By Phil Hecken
I’m back with my CFL partner today, Mike Styczen, who you’ll recall penned an article earlier this summer on the CFL — we warned you at the time the league would be introducing new third (alternate) uniforms throughout the course of the season, and halfway through, they’re halfway through introducing the new threads. (There are nine teams in the CFL now, with the Ottawa Redblacks being added this year — but eight total unveilings, because the BC Lions, in the gunmetal gray, introduced their third jersey last season.)
Thus far, four new uniforms have been released, but only two have seen the field of play, which you’ll see below. The remaining four will be introduced over the next few weeks, and we’ll be back with a “part 2” of the new looks once the remainder are revealed. (Special thanks to Lucas Barrett for his assistance with this piece!).
Here’s Mike to give you his rundown of the new duds:
CFL Third Uniforms, Part I
By Mike Styczen
Back on June 28th, I previewed this season’s CFL uniforms. At that time, I mentioned that there wasn’t really anything new in the CFL this year at that time, but that the commissioner of the league had promised “stunning new third uniforms” for 2014.
Well, four teams have now unveiled those “stunning new third uniforms” and they are . . . something.
According to the league, the new “Signature Uniforms” are bold, exciting, innovative … “Each one tells a story about its team, what that team stands for, and the fans who stand with it.” The league says that the new sets will be worn twice this year, and into next year.
One thing that’s interesting about the signature jerseys is that of the four released so far this year, three have VERY large logos front and centre (Saskatchewan being the exception) – reminiscent of hockey jerseys.
Football jerseys are an interesting piece of fan merchandise: I can go out and buy a hockey jersey off the rack and not get it customized and it looks just fine. But football jerseys look stupid off the rack without customization. In the CFL in particular, the rosters are very transient, there aren’t a lot of big stars, fans are reluctant to customize jerseys – and the result is that not a lot of jerseys get sold. By putting a big team logo on the front, my guess is that Reebok is trying to produce a jersey that looks good without customization and that can be worn anywhere in order to sell jerseys to more than just the hardcore fans.
On to the actual product (click any image to enlarge):
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been known as the Green Riders for as long as I can remember, long after the need to distinguish them from their eastern cousins went away. This design sure takes the green to the next level.
“Fast, bold and exciting, this new jersey captures the spirit and energy of this great province and its fans. The new design uses traditional Rider green as its core but highlights that iconic colour with a new blitz green!”
This set has everything, including a new flavour of green called “blitz green”. Good grief. I can’t even list the things this set has other than in point form (and I might have missed some):
• new helmets with a “wheat” pattern that looks like a watermelon
• a facemask with a gradient from white at the top to “blitz green” at the bottom
• white numbers with a wheat pattern in black gradient
• black pants with a green stripe, also with a gradient wheat pattern
• green socks with some sort of pattern I can’t decipher
• gloves that make the usual “S” logo
• a variety of green and “blitz green” stripes and wheat patterns on the jersey
• the usual “S” logo at the bottom of the back of the jersey, tramp-stamp style
• the words “I am Rider Nation” inside the back collar
Its almost impossible to critically review this set. Any one feature might be interesting on its own ”“ the gradient on the facemask is innovative and looks OK, the helmet on its own is not terrible, but was it necessary to load in every design feature they could think of? Did nobody at the table (for Reebok, the league or the team) say “no, that’s too much”.
If you like the current Seattle Seahawks set but said “not enough going on”, this is the set for you.
The team wore the new set in their win over Montreal this weekend.
There’s a lot to like about the Argos’ new look. It sticks to their primary colour palette of double-blue and white. The Argos were one of the pioneers of using a logo on the front of the jersey in the 1990s, I think that the use of their old-school serif “A” logo is a nice touch. Using their existing shield-A logo on the helmet, the top of the back, and the pants is also a good look. The double blue numbers are also nicely done.
I don’t love the “pull together” slogan inside the collar. The saying apparently harkens back to their founding as a rowing club, but I’ve never heard anyone connected with the team use those words before. Just like you can’t give yourself a nickname, you can’t give yourself a slogan and expect anyone to take it seriously.
