Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Straight couture, homey

How to top last year's NFL preview?

1. Actually write it before the season starts.
2. Elaborate beyond a single sentence per team.
3. Relate a team's eventual success or failure to its uniform design.

I know, right? Time to put that graphic design degree to work! This should be very exciting. Speaking of school, I am one hundred percent pumped for football to start because this will be the first full football season in three years where I won't need to put games on the back burner in favor of homework. No more "OK, after this drive I'm totally getting started on the typography assignment," followed by hours of whimpering. Because you know what I'm going to do after every 1:00 Pats game this year? I'm going to watch the 4:00 game, bitches. Anyway, division by division this year.

Buffalo Bills
Let's start with one of the great wasted opportunities in professional sports. It's time for this to stop: go back to the old uniforms! Whenever a team participates in a throwback game, and that team's entire fanbase goes apeshit with the "Why don't they wear those every week??" talk for a month afterward, it's time to make the switch. Nobody in the league has that shade of blue (whereas everyone has navy). You can even modify the charging buffalo logo, which I prefer to the old one that's just standing there. You're almost there, you just need to change most everything: 4.8

Miami Dolphins
The one team where the home town necessitates the color palette—welcome to Miami! And hey, I was just there! I saw some dude on South Beach wearing a shear netting sack type of thing, along with a Catwoman mask and a well placed belt with dollar bills sticking out. And this was at 3:00 in the afternoon. That outfit earns a 10.0 from me if the Dolphins change their names to the Weirdo Cock Whores, but that's not happening this season (because they've already printed the media guides, you know). So I guess we're dealing with the current design. I must say, as cutesy and that little helmeted dolphin is, Miami is the only city that can get away with it. Great colors, great tradition (no needless revamps like too many teams are doing) and the wise choice to let the color white carry most of the load. I'm as surprised as you are: 8.1

New England Patriots
As with Buffalo, what in the worldwide fuck? The new uniforms are passable, and have grown on me over the years (though there have been numerous tweaks). And we can't ignore the fact that they've won three Super Bowls while wearing them. But still… those old Pat Patriot reds are killers. George is getting upset: 6.0

New York Jets
Now here's the inverse to the style quagmires that have sucked up the Bills and the Pats. Reverting to the Namath-era look was the best thing this team has done since the actual Namath era. It didn't take a lot of work and they had the foundation in place: great shade of green and keep it clean. Don't be so mean: 8.9

(Aside: I like how I'm only through one division, and it's my home division, and the analyses are already demonstrably shorter. At this rate my review for the Seahawks will read "Turd.")

Baltimore Ravens
There's nowhere to begin but with purple. You know what I never once muttered to myself in twenty years as a football fan? "Boy, this league sure could use another purple team." I know the organization was kind of put on the spot when they weren't allowed to keep the Browns name (and hey, it's their own fault so fuck them) and Ravens is actually a clever name for the city, but purple? If this wasn't the great opportunity for a pure black and white uniform, then nothing ever will be until the Columbus Crosswords come into existence. I will say the raven/B logo is pretty good, and that shield/crest thingy is interesting in a soccer-y way that I would totally appreciate if I cared at all about soccer. Still, the whole lot is much too close to the Vikings to earn the team any props. Purple and white might have worked, but purple and black with some gold trim does not. Quoth me: 6.4

Cincinnati Bengals
I inexplicably rooted for the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, which is funny because I totally appreciate Joe Montana much more now than I ever did while he was still playing (also inexplicable, because the "go upstairs and masturbate" SNL sketch alone should have sold me). I'm now convinced I wanted them to win because they had awesome uniforms. Now, like everyone else, they tinkered with them until they could say "Yup, we've made them worse, well done everybody." Luckily they didn't touch the helmets, which might be the best in the league. But this is a great example of how the NFL is making the world a worse place with pants. Plain stripes down the side don't do it anymore. No, let's occupy that space with some extension of what's on the helmet, maybe that way people can learn to hate a helmet they once loved because they're associating it with horrible pants. But it's a damn good helmet: 5.0

Cleveland Browns
Nice and simple. I love the brown (natch) home jerseys especially. Here's hoping any expansion teams or redesigns keep their eyes here and in Chicago to see how a basic design can be a strength. Even the dog masks some of the superfans wear are pretty cool, in an I'm-so-preoccupied-with-the-Browns-I-don't-even-notice-my-wife-is-sleeping-around kind of way. Everyone's happy: 8.5

