Week 10 NFL review: When will they learn?

Mark Sanchez and the rest of the Jets had a very tough time in their biggest game of the season while wearing white at home. Photo by The Star-Ledger

Last week, the Buffalo Bills tried to pull off a uniform stunt by wearing white at home for a big game with the Jets. It failed … miserably.

So when the Jets were faced with their own big home game against the Patriots of course they wouldn’t fall into this same bad uniform karma, but no, they did.

The Jets came out of the tunnel at MetLife Stadium wearing all white, and from the outset, it did not work.

Granted, the Jets did defeat the Patriots in white at home in 2010, but that came early in the season when many teams choose to go with white at home. This one came in the middle of the season, and was clearly an attempt at creating more hype because of the uniforms.

One would think the Jets would have seen the disaster this move caused for the Bills, who still haven’t recovered, but their stubbornness caused problems in their biggest game of the season. For big games like this, it is my belief that a team should stick with the uniform that got it there.

No need to change things up just for the start of these games. Try to treat it as business as usual at least externally, teams that admit they are in big games with their uniforms usually have a tough time living up to the hype.

Bad job by the Jets all-around. Now, quick hits:

Quarterback Josh Freeman and the Bucs had a very tough time getting anything going in a sloppy look against the Texans. Photo by Getty Images

  • The Bucs looked sloppy in their uniforms and on the field with white pants to go with their red jerseys. The gold on red look is much more solid.
  • The Rams also had a very poor look of blue-on-blue in a close victory over the Browns. Still always hoping they go with their gold pants.
  • Atlanta broke out their awesome throwbacks for a loss to the Saints. By far the best uniforms the Falcons have ever worn.
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Helmets like White Elephants

Here we have another entry from Alex. This one regarding the emergence of white helmets in football.

Auburn has employed the white helmet for a long time. Always looking good at home and on the road.

But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll like it?”

– From “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway

Indeed, there was a time, particularly in pro football, when white helmets were considered a white elephant, or rather, a fashion faux pas. When the Houston Texans were born in 2002 and they introduced white helmets, many alleged “experts” bristled at such a uniform statement.  Arguably, an expansion team should have made a better impression on the league with a better helmet idea, or could have actually made the playoffs once in their first nine seasons.  With neither feat accomplished, perhaps the Texans were on to something with their white helmets. Today, the trend toward the white helmet, in the NFL and even more so in college, is quite prevalent.

More and more teams have gone to the white helmet because it offers that classic look. With the constant uniform changes happening in college football, many teams have either opted to keep or have opted for the white helmet. This weekend, LSU, wearing their not-as-deplorable-as-it-could-be Nike Pro Combat looks, opted for a white helmet with purple “LSU” on each side, went up against Auburn in a rare white helmet vs. white helmet matchup.

Also this weekend, Oklahoma State, in their victory over Mizzou, looked good with an all-white getup that included white helmets.  A revisit to the Oklahoma State Combo Creator reveals that OSU, in addition to their gray and black helmets, actually have two white helmets, one that features an orange “OSU” and another that features that same logo in black.  Of course, OSU has always had white helmets, but it was nice that, when they did decide, for whatever reason, to redo their football unis, they kept those two white helmets, rather than discarding for something that looks like this.

Barry Sanders sported a white helmet with Oklahoma State in the late 80s. The letters on the helmets were bigger, but the helmet has largely remained the same.

Like the Cowboys, many schools have had white helmets as far back as anyone can remember, making the white helmet not a burden to an team’s look, but rather an enhancement. Penn State and Stanford have never deviated from their white lids (although Standard will feature a black helmet on November 27th, when they Pro Combat for a primetime game against Notre Dame). Many other schools have also gone to the white helmet in recent years, with even Oregon finding room in their cornucopia of unis for a classic, white topper.

But this trend is not only limited to the college game. In addition to the Texans, the Jets, Cardinals, Dolphins, Colts, and Titans (formerly the Oilers) all sport white helmets. Additionally, both the Bills and Chargers have made the move from their old helmets to white helmets.

Clearly, the white helmet is (and has) made a comeback.  And, rather than being like white elephants, are embraced by teams looking to return to a more classic, and overall better look.

Breaking News: Patriots to go with throwbacks

It seems like Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots will wear these throwbacks against the Jets this weekend.

A friend with knowledge of the situation tells me the New England Patriots will wear their throwback uniforms for this Sunday’s divisional showdown with the Jets. These uniforms were worn by New England from 1961-1992.

Last year, the Patriots wore these against the Vikings and wore them frequently in 2009 when it was the 50-year anniversary of the AFL.

My friend told me the throwback helmets and pants were hanging the Patriots locker room Monday after practice. Usually teams do this to break in the equipment during practice leading up to the game.

These are solid uniforms and I am looking forward to the Patriots wearing these in a big game against the Jets.

End Zone Designs: Painting on the Field

The Super Bowl always does a good job of matching the importance of the game with good end zone designs.

Every player on the football field wants to reach the end zone. Those special ten yards on each side of the field create the most excitement of any game, and therefore, it should be no coincidence they look better than the rest of the field.

While there might be a few exceptions (Boise State and Eastern Washington), football fields stick to green to cover the 100 yards of the playing field, probably because that is the color of natural grass.

As it is with uniforms, it seems like college football has more freedom with end zone design than the NFL.  Two designs in particular that stand out to me are Tennessee and Maryland. The Vols have stuck with the same orange-and-white checkered pattern for many years now.

