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Let’s Talk About ‘What if?’ Uniforms

Hello! For this week’s Uni Watch Premium article over on Substack, I’ve done a deep dive into “What if?” uniforms, most of which involve prototype designs that were produced (and, in some cases, officially unveiled, like the 49ers’ infamous 1991 helmet) but, for various reasons, never made it onto the field, ice or court. Each one represents an intriguing road not taken, and in this article I’ve covered well over a dozen examples spread across the Big Four pro leagues. Even if you know a lot of about prototype designs, I’m pretty sure there will be at least a couple of examples here that you haven’t seen before!

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paid subscriber to my Substack (which will also allow you to access my Substack archives). And this is a particularly good time to subscribe, because the annual NHL and NBA Season Previews are both coming up in the next few weeks.

My thanks, as always, for your support and consideration.


Comments (6)

    Something I never considered until now: would that 49ers helmet even be able to be worn during a game? In the NBA, the 76ers have never been allowed to have the full team name written with the number (they have worn the spelled-out “SEVENTY-SIXERS” or “SIXERS”, of course) on the front of the jersey, with the explanation I heard being the only number that can appear on the jersey is the player number. If that rule was applied to the NFL, some teams wear uniform numbers on their helmets, at least part of the time (Chargers mostly, but the previous Browns throwbacks have also done it). If everyone on the field had a 49 on their helmet, would that be some sort of illegal procedure? Never mind that it is gauche.

    That helmet just says “our marketing department didn’t put a whole lot of research and effort into this design”.

    As an anomaly that ultimately never had a chance to alter the niners look, I have always loved this logo. With the second shell rule, I’d like to see the niners do a gold chrome helmet with this logo just for one game a season.

    As I recall, it was fan outrage that caused the 49ers to scrap the switch. This was before social media and the internet, so news didn’t travel as fast. Right about that time I was at the annual Super Show in Atlanta, the sports retail merchandise convention in the World Congress Center. I happened to see a guy with the new logo helmet, and was able to get a good first hand look in person.

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