Are the Lions Getting Ready to Ditch the Black?

Since 2003, the Detroit Lions’ official team logo has had a black outline, but that appears to be changing. As readers Yasser Khan and PJ Kuzdal noticed last night, the black outline has been removed from the logo on the Lions’ home page. The avatars for the team’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages are also black-free. (The new avatar is shown at right.) These pages show a new wordmark font as well. All of this seems in keeping with the team’s stated plans to update their look for the 2017 season.

If those changes include ditching the black, it would be a major improvement. Black was needlessly added to the team’s visual program in 2003 by then-GM Matt Millen, who was looking to evoke the feel of his old days playing for the Raiders — a classic BFBS move that has never felt like a good fit.

I have a hectic day on tap, but I’ll try to get in touch with the Lions this morning to see if I can learn more. Stay tuned.

Update: The Lions are already selling merch with the new wordmark and the black-free logo, so this appears to be a go:

Additional update: The Lions have confirmed that they’re ditching the black. Here’s the statement they issued this afternoon (click to enlarge):

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Prepping for the Supe: With Super Bowl LI now just five days away, my annual Uni Watch Super Bowl column will be running on ESPN, with lots of uni-centric facts and figures about the Pats, the Falcons, and the Supe itself (including the time five years ago when Pats offensive lineman Logan Mankins had a mustache drawn on his Flying Elvis helmet logo, as shown above; you can refresh your memory on that episode here). Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News:  New number assignments for the Mariners (from Tim Dunn). …  The Brewers have announced their 2017 promotions schedule. Among the  highlights is a zubaz-print hoodie (from  Adam Vitcavage). …  This business in San Jose poached the Cubs’ logo (from  Ethan Kassel). …  The Hanshin Tigers of the Central League in Japan have new alternate uniforms (from  @BigDaddy45). …  Chance  works for a Native American tribe in Oklahoma, and spotted this Cardinals beaded bracelet at an art show.

NFL News: According to this photo, the negative space in Super Bowl patches this year isn’t really dead space. It’s still covered in clear material (from  Matt Fedorka). … Interesting take on the Falcons’ and Pats’ helmets in this online ad (from Johnny). … Weird that these racing helmets have backwards Pats and Falcons logos (from Dell Michaels). …  The Ravens are making some upgrades to their stadium (from  Mark Johnson). …  With youth football participation declining due to parental concerns about concussions and other injuries, USA Football is making some changes to make youth tackle football more like flag football. The changes include having fewer players on the field, a smaller field size, and the elimination of kickoffs and punts. … Lots of awesome old Falcons photos in this gallery (from Ronnie Poore). …  Here’s something you don’t often see: a kicker wearing No. 25 kicking off to a return man wearing No. 8. That’s Jim Bakken of the Cardinals kicking to Vince Evans of the Bears in a 1977 game. “Evans was then a rookie third-string QB behind Bob Avellini and Mike Phipps,” says Scott Mason. “His had a contract stated that he would play no other position than quarterback unless asked. When the Bears made him their third-stringer, they asked if he’d return kicks, and he said yes.”

Hockey News:  The Laval Rocket will begin playing in the AHL next season as a Canadiens affiliate. Their new uniforms are heavy on the Habs connections. … The Albany Devils  are moving to Binghamton, so Dick Holbrook  took a shot at designing them a new logo. …  New uniforms for the Coast Guard Academy (from Sean). … Rutgers wore military appreciation jerseys the other night (from Steven Woj). …  All players wore No. 14 during warmups in the AHL All Star game in honor of Craig Cunningham, who collapsed on the bench during a game earlier this year (from  Stephen Whyno). … Nico Hischier’s NOB was misspelled on his CHL All-Star Game jersey (from James Lambert). …  A documentary about the California Seals is set to be released on Feb. 6 (from  Ted Arnold). … Penguins equipment manager Dana Heinze has a cool goalie mask collection that’s currently on display at the team’s arena (from Jerry Wolper).

NBA News:  Stance has new socks for the NBA All-Star game. …  The rest of these are from Zach Loesl: The Pelicans and Raptors went color-vs.-color last night, with the Raptors wearing their Chinese New Year uniforms. … The Rockets also wore Chinese New Year unis last night. … Juancho Hernangomez of the Nuggets has an accent on his NOB.

