The horrible specter of the new Lions NIKE uniforms mortified me beyond rational thought. TLiW readers and Twitter followers alike tried to talk me off the ledge, but I was having none of it. NIKE is wont to make post-modern art school disasters out of uniforms, and the Lions just completed a solid, modern update of a timeless look.
Many pointed out that under NFL policy, the Lions couldn’t make significant changes to their uniforms within five years of their 2009 makeover. But if we’ve learned nothing else this offseason, it’s that the league office has no problem ignoring or rewriting its own rules.
Meet your 2012 Detroit Lions Nike Football Uniform, same as (or remarkably similar to) your 2011 Detroit Lions Reebok Football Uniform.
The Lions opted to take NIKE up on all of their technological innovations, with advanced fabrics cut to fit snugly, “zoned mesh integration,” an articulated shoulder, and the “flywire” collar that keeps jerseys locked down onto pads.
But in terms of the colors, numbers, stripes, and marks—the things that make the Lions uniform the Lions’ uniform—nothing has changed. Depending on reports, the pants are either “shinier silver” or “duller gray”; clearly lighting and the eye of the beholder come into play there.
There are many out there who were hoping the Lions would eliminate the black piping, revert the numbers to their blockier state, and/or tweak the swoopy wordmark, but nope: the look is identical.
Some don't understand why I take this so seriously. Branding yourself a “Lions fan” is exactly that: branding. You’re taking the team’s identity and wrapping yourself with it. People have often cynically called sports fandom “cheering for laundry” . . . well, when they change the laundry, that’s a big deal.
When you walk down the street in a Lions jersey, you’re signalling to others that you have invested significant time, money, and emotion in supporting the team.You allow, even invite, others to associate your own personal brand with everything the organization does. Every time the Lions win, we bask in the glory. Every time Ndamukong Suh gets a speeding ticket, friends, family, and total strangers bust our balls and lady balls.
Don the Honolulu Blue when the team is doing well, and it reflects well on you. Sport the gear when the team is doing poorly, and you run the risk of lowering yourself in others’ opinion.
This goes a step further. Amongst fellow Lions and NFL fans, jerseys (and other gear) become a matter of taste and fashion. Two years ago, I saw a fellow Lions fan in a supermarket rocking the eye-bleeding silver alternate jersey from the early Millen Era—only instead of the Charles Rogers model in the only picture of that monstrosity I could find, it was an Az-Zahir Hakim:
At a glance, I could tell several things about this person:
- They were, at best, naïve about football in 2004.
- They were unable to visually differentiate between “awful” and “awesome” in 2004.
- They are profoundly clueless about football now.
- They either remain ignorant of the difference between “awful” and “awesome,” or
- Cannot afford a more respectable jersey, and in either case
- They have absolutely no compunction about looking like an idiot in public.
You don't want to be that person. *I* don't want to be that person. I want to be the person who showed up to the 2009 home opener in a brand-new authentic home Matthew Stafford. I also, as I’ve said before, want this look, this Lions uniform, to be instantly identified with this era of Lions success—especially since, as relatively bold of a departure from the past it is, it’s still instantly identifiable as the Detroit Lions’ uniform.
That shouldn't change, and I'm thrilled it didn't.