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:
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
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?
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
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
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
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
LOS ANGELES RAMS
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.
Uni Concepts & Tweaks
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.
• Remember that you can save a 15% on all of the pins, and on everything else in the Uni Watch Shop and the Naming Wrongs Shop, by using the checkout code COMMUNITY.
• 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.
• Don’t forget about the awesome Uni Watch chain-stitched patches, hand-made for us by the great Amy Bengtson!
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.
For better or for worse – and two of them are “push”! C’mon – choose a side! I think both of those are barely “For the Better”.
Scoreboard: Sept 29,1961, first of a doubleheader. O’s won 1-0. Maris had walked in top of 1st, batter was Elston Howard, who also walked. Skowron hit into a DP to end the threat. Whitey Ford lost only his 4th game of the year.
Oops, was Sept 19th.
One additional comment about that game: Roger Maris was at 58 home runs with only a couple of games remaining until the 154-game “barrier” to break or tie Babe Ruth’s 60 home run record. He only had a base hit in the doubleheader that day but he would hit home run #59 the following day.
With their new uniforms, I would put the Cleveland Browns in the upper echelon of NFL uniforms now (I am not counting the Color Rash one).
Traditional style striping on jerseys and pants. The striping on the brown socks and no leotard look. No big lettering on the front. Minor changes to the classic look to make it a distinct uniform from past ones. I think the striping on the brown pants works well with the striping on the white jerseys and white socks.
Patriots and Falcons should be on the “for worse” side of the ledger. The Patriots ditching the silver pants alone makes the uniform set a disaster. In fact, I’d argue that only the Browns and Bucs will look better next season; the rest have regressed in one way or another.
The old Rams uniforms, as a set, were among the worst in the league. Sure, individual elements were excellent, but every single combination of them was dreadful, and as a set, the Rams could barely be said to have had “uniforms” at all. The only unifying “look” the old uniforms had was that if you saw a highlight video clip and a player wore a mismatched, ugly uniform, he was probably a Ram.
None of that is true of the new Rams uniforms. I’d rate it a below-average uniform by current NFL standards, but even if you want to grade it harshly as a D-plus that’s still an improvement on the old D-minus or F set.
As bad as last year’s mismatched set was, every single individual element is better than the new unis. Even with the mismatched white horn helmet, the white with metallic gold blows away the dirty dishwater uni. The throwback was one of the best in football and guaranteed that half the games were pleasing to the eye. Just like the Buc’s old alarm clocks and the Browns’ pee wee football look, a unified clown costume is still a clown costume.
I agree. The Rams new unis are terrible. In their effort to not just give everyone what they wanted, but to make something “better” they totally and completely blew it. Sometimes the right answer is the easy and obvious choice. Too bad Demoff and his team were too full of themselves to understand that. I usually cannot help myself from buying a New Jersey from a team that I like (Jets last year, even Browns in 2015 because they were so bad they were good). These are just bad. I will be looking for one of last years royal blues if I can still find one, that I postponed buying because these new ones were supposed to be so good.
The “DC, MD, VA” explanation for the Caps’ three stars is one of those storytelling elements where I don’t mind saying the team’s official explanation is mistaken or might as well be. It’s the DC flag. The one with those exact three red stars on it. It was obviously designed with that in mind, and the official explanation is pure after-the-fact marketing-ese.
The Patriots could have gotten a “for the better” if the reversed they made the red the middle stripe on the uniforms – even without gray pants. The ideal uni would be the Pat Patriot design but just reverse the red and blue. This would be an ideal compromise.
The scoreboard could not be from 1961 as the Twins and Angels did not come into existence until 1962.
The Twins and Angels did start in 1961.
I would’ve liked to have seen a contrast white (on the powder) or powder (on the white) panel under the bolt on the Chargers’ jersey and I don’t care for the “whispy” ends on the pants bolts, but other than that the basic home/road combinations are damn near perfect. The gold pants and helmet numbers were 1 and 1a on my wish list for the redesign. My main objection is to the two alternates. It is two too many. You already have two pant colors to mix and match with your two primary jerseys. Throw in the color rash and alternate (which if I’m remembering correctly can each be worn twice each?) and you are going to have a hard time establishing an iconic look. I’d drop one of the other, or both.
I really hoped the Chargers would grow on me but they just haven’t. I think the lack of that extra stroke on the bolts just makes them look very generic, and I’m not a fan of the new font they’re using either. Personally I’m a huge traditionalist when it comes to block fonts but I’d go as far as saying I even liked their last name and number set better than the new one.
They’re absolutely not “bad,” but I just can’t see how everyone’s fawning over them.
Tampa and Cleveland absolutely killed it with their looks.
Stargell with a star on jersey at 1978 All Star game is interesting. We come to expect them on ballcaps, not jerseys. While the “We Are Family” of 1979 Pirates are readily identified with the Stargell stars, he handed them out in ’78 season. There is history of those stars prior to ’78 with Pittsburgh game worn caps.
I have a tough time agreeing with a ‘push’ on that Atlanta set. But, even if I grant that, I think of ‘push’ more as ‘completely wasted opportunity that can’t be fixed for five years’ and that makes the league grade out much worse. Disappointing NFL uniform season.
Those Forrest Gregg coaching era Packers uniforms (from the ticker link about Al Del Greco) always bring back childhood memories. Too bad the team was absolutely awful during the mid-’80s.
Dead link on the Green Bay ticker article?
Fun fact: in New Zealand, a jersey is another name for a jumper/sweater…
Can we get updates on that NCAA school flag project? They’re brilliant!
I’ll keep an eye on it and keep sending them in as they are updated.
Excellent review of the new NFL uniforms. I’ll add one more thought. Both the Falcons and the Patriots can improve their LLP by adding silver/gray pants into the mix. Here’s a question: has anyone determined if the Rams’ bone color is the same fabric color as the Seahawks’ wolf gray?
Bradshaw broke his nose in the first preseason game of ’78 in Baltimore. He didn’t play the following week vs Atlanta. He played sparingly in Week 3 of the preseason at the Giants and first wore the caged facemask for that game. Things have changed. If that had happened nowadays, he wouldn’t have seen the field for the rest of preseason.
The header picture shows a Colts player with striped socks. I don’t remember the Colts returning to those. If they are – GOOD!
Regarding the Guess the game from the scoreboard what jumped out to me was who is the big first basemen wearing Earl’s number 4. That’s is Diamond Jim Gentile. That’s the old scoreboard at Memorial Stadium which I’ve only seen in pictures. Very cool!