We reported a few weeks back that Maryland football will no longer display players names on the back of jerseys this season.
“I am not a name-on-the-back-of-the-jersey guy,” Coach Randy Edsall told Eric Prisbell. “To me, it’s all about the name on the front. It’s all about Maryland. To me, it’s about being a team and let’s just worry about being Maryland and taking care of business that way. It’s a team sport we are playing. It is not an individual sport.”
“I’m just a firm believer that you play for what’s on the front of the jersey,” Edsall said this week, via the Baltimore Sun, while noting that the names are hard to read from the stands anyhow. “When we’re long gone, Maryland is still going to be here, and that’s what it’s all about.”
I didn’t realize until this week, though, that Maryland was actually the first college football team in the country to put names on jerseys, 50 years ago next month. Testudo Times pointed me to this fact, and the archives confirms it.
Here’s The Post’s story from mid-September of ‘61:
MARYLAND DECIDES TO SPELL IT OUT
The old saw that you can’t tell a player without a program is no longer true, at least at Maryland.
This season Maryland will be the first college football team in the country to have the players’ names sewn to the jerseys.
Before a touring group of Atlantic Coast Conference sports writers, visiting the Maryland practice session, Coach Tom Nugent wheeled in big end Hank Poniatowski. Completely garbed in football regalia, his name was prominently displayed in 3-inch white letters across his chest.
The 195-pound senior, with a chest bigger than his name (it sort of has to be), has the longest name on the roster.
The new American Football League was the first to use the names as well as numbers on football uniforms — patterned after the fad started by the Chicago White Sox in professional baseball.
Nugent’s innovation will have just the last names of the players inscribed on the uniform, although a player with a name like Tom Brown, who happens to be a stellar halfback for the Terps, could probably be full identified. But Henry Poniatowski, well. — Byron Roberts
The New York Times also had a brief on the news, writing that the players names would be “on the backs of their jerseys above the numbers.”