The only real complaint is the weird gradient stripe that encompasses the whole of the jersey top-to-bottom. If it were a single colour it wouldn’t bother me, but gradient just keeps drawing my eye up and down and distracting me from some of the really nice features on this set. There’s a similar stripe on the pants that doesn’t bother me as much.
The Argos wore these in their loss to B.C. this weekend.
The Lions pioneered the “Signature Uniforms” last year. I said last year that I liked them then, and I still like them.
Monochrome gun-metal grey, matte grey helmets, lots of orange trim. I think it’s a great look. The biggest criticism I hear is that the numbers are hard to see (black numbers on grey uniforms highlighted with bright orange).
As mentioned, the Lions wore these last year and wore them again this weekend to beat the Lions.
We have a thing in Canada called the Kenora Dinner Jacket. I used to live near Kenora, I’ve owned a couple in my life, they can be warm and comfortable and I have worn mine to dinner on occasion. But I have never said to myself “hey, this would make a great template for a football uniform”.
Well, whoever designed the REDBLACKS (that appears to be their actual name) signature jersey came to the opposite conclusion, using the plaid look for the sleeves and the helmet. It also looks like there’s some plaid on the sides of the jersey and the pants. The design of the plaid itself incorporates the team’s “sawtooth” motif into the edges of the stripes.
Like the Argos, they’re also using the primary logo on the front of the jersey. This is a good look, that I didn’t notice until my second pass through the photos because the use of plaid was so … captivating? Also on the plus side, the jersey is red and the helmet is predominantly red (a good look on a team that doesn’t have enough red in its primary set).
Like the green Riders, either you buy into this idea or you don’t, and nothing I can say will make any difference. Bonus marks for innovation, especially for a new team without much of an identity following in the footsteps of two failed teams. If they adopt lumberjack plaid as their brand, they might have a better chance at winning over a city that’s justifiably skeptical of another CFL team.
These haven’t been worn on the field yet. They’ll wear them on Sunday when they host Calgary.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Blue Bombers released their new look on Tuesday afternoon. The team had previously unveiled the helmet, so the primary look of this set was not a surprise.
What do you notice about this set?
The big “W” on the chest is nice – like Toronto, this set makes good use of the iconic Winnipeg logo. Beyond that, there’s not much to love here. Camo covering the entire helmet, the shoulders and side panels, absolutely everything else dark blue.
Unlike the other teams that have unveiled so far, there’s nothing about this set that says “Winnipeg”. There’s no gold! The other sets look at least somewhat like the primary sets. The Argos, Roughriders, REDBLACKS still look like those teams – the Bombers could be any high school anywhere.
As an aside:
1. While searching for pictures of the helmet reveal on the internet, Google’s related images included a weather map of a hurricane, some sort of giant weapon, and a car crash. Kind of appropriate.
2. I’m reminded of the Jeff Reinebold era (1995ish) in Winnipeg. A new coach came in and changed the uniform, got rid of the old logo, got rid of most of the gold (including the gold helmets) without realizing that even though the team is called the Blue Bombers, the gold is much more iconic for this team, and most fans feel a much stronger connection to the gold. I don’t expect this one to do very well.
[Phil here — the Bombers new helmets were revealed Monday, and if you check out the video, you can see they’re less than thrilled.]
Here’s the video reveal for the jerseys/unis:
Thanks, Mike! Great stuff, as always!
OK, that concludes our first look at the new 3rds for the league up north. As mentioned above, we’ll be back once the final four uniforms and helmets are revealed. Until then, let’s discuss.
Golden Domers Fighting Irish of Notre Dame released their new uniforms (as well as their special one-offs) for the 2014 season, their first under UnderArmour. Many traditionalists were expecting the “worst,” but as you’ll see, the new uniforms look very much like the old ones.
UW’s Notre Dame guy, Warren Junium had the best shots of the new uni. Also, at the end of this section, I have a slideshow of photos Warren took at the unveiling (plus the obligatory link to the album), AND his take on the new unis. Make sure you check those out as well!
— Warren Junium, III (@wcjirish) August 19, 2014
— Warren Junium, III (@wcjirish) August 19, 2014
— Warren Junium, III (@wcjirish) August 19, 2014
Notre Dame’s new duds are navy blue (home) or white (road) jerseys with gold pants. They look almost identical to what the team has been wearing — and that’s a pretty fine look. Not really much to say (except *whew*).
