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August 24, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Paul Lukas

Drew ((NY))

What are we to make of the New Irish Jerseys?

Paul Lukas
  (2:54 PM)

The jerseys are fine. It's the helmet and the pants that are the problem.

Mike (Waukegan, IL)

You know an awful lot about design, like terminology and various specific concepts of what works in a uniform/logo, and what doesn't. Do you have a background in graphic design?

Paul Lukas
  (2:56 PM)

I have no formal training in design. But I edited graphic design books in the 1980s and '90s, which was a big education, and then ended up writing a lot about package design, industrial design, etc. Earlier this summer I taught a one-day course at the School of Visual Arts, which was a hoot. So I'm sort of a design dilettante who's been lucky enough to become somewhat established in that world.

Mike (Waukegan, IL)

What has it been like seeing beat writers of the respective sports give their commentary on the uniforms? Do you think it's been an awkward crossover into your domain?

Paul Lukas
  (2:57 PM)

Uniforms aren't "my domain" -- they're everyone's domain. I have no problem with beat writers (or anyone else) offering their opinions, although I wish they wouldn't make so many factual errors while doing so.

Nick (Philadelphia)

How much time did you spend putting this together? It's extremely well done. I'm curious how many weeks/days/hours (approximately) it took.

Paul Lukas
  (2:58 PM)

Thanks, Nick. The work for this project began in mid-July and took about a month.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What Professional Sports teams Do you think has the Absolute Worst Uniforms ever?

Paul Lukas
  (2:58 PM)

I've always thought that the Devil Rays' inaugural uniforms, with the rainbow gradation on the lettering, is the worst ever.

Russ (New Jersey)

any logo/uni changes on the horizon besides dolphins & Astros? Arent the suns getting new unis this year? (not the 90's throwbacks)

Paul Lukas
  (2:59 PM)

I'm there there's lots in the works, but the only thing I know for sure is the Astros. The Dolphins thing is just something they're considering -- not yet a done deal.

Brian (phillybri@gmail.com)

I know you're a fan of the Phillies current uni set, since it's going to be in the top 25 of your power rankings, but how does it compare to their classic "P" look worn from 1970 to 1991? As a lifelong fan, I'd love to see them go back to that look full-time.

Paul Lukas
  (2:59 PM)

I like that look, too. Looked great when worn as a throwback a few nights ago, no? But I really like their current set.

Mack (Spade Racing) (Wilmington DE)

Hello Mr. Lukas! If the NBA allows advertising on uniforms, do you see most teams doing so right away, or a gradual influx?

Paul Lukas
  (3:00 PM)

If they approve the uni advertising plan in September, I think most teams will be on board for 2013. I am, of course, completely opposed to that and am still hoping it won't happen. #NoUniAds

anno191 (massachusetts)

paul why dont u give the crazy uniforms a chance?

Paul Lukas
  (3:00 PM)

Best question of the day!

Deann (Milwaukee)

Where would the Brewers throwback unis rate on this is?

Paul Lukas
  (3:01 PM)

Nice uniform. But like a lot of old MLB designs, it doesn't work as well in the era of pajama pants.

Dave (Eastern NC)

Do you have plans of doing this type of ranking for college athletics?

Paul Lukas
  (3:02 PM)

That will be tricky. For one thing, there are sooooo many teams, and they now have sooooo many uniforms, which they tend to change every year. Also, in many cases, I've never even seen these teams play on TV. In college football, for example, there are teams in the MAC, the Sun Belt, and COnference USA that I've never seen, so I'd be ranking them strictly on the basis of photos, which I'm not comfortable with. (With the pro teams, of course, I've seen all of them many times.)

Alex (Gainesville, FL)

I'm sure the explanation everyone is dying to hear... how are the Blackhawks 49th?

Paul Lukas
  (3:04 PM)

Simple: I really like the white uni but have never much liked the red uni (even back to my days as a kid). Don't know what else to tell ya. The did rank in the top two-fifths, ya know, so it's not like I ranked them at the bottom or something like that.

Jacob (Charleston,SC) [via mobile]

Would the Braves position change much if they got rid of the red alternate set?

Paul Lukas
  (3:04 PM)

That would definitely help. God, that jersey is really awful.

Duncan (Atlanta)

If the Hartford Whalers were still around, where would you rank their jerseys? I always thought their green/blue combo looked great on the ice.

Paul Lukas
  (3:05 PM)

Good-looking team. Always loved the logo. I attended college in Binghamton, and back in those days our local team was the Binghamton Whalers, whose logo was the whale tail turned on its side, so it formed a "B" instead of a "W."

