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There's some history the Steelers would just as soon forget

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By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007
 

As throwback uniforms go, the Steelers could have done worse, and have.

Remember 1994?

The NFL's 75th anniversary season?

Those gaudy gold jerseys with the vertical black stripes and the City of Pittsburgh crest, the ones that had first and last been seen in 1934?

This time, it's the Steelers' 75th birthday.

As part of the celebration, they'll go old school and wear throwback but not throw-away uniforms today against the Buffalo Bills.

Black shirts with gold numbers, names and shoulder striping, a compilation of what the Steelers wore in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s.

Gold helmets, along the lines of what the Steelers favored through the 1962 campaign.

White pants with black-and-gold striping.

They're not bad, actually.

They might even be interpreted in some circles as striking.

But if the Steelers really wanted to get sentimental, they'd have recreated perhaps the most famous -- or infamous -- look in franchise annals.

If they had a true sense of history and a sense of humor, they'd have resurrected the style they displayed in 1966 and 1967, featuring the black or white jerseys with the gold triangles on the shoulders stretching down the front and back, creating a visual that can only be described as ahead of its time.

"Golden triangles," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said. "That's what we had in mind, to make it look like the golden triangle.

"We wanted to have our own look and I gotta say this, NFL films told us that we were successful. NFL films loved them. They told us, 'When they come up, we know who it is automatically because you're different than every other team with those jerseys.'"

Alas, NFL Films was apparently the only fan of the apparel.

Well, NFL Films and Rooney.

"It was basically me that did it," Rooney said. "I thought it was a good try, a good experience."

But like a well-conceived play that isn't properly executed, the golden triangles didn't work.

"What happened is, we had them for the preseason games and they became lighter, they faded," Rooney said. "It looked really bad."

Where was Nike or Reebok when the Steelers needed it most?

"The players hated them," Rooney added. "They thought they looked like clowns or Batman or somebody."

Still, the golden triangles would have been most representative as a throwback, given that the Steelers have had pretty much the same basic uniform design since 1968 and given the success, or lack thereof, of the franchise prior to its move to Three Rivers Stadium.

The 1966 Steelers won one of their first seven games, gave up 52 points at Dallas and finished 5-8-1.

The 1967 Steelers won their opener and then dropped five in a row, gave up 41 at home against Minnesota and finished 4-9-1.

Those were the first two of Bill Austin's three seasons as coach.

Things got better shortly thereafter, and Rooney even managed to redeem himself as a designer of fine athletic ware.

"I had something to do with the present (uniforms)," he said.

As for the golden triangles, they may not be forgotten but they're gone and they aren't coming back.

Ever.

"I don't think so," Rooney said.

Happy anniversary.

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