As we all know, NFL uniform changes are usually in the pipeline for a year or so before they’re unveiled. And it’s been less than seven months since the Lions fired Matt Millen, so he probably had a hand in the uniform redesign that the team unveiled yesterday. And that’s about the only possible explanation for how they botched such a golden opportunity to get this team back on the right aesthetic track.
Okay, one at a time:
• The color scheme: There are about three people in the entire country who like all the black trim on the Lions’ uniforms. Whatever else they were going to do, they had to ditch the black — that was job one. But they didn’t do it. I mean, come on, this team is still gonna wear black undersleeves and a black facemask? What a joke. Is it good or is it stupid? So stupid that most of the other changes barely matter.
• The new logo: This is one time when I don’t mind an animal logo looking a little meaner. Hell, lions are supposed to be ferocious, right? Yeah, the whole flowing-mane thing is silly, and the black outline is a major disappointment, but this doesn’t look any worse on the helmet than the last logo did. Not as good as it could have been, but not nearly as stupid as it could have been either.
• The new wordmark: You’re joking, right? You’re gonna use that in the NFC North, the heart of Midwest? They’re gonna laugh that shit right off the field. And why would you outline your logo in black but leave your wordmark without a black outline? I mean, I’m glad you didn’t add the outlining to the letters, but it seems a tad inconsistent, no? Stupid.
• The new helmet: As noted above, Bubbles looks fine. And much as I hate to admit it, the old color-white-color stripe pattern that so many teams have used for so long is finally starting to look a bit clunky, so the new stripe pattern, with thinner stripes (similar to the striping change the 49ers made over a decade ago), makes sense. Too bad two of those stripes have to be black, but whaddaya gonna do. Good.
• The new jersey collar and chest wordmark: It’s difficult to express how much I hated this design from the sternum up. This, while far from perfect, is an improvement. The black-silver-black collar is much better than black-blue-black (although getting rid of the black would be even better), and the the silver wordmark is soooooo much better than the black one. I don’t even mind the wordmark’s silly swoops and curves so much in this context, because it’s so small and the embroidery process smooths out some of the design’s excesses. Good.
• The new uni numbers: A complete disaster. You’re going to wear cutie-pie swoops and open-faced 4s (or both at the same time) in the Black and Blue Division? Look, the Bears can wear their thin, elongated numerals ’cause they’ve had ’em for decades, but otherwise this is a block-typeface division. And even if the Lions were a west coast or Sun Belt team with a sleek, streamlined image, this typeface still reeks of digital gimmickry for gimmickry’s sake. Seriously stupid.
• The new sleeve stripes: The old striping pattern has been revised, but whatever. The real story is that sleeve stripes on football jerseys — especially super-wide ones like the Lions use — don’t really work anymore because sleeves barely exist anymore, so this would’ve been a good time to narrow the stripes or scrap them altogether. Another missed opportunity. Stupid.
• The new pants striping: Again, they’ve copied the Niners, going from the old-style color-white-color (with annoying black outlining) to what is essentially a vertical Northwestern stripe. Not bad, but if they wanted to take ideas from the Niners, shouldn’t they have done it back when Mariucci was coaching for them? Anyway, the black outlining on the old design was so distracting that the design counts as addition by subtraction. Let’s call it good.
All in all, it could’ve been a little bit worse, but it also could’ve been so, so much better. Next time, gang, ditch the black.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Big shout-out to bench coach emeritus Bryan Redemske, who was involved in a 30-mph cycling crash on Sunday and ended up in the hospital with stitches in his eyebrow. Rest up and feel better soon, Bry (and remember, girls love cool scars). … Nice little DIY patch project by Kimberly Kane, who made a bunch of Harry Kalas memorial patches for herself and her friends to wear at last Saturday’s game. “I used black and white fabric from Wal-Mart, and Heat N’ Bond adhesive iron-on paper,” she says. “I printed the letters and stenciled them onto the white fabric, then used the adhesive paper to iron them onto the black fabric (a technique picked up in my sorority days). I sewed my patch and my boyfriend’s patch onto our jerseys, but I only put a few stitches in them so we could remove them for washing. Everyone else pinned theirs on.” … Was Orestes Destrade wearing two jerseys in this shot? (With thanks to Mike Engle, who also provided a good shot of Benito Santiago’s No. 09 jersey.) … Why would Zigmund Palffy be wearing blue gloves with a green (and very ad-saturated) uniform? “I thought maybe he was wearing his old gloves from an NHL stop,” says Bryan Heaton. “But he wore black gloves with the Penguins and the Kings, and these blue gloves don’t match the ones he wore with the Islanders.” … There’s soooooo much to say about this, I barely know where to begin (find of the year by Randy Williams). … Hey look, even the Pope gets free