Kueth Duany (Nigeria)

What is the criteria for these rankings?

Paul Lukas
  (3:05 PM)

My opinions. No more, no less.

Biff (Kentucky)

How much does the quality of the franchise weigh on its uniform's ranking? For example, would the one logo "quirk" on the Steelers helmet seem as cool if the franchise had the history of the Seahawks?

Paul Lukas
  (3:07 PM)

I tried not to let a franchise's performance, past or present, affect the rankings. I mean, look where the Cubs ranked! And the Royals! All I cared about was how the teams look.

Mike (chicago)

How do the Blackhawks get rated 49? They have consistently been voted the #1 uni in hockey.

Paul Lukas
  (3:08 PM)

Well, then you don't need to care about my opinion, do you? If everyone thinks I'm wrong about the Blackhawks (or anything else), that's fine. I think what I think; you can think what you think.

Spencer Jenks (Tacoma, WA)

What about the MLS? You're missing out on some pretty cool uniforms!

Paul Lukas
  (3:08 PM)

For better or worse, I'm not soccer-literate. Also -- and I want to make it clear that I don't mean this as a knock -- MLS is not on the same level as the Big Four leagues.

Josh (Oregon)

Why no picture or mention of the Blazers' "Rip City" alternates?

Paul Lukas
  (3:09 PM)

Good point. Oversight on my part.

Inge Lindstrom (Stockholm)

The new NBA uniforms will have the approved 4X4 ads all over them next year correct ? Saw a mock of the Knicks/Bostons uni and they looked so bad. Is this going to happen for real ?

Paul Lukas
  (3:10 PM)

First of all, the ads are 2.5" x 2.5" (not 4x4). And it isn't yet a done deal. A final vote is taking place next month. #NoUniAds

stroh (houston)

Any idea what the Astros new uniforms will look like?

Paul Lukas
  (3:11 PM)

I've read the same reports that you probably have, saying that the new design will be fairly traditional and will draw upon the team's heritage. So I'm expecting orange and maybe an updated versio nof the old shooting star design. But I don't have any inside info.

Bryan King (Pasadena, CA)

The explanation for the Blackhawks being at 49 was not good enough. Can we please get a better one?

Paul Lukas
  (3:12 PM)

Yes: It's a conspiracy to annoy Blackhawks fans. And boy has it succeeded!

Mack (Spade Racing) (Wilmington DE)

Has the NBA figured out how to handle jersey sponsor conflicts? For example, Blake Griffin endorses Kia, so what would the Clippers do if they had Honda as a sponsor?

Paul Lukas
  (3:13 PM)

That's one of those things they'll have to figure out as they go. It may mean that they don't take Honda as a sponsor. Or maybe Griffin doesn't wear the patch.Or, if we're lucky, the league realizes what disaster this would be and decides not to do the plan after all. #NoUniAds

Matt (New York, NY)

You're losing it Paul. Colts at 53? Next to Green Bay the they're the only team in the NFL to resist the alternate jersey or black trim.

Paul Lukas
  (3:14 PM)

Um, Niners? Browns? Etc...

Isaac (Boston)

Are you against purple?

Paul Lukas
  (3:15 PM)

More like fundamentally, diametrically opposed to it.

Mack (Spade Racing) (Wilmington DE)

If the NHL did away with unique Third/Alternate Jerseys, and maybe only limited them to throwbacks, wouldn't that be a major improvement?

Paul Lukas
  (3:16 PM)

I dunno, I've liked a lot of NHL alts over the years. But they're in a bad place now, where they have too many alts that clearly came out of the same formula (circular crest, retro feel, etc.). There are still some good alts out there, though, like the Wild's.

Mike (Everett, MA)

The old Pat Patriot red jerseys? Where would those rank? They are my favorite football jerseys ever.

Paul Lukas
  (3:17 PM)

I've always loved Pat Patriot. That set would rank high -- higher than the Pats' current set.

Chris (Philly)

Is it for sure that the Mets are losing black? because it's long overdue, any word of another alternate? like a blue one?

Paul Lukas
  (3:17 PM)

No, it is not for sure. But that's the current understanding.

Matt (Wichita)

How did you convince ESPN to pay you to write this article? Obviously you have no more credentials than any fan off the street so why waste our time?

Paul Lukas
  (3:18 PM)

I've been writing Uni Watch for ESPN since 2004 (and was writing it for other venues since 1999). This project was my editor's idea, not mine.

Jon G (Pittsburgh)

You often get "sneak peaks" to uni designs, which one was hardest to keep a secret?

