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Breaking down the Falcons new uniforms

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More than just a uniform, they represent a city.

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After being leaked on Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons made the decision to forego waiting till April 14 to debut the new uniforms, and unveiled them on Wednesday afternoon.

The fanbase seems very split on their opinion of them, and personally I find myself in the group who doesn’t like them. Outside opinion is less mixed, with UniWatch summing up the strength of the reaction. I wanted to take the time to break down the uniforms and decipher why certain decisions were made, and possibly what they represent.

Uniform Set

“Time and again, we’ve heard you ask for new uniforms over the years, and in the spirit of our core values, we’ve listened to you and responded with what I know will be an exciting new era of Falcons football.” – Arthur Blank

The first thing that popped out to me with the overall uniform set is the combinations. As Falcons fans know, the team has generally only had three looks for the past several years: Red/White, White/White and the throwbacks which will remain. The numbers are much bigger and the wordmark “ATL” appear on the chest, obviously to honor the city of Atlanta.

For those that were wondering, the Falcons logo will remain the same with no changes made to it.

Helmets

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to see this look come together. Not only will the players be happy, but I think our fans will be happy. I know the head coach is! During this tough time for so many, we hope this new look gives our fans something to look forward to.” — Dan Quinn

The Falcons apparently took a few ideas from the old Tampa Bay Buccaneers creativity playbook (which they have since canned) by enlarging the helmet logo by 30% and using a silver (chrome) facemask. The only real silver aside from the facemask, is represented in the logo. No silver appears on the uniforms, which in my opinion, cause the facemask to stick out like a sore thumb. Personally, I would’ve preferred the black facemask remain, but to each their own. The helmets will be the same for every uniform combination, with the exception of the throwback uniform. Due to the NFL’s current “one-shell” rule, the throwback helmet will also be in matte black, which is really the only change to their throwback uniform they’ve been wearing for years.

If you were hoping for a red helmet, don’t worry. There’s been chatter that the NFL could scrap the one-shell rule as early as 2021. If that happens, expect a red helmet.

Home Uniforms

“There’s just a feeling to it. I can’t explain it when you look in your locker and that color and head to toe in black is going to be good, too. I don’t know what it is, but I know there’s a feeling that comes with it for the guys, too, when we see that in our lockers.” – Matt Ryan

The Falcons are going back to black. The home uniforms which will be primarily worn at home is the all-black set in the middle of the image above worn by quarterback Matt Ryan. It’s clean, and something a lot of fans have been asking for. The team has used black with the throwbacks, but this is the first time the team will have an actual home uniform in black since 2009. The team views this as a “New Era, New Look” statement uniform.

If the Falcons decide to go another route, they do have the black top, white pants combo displayed on the far right of the image above. Both uniforms have a red side panel which goes down both sides of the uniforms. The stripe or “stoop” as they call it, is supposed to represent the graphic extension taken from the Falcons logo. You’ll notice that they will no longer have a true red uniform top, which has been the primary look for over a decade. The socks on both home uniform sets are solid black.

As mentioned above in the helmet section, the Falcons’ throwback will return with the new uniforms. They are constantly regarded as some of the best uniforms in the NFL. The only noticeable change is the helmet texture being matte black instead of glossy like in years past.

Away Uniforms

“Just letting them know exactly what we’re playing for, the city we’re playing for. There are a lot of people in this city that ride for the Falcons, and we want to let them know that we’re riding for them, also. I like that.” – Deion Jones

Honestly, as someone who isn’t a big fan of the new uniforms, the best part is the away uniform set. The team is returning to black numbers on the away uniforms, which they did from 1966-1977, 1990-1996. The black number pop more on the white away uniforms, especially the black pants set. The red pants are a nice touch, and are the first time the Falcons will have wear red pants (if you ignore the Color Rush uniforms which were worn only once.) The solid whites are the main away uniforms which will be worn on most away games. The socks on away uniforms will match whatever color the pants are.

“Rise Up” Alternate Uniform

“I think these new uniforms will give us, give the city a new energy and I think people are going to really be excited about it. We know this is a tough time for everyone right now, but we hope this can bring some excitement and light to our city and our fans. Around the whole world everybody knows what ATL stands for, so we’re proud to represent that, today and every day.” – Grady Jarrett

The Falcons decided to make a bold statement, and try something different with their alternate uniforms. The “Rise Up” gradient uniforms rise from black to red, and are likely the most controversial thing about the new uniforms. Some hate them, some love them, but you have to applaud the Falcons effort of trying something different. These uniforms are intended to pay homage to the “next generation of Falcons fans.” The black to red gradient is supposed to offer a fresh representation of the city of Atlanta which is constantly on the rise through a visual pattern made from the eye in the Falcons logo. Gradients rarely work in uniform design, as noted by the Jacksonville Jaguars atrocious gradient helmets worn from 2013-2017.

Creation Process and Backstory

“We took a fan-first approach in gathering feedback and design input and have modernized the look of our team and our brand. Black has been a part of our organization since we took the field in 1966 so we’ve stayed true to our roots and have given our fans and players what they’ve been asking for over many years.” — Rich McKay

According to the Falcons, they used nearly two decade of fan research on designing the uniforms. The three main takeaways they say that they received from the feedback were:

  1. Own the red, but bring back the black.
  2. Reflect the modern progression of the city.
  3. Keep it simple, and stay true to their roots.

The team began conversations on designing a new uniform back in 2016, with the official uniform change process beginning in January 2018. The Falcons combined the feedback and internal design they wanted with the NFL and Nike to come up with the new look.

“This process has been a true reflection of Arthur Blank’s core values — listening and responding to our fans. The city has evolved, our stadium has evolved and we knew it was time to do the same with our brand.” — Morgan Shaw Parker

Whether you like them or not, the team put a lot of work into designing the new uniforms. They are definitely different than what we are used to, and shy away from the classic, traditional look for a lot of NFL teams.

The new Nike Falcons fan jerseys will go on sale April 14th on shop.AtlantaFalcons.com as well as in both the Atlanta Falcons team shop at Atlantic Station and the team store at Mercedes-Benz Stadium upon re-opening (date to be determined). Due to the current pandemic, jersey shipments may be slightly delayed, but if you love these I doubt that will deter you.