NFL Nation: Uni Watch

Earlier this week, we ran a Uni Watch column on NFL teams wearing mono-colored uniforms. The column included a list of the teams that had never "gone mono" in their current uniform sets, and that list included the Bills.

[+] EnlargeBuffalo Bills
Courtesy of Buffalo BillsFor the first time, the Bills plan to wear royal blue jerseys and pants.
After this Sunday, that list will have to be revised.

The Bills have announced that they'll be wearing mono-blue for this Sunday's game against the Packers, pairing their royal blue jerseys with their matching blue pants. It will mark the first time these two uniform elements have been worn together. Up until now, the blue pants have only been paired with the team's white jerseys.

The team's announcement of this Sunday's uniform combination said "fans have been asking for" the mono-blue look for some time.

NFL teams are required to declare which jerseys they'll be wearing for each game prior to the start of the regular season, but no prior notification is required for pants, which allows for surprise announcements like this one.

The Bills routinely went mono-navy with their previous uniform set, which they wore from 2002 through 2010. The current set, which has elements that hearken back to the team's original uniform design, was introduced in 2011.
Checking in on Paul Lukas' 2013 Power Rankings for NFL uniforms:

1. Chicago Bears
Last year: 1
Uni Watch excerpt: "No other team looks as consistently sharp week after week, no matter if they're playing at home or on the road. Key element: the striped socks, which tie the whole look together."
Seifert comment: No reason to mess with success. The Bears have been trotting out essentially the same uniform for decades, and for good reason.

2. Green Bay Packers
Last year: 2
Uni Watch excerpt: "Still the perfect autumnal color pattern for an autumn sport. Poised to snag the top spot on the NFL chart if only they'd address those distractingly large TV numbers."
Seifert comment: You know you're watching a Packers game the second you see the jersey. That's kind of the point, right?

17. Minnesota Vikings
Last year: 31
Uni Watch excerpt: "The Vikes' return to aesthetic respectability carries the whiff of Nikefied gimmickry: the odd sleeve stripes and asymmetrical pants stripes, the weird numbering system, the matte helmet that doesn't appear to match the jersey -- all of this is unnecessary. Still, it's all so much better than what they were wearing before that it qualifies as a major leap forward."
Seifert comment: This year's changes are relatively subtle, but a big improvement.

27. Detroit Lions
Last year: 26
Uni Watch excerpt: "Every stripe, every numeral, every letter, the color break in the socks, the helmet logo, the facemask -- all accented in black. Look, gang, here's how it works: You've got that Honolulu blue thing going. You should own that color. Don't tart it up with black."
Seifert comment: How about the Lions introduce an alternative uniform that includes black jerseys and pants to go along with that black trim? That might look cool.
Uni Watch Cleveland Browns redesignCourtesy of Soukie Outhavong
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said last month that the team is exploring the possibility of changes to its uniforms. I understand that the new look will coincide with the new regime. It's all symbolic of a fresh start.

I just don't think it's necessary. My preference is to remain old school, and I don't feel the Browns' look is outdated. Thankfully, Haslam has no plans to alter the helmet.

Our friends at Uni Watch revealed the best suggestions from readers on the redesign, and I was impressed for the most part.

The best logo is so good that the Browns should look into adopting it. This takes the Brownie the Elf mascot from the past (used from the 1940s through the 1960s) and gives him a fierce, modernized look. It's pretty sharp.

In terms of uniform, the clear winner was the one by Soukie Outhavong that incorporates stripes across the chest. As I said before, my first choice is not to change the uniforms. But, if the Browns intend to do so, this is my favorite look because it still has that old-school feel about it. This also complements the stripe going across the top of the helmet, which has been such a classic look.

We'll have to wait and see if this is the same direction that Haslam and the Browns will take. Haslam said there is a chance that the Browns could unveil the new uniforms next year, but they wouldn't be worn until the 2014 season.
I passed along a link Tuesday to view the individual team pages for Nike's rollout of 2012 NFL uniforms. If you scrolled over to the Green Bay Packers' page, you saw this note: "The Green Bay Packers have chosen to stay with their traditional design aesthetic as well as their former uniform fabrication for the coming season."

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay Packers
Joe Faroni/ESPNThe Packers kept things the same with their new Nike uniforms.
What exactly does that mean? I sought some clarity from the Packers, and here's what I can tell you:

Most team uniform styles were changed in subtle ways. For example, the Detroit Lions have a duller version of gray on their pants. Some teams have new-look collars. The Chicago Bears moved their television numbers from the sleeves of the jerseys to the shoulders.

The Packers allowed absolutely no changes to their classic look, not even the most simple alteration in color or shade. The only difference is the Nike logo, according to spokesman Aaron Popkey.

