Nike, the newest provider of uniforms for NFL teams, rolled out its new line just last week in New York and to no surprise, other than fabric and a few touches here and there, the changes were minimal to most of the teams. The late Lamar Hunt wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Hunt, the Kansas City Chiefs’ founder, was a stickler for traditions and in his choice of uniform and colors he never moved from his original concepts dating back to the Chiefs predecessor, the Dallas Texans.
After moving the Texans to Kansas City in 1963, Hunt retained the red and yellow color scheme and it remains today as the primary colors of the uniform and helmet. The numerals are trimmed in yellow, although the accents have varied some over the decade of the AFL’s existence. Sleeves became shorter in the latter half of the 1960s and in 1968 and 1969 colorful ribbed knit and striped sleeve cuffs appeared as accents.
Nike’s major alteration was to move the sleeve numerals to the top of the shoulder pad area. A patch containing the AFL logo with Hunt’s initial “LH” are now a permanent feature of the jersey along with the seemingly always present Nike swoosh.
The helmet has remained the same. For the Texans, Hunt and his equipment man preferred the “RK” style with its flared-out ears and raised center ridge, a style preferred by NFL teams in the 1960s. The RK had been worn by SMU squads, a style familiar to Hunt and Yarborough who both held long connections to the school.
A stickler for dress, Hunt demanded the team’s logo decal was to be applied on helmets at all times including practices.