College Hoops News: Color-on-color alert: Maryland (yellow) at Ohio State (grey) last night (from  Steven Gong). … Meanwhile, Mississippi and Mississippi State went black vs. grey (from Matt Barnthouse).

Grab Bag:  Holy Cross teams will honor players with outstanding academic achievement with a patch (from  Michael W. Philbrick). ….  Under Armour’s stock price took a beating yesterday due to lower-than-expected earnings reports. Key quote from company founder Kevin Plank: “We need to become more fashion.” Remember, three years until UA takes over MLB’s uniform contract (from Brinke). … This overhead footage of a bowling pinsetting machine is mesmerizing (from  Brian Schmidtke). …  Andrew Evans  took a stab at redesigning  Oregon State  football’s  look. … The Tampa Bay Rowdies got literal with their expansion pitch to the MLS (from  Jeremy Brahm).

69 comments to Are the Lions Getting Ready to Ditch the Black?

  • Jon | February 1, 2017 at 7:58 am |

    Looks like the instagram logo has been changed too.

    • Paul Lukas | February 1, 2017 at 8:02 am |

      Thanks. I’ve updated the text.

  • BurghFan | February 1, 2017 at 8:00 am |

    “The Albany Devils are moving to Birmingham” Binghamton

    • Dick Holbrook | February 1, 2017 at 11:10 am |

      Albany Devils are moving to Binghamton. It’s a lot closer than Birmingham.

      • Paul Lukas | February 1, 2017 at 12:47 pm |

        Fixed, and my bad for not catching it when I edited Alex’s copy.

  • Oakville Endive | February 1, 2017 at 8:01 am |

    I think the Albany Devils are moving to Binghamton as opposed to Birmingham.

  • Peter | February 1, 2017 at 8:02 am |

    Cunningham collapsed on the ice prior to the face-off, not the bench:

  • DenverGregg | February 1, 2017 at 8:05 am |

    Neither of the orange and black OSU teams should be redesigned. They’re both among the best out there these days.

  • WFY | February 1, 2017 at 8:13 am |

    The Lions BFBS trim never bothered me too much, but the current number font is un

    • Eric Romain | February 1, 2017 at 11:25 am |

      The trim on the jerseys is bad, but the black facemasks are awful.

      • Chris Weber | February 1, 2017 at 12:13 pm |


  • WFY | February 1, 2017 at 8:14 am |

    The Lions BFBS trim never bothered me too much, but the current number font is unbecoming of an old line NFL team.

  • Shiveringtim | February 1, 2017 at 8:16 am |
  • Rob S | February 1, 2017 at 8:18 am |

    The Lions’ wordmark is different on those sites as well from what it’s been since 2009.

    • Jon | February 1, 2017 at 8:32 am |

      It absolutely is. Looks ‘nested’ like the Vikings’ numbers too.

    • Andrew Harrington | February 1, 2017 at 9:16 am |

      It’s also dreadful. The old one was overdone in its own right, but it was nicely overdone and skillfully drawn for the most part. This one is clumsy in every regard.

  • boxcarvibe | February 1, 2017 at 8:33 am |

    This business in San Jose poached the Cubs’ logo (from Ethan Kassel)

    Poached? How ’bout stole!

  • John H. | February 1, 2017 at 8:49 am |

    The Seals doc has been in the works for a while. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Thanks for posting!

  • Dumb Guy | February 1, 2017 at 8:56 am |

    One of the old Falcons photos has grease-pencil crop marks on it.

    I don’t know why I love that so much.

  • Todd | February 1, 2017 at 9:03 am |

    I thought it had been known that the Lions were thinking about updating their uniforms soon.

    • Paul Lukas | February 1, 2017 at 9:15 am |

      Good call. I mistakenly thought they were looking at 2018. I’ll add that to the text.

  • Eric | February 1, 2017 at 9:16 am |

    Here is a screenshot of the change on the opening page of the Lions official app.

  • Eltee of DC | February 1, 2017 at 9:22 am |


    Apparently not stylish enough for the Walmart bargain bin after all. Again not shocking news to the Uni Verse – see U of Maryland abominations, Bloody flag unis and just about anything else that comes out of their “design” teams minds.

