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Horse of a Different Color: Colts Unveil Brutal Alternate Uni

Brutal move today by the Colts, who’ve unveiled a truly miserable new alternate uniform that’s destined to become a mainstay of future “Worst Uniform” listicles. Filled with BFBS elements — black helmet, black collar, black sleeve cuffs, black outlining on the jersey numbers — it’s the kind of move that was pathetic 20 years ago and is beyond laughable in 2023. Woof!

Here are a few dozen photos:

A few thoughts:

  • The “heathered” blue fabric — an NFL first — looks ridiculous, like acid-washed denim or something that got stained in the laundering process. Fortunately, it will likely be indiscernible on TV.
  • If they were determined to put the state of Indiana on their chest, why not just wear the state outline by itself? By using that “C” logo, they’re gonna have people emailing me all season long to say, “How many captains do the Colts have?!”
  • Seems really odd to put an old-fashioned number font on such a newfangled uniform.
  • It’s not so much that I want to see more black on this uniform, but the nose and neck bumper lettering should probably be black, not blue.
  • On the plus side: I do like the stripes across the jersey shoulders. That’s about the only positive thing I have to say here.

Here’s the weirdest/dumbest part: The stupid “storytelling” name they’ve given this uniform is “Indiana Nights,” but they’re wearing it on a Sunday afternoon — Oct. 22, against the Browns.

Fortunately, this won’t be the final NFL taste in our mouths this month: The Titans will reveal their Oilers throwbacks on Sunday night, the Broncos will unveil their alternate helmet next Tuesday, we’re still waiting to see the Eagles’ Kelly green throwbacks, and the Jets appear to have something cooking. Never a dull moment!

Comments (102)

    The uniforms are that bad that I didn’t even notice the C upper chest. Either that or we’re so used to the Captains patch that I assumed that’s what it was. However, I like to think I know NFL players and I couldn’t tell you who either player is so no way they are captains. Is that Duke, Memphis or Indiana State?

    Completely unnecessary uniform and terribly done. What an absolute trainwreck.

    If were gonna go BFBS, I wonder if black stripes and black numbers with white trim wound have looked better. This reminds me of what the Washington Footballers did with their uni. Just adding black in what seems like a haphazard way. Black can surely serve as a trim color, but there is a way to do it in a, well, uniform way.

    the jersey on it’s own is fine, but it would be better with a white helmet and white pants.

    the helmet is very Alternate Helmet for Alternate Helmet’s Sake (AHFAHS). A lot like New Orleans and Washington where they really don’t do anything

    New Orleans, at least, has always had black as one of their primary colors, and has a history of attempting to switch to a black helmet once upon a time, before the NFL nixed it. The detailing on the center is a minor quibble for me. Really, the only thing I need to see the Saints change at this point is to bring some side stripes back to the black pants (like they had in 1976-1985, or 1999), which would help fight the damned leotard effect! (Though gold-topped socks with the black pants would be a nice change of pace to break things up, too.)

    the Saints’ black dome feels really unnecessary tho! those all white faux-backs look so good with the gold helmet

    The colts must have gotten their years mixed up. Last year was the year of randomly forcing black into a non black color scheme. This year is for beautiful throwbacks. Shame.

    The Colts are a classic-looking team whose largest recent uni-news (other than some excellent 50s throwbacks) was changing the number font.

    I don’t hate the idea in the abstract of the Colts experimenting with new uniforms, but I really don’t like the black helmet. I do actually like the jersey as a whole as a modernization of the current Colts look, and the black accents on the jersey don’t bother me in the slightest.

    It’s the black helmet that ruins it for me. I feel like there is no way to make the Colts blue horseshoe look good on black, and I feel like the white horseshoe would look wrong as well.

    Overall I understand the impulse to get creative, but I’d have much rather the Colts make a matte blue helmet to put on top of a revamped white uniform, than what they created with the black helmet here.

    Honestly – This is better than I would have expected from Nike.

    Aside from the helmet, the black is used very sparingly in a way that helps emphasize the uniform’s key elements. The “Indiana Nights” name is super cliche, but the uniform itself is sharp. Colts could have gone way overboard and done a racing theme or something, but found a way to give a contemporary twist on a classic look.

