and the uniform will be perfect…
By Phil Hecken, with Rick Pearson
You may have heard the phrase before, since I used it last weekend quite a bit. “Just One More Bumper Sticker” syndrome is a phrase my running mate, Rick Pearson (aka “Ricko”) and I use to describe a (typically) football uniform that has one unique (or semi-unique) design element, but instead of just plain leaving well enough alone, the designers have to add one (or more) unnecessary, superfluous or extraneous element(s) rendering the entire uniform … well … not good. The “design” may look great on paper, or more likely, in Adobe or some other photoshop-type program, but it fails when actually put on a human being. Stick with me here.
With the official first weekend of NFL football finally upon us, and with Paul’s most-awaited column of the year (in my opinion, anyway) posted last Wednesday, Ricko and I are going to look at some of the uniforms on the NFL that suffer from OMBS (“one more bumper sticker”) syndrome, or are just a tweak or two away from looking REALLY good. We’re not touching the classics, we’re not talking about changing colors, logos or helmets — we’re just going to look at several teams whose uniforms are thisclose to being very good or great. Today, we will examine the five most egregious violators of uniform protocol — the Cards, Falcons, Bills, Rick’s own Vikings and the Bengals. With just a few minor tweaks (OK, in some cases they may be more than minor), we can improve these uniforms. Of course, many of you will disagree, but that’s OK because these are just our opinions. But when all is said and done, we think you’ll agree, the minor changes we’re suggesting will be changes for the better. OK? Good, let’s set the ground rules.
Ricko sets the parameters:
* We see it more as “editing” than redesigning.
* We stay inside the current design elements.
* That means…
> No color changes.
> No logo changes.
* We just clean up the overkill, the excess in “bumper stickers”, show a little restraint.
* We will consider past unis in making minor modifications.
* No dark monochrome combinations will be considered. (Well, Rick thinks there are a few that work OK)
Rick also wants to stress that we’re “not saying EVERYONE should make these, not at all. Just that if a few did, it would diminish the now-getting-routine proliferation of panels, yokes, wandering piping and meandering pants stripes.”
Many of the new looks are fun, and we left them alone. We’re also giving the Broncos a “full and complete pardon,” since, although that uniform may have been the precursor to the side panel and truncated stripe madness, they were the originator of that look. That’s good enough for us — you invent it, you keep it, it’s yours. We just think if a few teams would pull back on such things a little, there’d actually be more variety in NFL uniforms.
Arizona Cardinals: The southwest birds underwent a major uni overhaul only a scant few years ago, going from one of the all time classics to one of the worst OMBS teams. Seriously — WTF? You’ve got shoulders that are a different color (on the roads) than the rest of the uni, little “panels” within those shoulder blotches, weird stripes running down the sides of the jersey, and some amorphous truncated stripe on the pants. Too much. So, what can we do to improve this cacophony of offensive visual malacuity?
Lets start by removing the side panels truncated pants “stripe”. This way, we keep the feel for the uniform, but remove the extra bumper stickers. Oh yeah, adding striped socks is a must too. The Cards don’t look too bad in red pants, so we take the same approach there — ok, maybe they need a real stripe. You want to add a throwbackish stripe instead (and some ‘matching’ socks)? Maybe that’s pushing it. Personally, I loved the ‘all white look‘ of the last generation of uniforms, so if I had my way, I’d remove the shoulder red, give them some real shoulder stripes, and stick the old logo on there for good measure. But that’s probably just wishful thinking.
For the home uniform, while it’s already better now than the road (at least being solid red, for the most part), it still suffers from the random white panels & unneeded black piping — plus those awful pants. If we remove the bumper stickers, and properly stripe the pants, here’s what we get. Not bad, right? Only other tweak you could make is to put the Cardinal logo back on the sleeve.
We start with the Cardinals because they seem to exemplify the alarming trend of making the pro’s unis look like NCAA Division II schools. Let’s keep that sort of stuff back in the college game. But the Cardinals are far from alone.
