Thursday, January 31, 2013

Volume 8, Number 1: Different and Distinctive, Yet Traditional: My Concept for the Cleveland Browns' Uniforms

Recently, Paul Lukas (sports uniform/logo enthusiast extraordinaire) announced another create-your-own uniform design contest, this time for the Cleveland Browns, whose owner, Jimmy Haslam, said that he wanted his team to have new unis in 2014.

You may recall that the last time Lukas put together a contest like that, for the Houston Astros, my entry finished in the top five.

But in my estimation, doing a Browns concept was more difficult because the uniforms they have now are fine (in contrast to the Cincinnati Bengals, whose unis are a horrible mess).  The Browns been around for over 60 years, long enough that tinkering with their uniforms is about as risky as, say, tinkering with the formula for Coca-Cola.

The challenge for me was to do something that was fresh, distinctive and different, while still looking "classic". That meant, above all, that I would not want the Browns to go the way of, say, the Oregon Ducks--turning a football program into a part-time fashion show.

I turned in my concept to Paul just last night, about 12 hours before the deadline.  Without further ado, here it is (click on the image for a larger view):

So, what’s different from what they wore in 2012?  Five things, plus one minor difference:
  1. Orange pants are back again.  When it comes to football uniforms, I am a stickler for having the color of the helmet match either the jersey or the pants (but certainly not both—I hate “unitards”).  So, for example, I don’t like it when teams with colored helmets wear white jerseys and white pants on the road.  Or when the helmet, jersey and pants are each a different color—it screams out “cobbled together from garage sale castoffs” to me.  When I began watching NFL football in 1980, at that time, the Browns had it right—orange pants to match the orange helmets, all the time.  I didn't like it when the Browns ditched the orange pants years ago. 
  2. The bulldog face on the sleeves.  It’s about time the Browns paid a tribute to the Dawg Pound, die-hard fans who helped keep the team’s colors and history in Cleveland when Art Modell threatened to take them (along with his players) to Baltimore in 1996.
  3. Hold on... the home jersey has stripes on the sleeves but the road jersey doesn't   The road jersey has a “neck roll” but the home jersey doesn't?  What gives???  That story begins and ends with the aforementioned bulldog logo.  It rocks when placed on the white-and-orange stripes on the home jersey.  However, it didn't stand out much at all when I put it on the brown-and-orange stripes you see on the sleeves of the team’s current road jersey.  So, I decided to take the stripes off that road jersey.  You may say, “Well, that’s inconsistent.”  So what?  The Cowboys’ blue jersey doesn't match too well with their regular white one.  On the Vikings’ road jerseys, the “neck roll” and stripes are all the same color; on the home jerseys, the neck roll is yellow while the stripes are white.  Who says there has to be such a great degree of consistency? (Besides, there is one consistent element that my concept has that the Browns' current unis don't have: the stripes on the pants match those on the helmet.)
  4. An orange drop-shadow on all numerals.  Did I mention that orange was Paul Brown’s favorite color?  I wanted to add something that would be both traditional and distinctive, and no NFL team presently uses a drop shadow with block numerals.  (Let me clarify: The Falcons, Ravens and Eagles do use drop shadows, but their numerals are NOT the traditional “block numerals” like you see on the Browns, Packers, Raiders, Jets, et al.)  Also, this drop shadow is slightly detached from the numeral (in other words, a little white between the brown numerals and the orange drop-shadow on the road jersey, and a little brown between the white numerals and the orange drop-shadow on the home jersey).  I also applied the drop-shadow to the wordmark. 
  5. A tribute to ‘64. The stripes on the sleeves and socks on the home unis are meant to match those that you see on the 1964 Browns, the last Browns team to win the NFL Championship.  Besides, 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of that championship team. 
  6. The minor difference—seal brown is back!  This is the exact hue of brown the Browns used from 1975 to 1995, according to ColorWerx (the artists formerly known as the Society for Sports Uniforms Research).
So there you have it.  I’m excited to see what other designers come up with.  And thank you for viewing the concept and/or your feedback on it.