NFL Uniform Analysis - Part 5 (The Great)

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4

Does anyone even read this part or do they just skip to the individual analysis? I don't care I'll write stuff here anyways. Below are teams that I feel have fantastic brand identities and uniforms with great structure, use of color, and unique design choices. Most of them have made recent design changes to help elevate their overall look.

--THE GREAT--

NEW YORK GIANTS

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I went back and forth between good and great for the Giants. What bumped them up for me was the switch back to the white pants. There was nothing really wrong with the gray pants, but the white combine the best parts of their old design with the best parts of their even older design.

Their helmet logo is extremely well done and their use of lowercase letters really helps it stand out against all the other New York teams. I feel like it's an extremely underrated design. With this simple design it really opens up the possibilities for a more aggressive alternate logo and I wish the Giants would take advantage of that. The underlined Giants wordmark never did it for me. I would much rather see this as an alternate logo.

The Giants are one of the few teams that have a completely different look with their away uniforms. Some fans have suggested blue numbers to help unify the look, but you’re getting dangerously close to a division rivals uniforms with that. Their color rush jerseys do show that with a clear red outline they are different enough and I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a change as long as they fixed those socks. That said, I actually really enjoy the contrast between the two designs. If you're going to stick with a minimalist look then changing up home and away uniforms is a great way to achieve that.

I really enjoy the Giants use of color and minimalist design elements to achieve their own look. While I see the issues people have pointed out, none of them really bother me that much. This is at the low end of great, but still great.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Jerick McKinnon of Minisota Vikings celebrates with team mates after scoring a touchdown during the NFL International Series match between Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium on October 29, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

The Vikings used to be in the same boat as the Cardinals uniform wise. I would say it was even worse though. Just look at all that stupid piping and color blocks. Then in 2013 the Vikings had a complete uniform overhaul and slight logo update. This was a huge improvement and they did an excellent job of rejecting some pretty awful designs.

An extremely underappreciated aspect of the uniform are the stripes which mimic the shape of a Viking ship. A great new take on classic striping. Perfect stripe consistency throughout the design really helps, but I would like to see what sock stripes would look like for them.

The best part of the whole set up are the Viking horns (don't care if they're historically inacurate) and matte finish helmet. The Rams, Eagles, Bengals, and Vikings all take advantage of their mascots aesthetics on their helmets and none of them seem forced. I don't want every team to do this, but I'm very happy that these teams have.

They also have this amazing norse pattern on the inside of their collars that I would love to see incorporated in their designs. Maybe a very light pattern on the numbers like the Seahawks have? It's such a great design element that I wish I could actually see it somewhere on the uniform. Giving it a try on their color rush numbers would be a great test.

Their number font also perfectly complements the uniform styling. With some number combinations it doesn't work out as well and I wish they had different styles for different combinations, but that might be asking too much.

Why not “Grand & Wonderful”? Well besides the font issue the Vikings helmets, for some reason, have a black facemask. There is no black anywhere else on their uniforms (for good reason) and is really only on the logos for small detailing purposes. A clean, purple facemask is what the Vikings should be rocking and the black really detracts from a great uniform for me. They are right on the edge of making the top category and are still one of the best.

The update back in 2013 was a huge upgrade not only to the Vikings uniforms, but their styling as a whole. It gave the Vikings a solid design identity that they were lacking before. Their use of mostly purple and white with yellow only used as an accent color is perfect. I hope to see this design stick around for a long time.

DETROIT LIONS

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Started from the bottom now we’re here. The Lions used to be a team that I would put in the bad category with all that unnecessary black all over the place. It’s like they had paint by numbers uniforms. Their number font also drove me crazy. It was just trying so hard to be cool. But now the Lions updated their look and it’s glorious.

There are so many elements I love about this new uniform. It combines the history of the team with new elements perfectly. I love how they’ve completely owned their stripe design. It’s on the helmet, the sleeves, and the pants.

What's stopping them from "Grand & Wonderful"? When Nike makes a uniform they’re obviously trying to make something that looks good on the field, but also something they can sell to the average fan. Sometimes that affects the jerseys in a negative way. I feel that the only reason the Lions wordmark is on the sleeve is to let people who are casual fans know who the jersey represents. Most fans would be able to look at this design and know right away that it's the Lions so it seems really necessary to spell it out. It probably bothers me more than it should and maybe it'll grown on me (like the Seahawks uniforms have), but for now I think "great" is the perfect category for them.

These are all small issues that I have that I can 100% deal with when the rest of the uniform looks so clean. Their standard home is the best look. I love the blue pants and wouldn't mind seeing the silver pants on the away uniform sometime for a change of pace. My least favorite look is the all gray, but if they keep that look to only once a year I can handle it. Lions fans got themselves a huge upgrade.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

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The Seahawks are right on the edge of "grand & wonderful" for me and I've moved them back and forth throughout this process. I'm happy with them listed as great, but the high end of great.

I’ve noticed some comments about how some people are worried about the current trend in design towards minimalism and “If OP had his way every team would look similar”. I disagree and choosing the Seahawks for this category is proof of that. I don’t want every team to have a minimalist design, but I want every team that has a design to own their style. It just happens to be that currently most the teams that are owning their style have minimalist jerseys. I love crazy designs like the old Orlando Magic, the old Astros, and the constantly changing Oregon Ducks. Those designs work because the teams OWNED their looks.

The Seattle Seahawks are a perfect example of a team just owning a look. It has the most flaws of any other uniform in this category, but because the organization and fans have rallied around this look it doesn’t matter. I'm not a huge fan of the center thing on the helmet and I hate the Seahawks wordmark in the stripe, but those things are outweighed by the overall style of the uniform.

Now some teams have uniforms that are just impossible to get behind and they can’t really own a look until they’ve been updated. But if the Tampa Bay Bucs came out tomorrow and said, “you know what guys, screw it, we’re going back to the creamsicle uniforms straight up. I think most Buccaneer fans would instantly get behind that look and start using all the weird elements of it. People can try to mimic the template of Seahawks uniforms (long shoulder stripes on the Browns... you goofs), but what they should really be copying is the design that most excites their own fans.

I have heard a lot of complaints about the action green (aka neon green), but I feel like it's handled perfectly. The use of college blue (aka navy) and wolf gray (aka gray) creates a really sleek backdrop for the minimal use of the green. The color is extremely difficult to work with, but I think Nike did a great job of actually showing some restraint for once. Sure the color rush uniforms are garish, but I stated in part 1 that I won’t use color rush uniforms against a team and I’m always up for a change of pace as long as it’s only used once a year.

I really enjoy the use of the "feather" pattern on the numbers and I'm fine with it on the paint leg with the nod to the "12th man", but not so much on the helmet and neckline because it seem a little overdesigned. Besides that it's a real bold and contemporary look. It's a huge upgrade over their previous design and I give the Seahawks points for taking risks. Unfortunately they have so many uniform combinations and the NFL helmet rule is stupid so we'll probably never see a throwback with this set.

My favorite looks are the all navy, the white over navy, and the all white.

--OVERALL--

This was an extremely difficult category for me. The Vikings and Lions could easily be in the top category, but there are minor design flaws that bug me. Maybe I just need more time with them before those issues don't bother me anymore, but as of right now those designs are at the top end of great.

CONTINUE TO: The Finale - The Grand & Wonderful

 

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