By Phil Hecken
A little over a year ago I penned a column, For Better … or For Worse?, which took a look at all the NFL redesigns teams underwent during Nike’s take over of the league-wide contract. At the time, there were ten redesigns (Seahawks, Jaguars [twice!], Dolphins, Vikings, Buccaneers, Browns, Lions, Titans and Jets) — while I thought then that most of the redesigns were worse than what they replaced, surprisingly not every team’s overall look was made worse — some were about the same, and a couple actually improved.
Now, “improved” is a relative term because I was grading the unis based on what they replaced, not whether or not the uniform was an all-time improvement or even whether or not it was actually that good a look. So, there were 10 redesigns during Nike’s first eight years — I figured I’d be writing a follow-up to that in another few years. But 2020, as you all know, has featured (a record-setting?) seven teams who underwent redesigns (and perhaps unsurprisingly, two of those were of teams who already underwent a redesign under Nike). Like the Jaguars, you could argue Nike’s original redesign was so bad they had to “fix” it. So, going forward, we can be sure two of the seven redesigns for 2020 have been improvements over what they replaced. What about the other five?
Let’s see how they did:
The Bucs had arguably the worst uniforms in pro football, regardless of the combos, so there was almost no question that whatever replaced them would be superior. That they basically returned to their Supe-winning look was probably no surprise. Yes, many of us, myself included, were hoping for a return to their Bucco Bruce set (or something similar) and were disappointed. I’ve never particularly liked the red/pewter combo, but obviously, what they’ll be wearing in 2020 (?) and beyond is a giant improvement over the digital clock era.
VERDICT: For Better
Let’s get this out of the way, right away: I don’t hate the new uniforms — they’re not great, that’s for sure, and that red/black gradient jersey is brutal, but overall, they’re … well, they’re different. There are some negatives, obviously — the ATL and custom block shadow font leave much to be desired, and look more like a college uni. But I think that’s kinda the vibe they’re going for, and to that extent, well, they succeeded. But I’m willing to give these a chance, and see how they look on the field. And let’s not forget, what they replaced was also one of the worst uniforms in the NFL. Would they have been better served by making the throwbacks the primary (instead of keeping it as their alt/Color Rash for 2020 and beyond)? Of course. But anything that gets rid of those brutal shoulder caps and side panels and side/pants striping that flared at the ends can’t be all bad. Can it?
Perhaps surprisingly, the Patriots didn’t change their uniforms up all that much — but very surprisingly (at least so far) the biggest “change” is the fact that the team will have only two jerseys and ONE pair of pants — and the pants are solid blue (with a fairly normal stripe pattern). That means every time they wear their dark jersey, they’ll have a monochrome look almost identical to their color rash uniform from the past couple seasons. (At least according to photos, they won’t have solid blue socks, but will instead break the look up slightly with low white socks.) I’m willing to bet they will, at some point, add either white or silver pants, but for now, it’s just blue/blue or white/blue. Now, the question is: is this look an improvement over what they previously wore? I always hated the very visible side panel on the white jersey and the more subtle one on the blue jersey, and despite their incredible success while wearing this uni-set, never really thought it was an attractive uniform. And as with the Bucs & Falcs, it would have been fantastic if the team went back to Pat Patriot look, but we’ll have to wait until the “one shell rule” is lifted, possibly as early as 2021 for that. Are the new unis an improvement? Meh. I’d say it’s a definite maybe.
The Colts introduced only the tiniest of changes for 2020, and that’s probably a good thing, as they already had one of the best looking uniforms in the NFL. In fact, if you weren’t paying attention, you might not even have noticed. What even changed? Well, there’s a slightly tweaked logo. The font has been tweaked (and made retro, which is a plus). The MOTB has changed color on the white jersey. The wordmark has changed. But really, this is much more of a “tweak” than a redesign, and that’s a good thing. However, the biggest change is the old-school font, which I love.
VERDICT: For Better
If the Buccaneers didn’t have the worst uniform in the NFL prior to 2020, then the Browns did. So, like the Bucs, there was nowhere to go but up. Everything about the new uniforms, even the brown pants (instead of they much hoped-for orange trou) is fantastic. In fact, there’s even talk the team will still introduce a set of orange pants (they just didn’t show them at the unveiling). It’s not even worth taking up any more space here complaining about how bad their previous set was, and how great this new set is. You’ve got eyes.
VERDICT: For Better
I didn’t hate the Chargers previous uniforms, especially since they moved to powder blue for their primary, and I rather liked their royal blue color rash outfits. So, their new set would have to be something special to be an improvement. Well, they absolutely hit it out of the park (pardon the baseball analogy) with the new set. Their white/blue/gold may be the best looking uni in football! About the only thing of which I’m not a fan is the dark blue alternate (color rash?) — I put a question mark there only because they have a second mono royal uni that is also a color rash uniform. So, the fourth uni is well, to use one of Paul’s favorite descriptors, stupid. But in a 17 game season, we’ll probably only see that dark blue getup once, and I guess I can live with that. The remaining unforms (including but especially the powder & white over gold pants) are outstanding. Well done Nike/LA. This one was worth the wait.
