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Detroit Lions Adding Alternate Helmet for 2023, New Uni Set in ’24

Rumors about the Lions getting new uniforms have been swirling for more than a year now. Today we finally have confirmation from team prexy Rod Wood, who said that the club will have a new alternate helmet in 2023 and new uniforms in 2024.

That news came this morning in a Detroit Free Press article (which is paywalled but summarized here). In it, Wood said the following:

“There will not be new uniforms in 2023. I know people get over their skis on that. It takes really two years to really get it going, so [Lions chief communications and brand officer] Brian [Facchini] and a team have been kind of working with Nike, looking at uniforms that will probably be for 2024. It could be an interesting overhaul of the uniforms. We will have a new alternative helmet though this year.”

Wood said the new alt helmet will be worn in 2023 with the team’s grey alternate uniform. After 2023, it will be worn with whatever new alternate uni design(s) the team comes up with.

As for the new uni set, Wood said that the team would not be drawing inspiration from the old Portsmouth Spartans, who moved to Detroit and became the Lions in 1934:

“We’re not going to the Portsmouth colors. No, it’ll still be within the blues and the greys. I think it’s too early to say exactly, but I would describe it at least initially as probably being more change than the last time we did it, ’cause I think those were more subtle changes.”

Nike bringing non-subtle changes to an NFL team that’s had a wishy-washy visual identity in recent decades — what could go wrong?

The Lions’ last uniform redesign took place in 2017. No matter what they wear, they’re saddled with the miserable optics in their stadium, where the dome, turf, and lighting combine to create one of the league’s worst visual settings.

(My thanks to reader Brandon Weir, who was the first to bring this news to my attention.)

Comments (79)

    Black wouldn’t make any sense with the current uniform options, though, since there is no black on the uniforms currently.

    Though, it is the Lions, it doesn’t have to make sense….

    Black almost never makes sense for alternate unis, but when has that ever stopped any team ever?

    I’m guessing either white (to go full Stormtrooper). Or possibly a chrome rendition of their current helmet.

    It’s such a simple puzzle to solve, yet I’m afraid Mr. Facchini is probably paralyzed by analysis, thanks to the Nike marketing machine.

    Don’t overthink it, Brian.

    PS: Paul — now you’re gonna have me looking at every dome’s lighting. One more aesthetic variable to drive myself (and my wife) nuts with while I tap on the couch. Don’t know whether I should thank you or not! Lol…

    Agreed! When the Saints wear their “home” uniforms at stadiums with natural sunlight, they look incredibly different.

    Absolutely True. This is most evident on the rare occasions the Saints wear Black jerseys/Gold pants on the road in better lighting or sunlight. I have loudly said that for decades, and is a main reason that I am do not want the Saints switching to a Black helmet for their regular uniform – the Superdome’s lighting is horrible and would make for a horrible, uninspired uniform. Which is exactly what happened when Tulane was still playing home games in the Superdome and had switched to dark Green helmets. It simply looked drab and depressing in that horrible lighting.

    Well disaster is a foot. The current unis are not the best but comparing to Nike updates its one of the better ones. The only change they should ever make is simplify back to the 90s version. I’m horrified about what a big change would be. They will be in line for another change as soon as it available.

    Following the Browns’ lead and going back to their classic look was too much to ask, I guess. They had great uniforms in the Barry Sanders era and never should have changed.

    While hoping for something more retro, I feel it’s going to be a nikelogical disaster. But, what do I know. I’m just an old fart who’s a sucker for the classics.

    Ten bucks says they will go even deeper into disarray and ugliness. Somehow they can’t seem to understand that they had it right for a long time, then navigated away.

    They (in conjunction with Nike) will probably screw the pooch once again.

    New helmet will be blue. And it will look stupid.

    Heard it here first.

    Has the annoyingness of people saying “alternative” uniform elements when they mean “alternate” ever been discussed on this site?

