University of Nebraska-Lincoln

BLACKSHIRTS/THROWING THE BONES

This term, first being used in the early 1960s, is a term used to describe the First-String Defensive Line of the Nebraska Football team. Then Assistant Coach Mike Corgan had been told to obtain jerseys to distinguish the Defensive Line during weekly practice. Supposedly, the store he had purchased them from had given Mike a deal on black jerseys because they had not been selling very well and were thus the selected color for the D-Line. Originally used because of availability, the term evolved over the past half-century to be a mark of honor and distinction amidst the football program. At an unknown time, the skull and crossbones was accepted as a symbol for the Blackshirts, and therefore, many players will cross their arms over their chests in an ‘X’ after a key Defensive play to recognize the Blackshirts.