The Packers also decided against using the new technology Nike introduced as part of this transition, including a different fabric that is purported to be lighter, especially when wet. But that issue could be revisited after the 2012 season. "We are open-minded on that aspect," Popkey said.

The Packers were among a handful of NFL teams to reject the new trappings of the uniform change. Your responses were mostly supportive, from what I could see. Via Twitter, @matsonscotty wrote: "packers unis didn't change at all. Just as it should be." Many of you agreed.

But a handful were hoping for a fresh look. @Whiledayes wrote: "It's upsetting no NFCN teams took the leap [Seattle] did. Thought this was a game about fwd progress."

None of us should have been expecting the Packers would make significant changes to their uniforms, and frankly we shouldn't be surprised to hear they rejected every single possibility. The Packers have gotten a bit more corporate in recent years, but let's not get crazy here. For now, people who wanted to change will have to be happy with newly colored shoes and cooler gloves.

Related: Paul Lukas has a detailed breakdown of each team's changes on his Uni Watch blog.

New unis: Wrapping up the NFC West

April, 3, 2012

Tying up loose ends on a Tuesday that began with the NFL and Nike unveiling new uniforms for the 2012 season:
  • Paul Lukas' column affirms that Seattle was the only team to completely redesign its uniforms. But he notes that pants for the San Francisco 49ers and some other teams might appear less metallic than in the past.
  • Rules prevent teams from redesigning their uniforms more frequently than every five seasons. The 49ers last redesigned their uniforms in April 2009. The Arizona Cardinals redesigned theirs in 2005. The Rams overhauled their uniforms in 2000.
  • The Rams have ditched their gold pants, according to Jim Thomas.
  • The Detroit Lions' equipment manager, Tim O'Neil, said the new uniforms are especially snug-fitting, which could make it tougher opponents to grab onto jerseys. ESPN's Trent Dilfer and Marcellus Wiley touched on that aspect in the video above. O'Neill: "If we hung a jersey on a hanger, it would look like a medium T-shirt."

All for now. Enjoy your Tuesday night.
The Nike literature regarding the new "Elite 51" uniforms made available to NFL teams Tuesday includes the following terms: technology, Thermoregulation, hydrophobic, aircraft-grade, zonal, articulated and Hyperfuse.

Phil Knight's writers could have been describing spacesuits instead of football uniforms, except there's a lot more money to be made from the latter.

Nike saved some of its most descriptive writing for the Seattle Seahawks' total uniform redesign, which has so far trumped subtler styling tweaks for the other 31 teams.

"The new uniform colors are rooted in Seattle's own environmental hues -- the deep blue of the ocean water that tucks into the harbor near downtown and the Seahawks' stadium," Nike proclaims. "The new color addition called Action Green represents the green of the ubiquitous trees, ferns and moss literally covering the Pacific Northwest landscape."

While the Seahawks underwent the most dramatic uniform overhaul, including 12 markings on the pants and collar to honor the 12th Man, all teams' uniforms are functionally identical (check them out via Nike for Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis).

"The uniform is completely engineered from the inside out, focusing on creating a system where the baselayer, padding, jersey and pant work in concert," Nike said. "A few of the new innovations include increasing sleeve articulation for better range of motion and integrating new four-way stretch fabrication to provide a streamlined shrink-wrap fit."

The numbers on the jersey also stretch, according to Nike.

The 49ers made available a shot of their white away jersey. It looks about like the ones we've seen the 49ers wear previously. While this shot of Alex Smith makes him look like a bad dude, the Seahawks are the ones calling their threads "the new look of intimidation" on their website.

A read through the comments section on our previous item shows a range of opinions on the Seattle redesign. I asked those leaving comments to disclose their ages, figuring younger fans might be more apt to welcome what Nike obviously considers to be a cutting-edge concept.

