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Back to the Future


By Phil Hecken

The 2013 Pro Bowl is today (7:00 pm, NBC). After you’re done yawning, and you’ve spent a full day doing chores, watching hoops/puck, sleeping in…whatever you may do on a Sunday afternoon, you just might want to check this one out (at least for a few minutes). Because after a decade or more of unwatchable football, with unwatchable uniforms to match, this one seems to be a throwback of sorts — back to the first two decades of NFC/AFC football.

Once Nike took over the NFL uniform contract, we all feared the worst — and to an extent those fears were realized. With a couple teams in the works for new unis in the coming season or two, who knows what is in store. That’s why the uniforms for this pro bowl (NFC and AFC) are shocking in their simplicity. Either Nike wants to hark back to the early days of the game…or they just got lazy. I’d like to think it’s the former.

Beginning in 1971 and continuing through the 1970s, the Pro Bowl uniforms were standard — the NFC wore white helmets and the AFC wore red helmets, with the NFC in blue tops over white pants, and AFC in white tops over red pants. That pattern would change in the 1980s when each squad would let the players wear the helmet from the team they were representing. But it was always AFC (with “American” on the chest) in white/red versus NFC (with “National” on the chest) in blue/white. This pattern would last until 1994. Then all hell broke loose. I won’t even go into what got worn from then on — you can read about it below.

But now we’re back (at least on the surface) to the good old days, uniform-wise. The NFL didn’t even release the looks at the unis until Friday, so we are just getting our first looks at them. I’ve yet to see a photo of the players in full pads, but the NFC looks very retro, featuring the blue tops with “NATIONAL” in white block lettering and white numbers outlined in red. Each player will have a Pro Bowl patch on his left breast with a team patch on his right.

Similarly the AFC will have the same patch pattern, with a block red “AMERICAN” across the chest and red numbers outlined in blue. You can see on the AFC squad there are white stripes on the pants — my one (at least so far) cause for concern — Nike added their signature wraparound pattern to the stripe, so that it bottoms out at the calf and wraps around the back of the leg/knee. Meh.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed by Nike’s restraint (either that or they just didn’t give a shit). Not quite sure which. But I will say this — best looking unis for the Pro Bowl in decades. I just may have to watch. Maybe.

. . .

I wrote a fairly in-depth post on the Pro Bowl’s history back in 2010. I’m pretty proud of that one, so you should give it a look-see if you want to know of the fairly long and (until the past 20 years or so) impressive history of the game. Also, a while back, I made a “video” of the Pro Bowl unis over the years. You can check it out below:

. . .

. . .

Well readers — did Nike give us a real nice “harkback,” or is this merely a uni design they just didn’t even care about? What say you?


all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks Concepts

We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.

So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.

Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.

Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.

And so, lets begin:


We begin today with M.H. Dyson, with a nice Jags concept:

jaguars-2 M.H. Dyson


I always liked the Jaguars original look, and I was disappointed when they discarded their iconic teal jerseys for something that looks like it came from the box of Nike’s rejected college redesigns. These concept images return to the original designs with a few tweaks.

The home teal jersey is very similar to the original. The primary differences are that the stripes are now part of the arm sleeves, and the team’s name is now displayed above the numbers, that being the only redeeming feature of their current jerseys. The helmet would remain the same, including the teal shift in reflections. The pants return to the traditional striped looked, with the same b/g/t/g/b pattern as the originals, but with thicker gold stripes this time; they would be paired with all-black socks.

The away uniforms would have a few more changes from the original white jerseys. The position of the gold and black trim on the numbers is reversed to reduce the visual business of the old numbers. The black pants would now have the same teal shift that the helmet does, and the striping pattern is g/b/t/b/g. They are paired with teal socks featuring gold/teal/black stripes. I also threw in an alternate all-black look just for fun. I hope you enjoy these designs.

-MH Dyson

. . .

Next up is Matt Hoover, who thought the Bumblebee Stillers could use a new pair of pants:

Nike Steelers 1934 - Black Pants - Matt Hoover

Nike Steelers 1934 - Grey Pants - Matt Hoover

Big Ben Black Pants - Matt Hoover Big Ben Gray Pants - Matt Hoover

Hi Phil,

Big fan of the site. A few fellow friends of mine who are also Steelers fans have been discussing how much we like the ’34 Bumblebee unis and how legit they’d look with black pants. I was sleepless so I thought I’d Photoshop’em to find out if we were right.