The pattern works very well for me. It goes away from the usual lettering that goes in an end zone. Everyone knows Tennessee is the home team, so it is a good move by the Volunteers to go outside the box with this.

The other cool feature of this end zone is the pattern does not cover all 10 yards of the space. The yard or so of green showing on all sides of the pattern adds a bit of classiness to the design.

Maryland takes its cues from Tennessee when it comes to their end zone. In similar fashion to their pride uniforms that got everyone’s attention, Maryland’s end zone pays homage to their state flag.

Bowl games are some of my favorite fields because each zone is totally different from the other. Some games like the famed Beef O’Brady’s Bowl decide to keepboring end zones telling everyone what city they are in, which is clearly necessary for those who have made the trip to support their school.

A few other collegiate end zones that stick out are Penn State, who uses a yellow goal line, which is nice. Notre Dame sticks with the stripes in the end zone, keeping with tradition. I’ll throw in Syracuse here too since I have a weakness for blue and orange and the Orange have gone with that since switching over to FieldTurf in the Carrier Dome.

When it comes to the NFL, there is not as much variety form year-to-year, but I will focus on the local teams here.

Since moving to MetLife Stadium (or New Meadowlands Stadium as it used to be known), the Jets and Giants have greatly improved their end zone designs. The move to natural grass for the 2000 season turned out to be a disaster in terms of keeping the grass lush and end zone design.

In the first year, both teams decided to paint the end zones at Giants Stadium, making for a good look, especially for the 2000 NFC Championship victory for the Giants. However, as time went on and even as Giants Stadium went to FieldTurf, the end zones got much more boring. Without any paint in the end zones, it looked like a preseason game for the entire season.

For the last few seasons at the old stadium, the Giants did paint the lettering in the end zones, but it still left much to be desired because of what the field used to look like with AstroTurf.

Now, with MetLife Stadium, the end zone have gone back to their exciting past, and I think we can all say we are glad to see it. They have even added a logo and conference logo at the ends which makes for a nice touch.

That’s all for today’s display of obsessiveness. We’ll take a bit of a break until this weekend’s football action, unless something exciting happens in the uniform world.

NFL Week 2 Review: Remember the (New York) Titans

Quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Jets rolled in over the Jaguars yesterday in these stellar throwback New York Titans uniforms. Photo by The Star-Ledger

This week in the NFL did not have too much action in the way of bold fashion statements. The NFL has restrictions on uniforms, keeping teams to only two games in their alternate uniforms per season. This makes sure there are no teams like Maryland or Oregon in the league where they play ……. for pay (thanks, Mike Francesa).

The one team that did make people notice them for more than just their stellar play on the field in a dominant performance over the putrid Jacksonville Jaguars was the New York Jets. As they have done in the past, the Jets went with these New York Titans throwback uniforms.

Overall, these uniforms are pretty solid considering they are throwbacks. I would not like them as permanent uniforms for any team.

I am always a fan of stripes along the shoulders, which adds some solid detail to this otherwise simple uniform. The same could be said for the white and blue stripes along the side of the gold/yellow pants (I really can’t decide what color they are).

The best feature here is the decidedly gold numbers. They are simple and effective. The absence of any kind of outline on the number helps it almost fade into the blue of the shirt and makes it clear these are throwbacks.

Looking at the helmet also makes it clear the Jets have become the Titans for this particular game. Again, the stripe is definitely gold which helps with the helmet. Also, the lack of any writing on the sides of the helmets gives a clear indication it is a throwback.

While the uniforms were stellar, the look of the field at MetLife Stadium and the surroundings all pointed to this being a Jets home game. While I understand the New York Jets were actually the ones facing the Jaguars, I wish the people at the Meadowlands would have changed the end zone from the usual green coloring with white letters to a blue coloring with gold letters saying “Titans”. It would have completed the day and made everything about the uniforms work.

The Chargers make some changes to their end zone when they go with the powder blues and it completes the entire look of the game. The difference here is the Chargers play on natural grass while the Jets are on FieldTurf, which I imagine might cause some problems for a brand new end zone for just one game, but it would help immensely.

Bills running back Fred Jackson had a strong game and looked good while doing it in Buffalo's new home uniforms. Photo by Getty Images

That’s all for the New York Titans, a few other teams made some uniform news so here are a few quick hits:

  • The Tennessee Titans went with white uniforms at home in their victory over the Ravens, one of my major pet peeves if you’re not the Dallas Cowboys or Miami Dolphins.
  • The Saints and Panthers also went with white at home. I understand the move for the Panthers because it can be hot in North Carolina this time of year, but I still prefer the usual black uniforms or their alternate light blues. However, the Saints choice just bothers me. They play in a climate-controlled dome, why do you have to wear white at home?
  • The Bills debuted their new home uniforms in a thrilling victory over the Raiders that saw them score a touchdown on every possession in the second half. I really like these uniforms for the most part, the only thing I could do without is how the stripe on the helmet gets wider at the back. Why is it like that? It ruins a nearly perfect uniform.

All right, enough for today. Here’s a little preview of what is coming for the rest of the week, including what I hope to be a usual Tuesday staple of reviewing the uniform history of the teams featured on Monday Night Football:

Tuesday: A look at the Rams and Giants uniform transformations

Wednesday: End Zones, the chance for freedom in field design

Thursday: What’s Maryland wearing this week?

Friday or Saturday: What uniforms have to do with the Red Sox collapse