NFL Uniform Analysis - Part 6 (The Grand & Wonderful)

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5

Welcome to the 6th and final post in my 2017 Uniform Analysis. All the teams in this category have a strong brand that is clearly presented with their uniform set. Not every uniform on this list is perfect, none are, but to me these are all extremely close. Again these are presented in no particular order.

--THE GRAND & WONDERFUL--

OAKLAND RAIDERS

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The genius of the Raiders uniform is it’s so minimalistic, but so bold that people don’t even realize how little there is too it. People made fun of the old Browns uniforms because they were too “boring” with a blank helmet. Meanwhile the Raiders have been getting away with a single line for a stripe. This also goes back to my points on a team owning a look. The Raiders own this look and somehow make a black, silver, and white uniform an identity that has suited them for decades.

This is a team that has inspired other teams to try and use a bunch of black in their own uniforms, but the result is never even close to the same. It was a great look for Oakland and it will be an even better look for them when they move to Las Vegas.

If I had to make a change it would be to make the helmet logo slightly bigger. Nothing drastic, but just enough to fill in the space of modern helmets. I'm also a huge fan of the silver numbers with black outlines and would love to see this look more.

The Raiders have had one of the best uniforms in football for a very long time.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

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When another team just straight up asks to copy your look then you've obviously done something right. I'm a huge fan of the Steelers uniforms and I love how the city of Pittsburgh owns the black and yellow. Good to see the Penguinsfinally back on the right side of things too.

Usually I’m not a huge fan of the patch on the chest, but when you’re only using one logo on the helmet it’s actually perfect. The one helmet logo is a great design element of the uniform and really sets the Steelers apart. They're also an organization that sticks with tradition, but isn't afraid to make the right changes to their uniform. The block numbers looked just fine, but the updated number font matches the rounded logo much better and really brings the whole look together.

I really love the contrasting font colors between the NOB and the numbers on the home and away uniforms. Visually it creates the separation that's needed on a color set like this. I'm even fine with no sock stripes because of the bold pant stripe.

Sure the old bumblebee throwbacks were bad, but they were so bad they were good. They're The Room of NFL uniforms. Ditching them is fine as long as they present an alternate that is different enough from their current set like their color rush.

The only thing that bugs me is how the shoulder stripes get cut off on some players. It’s something stupid with how Nike makes the jersey. I know it can be fixed though because it used to happen all the time with the 49ers, but now they’re perfect.

Overall a great design that I always love seeing come gameday.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

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The perfect shade of gold to complement that beautiful cherry red. It’s a fantastic color combination that represents the team name and the city. It’s crazy to think that back in the day they had silver and red uniforms for awhile.

I really don’t have a lot to say about this look. It’s clean, it’s structured, and it’s a design that the team owns. You don’t need wordmarks or even a logo to know who they are. If you’re playing Madden ‘94 you know what team this is.

I would like to point out that for some reason the organization is always trying to screw up this amazing uniform. Back in 1991 they almost had this awful logo (more on that here) and for a period of time they had white pants with giant black drop shadow numbers. Even today they’re trying to force black into the mix. The pants and jerseys are fine, but it doesn’t match the helmets at all. If you’re going to do that then please remove the helmet stripe and change the logo. I would just prefer that you didn’t because there is already another team across the bay that owns that black.

For now their standard home and away uniforms are some of the best in the league and a look that I'm surprised isn't copied more.

CHICAGO BEARS

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass the football in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field on October 22, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass the football in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field on October 22, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

“Oh wow, big surprise, the Bears fan loves the Bears uniform. What a shocker! This whole uniform analysis is a shame!” - A lot of people probably -Michael Scott

I’m aware of the perceived bias I have for this uniform, so I’m going to go into more detail than I normally would to show how grand & wonderful they are even if you think I'm being a homer.

