Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NFL Stripe-O-Mania

By Bowen Hobbs

I've been watching the NFL for over 20 years, but until this year, I don't think I had ever seen anything like what the Redskins trotted out for the regular-season debut. What is that? Four different sets of stripes? Really?!? As you can see by my excess punctuation, I was surprised. How could this happen? How could a team have four different striping patterns on one uniform? With a little digging, I realized that mismatching stripes were more common than I had thought.

A little background on the 'Skins: The idea for the pants and socks from the opening week uniform are from the 70th Anniversary uniforms. (The pants are slightly different, as the 70th anniversary edition had an arrowhead patch on the hip, and the mustard gold is more yellow on the current installment.) A little digging found that the 70th Anniversary uniforms had three different striping patterns. The jerseys for that scheme had a three stripe pattern in which the middle stripe was a little thicker and the stripes all had space between them. The pants had three stripes with no spacing (once again, the middle stripe was thicker), and the socks had a five-stripe pattern similar to the old Green Bay Packers jerseys. This didn't really bother me at the time, and still doesn't because throwbacks are more about historical accuracy than overall design consistency. Changing the throwbacks would make them not throwbacks any more. But a team bringing back an element or two from an old scheme and incorporating it with its new scheme is different because modern football uniforms are designed to look consistent with the team's brand. And if pieces of the uniform don't match each other, what does that say about the brand?

Back to the current Redskins threads: the team has always had an inconsistency between its helmets and jerseys. The helmet has three separated stripes, while the jerseys have a two stripes that touch. But the pants had always matched the jerseys with a two-stripe pattern, while the socks always had the same two-stripe pattern or no stripes at all. (A team having two different striping patterns is actually quite common, but more on that later.) Then this season happened. When the 'Skins wear their gold pants at home (they haven't done it for every game this year), they insist on wearing the burgundy striped socks with them, creating the über-mismatched striping effect. The helmets have three separated stripes, the jerseys have two touching stripes, the pants have three touching stripes, and the socks have five separated stripes. What's the point of this? Is it to say "The Washington Redskins: We're Consistently Inconsistent!"? If the team has this little attention to detail when it comes to its uniforms, what else are they overlooking?

But the Redskins aren't the only team in the league, let alone their own division, with inconsistent striping. The Giants and Cowboys have it too. The Giants sport a single red stripe on a blue helmet, while their home jerseys have no stripes at all, and their home pants have a three-stripe pattern in which a single red stripe is flanked by two blue stripes. This look isn't too bad. It could be argued that the helmet and pant striping do match, as red is flanked by blue in both situations. But then again, the Giants play half their games on the road. Their away jerseys have three separated red stripes and their grey away pants use three separated stripes that go red-blue-red. The Giants have three different striping patterns when they play on the road. Is this necessary?

The Cowboys have been the model for uniform inconsistency for a while now. Their primary uniform (the one with white jerseys) has two striping patterns, the pattern for the helmet and pants (although the helmet has navy-white-navy and the pants have royal-white-royal, they are close) and the striping for the jerseys, which has two broad royal stripes outlined in black. But the alternate uniform (navy jersey) uses a totally different striping pattern on the jerseys (although the helmets actually match the pants on this uniform). In the NFL, the helmet and jersey are the two biggest on-field branding elements. Why shouldn't there be some sort of matching scheme between a team's two jerseys?

Like I had mentioned before, many teams have two striping patterns that are different. Teams like the Packers and 49ers use one pattern on the jerseys and the other on the pants and helmet. This usually works well because the helmet and pants match in color, so the striping is the exact same on the two items, and not similar with different color placement. The Browns use a similar style, but the helmet and pants aren't the same color, so the striping looks less consistent. Same with the Steelers. And wouldn't New Orleans look much better with a single helmet stripe, instead of the mismatched stripes they currently have?

The Rams' primary home scheme is remarkably consistent, and the all-navy look is a good match, but the white pants don't make any sense. Across the state, the Chiefs can't seem to find a consistent application of their striping for use on a red background. And don't get me started on Tennessee. They have two tapered stripes on the helmet, a broad single stripe across the shoulders, and a triple-stripe pattern on their pants. The Ravens also have the tapered stripes on their helmet, and likewise, have triple stripes on their white pants.