VERDICT: For Better
In order to assess whether these are “for better” or “for worse,” we first have to establish what the Rams prior uni-identity even was. Was it the glorious royal and gold throwbacks … or was it the banana color rash getups? Or was it the mismatched white/blue/metallic gold mashup that seemed to clash with the old school look? Or was it all three? I’d argue that if you took the white jersey/helmet horn look out of the equation, the new unis are decidedly a downgrade, but since they wore those for half (or more) of those games, you can’t really take them out. On the new unis, I hate the gradient numbers and I’m not a huge fan of the bone colored road uniform (which I think they may also wear at home). As Paul has pointed out, the differences between the road and home (or light and dark) unis is stark — almost jarring. I prefer a more cohesive look across the uni-sphere. But I’ll need to see these on the field to render a full verdict. One thing I thought I’d hate, but I actually like, is the new helmet — there was nothing wrong with the old one, but as far as a replacement goes, this one is OK. But let’s not kid ourselves, these could have been so much better. Even if we take the old white unis into account (which were bad), I don’t think this is in any way shape or for an improvement.
VERDICT: For Worse
And there you have it — of course, there’s really one important caveat to all of this, and that is we will need to see how all these unis look on the field of play. Obviously, with the COVID-19 affecting the unveilings (some teams obviously have photoshopped the unis onto players) and none of photos were taken outside on a field. That may temper (good or bad) some of the rankings, but for the most part, I don’t think that would change my opinion all that much. There are still a bunch of teams that can really use a redesign — Top of my head the Cardinals, Bengals, Broncos, Eagles, Vikings, Dolphins and Saints are way overdue — and we may see some of those teams redesign in the next few seasons. By and large, this new batch has been better (or at least better than the uniforms that were replaced), and with the exception of the Rams (and possibly the Falcons), teams have definitely improved or made some headway.
Time for more Uni Tweaks from the UW readership.
I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).
Today’s tweak comes from Art Aranzazu, who has some tweaks for the Arizona Cardinals.
saw the pic and had to render it out. love the site.
OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.
Guess The Game…
from the scoreboard
Today’s scoreboard comes from Will Shoken.
The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).
Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):
Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.
The “BEST OF” Kreindler’s Korner
Hey guys & gals. You’ve enjoyed Kreindler’s Korner for several years now, mostly on the weekends, on Uni Watch, but with the recent coronavirus outbreak, Graig’s time is just too precious and he needs to tend to other things besides coming up with a new writeup each weekend.
So, going forward, for as long as the COVID-19 situation is bad in New York, I’m going to run a few “Best of’s” until Graig returns.
Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):
Title: “Chief Prospect”
Subject: Mickey Mantle, 1951
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 22″ x 28″
This Mickey Mantle painting was a rough one to get through. Obviously the image is pretty instantly recognizable from his famous 1952 Topps card, which still remains one of the baseball card hobby’s most famous issues – undeniably the most popular post-war card in existence. The ubiquity of that image notwithstanding, it was important to make sure that this painting didn’t really look or feel like that treasure on too many levels. I’ve always found that particular set to be a bit too pastel-like and unrealistic in its coloring (especially that yellow bat), so I wanted to make sure the artwork was far away from those hue choices and as close to real-life as possible. I’d made a few color studies of the thing over the last 10 years, and it was only semi-recently that I finally “figured it out”.
The main issue was that the original photograph that I was using as reference was taken with a flash. So, you have that hot Phoenix sun shining down on Mickey, and then a flash bulb lighting him from below and bleeding into those shadows. That combination created some tough problems to sort out, especially since the photography method had all but flattened Mickey’s form out. Everything that as lit from the flash had to be cooler in temperature than what was being lit from the sun, and the photograph kind of exaggerates how bright those shadow planes get (especially in his face). I had to make sure that although he was being lit from two sources, one of them would win out in the overall hierarchy of light. In this case, what was lit artificially stayed a bit deeper in value than I might have originally planned it to, making that flash factor a bit less obvious. As a result, I think his features (as well as those of the bat and jersey) really pop where they should, and at the same time, sit in the space well enough.
And of course, when looking at the painting, one will always think of that famous card, but if he/she can enjoy it on a different unrelated level, then I’ve definitely achieved my goal.
Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.
And now a few words from Paul
Hi there. In case you missed it on Friday, my latest piece for InsideHook features my list of 20 uniforms that should be revived as throwbacks (and have never gotten the throwback treatment before). Check it out here.
• Don’t these cream and grey Brats mockups look nice? Wouldn’t it be fun, just theoretically, if they existed for real? If you agree, let me know.
• The Uni Watch Pin Club’s design for June will launch on Monday. I think you’ll really like it! Meanwhile, we still have some of the May pins left, along with the March, February, and January pins. (Sorry, April is sold out.)
Speaking of which: If you order multiple pins and find yourself getting hit with multiple shipping charges on the one order, go ahead and place the order and then email me — I can arrange for the extra shipping charges to be refunded.