OK — here’s Mr. Junium’s take:
“For a company well known for its extreme uniforms, Under Armour showed incredible restraint and respect for the Notre Dame football uniform tradition with their 2014 home and away designs. The blue of the home jersey is a rich navy, while the gold of the pant doesn’t sparkle like those of the Holtz years, it doesn’t come close to the brown gold made famous by Adidas. The ND Monogram on the sleeves is well proportioned and along with the numerals, appears to be constructed of a thick, printed material sewn to the jersey. Same material is used for the Monogram on the pants. The belt on the pants is interesting, plastic clasp. (Is this a new design?). Overall, great first effort by UA. Go Irish!”
Here’s the slideshow of Warren’s photos from yesterday:
If can’t see the slideshow (or just want to view the album), click here.
Now, yesterday, UA and ND also released the “Shamrock Series” uniforms. They’re a bit more, shall we say, less traditional.
— Brad Doughty (@TheRowdyDoughty) August 19, 2014
— Joe Mueller (@j_mueller36) August 19, 2014
A few things of interest here. First off, they’ll be wearing a mono-blue uniform. The blue pants will have a slightly horizontal gold stripe just above the knee, with the left leg bearing the words “Notre Dame” on it. The sleeves will have gold shoulder insets with the interlocking “ND” logo, and the collar will have gold trim.
There is also (the obligatory) new helmet for the game. The new helmet seems to have more of a matte finish than the current (very shiny) dome, features the interlocking “ND” (for the first time ever on a helmet), a blue stripe & facemask, and has a slight cross-hatch pattern:
Wild by Notre Dame’s regular uniform standards, but somewhat staid compared to the previous Shamrock Series uniforms.
Here’s the “story” behind the new uniforms:
I’m a big fan of the “new” (old) uniforms, and I don’t particularly mind the new Shamrock Series unis — although I don’t like the monoblue look. But compared to what they could have introduced, I’d say UA’s new partnership with Notre Dame is off to a pretty good start.
Readers? What say you?
for the Ticker
Two items for “TGFTT” today. The first is an e-mail from Jonathan Dies, who writes:
I was at a charity event this weekend and I ran into a guy who was trying to make a movie about the Akron Vulcans. They were a team in the Continental Football League, some kind of start up league in the 60’s. His dad was a player and he had his uniform and helmet. Attached are the pics I could get.
Here are Jon’s photos (click to enlarge):
Next is just a note, in follow-up to yesterday’s post on the WFL. It’s too good not to share, and it comes from Jimmy Corcoran
I saw your WFL story today, brings back a lot of memories. I saw every WFL team play in person except the Americans because they didn’t come to Philadelphia. My father was the QB for the Bell and Steve Sabol featured me in his Lost Treasures film the WFL
Everybody always talks about how wild the Sun uniforms were, I thought I would share this story with you. The Sun came to play the Bell in 1974 and since the Bell wore white at home the Sun would be wearing their magenta jersey’s with the orange pants, until this day we had only seen them in the game programs.
My father and some of his teammates were warming in in their jerseys and pants with no shoulder pads when the Sun came out to warm up, the uniforms were actually more vibrant in person. The Bell players actually stopped warming up to stare at the Sun players coming out. My father (King Corcoran) said man, those are the wildest uniforms I have ever seen! he looked at me and said, what do you think Jimbo? I said I liked them and he said “Yea, the King digs them too” this was 1974 and the King spoke in true 70’s lingo.
Great story, Jimmy. Thanks for sharing!
OK, now onto the ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Check out this Kevin Brown Christmas ornament in the rare alternate best style road jersey that submitter Allen Yelent doesn’t think they ever wore (full listing). … “A couple of weeks ago there was a huge segment on the Cubs road, light blue pinstripe uniforms from 1978,” writes Kenny Kaplan. “I thought you might enjoy seeing the cover of the Mets 1978 Yearbook which shows the Cubs wearing the solid light-blue road uniforms from 1977.” Wow — I had that yearbook, but didn’t remember the cover. Great find! … Oooohhh, check out this great stuff from the Phillies ‘Blue Jays’ rebranding experiment of the 40’s (big thanks to Bruce Menard. … More from Bruce: check out this 1930’s Kansas City Monarchs Night Baseball Broadside, and this 1914 Boston Red Sox Team Panoramic (100 years ago yesterday — Fenway Park Boston – August 19, 1914). To see full-size image click here. … Nice spot by Dwight Ternes, who noticed that Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon appears to have on the wrong pair of pants. … “This is the last year for our minor league park, Greer Stadium,” writes Lee David Wilds. “Here is the t-shirt they are giving away Thursday night.”
