By Phil Hecken
The 2013 Pro Bowl is today (7:00 pm, NBC). After you’re done yawning, and you’ve spent a full day doing chores, watching hoops/puck, sleeping in…whatever you may do on a Sunday afternoon, you just might want to check this one out (at least for a few minutes). Because after a decade or more of unwatchable football, with unwatchable uniforms to match, this one seems to be a throwback of sorts — back to the first two decades of NFC/AFC football.
Once Nike took over the NFL uniform contract, we all feared the worst — and to an extent those fears were realized. With a couple teams in the works for new unis in the coming season or two, who knows what is in store. That’s why the uniforms for this pro bowl (NFC and AFC) are shocking in their simplicity. Either Nike wants to hark back to the early days of the game…or they just got lazy. I’d like to think it’s the former.
Beginning in 1971 and continuing through the 1970s, the Pro Bowl uniforms were standard — the NFC wore white helmets and the AFC wore red helmets, with the NFC in blue tops over white pants, and AFC in white tops over red pants. That pattern would change in the 1980s when each squad would let the players wear the helmet from the team they were representing. But it was always AFC (with “American” on the chest) in white/red versus NFC (with “National” on the chest) in blue/white. This pattern would last until 1994. Then all hell broke loose. I won’t even go into what got worn from then on — you can read about it below.
But now we’re back (at least on the surface) to the good old days, uniform-wise. The NFL didn’t even release the looks at the unis until Friday, so we are just getting our first looks at them. I’ve yet to see a photo of the players in full pads, but the NFC looks very retro, featuring the blue tops with “NATIONAL” in white block lettering and white numbers outlined in red. Each player will have a Pro Bowl patch on his left breast with a team patch on his right.
Similarly the AFC will have the same patch pattern, with a block red “AMERICAN” across the chest and red numbers outlined in blue. You can see on the AFC squad there are white stripes on the pants — my one (at least so far) cause for concern — Nike added their signature wraparound pattern to the stripe, so that it bottoms out at the calf and wraps around the back of the leg/knee. Meh.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed by Nike’s restraint (either that or they just didn’t give a shit). Not quite sure which. But I will say this — best looking unis for the Pro Bowl in decades. I just may have to watch. Maybe.
I wrote a fairly in-depth post on the Pro Bowl’s history back in 2010. I’m pretty proud of that one, so you should give it a look-see if you want to know of the fairly long and (until the past 20 years or so) impressive history of the game. Also, a while back, I made a “video” of the Pro Bowl unis over the years. You can check it out below:
Well readers — did Nike give us a real nice “harkback,” or is this merely a uni design they just didn’t even care about? What say you?
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with M.H. Dyson, with a nice Jags concept:
I always liked the Jaguars original look, and I was disappointed when they discarded their iconic teal jerseys for something that looks like it came from the box of Nike’s rejected college redesigns. These concept images return to the original designs with a few tweaks.
The home teal jersey is very similar to the original. The primary differences are that the stripes are now part of the arm sleeves, and the team’s name is now displayed above the numbers, that being the only redeeming feature of their current jerseys. The helmet would remain the same, including the teal shift in reflections. The pants return to the traditional striped looked, with the same b/g/t/g/b pattern as the originals, but with thicker gold stripes this time; they would be paired with all-black socks.
The away uniforms would have a few more changes from the original white jerseys. The position of the gold and black trim on the numbers is reversed to reduce the visual business of the old numbers. The black pants would now have the same teal shift that the helmet does, and the striping pattern is g/b/t/b/g. They are paired with teal socks featuring gold/teal/black stripes. I also threw in an alternate all-black look just for fun. I hope you enjoy these designs.
Next up is Matt Hoover, who thought the Bumblebee Stillers could use a new pair of pants:
Big fan of the site. A few fellow friends of mine who are also Steelers fans have been discussing how much we like the ’34 Bumblebee unis and how legit they’d look with black pants. I was sleepless so I thought I’d Photoshop’em to find out if we were right.
Included grey versions too, since black/grey/gold is a fantastic color combo.
Keep up the good work.
Northern Cambria, PA
And we close today with Brian Bennett with a concept for the Americans:
More in line with the original idea of tweaks.
Logo/uniform tweak for Rochester Americans AHL team.
The Americans/shield logo (top left) dates from 1972 and the shield element has been in use (except for one season) since 1959. It is an iconic logo, but has some legibility issues – poor contrast between lettering and background, script type perhaps too much thick and thin, lower-case m has an extra vertical stroke due to connection with capital A. Position relationship between lettering and shield leaves a large white space in the counter of the A when used on dark jerseys.
The changes made are subtle (top right), other than the use of white to outline the script Americans. Addition of drop shadow to shield mirrors similar use from 1959-1969.
Uniform designs (current set in photo center) are similarly consistent, other than the brief Reebok template forced upon the team. Suggested uniform changes (bottom) are also subtle; the use of three stars matches the three stars in the shield and also hearkens back to early years when the Americans’ uniforms had more stars.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
This just in: The Milwaukee Brewers announced the winner of their design-a-YOUniform Contest, and the above is the winning design. According to that article, the design will be worn by the Brewers in exhibition games on March 22 in Phoenix at Maryvale Baseball Park and on March 30 in Milwaukee at Miller Park. Here’s what the original design submission looked like.
NICE! I really like it, particularly the old school sleeve stripes. Not a huge fan of the cap design, but I know it’s what the people want. And, boy oh boy do I love the sleeve patch!
My only complaints are the color of the jersey — it looks to be cream, and that’s not going to look particularly good with white or gray pants — and the actual application of the lettering and underline. As you can see, the first “E” is bisected as it crosses the rubicon, which will probably lead to some unfortunate “splitting” issues (as you can already see in the photo from the unveiling).
Still — great job and my only *other* complaint is that the jersey will (so far) only be worn twice. The Brewers should strongly consider ditching one of their two blue alt jerseys and wearing this a couple times (with cream pants) on home Sundays this year. Just my $.02. YMMV.
H/T to Johnny Okray for the news.
That’s all I have for today. Enjoy your Sunday and do give the Pro Bowl a quick look-see. It might not be nearly as bad (uni-wise) as it’s been in years. Next weekend I’ll have two very special posts from the Rob Holecko and Timmy Brulia (from the Gridiron Uniform Database). As in years’ past, the two will take an in-depth look at the uniform histories of the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, this years combatants in Super Bowl XLVII. Make sure you check back then!
“Well now that the Pro Bowl jerseys have been ‘revealed’, will they actually be selling any this year?”