We were.

Included grey versions too, since black/grey/gold is a fantastic color combo.

Keep up the good work.

Matt Hoover
Northern Cambria, PA

. . .

And we close today with Brian Bennett with a concept for the Americans:

Rochester_Americans2 - Brian Bennett


More in line with the original idea of tweaks.

Logo/uniform tweak for Rochester Americans AHL team.

The Americans/shield logo (top left) dates from 1972 and the shield element has been in use (except for one season) since 1959. It is an iconic logo, but has some legibility issues – poor contrast between lettering and background, script type perhaps too much thick and thin, lower-case m has an extra vertical stroke due to connection with capital A. Position relationship between lettering and shield leaves a large white space in the counter of the A when used on dark jerseys.

The changes made are subtle (top right), other than the use of white to outline the script Americans. Addition of drop shadow to shield mirrors similar use from 1959-1969.

Uniform designs (current set in photo center) are similarly consistent, other than the brief Reebok template forced upon the team. Suggested uniform changes (bottom) are also subtle; the use of three stars matches the three stars in the shield and also hearkens back to early years when the Americans’ uniforms had more stars.

Brian Bennett

. . .

And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.


New Brewers YOUniform

New Brew Crew YOUniform

This just in: The Milwaukee Brewers announced the winner of their design-a-YOUniform Contest, and the above is the winning design. According to that article, the design will be worn by the Brewers in exhibition games on March 22 in Phoenix at Maryvale Baseball Park and on March 30 in Milwaukee at Miller Park. Here’s what the original design submission looked like.

NICE! I really like it, particularly the old school sleeve stripes. Not a huge fan of the cap design, but I know it’s what the people want. And, boy oh boy do I love the sleeve patch!

My only complaints are the color of the jersey — it looks to be cream, and that’s not going to look particularly good with white or gray pants — and the actual application of the lettering and underline. As you can see, the first “E” is bisected as it crosses the rubicon, which will probably lead to some unfortunate “splitting” issues (as you can already see in the photo from the unveiling).

Still — great job and my only *other* complaint is that the jersey will (so far) only be worn twice. The Brewers should strongly consider ditching one of their two blue alt jerseys and wearing this a couple times (with cream pants) on home Sundays this year. Just my $.02. YMMV.

H/T to Johnny Okray for the news.


That’s all I have for today. Enjoy your Sunday and do give the Pro Bowl a quick look-see. It might not be nearly as bad (uni-wise) as it’s been in years. Next weekend I’ll have two very special posts from the Rob Holecko and Timmy Brulia (from the Gridiron Uniform Database). As in years’ past, the two will take an in-depth look at the uniform histories of the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, this years combatants in Super Bowl XLVII. Make sure you check back then!



One For The Road


“Well now that the Pro Bowl jerseys have been ‘revealed’, will they actually be selling any this year?”

Comments (53)

    I kinda wish they’d go back to AFC/NFC helmets. The only helmets that actually look good with the uniforms are the Bills & Giants.

    Also surprised by the Nike retro jerseys. Seeing them brings me back to my childhood. Sometimes less is more. Very classic look. I hope that was Nike’s goal and that they were not just lazy. I have a special place in my heart for these uniforms since the color schemes (AFC – white tops, red pants and the NFC – blue tops, white pants) match my high school football teams exactly down to the stripes on the jersey sleeves. Incidently, we were the Patriots with a red helmet. Great look!

    That video just makes me sad. If Sean Taylor had not been killed the Redskins would probably have made it to the NFC Championship.

    That’s an awful broad assumption to make. Had Sean Taylor not been killed, their 2011 record may have been better – who knows if they’ve even would have drafted Robert Griffin III, or if Mike Shanahan would even be their coach. You know that whole deal with the butterfly wings and all.

    Watching the video, it’s amazing that all the big names played 30+ years ago, & many RBs playing after a full home schedule on astroturf. Earl Campbell, Payton, etc.