NFL News: “Noticed the other night watching the Titans-Saints preseason game that Jake Locker has switched the type of jersey he wears from really tight on the arm, to loose like many QBs do,” says Eric Wright. Here’s a picture from last year (tight), and one from this year. Nice spot!
College Football News: Davidson, which competes in the Pioneer Football League, a non-scholarship FCS conference, unveiled new uniforms (and helmets) before preseason camp, (thanks to Mark Brambaugh). Here is a link to the unveiling to the team. Mark adds, “I’ll note, freshmen were on the stage, so that’s why they look more confused than excited. It was their first team meeting.” … Eric Wright points out that the nose bumper on the new ASU “Desert Fuel” uniforms, as well as the collar patch, honors Pat Tillman. “Check out the PT*42 on both!!!!! A minor detail that went unmentioned in a lot of the articles I’ve read about the new uniform,” he adds. … Here’s a photo of the new ACC logo going down at the University of North Carolina (h/t James Gilbert). … Well, that didn’t last long: Yesterday, we reported that USF planned to wear “THE TEAM” on the back of its football jerseys. Now they won’t (thanks, Paul). … Interesting to note that Notre Dame told Under Armour honcho Kevin Plank not to attend yesterday’s unveiling because they expected lots of questions about the recent academic scandal (thanks, Paul).
NBA & NCAA News: This is kinda cool/odd. Brent Hatfield writes, “Interesting find here, one of the other concepts you featured in your ESPN column has apparently been put into production by the Chinese bootleggers. Check it out!” … Northern Illinois has a new basketball court design (thanks to Jake [@c_r_fap]).
Did the Tampa Bay Lightning leak their new third? According to Hockey Bay, “3rd Jersey Leak? Rumor has it the team will reintroduce a black jersey into their repertoire with a new alternate jersey. This is welcome news to fans who criticized the rebrand’s lack of black.” Apparently it’s all a fake. A photoshop. And a bad one at that. Too bad, because it didn’t look awful.
Soccer News: Rare case of BNFBS? Laurence Holland writes, “In Champions League action Tuesday, Turkish team Besiktas went all-black in memory of their former chairman SÃ¼leyman Seba, who passed away this week. (Here’s their first-choice kit for comparison.) Arsenal wore their traditional red and white, but with black armbands. I wonder if they decided not to wear their garish “cup kit” out of respect.”
Grab Bag: “Good Grief!” exclaims Brinke. “How is this for a collectible? — Imagine if this were to happen in this day and age at say Wrigley Field. I’ve never heard of this incident. How fascinating.” (item originally submitted by Frank Bitzer). … Interesting band uniforms for Clemson (via Joseph Tanner)and for Central Michigan (via Zach Liles). … From Brinke this: “Tech Companies’ Secret Weapon: Animal Logos”. Still more from the Brinke truck: ExxonMobil’s claim that cable TV’s FXX Network is diluting its trademark by interlocking the X’s in a logo has been allowed to proceed.
And that’s going to do it for this fine Wednesday. Another tiny post in the books. Thanks to Mike Styczen for his help with the CFL thirds, Warren Junium for all the great Notre Dame photos, and all you fine submitters and readers. You guys have a great Wednesday.
TOMORROW will be a pretty big day, as we’ll be announcing the new WFL uniform design contest and Paul will have a pretty sweet new ESPN column, among other things. So be sure to check back then. OK? OK!
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Not uni related, but an equipment story from the (W)FL. Shreveport wideout Phil Eber, playing in damn near a monsoon … taped thumbtacks to all ten of his fingertips. Was catching everything he touched. Game officials decided to take a close look and discovered his digital chicanery.”
— Rick “Ricko” Pearson (Welcome back, Ricko!)