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It’s now been 25 years — a full quarter-century — since the Broncos unveiled the awful uniform set that they still wear today. In that time, one thing has remained constant (well, aside from the uniforms looking consistently terrible): The ridiculous side panel on the jersey has matched up with the ridiculous side panel on the pants.
This rule has held true whether the team has gone orange/white, navy/white, white/white, or navy/navy:
All of these are terrible looks, because the base design is so bad, but at least they make sense. You can see that the idea is for the side graphics to create an integrated look between the jersey and pants.
The Broncos have never worn white over navy in the past 25 years, because the white jersey’s side panel (which is navy) wouldn’t match up with the navy pants’ side panel (which is orange). Putting those two elements together would make no sense.
But they’re doing it anyway. This morning the team announced that they’ll be wearing that uni combo for this Sunday’s game in London against the Jags. As you can see in the image at the top of this page, it looks even worse than the team’s usual combos. The whole thing feels very, very high school.
I know people usually say the Cardinals are the NFL team most in need of a redesign, and I generally agree. But Denver isn’t far behind.
ITEM: Uni Watch Power Rankings for Reverse Retro 2.0
[I included this promo in today’s lede about Nolan Ryan, but I have a feeling more people will read the Broncos post than the Ryan post, so I’m adding the promo here as well. Sorry for the repetition! — PL]
Today I have a new Premium article on Substack — a worst-to-first ranking of the NHL’s new Reverse Retro designs.
You can read the first few paragraphs of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Premium content on Substack. (Didn’t hear about my move from Bulletin to Substack? Additional details on that, including the “Pay What You Wish” subscription option, can be found here.)
I usually do only one Premium article per week, but I may have a bonus piece on Friday about the World Series, which begins that night. Depends on how some other work stuff shakes out, but I’m hoping to get it done in time for Friday — stay tuned!
What Paul Did Last Night
[Again, this is reprinted from today’s lede. Please forgive the repetition! — PL]
As you know, I just started writing for Substack. In a bit of fortuitous timing, they had a little gathering at a bar in the East Village last night, so I got to meet the CEO, my main contact guy, a few other admin people, and a bunch of writers (including the great soccer writer Grant Wahl, who spent 25 years at Sports Illustrated but now goes it alone as a Substacker — really nice guy). Several of the admin people told me, “Oh, you’re the uniform guy! The Bulletin people said we should make sure to sign you up,” so that was nice to hear. All in all, a very nice night.
When I arrived, my main contact guy was sitting at a corner table with a woman who looked familiar to me but I couldn’t place her. Then it hit me: It was Patti Smith! Sure enough, she writes for Substack. I confess that I was a bit starstruck. She left just a few minutes later, so I didn’t get to meet her or even get a photo of her, but it was still really weird to be in a small room with Patti Smith. Crazy!
Seems like if they wanted a new look orange pants with a blue stripe would have been the most logical.
Be still, my heart, at the idea of orange pants.
This is a great take, and the rules for new NFL pants designs are pretty free-wheeling compared to jerseys, but you’re thinking like a fan, not a soulless corporation.
“So the mismatched stripes look terrible – that’s your problem!” – Broncos HQ, probably
I know the cardinals need a wholesale redesign including their horribly executed logo, but the awfulness that adorns their uniforms is damn near subtle compared to the broncos who just make it so bold and in-our-faces. I absolutely love the broncos helmet and logo design, and while I love the old logo as well, I don’t necessarily believe they need to bring it back but they need to get rid of the jerseys entirely and the number and wordmark font asap.
I love a total cardinals rebrand but if waiting for them a little longer somehow made the broncos move quicker, I’d accept that offer.
Now, about those Seahawks…
The biggest issue with seattle and denver is the fact that they have rings in these sets. It’s just like how a lot of eagles fans are cool with the midnight green jerseys now. They won in them
Yeah, success is a powerful deodorant.
I fully understand Philly fans wanting the kelly and silver back, but I’m of the option that – while it’s not the preferred colorway – the eagles unis look pretty decent (BFBS notwithstanding). The broncos are one simple mistake away from being in eagles territory (read: good but not ideal) if you ask me, it’s just a big glaring hideous mistake: those GD side panels. The Seahawks are an absolute comedy of errors, from too many “subtle” patterns, to the use of a great ACCENT color as a primary color, the use of light grey in place of silver, replacing a great traditional Haida logo design with a 90’s aggressive comic book design, thinking that silly trim pattern that’s supposed to be a negative-space image of a bird’s beak flying at the viewer looks like anything then putting it everywhere, the navy helmet with its broad but slightly tapering stripe of diamondplate, and to a lesser extent the odd (feather, wing, ?) sleeve and collarbone area design all scream for some serious editing before they’d even be acceptable. The cardinals just look like they’re wearing off-brand motocross jersey templates as uniforms.
Completely right. I don’t like this uniform more than the old ones, but I fondly remember this as the ones where we finally got our first 2 SBs.
Now, given that the Broncos just had a new owner, it is quite possible that they are set for a new uniform. I’ve seen new owners like to bring their own new set to mark a new era.
Cardinals need to go back to the Pat Tillman uniforms-those were perfect.
Maybe i’m too gen z for this (or maybe this is a consequence of growing up with soccer) but by god I hope Broncos either keep their current numeral font or at least improve *upon* it instead of going back. Yeah, I see how the whole uniform looks a bit dated, cant deny that, but those numerals to me are a refresher from countless standard block fonts or variations on them. Hell, it’s not like it’s unreadable like that one Bucs font, so it does its job (although i do have kiiind of a soft spot for that one too, i cant hate it, so maybe im not the one to judge)
If they wanted to wear blue pants so bad, they could have mimicked the side panels and did a thin orange stripe around a blue stripe, and it would look better*
*Want to remind everyone that better is a relative term
I’m a little younger than Paul so I couldn’t remember where I’d heard of Patti Smith. I took a trip down the internet search rabbit hole to explore her entire career. Turns out she wrote one of my favorite songs – Because the Night, which was a huge hit for 10,000 Maniacs in 1993.
Coincidentally, today October 26 is Natalie Merchant’s birthday. So that’s weird.
Springsteen wrote “Because the Night.”
Actually, he and Smith co-wrote it.
Paul, I would be soooo “ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ZOMGpattismith ” if I was in your shoes. Maybe a re-meet one day.
“Because the Night” was actually a bigger hit for the Patti Smith Group in 1978 than it ever was for 10,000 Maniacs with their live cover. To this day it probably gets more overall airplay than the Maniacs version, although I still hear both frequently.
FWIW, the 10,000 Maniacs version topped out at 11 in the Billboard Hot 100, while Smith’s version got to 13. Not necessarily saying one version was a bigger hit than the other, but thought it was notable.
The 10,000 Maniacs covered Because the Night? Wow. I had no idea.
1) Holy effin’ sh*it! Patti Smith. Wow.
2) Grant Wahl is an awesome guy. Don’t always agree with him, but respect his opinions.
3) Agree re: the Broncos.
I realize you can’t do alternate jerseys on the spur of the moment, but the damage could have been mitigated slightly if they’d gotten approval for an alternate white jersey featuring an orange side panel.
Maybe the Broncos are wearing this combo to say they wore every possible version before getting new and hopefully less awful uniforms in the near future.
Orange-over-navy is still on the board ; )
I think I’m one of the few that believe the Broncos have one of the better ‘modern’ uniforms in the NFL…and have 3 solid throwback options in the hopper (Original Brown, Crazy Horse and The D) to someday look forward too(?).
I was OK with them rolling out 2 pairs of white pants to make the jerseys work, thought the short-lived faux neckroll actually improved the look all of the tops (crazy talk!), yet I never cared for the orange jersey when that was added to the mix.
And while I’ve stated…as late as yesterday…that I do like that they go mono-blue from time to time, today, after seeing that London combo, I no longer feel that way. While those blue pants need to go away now, an immediate uni-reboot isn’t required.
It’s amazing how much you could improve the Denver set by simply removing the goofy side-panel and whatever they call that on the pants…always thought it looks like the claw on one of those grab-a-prize-from-the-glass-box games when seen head-on. Just replace that with normal striping, and you could actually utilize the white-over-navy combo…which would then actually look a million times better than white-over-white.
But not as pictured…woof.
I rather prefer fonts that aren’t the standard block, as long as they’re legible. So the Broncos font is fine. But otherwise, yeah, a complete redo needs to happen post-haste.
Totally agree. The side panel screws up a perfectly good uni. Now the alternates they wore last year were even better.
The broncos could have reversed the colors on their jersey going with predominantly orange with blue pipping and outlines and matched the orange stripe on the pants. Still part of that ridiculous looking family of uniforms but at least consistent.
Only yesterday did I broach the topic of football teams playing well in ugly uniforms and badly in attractive ones. Further, uniforms of recent vintage don’t age as well as old ones. New England was Example 1; Denver can be Example 2. Water under the bridge, but the Broncos would have been better-served by an orange stripe on the sides of the white uniform than the dark blue one they have. It would have facilitated combining of the pants and jerseys better than the blue-dominant away uniforms. Either way, some new Broncos’ suits are due, and I hope they will be designed by a Native American team of artists. It’s about time, and it’s the right thing to do.
Side panels should have been orange on all sets; it would have saved them a headache.
Even on the orange jersey?
Things could have been a whole lot easier if a) they had just made a set of solid blue pants. Or b) made a set of orange pants with a blue stripe.
Somewhat surprising they haven’t yet.
I mean, they do have orange pants, but they’re part of their Orange C(olor)rush unis, so they don’t fit their primary style at all.
I have a question: Back when you had a choice between Bulletin or Substack, you chose Bulletin. Why?
In the aftermath of Bulletin shutting down, I read a few articles, and the two platforms were definitely ‘rivals’ (especially from Substack’s POV), and there was, in general, a conscious choice being made by the contributors why they would go to one platform over the other.
Did you have previous qualms about Substack, and if so, how were they overcome for you?
Hi, Lee. I never considered writing for Substack *or* Bulletin until Bulletin recruited me to be part of their launch. Bulletin offered certain incentives (including a monthly stipend, which Substack didn’t and still doesn’t offer), so that worked out well for me.
The stipend was due to sunset in a few months anyway (and Bulletin is paying out the rest of it as a lump sum), so there’s a good chance I would have moved to Substack anyway, just to avoid the issue of some readers hating Facebook.
No regrets, no qualms — all good.
Cool, I know you’re always thoughtful, so I’m happy to hear it was/is all good for you!
Denver is frustrating because they have a lot to work with. Navy blue and orange is a beautiful color scheme. They should look much better than they do. See also: Illinois.
You see Patti Smith, and then you write about the Broncos?
Horses, horses, horses, horses…
Ha! You’re the best, Marty.
Who wants to bet they’re doing this because they shipped the wrong pants to London?
Broncos were the first NFL team to sport that swooshy swishy pant leg stripey mess that became so popular. It was always an awful look and every team that coopted it looked just as ridiculous. Be nice for that trend to go away forever now – and its critical Denver lead the way. They have great colors that lend themselves to a rich traditional look. Show some restraint and start another trend – of teams returning to reasonable costumes…
Hard to believe they’ve never worn this combo, but here we are
I know, right. They’ve been mixing and matching for 25 years (including two different pairs of white pants” I had completely not noticed that there was a combination they had never worn
30 comments on this article, 4 comments on the Nolan Ryan lede – Paul sure knows his audience!
If I had known about the Broncos news, that would have been the lede and I would have saved the Ryan article for later. But I found out about the Broncos development about half an hour after the Ryan piece was already published, so…..
I didn’t mean anything by it other than commending you for your accurate prediction!
Oh, I know. I was just explaining why I handled it the way I did.
Take the stripes off and they are fine
This is like saying, “Get over that case of pneumonia and you’ll be fine.” Like, it’s *true,* but it soft-pedals the severity of the problem at hand.
Just when I thought Denver’s season couldn’t get any more disappointing…
I feel kinda bad for my friend who is actually going to this game
I must confess I’ve tried this Uni combo in Madden.
It doesn’t work there either.
Those side panels are just brutal.
Which bar in the east village? I lived there for so long and wonder if I’d recognize the places anymore.
The Holiday. I first went there in 1987, the year I moved to NYC. It would be fair to say that the clientele is a bit different now.
Paul, sorry that you didn’t get to meet Patti Smith. I was lucky enough to meet her at my job about ten years. What a smart, down to earth, lovely person.
Denver immediately winning two Super Bowls in this garbage design was really bad for the Uni-verse in general. What’s even more unfortunate is that their classic design is absolutely spectacular from head to toe. I always thought the road whites were particularly sharp
Contrast colored side panels do not belong on football shirts, that should be a rule for both the NFL and the NCAA. It is detrimental for the eyes of players, staff, officials and fans.
A fun look at ugly uniforms and what they represent on the field.