from the Steelers.com Gallery of the Press Conference
Adding one last dig to our neighbors to the west before tonight's (hopefully) decisive hockey game, the Steelers did us a favor showcased their new-for-2012 throwbacks yesterday. Yikes.
Gone is the 60s-inspired alternate with its trademark yellow helmet. I never loved the previous throwback, but they were perfectly harmless, and a nice rearrangement of the design of the Steelers classic (hate to admit that one, but it's true) uniforms.
This new one? Well, the good news is that it's tied into an 80th anniversary celebration, so it's a safe bet it won't be seen after this year. The bad news is that it introduces a new type of "ugly" NFL uniform. Let's look at the types of ugly uniforms that are currently out there:
There's "modern does not always equal good" ugly: the prime offender being the 2000s Bills, with their non-white monochrome uniforms, inexplicable paneling, yokes, and a general sense of "this is over-designed." Less egregious offenders: the Cardinals and Falcons.
There's "why did you have to break something that was perfectly nice?" ugly: the current Jaguars uniform isn't particularly… well, it's not particularly anything. It just exists, devoid of any character. But, it replaced one of the best modern uniforms without improving it in any way (except maybe gimmicky color-change helmet). Another example would be the Vikings current uniforms.
There's "old teams used weird colors" ugly: the 2007 Eagles throwbacks (yellow and light blue – together on a football uniform at last!) were harmless except for the ridiculous (though historically accurate) color scheme. It's still funny to see these in the stands, serving as proof that Eagles fans will buy and wear anything associated with the team. Lesser offenders: throwbacks worn by the Packers in 2010 and 2011 (not to be seen in 2012, though).
Until yesterday, the last type of "ugly" was "so bad it's good" ugly: I like the Bengals orange alternates, whether paired with white or black pants. There's a lot not to like there, but somehow it works. Sue me. (I know that liking the orange over black combo isn't particularly philosophically sound given my previous opinions about odd color combos, but somehow that one is passable. Maybe due to my love of Halloween.)
The Steelers have managed to create a new kind of "ugly." Welcome to "so bad it should be good, but it's just bad" ugly. Everywhere you look, there's something that would be noteworthy (possibly in an endearing way, more likely in an annoying way) if it were the only abnormal feature on a uniform.
- Horizontal stripes like you'd see on a rugby shirt.
- Putting the numbers in a box, then filling that box with white like it's a letter on Wheel of Fortune
- A non-color (light beige?) color for the pants, probably in an attempt to mimic an olde timey fabric like canvas or whatever real men wore (probably loosely woven burlap or similar) when they played real football.
- They're going with their normal black, logo on one side, helmets. It's actually nice they're not trying to match a leather helmet by going with brown (like the Packers did to middling results) but at least use a solid black helmet without a logo. I may even approve of the use of matte black for this special case.
- Striped socks are good. Alternating stripes the entire length of the sock? Not good.
- Finally, the historical accuracy of whether this was the actual uniform worn 80 seasons ago is under considerable debate. (to be fair, I'll point out that conclusively deciding anything about NFL uniforms before 1970 is a black art due to lack of records and care.)
The 2009 Broncos AFL Throwbacks are thought to be in this category due to their vertically striped socks, but notice that aside from the socks and the jarring colors (see above about olde timey colors), the uniforms are pretty ho-hum.
It's a ballsy move on the Steelers part to choose this look as their alternate uniform this season. Sure, it's hideous (and is actually technically a "Pittsburgh Pirates" uniform from before the name change), but it's the type of risk that gets fans engaged and the type of risk Eagles management would never take. The Eagles won't even wear their black alternates which are about as safe as can be in terms of rocking the boat. Sure, these are just uniforms, I get that, but as Kyle detailed previously, they're one more component of a team which, since the trade of Donovan McNabb, has gotten complacent about almost every facet of the organization.