NFL State of the Uniform Address: What Changes Should Teams Make in 2012?
After the NFL reported that Nike would replace Reebok as the manufacturer of all licensed on-field apparel (via the New York Times) some outrageous redesign concepts (via the Chicago Tribune) began to circulate the web.
Even though the NFL and Nike (via Yahoo) eventually shot those down as fakes, comments made by Nike President Charlie Denson predisposed that Nike would dramatically alter the NFL uniform landscape (via CNBC).
However, that now doesn't appear to be the case.
According to NBC Sports, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that Nike won't be making any drastic changes come the 2012 season. According to McCarthy,
Logos are controlled by teams and the NFL. That will not change. Teams have to apply to league to make changes to logos and colors.
We anticipate new uniform technology (i.e., performance-driven, lighter materials). That’s what Nike’s [Charlie] Denson was referring to in his interview in 2010 regarding changes.
So there you have it. The Nike revolution won't be sweeping the NFL like it has college football and basketball.
Still, there are some teams who are in desperate need of a new identity, and those teams should follow suit with the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle announced in June that it would be changing its uniforms in 2012 (via NBC Sports).
What other teams should use the April 2012 Nike takeover as an opportunity to change things up?
Here is the NFL State of the Uniform address going into the 2012 NFL season.
All team uniform links are courtesy of Chris Creamer's Sports Logos.net.
The Fantastic Four: Teams That Need to Stand Pat
These teams are the Fantastic Four when it comes to NFL uniforms. They are four classic franchises with 14 Super Bowl titles between them. A simple design doesn't always make a good design, but in the case of these four teams, it works.
Please, never change.
New York's home uniform is perfect. It represents Big Blue in the best way possible. The road uniform, however, needs some work. There just isn't enough blue—it's only present on the helmet and a thin stripe on the pants. The design itself is nice, but blue needs to be added to balance out the red.
My suggestion: Change the middle of the three red sleeve stripes to blue. Introduce a new sock design that is primarily white, with a red-blue-red stripe design in the middle that matches the road pant stripes.
Indianapolis is another team that has a simple design that doesn't need much tinkering. The only issue with the Colts uniform scheme is the shoulder stripes. They are pointless since they don't completely circle the sleeves.
Like the Giants, the Chiefs home design is flawless, and works well in Kansas City as the Arrowhead faithful create a screaming sea of red every Sunday. But there is something slightly off about the road scheme. The red pants really don't add anything, and I think the team actually looks better when it goes with the all-white combo on the road.
My suggestion: Scrap the red pants, go with the white. Then, go one step further and throw a white helmet into the mix with the same Chiefs logo on the side as the red helmet, but with a red-yellow-red stripe on it. The Chiefs would look stunning if they went with the white-out look. Not all teams can pull that off, but with a red and yellow color scheme, the colors would really pop.
San Diego's current design is excellent, but the Chargers should consider changing their primary home jersey to the powder blue jersey that they use as an alternate.
My suggestion: If the Chargers did change their home design, they should also alter their road scheme to match it. The template to follow would be the AFL road jerseys they sported in 2009, which looked really sharp on the field. You can't go wrong with the powder blue.
The Jaguars introduced their current uniform scheme in 2009. It's a clean design that doesn't have too much going on, but the black numbers on the road uniform make the white really stand out, and the matte black pants are a nice touch. The best feature is the helmet, which changes from black to teal depending on how the light reacts to it.
Gang Green's uniforms pay homage to the franchise's most successful era. The Jets wore a similar design in 1967 when Joe Namath led them to a Super Bowl title.
My suggestion: Get rid of the white-green-white shoulder stripes because they serve no purpose. The white sleeves are enough to distinguish the design.
Like Jacksonville, the 49ers began wearing their current design in 2009. San Francisco wisely eliminated the unnecessary black from the uniform, but for some reason it left the black in the logo on the team's helmet.
My suggestion: Get rid of all of the black!
The Bills once had some of the most hideous duds in the league, but they changed their design this past season and now have one of the best. It was a great decision to switch to a white helmet, and ditching the navy blue was equally wise.
My suggestion: Switch from the charging Buffalo logo to the AFL red grazing buffalo logo. Sure, a grazing buffalo isn't as intimidating, but the classic all-red logo looks phenomenal on a white helmet.