The Bears have inconsistent striping as well. One for the home jerseys, one for the away jerseys, and one for the pants (with different versions for white and navy pants). Why not make the stripes consistent? But the inconsistent striping that really irks me (aside from the 'Skins) is the Indianapolis Colts. For the most part, they have beautiful uniforms. The jerseys have two stripes on each shoulder and the pants have two stripes running down each leg. But wait, what's that? The helmet has a single stripe. Why? This is a case of a team thinking that because it's old, it's good. A double stripe would look much, much better, as it would unify the entire scheme.

Not all is lost though. A few teams actually get it. The Lions tweaked their uniforms for the Matthew Stafford era, and consistent striping was a priority. Just look at the last uniforms in comparison to their current duds. The Jets get it too. The double-stripe scheme is consistent throughout their uniforms, although it does blend into the sleeves on the jerseys. The Seahawks are the other team that understands, as their striping is always navy-lime-navy. It's too bad that these teams are the exception, and not the rule.

In Other News… Jose Theodore didn't get his new Wild mask in time, so he improvised… The Washington Nationals will unveil new uniforms on November 10th… I was watching the University of Missouri play Oklahoma on Saturday, and I noticed two things: 1. The Tigers use two different shades of gold, and 2. The Tigers have a major Badge of Cowardice problem… The Dolphins sported their "Storm Trooper" look at home Sunday against the Steelers… As if Wisconsin and Nebraska didn't already look enough alike, now it seems both teams jersey stripes are distorting in an arched fashion…The New York Giants wore their blue jerseys in Dallas on Monday, but with their road pants… The Saints wore white at home again Sunday versus the Browns… The Panthers wore their light blue alternate jerseys against the 49ers… The Rams went with their white pants while the Buccaneers wore white at home… Oregon stomped UCLA in this combination

Designer's Corner
Today's designs dovetail into the article above. First up, we have the New York Giants. While the issues with the Giants' striping are documented above, there is one other thing I would like to point out about the team's current away uniforms: The is no blue on the jerseys. The team is nicknamed "Big Blue", but you wouldn't know that if you only watched them on the road (not counting in Dallas). My design makes the striping consistent between the helmet, jerseys, and pants. All the striping is a single stripe, except for the grey pants, where the red stripe is flanked by blue. The away jerseys feature blue numbers, allowing the team's road uniforms to match its nickname. I added a red alternate jersey, similar to the one they wore a few years ago, as well as blue pants, which feature a single red stripe. I placed the GIANTS wordmark just below the front collar, while a patch of the NY in a circle is placed on the hip of the pants.

Next up are the Chicago Bears. The Bears current inconsistency is not their only problem. Their sleeve stripes don't even fit on the jerseys of most of their players. My concept not only makes the striping consistent, it also reduces the size of the jersey stripes so they actually fit on the sleeves. The consistent application of the three-stripe pattern gives the team a cohesive look that is timeless yet fresh. I have also added the wordmark below the front of the collar.

Last, we have the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have consistent striping, but the sleeve stripes are positioned as awkwardly as possible. Furthermore, the team kept the update of its logo that was made in the 90s, and placed the more modern interpretation of the logo on an old-school helmet with a grey facemask. My concept is a more modern take on the Niners. I got rid of the black and grey in favor of chocolate brown. The brown adds a modern yet old-school touch to the scheme, and complements the red and gold better than either black or grey. I also developed two alternate marks for the team, including a version of the SF logo sans oval, and a matching 49 mark. The striping on the helmets and gold pants is a separated three stripe pattern that goes brown-red-brown, while the striping on red, white, and brown backgrounds is a one-color three-stripe pattern. The numbers are new as well, utilizing a typeface that matches the look and feel of the logo set, instead of defaulting to a standard block typeface. The alternate SF logo appears on the left chest, while the 49 mark appears on the hips of the pants.

