Offensive Schemes


With baseball showing its usual sense of misplaced aesthetic priorities (like, if the owners are serious about contraction, shouldn’t they base it on which teams have the worst uniforms?), Uni Watch has been slow to report on the NFL, where most of this season’s changes have been subtle. So without further ado, here’s a quick primer on some gridiron revisions you may not have noticed:

Two seasons ago, the Buccaneers were the only team wearing black shoes. The Bears joined them last year, and the Jaguars have switched from white footwear to black this season. At this rate, Uni Watch’s dream of an all-black-shod NFL should become a reality by, oh, 2030 or so.

The Saints have made the first major design revision in their history, changing from gold pants to black. They’ve also changed their home jersey preference from black to white (NFL rules allow the home team to choose whether it will wear its white or colored jersey), which means they’re wearing their black jerseys only when visiting another team that prefers to wear white at home. Although this has happened only once this season—a Week 6 game at Carolina—the combination of black pants and black jersey was sufficiently XFL-esque to warrant corrective action. Memo to Saints management: Bring back the gold pants.

With Reebok having replaced Nike and Puma as the NFL’s primary apparel licensee, the Reebok logo is now adorning most teams’ jersey sleeves and pant thighs (five clubs are still being outfitted by Adidas, but all will switch to Reebok by next season). This makes for a rather bizarre situation in Denver, where the Broncos continue to wear the unsightly unis that Nike designed for them in 1997. And it turns out that Nike left a calling card: One need only watch a Broncos game to see that the pointed stripe on the team’s pant legs becomes a giant Nike swoosh whenever a Denver player assumes a three-point stance. Confused? Then imagine what it’s like for the folks at Reebok, who are now in the position of manufacturing a uniform whose design features a massive ad for their arch-rival.

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