Whether or not you’ve heard, Nike will be replacing Reebok as the official outfitter of the NFL in April of next year. I can’t fault Reebok for the job they did either. I’ll never understand why they sell NFL jerseys so large, I’ll never need to put it over shoulder pads and I hate feeling like I’m walking around in a mu-mu, but from a design standpoint, Reebok was fine. You see I am an NFL purist, I find this odd because in college I truly do enjoy the strange aesthetic innovations that crop up every few years (piping, cut off stripes, all kinds of bizarreness) but the NFL is about classic looks.
Nike clearly doesn’t care, as was once again emphasized by Nike president Charlie Denson, who states that Nike plans to be aggressive in their approach to NFL uniform designs. In fact he literally said it basically in those exact words. (Note: The image to the right is a fan mock-up, though we never claimed it was an authentic Nike sketch clearly the point needed to be spelled out).
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Denson said. “Some teams are willing to go further than others.”
Now, aside from the fact that last part sounds like a promiscuous teenage boy describing his summer camp experience, that’s disturbing for other reasons as well. Namely, that means we’re potentially going to see a lot of very new-age looking uniforms replacing the classic looks of the NFL very soon. What teams will be willing to go further though?
I’m going to assume you can just toss out classic franchises like the Packers, Bears, probably the Browns (though they may want to consider it) and maybe a few other teams (Dolphins, Cowboys, Saints). The Bucs though, I’m sad to say, would probably be one of the top candidates for a new look.
There’s a number of reasons I believe this, for starters, money. Not many fans are going to rush out to buy a jersey just because the insignia on the shoulder switched from Reebok to Nike. They will however go out and buy redesigned jerseys. Think about it, the Bucs have more or less rebranded the product on the field. They have a talented young nucleus of players and they look to be on the rise.
Much in the same way the Rays changed up their look as they began to compete for the AL East, or the Buccaneers did themselves in the 90′s, the Bucs may view this as an exciting opportunity to cash in. Not many people have Josh Freeman jerseys or Mike Williams jerseys, there is beginning to be incentive to go buy them though. If you redesign the uniform though, then suddenly the red is outdated and there’s even more incentive to go buy a new jersey with one of the talented young Bucs on the back.
Heck, the Bucs have pulled that move before (the last time they were building around a promising young nucleus), it’s not as if the Bucs have a ton of loyalty to their colors or their logo. They’ve dramatically altered both in their brief (by NFL standards) history. They went from creamsicle and white to red and pewter. They changed Bucco Bruce from a sophisticated looking french (I assume) buccaneer into a pillowy disgruntled mascot that looks like he may at any moment accost one of the Buccaneer cheerleaders. It’s not like a small change, they went a totally different direction.
My point is, when Nike redesigns the uniforms in April 2012, I’d be willing to bet the Bucs get an upgrade. It may be a tweak or a new wrinkle on the established uniform. But if the last redesign the Bucs did is anything to go on (coupled with Nike’s fairly liberal use of stripes, piping and colors that have nothing to do with the team) they may also be in magenta and black with a totally new logo too.
I rather like the Bucs uniforms, I hope I’m wrong. But I don’t trust Nike not to change everything either.