By Phil Hecken
So, this is what happens when you let the players and the fans design the unis, not some “professional” with a powerful computer and a *vision.*
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Buffalo Bills uniforms.
In one of the oddest uniform unveilings in memory, due to the NFL lockout, no current players were able to model the new digs. But there was plenty of fanfare, with a live band and fireworks accompanying the fashion show, which took place inside Ralph Wilson Stadium yesterday afternoon.
How’d they do?
Well, all the models (military guys) wore number 11 (an obvious reference to the 2011 season, so it was difficult to get a true feel for the uniforms with different numbers. But based on the locker-shots, they look great.
The home jersey is royal blue, with two red and white “shoulder” stripes, and white numbers with a red outline. Both uniforms (home and road) were shown with white pants, containing a blue-red-blue stripe. It’s difficult to make out, but there appear to be both home and road socks — the homes are blue, with two red-white-red stripes, while the roads are blue topped, with a white section featuring two red-blue-red stripes, and white bottoms. No blue pants were shown at the unveiling, although they are rumored to have a set. If you’re confused, take a look at this mockup, which shows the blue pants (and the two sets of socks).
The road jersey is white, with blue numbers outlined in red, with red-blue-red “shoulder” stripes. But take a closer look at the numbers — they have a thin navy line surrounding the red outlines. We’ll get back to that little feature in a second.
The helmet is white, with a gray facemask, and sports the “charging buffalo” and blue-red-blue center stripe that is a throwback to the helmet worn from 1974-1983. In 1974 & 1975 the facemask was gray, according to The Gridiron Uniform Database. The sleeves and socks fairly closely resemble those worn during 1975 through 1980.
Looks great, right? Not so fast — were the fashion show jerseys exactly what the players will be wearing? Turns out, not quite. If you look closely at the jerseys worn by former Bills greats, they appear a bit different than the “11’s”. You see, those jerseys will have a navy outline. Okay. Why?
According to the Bills official website:
The white numbers on the blue jersey and the blue numbers on the white jersey have always been outlined in red and that continues with the current edition, but there is also a thin navy blue outline outside the red outline. The purpose is to make the jersey numbers stand out more prominently on television.
I’m not complaining, but it doesn’t appear that narrow. But why would they trot out (and release photos of) a jersey that their actual team won’t be wearing? And, why no blue pants? I would be very pleased if they never wear the blue pants, but then why are there two different pairs of socks? It just seems to be somewhat disingenuous to have a uniform unveiling where the team doesn’t actually break out the uniforms they’ll be wearing this fall (that is, if there is football this fall).
I love the new uniforms, but maybe that’s because what they wore for the past nine seasons was so bad. Outline or no outline around the numbers, they’re still classic, yet fresh. Just a couple of interesting quirks about these new uniforms. Both the home and the road have a two color collar — a red & blue on the road, and a white and red on the home. Not a big fan, but no real complaint either. But here’s a weird one — the rear of the jersey features the charging buffalo above the NOB. Interesting.
Obviously, with the success of the past few years’ throwbacks, both the homes and the roads, coupled with the fact that since 2002 the Bills have worn the worst uniform in the NFL, clearly it was time for a change.
But the Bills, who haven’t been known for doing too much right for the past decade or so, went about their uniform upgrade in a smart manner. They took a year and a half and they listened to their fans, seeking their input. “We listened to our fans,” said Bills CEO Russ Brandon. “We have done a lot of research on this is a long process to go through. We just wanted to get back to our storied tradition while we still highlight our brand.” Good for them.
Now, this doesn’t make the Bills new uniforms the best in the league, or even in the top 10 (although I’d say they’re close, in my opinion), but in terms of an upgrade, this is one of the best. Of course, there was nowhere to go but up.
I won’t put these to the “good or stupid” test (that’s Paul’s territory), but if I were to — you could put me down firmly on the side of good. Check back Monday when our fearless leader weighs in with his own thoughts. But for now…the floor is yours. How’d they do?
And those Preds?…
The Nashville Predators, who kinda-sorta had their new jersey’s leaked on Thursday, had some fans in attendance at the NHL draft last night, confirming what we already knew. Or are they? Someone with more free time than I apparently checked with the Predators, who relayed that those are not what the Preds will wear:
“UPDATE: My contact with the team is saying those aren’t the sweaters, but that could mean many things. These could be preliminary versions to be used at Development Camp, or other prototypes. But it’s telling that the logo and coloring match what was unveiled yesterday, so I’d say it’s likely these are pretty close to what we’ll see this fall.”
So, what’s the deal? Maybe they’re “road testing” the new sweaters much like the Tampa Bay Lightning did with theirs? Letting the fans check them out and then, possibly, making adjustments? Who knows. Paul fairly trashed the sweaters in yesterday’s column, and I have to say, I pretty much agree with everything he had to say.
When you’re a Jet…
And in other hockey news, in case you didn’t hear about it yesterday, the Atlanta Thrashers, who confirmed a short while ago they would be moving to Winnipeg, were officially renamed the Winnipeg Jets, taking the name of the former franchise which departed for Phoenix (and became the Coyotes) in 1996. This is yet another interesting development.
