My, my, my. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days of the illegible uni numbers and the thunderstorm alt jersey, haven’t we?
Here’s the thing: When we assess a uniform, the first thing we ask is whether it’s good (or stupid, or whatever). But that isn’t really the right question. The proper question is whether it’s good for this team. Understated minimalism? Great for the Tigers, not so hot for the Diamondbacks.
And that really strikes at the crux of this new Lightning uni set. I love the home design, at least in a vacuum. It’s classic and straightforward, the crest feels iconic (which is why the same concept of a lightning bolt in a circle has been used in so many other contexts) — what’s not to like?
This: It doesn’t feel like the Lightning. The simple two-color palette feels too subdued, too much like a venerable northeastern team with an 80-year heritage, not a Sun Belt team that’s still so young. Ditto for the lace-up collar. The trad-style shoulder patches feel forced. The one really cool thing about their existing set — the lightning bolts on the pants — has been scrapped. Now, I’ve never liked this team’s blue/black color scheme, or the illegible numbers, or the “Bolts” alt jersey (which is being retained, by the way), or the gimmicky “championship stripes” or whatever the fuck they’re called, but hey, that’s the Lightning. They’re proudly garish, they dare to be stupid, they’ve carved out their own little niche of bad design.
And now they want to be … what? Traditional? Too late. Tasteful? Fat chance. Respectable? That has to be earned. You can’t just hire a designer to create it for you via fiat. (And in case you’re wondering, the designer in this case is SME Branding, a New York company that’s done a lot of sports design.)
So when viewed in isolation, the new home uni is clearly an upgrade. But as an expression of this franchise, it’s a failure — maybe even a betrayal. They should have upgraded the crest and left most of the rest alone.
As for the road jersey, putting the city name (yes, I know Tampa Bay isn’t really a city, but work with me here) above the crest is so gloriously stupid, it almost makes up for the home jersey. But not quite.
Collector’s Corner, by Brinke Guthrie
Since the Big Game® is this Sunday, this week’s edition of Collector’s Corner is heavy on the Steelers and the Pack. Here we go:
• Not much corporate branding on this seat cushion from SB I.
• Reader Michael Koch sent in this Super Bowl breakfast flake. Sorry, auction’s over. Kicking yourself, I know.
• Speaking of the Terrible Towel, here we have a Terrible….Shirt. Brand extension gone amok. [But they deserve bonus points for truth in advertising. — PL]
• Here’s a swell 1940s Packers pennant.
• Join Franco Harris’s Italian Army!
• Here’s a Lambeau Field cheese crock — cheese not included. It isn’t very old, but I cherish that Lambeau logo.
• Who knew Bart Starr had his own signature line of sneakers?
• Here’s the famous Steelers logo in its original incarnation.
• I love this 1970s Packers helmet bank.
• Even if you’ve never seen Fighting Back: The Story of Rocky Bleier, you can wear the T-shirt.
Seen something on eBay that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my story + video on the Wilson football factory is here. My thanks to the many of you who told me how much you liked it.
Incidentally, after reader Vince Vincenzo checked out the story yesterday, he wrote in with a great little anecdote:
I found out about the Wilson plant last year, when the official NFL football my wife gave me years ago developed a leak. Before I dropped more coin on a new football, I was trying to figure out if there was a way to fix it.
Somehow I found out that you can send any Wilson ball to Ada plant and have them replace the bladder, re-lace the lacing, and ship it back to you, all for $15.
Three weeks later, they returned my football as good as new.
That fits in perfectly with the spirit of that factory. Good place, good people.
Pro Bowl update: Last night I spoke with Ember Morr, the NFL’s Director of Product Development, about the long pants in the Pro Bowl. Here’s what I learned:
• The long pants were issued to all of the players. Players wearing knee-length pants either cut theirs short or folded them up. “We pretty much expected that,” said Morr.
• The long pants were a one-time experiment. At present, there are no plans for the long pants to be used in a regular season game.
• The reason behind the experiment was twofold: First, the league thinks one reason so many players are going to the biker-shorts look is that the elastic cuffs are pinching them around the knee area. So by bringing the cuffs lower, they think they can stop the players from raising them higher. In addition, the recent chatter about thigh and knee pads possibly becoming mandatory has gotten the league thinking more seriously about pant length.
• The idea for all of this originated with the league, not with Reebok.
In the end, it probably won’t amount to much. But at least now we know the backstory.
Giveaway results: The winner of the Super Bowl football is Greg Allred — a proud Packers fan. Congrats to him, and thanks to all who entered.
Signal flare: Jeffrey Sachse, please get in touch. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Some enterprising workers at Jon Solomonson’s local grocery created a Pepsi display that looks like the NFL logo. … Check out this completely amazing jock strap display that I scored yesterday on Etsy. Yes, those are real athletic supporters mounted on the cardboard! Can’t wait to get it in the mail (big thanks to Kirsten, who pointed this one out to me). … Ole Miss will wear red at home tonight (with thanks to Michael Martin). … Now that’s a Band-Aid (thanks, Brinke). … Rob Ullman wants your advice on which jersey to wear in an upcoming hockey tourney. … Lots of photos of the WVU Coliseum being built in this thread (with thanks to Jason Bernard). … Hey look, Nike actually did something nice. Good for them. … You know those cool NFL-themed soccer jerseys that I linked to in yesterday’s Ticker? Jimmy Nutini says they were all done by him. Here’s his web site. … Someone in Oklahoma has used a shitload of bowling balls as yard art. If you want more, there’s a video here (big thanks to Paul Deaver). … “The AMA Supercross series stopped in Oakland over the weekend, and a couple of riders went with Raiders-themed lids,” says Sean Clancy. “Here’s Ryan Dungey’s.” … Here’s a video of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist talking about his gear (with thanks to A.J. Frey). … Last week I linked to some old catalog pages showing 19th-century baseball caps and stockings. Terence Kearns liked them so much that he printed them out and created this fantastic display. … New lacrosse gloves for UNC and Cornell (with thanks to Connor Wilson). … A little birdie tells me the Wizards are going to a modern version of the old Bullets uniforms with the stripes on the chest next season, and the Knicks are ditching the black and going to a very simple design, à la the Cavaliers. … Ryan Connelly’s latest DIY Invaders project: a truly awesome-looking hockey jersey.