoulders along with the familiar lightning bolt outlined in the same shade of blue.
The road whites included blue shoulder striping, yellow lighting bolts within the striping, white outline for the bolts, blue numbering, with yellow outlines.
The team darkened the blue to navy beginning in 1985.
In 1986, the home jersey switched their numbering from yellow to white with yellow trimming the outlines.
The team’s second major uniform overhaul occurred in 1988.
The Chargers kept the navy, but they got rid of the white shoulder stripes for the first time in team history. The white lightning bolts now running vertically down the shoulder section was now outlined in navy and yellow. The white numbers were also outlined in blue and yellow.
The shoulder striping remained for the road whites, with navy striping while the white lightning bolt was embedded within it, outlined again with blue and yellow. The navy numbers consisted of white and yellow outlines.
This jersey combo remained consistent throughout the 1990s.
In 2000, the team brought back their 1961 powder blue jersey to be worn as a throwback.
In 2007, the team made their third major uniform overhaul, which fused both new and classic elements into the uniform.
The jerseys were still navy but the white striping at the shoulders returned, housing a yellow lightning bolt now outlined in both powder and navy. The white numbering was outlined in both powder and yellow.
The road whites consisted of a navy blue shoulder stripe housing the same yellow lightning bolt, consisting of navy numbers outlined in powder blue and yellow.
A new, updated powder blue was added as an alternate, which resembled the primary navy jersey except the shade of blue, and number outlines, featuring navy and yellow.
In 2016, the Chargers added a fourth jersey with the debut of the NFL Color Rush. This jersey consisted of the 1967 shade of navy, with yellow numbering with blue and white outlines. The white shoulder stripes housed the same yellow lightning bolt outlined in navy.
Finally, in 2019, the team decided to relegate the navy blue jerseys to alternate status while the powder blues became the primary, two seasons after moving back to Los Angeles.
Please visit Chargers.com for a visual history of the team’s jersey and complete uniform.
The Chargers made the right move in 2007 by reverting to a classic jersey, despite my gripes regarding the primary look remaining with navy. However, in April 2019, news broke that the team would wear powder blues as the primary look. While there’s an obvious mismatch with the team continuing to wear navy numbers and striping on their road whites, this is an obvious step in the right direction for the Chargers.
Their uniform in its entirety has become one of the best if not the best in the NFL, and I’m glad to see yet another NFL team return to a classic look.
2007-Present Primary Home (Alternate in 2019)