Feel free to comment on the use of inconsistent striping on football uniforms, the designs above, or anything sports branding related.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

44th & Goalie: A Belated 2010 NHL Preview

By Bowen Hobbs

With the 2010 NHL season about two weeks in, 44th & Goal has decided to give you, the readers, a look into the new jerseys, logos, and typography in play this season.

Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks' new third jerseys were supposed to be unveiled November 26th, but a photo has been leaked. The new third is black like the home jersey, but contains considerably more orange than the homes, which are primarily black and gold. The new third also features the webbed-foot D logo on the chest instead of the wordmark crest that the Ducks wear on the home and road jerseys. The thirds look better than the home and roads. 44th & Goal sees a distinct possibility that the third will eventually become the home sweater, with a white road version to match. I would have liked to see an orange third sweater, since the team plays in Orange County, but the third the team unveiled is solid.

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres are doing the sweater shuffle this year, as the team's third jersey from last year has become its new home sweater. The team also unveiled a new road sweater to match, thus officially pouring salt on the BuffaSlug. The Sabres also have a new third sweater, which is royal blue, yellow, and off-white and features a Pepsi-style wordmark across the chest. The back of the sweater features a contrasting nameplate and numbers with a unique stitching design. It's a little out there, but NHL third jerseys have long held a tradition of being a significant change from the homes and aways.

Calgary Flames: The Flames 30th Anniversary uniforms from last year have become, albeit slightly modified to fit the Reebok Edge template, the team's new alternate uniforms. In addition, the Flames will have a special uniform for their Heritage Classic game in February. Can't the Flames just get rid of their current home and road jerseys and adopt the Heritage jerseys full-time. They could look great with a matching white or off-white version.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Canes are hosting the All-Star Game this year, and are wearing the logo, which is sweet, as a jersey patch.

Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets are celebrating 10 years in the NHL with a little flag-o-rama. It's a lot of flag art, but it's the team's theme.

Dallas Stars: The Stars are swapping the status of their away and alternate sweaters, with the wordmarked sweater as the new away and the logo-crested sweater as the alternate. Is it time for a re-brand yet?

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings brought back a blast from the past with their "new" throwback jerseys. Also in the works, a white prototype based on the team's current third jerseys. Let's hope the prototype appears in next year's NHL preview.

Minnesota Wild: As I mentioned before, the Wild have some new typography. In addition, they also have a 10th Anniversary logo.

Montreal Canadiens: The Habs will be throwing back to a design they wore from the mid-70s to the mid-90s, which is barely different from their current away jerseys. And the point of this was…?

New Jersey Devils: The Devils will once again don their red and green throwbacks for a single game this year. Not bad, although they are slightly stripe-heavy.

New York Islanders:
The Islanders reverted back to royal and orange, and with it, a retro sweater design. It's a shame, because the previous sweaters combined new and old elements very well. The new jerseys do not have the stripes on the shoulders representing the team's four Stanley Cup titles. Instead, the stripes have been moved to the logo, which now has four stripes on the hockey stick instead of three. The jerseys are a bit bland, but the logo update is very clever.

New York Rangers: The Rangers are celebrating 85 years with an anniversary logo and a throwback jersey. Both are pretty cool, especially because of the use of off-white to give the logo and jersey a vintage feel.

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers have adopted last year's Winter Classic jersey as their new road sweater to match the home version. Hooray for consistency!

San Jose Sharks: The Sharks are celebrating 20 years in the NHL with a slew of logos. Wouldn't one strong mark have sufficed?

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs have made a few updates to their look this offseason. First off, the added hem stripes to their jerseys, which now have lace-up collars. The team also changed its name and number typography (old / new).

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks are wearing a throwback this year for their 40th anniversary. The team also created a logo for it.

Washington Capitals: The Caps are starring in this year's Winter Classic with a throwback jersey from the 70s. (Additional photos here.)

That concludes our NHL preview for the 2010-11 season.