Atlanta Falcons: The southeast birds very much like the Cardinals. And again, this is only one or two less bumper stickers away from being a really good uniform. Especially when you consider that this season, the Falcons are throwing back with this beauty. Their current uni set (notice the beautiful throwbacks in that template) is light years away from anything resembling an NFL uniform, but with a few minor changes, it would look pretty damn good.
Simply removing the multicolored “chips” in the shoulders, and eliminating the superfluous side piping and truncated pants stripes yields a very respectable uni set. Of course, those shoulder colorizations could certainly go too.
One element about the Falcons uniforms is, if you take away the extraneous junk, you can dress them in several different (although no monochrome red or black) unis and they’ll look good in all of them. Seriously. All-white, black over red (hey, we like the red pants), red over black (just make sure the socks are a different color), red over white, white over red (even looks good without stripes), or black over white. It’s all good! They like to play mix-and-match, and we like that. Just get rid of the extra bumper stickers.
Buffalo Bills: OK, we think most of us agree this is the worst uniform in the NFL. It’s always running neck and neck with the Bengals (we’ll get to them shortly), but surely, it’s up there. It would probably take more than the removal of a few bumper stickers to get them looking anywhere near as good as the AFL throwbacks they’re sporting this season, but we’ll give it a shot. We can certainly improve the uni without too much effort. As with the first two offenders, we’ll need to remove the side panels and start there.
Simply getting rid of the panels is an immense improvement. But it’s still not very good. Yet. See, the Bills are one of those teams who think monochrome white (not terrible) or monochrome blue (awful, awful, awful) is a good look. Simply pairing the white top with blue pants is an improvement. Conversely, pairing the blue top with white pants is much better. (Ricko tweaks that look a tad further by adding the logo to the jersey and moving the TV numbers to the shoulders.) But it’s still a mess — two different colors (and not all that complimentary either) of blue, red helmet, shoulder “yoke” (for lack of a better term). Feh.
We strive to keep at least one unique element when tweaking the uniforms, and it appears as though the Bills are alone in that shoulder yoke. But do they really need a two color yoke on their road unis? No. So, lets keep the outline and decide on one color blue for the jerseys and pants. Not a fan of the navy? We’re not either, they’re more of a royal blue kind of team. See? Much better.
We’ve eliminated the visual cacophony that is the current uni. Now, lets fix the home jersey by simply keeping the minor adjustments and putting them in a more appropriate royal blue. Is it as good as this? Hell no. Like most people on the planet, we’d prefer they adopt that full time. But is this better than this? You be the judge.
On a quick side note, Ricko and I disagree on at least one point concerning the Bills. I wouldn’t mind seeing them in a red jersey (with throwback helmet) or especially in their current lids. Rick, however, remembers the Bills in royal blue, so to him, that red jersey is anathema. Hey, we can’t always be in agreement.
Minnesota Vikings: One of the more egregious offenders in the bumper sticker syndrome department. Actually, the Vikings have what appears to be a very cool and unique element to their uniforms — the attempted “replication” of the helmet horn on the jersey sleeve. Or, at least that’s what we’d like to believe. But, like the others, they take it too far by adding the ridiculous panel. And then there’s the pants. Piping and truncated striping again. Make it stop.
Our solution for the Vikings is relatively simple. Ricko simply removes the superfluous side panel to create the illusion of a horn, and of course, gives them normal pants stripes. I took that a bit further by putting an actual horn on the sleeve. Either way, it’s an improvement.
For the away jerseys, you could put the actual Viking on the sleeve, continue the “shoulder treatment” (as Ricko suggested), or go with purple horn (similar to the home mockup). I really like Ricko’s idea the best here.
Simple, keeping a nice unique design element (viking horn replicated on shoulder), and cleaning up the excess bumper stickers. Done.
Cincinnati Bengals: Viewed by many as the worst uniform in all of football (or at least a close second to the Bills), this could easily be a great and distinctive uniform, but for all the extra
clutter bumper stickers. I mean, c’mon … seriously? Yet, the Bengals are very unique in distinct with their “tiger stripe” helmet and shoulder pads, but they get carried away with the panels, piping, etc. Our solution to the Bengals is surprisingly simple, but it fits in with the above teams. Lets dump the junk and focus on a truly cool element. And give them some real pants stripes. And no monochrome black.