jerseys. But he’s Benedict XVI, so why does the jersey have No. 10? “For the 2010 World Volleyball Championships, to be hosted by Italy,” says Jeremy Brahm. Further details here. … Jeremy also sent along a bunch of interesting pics from the FIVB Women’s World Championships qualifying matches. Among the highlights: Bermuda wore CNOB (so did the men’s team), the British Virgin Islands wore abbreviated CNOB, and St. Lucia had subscript (and vertically arched) CNOB. … And still more from Jeremy: a Hankyu Braves coach whose NOB includes a macron. “They were the first Japanese team to use them,” says Jeremy. … Anyone know if there’s video of this inside-the-park grand slam? … Still more from Jeremy: Check out this amazing Hanshin Tigers photo, circa 1942. He’s wearing a military hat! … Ah, those Yankees, always helping out the community. … “I just sell it. What they do with it is up to them.” What is being referred to in that quote? Octopi, of course. Highly recommended reading (with thanks to Jason Hillyer). … Small item buried in the middle of this page: “[Cleveland] first-base coach Luis Rivera was running out of storage space in the second inning Saturday. While the Indians were sending 17 men to the plate [against the Yankees], Rivera was collecting elbow pads, shin guards and batting gloves from the players when they reached first. ‘I was wearing two elbow protectors and a shin guard,’ said Rivera. ‘I had so many batting gloves, I was sticking them in the back of my pants. I finally had to call the bat boy out to come and get everything'” (thanks, Vince). … More
Tequila Blue Curacao Sunrise action. That’s the Preston High School Indians wearing the striped sensations on Saturday against the Pocatello High School Indians. “Both PHS Indians — a scorekeeper’s nightmare,” says Frank Mercogliano. … Alex Warner notes that the Nats have just called up Jordan Zimmermann, presumably making them the first team to have a Zimmerman and a Zimmermann on the roster simultaneously. … Frank Hanney‘s blog has a recap of a nice little 1971 SI item about the Phillies’ usherettes. … Here’s something I didn’t know: Louisville Slugger bats made out of maple are marked with an “M” (and yes, this year’s bats also have LS’s 125th-anniversary logo, but we’ve already covered that; photo courtesy of Nicholas Schiavo). … Eeeeyikes! (Blame Tim Donovan.) … The old MECCA floor/court design now has a new home (with thanks to Jeff Ash, who used the MECCA design for his Uni Watch membership card) … Could the hockey uniform’s baggy jerseys and lack of exposed skin be hiding a doping problem in the NHL? This guy thinks so (with thanks to John Muir). … As we all know, back in 1981 the White Sox invited fans to submit a bunch of uni design concepts, some of which were made into prototypes and modeled at Comiskey. But what I didn’t know, until Chris Diserio told me, was that this got a bit of SI coverage back in the 6/8/81 issue. The text starts here and continues here and here. Illustrations here and — wait for it — here. … Next guy who designs a single-city logo mash-up has to get inked onto their body as a tattoo, or else you’re a total pussy. That photo comes from this page (with thanks to Mark Kaplowitz). … Great suggestion from Scott Taylor, who says the proper headline for the Nats jersey-typo story should have been “Oh No: No O!” … Could the Mets possibly get any more clueless? … Good spot by Tim Donovan, who writes: “I was watching a video of the final minutes of the Blackhawks/Red Wings playoff series in 1992 and they showed a shot of center Kevin Miller shaking the hands of the Blackhawks’ players and he was wearing an Osgood-style mask, complete with the neck guard.” … The NFL and Reebok conducted a big AFL throwback photo shoot last week. Here’s a small taste (not exactly a major revelation, since we’ve seen the Jets’ and Bills’ throwbacks on the field before), with dozens more photos to follow shortly. … Some pretty cool new stuff from Ebbets Field Flannels, including a Philadelaphia Hebrews jersey, and a New York Gothams jersey. … Yankee Stadium, a perfect place for a picnic (with thanks to Alan Tompas). … Majestic has officially apologized for (but not really explained) the Nats jersey snafu. … There’s a movement afoot to make UK cops wear uniform numbers (with thanks to Chris Falvey). … Larry Bodnovich made some When It Was a Game screen grabs of the 1942 Cubs. Man, is that a thing of beauty or what? … Texas Tech wore very cool throwbacks over the weekend (with thanks to Robert Snyder). … Check this out: Pirates third base coach Tony Beasley is wearing a Stargell Star! That screen grab came from Chad Morris, but Ryan Connelly sent a nearly identical shot and adds, “This is the first season since the Pirates changed their number font that the helmet number font matches the jersey numbers. The helmets used to have just basic block numbers, like this. … Today’s Wall Street Journal has a great article about stirrups in general and Twin City Knitting in particular. Check it out here. … Ethan Ganot notes that the Milwaukee Admirals wear some very odd two-tone socks. … Pretty cool how Simeon Varlamov’s mask features the Hershey Bears logo on one side and the Caps logo on the other (as pointed out by Al Stone). … Several people have sent me these Madden screen grabs, which suggest that the Dolphins are modifying and enlarging their helmet logo. To the best of my knowledge, however, that change is not happening on the field.