    I actually think the uniform looks good, but on college or HS football team. Not the Indianapolis Colts. It’s so out of character, it doesn’t feel like the Colts. It’s very straight forward, normal number font, and cool stripes on the shoulders. It’s not a train wreck like the new Titans or Falcons uniforms.

    The sooner the Colts can get rid of these uniforms, the better. They have no business wearing black.

    I actually did LOL at the ‘For the Shoe” motto graphic they used at the end. Have they used that previously? And yup, these are terrible.

    As a Colts fan, I was excited for today.. Until I saw the uniform. I knew it was going to be a BFBS uni, but I didn’t expect this… Maybe it would look better with black pants, or if the entire thing was black… I do like the helmet for the most part but the uni itself is just not good.

    If there was a team with black and blue as their primary colors I think the helmet looks ok. I like how the colors pop against the black.

    But as a BFBS, yuck.

    If this was truly supposed to represent “Indiana Nights” the entire uniform would be black ;-)

    The Helmet: its so bad! It looks like those helmets some third party sports collectable store will sell with some random players signature on it – not even a stars but some player who was around for three years. Like, the helmet /design/ isn’t bad, but the royal blue and black isn’t a great combo. Also, why is it paired with a blue jersey? It makes it look even worse!

    The jersey: if this was the Colt’s new uniform, I wouldn’t be mad. The black trim, while not traditional with a team like the Colts, looks nice around the numbers. The shoulder stripes would be a wonderful callback to an older uniform style. The C logo is…fine. It’s okay. I would have went with the Horseshoe logo if you were hellbent on putting a logo on the jersey.

    The pants. All blue doesn’t look great. BUT I think the Colts should’ve had blue pants as an option for away games.

    Verdict: if the helmet wasn’t black this would be better. I think the Colts should pair this with the white helmet, or even a blue one, kinda like the old throwback with horseshoes on the back of the helmet. But its also REALLY funny that the Colts want to do a new uniform, but are straight up scared of pissing off their fans, so they made a new uniform design /for an alternate/, and then threw in the helmet just to have an alternate helmet.

    Second team in two days (Seahawks) to announce they’re wearing their new alternates against the browns. I guess us browns fans are just so used to outrageous and unbelievable events on the field that we won’t mind some out of the ordinary uniforms…

    As a Browns fan, I can’t wait to see our throwback uniform with the white helmet. I’m very excited that the Seahawks are wearing their throwbacks against us. And I hate that the Colts have chosen to wear this monstrosity when they play us.

    What an absolutely terrible costume. We’re still doing this BFBS nonsense? How pathetic. They look like a low level college team. A shame considering what great uniforms reveals we’ve had these past few weeks. Funny.. the throwbacks are a huge hit but the first “original” new uniform is garbage…hmmm I’m so surprised.

    This looks like a bad Boise State alternate. Just every element is the wrong design choice.

    Honestly surprised to not see black pants with this. Those would give it even more of a FCS vibe.

    In a vacuum these aren’t bad, just not for a team with such a classic look. If this was the uniform for an SBC or CUSA team I’d be down with it.

    I don’t hate everything about it at all. The heathered blue is cool. I wonder how it would work on other teams. Overall it’s a nice and clean uniform, just not for the Colts. In fact, it reminds me a bit of the Jags.

    Are we ever going to see the Colts throwback to their original green and silver color scheme? I want to see it, and so do the characters in the movie Diner.

    No they don’t, because they’re heart is still broken about the move.

    If I were a heartbroken Baltimore Colts fan, I think today would be the day I got over it…

    Don’t get me wrong. I love a good black and blue uniform, like the 1988 Chicago Bruisers.
    This is not that good, and it doesn’t belong on this team.

    Yay…another black helmet.
    How original.

    You’d think lifting the one helmet rule would have allowed more creativity…now it looks like the NFL got a great deal in bulk helmets.

    At this rate, the NFL will be an all-one color helmet league

    New helmets and their respective colours:

    Colts – black
    Seahawks – silver
    Vikings – purple
    Cleveland – white
    Broncos – most likely white, definitely not black
    Titans – white
    Buccaneers – white
    Lions – blue

    What are you talking about?

