There haven’t been many days laced with this much anticipation for New York Jets fans this decade. Since the 2010 AFC Championship Game against the Steelers the Jets have perhaps had two days where the fans woke up with this much adrenaline, excitement and most likely a sense of fear in their stomachs that the Same Old Jets moniker would return at the worst moment.
One occasion was the morning of Week 17 of the 2015 season when a win would earn the Jets a playoff spot only to see Ryan Fitzpatrick figuratively and well, quite literally, throw it all away. The other was Draft Day 2018 when the Jets and Mike Maccagnan got lucky with the Giants picking like it was 1973 and having the number one QB on most draft boards fall into their laps.
And so onto Thursday April 4th 2019 when the Jets will reveal their new uniform and logo designs. Now, fair enough, many more recently successful franchises may look on in mirth at describing the launch of their new look as equivalent to an actual game of football or a draft. But when your season is often over by early November, minor events for other franchises become quite big ones for fans of teams like the New York Jets. This could symbolise another new beginning…
Having changed from navy and mustard of the early New York Titan years to rebrand as the green Jets in 1963 under new owner Sonny Werblin (to reflect his Irish heritage) Gang Green have been through three major uniform changes in the intervening years whilst tweaks have also been made to the logo and colour along the way.
There have been rumblings of uniform changes for a few years now with Jets players pushing to reform some of the more blander looking threads in the league. When your logo and primary colour are this monotonous it’s a surprise it hadn’t happened sooner and sounds like it required more of the dynamic leadership from Chris Johnson than his brother could muster to push it through. But the Jets being the Jets, there’s always a chance it could go laughably wrong, somewhere between Tampa number fonts, Cleveland Jerseys and Dolphin logo redesign.
It’s worth pointing out that it’s actually the league and it’s ‘brand experts’ that own and create the logo and colour designs for NFL teams. The jerseys are Nike’s responsibility and both are then presented to the teams where they sign them off or ask them to tweak it, or go back to the drawing board.
So with that in mind, let’s look at the things the Jets, Nike and the league absolutely have to avoid to make a success of their Jet rebrand.
Making ‘NY’ the primary part of your logo
If you are a New York team you cannot incorporate the ‘NY’ as the focus of your logo because the Yankees won this war and anything else just looks like a terrible imitation. Think Mets or the most recent Giants attempt. It just looks lame. You have to embrace the Jets nickname in the way the old 80’s logo did (1978-97). That had a subtle Jet like swoosh (bit of a Nike rip off admittedly) atop of the name but it was good.
In the NFL there are essentially three types of logo. The image brands like the Raiders or Saints or Chargers or Colts, something you can stick on a hat and recognise immediately. Then there’s the Bears, Packers, 49ers etc, who embrace the letters of their city in an iconic format. Then there are the Jets and Giants who look a bit lost, neither has a nickname that translates into an obvious image and ‘NY’ has been lost to the Yankees.
And this is another significant question – retain the white helmet or go all green again?
This is probably the most important part of the release on Thursday.
Not returning to Kelly Green
Re-embracing Kelly Green is such an open goal that it would be totally Jetsy (is this a thing yet like ‘Spursy’?) to shoot wide, Diana Ross style. Ever since the darkening of NFL uniforms cancer during the 1990’s, the Jets have been stuck with this current shade of green that’s usually found in camping and hiking shops. Whether the classic-look white sleeves of the home jersey are retained or not, the green has to return to the shade worn predominantly between 1963 and 1997 and bin the hunter green look to history forever. Please!
Adding black to the uniform or jersey
Another symptom of the 1990 designs was crowbarring black wherever it wasn’t needed. The Jets did this themselves in the mid-nineties to some miserable effect. Whereas the Eagles get away with it as their dark green is blue-er, the Jets old Kelly green or Hunter green looks terrible with black piping and trim. Like the 49ers and Lions finally realised, black where black isn’t needed almost always look inferior.
If there needs to be a black alternate jersey to satisfy Nike and certain fan types, so be it. But keep it off the main two jerseys, logo and helmet stripes.
Adding a third colour like silver
There were rumours from Brian Costello of the New York Post last month that the new jerseys might include silver. No, no, no, no. Do you want to make yourselves look like a poor Eagle tribute act?
No other team in the league is green and white only. Keep it that way. It’s a unique NFL look. No need to mess with it.
‘Innovative’ number fonts
If there’s one glaring Nike weakness to these jersey redesigns, it’s that they consistently mess up the numbers. Obviously the Buccaneers efforts are the worst but the Browns and Titans haven’t been much better. There are reports that the Jets ones may resemble Oregon. Hmm, why can’t the NFL just mandate a standardised font for numbers? They’re such authoritarian nutjobs in virtually every other department.
That’s the main trapdoors the team need to avoid. Keep these all in mind and the New York Jets should hopefully launch a look that is more iconic than the previous drab incarnation but that isn’t too Nike ‘modern’ that it ends up looking like a Marshall U wannabe outfit.
Like most things when you have to rely on the Jets to do the right thing, it’s a bloody nervous wait….