The New England Patriots are finally changing their look. It’s a momentous moment for a team that stuck to the same style for most of the Tom Brady era. Now that Brady, with Rob Gronkowski in tow, will play for another team, it’s the perfect time for a change in the form of new NFL uniforms. Except, the Pats didn’t do much to revitalize their look.
The subtle changes to New England’s new duds still connect to the vibe of the Brady days. They missed the opportunity for a clean break. These are the sorts of details great uniforms implicitly communicate.
Other teams came up with great new looks that will last for years. One in particular makes the Pats’ reticence to change seem like a good idea after all. Let’s get into the weeds on the details of these new uniforms and what makes them pop (or not).
The best features of the six new NFL uniforms
New uniforms need to give a team a new look, while still being instantly recognizable. The Los Angeles Chargers came out ahead of the pack by fulfilling both of those requirements perfectly. Their entire range of alternates are great and should help a team struggling to re-assert their identity in a new city settle in.
This uniform works for the same reason most of the best aspects of each team’s new design does: it’s simple. These are bold, striking colors. The fan-favorite powder blue looks arguably better than it ever has. The logo and number font have an old school look to them, while the sleek placement of both cuts a strikingly modern figure. Numbers on the helmets leverage a trend in many new designs that adds some character to an otherwise sparse look.
The new Tampa Bay Buccaneers unis, preparing for Brady’s arrival, are nearly as good. The same great qualities are present: focus on a single major color, modern understated logo placement, and a clean old school font. It’s a notable change away from the awkward alarm clock font that made their old uniforms downright unpleasant, as ESPN notes.
The worst parts of the new 2020 uniforms
Clean designs are the order of the day for the best new NFL uniforms. Readable, classic fonts are next in line. Bungling either one of these will make even a conservative uniform concept fail in the eyes of fans.
Consider the new Atlanta Falcons uniforms. This is a team with a history of decent uniforms. They’re going back to a darker color scheme for 2020, something fans have long clamored for. But the way they went about it just doesn’t land. They use an awkward color gradient approach, with multiple shades of the same color on each new design.
The Cleveland Browns went back to older, bolder color schemes too. They simply enhanced the graphic design of their 1980s look, changing line widths and adjusting the colors to make a classic “pop” without ruining what made it great.
The Falcons missed out on the opportunity to pull up nostalgic feelings despite going back to an older palette. The gradient looks modern in a bad way, ruining the look. And the pointy number font is the final ugly bow on what will hopefully be a short-lived style for the team.
Current styles vs. the ugliest NFL uniforms ever
The 2009 Seattle Seahawks went 5-11 according to Pro Sports Reference. That indignity was compounded by that year’s unveiling of what may be the worst NFL uniforms of all time. These lime green monstrosities became instantly infamous. The navy blue sleeves and Seahawks logo were the only indications that this was, indeed, the Seattle Seahawks taking the field.
An attempt to salvage the lime green look came back in slightly better form in 2017. Instead of looking clownish, the team took on the appearance of construction workers or night time cyclists. Better, but still not great. These recurred, unlike the uglier 2009 attempt, according to Bleacher Report, worn only once during a 25-19 loss to the Chicago Bears.
None of these new uniforms are quite as bad as that ’09 nightmare, although the certainly veer in that direction. The full color palette is considered for all six, a huge improvement over the lime green jersey paired with navy blue pants, socks, and shoes. That looked like two uniforms in one, or someone wearing a safety vest over their real uniform. NFL fans looking forward to 2020 won’t have to suffer through anything close to what Seattle’s faithful did 11 years ago.