    Too bad the helmet is being used with the grey unis. Otherwise, they could have unveiled a white lid.

    It’s Nike. It is impossible to overestimate their ability to make a terrible design. Hell, how about white/blue camo with dishwater gray monochrome, just because?

    they could for sure go with a white lid with the all-white uniforms they have. that’d be the only redeeming hope of an otherwise wet-fart of an announcement

    They can’t pair the new alternate helmet with the white jersey.

    League rules mandate that the alternate helmet can only be worn with the alternate jersey. So the Lions can only wear an alternate helmet with their gray jersey.

    I guess they could with their throwback alternate but as that helmet is already the current but blank it wouldn’t make a lot of sense there.

    y’all are saying the new helmet will be blue, but they did introduce those plain white pants this year, so maybe a white/white/white is the direction they are headed.

    What was wrong with the Barry Sanders era design? Just put the more modern version of the logo on that and call it a day. Maybe it is just the old-man-yelling-at-clouds in me, but seems like the best uniforms are the classics that have been around forever; Packers, Raiders, Chiefs, Colts, Bears, etc. The teams that are always changing their design never seem to stick the landing, because the new designs are always “modern” or “forward thinking” which just means no staying power. Use classical design principles, and just maybe, your design will become… a classic!

    Yep. You could say the same for the Cardinals. Just take the updated current helmet logo and use it with the 1960s/70s classic Cardinals uniform and call it a day. Of course that makes too much sense to ever happen.

    Completely agree. Barry Sanders era Lions and 60s/70s Cards uniforms with the current logos. Presto.

    To answer your question, there was nothing wrong with the Sanders Era uniforms. Go with that uniform, the Lion logo from that era or the modern one, and call it a day. But Nike’s gonna Nike, so expect a third bespoke font (an homage to the 1974 Ford Granada or some nonsense), truncated stripes and no TV numbers.

    The current Lions unis are fairly decent. I would make the numbers a little bigger and get rid of the slant. The gray alternates are dumb. An all blue look as an alternate might be better.

    I think the alternate helmet will be white to go with the white pants. As for the future uniform I am really afraid, I suspect a semi-tough mix of black, slate grey and a hint of Honolulu blue without any sleeve or pants stripes in a monochrome set with a black helmet. Or something just as horrible.

    The pattern I’m observing is that wholesale changes (Vikings, Jaguars, Buccaneers, Lions) go over as lead balloons, but subtle upgrades (Steelers, Chargers) are well-received. There are some exceptions. But the closer Detroit comes to a Barry Sanders-like appearance, the better-off we all are.

    Nike doesn’t create a thing that the team doesn’t sign off on, be it over-designed (I.e.: Titans) or under-stated (i.e.: Jags).
    They do shoulder a lot of blame, but teams bear most of that.
    I am hopeful after 2 uni mis-steps the Lions will look better than they in a long time in ‘24. And a blue helmet would be…something…as in something that would not look good paired with the gray alt. Perhaps one that’s white or less chromey gray? Both those options aren’t that appealing either!

    I can’t prove it, but I believe with the whole of my being that Nike reserves the right to foist design elements onto NFL uniforms in some cases, the teams thoughts and opinions be damned.
    I will readily admit I have no proof, but thats what I choose to think.


    It seems like these executives in higher-up management of professional teams are consistently so out of touch and a decade behind what’s actually considered trendy and desirable for a uniform. BFBS was “cool” (it never really was though) in the late-2000s to early 2010s, but you still have teams (see the Commanders’ and Utah Jazz’s recent redesign disasters) thinking “the fans will LOVE a black alternate/let’s get some neon in our color palette, that’s trendy!” Meanwhile, it’s abundantly clear that the current market is trending back towards traditional, simple, and more aesthetically pleasing uniform sets. It’s just insane that you still see professional sports executives talking about a “big change” to the team’s uniforms, which always means it’s going to be a Nike-fied disaster that no one really likes and and rarely sticks after the required 5-year waiting period (looking at you, Bucs, Falcons, Rams, Browns, Jets, Titans, and Dolphins). The NFL Nike redesigns that have stuck are either traditional, or stay within the team’s established brand (Chargers!!!!!!!!)
    It honestly blows my mind that a team exec. can be so tone deaf and out of touch with what’s trending in the uniform world, considering it’s the literal first impression a new viewer gets of a team. It frustrates me to no end.