    The Bumblestillers don’t look good in black pants. I don’t know why, but the gray looks better. It adds a break to the whole striping thing, where the black compounds it.

    How about striped pants for the Bumblestillers?

    What’s sad to me is that I’d completely forgotten the pro bowl was even today.

    On a much happier note, I do like the black Steelers look to keep it even. The black, yellow, grey reminds me too much of the Giants insistence to throw grey in randomly.

    That’s pretty sweet. Love the patch — NOT so much a fan of the cap, but I know it’s what the people want. The jersey is a ting of beauty, eh?

    I believe Arr Scotty and Chance may need to change underwear now.

    I’ve updated today’s post to reflect this news — thanks for the h/t Johnny

    That Barrel Man cap will fly off the shelves here in Wisconsin. I doubt they will be able to keep them in stock. I HATE the 59Fifty caps, but am planning on getting one for sure.

    I agree, the patch is amazing. Uniforms aren’t too shabby either. Pretty cool contest all around.

    It’s definitely better than what they wear now, which is basically an improved version. Wish it was royal & Athletic gold which is my only complaint. I wonder if they’ll spring for batting helmet decals.

    I never even bothered to work on an entry. Very traditional looking. It’s pretty funny that a fan designed a much better version than the lousy Miller Brewing Company brand the team has now.

    See how much better caps look when they’re FLAT embroidered? Mmhmm.

    Not to dignify Phil’s dig at me, but holy shit do I need a new pair of boxers right now. They will be selling that cap, right? Would it help to set up one of those White House petitions to have the Brewers adopt this uni full time, whether on cream or white?

    That wasn’t a dig, Scotty, I know how much you love both the Barrelman and the old school jersey with the shoulder stripes (I love that too).

    And I’m pretty sure you’d be able to get the requisite number of signatures (what’s it up to now, 100K?) for a BHO response. After the way they handled the Death Star petition, I’d love to see their response to Barrelman.

    Worst part of the patch is the “TM” (trademark) designation right about where Milwaukee would be on a Wisconsin map. Maybe we can all pretend those initials stand for “That’s Milwaukee!”

    I hope paul gets the chance to interview the winner and/or someone from the brewers about the contest.

    Seeing the amazing up-close detail brings it out more — they will need to add a cream pair of pants, however, because that’s going to look pretty awful on top of white trou. And it does bring up one complaint — the break of the “E” as it crosses the rubicon.

    You can already see the problems that will cause, especially if it isn’t properly buttoned.

    Other than that…me likey.

    Remember Phil, it’s Spring Training, which that & BP is the only acceptable place for mismatched tops & pants.

    They should really bring back pullovers because they do serve a function.

    Not really a fan of the current Brewers look although I do like it better than the ball & glove look. But this jersey is a lot better than what they wear now. Looks like they made a wise choice. I wouldn’t mind seeing it be worn more than twice which is something I didn’t anticipate saying when I 1st heard about this contest.

    When today’s entry loaded, the pro bowl uni picture was frozen in a way to make the jersey half white/blue and pants white/red. Instead of it being a glitch, i just figured it was nike being nike. :)

    Interesting uni-notable sight at beginning of Heat-Celtics game. ABC/ESPN used correct color uniforms (Heat in black, Celtics in white) for the opening lineups graphics, however some of Heat were from 2011-12 and some from this season, so some said “Heat” and others said “Miami”

    i dont know the date. but at least one of the games they wore it was against the lakers when ray beat the 3point record

    I love the Brewers unis, too. And the Rochester Amerks tweak is genius. It totally improves the logo design.

    As always I guess I’m in the minority about the Pro Bowl uniforms. I’m not a fan of them this year. Yes they’re nice and they’re classy & that’s fine for any other time. But I liked the quirky awful looking uniforms that always seem to be rolled out for this game. We all know the players will be playing at about 1/3 speed, if that, so the game itself will be terrible. We might as well have some terrible looking uniforms to talk about. C’mon Swooshers Duckify this game ASAP!!!

    Pro Bowl? Fun? Yeesh, if you enjoy a football-like substance that can’t even call itself “going through the motions,” salud. (The rest of the players’ times in Hawaii? Probably a different story.)
    Personally, I am very surprised by the Pro Bowl uniforms. We all know that there isn’t really much of a dog for the tail to wag with respect to Pro Bowl jersey sales, but I never would have expected Nike to admit that the emperor is, in fact, naked.