Why I Love the Internet
You may remember back in April, when Rattlers Radio felt the need to debunk my Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Appleton Foxes designs as merely concepts, which they were. Well, recently, certain members on a Nebraska Cornhuskers board were worried that the concept I posted was, in fact, a sneak peek at new uniforms for the team. I would like to reiterate that my designs are merely concepts of what teams could look like. If they were actual designs, I would not be unveiling them before the team did. I do, however, take the fact that the average fan thinks my designs are good enough to at least be rumored changes as a complement. I love the internet.

In Other News… Ole Miss got a new mascot to replace Colonel Reb. It's a black bear. The other choices included a "Land Shark" (I'm guessing it was rebelling against water.) and a grey person named "Hotty Toddy". Hotty Toddy really looks like the Greendale Human Being from the show Community… Here's a better picture of the new Maryland Terps basketball uniforms, including the alternates… The University of Miami is also getting basketball uniforms, as are UCLA, Missouri, and Boise State… The Redskins wore their gold pants again on Sunday… The Rams went all-navy versus the Chargers… The Steelers wore their throwback uniforms against the Browns… The Eagles wore white at home again against the Falcons, as did the Buccaneers, who hosted the Saints… The Broncos wore their orange alternate jerseys against the Jets. They should make those the primary home jerseys… The Titans wore navy pants against Jacksonville Monday Night. Not a great look…

Designer's Corner
This week's design is for the University of North Carolina. The team's current football uniforms do not make use of the school's single most identifiable sports uniform design element: the argyle pattern the basketball team wears. My concept keeps the classic NC logo and the alternate foot logo. I removed the Nike 90s logos, and brought back the ram in a letter sweater logos. The main changes are on the uniforms, which feature the argyle pattern on the helmet, sleeves, and pants. I gave an option for white helmets, since college football seems to be moving toward having multiple color options for every part of the uniform. The jersey numbers are also consistent with the basketball uniforms. In addition to the carolina blue and white jerseys, I developed a navy alternate jersey. The overall effect is to brand the University of North Carolina's athletics in a consistent manor, a la Michigan State.

Feel free to leave a comment about this year's new NHL logos and jerseys, the UNC Concpet above, or anything sports branding related.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Carolina League: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

By Bowen Hobbs

44th & Goal continues its look into the aesthetics of Minor League Baseball with Part 6 of the 14-part series, The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly. Today, we look at the Carolina League, one of the three leagues in Class A Advanced. Much like the other leagues, some teams have recognized the value of a well-designed brand, while others have yet to reach that apex. Here is a team-by-team look at the Carolina League:

The Good

Myrtle Beach Pelicans: The Pelicans re-branded before the 2006 season, and by doing so, they greatly improved their look. The previous logo featured a pelican ready to bat in front of a teal MB rendered in Copperplate, with a particularly awkward spot where the italicized B meets the horizontal streaks behind the ball. In addition, the team's jersey wordmark didn't match the logo. Uniform-wise, the caps matched the logo. However, the new logo is a vast improvement over the previous attempt. As you can see, the team traded the black and teal for navy and light blue to complement the yellow in the scheme, which is a major upgrade the helps set a calm, relaxing mood in the scheme. The logo further accomplishes the theme with a rope border encompassing the night time waterfront. The pelican in the logo is perched on a bat, giving the logo just enough of a baseball-specific touch. Two of the caps use an MB that matches the newly consistent typography, while a third cap uses an abbreviated logo featuring the head of the pelican from the primary logo. The team's home and away uniforms opt for the vest look, complete with light blue undershirts, while the alternate jerseys are light blue with yellow type. Overall, the Pelicans mix a bright, unique color palette with well-crafted logos for a look that is original within the MiLB landscape.

Wilmington Blue Rocks: The Blue Rocks current look has been on display for only a season, but it's already worlds better than the previous set. The current logo features a new mascot, named "Rocky Bluewinkle" and a new color palette of light blue, navy, yellow, and silver. (The old color palette was made up of royal, navy, yellow, and silver.) The team also utilizes a set of alternate marks, including a BR logo, a standalone Rocky Bluewinkle head, and two marks of the team's other mascot, Mr. Celery. The Blue Rocks have room for four caps: a home cap, a road cap, an alternate cap, and a batting practice cap. The Wilmington squad also rocks vests at home, much like the Pelicans, but the color scheme is much more focused on light blue and navy, not light blue and yellow. In addition, the Blue Rocks have some sweet socks. The home alternate jersey is light blue with navy type, while the road and road alternate jerseys focus more on navy. The Blue Rocks are a great example of a team incorporating various pieces of its history into a new brand, while still leaving room for new history to be made.

