The New York Jets unveiled their new uniforms Thursday night, Nike’s latest disappointing collaboration with an NFL team seeking to modernize its image.
Anybody who’s an Air Jordan aficionado — I’m one — will tell you, despite the footwear and apparel giant’s many classics from years gone by, the new looks and reboots leave something to be desired with common frequency.
Jets brass bragged that their overhaul — if you can even call it that — was five years in the making. This vast planning and creative effort amounted to a slightly modified logo, different font for the numbers and a new shade of green — “Gotham Green” (whoa!!) — hitched to “Spotlight White” and “Stealth Black,” which are pretentious names for … white and black. Oh, “New York” has also been added to the jersey of a team that’s headquartered and plays its home games … in New Jersey.
Overall, rather unimaginative given the untapped potential of, say, fighter jets and worse still given the way the franchise breathlessly hyped this reveal. Legions of disappointed Jets fans on social media (fairly) deemed the new unis knockoffs of the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders — and those were among the more diplomatic opinions.
Thankfully, most of the NFL’s teams have adhered to time-tested threads or signature designs that render most fairly to totally snappy.
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So with little else to write about with the draft still three weeks away, here are uniform power rankings you were just dying to argue about:
32. Washington Redskins: Products of a bygone era — much like many locals wish the current regime was a bygone era. This ranking would be helped immensely by simply mothballing the Indian head logo that obviously offends so many and resurfacing the Florida State colorway the team used in the late ’60s and again in 2002. Or just scrap the entire brand and start fresh. Yeah, maybe that.
31. Cleveland Browns: I appreciate their fan base’s affinity for the hideous orange and brown color combination and logo-less helmet, because most of the rest of America is upchucking … especially after Nike somehow managed to worsen it in 2015. But fear not, the Browns have vowed to reach back for a more familiar look next year, co-owner Dee Haslam proclaiming last month, “I think we got it right this time.” So long as it’s less wrong, Mrs. H. …
30. Arizona Cardinals: They’ve contracted Buffalo syndrome, dabbling way too much. Do yourself a favor, Cards, and go back to the Pat Tillman editions featuring the state flag on the shoulders.
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29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cleaner after removing the mustard stains and ditching the two-toned helmet. But the current feline sadly resembles Cheetos’ Chester Cheetah — can’t blame Blake Bortles for that.
28. Miami Dolphins: For the unwoke — and I’ve talked to many, many of you over the years — the aquatic mammal is jumping out of the water with the South Florida sun as a backdrop, not bullseyeing some SeaWorld hoop. With that said, I prefer the previous dolphin logo with the helmet and those softer aqua and orange tones.
27. Baltimore Ravens: They haven’t existed for a quarter-century but have tinkered quite a bit, including those regrettable Dijon pants in 2015. But at the end of the day, black and purple suggests you were on the wrong end of the bar fight.
26. Detroit Lions: Personal bias here as I’m more a Chevrolet guy — it’s the Earnhardt fan in me — so the Ford crossover marketing doesn’t help. Overall, nothing objectionable … except maybe that silver Color Rush.
25. Atlanta Falcons: High time to sweep out the vestiges of the Michael Vick days for something new … or the “current” throwbacks, which look so much better than the standard unis. Even better? The red helmet coupled with the black jersey, circa 1966.
24. New York Jets: Meh. The only real saving grace is the return of the green helmets, which should allow the J-E-T-S to finally throw back to their much cooler outfits from the New York Sack Exchange’s salad days in the ’80s.
23. Tennessee Titans: I’m still processing the 2018 update. Pretty sure I prefer the navy helmets. Pretty sure I like the shoulder flaps and hip “scabbard,” evoking imagery of a Roman centurion. Nonetheless, overall panache lacking.
22. Carolina Panthers: The logo is fine. The colors are even nice, particularly the inclusion of the quasi-Tar Heel blue. My biggest qualm is their long-held insistence on going white-on-white at home early in the season rather than featuring their black-and-silver or (now) blue-and-silver options.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: I’ve always thought the tiger-striped helmets were slick. However the uniform itself has degraded since the team’s two Super Bowl trips in the 1980s, the orange jerseys being exceptionally distasteful and far inferior to the white tiger Color Rush presentation.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I lovedthe Creamsicles as a kid, though the Errol Flynn logo was dodgy, if unique. Yet I also fully endorsed the 1997 makeover, the cutlass and tattered pirate flag beautifully paired to replace Errol. But Nike most definitely blew it with the alarm clock jerseys introduced in 2014. Please, Bucs, turn back those digitized clocks … as far as you need to.
