Seahawks’ Nike uniforms generate a lot of buzz

SEATTLE — Like so many other people who have a vested interest in the NFL, I spent my Tuesday morning in front of a computer waiting for the big news.

No, it wasn’t news of a big free agent signing or a major trade by the Seattle Seahawks that I was looking for. It was pictures of the Seahawks’ new uniforms. As hundreds of people, many of them reporters, waited for the unveiling in New York, and as so many of us around the country monitored Twitter, email and the NFL and Nike websites, a thought occurred to me.

Is Nike founder Phil Knight currently swimming in a vault full of gold coins — yes, that was a DuckTales reference — or is he wearing a top hat and monocle, lighting expensive cigars with $100 bills? Or maybe some combination of the two?

While opinions of Seattle’s new uniforms varied from “disgusting” to “awesome,” one thing about the uniform launch was completely unambiguous — Nike won. First, Nike won by outbidding Reebok to take over NFL merchandising, then on Tuesday, the Portland-based shoe giant won again by getting its product in front of millions of football fans without reaching into its considerable advertising budget.

And to be clear, I don’t begrudge Nike or any business for drumming up publicity for a new product. I do, however, find it amusing how worked up so many people are getting over something that will have zero effect on how many games the Seahawks win in 2012.

A quick recap in case you missed it.

It has been known for a while now that Nike would be making some design changes since it outbid Reebok in 2010 for the right to make and sell official NFL merchandise. What became clear in the past couple of weeks is that the Seahawks would be the team making the most significant changes.

Sure enough, what we saw Tuesday was a pretty drastically different look for Seattle, including a new alternate “Wolf Grey” uniform to go along with the “College Navy” home uniforms — sorry Sounders FC, made-up colors is no longer your exclusive domain — and white road uniforms. (Nike, which also dubbed the green in the uniforms as “Action Green,” apparently couldn’t come up with a fun name for white).

The Seahawks also will have new-look helmets, and the helmets, pants and jerseys all feature a “feather-pattern graphic.” While the feather-pattern doesn’t much look like feathers to me, I do think it’s a very cool nod to one of the best fan bases in the country that the Seahawks put 12 feathers up the leg of the pants, and 12 on the collar of the jersey. The 12th man logo also is sewn onto the inside of the back collar of the jersey.

Since these redesigned uniforms were made by Nike, the company that gave us approximately 10,000 different combinations of Oregon football uniforms (approximation may be slightly exaggerated), it came as no surprise that opinions were very divided. Based on the responses I saw on Twitter and my email inbox, it seems like its close to a 50-50 split between those who like the new look, and those who think the Seahawks look too much like Arena Football rejects.

And of course there are plenty of fans who would prefer that Seattle just go back to its old look with royal blue jerseys, silver pants and silver helmets.

Personally, I have a hard time getting too worked up about uniforms. Sure, I was curious to see what they would look like, but spending the past few weeks worrying about what might or might not be coming seemed like a waste of energy.

Unlike a lot of you, I don’t have a strong opinion on the new look, either way. Of the new offerings, the grey is my favorite look, but really, who wants the opinion of a sportswriter when it comes to fashion anyway? Well lucky for all of you, my fiance, Lyndsey, just happens to work in fashion, so I decided to seek out a couple of professional opinions.

She gave the new look two thumbs up, saying “I think they’re pretty cool.” Lyndsey particularly liked the home jerseys, though she thought the feather pattern in the numbers looked “a little European,” whatever that means.

Her co-worker, Julie Worthington, said in an email that the new look is “updated and downright cool,” adding that the helmets are “simply ferocious.” And as I type the quotes of fashion designers, I’m coming to the conclusion that this without a doubt has been a very odd day.

Love it or hate it, the Seahawks will look quite a bit different when they take the field in 2012. Whatever your opinion of the new look, however, one thing was very clear as this (non)story dominated the morning sports news cycle: the NFL, as well as its new partner, Nike, know exactly what they are doing.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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