The Bad

Frederick Keys: The Keys have been in existence since 1989, and haven't changed their logo once in that time. I think its time for an update. The font is campy, and the banner with "BASEBALL" looks slapped on, as it intersects the K and S in an odd way. Furthermore, the baseballs are poorly rendered and appear to be exploding into bananas. (A side note: the team is based in Maryland and named after Francis Scott Key, writer/composer of the National Anthem. They are in no way affiliated with the Florida Keys.) And if you thought the primary logo was bad, check out the cap logo. Is there a need for the three outlines around the F or the gradient? This is a classic example of cramming five pounds worth of design into a two-pound bag. The home jerseys are aesthetically in the other direction, as the team just copied the simple stylings of the Baltimore Orioles circa 1995 – 2003. The road jersey isn't much better, as it uses plain block letters arched across the front. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Keys should just switch their name to the Frederick Orioles and just get this "We're not the Orioles, but we are" dance over with.

Potomac Nationals: I wonder who the parent club is? Before the 2005 season, the Potomac Nationals were known as the Potomac Cannons. Then, instead of refreshing the Cannons brand, the team decided to re-hash the parent club's identity. The current primary logo differs from the Washington team's logo only slightly, as it uses a diamond holding shape instead of a circle and features a pair of crossed bats that aren't in the parent club's marks. The P-Nats also have an alternate logo that uses a stylized P over a baseball encompassed in a circle. The caps feature a standalone version of the P. The home jerseys feature navy type, while the away jerseys go with red type. The P-Nats were impressively diligent in applying the graphic standards of the home club, down to the inconsistent color treatment between home and road.

Salem Red Sox: More brand borrowing from a Red Sox affiliate. In fact, here is a list of the Red Sox affiliates are as follows: AAA – Pawtucket Red Sox; AA – Portland Sea Dogs; A-Advanced – Salem Red Sox; A – Greenville Drive; A-Short Season – Lowell Spinners. All of these teams use a navy and red color scheme, and the PawSox, Sea Dogs, and Salem Red Sox all have uniforms that almost replicate the parent club's threads. The Salem squad's primary logo looks more like a Red Sox vacation destination than a team logo. The home uniforms feature a red cap with a Tuscan-style S and red-sleeved jerseys. The team also has away and alternate caps, both of which features a navy crown. Overall, it's just another substandard re-hashing of the Red Sox identity.

The Ugly

Kinston Indians:
If you think Chief Wahoo is inappropriate, then the Kinston Indians logo is over-the-top absurd. The bulk of the logo package relies on an offensive caricature of a Native American. The home and away caps feature the "mascot", while the alternate and batting practice caps opt for a slightly more tasteful approach. The wordmark is interesting, but I cannot appreciate the identity because of its extremely distasteful nature. Maybe it's time for the team to become the Kinston Eagles again…

Lynchburg Hillcats: The Hillcats are the only Braves affiliate not to be called the Braves, but instead of owning their unique identity within the organization, they continue to use a sloppy, outdated logo. Take another look, I'll wait………… OK, starting with the type: it is awful. The thin offset outlines make the team look soft, graphically, and the gradiated letters on "HillCats" are almost illegible. Furthermore, the crossed bats (which look like clip art) just barely touch the type the the most awkward of ways. The mountains have the same clip art look as the bats, made possible by the extremely dainty black outlines that the bats also use. Then there's the bobcat head, which is the only piece of the logo that uses a thick, bold outline. The problem with the bobcat is that the bold outline is so sloppy, it looks like it was rendered in MS Paint. The logo is so bad the caps use a simple Tuscan LH logo. And the jerseys are as bland as the rest of the package, with the home jersey using a variation of the logo script while the away and alternate jerseys go with the Tuscan theme. With such a great name and color scheme, a good graphic designer could do a lot.

