Through the last decade, it has been debated as to whether the Oakland Raiders wore Wilson jerseys during the 1967-70 period. Although a short window, this time frame is important to the history of the Oakland Raiders. According to www.wikidedia.com,
“On the field, the team Davis had assembled and coached steadily improved. With John Rauch as the new head coach, the Raiders won the 1967 AFL Championship, defeating the Houston Oilers 40-7. The win earned the team a trip to Super Bowl II, where they were beaten 33-14 by Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. In 1968 and 1969, the Raiders again won Western Division titles, only to lose the AFL Championship to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the New York Jets (1968) and Kansas City Chiefs (1969). In 1969, John Madden became the team’s sixth head coach. In 1970, the AFL-NFL merger took place and the Raiders joined the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the newly merged NFL.”
With the merger of the two leagues and increased TV ratings, the NFL became a force in American entertainment. To collectors, the jerseys from this era are also important as tangible references to the players of this changing time.
With having examined 4 jerseys from the time period and having access to the new video footage, which was added to the MEARS permanent database, we were able to conduct trend analysis and conduct photo imagery analysis. What we looked to study to establish manufactures trends were:
2. Manufactures tag era
3. Size front numerals
4. Size back numerals
5. Size sleeve numerals
6. Players name font size
7. Visual examination of font and numerals
We examined 4 dureene Oakland Raiders that exhibited the Wilson tag.
MEARS #300713 George Blanda
MEARS #303252 Fred Biletnikoff
MEARS #300167 George Blanda
MEARS #300643 Jim Otto
This established Wilson was a supplier of dureene Oakland Raiders jerseys. We found no Sand Knit produced jerseys with labels from the period of 1967-70.
Manufactures tag era
By studying all of the examples in the MEARS database and by comparing all 4 of the above tags to the MEARS jersey tagging database, it can be determined the tag was the style of tag used in the NFL for the years 1967-70. This established the Wilson supplied jerseys to be worn by the Raiders during the time frame 1967-70.
Size Front Numerals
Next, we studied the size of the front numerals to see if the 4 examined jerseys exhibited consistency in sizing. Our measurements determined:
MEARS #300713 George Blanda 9” front size, 12” back, 4” sleeve
MEARS #303252 Fred Biletnikoff 9 5/8” front size, 11 ¼” back, 4” sleeve
MEARS #300167 George Blanda 10”, 12” back, 4” sleeve
MEARS #300643 Jim Otto 9 ¼”, 11 ¼’ back, 4” sleeve
The front font numerals varied within a one-inch on the examined examples. We examined these measurements to front numerals of Wilson jerseys of the Bears, 49ers and Pro Bowl manufactured by Wilson from the same time period and found both teams had a similar one inch variance in front font numerals.
Size Back Numerals
The back font numerals varied within a one-inch of the examined examples. This also was found on the other examples of Wilson produced jerseys of other NFL teams from the 1967-70 timeframe.
Size Sleeve numerals
For all 4 of the examined 1967-70 Wilson produced Oakland Raiders home jerseys, they all exhibited 4” sleeve numerals. This created consistency of sleeve numerals for the examined time period.
Players name font size
The final examination conducted to create trend analysis was an examination of the player’s name. The AFL was an innovator in the application of player’s names to the reverse of jerseys and the trend started with the AFL’s inaugural season of 1960. The NFL did not follow suite until 1970. Measurements showed that for all of the examined examples, 2” serifed lettering was used. Also, on all examples, the name was applied to a nameplate.
This was an important point of distinction, as the small 2” style font can be seen when examining the NFL game footage. This creates a direct contrast to the font size found on two Sand Knit produced jerseys, a circa 1972 Sand Knit Ken Stabler and circa 1972 Sand Knit Fred Biletnikoff home jerseys. Both jerseys can be found with 2 7/8” name font. The large font is noticeably larger and can be seen when examining photographs from the era. It should also be noted that the San Francisco 49ers wore Wilson manufactured jerseys during the 1967-70 time frame with the same 2” name font.
In conclusion, by the existence of the Wilson tag, the 1967-70 era of the Wilson tag, the consistency found in both the sleeve and players name font, it can be determined that the Oakland Raiders did in fact wear Wilson manufactured home jerseys during the 1967-70 period.
Troy R. Kinunen