For the longest time I had the Bears in the “great” or “good” category. I loved their old uniforms, but there was always an aspect that bugged me. The sleeve stripes and the TV numbers. Back when everyone wore long sleeves it was a totally fine look, but slowly as uniforms evolved (bonus awesome photo I found while searching) the sleeve changed. The Bears just pushed their stripes and numbers closer and closer together. It was fine, but it always bugged me how easy a fix would be. Finally in 2012 when Nike took back over NFL uniforms they moved the TV numbers to the shoulder pads so they could use the whole sleeve for stripes.

The final change the Bears needed was to ditch the Nike Flywire collar and they did this year. Now every single element of this jersey matches beautifuly. The number font matches the wishbone C logo, which matches their shoulder stripes, which match their classic socks. It's a great unifying look.

The Bears uniforms are mostly navy and white with a dark orange used as an accent color. I love this design choice and give the team an extremely clean look. Their away uniform is just a perfect reverse of their home look and it looks really sharp. It would still work if they decided to go back to the white on white look that they wore a lot in the back in the day and randomly in the 2000’s, but if they do that I hope they change out the facemask to grey to match the old school look.

My favorite part of the uniform is the number font and the sleeve matching striped socks. The Bears were the first team to wear these non block like numbers and paved the way for other teams. The GSH on the sleeve is a great tribute to George Halas and it doesn’t overwhelm the jersey like some patches do.

Remember what I said about the Seahawks before? How you should have a uniform and style that best unites your city? The Bears have that. Things like the three stripes are a very Chicago thing. The Chicago flag (which is very popular in the Chicagoland Area) has three white stripes that represent the north, west, and south sides of Chicago. The Bears stripes probably don’t mean that, but they mimic it. The classic wishbone C is also a Chicago thing. True that it's been worn by many teams over the decades, but historically the first team to have it was the University of Chicago in 1898 (more wishbone C history here). Other small things like the Bears being called the Bears because they used to play at Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, are great historical touches.

The only thing I would slightly change is the size of the wishbone C. Modern helmets are less round so they have more real estate for logos. I don’t think the Bears should go huge, but just a little bit bigger to fill that space. Some people are quick to point out that the wishbone C isn’t symmetrical, but that’s because it’s designed optically not metrically. Here is what the logo would look like if it were symmetrical (I talk more about it talk here).

Bonus points for the even more bold "Monsters of the Midway" 1940's throwbacks that are a great example of old school design on a modern template. Their color rush jerseys are fine, but I wouldn't mind seeing the Bears use their alternate logo on the helmet just to see what it looks like. I'm also happy to see the orange jerseys gone. With the Broncos finally going back to orange jerseys on the regular it's best for the teams to differentiate.

The Chicago Bears have had such a classic design for so long that people don't even think about them anymore. But as soon as you take a close look you realize how great they are.

BUFFALO BILLS

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Probably the biggest uniform swing in the history of the NFL. The Bills used to have the worst uniform in the league. The royal blue and navy with absolutely no consistency or structure. But some say you have to hit rock bottom before you can work your way back to the top.

Every - single - combination is fantastic except the all blues which are fine, but my least favorite look. It's a perfect combination of old and new and little things like the helmet stripe mimicking the logo by starting off thicker in the back are perfect. They look just as good at home as they do away or with their throwback alternates (extra throwback photo because they're so good).

They're so good the redundant pant logo and unnecessary dark outlines don't even bother me. If I were the Patriots I would be pissed that we didn't come up with a similar look first because this uniform is way more patriotic than this. Then again I seriously doubt the Patriots care.

I can see the Bills holding on to this look forever or at least until the NFL eventually shuts down because everyone is concussed. I don't even know what else to say about it. Just look at it. So good.

--WRAP UP--

So that ends my 6 part series of uniform analysis. I would like to thank all of you who have contributed to healthy discussion in the comments on Reddit. It’s been really awesome hearing from other people who are passionate about NFL uniforms. It’s my favorite thing to talk about when a game is out of reach and as a Bears fan that’s been too often lately.

If you're interested in me ranking something completely different then please check out my Adam Sandler Please Stop videos where I rank every single Adam Sandler movie from worst to first. If you're into podcasts then please check out the Adam Sandler Please Stop Podcast (that's an itunes link, but you can search for it on any podcasting app).

 

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