A sampling, with listed ages:
  • dizzog22 (age 24): "LOVE them. Gives the hawks a tougher look... Much better than the shiny blue... That was ridiculous."
  • luckier_12thman (no age listed): "I love these jerseys! The Hawks and Nike are just setting the tone, everyone outside the NW will hate the hawks look as always, but all the more reason to love them."
  • J3ffro19 (31): "I think they all look pretty good, the blue on blue or white on white especially."
  • Willy2535 (22): "LOVE THEM!!!!!!!"
  • nwdave (28): "At first I was like 'ugh,' then I was like 'meh,' and now they're growing on me. I like the gray alternates, and I like the helmet design. The overall look is pretty busy, though."
  • shorne25 (29): "Why do I think Arena Football League?"
  • SirDro (26): "I'm in the minority, but these look like MLS uniforms circa 1996. To each their own, I guess. Just glad my Niners aren't wearing anything like that."
  • NickMinnott (24): "Horrible, just awful. I'm embarrassed."
  • linemanmax64 (22): "I'm really digging the away and alternate jerseys. The home might take a bit more getting used to; I feel like it'll look good in the sunlight."
  • usceahawk (29): "Initially a little shocked, I think I like them."
  • bkbailey76 (36): "I had bigger hopes for the unis. I'm glad the Seahawks are doing something different, but not sure if this was the way to go."
  • Stormballa1986 (25): "We are in an ever changing world. NASCAR couldn't use 1934 Ford Coupes forever. Point is, the new uniforms are going to be something that when they change them again in 10 years, I am going to be the one saying, 'They were fine the way they were' about these new ones. They have to change, we can't wear the same uniforms we wore in 1992. Whether you like it or not, it is going to happen. Might as well be optimistic about how much of a beast Money Lynch looks in them."
  • crus9041 (no age): "Awesome of them to remember the 12th Man!"
  • Flynnsane in the Membrane (23): "I would have liked the home one more, if it wasn't for the neon green patch on the shoulder. I did like the grey ones the best. Might be getting a kam or lynch grey jersey."
  • ser4ph1m (26): "I completely agree, the neon green patch is distracting."
  • daveb_dc (32): "I think it'll take a while to get used to the new 'Nike' look, rather than the classic NFL look. I like the gray as the alternate, and I like the all whites. I hate the name across the back."
  • BaneDaBakBreakah (30): "These are the ugliest uniforms in the history of the NFL. The Nike logo is on the uniform more times that our own. If the jersey didn't have the actual word 'Seahawks' on it, then I wouldn't be able to discern it from a generic high school jersey. I think I'll save my money and skip buying a Matt Flynn jersey and stick with my retro Jim Zorn one."
  • Charbonneau85 (18): "Seahawks are so close to having perfect uniforms. The helmet is absolutely beautiful. The green should be darker, but otherwise the design is fantastic."
  • Battles 4 Seattle (26): "The helmet exceeded my expectations. Think it looks so sleek and yet very cool. The uniforms did not meet my expectations. I dislike the green and some of the other detail pieces."
  • SFC_12thMan (32): "At first I was bothered, but then I remembered that they were showing three uniforms, and not just one. The new dark jerseys look AWFUL when worn with the new dark pants, but are actually kinda cool with the gray or white pants. I LOVE the all-gray look. The helmets were the best change by far!!"
  • cubicalhabitation (no age): "So if the Seahawks are joining the XFL, who is going to replace them in the NFC West?"

Thanks for sharing. We haven't heard the last on this subject, I'm sure. Most of the reviews I read through seemed positive.
With Nike taking over as the uniform supplier for the NFL, there is an unveiling taking place in New York on Tuesday.

The Carolina Panthers previously announced their logo will change. Here’s the new one and the old one. Also, check out the collars on the Panthers' uniforms. They feature the "Keep Pounding'' message that was started when former Carolina linebacker and assistant coach Sam Mills and linebacker Mark Fields were battling cancer.

All four NFC South teams have elected to stick with their traditional uniforms (with the Panthers making some slight tweaks), but Nike has made significant changes to how the uniforms are made.

You can check out the Atlanta Falcons here and the Panthers here. You can see the New Orleans Saints’ page here and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers here. Just a quick note that I've heard from some readers that there appear to be some problems with the server on Nike's website, so you might want to try several times if you run into trouble.

You also can follow our Uni Watch coverage on Twitter.

Feel free to share your thoughts below.

New unis: First look at Seahawks

April, 3, 2012
The new Seattle Seahawks uniforms from Nike are ... different.

If Nike gets this right, younger players will love the changes right away, with others realizing at some point that Nike was simply ahead of the game.

2012 Seattle Seahawks Nike uniform
NikeThe new Seahawks uniforms were unveiled on Tuesday.
And let's face it: Reebok didn't exactly set the bar high with some of its offerings. Take this jacket, for instance. Take it into a time machine and give it back to 1991.

"How many Reebok uniform reveals did you follow?" @robertlong asked.

Point taken.

Those wanting to check out Seattle's full redesign can do so on the team's website.

The fit is definitely trimmer, the look cleaner. They're showing blue-on-blue, white-on-white and other combinations.

"New unis are nice!" Richard Sherman, 24-year-old Seahawks cornerback, tweeted. "Glad I'm on the team that is spearheading the movement.

One unrelated observation: Marshawn Lynch appears to be in fighting shape. His weight climbed late during the 2010 season, but he reported in top condition last season and apparently took this modeling opportunity seriously.

Your thoughts? And please give your age range when opining. Bet we'll see a split by age demographic.