Paul Lukas
  (3:18 PM)

The ones I'm still keeping!

Wally (Los Angeles)

What did you think of the old "pajama style" uniforms that some MLB teams wore in the 80s and 90s? I'm referring to the ones with no belts and no buttons on the shirts.

Paul Lukas
  (3:20 PM)

You mean the pullover jerseys and the sansabelt pants.... You know, it's funny: Pullovers make more sense from a practical standpoint (every year you see an infielder or two end up with a ball that takes a bad hop and ends up inside his jersey because it sneaks in between the buttons), but everyone -- including me -- agrees that button-front jerseys look better.

Alex Giobbi (Connecticut)

Paul, if the Nets had unveiled their uniforms earlier, and I know you posted the leak from NBA 2k this morning on the Uni watch with the Nets new jerseys, where would you have ranked them? Would they have leapfrogged out of the top 100? Maybe even into the top 25 with the similarly clad Raiders?

Paul Lukas
  (3:22 PM)

Need to see more than a video game leak. I saw actual uniform prototypes of the Nets' new look last winter, but only for about 45 seconds, and I didn't get to take any photos. Let's put it this way: They'd rank a lot higher than the Nets' last set from NJ. But I don't recall enough of the details to assess them in a meaningful way.

Ryan (San Jose, CA)

Which SF Giants road greys are more appealing to you: the standard "San Francisco" across the chest, or the interlocking "SF" on the chest?

Paul Lukas
  (3:22 PM)

I like the "SF" design. Hope they use it full-time next year.

Todd (Springfield )

Everyone at ESPN, and everyone who loves sports for that matter, has a favorite team, or teams. Who are yours?

Mike (Cedar Falls, IA)

You seem a bit nostalgic. Why so gung-ho about old school designs? For instance, the Bills jerseys of the last few years were a marked improvement on the 90's plain jane jerseys that they're bringing back.

Person (DC)

are there enough changes every year to make this an annual feature?

Paul Lukas
  (3:24 PM)

We think so, yeah.

Person (DC)

Would you be able to watch a Bengals-Vikings Super Bowl?

Paul Lukas
  (3:25 PM)

That would definitely be a difficult experience....

Sam (Portland)

Why has there been no info on the 10 select Nike Pro Combat teams for college football this year?

Paul Lukas
  (3:26 PM)

Nike hasn't released it. Participating teams will include Ohio State, LSU, Florida State, a few others. But details -- including the date of the unveiling -- have been scarce.

Priyank (Piscataway, NJ)

Why do you have the Chicago Bears ranked at #2? In my opinion their jerseys are not too great. Also, why don't you have the Knicks in the top 25?

Paul Lukas
  (3:27 PM)

Guys, no offense, but you can't just ask, "How could you rank [some team] higher" (or lower). That's not a real question!

HP Drifter (Seattle)

And how bout those old Red Wing throwbacks? My favorite ever I think.

Paul Lukas
  (3:28 PM)

Very nice, I agree.

Alan (Kansas City, MO)

How much did the cut and trim of the fabric weigh in on the rankings? Or was it solely based on aesthetics?

Paul Lukas
  (3:28 PM)

Cut and trim ARE part of aesthetics! It all counts.

Mike (Chicago)

Your write-up of the Yankees said more about disliking it than liking it. Are they only that high due to history? Philly has a similar pinstripe & grey scheme but with (my biased opinion) the best script in baseball and a third uni you love, why are they lower?

Paul Lukas
  (3:30 PM)

The Yanks rated highly because they have a very, very good design. But a lot of people expected them to automaticlly rank #1 by default or something like that, so I was explaining why they didn't come in at the very top. Everyone knows why the Yanks' look is good; I was explaining a few ways in which it's not quite the best.

Dan (Los Angeles)

Paul, what do you think about how those new Revolution 30 jerseys look on the teams? I understand they're probably more comfortable, but they just look cheap to me when they're on the court.

Paul Lukas
  (3:31 PM)

I wouldn't go so far as to say the NBA uniforms look "cheap," but it's true that the move to ever-lighter fabrics has resulted in uniforms that don't look as substantial, as textural, which is a shame.

Mike (Cedar Falls, IA)

Did you feel pressure to include the Yankees high or is that your honest opinion?

Paul Lukas
  (3:32 PM)

Nobody pressured me to do anything. I was completely on my own, and all the opinions and rankings were mine alone.

Jeff (NJ)

Ads on NBA jerseys is bad enough but is it true that the adds would also be on retail jerseys sold in stores?

