By Phil Hecken
Uni Watch sage in the “venerable veteran” category Rick Pearson posed a semi-question/semi-statement in the comments section this past Thursday, which begat a few responses, but which really raised an excellent point or three, and perhaps something we could and should explore in greater detail. His ponderance remarked on a uniform phenomenon (both in college and the pros) whereby it seems we can readily classify most, if not all, uniforms into two distinct categories: “old school” and “new school.” Let me take you back to Ricko’s exact quote for further explanation/clarification/exploration:
I was thinking…(always a dangerous thing)…
Football unis have split decidedly into two camps
And that’s fine. I don’t love or hate all the unis in either category.
Maybe what we need is pick the five best looking football unis (college or pro) that DON’T have striped pants (don’t mean plain like Notre Dame, mean those with panels, piping or designs that AREN’T plain ol’ straight stripes).
Me, I think I’d vote for the Broncos home (navy jersey) version as number one. But not the navy pants. No sir, not their best look. Good colors, good design, didn’t go overboard.
A few comments followed, including some by yours truly, but we never really followed through on this idea. Nor did we ever try to rank (not that we could or should) say, the five best (and five worst) of the uniforms from each camp. While we did take a look at a very few colleges, for the purposes of this exercise, let’s focus on the NFL.
A quick look at the 32 teams in the NFL tells us that close to half fall into the category of “Old School” (or to use Ricko’s phraseology, “traditional”). We can safely list the Bears, Browns, Cowboys, Packers, Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, Jets, Raiders, Steelers, 49ers, Eagles and Redskins in the “Old School” category. But that’s only 15 teams. And that’s only when they (some of them) don’t wear monochrome and/or leotards.
In the “New School” (or, in Ricko’s parlance, “innovative”) camp, we find eight teams (for sure): the Cardinals, Falcons, Bills, Bengals, Broncos, Panthers, Jaguars, and Vikings. One could argue that the Bills don’t really belong in the “new school” category — although they are so awful, they probably deserve a category of their own.
Anyway, that leaves us with 9 teams which I personally find somewhat difficult to place into either category. To wit, the Lions, Ravens, Texans, Patriots, Chargers, Seahawks, Rams, Buccaneers, and Titans all have some elements of a “traditional” uniform, but also some elements of an “innovative” one.
[I should note that I ran my list by Ricko, who really felt the uniforms I identified should be put into two camps: Ricko would move the Patriots, Seahawks, Rams and Titans to the “innovative” category, since
all have either non-linear helmet stripes, non-linear pants stripes, side panels or wear dark monochrome as pretty much their standard home uni…or a combination of those elements. The same could be said for the Bills. Rick would also put the Ravens, Chargers, Lions, Texans and Bucs into old school, since in his eyes, their logos and such are in standard postions, and they have normal striping or longstanding style trim (i.e. Chargers) on all of them.]
But really that’s neither here nor there — you can feel free to argue with our classifications — I don’t believe there’s any hard and fast rule that places one squarely into one category or the other, but certainly teams who have held onto (or permanently returned to) a “classic” uniform over the years, who have “standard” (linear) helmet, sleeve (what is left of them anyway) and pants striping would likely fall into the “traditional” category, while teams like the Cardinals or Falcons, who have opted to “modernize” their uniform with lots of jersey side panels, piping, striping, angles (also known as “bumperstickers”) and such fall into the “innovative” category.
Then we have teams that have elements of both. For example, the Patriots have side panels and a more “modern” helmet, but fairly traditional pants stripes, and they never opt for the “leotard” look. Likewise, the Chargers could probably just as easily be placed in the “traditional” category, yet whenever they wear their dark pants, they are always paired with dark blue socks, giving them an almost ballet dancer type of look. On the flip side of the coin, you have teams like the Saints who will, on occasion, breakout the monochrome leotards.
A good point to also ponder is what, really, does qualify for a “traditional” uniform? And can we limit our definition of “innovative” to the eight teams I have identified … should we include all 17 that don’t fall squarely into the “traditional” category? In the end, my categorizations don’t really matter, since even some of the traditional teams have sported some non-traditional uniform looks from time to time.
I’ve been criticized (sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly) for hating all non-traditional uniforms — while I would say as a general rule of thumb I do prefer traditional striping and combinations, I can certainly appreciate the “innovative” uniforms in their own way. But there are also uniforms out there that are simply bad — bad design is bad design — but I will try to keep an open mind when discussing the ‘newer’ uniforms and will express my love for a few of those here, following Ricko’s lead.