Winston-Salem Dash: So I got a text message from Brett Favre, and it had a picture of this logo. I'm kidding, of course, but the logo does look a lot like a certain part of the male body. Every time I look at this logo, I wonder how a team could spend thousands of dollars on an identity, have it look like what this looks like, and nobody caught the error. To make things even worse, Minor League Baseball is marketed as family-friendly, and this logo is absolutely not family-friendly in any way. Aside from the main error, there are also issues with the parts of the logo. The type is over-designed to the point where it is difficult to read, while the choice of a baseball as the mascot is simply uninspired at best. The team also has a set of supporting logos, which include a standalone baseball, a D logo, and a WS logo. The home uniforms feature the Dash script and are paired with purple caps, while the away uniforms use a Winston-Salem wordmark and grey-crowned caps. The team also has an alternate uniform with vest tops and a white cap. While the name is unique and interesting, this re-brand failed graphically in every way possible.

Designer's Corner
Today's design is a re-brand for the aforementioned Winston-Salem Dash. My first objective was to create a logo that wasn't inherently perverse, since Minor League Baseball is generally marketed as a family-friendly atmosphere. I opted for a giraffe motif, as the giraffe is a friendly animal. You might be thinking, "What does a giraffe have to do with dashing?" As it turns out, a giraffe is perfect for a team named the Dash, as giraffes can run at speeds of up to 35mph for short periods of time. This is essentially what a dash is: a quick, albeit short, run. Working with the giraffe theme, I decided a yellow/brown/green color scheme would fit the aesthetic qualities of the animal while giving the team a unique identity within the Carolina League and all of Minor League Baseball. The supporting marks include a D with the giraffe's coming through it and a WS logo. The type, as a whole, isn't nearly as detailed as the team's current wordmarks, but still conveys the fast nature of the team name through italics and the triangular notches that accent the custom typography.

After the logo set was in order, my next step involved creating cap concepts for the team. I tried options for the D logo, as well as the WS logo in addition to vintage concepts that feature simplified versions of the type. The primary home uniforms are a cream color that complements the warm tones of the yellow and brown, feature the Dash wordmark across the chest, and are paired with yellow caps. The sleeves are raglan-cut and accented with a subliminal giraffe spot pattern. The WS logo appears as a sleeve patch and the player number is placed on the hip of the pants, a tribute to the parent club White Sox. The away uniforms use a grey base and a brown cap that is emblazoned with the WS logo. Winston-Salem appears across the chest, while the D logo is placed on the right sleeve. Like the home uniforms, the sleeves are accented with giraffe spots, and the player number is placed on the hip of the pants. The alternate home and away uniforms feature colored jerseys. The home alternate uses a yellow jersey and cap, while the alternate road set features a brown jersey with yellow type. Alternate Uniform 3 is a faux-back design, complete with a trucker-style cap and a jersey with contrast raglan-cut sleeves. The type on the jerseys doesn't feature all the bells and whistle that the primary jerseys have, giving the uniform more of a classic look. Alternate 4 is an all-brown look with a green cap and contrasting jersey placket. It also features stripped-down typography for a retro feel. The overall look is original and family-friendly.

Feel free to leave a comment on the branding of the Carolina League, the Winston-Salem Dash re-brand above, or anything sports branding related.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monochrome vs. Tri-Color in the NFL

By Bowen Hobbs

Traditionally, many NFL teams employed a two-color uniform scheme, such as the Packers or 49ers. Sure, each of those teams uses three colors (or more), but the base colors of their helmets, jerseys, and pants are based on a two-color scheme. The Packers use gold (yellow)–green–gold (yellow) at home, with white swapping in for green on the road. The 49ers use gold–red–gold with white replacing red for away games. The Chicago Bears use another version of the two-color scheme in which the home uniforms are navy (helmet)–navy (jersey)–white (pants).