Paul Lukas
  (3:33 PM)

That is the plan, yes. Now, they could modify the plan, of course -- but for now, that's how they plan to do it.Unless they scrap the whole uni-advertising plan altogether. #NoUniAds

Ryan (Eugene)

How do you like Oregon's new threads this year?

Paul Lukas
  (3:34 PM)

Disappointed. I really liked the version with the wings on the shoulders. Don't like all the feathers on the shoulders in the new version -- feels like overkill.

Wally (Los Angeles)

Why do baseball managers where uniforms when other coaches do not?

Paul Lukas
  (3:35 PM)

1. It used to be routine for the manager to also be a player, so of course the manager was in uniform.2. Baseball managers go onto the field (to make pitching changes, to argue with the ump). Football, basketball, and hockey coaches don't do that.

Person (DC)

What's so offensive about the navy blue stars and stripes Nats uniform?

Paul Lukas
  (3:36 PM)

That's a clown uni, bro.

Ben (Phily)

Pretty ridiculous you guys did this list when Dave Dameshek did the same thing recently and has always mentioned his love of uniforms, and rankings, and lists.

Paul Lukas
  (3:37 PM)

He and I were apparently working on these projects simultaneously without either of us knowing that the other was doing it. They launched almost at the same time. My readers have accused him of ripping me off, his readers have accused me of ripping him off, but the fact of the matter is that it was a coincidence.In any case, the notion of ranking all the uniforms isn't exactly proprietary -- anyone can do it. Including you!

Jeff (NJ)

Any plans from Nike to rethink the material design on the new jerseys to remove the terrible sweat stains?

Paul Lukas
  (3:38 PM)

God, I wish they would. But I think they view it as branding. Like, if we all say, "Look at that awful sweat pattern from the Nike jersey," at least we're thinking about Nike jerseys. Or someting like that.

Joel (Denver)

Would you say that the NBA is at a slight disadvantage because the area of the uniforms is smallest of the Big 4 sports?

Paul Lukas
  (3:39 PM)

Definitely. Good basketball uni design is a challenge.

Matt (Pittsburgh)

You state that the Devils have never had an alternate uniform. What about the green ones that they wore a couple times the one season, I believe it was around Christmas and/or St. Partick's Day?

Paul Lukas
  (3:40 PM)

That's a one-off -- not an alternate that's part of their regular uniform rotation (or, in hockey terms, not a "third jersey").

Mark (Toronto)

Hi Paul, is it fair to say that the teams with the best alternates are ones that either draw from past history or effectively utilize one of their core colours (i.e. Baltimore orange alt), rather than making a 3rd jersey for the sake of making one (i.e. Avalanche)?

Paul Lukas
  (3:40 PM)

Generally, yeah.

Jake Nazar (Baltimore)

Paul what is your personal favorite uniform ever? Not the best but the one you have always loved?

Paul Lukas
  (3:41 PM)

If it's my favorite, then I *do* think it's the best! And I'd go with a tie: Packers, green jersey, mid-1960s, and baseball Cardinals, home, also mid-1960s.

Ed (DC)

What uniform, which you might have initially despised, has grown on you the most over time?

Paul Lukas
  (3:42 PM)

Excellent question! You could tell from the rankings that I thought certain teams had "grown into" their looks. Sharks, Rockies, etc.

Peter (Indiana)

You seem to value how long a team has a had the same design (such as the Habs, Bears, Cards, Yanks, Bruins, etc.) Does longevity add to appeal or would such logos be good on their own merits?

Paul Lukas
  (3:43 PM)

Longevity per se has no bearing on anything. The Blue Jays ranked very high with a design that has only been worn in 2012.

Greg (Edmonton)

Have you ever been contacted by a big four league team and asked to consult or offer an opinion on a potential uniform tweak or redesign?

Paul Lukas
  (3:44 PM)

No. And if that ever happened, I wouldn't be able to accept, because it would create a conflict of interest with my work as a journalist.

Mike (NY)

I think there's something to be said about how uniforms play to the aesthetic quality of stadiums. For example, the Red Sox seem to look perfect in Fenway even though their colors are completely different than those of the wall.

Paul Lukas
  (3:44 PM)

I agree. That's why I hate the Sox's alternates so much -- they really don't belong in Fenway.

Nick (Denver)

Paul, with the Bears rating so highly, I guess you must like (or at least be ok with) the orange alternates? Surprised you didn't mention them.

Paul Lukas
  (3:44 PM)

They're no longer wearing them.

Eric (Indianapolis)

I think a lot of people would agree that the Blackhawks were snubbed at #49. Did you put them so low because you did not want to appear to have a Chicago bias (Bear and Cubs in top 5)? Or do you really just not like them?

