NFL uniforms have seen a lot of alteration in recent years.
In 2012, Nike overtook Reebok as the official game-day uniform supplier of the league and instilled their own structural design of almost every team. Along with the switch to the swoosh came brand new aesthetic designs for several franchises in the following years, the Seahawks, Browns, and Vikings being a few.
Last year, Nike made even further changes to their design that revamped the collar of the jersey.
Amid all these changes, the Bengals have accepted Nike’s structural revisions but have maintained the core artistry that has been their uniform design since 2004. For the most part, it’s a solid model and representation of the team’s namesake, but it’s not without clear flaws.
SB Nation’s Charles McDonald reached out to Nate James, a Detroit based graphic artist (and Bengals fan), to categorize NFL uniforms in need of an update. James placed the Bengals into the “Outdated Modernism” classification, which is honestly an accurate description.
“Apart from how you feel about the tiger stripes (I wouldn’t change them just because I can’t imagine anything else - for better or worse, that’s the Bengals) the white side stripe is pointless and ridiculous, the orange shoulder yoke on the away jersey sucks, and shadow number font needs to go.”
There’s a lot of truth in here, let’s dissect it all.
The Stripes, in some capacity, have been a part of the Bengals uniform since 1981, the year they appeared in their first Super Bowl. It was the first year the stripes on the helmet was used, and striping on the shoulders and pants were also introduced. Many would say it was their cleanest look in their history, and I would agree. His assessment on maintaining the stripes is spot on, because there’s no reason to rid them.
The biggest complaint anyone has of the modern uniform has always been the tacky white stripe down the side of the black and orange jerseys. I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone who thought otherwise.
The “point” of the stripe is to represent the underbelly of a Bengal tiger, but actually manifesting the vision has proved to be unnecessary and aesthetically displeasing. James is 2 for 2.
The orange shoulders on the white jersey are a glaring negative to James, and with the current design I would agree. They take away the consistency that the black and orange jersey designs established, and the recent changes Nike made with the collar and upper chest lining make the orange area even bigger. Combine that with the orange stripes in front of a black background that are also on the orange jersey, the white jerseys need work.
Finally, he addresses the font and outlining of the numbers on the jersey needing to be replaced. Personally, I don’t mind number fonts as much as long as the coloring and outlining complements and works with it. The font itself isn’t bad, but he’s correct about the off-centered shadowing that is the outlining. It’s tacky and doesn’t resemble any sleekness or sharpness.
James’ honest and blunt criticisms of the Bengals uniforms is essentially what most of us have been saying for a while. It’s just refreshing to have a knowledgeable artist share our same opinions.