    It is a generational thing where you have guys of over 50 thinking what the under 30 youngsters will probably like. Plus they are being advised by designers from a supplier with no real affinity for the game who mostly look at what is trending in fashion on the socials. Plus the current taste of players for minimalist design, the practice uniform aesthetic, which is being fed by designers and social media as well.

    While hearing the “storytelling” is always interesting because it gives me a good chuckle at what the team thinks we want to hear as justification for their efforts, I would much rather hear the story of how a design actually happened. Every team will have a slightly different process. The Yankees for example probably say “don’t f—ing mess with it. Show us to ur tailoring templates and we’ll tell you what you need to change for us.” Whereas certain designs strike me as a team throwing themselves at the mercy of Nike’s designers and surrendering to their every last whim. I’d like to know how a design evolved from “we need a change” to “this is the one!” And every step in between, including how much influence sales-minded people (including designers trying to sell their ideas to increase their own value as designers) had over the overall look. Like the Rams “hello my name is” tag with the intentionally messed up stitching; who’s idea and how did it get approved? But that would create a blame trail, also known as accountability.

    I’m sure the old-timers and traditionalists will disagree with me, but I actually think the Lions current helmet is the best one they’ve ever worn. The rest of the unis are bland at best and ugly at worst. I hope in 2024 they at least keep what they did right there.

    I’m and old-timer and traditionalist, and I hear very few people denigrate the Lions current helmet. Its most of the rest of the uniform that turns of old-timers and traditionalists, especially the all-gray get-up, and the plain white pants.


    To me, it isn’t their best because of the helmet stripes. The blue/white/blue was much nicer than the blue/silver alternating. But the helmet logo is a good update.

    The stripes on the current helmet are too fat, and the ones of the previous helmet too skinny.

    I can’t wrap my mind around how the “Detroit Free Press” is paywalled. I know they need to make money, but don’t put the word “Free” in the title of your product. That’d be like an NFL team who only has 3 playoff wins in the past 30 years renaming themselves something authoritative and dominant sounding, like, I dunno, the Commanders, for example.

    Someone needs to tell the Lions management and Nike that mop bucket water gray is not a good look. Maybe tell a few auto manufacturers, too.

    Tell Nike to figure out how to make proper metallic pants. They ruined the look of so many teams because they just don’t color match well.

    I had to look up “team prexy.” I initially thought prexy was maybe related to “proxy” or something along the lines of public relations. Now I know it’s an alternate of “president.”

    Those of us that have for decades would sneak reading “JET” Magazine in the grocery store checkout lines knew early on that Prexy meant President – usually of a HBCU or Media company Prexy referenced in a Society photo caption ….

    Yes, a caption, or headline, where space is often limited. It’s rarer in text where there are no space constraints.

    Plain and simple…Nike ruins every uniform it touches. They just can’t get anything right. The Chargers look good but they still aren’t what they could be. The Browns had to endure 5 years of some of the worst uniforms ever to realize their traditional uniforms were perfect…which still isn’t right because of the brown facemask. The Falcons and Titans are trainwrecks. Both use a matte chrome facemask which IMO is terrible. Either go chrome or go grey if you want that color pallete.

    The Lions wear Honolulu Blue. That is what they wear. Why even mention a “shade of blue” There’s no reason to not say they will be in HB.

    I absolutely despise what Nike is doing to professinal sports. Makes me OK with the Eagles Midnight Green because you know if Nike makes a modern Kelly Green uniform they are going to come out looking like Gumby.

