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.
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.
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
Jaguars Sparkly Helmets
Cleveland Browns: Socks on your arms!