    What is interesting is how they are going to “fashion up” their hideous line of athletic wear especially after NIKE poached their one successful (profit I mean – the shoe sucks – Curry does not) shoe star designer…

  • Scott Mason | February 1, 2017 at 9:34 am |

    Can’t believe I missed this when I sent it to Paul. The Cardinals were busy on that drive leading to the kickoff. A typo in the drive summary says “Number of lays.” How did I miss that?

    • Rob S | February 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm |

      *insert joke about promiscuous NFLers in the 1970s*

      • Dumb Guy | February 1, 2017 at 12:42 pm |

        Remember, that was the team with Mel “50 shades of” Gray.


  • Omar Jalife | February 1, 2017 at 9:35 am |


    Also, funny that Juancho’s brother, Willy, who plays in NY doesn’t use the accent on his jersey

    • Paul Lukas | February 1, 2017 at 9:40 am |


  • Gusto4044 | February 1, 2017 at 9:36 am |

    Youth football participation may have declined, but globally, it’s increasing, and that’s good news. The Vikings drafted a German player in the fourth round of last year’s NFL Draft.

    Something you very rarely hear about is the dangers of other youth sports. Concussions have soared 1,600 percent over the last 25 years in youth soccer.

    • ThePonchat | February 1, 2017 at 11:06 am |

      Oh, the “soccer crowd” definitely hears of the concussion numbers/increases.

  • HtG | February 1, 2017 at 9:39 am |

    Seems NBA’s All-Star Game socks have a hive pattern, guess they didn’t change the design

  • Paul Lukas | February 1, 2017 at 9:54 am |

    Update: The Lions are already selling merch with the new wordmark and the black-free logo:

    • Paul Lukas | February 1, 2017 at 9:55 am |

      That’s it for me this morning. Off to the doctor’s office!

      • Rob S | February 1, 2017 at 10:36 am |

        Good luck with that. Hopefully it’ll be all aces!

    • Tim | February 1, 2017 at 12:54 pm |

      The Lions have updated the website with the new wordmark and logo; still BFBS pictures. But that raises the question of helmet stripes. The were black/white/blue. Do they return to a classic 2 color stripe look? No Stripe?

  • Mike Monaghan | February 1, 2017 at 10:15 am |

    What makes the logos on the racing helmets “backwards”? The logo appears that way on both football helmets, I understand what you’re saying but are almost all NFL logos used facing both ways. The only team whose logo actually changes from one side of the helmet to the other is the Ravens. (Save me the Steelers rhetoric).

    • Rob S | February 1, 2017 at 10:43 am |

      While the logos may be mirrored on the helmets (and uniforms if on the shoulders/sleeves), there is still only one official primary logo, and the mirrored one is only used on helmets/uniforms.

      In fact, of all the NFL teams that have primary logos that “face” one direction, only one of them has a left-facing logo, and it’s a team that doesn’t even use it on their helmets – the Philadelphia Eagles. Every other team (including the Patriots and Falcons) have right-facing official primary logos.

      Having the logo face one direction on all applications outside of the helmets and uniforms themselves keeps the team identity consistent.

      • Andrew Harrington | February 1, 2017 at 2:12 pm |

        Most teams actually have rules about which way the logo faces in certain circumstances. They normally face “in” when placed on the chest, and “out” when placed on the hip, to avoid “sniffing” the armpit or crotch.

    • Hawk | February 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm |

      Was going to mention the Ravens in regards to the ESPN column mentioning that this is the 4th year in a row that the left and right sides of both Super Bowl team’s helmets are mirror images of each other. The Ravens played in Super Bowl 47 (5 years ago) and the “B” in their bird logo isn’t mirrored on both sides of the helmet. It’s always facing the “correct” way so you can read it on either side. Always found that kind of interesting, and glad you guys got that one right!

  • Robert Eden | February 1, 2017 at 11:18 am |

    It took far too long, but kudos to the Lions for making the fix. I will finally be able to watch one of their games without wincing again.

  • Eric Romain | February 1, 2017 at 11:28 am |

    I wonder if the Lions black WCF perma-memorial patch will remain, and will it stay black?

