In Which I Yap About Football Uniforms – Again… (and Marketing and Social Media…Again)

"Man, these uni's are awful.  We look like idiots."From "The Brady 6".  ©ESPN

“Man, these uni’s are awful. We look like idiots.”
From “The Brady 6”. ©ESPN

Of all the things Tom Brady may do as a NFL player, that quote may be the best – at least for me, a Vikings fan.  Brady doesn’t rationalize his opinion, he states it as he states the obvious: what currently passes as innovative design is crap.  Why am I going on about this topic again?  Because, as a Vikings fan, I am aware that the Vikings are set to reveal their newest new uniforms and the social media blitz is ridiculous.

These are the current uniforms that I have hated since the first time I laid eyes on them:

Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI

Yeah, the Cardinals uniforms suck, too!
Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI

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The Rams uniforms do not suck!
Photo: John Biever/SI

These uniforms reek of somebody trying too hard.  I believe Reebok was the offender in this case.  Their design team (I’m guessing this cluelessness was a team effort) tried to incorporate the horn element from the helmet into all aspects of the uniform, from the ill-fitted shoulders to down the side of the pants with an embarrassing bit of gold piping thrown in for bad measure.  They even changed the horn on the helmet to give it a “3-D element”, as Zygi Wilf described it.  That was an unforgivable crime!  They were touted in much the same way as these newest new uniforms are being marketed, except without the inevitable Facebook/Twitter/blah, blah, blah… social media integration that makes me want to vomit.  They even had a fashion show of the new uniforms that reminded me of a scene out of Slapshot, “I’m gonna wiggle it at ’em!”  These new uniforms happened all the way back in 2006!  Considering that the team wore essentially the same uniform for 34 years before changing to their mid-90s look and went with that for ten years, of course it’s time to change again!  The only thing I liked about the 90s and the current uniform is that they corrected the shapes of the numbers and put the gold trim around them again – and that’s the only thing I liked.

The thing for me is this: a good look is a good look, it doesn’t matter when that look came out.  Try as they might and as simple a design as it is, neither Nike nor anyone else is going to out-design the best look the Vikings had and that was the one they started with:

PPE

from neilleifer.com

And as an added bonus, somebody must have been reading my mind when they drew this one out:

new-whites

From ssur.org

It’s a little different from the original purple pants, but it’s better and it needs to happen!

And let’s make it clear what the helmet needs to look like:

Clint Jones' helmet.Photo: vsaauctions.com

Clint Jones’ helmet.
Photo: vsaauctions.com

So, the cynic in me looks at this redesign of the uniform as a non-verbal admission that the current uniforms were not good and that the funding for the new stadium (Vikings don’t need no stinkin’ roof!) is not going well or as promised and the jersey-buying completist must be fleeced. Yep, this is the era of the quick-buck merchandising con because the league wouldn’t be viable if the Cardinal didn’t look tougher, or the Lion fiercer, or if Pat the Patriot didn’t turn into Elvis, or if Ragnar wasn’t squashed and drawn on with a Sharpie!

As I await the April 25th releasing of the Kraken, I have my expectations low but my fingers crossed that out of the current wave of eyesore uniforms in the NFL (I’m looking at you, Seattle, and my eyes hurt!), the Vikings get something that doesn’t look like some designer was jerking off trying to be “innovative”; we already have that and it fails.  While I can’t respect Packers fans for calling the Vikings “Viqueens” or saying they have a sperm on their helmets, I can respect the Packers for never straying too far from the uniforms in which the Packer tradition was created.  Tradition is part of what makes a franchise great, not the flash-in-the-pan disasters that clothing manufacturers crank out to make a quick excessively-priced buck.

There’s a saying that your first impulse is usually correct.  I think that works in this case.  It’s time the Vikings get their uniforms back the way they’re supposed to be and then put a team on the field that will live up to the tradition of Vikings championship football.

James Montgomery is a freelance illustrator/graphic designer in real life.  If you would like to see him play one on TV, submit your requests here.  Only serious applications will be considered.  😛

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