On August 9th, 2009, the annual Hall of Fame game took place at Canton, Ohio -- the location of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This year's competitors were the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans, two teams who originally started out in the American Football League. In commemoration of the AFL's 50th anniversary, both clubs donned jerseys from their earliest seasons and, if I may say so, they looked damn good doing it.
So let's take a look back at how these AFL jerseys looked in real-time photo stills. This is the first edition of what I plan to be a reoccurring segment, where I revisit how these old-timey jerseys look on modern athletes. The good, the bad, the horrendously ugly, it should be interesting.
Anyway, continue after the jump to see some more of these sweet AFL throwbacks.
The Tennessee Titans wore their old uniforms from back when they were the Houston Oilers. They moved to Tennessee in 1997 and kept the original name for one season before becoming the Titans. This was the first time since they changed their name that they wore the old duds, which I'm sure made a few Oilers fans a little uncomfortable.
Besides the oil derrick and the single stripe, the Titans helmets also featured a No. 9 decal, in honor of former quarterback Steve McNair. McNair, 36, was found dead inside an apartment on the Fourth of July. He had played with the team as recently as 2005.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson, one of the few remaining owners from the AFL's inception in 1959, was there to watch his team play. The AFL and NFL merged in 1970. Every AFL team joined the newly formed AFC conference, while most of the NFL teams played in the NFC. A few NFL teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, jumped to the AFC to balance out the conferences.
This was Terrell Owens' first game in a Bills uniform since signing with them in the offseason. If you look closely, you can almost see him plotting to throw quarterback Trent Edwards under the bus.
You have to hand it to the people who designed these jerseys. There aren't many outfits from 1960 that would look good almost 50 years later, in 2009. They both look better than a majority of the current NFL uniforms and -- in my opinion -- are vastly superior to the current Bills and Titans jerseys.
The referees even sported the old uniforms from the AFL days. I'm sure you recoiled a little when you saw a ref in a white- and orange-striped outfit. Bill Leavy, pictured above, sort of looked like he just got back from a state fair. But when you take a few more looks at it, even the old referee outfits grow on you... sort of.
In-game photo? Or the most impressive push-up of all time...
In the end, the Titans beat the Bills by the score of 21-18. Of course, this was a preseason game, so no one really cared what the outcome was. By the way, the 2008 Detroit Lions -- who went 0-16 -- won all four of their preseason games that year. So the next time someone tries to prognosticate how good a team will be based on their preseason record, you might want to shoot them down.
Both the Bills and the Titans had pretty sweet jerseys, and I'm happy to note that both teams will be wearing these garments throughout the 2009 season. Kudos American Football League; not only were you successful enough to force a merger with the NFL, you had a pretty good eye for fashion too.
Classic Bills away uniform: A
Classic Oilers home uniform: A
Photos taken by Joe Robbins, Getty Images