All NFL uniforms were not created equally.
Figuring out which teams need new uniforms can be tricky business to the untrained eye. A great deal of time, effort, and work goes into these uniform designs, only for them to be denigrated by the average fan.
Instead of thumbing through NFL uniforms and breaking down color schemes and dissecting who has strong uniforms and who was weak uniforms, I did what any good American would do: I outsourced my work to someone more qualified.
Enter my close personal friend and extremely talented artist, Nate James.
You may be familiar with Nate’s work from Nike’s Air Force 1 campaign last fall that utilized his abilities to make posters promoting their shoe.
Square versions of poster for Nike AF-1 campaign pic.twitter.com/Zi2C5P22Rc— (@ambient_cowboy) November 27, 2017
Aside from doing great artwork, Nate is also a football nerd at heart and unfortunately, a beleaguered Cincinnati Bengals fan. Who better to ask than an artist that roots for a team that could stand to upgrade their uniforms (and quarterback)?
The uniforms in discussion have been broken down into three categories: Outdated Modernism, Nike Hatchet Jobs, and Fauxbacks. Let’s turn it over to our artistry expert for the low down.
“Modern” designs that could stand to be upgraded.
“A wide variety of weird key lines and splashes of detail that look messier and messier every year. The white swaths on the armpits accomplish nothing. The combination of a red stripe and a red shoulder yoke on the away jersey is truly, truly awful. Pairing a clearly outdated look that has to contort itself to the seams of new uniform technology with an ancient helmet that’s never changed is beyond nonsensical. This one is beyond saving.”
“Apart from how you feel about the tiger stripes (I wouldn’t change them just because I can’t imagine anything else - for better or worse, that’s the Bengals) the white side stripe is pointless and ridiculous, the orange shoulder yoke on the away jersey sucks, and shadow number font needs to go.”
“Same as the Ravens and previous Titans set - the fonts just really haven’t aged well. I think they would be well served to go back to kelly green, but just like Baltimore, they’re doing okay otherwise by keeping the rest of the jersey simple.”
“Similar issues as Arizona. The pseudo-scary logo doesn’t work and they have too many weird stripes that look even weirder every time they update the material. I would prefer the early Vick-era look. If they want to go modern, get rid of all the extra lines, update the shoulder and number font, and dial back the logo.”
“They don’t need to do much (don’t be the Titans), just update the material, the striping, possibly a new font, move on.”
Nike Hatchet Jobs
These are recent Nike redesigns on classic jerseys of the past that have been botched.
“This shit makes me furious. You’re the Browns, you’re a historic franchise with an aesthetic squarely rooted in that history. Don’t overthink it. You see another common over-design mistake with the Browns; changing the colors of minor design elements for no reason. The brown facemask is absolutely infuriating. Just make it white, wear the Jim Brown stuff, and wear orange pants every once in awhile if you want to switch things up. Every single piece of the current design is awful. The orange numbers, the 3D shading, the orange stitching, the extended shoulder stripes, all of it. They look like Bowling Green, but worse.”
“They needed a modern update, they just overdid it. I actually liked the white helmet - the front stripe had to change, and I think they could have gone with the same sword motif on the helmet, but their shoulder design is very XFL. I think their use of a white helmet, navy jersey, and Carolina pants (when they did do so) was a unique color blocking that they should’ve kept around. Instead they look like an all navy Toronto Argonauts, and there’s entirely too much navy in pro sports.”
“Overdone all the way through. The number font, the pewter shoulder yoke, the giant helmet logo. There is some decent stuff in there, just roll it back.
“Worth saying now that shoulder yoke on away jerseys are unilaterally terrible.”
Somewhere stuck between trying to look modern while also giving the past the respect it deserves.
“There were elements of the previous set that were over-designed (a constant feature of the Nike disasters). The helmet was bad, and the newer logo isn’t an improvement on their original, but overall, their last set was one of the better Nike redesigns. Simplifying and returning to teal were good decisions, but they repeated the sins of the David Garrard era uniform where they removed all gold trim from the uniform. What really set off their original look was the minimal gold borders on the numbers (Colorado is currently using this beautifully).
“The new font is great and the overall design is sound - just bring back the gold and black double border on the numbers.”
“Combination fauxback and outdated modernism. Just go full throwback powder blue. Retaining older uniform elements connects it to the history of your franchise and imbues it with meaning and historicity.
“This really speaks to the failed “modernism” of most of these designs. It references an old design but smooths over its historicity with stuff that is bland but new. It’s focus grouped, soulless nonsense. Bring back the real thing.”
“They’re stuck between ideas here and they need to pick one. The white horned helmet looks fine, but if they go with that they need to get the rest of the gold out of the uniform. But the solution for them is easy - wear the royal and yellow throwbacks”
There you have it, an artist’s take on which NFL teams can improve and how they can do it. You’ll never find this caliber of in-depth NFL artwork takes on other websites.
What do you think? Respond in the comments with your own suggestions or rebuttals.