I’m really, really surprised Kyle managed to not open his earlier article with one of his patented, lengthy comparisons between some sports-related event and some (hypothetical) relationship or “girl” story with expectations as high as they were. It would’ve practically written itself.
Of course, the high expectations were generated completely by Nike (and some widely circulated fan renderings made in the style of Nike’s “Pro Combat” NCAA uniforms which were frequently and erroneously reported as “the 2012 Nike uniforms” well after they were confirmed to be fanmade), as there’s simply too much money in the NFL to rock the boat. Patting myself on the back, I’ll point out that I predicted the uniforms generally wouldn’t change.
For what you care about, as far as we know from what we’ve seen so far, the Eagles uniforms aren’t changing at all this season. Being that Nike only showed the green over white combination (more on this below) and it didn’t change anything on that combo (in fact, according to Nike Corporate write-up for the Eagles, they “have chosen to stay with their traditional design aesthetic as well as their former uniform fabrication this year,” it’s safe to assume the Eagles other components (white jerseys, green pants, black alternates, assuming those ever make an appearance again) aren’t changing either. That’s it. End of story.
The best way to analyze today’s event is to figure out what it wasn’t.
Yesterday’s event was not for football fans. Every fan wanted to know what their team’s “new” uniforms looked like. Nike only showed one combination for each team. Of course, the reason for that is twofold.
1) With 32 teams and multiple jersey/pants combos for each team, there are simply too many combos to show in-person (the Rams have seven combos which they regularly trot out, for example), but even the Nike website and store show only the primary/color jersey for each. OK, maybe the merchandise/material isn’t available yet (these are two of the largest brands in the world, get your stuff together), but computer renderings could have been made for publishing on the Internet, a la an official style guide. Oddly, there are some substantial uniform updates for 2012 which weren’t even mentioned on the 3rd. The Jaguars will be adding a black alternate to their current set for the 2012 season, so there could be other notable updates for which teams want to control the release as opposed to Nike or the NFL.
2) There was nothing “new” about the uniforms from a fan’s perspective (other than for Seahawks fans, of course). If recaps of the event included lines like, “And after showing the Rams 5th effectively unchanged combination of 7, this reporter’s eyes began glazing over,” it’d ruin the coverage. Instead, we get reporting(?) on how these uniforms will “usher in [a] new era of sportswear” (note: they won’t).
Yesterday’s event was not for the NFL. The event was a Nike commercial where they could push their brand values of performance, etc. in exchange for the $1.1billion they (reportedly) spent for the NFL license. That’s all well and good (capitalism!), but that’s all it was. Fans don’t care that the new fabric is however many percent lighter or better at wicking moisture (unless they’re materials science engineers). It’s simply means to an end for associating all of Nike’s products with “faster, lighter, stronger.” Again, that’s fine, but the “new” uniforms aren’t a big deal to anyone other than Nike (or Seahawks fans). To talk about this “changing everything” or “the game never being the same”…geez, slow down, Nike.
Speaking of the Seahawks and their new design… they actually did post a complete set of pictures showing all combinations. Generally, the new uniform is an evolution of the current design, not a throwback-inspired 0r clean sheet redesign (don’t tell Nike that). They did add a grey alternate jersey (as well as pants), but the Seahawks generally wore monochrome White or Blue in the last few years in the current uniform, so let’s see if the actually exercise all of their combinations. BUT, with 3 pants and 3 jerseys, that’s 9 combos, so we could see an Oregon-typeeffect where they’re in something different almost every week (though the alternate is worn at most twice a year per NFL rules), especially if Nike pushes for it (and they probably will – fans seem generally supportive of Oregon’s non-uniform uniforms. For the record, I actually like the Oregon uniforms, though I wouldn’t mind if they stuck to an NFL-like Color/Home/Alternate, but I guess I’m old-fashioned. Note: this is slightly sarcasm. The NFL didn’t have predictable alternates until 2002.) The new Seahawks uniform is not awful, but in terms of emotional statements that can’t easily be refuted, it doesn’t look like an NFL uniform. In some big picture (let’s say 10+ years), it will look as dated as the current Bengals set, which was also a “product of the  times” type of design, lots of black, inexplicable paneling, non-white monochrome combinations, you name it.
My prediction (UniDiction?) for the Seahawks is that the trendy grey alternate will survive for three or four seasons, then be replaced with a throwback from this style (or similar), which will become a fan favorite and eventually replace the “this smells like 2012″ design that was unveiled today. (note: if the Seahawks somehow become a dynasty in the next few years, fans will latch onto the new 2012 design, similar to how Boston fans like the generally ugly Patriots uniforms in which they won all those Super Bowls. Note: The Seahawks are not going to become a dynasty.)
And a quick word about the grey alternates: this was obviously a push from Nike to which the Seahawks did not say “no.” I say “obviously” because it’s the new “trend” color Nike’s been pushing. Look at this year’s special NCAA basketball uniforms… all made by Nike. Look at their Lunaracer sneaker. Look at the Kentucky NCAA Basketball Championship gear (made by Nike – you’d think Kentucky’s color was blue. Hmm…) This fad will die, and someone in the Seahawks marketing department will say, “Wait a minute. These grey jerseys and pants just look like slightly dirty versions of the white uniforms.” Really. Look at the grey over white combo. There’s so little contrast that it’s useless. There is no reason for this to exist other than Nike’s push for grey to be the next big thing, like the late 90s/early 00s black boom (which is beginning to finally fade away, though maybe just “fading” to grey…)
And finally, another pattern seen on the new Nike uniforms is the swapping of grey for silver for some teams. Nike claims this is due to limitations of the new fabric, but, not so coincidentally, look at Nike’s high profile “Pro Combat” NCAA uniforms. Nike loves matte colors. Not to get all conspiracy theory-ish, but if they’re billing the new fabric as the greatest thing ever, they couldn’t have figured out a way to keep the Patriots and Lions in silver instead of matte grey? (It looks like the Raiders are still in silver, so…conspiracy!)
On top of both of those reasons, grey has no place on a sports uniform other than “away” uniforms for baseball teams. It’s why I always complain when the Eagles play the Giants, and that’s not coming from a place of Giants-hate, if they wore white pants, I wouldn’t complain as loudly.
During an odd time in last year’s Eagles season, Kyle wrote a multi-step plan for how to fix the Eagles, one of which included the uniforms. In the next week or so, I’ll be looking at a few strategies for how that could’ve/should’ve taken place, and what changes would have helped the Eagles’ look