    Both Chargers and Rams current designs are Grade C-. They could be so much better and instead look like they were cobbled together in a rush. It’s just sad.

    If this were a few years ago, I’d think black was an obvious choice. (Especially with the way the league is going with the sudden influx of black helmets) But the Lions currently don’t use any black in their uniform at all, and I think black would be pretty horrible with current unis. I wouldn’t mind a chrome version. But other than that, I am pretty much at a loss for what they will do. But… this is Detroit. Since when do they do anything that makes sense?

    Nike…The Greek entity who was the god of Victory over Everything….
    ….Except uniform design….

    It was a godess, not a guy. Check out the statue at the Louvre museum if you have the opportunity. The swoosh is a stylized version of her wings. But you are right: Nike the company knows how to mess up uniforms because they probably have designers who do not care about sports but about fashion and getting kudos from their fashion community. The Nike execs just hope it will sell, they do not care either.

    The Lions blue jerseys with silver numbers are all they need. The one they currently use as a throwback. Keep it simple. That’s just my preference though, I’m a sucker for simple jerseys. My favorite in the whole NFL is the Raiders black, followed by the Giants blue.

    “get over their skis”

    Great idiom.

    get over skis. (n.d.) Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. (2015). Retrieved February 28 2023 from link

    As others have said, it’s a simple fix; go back to the Barry Sanders era and be done with it. Only alternate needed is the old school throwback for Thanksgiving. Ditch the new word mark, logo and number font and go back to the Sanders era as well. No need for all gray or white unis. Completely unnecessary.

    “ No matter what they wear, they’re saddled with the miserable optics in their stadium, where the dome, turf, and lighting combine to create one of the league’s worst visual settings.”

    simply, crazily, wrong. there are lots of reasons to point and laugh at the lions. ford field isn’t one of them. it’s a gem.

    Not when watching on TV it isn’t. Terrible optics.

    Same goes for several other domed stadiums, including New Orleans and Atlanta.

    When the Falcons played at the Buccaneers this year, they wore their black/black/white uniforms and it was amazing how much better the Falcons uniform looked outdoors rather than in that dome. It’s the first thing I noticed when that game was played, maybe even mentioned it in the comments here the day after.


    Is it possible by NFL uniform rules that a blue helmet could facilitate a blue-grey-blue look, since the grey jersey has to go with the alternate helmet? Or do they absolutely have to go grey pants there too?

    If they add a blue helmet to go with a gray jersey and blue pants, I think it’ll probably look ok. My worry is that the team would like to go mono-blue and look like a blue raspberry jolly rancher instead.

    I’m not a Lions fan, but I do like traditional uniforms and their current look is as close to traditional as they’ve been in a long time. Can’t wait to see how they make them terrible again.

    Does anyone like the grey pajamas they wear? The greys are the ugliest uniforms in the NFL!

    My take on the new Detroit redesign would be they remove the WCF patch, change the font around to something more legible and bold, simplify the striping and add a few outlines that pop more. One example would be keeping gray numbers but putting in a think white outline. I could see no helmet stripe at all or a two stripe that’s not as thick that’s blue and white.

    As for the quote from Rod Wood, I think the real changes will be the color scheme in some ways, as well as the helmet color tone. When Wood says staying in “the grays and blues” I see them sticking with Honolulu blue but a change in the gray, perhaps a bit darker for more contrast, and a secondary blue used just for the alternate to replace the gray uniform. I would lean towards navy blue but something a bit lighter is possible like royal/midnight blue. I believe they go with a white alternate helmet. Think off this look as Penn State but with hints of gray, different coloring, a logo and more design features.

    I defiantly hope black ISN’T part of this look. The catastrophe of the New York Jets solid green on black being the prime example. Nothing pops and its hard to see on TV. Please end this all black fascination. Even the all white can be a bit too much sometimes.

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