Miami's design isn't terrible, but the shading behind the numbers is. No team should sport a jersey with a number outline and a number shading like the Dolphins do. Otherwise, Miami has one of the league's best logos, and it is a historic franchise that shouldn't consider changing its color scheme.
My suggestion: Get rid of the shading behind the numbers and focus on presenting a uniform closer to what the Dolphins wore in the 80s.
Look to the Past
These four teams are currently sporting some pretty tired designs. It becomes especially sad when considering the throwback unis these teams have in their respective vaults.
Meanwhile, the Patriots and Broncos should draw upon elements from their previous designs when creating new schemes.
In 2011, ESPN's uni-expert Paul Lukas reported that the reason New England switched from its "Pat the Patriot" logo to its current "Flying Elvis" design is because Patriots marketing director Micéal Chamberlain wanted something easier to work with.
According to Chamberlain, "The old one was very difficult to market, because it's a complicated design, so it was hard to get it right."
That makes it unlikely New England will ever bring back Pat the Patriot, but there is no reason it can't take elements from its red throwback unis when coming up with a new design concept.
New England could switch to a logo such as this, a design that was proposed in 1979 but never used. It is simple enough to market and also would allow the Patriots to use a color scheme closer to the American flag design rather than the navy blue and silver they currently sport.
The NFL has already approved Denver's switch to orange jerseys at home next season, according to the Denver Post. This is a step in the right direction, but the Broncos should go the full nine yards (or 98 yards, as John Elway did in 1987), and return to their Orange Crush days, when the team wore a lighter shade of blue.
The best new design Denver could create would take its current logo and mesh it with elements from the Orange Crush era.
Solid, but Time for a Change
My suggestion: Scrap the purple. The bird the team is named after is black, and the all-black set Baltimore sometimes wears is its best uniform combo anyway. I've always thought the Ravens rarely-used alternate logo was better than its primary one, so Baltimore should consider putting that on the helmet.
My suggestion: Carolina's scheme is actually quite nice, but the Panthers have had it since their inaugural season in 1995. They could change it up with a black helmet. Something like this would suffice.
My suggestion: Houston's design is an example of how simplicity can be boring. It's difficult making navy blue with red trim visually stimulating, so perhaps making the red jersey the primary home uniform would do the trick. The Texans should also add white to the shoulder stripes so the navy blue stands out better, and a white helmet would help too.
My suggestion: Washington's look is also just plain boring. The Redskins' best design is their yellow-helmet throwback. They should consider crafting a scheme based off of those duds. Plus, Washington should try to de-emphasize its Indian logo and instead use the feathered circular "R" on its helmet.
My suggestion: Dallas is the only team in the NFL that always wears white at home. However, the Cowboys have some inconsistencies between their two uniforms that need to be corrected. Dallas uses two different shades of blue, and its metallic blue home pants do not match anything else in its color scheme.
The 'Boys should think about switching full-time to their uniforms from the 1960s.
In Need of a Complete Overhaul
My suggestion: The Titans need to pick a shade of blue and stick with it. They have navy and light blue sharing the stage instead of having one as the predominant color. The best move they could make, however, would be to scrap the shoulder pad look. Go with stripes or nothing at all, because a jersey's secondary elements should not take up that much space.
My suggestion: It's not easy to make purple look good, but Fran Tarkenton managed to do it, so maybe that's a good place to start when redesigning the uniforms. Losing the white side panels would be another good step as well.
My suggestion: Like the Vikings, Cincinnati should ditch the white side panels. The Bengals would also be better off without the single orange shoulder stripe. There is enough orange represented on the sleeves. The number font needs changing as well. The font used on the Bengals practice jerseys looks much nicer.
My suggestion: Atlanta has an excellent template to go off of if it designs a new uniform. The 1990 throwback the Falcons have worn as an alternate since 2009 look sharp. All they would have to do is add their updated logo to the helmet and they'd be all set.
My suggestion: Seattle has the worst uniforms in the NFL, and that doesn't even take in account their hideous attempt at comedy. (Their lime green jerseys were supposed to be a joke, right?)
Seattle weather is depressing enough, Seahawks fans don't need the uniforms to bring them down more. Scrap the dull blue and come up with something with a little more pizazz, won't you?