Aside from the two-color scheme, there is also a scheme called monochrome, in which the helmet, jerseys, and pants are all the same color. The Seahawks are the most famous example of a monochrome home uniform, but the trend is not new. The Dolphins and Jets have been known to sport the "Storm Trooper" look in which the teams wear all-white. More recently, the Ravens have sported an all-black look, and even the Bears have gone all-navy before. There is also a group of teams who have been lumped into the monochrome category, but aren't actually monochrome. Teams like the Bills and Texans (alternates) fall into this category. While the jerseys and pants match, the helmets are a different color. This group seems to be viewed as monochrome because the helmet takes up significantly less visual space than either the jerseys or pants. We'll call them 1.5-o-chrome teams. The 1.5-o-chrome look is fairly common on the road, but less so at home.

At the other end of the spectrum are the tri-color teams. Some of the current tri-color teams include the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Jaguars, and Falcons. Most tri-color teams have white pants, paired with a bright helmet and dark jersey or a dark helmet and bright jersey. But one team employs the tri-color look while using a white helmet: The Tennessee Titans. And does it look ridiculous! The team has yet to pair its columbia blue jersey with white pants. If the Titans went white–columbia–white, it would be, by far, their best look. However, we the fans, have to look at a disjointed combination of elements, each a different base color, each with different striping. Certain teams that go two-color at home, opt for a tri-color road ensemble. Among them are the Steelers, Giants, and Patriots.

Due to the proliferation of alternate jerseys in today's NFL, there will always be tri-color looks. With teams only being allowed to have one helmet (except for throwbacks) matching three different jerseys will include possibilities for either monochrome or tri-color. Which one is better depends on the individual situations teams create. Monochrome generally looks better when a team has a significant block of a contrasting color on its jerseys, although exceptions can be made. Tri-color, however, generally looks best when paired with white pants or some other light color of pants. (And certainly not white helmets…)

In Other News… Last Wednesday, the Rays decided to trot out in plaid-billed caps. Pretty interesting… Michigan State forgot one thing in their re-brand: to make the S-logo consistent with the other type. The plain block S looks too close to Stanford. At least the field numbers were in the new typeface… Jay Valai of the Badgers had some seriously tiny two's on his sleeves Staurday… Air Force wore their "Thunderbird" uniforms, inspired by this. They even had abstract concepts on the backs of the jerseys instead of names… Oregon wore all-green versus Stanford Saturday night. The jerseys had the yellow numbers instead of the silver. It looks like the silver-numbered green jerseys are no more… The NFL kicked off its month o' pink last weekend… The Panthers wore their light blue alternate jerseys against the Saints… The Falcons wore their throwbacks in an old school looking game against the 49ers… The Rams rocked white pants instead of their typical gold… The Redskins wore their burgundy jerseys on the road with white pants… Joseph Addai is still wearing the Video Game Jersey… The first time I've ever seen a football Badge of Cowardice, and it's on Dolphins center Joe Berger. Sorry, no photo…

Designer's Corner
Today's design stays with the recent Big Ten trend. The University of Michigan has had the same uniforms (at home at least) for decades. The team's current logo is outline-heavy for a team with such simplicity uniform-wise. I simplified the logo to better match the overall scheme of Michigan aesthetics. In addition, I created custom typography for the wordmark and jersey numbers. The home uniforms are a break from tradition, but in an old school way. The jerseys feature striped shoulder yokes to match the striping on the classic Michigan helmets, and the M logo appers just below the jersey collar. The team's away uniforms are generally subject to the whims of the manufacturer. My rendering of the away uniform uses the same style as the home uniforms, instead of embracing the team's current mismatch paradox. (It's a paradox because despite how much fans cling to the tradition of the home uniforms, they seem not to care too much about the visual brand of the roads.) Both the home and away uniforms include an option for white pants. The alternate is a maize-out option in which I have paired maize jerseys with maize pants. The fauxback, however, keeps with the tradition of the wolverines by utilizing plain navy jerseys with maize numbers and plain maize pants. The helmet is also slightly different from the standard. I altered it to comply with these historical gems, making the facemask grey and adding the player numbers to the front of the dome.

Feel free to leave a comment about monochrome or tri-color uniforms in the NFL, the designs above or anything sports branding related.