    Teams with black helmets in the mix:

    Colts – Black
    Jets – Black
    Eagles – Black
    Cardinals – Black
    Panthers – Black
    Falcons – Black
    Saints – Black

    Paul’s article says otherwise: link

    Unless you mean that a throwback helmet isn’t a new one.

    Not sure where you get that. To quote Paul from that article:

    The biggest surprise, and a slight disappointment, is that they’re sticking with their primary matte-finish helmet with the lighter shade of purple, instead of creating a more historically accurate glossy helmet with a darker shade.

    That’s not a new helmet. I don’t know how I could have been more clear.

    PK is rubber and you are glue
    Perhaps you should have thought it through
    – Anonymous

    Your list contains throwbacks. Let’s look at the “new” helmets (AKA: the alternates).

    Cardinals – black
    Panthers – black
    Bears – orange
    Browns – white
    Broncos – likely white
    Lions – blue
    Texans – red
    Colts – black
    Saints – black
    Jets – black
    Eagles – black
    Commanders – black

    I believe this is what PK is talking about.

    I actually like everything below the helmet. The helmet itself would have better if it was blue

    When did the Colts hire Jerry Glanville as their coach?

    The Colts have one of the best, cleanest, most classic looks in the game. Why the hell would they f*ck up such a beautiful set by going BFBS? Isn’t the Commanders’ horrific black alt enough of a cautionary tale?

    Seriously, it’s like Nike goes out of its way to hire the worst, most unimaginative designers and then ties their hands behind their backs by forcing them to design uniforms to fit some bullshit marketing narrative.

    Honestly, my only issue is the not-the-captain patch. Besides that, had the Colts next existed, and this was an expansion team’s initial uni-set, I’m not sure we’re have any major complaints about them.

    If you were playing Bad Design Bingo, the only spaces left uncovered by this are “ghosted numbers” and “gradients”.
    – minutely-detailed pattern on the body that can’t be seen more than a few inches away
    – BFBS and with royal blue as a base
    – unnecessary patch that sows more confusion than anything, since it looks like a team of all captains
    – monochrome leotards, down to the socks
    I am Colts-neutral but as a kid, I liked their look enough to get a jersey. The royal blue and white, the UCLA stripes… it’s a great look. The slightly unique NOB font and return of the vintage block numbers were steps to make great even greater. Now, this. Sheesh.

    Not only is it bad, but they went Full Smurf, which compounds the awfulness.

    BFBS in 2023. Unbelievable.

    BFBS and Mono in the same uniform. Barforama. I like the shoulder striping, and I actually also like the heathered color. Paul’s right though: you wont’ be able to see it on TV very well. I just don’t get the addition of black to uniforms inclination.

    When one-shell rule was lifted, this was what we knew would happen and warned about. We would get classic throwbacks but it could also go the other way on that slippery slope. The BFBS helmets have arrived with more than one NFL team. Put the Colts on the list.

    What year did they change their swoosh color to black? That was too much black for their unis then!

    The Colts have one of the best primary uni sets and this is what they come up with for an alternate? Embarrassing.

    Yeah, I usually have a tendency to find the best (it at least some redeeming qualities) in alt uniforms but these are hideous.

    The Colts must regret this already and they should. Nike of course is very proud to have been able to trick yet another team into wearing embarassing uniforms. I can hear them laugh out loud at the Colts, all the way from their Oregon HQ. The more people hate the uniforms they design the more they love it: complain all you like, we will still make lots of money from our contracts with the NFL, MLB and NBA. Cue the evil Vincent Price laughter from Thriller.

    This looks like a bad D 3 NCAA uniform. There is nothing redeeming about this slop.

    Just a few more thoughts:

    -The more I see Nike’s new template, the more I don’t like it. It seems like it pushes everything down. Even without team wordmark or logo, the numbers look to be too far down. Too much negative space between the bottom of the collar and the numbers. It also might be an illusion with the V seem going under the collor.

    -Royal blue and black might be one of my least favorite color combinations. I just don’t think there’s any way to make it look good. It just feels like such a B-Roll combination, if that makes any sense at all.

