On Thursday evening, to an audience of over 3,700 season ticket holders and media members, team president Rod Wood, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Jim Caldwell were part of a panel that ushered in a new era for the Detroit Lions; an entirely new set of uniforms for the 2017 season.
Part of the Nike Vapor Untouchable collection, the new uniforms take advantage of repurposing the past in a very minimalist fashion instead of making drastic changes to the established brand. And while the look has changed a little, the new uniforms utilize some of the most advanced technology available when it comes to enhancing player performance on the field, including a full range of motion, lightweight performance and superior ventilation.
A few of the performance features noted in the presentation included:
- Seamless shoulders
- Vented neck grille
- Pad pockets
- Shaped inseam
- Laser perforation
- Back stretch gusset
- Seamless front
All of these features result in the new uniforms being almost 29 percent lighter in weight than the current NFL uniforms.
“The uniform is inspired by that,” said Nike’s Steve McClard, the lead designer for the project. “How do we make it lighter? How do we make it so they can move better? How do we control their temperature while they're on the field?” All of these questions seemed to be at the forefront of the redesign.
McClard, a native of Shelby Township and a graduate of Western Michigan University, was put into the unique situation of working on something so close to home from his office in Portland, Oregon: the opportunity to design uniforms for his hometown team.
“I’m very proud to not only represent Nike, but all fellow Michiganders” said McClard during a sit down discussion with voice of Lions radio, Dan Miller.
When the Lions made subtle changes to their logo and font in February, the most discernible difference was the team ditching the black trim they added to both the logo and uniform in 2003. Thursday’s reveal of the four new uniforms further did away with black being a part of the team’s color scheme.
Detroit’s Color Rush uniforms seemed to be a big hit amongst the crowd of season ticket holders at Ford Field on Thursday night. Fans made their way to team stores and kiosks en masse after the reveal, and the majority walked out with the dark grey jerseys on their backs. Modeled by Darius Slay in the video presentation, the uniforms are a complete departure from the black Color Rush jerseys they revealed last season; the team never wore them last season, and for better or worse, never will.
Eric Ebron was the primary model for a series of ads the NFL ran for Color Rush uniforms a year ago, and while he’s still partial to those jerseys, he’s still on board with the new jerseys.
“I still like the black Color Rush,” said Ebron in an interview with media in-between presentations. “I mean, it’s all black, there’s not a color you can really beat, but the chrome is definitely a great alternate to the black; I am not mad at all about the chrome.”
Lastly, the Throwback uniform is making a return, but isn’t intended to be used in a limited fashion as it was in year’s past:
Lions throwback uniforms are not exclusively for Thanksgiving. Rod Wood said they could use them on a big primetime game.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) April 14, 2017
Once a staple of past Thanksgivings, the “new” Throwback uniforms will be deployed differently, and for Ebron, that is a boost for team morale in the locker room.
“Not only do we get to wear something new, but we all get to walk into the locker room every Sunday and not expect the same traditional blue or white. We can mix and match, we have alternate colors, we finally brought back the Throwback jersey [...] we’re excited.”