• In case you missed it last week, Uni Watch cufflinks, which usually sell for $26.99, are now just $16.99. Perfect for all those formal events on your busy shelter-in-place social calendar!
• I was about to run out of green seam rippers, but I just got another big shipment from the factory, so I’m well-stocked on all colors.
As always, thanks for listening, and for your consideration.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: The Kalamazoo Growlers have made a major announcement regarding their team name. This year, the Growlers will temporarily re-name themselves the Kalamazoo Mac-Daddies. The team’s new mascot is an angry looking cheese macaroni noodle with a fork. Submitter Brandon Weir adds, “I can’t tell if this is real or a prank.” It’s real. And it’s spectacular. … Scott Chamberlain writes, “Interesting photo taken at the 1978 All Star Game in San Diego. The thing that catches my attention is Willie Stargell has a Stargell Star on his jersey! Never saw that before. Always on the black pillbox caps.”
NFL News: Did you ever wonder why the Eagles “can’t” wear kelly green uniforms? Well, all UWers know the one-shell rule prevents the team from throwing back — so until that’s lifted, we’ll see no kelly green throwbacks from the Eagles. … Pretty interesting article here on the 1962 Broncos, who that season ditched their brown/gold unis, and began wearing blue and orange for the first time. … The Green Bay Packers are one of just a handful of teams who should never change uniforms, but this article does feature an interesting uni concept for the team. … Check the face mask on Terry Bradshaw! He’s wearing it during a 1978 preseason game in Dallas, says Ian Tisdale
College/High School Football News: The Uniform Funding Foundation, a nonprofit also called “TUFF,” is helping to fund youth and high school athletic teams with new uniforms (from Jason Hillyer). Key quote from that article, “You shouldn’t have to wear ripped up old 15-year-old uniforms.” … Georgia Southern in 1924 changed name to Georgia Normal School when school’s mission was directed towards training teachers. The great Blaise D’Sylva notes, “Hence this helmet (L) from ’24-’41 (they dropped FB until ’84). Replicated in ’13 for 1 game (R).” … When Al Del Greco kicked the winning field goal in the 1984 Sugar Bowl against Michigan, he did so wearing an old-school single-bar facemask on his helmet.The classic facemask was still colored grey which didn’t match the orange masks his teammates (from Clint Richardson).
Hockey News: Did you ever wonder why the Capitals’ jerseys have three stars on them? It’s probably not what you thought: The three stars on the current Capitals jersey represent the three jurisdictions: Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. … The Henderson SilverKnights (a new AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights) have unveiled their logo (from RJ Waddell). They’ll begin play (COVID-pending) in 2020-21. Here’s a bit more on the team.
NBA/College Hoops News: Caitlyn, then Bruce Jenner was drafted by the basketball Kings and sported a rare 4 digit number (from Steve Dodell). Here’s a bit more on that. The article doesn’t mention it, but the reason he was given “8614” is because at the time, he set the world-record score of 8,618 points in the Decathlon during the 1976 Summer Olympic games. … Reddit user u/toms47 is making neat flags for all the D-I universities (from Jeremy Baker).
Soccer News: Charlotte will join Austin FC in becoming the 27th and 28th teams to compete in MLS beginning next season. The league will then welcome Sacramento and St. Louis in 2022, bringing MLS to 30 clubs. The Charlotte club will announce its name in June (from Wade Heidt). … Yesterday, US Intenational midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband with “Justice for George” enscribed during the German Bundesliga game to honor memory of George Floyd (from our own Anthony Emerson and Josh Hinton). … Bournemouth will be without a shirt advertiser when the Premier League resumes (from Ed Żelaski). … Vfl Wolfsburg wore their “Vielfalt” (diversity) jerseys (rainbow VW logo/rainbow “Vielfalt” on back of the neck) vs Eintracht Frankfurt yesterday (from a҉j҉z҉y҉).
Grab Bag: Check out this fun article here with some interesting history on various high school team nicknames (from Brandon Weir). … Pretty cool NYT article here entitled, “Elon Musk’s SpaceX Suit Is Like a Tuxedo for the Starship Enterprise,” (from Tommy Turner). The astronaut suits were made, despite having the NASA logo, by SpaceX and, as we anticipated 4 years ago, they were designed by a Mexican-American who specializes in making uniforms for movie superheroes. … “I think you may have covered this in the past, but Vernon Hills High School in Illinois uses a slightly modified Van Halen logo for its athletic teams with permission from the band,” writes Peter Fahey. “This current story from ESPN has a photo of a young athlete from Vernon Hills and it reminded me of the connection to the rock legends.” … Here’s kind of a fun article on the history of the New Zealand jersey. … The National Safety Council, an NGO, has updated its logo (from James Gilbert).
And finally… That’s it for this fine last Sunday in the Month of May, 2020. Once again, looks like there have been some major protest events in a lot of our major cities, and I just hope each and every Uni Watcher is staying safe. Have a good week and I’ll catch you next weekend.