Pittsburgh Steelers
Absolutely classic, even if they did run out of money before they could apply the steel logo to the other side of the helmet. Don't know what's going on with the slim oblique numbers, they look a little soft against the bold black and gold. Still, almost as good as they come: 9.1

Houston Texans
Shit but these unis are the bomb. The oil rig logo is a little staid, but I love the powder blue! Oh snap, that's the old team. Seriously, it's nice to see a straightforward design come through on a new team. The logo is a bit over-logical but anything would appear that way so soon after tiger pants up there. Make the alternate red jerseys the full-time attire and you might win more than eight games for once: 5.9

Indianapolis Colts
Hard to praise this team after what happened last season but these are beautiful. It's like the blue of a thousand skies. I don't understand why shoulder/arm stripes never seem to go all the way around, but I'm not a seamstress so probably I just don't understand how difficult a pattern that is: 9.5

Jacksonville Jaguars
Teal baby! How about that late eighties/early nineties teal explosion? The helmet jag-you-wahr is alright, minus the teal nonsense: 4.0

Tennessee Titans
Here's an example of a helmet logo absolutely signifying the team name. Cute little cosmic flames, enchanting stars, a T that kind of looks like a pixie… there is no better way to represent the Tennessee Tinkerbells. What? They're called the Titans? My bad. Lucky for them the rest of the uniform (unique and effective colors, sort of a college look) isn't too bad. Can't understand why this team wasn't called the Nashville Kings though, that would have been incredible: 4.7

Denver Broncos
The helmet (except for the pointy median line, what's up with that?) is markedly better than the old Big D, but I gotta say I miss the overwhelming orange of the old jerseys. Everyone's wearing blue fucking jerseys now: 3.2

Kansas City Chiefs
OK, by this point I'm no longer surprised that I like all of the old-school teams' uniforms, so long as they haven't changed much or at all. Kudos to my lack of living in the now! And kudos to the Chiefs for embracing the color red. I wish the Pats had the same respect: 8.2

Oakland Raiders
Ooh baby. We haven't gotten to my favorite uniforms yet but these are as close as you get. The eyepatch dude might be silly, but the whole package is the antithesis of Al Davis in a white warm-up suit. Badass: 9.9

San Diego Chargers
Leave it to a loser franchise like the Chargers to tweak their design in a nod to the Air Coryell era, only it turns out to be a barely perceptible nod that might be mistaken for a Tourette syndrome tic. Shame on them. I can't wait for the Pats to electro-shock dance on them again this weekend: 7.5

Dallas Cowboys
You know, I've never been crazy about their silvery blue pants. Bleh. It's too bad, because the helmet is right up in there. I also like their navy jerseys, which they never get to wear because they choose the whites for home, and most others choose the darks. Still, I see Jerry Jones as football's equivalent to Ted Turner and I'm impressed he hasn't gone insane with color: 8.0

New York Giants
Love that they went back to the older style. Solid. The NY is an improvement over GIANTS, but it could use little more work. Still, it's simple and it grows on you like uptown AIDS: 8.8

Philadelphia Eagles
I remember awhile ago when they went from that pure forest green to the current slate-sort-of-green thing they have going on. It's not even a color, it's like someone soaked the jerseys in mud all offseason. Drab. The winged helmet used to be elegant but they used a Sharpie to over-emphasize the edges and ruined it. This whole city needs to settle down: 2.3

Washington Redskins
Yeah, yeah, "Redskins" is horribly offensive (I got into it with the Rapscallions last year), but theirs is a great design and color combination. Just acknowledge basic decency and do something about the name and logo—again, go with that cool R! Nothing major, you know, who really remembers what a team is called or what symbol they use to represent themselves? Regardless: 8.4

Chicago Bears
Best uniforms in the league. Fantastic football colors, intelligent sense of tradition. Enough said: 10.0

Detroit Lions
These are fine I suppose, but enough of the prancing circus lion. They could switch the logo to a cursive D with whiskers on it and I'd be more impressed. Colors are good though, sort of associate them with the auto industry I suppose. Whatever, it's the Lions: 4.9

Green Bay Packers
Another classic. Can't go wrong with anything here. Good example (even though it's used elsewhere) of defining a letter as your logo. I guess they kind of had to though, because how do you stylize a packer? Don't answer that: 9.0

Minnesota Vikings
I mentioned this in last year's preview: what's with the Viking horn on the pants? Just get together with your friends in Cincinnati and have an intervention—NFL pants are functional and should stop there. And while we're at it with Minnesota, the helmet design is a clever idea (clever or obvious, you decide) but I was never impressed with the execution. I think it needs to be revisited. And maybe it's high-definition television but I don't remember the purple being so fucking purple in my youth. These get worse every time I look at them, so they get my lowest rating: 2.0

Atlanta Falcons
Loved the total about-face they made a few years ago: after switching from red helmets and jerseys to black (in the Great Pre-Millennial Purging of the Red that also claimed the Pats), they wised up and performed admirably by re-instituting the red jerseys. They retained the nice black helmets but incorporated cool red highlights to the falcon. Now that's some flair. (I know I said earlier that we need a pure black-and-white team, but the Falcons just weren't doing it for me.) Nice work: 7.2

Carolina Panthers
More teal, please! One of the all-time blunders for the city of Charlotte, embracing a trendy color to the point that I expected the sidewalks to be painted teal when I visited a few years ago. I think they could just change it to another shade of blue and stop there because it's a pretty decent uniform. Even the helmet logo is alright, which is rare for expansion teams: 5.6

New Orleans Saints
This is some fantastic under-the-radar shit these guys are wearing! All-time-great helmet, stunningly good all-black pants. If only this much consideration was present elsewhere in the city… well, you know. Anyway, a great marriage of name and look: 9.2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I saw some old clip the other day of that ridiculous orange uniform. Orange is my favorite color but even I couldn't stomach that. I love how the new look unabashedly rips off the 49ers, with pewter (pewter!) in place of gold. That showed real mettle. They did a good job with the helmet though—pretty nifty pirate flag. But I wish the Spaniard with the dagger in his mouth was still around swarthing it up somehow. One can dream: 6.9

Arizona Cardinals
OK, the Sports Guy stole some thunder last week but these guys need a new name, pronto—there just cannot be a large cardinal population in the southwest. Regardless, this whole package needs some work. The angry red bird is kind of cool, I suppose, and I admire the unembellished white helmet. But as with Miami, Phoenix suggests a certain color palette and brick red isn't it. Don't make me sick the S1Ws after you: 2.5

St. Louis Rams
No one else in the league embraced mustard the way the Rams did in Los Angeles. And then they moved to St. Louis and eventually swapped it out for gold, thereby emphasizing the navy… just like everyone else in the league. That's why the Pats went for it in 2002. Still love those helmets though, and blue and gold is pretty sweet after all: 6.7

San Francisco 49ers
OK, we had that extended misstep with the white pants awhile ago. I have no idea what that was all about. Luckily they got their heads together and said "Up yours, Tampa Bay, we had the red/metallic thing going first and now we're taking it back." Until Frank Gore came along, it was the best decision the team made in like twelve years. Gotta give props to the logo too, I totally appreciate these typographic ones when they're done right. And it's the best they could have done outside of a bearded old coot kneeling in a dry riverbed: 7.0

Seattle Seahawks
Muddy blue? Neon piping? Turd: 2.2

To review:
Chicago Bears – 10.0
Oakland Raiders – 9.9
Indianapolis Colts – 9.5
New Orleans Saints – 9.2
Pittsburgh Steelers – 9.1
Green Bay Packers – 9.0
New York Jets – 8.9
New York Giants – 8.8
Cleveland Browns – 8.5
Washington Redskins – 8.4
Kansas City Chiefs – 8.2
Miami Dolphins – 8.1
Dallas Cowboys – 8.0
San Diego Chargers – 7.5
Atlanta Falcons – 7.2
San Francisco 49ers – 7.0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6.9
St. Louis Rams – 6.7
Baltimore Ravens – 6.4
New England Patriots – 6.0
Houston Texans – 5.9
Carolina Panthers – 5.6
Cincinnati Bengals – 5.0
Detroit Lions – 4.9
Buffalo Bills – 4.8
Tennessee Titans – 4.7
Jacksonville Jaguars – 4.0
Denver Broncos – 3.2
Arizona Cardinals – 2.5
Philadelphia Eagles – 2.3
Seattle Seahawks – 2.2
Minnesota Vikings – 2.0

Count it! Kinda funny how a lot of these pundit jokers are picking a Colts/Bears rematch. Huh. Of course it's some combination of silly and fruity to judge teams by their uniforms, so I've applied a complex, re-machotizing algorithm to the ratings and reached this conclusion: Pats over Seahawks in Super Bowl XLII. Count that!