NFL Uniform Analysis - Part 1 (Intro & Awful Uniforms)

Welcome to the first stage of the NFL offseason. That means people posting 2017 season recaps, mock drafts that are WAY too early, and uniform rankings/analysis. I’m well aware of the overabundance of uniform rankings online, but most of them are low effort, click-baity slideshows where they have two or three sentences "explaining" their reasoning. This series is different because I plan on explaining in detail what makes a good NFL uniform and what typically doesn't work.

Obviously this is only my opinion and I welcome discussion to why you like or dislike a specific uniform. If you also enjoy uniform talk then I highly suggest checking checking out uni-watch. I also understand that most of us have an emotional attachment to some of our teams uniforms. Why wouldn't we? So sometimes this becomes a heated topic.

Now because uniforms are a combination of design and fashion I think it’s much more productive to rank them in categories instead of a straight numbering system because it's so subjective. I’ve grouped 32 teams into 6 categories of awful, bad, close, good, great, grand and wonderful. Some categories will have more teams than others.

I will group them based on the belief that football uniforms should be bold, clean, and most of all - structured. Due to the extremes in player body types football uniforms are very unique. You should be making something that looks good on a 5’9” 180 pound cornerback and a 6’5” 320 pound offensive lineman. This is one of the reasons I feel like football jerseys are so popular with fans because they’re supposed to look good on all body types.

These rankings are 99% based on standard home and away uniforms. If a team has awful color rush jerseys I won’t hold that against them because it’s something that is forced on them by the league. It actually hurts a team in my rankings if they have a better color rush jersey than their standard jersey (Example: Bengals) because it shows that it takes an outside force to make your team look presentable.

Now onto the analysis.

--THE AWFUL--

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) hugs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) after the team broke up a 2-point conversion by the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The first thing people will point out when they talk about how bad the Bucs uniforms are is the alarm clock numbers. Nike says they are supposed to be a nod to swords, but I don’t see it. It’s bad, but it’s not the worst part of the uniform.

The worst part is how many different colors Tampa Bay uses. Pewter, red, orange, black, AND silver. There is a reason most teams have two colors and that’s because it creates an easily identifiable brand and look. With this many colors there is no way the uniform wouldn't look like a cluttered mess. Red and pewter is all the Bucs need and if they want to keep silver as a accent color cool, but the orange (a nod to the creamsicle uniforms) has to go along with the gimmicky reflective numbers and the random black outlines that should have died with the old Lions uniforms.

On top of all this the uniform is littered with patches of different logos on both shoulders and pants. This is a clear sign of a uniform being designed by several committees. You already have the biggest logo of any NFL team on the side of your helmet. I don’t need to see more logos all over the player to know who you are.

I don’t expect this look to last long and for Nike to take another shot soon. Which I would be really excited for because the Bucs have a unique style and a great logo.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 26: Quarterback DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns huddles the offense during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game on August 26, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Uniforms are supposed to represent your team like a flag is supposed to represent your country, state, city, or nautical intentions. They are a symbol of your team. The key words here are symbol and represent. The Browns and Nike decided to skip all that and just go with the most literal uniform they could have besides dressing head to toe in brown so close.

“HEY WE’RE THE CLEVELAND BROWNS. YOU KNOW DIS BECAUSE OUR CHEST SAYS CLEVELAND AND OUR LEGS SAY BROWNS. GET IT?”

Putting a giant CLEVELAND on the chest is not only obnoxious with the elongated stripes leading to it, but it also pushes the numbers down from the chest to the stomach. It's something a high school football team does because no one knows who they are.

When I first saw the leak of the Browns uniforms I was kind of excited. I thought the stripe was going to become part of Cleveland's identity. I thought that was something they were going to focus on and own. Nope. They just took the stripe they removed from the leg and put it on their chest.

The pants are by far the worst pants any team has worn in the history of the NFL and I’m counting these. The pant stripe ends abruptly and with no aesthetic reason. On some players it’s a little square while on others it’s half their leg.

The cherry on top is the ridiculously stupid contrast stitching that would only work if your team name was the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

How would I fix it? I love the idea of the Browns owning their minimalistic style. I think it would look amazing if they made the stripe on their helmet thicker, removed any words on their jerseys, and went to standard block numbers. Even if they just went with a simple look and ultra reflective orange helmets like this that would be better. The good news is there is already rumors of a redesign.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Dec 24, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) talks to his team in a huddle before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The worst helmets in NFL history hands down. I've heard some people say "it's a great idea, but an awful execution", but I think it's both. Even with a proper gradient the logo is mostly gold and gets washed out. It's supposed to represent a jaguar emerging from the shadows, but then why is the jaguar clearly leaving the light and going INTO the shadows? Also, why isn't there any other gradienting on the uniform to bring the look together?

The uniforms themselves are also supposed to be inspired by the military presence in Jacksonville, but I don't see anything even close to the structure of a military uniform. I get the patch on the front is supposed to be a military nod, but it looks silly on every player. There are big blank teal blocks on the shoulders that look unfinished. The tops are extremely busy and make the neckline look like an And 1 logo. Also the pant leg isn't replicated anywhere else on the uniform.

The whole thing is an over designed mess and with a change coming soon I'm happy to see them go.

LOS ANGELES RAMS

rams-1

I’m not going to waste a ton of time on these because we all know they're just temporary. The Rams decided that they need to slowly morph into their new uniforms instead of one big change. This version of their uniform is the worst in their history and one that will soon be forgotten. A really lazy attempt to make them more the LA Rams than the St. Louis Rams.

Bring back the blue and yellow, the blue and white, or do what the Bills did and update an older, better look.

**---WRAP UP---**

Every team on this list has a very unique brand identity that they have decided to abandon for some reason or another. The only one that actually upsets me is the Browns. A lot of people will make fun of the Browns colors and their blank helmet, but I actually love the choice. It's a distinct look and one that the team should own like Penn State does. The Rams will get an update soon and look amazing, the Jags will fix those helmets at the very least, and the Bucs have one combination that isn't horrible.

CONTINUE TO PART 2

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