Bills go Retro - How, in uniform terms, the NFL is looking back.

I must first start with an admission, I love talking about NFL uniforms. If you think about it you see them more than any other player or even the ball. A team’s identity is written through their uniforms.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers and storied and traditional franchises and that is shown by their apparel. The San Francisco 49ers recently changed back to a traditional look and throwbacks are all the rage.

Kevin Cadle tweeted me last night to say that the Oakland Raider's uniform was his favourite and with its clean uncluttered black and silver I can see his point. I am not a fan of their silver numbered throwbacks though.

Newer franchises such as the Jaguars and the Buccaneers have gone through several incarnations, striving for an identity in the league, with some success. Then there are others, who in my opinion had something great and lost it. Those teams who looked to the future and saw a lost identity

I am talking about the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills old uniforms were horrible. A futuristic look where traditional American blue was replaced by a darker future looking monstrosity.
Hideous piping across the front of the chest and round the top of the sleeves tried to break up the jersey but ended up looking like they put the wrong thread in the sewing machine. The numbers were faux-futuristic and the monochrome look with a different coloured helmet just did not work. The red panels were also out of place, the whole concept just seemed a mashup of different ideas with no clear identity or brand.
The road jersey was even worse. Two colour jerseys have, do, and will never work. They are confusing to look at. The blue piping had been replaced with red which again looked strange. The worst part of this jersey is that the colour of the numbers does not match the colour on the shoulders. Again it just seemed like nothing was coordinated. The Bills had tradition. The Bills had class. none of this is shown in these jerseys and it is probably why they haven’t made the playoffs since they changed from the beauties below in 2002.

So when I caught a glimpse of the new Bills uniforms when they were leaked by EA Sports in a Madden trailer earlier this year I was excited, nay ecstatic.

The unforms are clean, retro and very cool. Gone is the hideous piping and monochrome look, replaced by a copy of their 1960’s look. There are stripes around the neck and on the sleeves and the colours are royal blue, red and white. I think these changes are fantastic and make me think of the Bills of old, not Terrell Owens.

I do have one issue. The helmets. I think the Bills here are mixing signals. If they are supposed to be going back to a better time then they should either go back to the red standing buffalo logo or base their uniforms on arguably their most successful era; the late eighties and early nineties. Which means the return of the...


I think that the Bills should have red helmets just for the reason they changed from white ones in 1987.

In 1987, Quarterback Joe Ferguson suffered from colour blindness and this created an unusual problem. At the time their other division rivals, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets all wore white helmets, just like the Bills. This meant that Ferguson was unable to differentiate between the people he was meant to be throwing to and his opponents.

In an interview with NBC the Bills’ Equipment Manager Dave Hojnowski explained the situation

“We found that Joe saw the red helmet differently than the white. I’m not sure if it was a darker gray to him, but it was easier for him to distinguish and that’s the reason why we made the switch. That was under the head coach at the time, Kay Stephenson.”

I think this is a very interesting story, much more so than the reason why the Steelers only have a logo on one side of the helmet [Spoiler: it’s being cheap] and think they should go with the look that got them to four Super Bowls.

I hope to write more on uniforms but to keep you going here are some uniform hates.

Indianapolis Colts aka Shortening Stripes

Reebok's stretchy jersey and the new penchant for smaller and smaller jerseys has led to a very annoying problem, Stripe migration. The stipes are now cut off at the top and it doesn't match with the more traditional jersey [see Manning picture below]. Another nit-pick: two stripes on the shirt, two stripes on the pants, one stripe on the helmet. Just saying.

Jaguars Sparkly Helmets

They look like they have been designed by someone’s sister. They go against everything that I believe in when it comes to uniforms and in teal and black they could have a very original look.

Radioactive Seahawks

Look Out Radioactive Man! The Seahawks have taken a small design element that kind of works and hulked it up [Sorry!] It is a horrible, horrible jersey and I hope it disappears soon

Cleveland Browns: Socks on your arms!

Is this a puppet show? Are you trying to explain difficult concepts to small children in a friendly way? No? Then get those sock off your arms!


  1. I just noticed that Jim Kelly is wearing a red hat in the top picture. Clearly agrees with me.

  2. This article heavily plagiarises my first grade show and tell project. My lawyers will be in touch.

  3. I made the most of my job as a janitor to listen in on lessons, which is how come I right so good. In the evenings, when all the children had gone home, I'd stage my own spelling bees, PE lessons and art projects. Bring a parent day was always the saddest.