    -In trying to use the alternate “C” logo, why not use that as the helmet logo or at the very least on the helmet bumper? Also, the helmet stripe looks bad. It’s too skinny and the heathered look continued on the stripe looks very similar to digicamo that teams use for military uniforms.

    -I miss the days when teams would designate themselves as a white cleat or black cleat team. In the pictures used, the all black cleat completely changes how the uniform looks with all white cleats. The team is going to be all over the place with white, black and team colored cleats.

    Plenty of soccer teams prove that royal blue and black can be a great combo. Inter Milan, Atalanta, Club Brugge spring to mind.

    You forget to mention that the shirts of the three teams you name have vertically striped shirts in which case the combination does look good (as with Atalanta and Como). But this all heather blue with black cuffs is an entirely different monster. It looks forced.

    Ah, you did mention Atalanta. Well, Rodenburg from Leiden, the Netherlands wear the same great combination but also as a vertically striped shirt. Totally different from this Colts jersey. If a soccer jersey would be made of this fabric with black cuffs it would also look terrible.

    But then again you reacted to the color combination in itself and I agree with you: in some cases royal blue and black may go together very well. But not in this case. Forza Inter!

    Patrick, I said this yesterday on the Seahawks jerseys, the numbers are too low, they should be up right where that silly V is on the jersey. Also, Nike is screwing up the necks of the jerseys that have stripes on them like the Seahawks, they did this years ago with those stupid fly wire collars and also with the two tone “toilet “necks that ruined, Buffalo’s, New Orlean’s and Washington’s jerseys.

    BFBS is particularly egregious when in combo with blue. Since almost nobody purchases helmets, I’m surprised they don’t have a black jersey. Maybe the strange “heathered” jersey will show up better in person so they can sell jerseys, which seems to be the point of these alternate uniforms.

    Come on Nike. This is so freakin’ 90’s. But, we all know Nike likes to overuse black in their uniforms. Wish I could put a puke imogi in my text box. Cause that’s what this just about made me do. I was really hoping they would give us a blue helmet to go with a throwback blue home jersey.

    Ha haaaa! Instead of the usual defiant, arms-folded-across-the-chest, look-at-how-badass-I-am pose, those two Colts at the top of the page look embarrassed as hell to be wearing this get-up. Can’t say I blame ’em.

    Well unfortunately the rumors that were circulating about a black helmet and heather blue jersey were true. Not the worst look in the world but it feels so collegiate. I am quite frankly surprised Jim Irsay went ahead with this since he’s been a huge advocate for getting the Colts jerseys historically accurate. He changed the blue, changed the number font, went to the gray facemask. I was really hoping they were simply going to bring back the blue helmet for an authentic 1950s throwback. Oh well.

    I don’t have any problem with this. The Colts have unofficially been connected with black in the past having been a “black cleat” team. Alternates often bring a trim color to the forefront, and black is as close to a trim color as the Colts have. Indiana Nights is silly, but otherwise I think this looks good – even the heathered look which is designed to have more of a cowboy/jeans appearance.

    “Excuse me, Mr. Horse. What are your feelings about the Colts new alternate uniform?”


    So will the Colts team captains have this C logo on the left side of their chest and the normal team captain C logo on the right?

    As a lifelong Baltimorean who attended many BALTIMORE Colts games at Memorial Stadium before Bob ‘Tiger’ Irsay snuck them out of town in the middle of a snowy winter’s night, I am always happy about anything that makes that clown Jim Irsay and his Indianapolis NFL team look foolish. Am I being petty? Probably. But there have it…

    And as a lifelong Baltimorean, wounded by Irsay and the Mayflower trucks, may we presume that you stood in solidarity with Cleveland fans, denounced Glendening’s theft of the Browns on an airport tarmac, and have had nothing to do with the Ravens since they arrived?

    Yes, I did. Happy to get a team, not happy about how it went down. I deeply empathized with the Cleveland fans. At least they got to keep their name, colors, and history; a nicety that was not afforded Baltimore Colts fans.

    Good for you, Dave. I’ve visited Baltimore several times and your opinion seems to make you somewhat of a unicorn.

