Ranking the new additions to the NFL uni-verse

The Broncos, Jets, Lions and Texans unveiled new uniforms. Sun-Times ''experts’’ Patrick Finley and Brian Sandalow judge their appeal.

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Amon-Ra St. Brown models the Detroit Lions' new home uniform.

Amon-Ra St. Brown models the Lions’ new home uniform.

Detroit Lions

When the 2024 NFL season kicks off this fall, four teams will be sporting new looks. The Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley and Brian Sandalow ranked the redesigned uniforms. Remember, there is nothing scientific about their opinions. Yours may vary.

PATRICK FINLEY

1. LIONS

You’re either a classic team or a modern team. The Lions, with their gorgeous shade of Honolulu blue and classic helmet logo (the hand-drawn Lion logo’s name is Bubbles) have returned to trying to look like the former. Hallelujah.

Gone is a sad attempt at a modern number font and a Seasonal Affective Disorder-inducing gray jersey and pants combo. In are simple block numbers and a helmet stripe that mercifully matches the jersey sleeves.

About those sleeves: in 2017, the Lions moved a tribute to late owner William Clay Ford from a patch over their hearts to their jersey sleeves. It always felt a little too similar to the Bears’ tribute to founder George S. Halas. The Lions’ tribute has been banished to the inside of their jersey collar and a sticker on the backs of their helmets.

2. TEXANS

It’s apparently state law to have a beveled logo. The “T” in Texas A&M has a design that makes it seem carved. The Astros’ star is beveled, and so is Stars’ “D” and the Rangers’ lone-star flag.

The Texans play along with their new “city edition” helmet, which features a beveled “H” in Columbia blue. I like the look, and I wish there was more of it. The reason there’s not: the Texans had to negotiate exactly how much Columbia they were allowed to use, given that the Houston Oilers’ old colors are still property of the Titans.

The red helmet with a stylized horn is the most forward-looking uniform element of the season. I prefer both alternates to their current helmet. Besides, they’re the Texans. Unlike the classic teams, they have the freedom to be different — and these are unquestionably that.

The Texans show off their new uniforms, including an alternate paying tribute to their city.

The Texans show off their new uniforms, including an alternate paying tribute to their city.

Houston Texans

3. JETS

The Jets have never really leaned into an aeronautical theme, which is too bad. Who wouldn’t love a helmet painted like the nose cone of an old fighter, or the color of a battleship?

Their logo has never evoked much of anything, really. From 1964-78 and 1998-2023 it was merely a football with the team name — and, for some reason, another smaller football but with added laces — inside. Their 2019 uniform redesign made them the most soulless looking team in the NFL. Their jerseys looked like the unauthentic ones you’d find at T.J. Maxx, and the helmet had the word “Jets” with a football underneath.

The “New York Sack Exchange” uniforms that inspired the new ones weren’t classics to anyone outside the tri-state area. But they’re so much better than what they’ve been wearing.

Aaron Rodgers and the Jets will wear a uniform strikingly similar to what the franchise donned in the 1980s.

Aaron Rodgers and the Jets will wear a uniform strikingly similar to what the franchise donned in the 1980s.

New York Jets

4. BRONCOS

When the Broncos redesigned their uniforms in 1997, the Bears thought their new colors looked a little too familiar — the shades of navy and orange were just barely different than the founding franchise.

No one will ever mistake the teams for each other, in part because the Broncos leaned into a design trope more predictable than the Chicago area teams that use the city flag. The numbers 5280 are on the nose bumper and pants (that’s how many feet are in a mile) and a bizarre helmet stripe is made up of triangles meant to mimic mountains on a map.

The white helmet should be a warning to any Bears fan dreaming of getting one of their own. Paired with a navy jersey, it makes the Broncos look like a Mountain West team.

BRIAN SANDALOW

1. LIONS

Just like the Lions came painfully close to their first Super Bowl appearance, they fell tantalizingly short of perfection with their new uniforms. On the plus side, the standard home set looks sharp, with the return of white numbers and a look that’s reminiscent of the Barry Sanders-era set. Going back to Honolulu Blue facemasks is also a welcome change.

Unfortunately, this set has its flaws. Though the silver pants have a stripe that matches the silver helmet, the blue and white pants are plain. The lack of uniformity bugs me, which is only exacerbated by the white jersey sporting a large DETROIT wordmark that’s absent from the home blues. Then there’s the needless black alternate, paired with a blue helmet adorned with black stripes.

Warts aside, this is still the best change of the year.

2. BRONCOS

This redesign landed with a thud on social media, and it’s easy to see why. The mountain pattern on the sleeve caps looks like the Chargers’ bolt, the helmet stripe is similar to what the Seahawks wear, and the best uniform of the lot is the Orange Crush throwbacks.

Yet this new set works for me. Going away from the 1990s redesign was about 15 years overdue, and the three jerseys can be worn with any of their three pairs of pants. The old, rounded number font was replaced by something sharper and more angular, and should age better than its predecessor.

If they wear the right combinations and throw the white helmets into the nearest incinerator, the Broncos will look the best they have since 1996.

The Broncos show off their new uniforms and multiple combinations.

The Broncos show off their new uniforms and multiple combinations.

Denver Broncos

3. JETS

Trying to overcorrect their previous cartoonish look, the J-E-T-S went L-A-Z-Y.

It’s OK at times to revert to the past if the old uniform is memorable in any way (see: Browns, Buccaneers). These Jets uniforms are blah and forgettable. Adding a green pair of pants will mean some variety, but the huge shoulder numbers and inconsistent striping (two thin arm stripes, one broad pants stripe) just don’t look good. And of course they had to include all-black alternates.

At least the Jets will look like an NFL team again. There’s no gimmicky flair or fancy frills just for the sake of it, which is fine.

4. TEXANS

The Texans tried to please everybody with one ultra-traditional uniform, two modern-but-restrained sets and one that introduces light blue. And guess what happens when you try to please everybody.

You please nobody.

Since 2002, this franchise has had a distinct aesthetic. But now they’ll look different from week to week. The sad thing is that either the ultra-traditional blue or modern-but-restrained red and white uniforms would have made a terrific base for a complete set. The pants have a bold stripe that works with any jersey, and the horn motif shows real promise.

If only the Texans had picked a lane and fully committed. It’s a shame C.J. Stroud will wear these for at least the next five years.

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