The team has not announced logos or uniforms yet, but if I were a betting man, I’d be placing bets on red, white and blue. I doubt they’ll completely copy the former uniforms and logo, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if they are both similar. But about that name…
Certainly “Jets,” or more appropriately, “Winnipeg Jets” has great cache, both in the NHL and in Canada. There had been talk of making sure the team would be named the “Manitoba ______” (whether that be “Moose,” “Jets,” “Falcons” or “Owls,” or something entirely different). Naming the team after the Province, rather than the city, would have been done to generate a greater regional interest. The Manitoba Moose, who will now be leaving so the new Jets can move in, attempted to gain a wider appeal, and were very successful in so doing.
So the renaming of the Thrashers to the Jets, and returning Winnipeg instead of Manitoba, is a situation we haven’t really seen before, at least recently. Franchises move all the time — sometimes keeping their old names, sometimes changing their names — but this is the first time in recent history where a franchise has moved from one city (Winnipeg) to another (Phoenix) and an existing franchise has relocated and appropriated the former franchise’s name. The Cleveland Browns did take over the name and colors of a vacated franchise — but that was a completely different situation, where the colors, name, and records were all retained by the City of Cleveland after a lawsuit with Art Modell. I can’t think of anything in recent memory that approaches what’s happening here. Did the Baltimore Colts in the late 40’s/1953 or Dallas Texans, back in 1952/1960, do something similar? (Both the original Dallas Texans and the original Baltimore Colts had new teams takeover old names at later dates).
Like the Bills new uniforms, I believe the return of the name “Jets” was fan-driven. That’s great. Nothing will get your paying customers on board faster than listening to them. But what of the former Jets franchise, which is still in existence, in the desert? The Thrashers’ franchise, which has absolutely NO connection to the former Jets franchise will now be called by the former franchise’s name. Very strange. Again, this isn’t the same situation as the Browns, but it almost feels like it.
I’m not sure whether I love the idea or hate it. I don’t think anyone wanted the name “Thrashers” (and the complete lack of history, wins and good uniforms) to start up in Winnipeg. But I was pretty certain they’d want to start completely fresh (even if they appropriated the name “Moose” or “Falcons” — both of which have historical precedent in Winnipeg) — but “Jets”? Wow. Didn’t see that one coming. Are we seeing the “future” of franchise location or is this an anomaly?
And still MORE hockey uni news…
Last evening’s draft produced even MORE uniform surprises…to wit:
* The new L.A. Kings uni looks pretty good…
* Looks like the Isles will have a 40th Anniversary patch…
by Rick Pearson
What’s that old truism about discretion?…
And, of course, the full-size.
We have another new set of tweaks today.
If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great at keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!
And so, lets begin:
We start with Chris Giorgio, who has a nice new look for the Phightins…
This design goes back to a slenderer script for the Phillies similar to their past and added in light blue accents and darkened the red to more of a cherry red.
Up next is Rob Saunders, who takes on 3 MLB teams:
First, I re-imagined the Cardinal’s roadies. It kills me when teams don’t use the city name on their away jerseys. This fixes that. The more I look at this the more I wonder why St. Louis hasn’t jumped on the idea already.
I did the same with the Tampa Bay. As much as I dislike that stupid little sunburst thing, I figure if the Rays WERE going to put Tampa Bay on their road unis they’d work it in there somehow.
Finally, Arizona’s “D-backs” unis are awful. In my baseball world they’d spell it out.
And last up today is Glenn Simpkins, who also has multiple MLB concepts:
In these kits, sock colors can be interpreted as stirrup colors to be paired with white sannies.
Arizona: Should revert to 01-06 home, sans NOB, and go to this for the roadie; a mix of their 01-06 state wordmark, the sleve trim from their 98-06 black alts, an added number below the left front (always looks good paired with a cascade up wordmark). I also made this “what if” with their current scheme, taking the “db” snake head logo and putting it on the left breast.
Colorado: A while back, I submitted this. The idea: “Times” font cap monogram logo is fine, purple and radially arched “Times” jersey lettering are NOT: Here are the perfections of the idea: Home and Road. Replaced times with classic block letters and Rox purple with pine green.
Padres: The best way to revive the old: Take a cap with the 1969-73 colors and the monogram from 1985 to 2003, add to that a crisp white jersey featuring the 1978 lettering and numbering (sans that on the front), trim it in brown and yellow and you get this nice home jersey.
Giants: inspired by these 1993 baseball cards I had depicting ca. 1942 throwbacks the Giants had apparently worn in the ’92 season, I put together these that would be a better fit with those chagrining-to-UniWatch “MLB Stars and Stripes” days, provided that, as noted, they use a blue cap and the blue in the uni matches the cap.
Thanks for reading, I’ve many more tweaks to share, but they need polished before sharing.
Great stuff lads. Back with more tomorrow.
And now, a message from Phil & Paul…
We are both prouder to be New York State residents this morning than we were yesterday morning. Kudos to the State Legislature for finally doing the right thing.
That’s all for today folks. What a wild & crazy week this has been (on a number of fronts). Everyone have a great Saturday.
“The new Preds’ jersey looks more like a soccer uni for some reason. Navy blue would work much better for a home kit, without all of that ridiculous piping of course, and the city name written like a Wikipedia ‘citation needed’ superscript.” — ‘Capital Z’