    Late to this party, but am compelled to comment, particularly to/with Dave Tarr’s remarks. I too am a lifelong Colts fan (and Bob Irsay hater- and Jim hasn’t fallen far from that tree- all these changes are his doing). I did continue to root for the Colts, but just tried to avoid the word “Indianapolis” in front of it. The reason (even through some pretty lean years in the80’s until the mid 90’s)? The classic Colts uniform- royal blue and white (only), with UCLA stripes that actually wrap around the shoulder, not sit on top of it! I did not adopt the Ravens because they too were stolen from Cleveland, and as Dave points out at least the Browns kept their name and colors. At least with the Ravens, black and purple go together as colors of the actual bird, and the Poe association with the poem and the city is appropriate (also one of the things that made the Colts pleasing- the horseracing industry connection)

    Black anything in the Colts uniform has no place (and I don’t agree that black cleats qualifies this), and especially a black helmet, the epitome of BFBS. Black AND blue is particularly egregious. The easy choice at least for the helmet was blue, using either the double horseshoe, or more creatively the original “bucking colt over goalpost”, which the Indianapolis Colts still own. I have several T shirts, golf shirts, etc with that logo only (or simply the horseshoe) WITHOUT the word Indianapolis. I agree with Judy A., MJ, Tim, Dave, and others that this is a horrendous look. A tutorial on how you can ruin a classic look, with no need for dramatic change.

    This completes the circle of the Colts copying Duke who copied the Colts. Completely unnecessary and poorly done for a team with one of the more classic looks in the league. This is what trying too hard looks like.

    The press release mentions “fan demand for a black helmet”. Who is this fan? Are they happy now?

    More like Indiana Nightmare! If this was posted on April fool’s day, I would have thought that this was a joke, like Denver did with those joke uniforms they made up as a prank. How can you take a classic NFL uniform that goes all the way back to when Johnny Unitas wore it and screw it up this bad?

    I imagine “Indiana Nights” is their take on the Lakers’ “Hollywood Nights” uniform, but Bob Seger never wrote a song about Indiana.

    I’m the, I think, rare person who doesn’t love the regular Colts uniforms, and I have a blanket policy of hating white helmets. But these black helmets are so bad that it makes me want to praise the team’s normal, mediocre uniforms as untouchable classics.

    That said, I do like the heathered blue, especially for a team with only the one team color. Texture can create much-needed visual variety within a one-color identity.

    Needlessly tendentious beyond what I actually believe: I get that Colts fans might claim this, just as the Packers fans where I live like to claim that yellow is not a team color. But white is achromatic, lacking in hue, and therefore isn’t even a color. Almost every team has white in its logos and uniforms, and so just as white is not a color, it’s also not something that belongs characteristically to any team. Thus white, for the Colts, is neither “team” nor “color.” The Colts have one team color: Blue.

    According to p. 79 of the NFL Record and Fact Book, the Colts’ colors are “Royal Blue and White.”

    (The Packers, by the way, are “Dark Green, Gold, and White.”)

    Easily beaten by having your pen bent in the wrong direction pulling out to far while doing the deed.

    It’s for one game. As long as Irsay is around, they’re not straying from their traditional unis as primary. As a Colts fan since 84, I am glad they tried something different. The biggest difference in their previous alt unis was shrinking the horseshoes and moving them to the back of the helmet.

    Boy, “Indiana Nights” sounds like just about the most boring thing ever. Beaten maybe only by North Dakota Nights or Nebraska Nights

    There was an old Colt logo with the bucking horse wearing a helmet, they could have used that, or go full Mellencamp and have a little pink uni and a bloody scarecrow helmet.

    Wow…it’s as though they went down the list of every wonderful design element of their uniform and decided to do the exact opposite.

    >By using that “C” logo, they’re gonna have people emailing me all season long to say, “How many captains do the Colts have?!”

    Oh god and here I thought ‘wow they got an alternate captain design, that’s cool at least. But this is gonna be on EVERYONE’S uniform?? Just put it on the shoulder or under the collar you dunces!

    As a BALTIMORE Colts fan, I hope the Irsays make this monstrosity their permanent uniform. A completely totally disjointed ransom note-esque “design”…using that term loosely.

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