19. Denver Broncos: Since Nike radically changed them in 1997 — the Swooshiness has long been a topic of the corporation’s influence — the franchise has won three Super Bowls, so… Personally, I prefer the orange-heavy Color Rush with the “D” helmet logo from John Elway’s prime.
18. New England Patriots: Not nearly as good as the “Pat the Patriot” forebearer, but the perennial powerhouse has a generally elegant appearance now linked to Lombardis.
17. Buffalo Bills: Reverting to white helmets and the 1970s-era look has helped a franchise that lost its way at the turn of the century, when ugly piping and multiple shades of blue mucked everything up.
16. New York Giants: Been nice to see the occasional return of the block GIANTS logo I grew up with and made famous by Lawrence Taylor. The resurrected ’60s duds are fine, too, though the G-Men look better in white pants than gray.
15. Houston Texans: Always appreciated how simple and consistent they’ve kept it, the logo tidily embodying the Texas flag and the state’s recognizable livestock.
14. San Francisco 49ers: Back on solid ground after questionable experiments over the years.
13. Chicago Bears: Old school. Pure. Love the retention of George Halas’ initials on the left shoulder. Wouldn’t mind seeing the white “C” logo from the Butkus and Sayers years now and again.
12. Minnesota Vikings: The gold helmet crescent confounded me as a child, but what a wonderful epiphany when I realized the horn was protruding from a golden Viking helmet. Some unfortunate tweaks have been ditched, and they’re back on course with that discreet longboat silhouette on the shoulders.
11. Green Bay Packers: Stay away from the throwbacks, and they’re in good shape. All-green Color Rush might be nice.
10. Indianapolis Colts: I’m partial because my dad raves about his old Johnny Unitas helmet. But the simplicity — rarely altered, notwithstanding that smattering of silver in the ’80s — still resonates down to the horseshoe.
9. Kansas City Chiefs: Virtually unchanged for nearly six decades, no reason to fix what isn’t broken. The arrowhead logo is a beauty.
8. Dallas Cowboys: Classics. Shoutout to original GM Tex Schramm, who had them wear white at home so his fans were regularly treated to a variety of colors as visiting team sported a cornucopia of revolving home jerseys. I’ve always thought Dallas’ blue jerseys were highly underappreciated … and their alternate looks with the ugly shoulder swatches on the opposite end of the spectrum.
7. Philadelphia Eagles: This model will always be associated with the long-awaited Super Bowl breakthrough. And who doesn’t love those helmet wings? Still, on a visceral level, feels like they should be in Kelly Green rather than “Midnight Green,” right?
6. Los Angeles Rams: Been nice seeing them retrograde to both white and yellow horns from their previous L.A. stint. For you uniform neophytes, it was the Rams who first gave us helmet logos, courtesy of former player Fred Gehrke in 1948. Let’s hope the franchise doesn’t overthink it with a change scheduled for 2020, when the new stadium opens.
5. New Orleans Saints: Highly underrated. The gold and black provide a perfect contrast while the fleur-de-lis incorporates optimal tie-in to the civic persona.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Purists will doubtless disagree, but they’ve enjoyed Nike’s best redesign. The basic feathers, linkage to the fan base of “12s” (including the 12 inside the collar), distinctive navy and “Action Green” and revised Seahawk totem all integrate seamlessly with the Pacific Northwest ethos.
3. Los Angeles Chargers: The lightning bolt helmets rule. And sweet variety, the all-royal Color Rush arguably the NFL’s best. Still, I miss the helmet numbers when they wear the famous powder blue. And the shoulder and leg bolts were far sleeker before the 2007 alteration — and, frankly, I preferred the navy helmet and white bolts of the LaDainian Tomlinson days with the powder blues a welcome treat.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: Great colors (which, like Seattle, mirror the city), great logo — the trio of hypocycloids hearken back to the Steelmark symbol used by the American Iron and Steel Institute — and gotta love that the left side of the helmet is empty. I even adore the new all-black Color Rush version that mercifully replaced those bumblebee throwbacks.
1. Oakland Raiders: The uniform gold standard since the Silver & Black’s trademark look locked in with the blackened shield in 1964. Even when they play poorly, they look spectacular. Lone suggestion: Black-on-black Color Rush.
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis