The Buffalo Bills unveiled their new uniform designs (photos) last night in a ceremony at Ralph Wilson Stadium. MRW and I were in attendance and on the field for the event, and the Bills were very accommodating in granting us access to the locker room after the ceremony where we got an opportunity to see the jerseys up close and personal (and talk to a few event participants, as well - more on that later).
I've got thoughts on the uniforms themselves, as well as the event, for those interested after the jump.
I've rarely joined in the spirited uniform debate of the last decade, because quite honestly, the uniforms aren't a huge deal to me. My philosophy is simple: if you're watching a football game for the sport, and you notice very irritating details about your team's jersey that disrupt your concentration on football, something is wrong with the jersey. That happened too often with the old look. Clearly, the team needed an upgrade.
They upgraded. In my view, the simpler a jersey is, the better, and these uniforms are pretty clean. They're basic. They're not built upon the intricate details that ruin some newer-era NFL jerseys that look like they belong in the UFL or on the Oregon Ducks. That's all the team needed to do to upgrade, and they did it. I don't anticipate being irritated by Bills uniforms during football games anymore. That's really all I was looking for.
That said, I know there have been lots of questions about the minutiae of the new look, and I'll address those as best as I can.
The helmet: As far as I'm concerned, the helmet is perfect. The team is calling the color "metallic white," and yes, these puppies are pretty dazzling in person. They'll look great in NFL stadiums and on your HDTVs this fall. I promise. The gray facemasks look great, and I'm a fan of the idea of widening the center stripe of the helmet toward the back. This was done to mimic the stripe on the Bills logo, which widens as well.
Changes made to both uniforms: On both the home and road uniforms, you'll see the word "BILLS" appear on the front of the jersey above the numbers. The wordmark has been slightly refined, according to the team. On the back, above the player's name, you'll see the team's charging buffalo logo. Russ Brandon spoke about really upping the branding on the jerseys, and they've done that in a way that is not overtly cumbersome. The Bills pointed out that only Arizona and Minnesota used logos on the back of the jersey in that fashion until last night.
The home (blue) uniforms: You get white numbers with red and navy trim (red on white, navy on blue). The numbers also appear on the shoulders. The same trim pattern as the numbers (white, red, navy working inside to out) appears on the shoulders - or, on the replica jerseys y'all are buying, on the sleeves. The collar has three stripes, again red, white and navy, with the navy stripe up top. I was concerned about using two tones of blue on these uniforms, but on the royal home jersey, it's not even remotely an issue.
The away (white) uniforms: These are not quite up to the quality of the royal blue jerseys, in my opinion, for one reason: the inconsistency of the trim pattern from number to shoulder stripe. The numbers are royal blue, with red and navy trim (red on royal, navy on white). The stripe on the sleeve, however, is royal with navy and red reversed - navy on royal, red on white. I have no idea why this was done, but it looked strange to me in person. The numbers look great to me, and the stripes... do not. From a distance, it almost makes the shoulder stripe look purple. The collar also features navy on blue, and it looks like there's a red stripe sitting on top of a thick purple stripe from a distance. This was my concern with the navy: that would adversely affect the team's true colors. Perhaps this is something that can be tweaked when Nike takes over next year, because honestly, not being consistent with striping on both uniforms makes no sense to me.
Pants, socks and cleats: No blue pants, folks. At least for now, there's only one pair of pants to be worn with both uniforms, and they're white. The Bills put their logo up near the hip area, apparently for the first time in team history, which I thought was a nice touch. The stripe on the pants matches the stripe on the helmets (without the widening) - red, royal, and thin navy trim. There are two sets of socks - one for each uniform - and the team says they match the striping of each jersey's shoulders. The military men modeling the uniforms last night all wore black cleats with different colors of trim (mostly red).
Many of you watched the event live online last night, and reading back through the comments on last night's open thread, y'all reacted pretty much as I expected you would. Given the nature of the league's labor situation and the ominous weather reports, I thought it went off about as well as it could. Yes, it was a little drawn out. But the team also spent a good deal of time on the distinguished military individuals modeling the uniforms, and each one got a loud cheer (as did the unveil itself) despite the relatively small crowd. That was a nice touch, as was letting fans onto the field after the event to take in the movie (which MRW and I did not stay for).
On the morning after, what does everybody think of the new look?