Let’s see what you guys think as well. Pick any football uniform, pro or college (I limited my list to the pros because it kept the list to 32 — but the colleges have literally hundreds to choose from) that would fall into the “innovative” (or “new school” or “modern”) category and show it some love. Ricko picked the Broncos, and for the home or road, I can see how this uniform is kind of cool (though no longer unique) in its own way. I sorta blame Nike and the Broncos for leading us down this new design path, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
If I had to pick one of the newer designs, I think I could grow to like the Cardinals — sure, I could do without the piping and non-linear striping, but it does kinda work. And the colors are gorgeous. And I’ve always said that this version of the Titans uniform is one of my all time favorites. Yeah — the fonts are kinda funky, the helmet has weird striping, it’s got an odd yoke and that logo probably leaves something to be desired — but the colors are fantastic and it really does look great. Powder blue and navy, (with just a tiny hint of red) work well together, and the white cleats and helmets just work.
So what about you? What are some of the really GOOD new and innovative designs out there, college or pro? Let’s build a list and see if we can’t look at the nu skool unis (because they certainly aren’t going away) and see if we can’t find some new classics. What designs can we look at today that will stand the test of time in 10, 20, even 30 years? I’m sure there are more than a few out there.
As many of you know, UCLA is going to be wearing throwbacks today. According to the UCLA Bruins Blog, “1967 Heisman Trophy winner (Gary Beban) was at the Morgan Center today (Friday) for a luncheon with former teammates and donors. He spoke with the Bruin football team later in the day and will be the honorary captain for Saturday’s Homecoming contest vs. Washington.
Nice! Thanks to Erkki Corpuz (via Paul) for the tip.
FEAR THE SPEAR! Really? How about “The U Knows”? Are these movie taglines? Catchy phrases with which to insult your friends? How about “Good Guys Wear White” or “Don’t Back Down”? Maybe they’re song titles? Nope, nope, nope and nope.
Those are all Nike generated slogans (mouse over the models for a great laugh) they’re “giving” to the 10 schools they’ll be outfitting with “Pro Combat” uniforms and gear [late edit: as of yesterday afternoon, all ten models had some form of “slogan” associated with them — but as of late last evening, only two did]. Paul already showed us some of the uniforms in yesterday’s article (if you didn’t see it, it’s a great read). Those slogans are (I’m pretty certain) going to appear on those super hero “special gloves” the players will be wearing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it were sewn into the crotch area as well. Just so, ya know, they don’t forget who they’re playing for. This whole “super hero” mentality is just so ridiculous. As Paul said to me, “Nike seems to have no idea how to market anything except by turning it into a comic book. Aside from being silly, it’s also *soooo* generationally exclusive — like, how is any fan older than, say, 28 yrs old supposed to take slogans like Fear the Spear and The U Knows seriously?”
I’m guessing fans over the age of 28 aren’t in this Nike demographic.
And you thought baseball season had ended…not for the boys from Bub’s Pub. They’re still going strong — or so they think. I guess this is to be expected when you play fall softball in some midwestern state, right? Enjoy your Saturday Benchies. Seems like the Twins may have this to look forward to come spring, eh?
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: Gonna try something a little different today. This is likely one you’ll not find by going to Retrosheet or Baseball Almanac or any of the likely sources. In fact, you’re not likely to find it anywhere. But you can still solve it. And you can probably find a link to it too. Date and location are all we’re gonna be looking for on this one. Have fun. Guess The Game From The Scoreboard. And if you want to keep this going through the fall, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line and help a fella out, k? Thanks!
Guess that’s gonna do it for today. Still trying to get used to this new fangled software Johnny Ek installed here on UW (hopefully this will self-load at 7:00 am EST), and I apologize, but I was under the weather for most of the week. Lots of good college games today, plus the usual assortment of other sports as well. And make sure you give our man on the street, Jim Vilk, a hand by choosing those top college football matchups and posting pics down below.
Tomorrow I hope to begin featuring some of the MANY NFL uniform tweaks, upgrades and concepts you folks have been sending my way for the past several weeks. Plus we’ll have the finalists in the “Worst. Uni. Ever.” poll for your voting pleasure. And the usual assortment of goodies.
Enjoy your Saturday!