The Cincy club is another who like to “mix and match” various tops and bottoms. That’s OK. We’ll start with the white over white. Now, damn! That’s a pretty good looking uniform, right there. But the white jersey, currently is the only one without the stupid panel down the side, so that’s an easy fix. How about black over white? Nice right? Keeps the stripes prominently but not to the point of beating a dead horse. And since real bengal tigers are more orange than black, Ricko thinks the orange jersey should be their main jersey, rather than the alt. I think we could all enjoy seeing this six or eight times a season. The key element here, though, is the white pants — they really look good with any of those three jerseys.
What about the black pants? Well, we’d prefer they don’t wear them, but as long as they will, we need to put on real stripes and make sure the socks are not black. What about on orange top? We’re getting a little crazy, here but OK. Still beats what they wear now. Finally, they don’t actually wear orange pants, but again, how about we replace those black ones? It’s a tad loud, but it could work. Better orange than black.
And we’ve still kept the unique helmet and shoulder stripes, which are the essence of the Bengals, and the beginning of a much better uniform. At least we think so.
Lime Green Hawks? On another note, the rumor mill is still ablaze about a possible Seahawks alternate — the one Paul wrote about on April Fool’s Day. Paul alluded to it in his NFL preview column, and we’ve all seen the leaked Madden screen grab. Even UW’s resident Seahawk uber-fan, and the man behind greenglare.com, Michael Princip has come up with a concept.
God save us all. Of course, Ricko and I are on opposite ends of this one — Ricko thinks the
snot lime green alt (NOW rumored to be paired with lime green PANTS) would be ‘fun’ while I think it may be “ok” if worn ONLY ONE TIME and then permanently retired (unlike the Browns brown pants). This retina searing getup can only be a blight on the game, in my opinion.
And if you’re all hoping to see this, even once, whether it be with white or “blue” (not quite sure what that color is) pants … Be careful what you wish for. Can you imagine a whole UNIFORM in that color? That could set the earth a-spinning off its axis. Seriously.
OK, that’s going to do it for this week’s “bumper sticker” piece. I’ll be back with Ricko soon to offer some more modest tweaks to some of the other NFL teams. The worst offenders have been fixed. But our work is not yet done. Let us know what you think.
Our man in the street, Jim Vilk brings you his “Top 5” Best and one WORST college football uni matchup from yesterday:
#5: How classic is Notre Dame vs. Michigan? And the game was pretty classic too.
#4: Iowa vs. Iowa State. A lot of yellow, but it works, so let it brighten your day.
#3: USC vs. TOSU. You probably won’t see this matchup in January, so enjoy it now.
#2: PSU vs. Syracuse. Love the contrast of blue and white vs. white and orange.
#1: UCLA vs. Tennessee. Very cool. Don’t change a thing, either one of you.
And the WORST uni matchup is….
Mizzou vs. Bowling Green. All black vs. brown pit stains? Bleah.
Thanks Jim. I’ll make sure to provide dissenters with your E-mail addy on request.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: I’m pretty sure I never gave you this one as a game before. If I did, in advance, I apologize. It’s probably not all that difficult anyway, but you never know. Teams are obvious, stadium should be obvious … all that’s left is determining when the game was played and the final score. As always, use a link Retrosheet or Baseball Almanac to post your guess. And, please let me know if you want to try a “Guess The Game” for football, since the season has now begun (don’t know how that would play out, but we can try it if you’re all up for it). OK? OK. Ready? Guess The Game.
Two words: “Foot Fault”
Whew. We wind down this post with a nice, full-color edition of Benchies. Of course, on ‘opening weekend’ of the NFL, the boys are out on the gridiron. Ricko didn’t fix their unis, tho — they’re fine just as is. So, without further ado, here’s your 11 Panel Sunday Benchies.
That’s a wrap. Are you ready for some football?
If you’re interested in sending me a MLB “uni tweak,” you know what to do. Probably gonna have a post on those I’ve received so far real soon. And, next weekend, all you graphic artists get ready, because we’re gonna have a contest … with an actual prize. So stay tuned. Have a fantastic Sunday everyone.