Paul Lukas
  (3:46 PM)

The idea of city bias never occurred to me. (Someone pointed out today that three Oakland teams finished in the top 25 -- if you count Golden State as Oakland -- and I hadn't even realized that.) I wasn't thinking about city bias, animal bias (three of the top five teams were bear-related), or anything else except my honest assessments. You guys keep looking for conspiracy theories, but there isn't one.

Kevin (Chicago)

How does the face mask color on a football helmet effect a ranking?

Paul Lukas
  (3:47 PM)

It's parat of the overall look, but it's not a major factor.

Matt (Pittsburgh)

Since you are such a uni buff, I'm guessing you own one or two, what jerseys do you own? Also who are your favorite team(s) in the big 4?

Paul Lukas
  (3:49 PM)

I own exactly zero -- ZERO -- jerseys from MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. Doesn't interest me. I do collect some old (1940s, '50s, '60s) jerseys from high school teams, company teams, etc., because I think they're interesting, but I've never wanted to drop $200 on a polyester shirt that a few thousand other people are already wearing.Favorite teams... MLB: Mets. NFL: Niners and Giants. NBA: Knicks. NHL: Canadiens and Rangers.

Eric (New York)

Is there any rationale behind Nike's color-mismatched Flywire collars on the new NFL jerseys? Or could it just be an attention getting ploy that can be tweaked next year?

Paul Lukas
  (3:50 PM)

Just a "Look at me!" move by Nike -- a way to make you realize that the jersey is a Nike jersey.

Owen (San Diego)

Would you be hopeful about the new Padres ownership putting brown back in the color scheme?

Paul Lukas
  (3:50 PM)

Hopeful? Sure. Optimistic? Nope.

Person (DC)

Canadiens for the unis, I assume. Why niners? The 80s ones, or non-uni related?

Paul Lukas
  (3:53 PM)

I'm a Canadiens fan because when I was seven years old, my brother bought me a hockey magazine with a Canadiens player on the cover. That same year, I reached into a box of Corn Flakes and pulled out a football card of a Niners player. That's how I started rooting for those teams, and it stuck (even though I now root for the NYC teams in those leagues as well, since that's wear I live).

Dan (Rochester, MN)

Please rank the Indiana University warm-up pants as their own entity. Would they get #1?

Paul Lukas
  (3:53 PM)

Definitely!

Jay (New York)

What do you think about MLB teams using cream-colored jerseys to make them look "old"? On a related note, would the Mets rank higher if their pinstriped home uniforms were white instead of cream-colored?

Paul Lukas
  (3:55 PM)

I'm OK with the creams, but I think it's right at the edge of being overdone. And I think some creams are, well, creamier than others. The Giants home uni, e.g., looks good; the Mets' pinstripes often look a little too close to yellow for my tastes.

Flint (LA)

How would you account for ads in the future in ranking jerseys? Would you look at whether they mesh with the jersey itself or would you ignore them completely?

Paul Lukas
  (3:56 PM)

As stated on Day One of the rankings, if the NBA goes thru with its uni advertising plan, all 30 NBA teams will go at the bottom of the rankings. As for distinctions within 30 ad-clad teams, who really cares? #NoUniAds

Mike (Chicago)

If you were starting from scratch, what color scheme would you pick? (assume the city and team name would match perfectly with the scheme)

Paul Lukas
  (3:57 PM)

If you read my blog, you know I like green, gold, and maroon...

Tim (Il)

What is the biggest problem with uniforms today (behind the threat of ads #NoUniAds)? Lack of real estate? Bad design? Other?

Paul Lukas
  (3:59 PM)

The biggest problem is merchandising. The first question in uniform design used to be "Does this look good on the field?" Now the first question is "Will this sell?"And who buys jerseys? Only a specific demographic -- mainly people in their 20s and 30s. So you have a subset of the fan base driving what everyone else looks at. And since you want them to keep buying, there are more alts and revisions than ever. The merchandising tail is wagging the on-field dog.

Sean (Philadelphia)

Do you generally have a preference for bright, primary colors rather than muted or 'off' colors? For example the Rams' old bright blue and yellow vs the current design?

Paul Lukas
  (4:00 PM)

Actually, I loved the old Rams look AND the newer look. But they've scrapped their gold pants for this season, which I'm really disappointed about. I thought their white jersey with gold pants was among the very best looks in the league.

Paul Lukas
  (4:01 PM)

OK, people -- it's been fun, but I have to run. See you soon, and feel free to join us at uni-watch.com