NEW YORK, NY – Chicago Bears’ MLB Brian Urlacher was on hand at Steiner Studios in New York on Tuesday, along with a representative from each of the 32 NFL teams, for the unveiling of the new Nike NFL uniforms.
While the Bears were not expected to showcase major changes (the uniform design is essentially the same, save for an additional stripe on each sleeve and numbers being relocated to the shoulder), Chicago’s favorite linebacker is a big fan of the functionality of the new gear.
“I love it,” Brian told me. “Everything is lighter, which is good for us. We won’t get held as much with the new design. Nike makes the best stuff—that’s all there is to it.”
One of the things Brian is referencing is the new “Flywire” technology in the jersey’s neckline. Nike’s Global Creative Director Todd Van Horne told me Tuesday that, without a doubt, is the new uniform a marked upgrade over the previous Reebok version.
“Flywire is a solution that allows you to get added strength, but without the added bulk or weight,” Van Horne said. “Right through the shoulders and neckline is where the players really wanted a lockdown fit, but they want that range of motion, too. Flywire allows that.”
Urlacher also noted Nike’s claim that their new uniform is noticeably lighter than the one before it. I was not, however, able to find a Nike representative who could give me actual numbers to that effect.
Van Horne told me that the design process for these NFL uniforms has been two years in the making.
“We’ve been on the evolutionary innovation cycle for forty years at Nike, but, in the last twenty, we’ve been brining those innovations through to the actual uniform design itself,” Van Horne said. “From now to this point, we’re bringing the best of the best.”
Nike is calling the uniform the “Elite 51” and released this description on their website today: The uniquely engineered chassis and baselayer combination provides everything an athlete needs and nothing he doesn’t need. Rooted in body-led design, the uniform system is built for a body-contoured fit resulting in zero distractions in order to help amplify speed.
New uniforms aside, I was able to get a few additional minutes to talk to Brian about the upcoming season and his future in the NFL. “We’ve gotten better on paper,” he said. “We just have to get a couple more guys in the draft, get some guys healthy, and we’ll be good to go.”
On his existing knee injury: “[The] knee is good—getting better. I’m not in a rush. [I’m] just doing what I’m told to do—just doing that, and I’ll be ready to go.”
When asked if he thinks about how much playing time he may have left in the League, Urlacher was uncommonly candid. “I think everyone thinks about that, because, in the NFL, you never know when your last start is going to be. So, I do, but I’m having fun right now and playing at a pretty decent level.”
The 33 year-old was voted into his eighth Pro Bowl in 2011.
You can have a look at all 32 Nike NFL uniforms here.
Disclosure: Nike secured and covered costs for my airfare and hotel accommodations to attend this event.