Change is in the sartorial NFL air. Since the league made the switch from Reebok to Nike as its uniform supplier last year, four teams have dramatically overhauled their looks – with mixed results.The Jacksonville Jaguars' new uniforms were released Tuesday, and the Vikings and Dolphins unveiled theirs Thursday. Here are the new threads, presented in a highly subjective ranking from least to most successful. Franchises will be loosely judged on logo, color incorporation, risk-taking, and the level to which the uniforms were actually “overhauled” at all. (Call it “effort”).
Unlike, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars' new uniforms, the 'Fins look wasn't changed much. But that didn't prevent a huge misstep: getting rid of one of the league's best logos. The old logo, of a peevish cartoon dolphin wearing a football helmet, was perfectly fun and on message: it said, "We are the Dolphins, we play tough football, and you will have a blast watching us."
The new logo says, "We saw some tasteful dolphin-print wallpaper in our dentist's waiting room and thought it would look nice on our helmets."
The Dolphins’ brass claims the new logo is better representative of a dolphin in the wild than the old one.
Otherwise, the new uniforms are just a slight update of the old ones: the aqua and white color scheme remains intact, and orange, which was the Dolphins’ dominant color a few decades ago, is further de-emphasized. They aren't ugly; the colors go well together and are a good visual representation of South Florida. But there's no menacing edge to these uniforms. A print dress or a room done in Miami Dolphins colors would be perfectly tasteful, and that probably isn't a good sign.
The redesigns are part of a five-year licensing deal with Nike, launched in April of last year. Before that, the NFL contract had been held by the Adidas-owned Reebok brand for the better part of a decade. During the launch last year, some estimated that the new deal would bring about $500 million in extra revenue to the league .
The NFL hasn’t revealed exactly how much it made in merchandise sales in 2012, but the league isn’t wanting for cash flow. The NFL made $9.5 billion last year, by far the most of any US sports league. (Major League Baseball came in second, with $7.5 billion).
Like most sports leagues, the bulk of the NFL’s money comes from TV contracts, but the merchandising doesn’t hurt. Last year, the San Francisco 49ers sold the most team gear. Then-rookie Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III had the best-selling individual jersey, and broke the record for most jerseys sold in a single season.
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