When the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons squared off during the Super Bowl 51 at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on February 5, they were not just competing for the Super Bowl, they were actually battling it out in some of the things in the side show.
For one, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots are undoubtedly the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season.
In fact, they are one and two, respectively, in the voting for the NFL’s MVP which was awarded to Matt Ryan on February 4, the eve of Super Bowl 51.
But it was Tom Brady who was the better quarterback in the second half of the match by overcoming a 28-3 deficit and turning it into a 34-28 victory, on course to their fifth Super Bowl trophy.
Both teams would have looked better in 1966
What fewer people know, thanks to the constant cycle of rebranding and uniform changes, is that the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons would have looked much better in 1966.
New England and Atlanta are home to two of the league’s finest throwback uniforms; blocky, solid color jerseys with iconic logos and complementary colors, details SB Nation.
They’re the opposite of color rush and a tried-and-true design victory that still looks good 50 years later.
Each team joined the NFL in the 1960s and needed to make a splash to convert new boosters to the sidelines.
Fans in New England left without many geographical alternatives, often turned to the New York Giants to fill that void. The closest team to Atlanta before the franchise’s first game in 1966 was Washington, leaving the college game as king.
Creating a viable, and most importantly, cool-looking identity was paramount to establishing the new identity for the team.
The Falcons’ original uniforms were meant to represent something for everyone in the Peach State. The NFL had a new major market to conquer but understood there was no way to pry rabid fans from the colleges they had watched every Saturday for the previous decade.
Instead, the franchise worked to find a common ground and add an extra day of football to Georgian schedules.
The red and black appealed to the University of Georgia fans from border to border. The white and gold were for the Georgia Tech boosters centered in Atlanta. The result was an old school mash-up that sounded garish on paper but looked sweet on the turf.
Rebranding with the flying Elvis logo
But Atlanta is not alone in abandoning some of the finest throwbacks the league has to offer. The Patriots’ luck as a franchise changed after rebranding with their flying Elvis logo, but their rush to distance themselves from the putrid teams of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s discarded a gorgeous uniform in the process.
New England’s old kits were a classic red, white, and blue. Red jerseys for away games, white for home games with generous striping across the shoulders. White pants gave way to Adidas-style stripes down the outseam.
And the capper, at the very top, was Pat Patriot, a gruff-looking soldier dressed up like a Minuteman or Pawtuxet Ranger. Pat was crouched in a three-point stance, prepared to snap the ball to whichever disappointment the franchise was starting at quarterback those days.
The throwback uniforms are so great, they could make notoriously handsome Tom Brady look like a nerd by comparison. Maybe that’s why they don’t wear them so often anymore.
The Patriots and the Falcons broke out the latest in an evolving chain of increasingly generic uniforms and battled it out for the Super Bowl 51
The Falcons wore red jerseys while the Patriots wore white. Based on history, teams that have worn white jerseys in the Super Bowl have won 11 out of the last 12 times. That statistic stayed true to form again.