So, as you've heard, Nike has won the NFL On Field Equipment contract beginning the 2012 season (assuming, of course, the inevitable 2011 strike doesn't destroy the league...). Their lease on the jerseys our teams so lovingly brandish game in and game out will last five years (also assuming, of course, that the whole world ending thing doesn't happen). MLB hat fans will be pleased to know that the sideline and fan hats will now be made by New Era, meaning that my XL noggin will finally actually be able to wear a fitted NFL hat again! Hooray!
Many of you and your fellow internet denizens have expressed the strong level of ambivalence such a drastic change can easily muster. You're half frustrated/anticipating that Nike, the people responsible for the Oregon "uniforms" and yearly Pro Combat unveilings in the college football world, will be forcing their close-fitting, bound-to-be-outrageously-expensive wares on the unsuspecting NFL loving masses. You're half excited/dreading to see what Nike, who have been known to be quite aggressive in their team rebrandings, will do to your beloved team's on-field garb.
I am here with my crystal ball to alleviate and/or affirm some of your best/worst suspicions.
Before I get to the nitty-gritty, I'd just like to say that I love uniforms. I design them in my spare time because I'm a dweeb like that. There's nothing more fun for me than to build a custom team in EA's NCAA Football's TeamBuilder, tweaking every last inch of the on field uniforms. It's a silly passion that takes up way too much of my limited free time. I eagerly follow and study uniform history both in the NFL and NCAA (anyone remember the short, cut-off, tear-away jerseys of the 80's? MANLY). Just laying all that out there, in case you doubt my sincerity in the following passages.
What Nike Won't Do
Green. Lightning Yellow. Chrome. Carbon Fiber. White. Black. Link back to this, ladies and gents, and be both appalled and gobsmacked (turn your volume off if Soulja Boy ain't your thing). In what amounts to the most awesome and most garish display in college football uniform history, Nike unveiled in Oregon what was to become the Pro Combat system of dress. It's just a shame they had to do so with such garish flair. Yellow jerseys with silver wing patterns are ugly. Disagree with me all you want, but it's the truth.
Never fear, Nike won't be doing this to the Falcons or any other team. Don't expect to see the irradiated booger green Seahawk jerseys either. Teams have full control over what jersey color, config, and design makes it onto the field on Sunday afternoons. Nike will likely offer teams some redesigns, but don't expect to see anything too drastic. I highly doubt much will change except the Nike swoosh replacing the Reebok logo somewhere on the jersey.
What Nike Will Do
Clicky here. Marvel. Nike can respect uniforms (Bama, OSU), and can make some decent looking ones to boot (except Virginia Tech. God what were they thinking when they approved that?). My hypothesis? Pro Combat is so named for a reason. Nike won this contract because of the Pro Combat system of dress. They already have Adrian Peterson hawking the under-armor parts of the system. All that's missing is a purple and gold jersey in the commercials. Expect to see that in fall 2012.
Now here's a quote. Don't get too nervous.
Nike officials say they have some big plans for reinventing NFL uniforms once they get the contract. -NECN
Reinvention, at least in Nike's terms, will likely come in the way of uniform cut. Expect to see more tightly fitting, lighter wearing jerseys. The cut will change their weight and fit, not their design. There's your revolution folks. Step away from the ledge.
Another thing Nike will do? Pull in $300 to $500 million extra a year. Plenty of money to keep Oregon's uniform wardrobe stocked to the nines with gaudy, yellow, eye-popping crap.