    Interesting uni-related feature by my employer: this week’s pre-“big game” TV sale in our circular features none other than “Matt Ryan” (clearly, a #2 scrubbed Atlanta Falcons jersey). What I thought was most interesting was that, while they removed any Falcons & Nike logos, and changed the helmet to white, the NFL & Riddell logos are still there.

    Check it out here on pages 1 & 2:

    Curious as to why they switched the “B” on the Brewers YOUniform winner to a more Braves-esque “B”… So glad that one was the winner, by far the best of the finalists (here’s hoping the uni numbers are as designed)

    Isn’t it obvious why the Pro Bowl unis are so restrained? With the game’s long-term future in doubt it would make no sense at all for Nike to spend any more time than they needed to on a uniform that might be obsolete after one game that nobody watched. If the players put on the sort of game that convinces the league to keep it going then maybe next year you’ll see something a bit more extravagant.

    And yet it’s their best one yet. Why couldn’t they have done that with the Seahawks?

    What a refreshing exercise in restraint.


    And I’m thinking this was a deliberate exercise in restraint, rather than not giving a shit. Nike has designed more one-offs for college games that even less people have watched (ok, maybe not less, but close), and they certainly could have come up with clown suits if they wanted.

    I’m just hoping this is not an aberration, and that no one thinks the wraparound pants stripes look good.

    Considering the last Seahawk uni’s and the track record of Nike with Oregon, the redesign was a good one. You obviously didn’t watch the Hawks play in the rain in that two-tone blah for the last 10 years. Of course I’d love to see a return to neo-original uni’s, but that’s true of the Eagles and Pats, and probably the Browns next year. But remove the clavicle bars, add some green to the road whites, and do something about the back of the helmet and these ones are a 60 yard gain–and a TD if they’d ditch the monochrome. Gawd, I’m getting old….

    It’s probably been linked to before, and I’m not so interested in the photo as a whole, but I’d like to see the colorizers work on the Blueshirts’ schedule poster in this Shorpy photo.

    Had to get my football fix today. Al Michaels described last year’s fiasco as a “pre-game walkthrough in a hotel ballroom.” Today’s Pro Bowl is looking like an actual football game. With just under 10 minutes to go in the first quarter, Al talked about the Twitter station on the sidelines. After which, the following dialogue ensued:

    Cris: “I see you have your Twitter out already.”
    Al: “Excuse me?”

    An oddity: With under 5 minutes to go in the first quarter, AFC Pro Bowler Payton Manning takes the snap for one play from NFC Pro Bowler Jeff Saturday, who had announced his retirement. (Of course, the two were former Colts teammates.) Different uniforms, yes, but kinda cool to see.

    Not a fan (as stated in the article) of the “Nike wraparound” stripes on the pants, but other than that, I’m loving these unis.

    And after seeing Eli hook up with Cruz Control, I really want the G-men to go back to white pants.

    “And after seeing Eli hook up with Cruz Control, I really want the G-men to go back to white pants.”

    Phil, I couldn’t agree more with you! The 1966 to 1974 look of the Giants was perfect. I grew up with that look and once they went back to the current helmet in 2000, I’ve been hoping they would bring back the white pants and the blue on white road jersey. Ditch the grey pants and the red on white road unis. They’ve served us well, but time to move on. I’m hearing there may be a change to their uniforms this year and I hope it’s to drop the grey and bring on the white.

    I wonder if the NFC jerseys are the exact shade of blue the Giants wear… That, plus the white jerseys, would be a cost-savings bonanza!

    Goodbye, Pro Bowl…

    I feel like with the uniforms that they are trying to get back to the basics and why the pro bowl was once loved. I honestly think if they have any hopes of saving it to what it once was that it be the week after the Super Bowl so that you can actually see the Pro Bowlers in the Super Bowl and they get the trip. I personally liked it today and did not think it was campy and gimmicky or ridiculous but just nice an relaxed and could see everyone was having fun, which is what its supposed to be. I honestly think the uniforms did well and looked really good out on the field outside of the pant stripe wrapping around the leg.

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