    • Rob S | February 1, 2017 at 12:29 pm |

      I sincerely hope it goes away.

      I don’t think anybody should be permanently memorialized on a uniform – there are plenty of other ways for teams to do so – but the only two NFL owners I’m willing to bend on that for are George Halas and Lamar Hunt, only because they had an impact on the NFL far beyond their own teams. They were game changers. William Clay Ford, Sr. was not a game changer like Halas or Hunt were.

  • mild bill | February 1, 2017 at 12:29 pm |

    Thought the link to stadium upgrades for the Ravens would provide some detail…instead it is a vague tweet.

    What are the proposed “serious” upgrades? More importantly, who has the privilege of paying for the upgrades? I am guessing the valued tax payers, surely not the Ravens.

  • Tim | February 1, 2017 at 12:44 pm |

    Playoffs for the Lions this year…

    Let’s see if removing BFBS from the Lions for next year will make them better…

  • Yosef Coleman | February 1, 2017 at 1:12 pm |

    The Albany Devils are moving to Binghamton, not Birmingham. Replacing the senators who are moving to Bellvelle.

  • Special K | February 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm |

    Interestingly, the Lions didn’t remove the outline from their logo, they changed its color from black to silver. The logo that they used from 1970-2002 had a blue outline.
    This outline was changed to black in 2003, but now it’s being changed to silver.

    • Andrew Harrington | February 1, 2017 at 2:17 pm |

      I would presume the silver outline will only be included on white or dark backgrounds, thus the logo will essentially be blue with a white outline when placed on silver, as it was on the helmet for decades.

      Truth be told, though, If their silver is bright enough, they don’t need much, if any white. I love their old Thanksgiving throwbacks. Put some stripes on the pants, jersey, socks, wherever, and put a solid blue lion on the helmet. Done.

  • Adam Foxman | February 1, 2017 at 1:42 pm |

    The Lions font is updated as well

  • Brent | February 1, 2017 at 2:21 pm |

    Hopefully the Lions didn’t spend a bunch of money on focus groups and garbage like that. They could save alot of money and just go with the Barry Sanders era unis.

    • Wade Heidt | February 1, 2017 at 3:08 pm |

      And break out the Honolulu blue pants on the road from time to time.

      • Rob S | February 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm |

        The blue pants made Barry retire!

        Okay, not really, but still, I never thought the blue pants looked right. Probably because, aside from the Bo McMillan era (1948-50, long before my time), they’ve had silver pants since day one in Detroit.

  • Ian | February 1, 2017 at 3:06 pm |

    Can you please run a Lions Redesign Contest?

  • Rob S | February 1, 2017 at 3:28 pm |

    Paul, just realized something missed in the Super Bowl rundown… this is the first time since Nike’s current deal took effect that neither team in the game will be wearing the dreaded Nikelace collar!

    • Paul Lukas | February 1, 2017 at 8:08 pm |

      Actually, as already noted here a few weeks ago, it was the first time that none of the four conference championship contenders had the Nikelace!

      • Rob S | February 2, 2017 at 4:03 am |

        Huh, must’ve missed that bit. But yeah, I realize that now.

  • Graf Zeppelin | February 1, 2017 at 5:02 pm |

    I actually liked the black-trimmed Millen-era uniforms (BFBS alternates excluded); I know I’m in the minority. The black trim resembled what the Jets did in 1990; again, BFBS alts excluded, it was very subtle and sharp.

    That said, if they go back to the early-’80s design with the silver block numerals, I’m totally for it.

  • David Byrne | February 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm |

    As long as the Lions are in today’s spotlight, I contend (but I haven’t done any research) that the current version of the Lions’ Honolulu Blue is not the same hue as the Barry Sanders-era-and-prior teams. I believe those older teams had a slightly more powderish-blue than current. It was nowhere near the color of the old Houston Oilers, but I’m convinced it was lighter than the current version, which seems closer to royal blue. Am I crazy?

    • Jon B. | February 1, 2017 at 8:22 pm |

      You may be crazy, but the current shade of blue seems quite different than it was in the past–and not in a good way. I’ve wondered if it was decision by the team to go darker or if a uniform manufacturer pushed them to do so.