Recently, Matthew Stafford Tweeted a picture of some Nike shoes, and said:
Thinkin about bringing these out for MNF in Detroit what do y'all think?
The careful observer will note the predominance of black. Zac Snyder of the SideLion Report recently speculated about ditching the throwbacks this year in favor of new blacks. In the same article, he pointed out that NFL rules would prohibit alt jerseys on MNF, so it’s unlikely that these shoes are to be paired with new black unis. After Stafford Tweeted, Zac asked me if I had any thoughts on the blacks . . . and I thanked him for the post idea.
I've noted in the past that a black Ernie Sims jersey used to be atop my Lions-gear wishlist. There was something awesome and powerful about the then-new black duds; it made clear that this was a break with the past. These weren't the Same Old Lions! This would be a new era: fast, young, dynamic, explosive. There'd be an attitude and swagger about these Detroit Lions, and it would be obvious from the moment they stepped on the field.
Unfortunately, as we know, the players couldn't cash the checks the uniforms wrote. The black unis were a microcosm of the Millen Era: they were a bold, potentially great idea that didn't work out. Now, should the Lions take another stab at infusing some Raider-y toughness in their uniform game? Could the Silver Rush fill out those imposing threads?
For now, at least, I don't want to find out. The Lions just changed their uniforms two years ago, and I think they're absolutely perfect. They're unmistakably classic, unquestionably Detroit, and timeless--yet they look modern and fresh. I want this group of Lions to make these current uniforms intimidating. I want people across the nation to think of these uniforms when they think about the Lions.
That's the crux here: what makes uniforms intimidating is the players inside them. We love the classic--and therefore current--49ers uniforms not because they're pleasing to the eye, or "scary," but because we can't see them without recalling one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the game. Meanwhile, the iconic Raiders uniform and logo--Millen's inspiration for the Lions' blacks--are no longer intimidating; they're becoming farcical.
The Lions' black uniforms were a failed attempt to break with the recent past and chart a new direction for the franchise. The current uniforms break from THAT past, and reconnect with the Lions' great heritage. Bringing back the blacks might look cool for a game, and might sell jerseys, but I'd like to think this team will intimidate by the performance of the players, and not by what they're wearing.