It took 150 years, but Rutgers football finally might’ve earned a big win.
The Scarlet Knights and manufacturer Adidas unveiled a new throwback jersey in celebration of the program’s participation in the first collegiate game of American football ever played in 1869. The college football world is making this season a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Rutgers’ 6-4 win over Princeton (then known as College of New Jersey).
Rutgers alumni and NFL veterans Devin and Jason McCourty previewed Piscataway’s commemoration of the event in a video released earlier this summer.
Messages from Rutgers’ social media accounts imply the uniforms will make their debut in the team’s 2019 season opener this week. They’ll take on the Massachusetts Minutemen on Friday night at SHI Stadium in Piscataway.
While a lack of padding made a “true” throwback to that fateful day out of the question, the uniforms do appear to resemble the shirts worn by the Rutgers team in Arnold Friberg’s 1968 painting “The First Game”. True to the form of some of the artwork’s participants, the jersey resembles a long-sleeve t-shirt.
The uniform bears a white helmet with a vintage version of the Knights’ “R” insignia. Helmets will also feature typing that reads “The Birthplace” on the back, referencing the school’s reputation as “The Birthplace of College Football”.
Markings of 1869 also appear on the jersey and cleats.
In lieu of names on the back of the jersey, an inscription of “Queensmen”, the squad’s 1869 nickname, will be prominently displayed. Jersey numerals appear to maintain the modern style of Rutgers’ regular aesthetics.
The celebration of the 1869 debut is one of many celebrations the Scarlet Knights have planned for this landmark season. Their September 21 tilt against Boston College has been dubbed “Paul Robeson Day”, honoring the life of the singer, actor, and activist who played on the football team in the 1910’s. The historic Rutgers squads from the new century, winners of 79 games from 2005-14, will be recognized before the November 16 visit from Ohio State. 2019’s home slate ends with a tribute to Eric LeGrand. The former offensive lineman was paralyzed after a hit in an October 2010 game but has since gone on to become a motivational speaker following a partial recovery.
Rutgers will probably need all the help it can get from the past in celebrating victory. The team is coming off a 1-11 season, including an 0-9 mark in Big Ten play. Head coach Chris Ash will return for his fourth season at the helm.