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WARNING: NFL uniforms could soon start getting pretty funky

Rules that limited Nike's freedom to reimagine NFL uniforms are now loosened. Look to the NBA and MLB for where NFL unis could go next.

In the summer of 2021, the NFL dropped its "one-shell rule" to go in effect for the 2022 campaign, a 2013 rule limiting teams to, as the name implies, one helmet shell to be used per season. Born out of concern for the players' safety, the one-shell rule limited certain teams abilities to wear throwback helmets, and all teams' abilities to don alternates.

It is now 2022, the one-shell rule is gone, and we now have our first look at a brand new alternate helmet. 

This will mark the first time the Saints have taken the field for an official game in anything other than a gold helmet. They wore black helmets for the preseason in 1969, but that's all.

This could be but a taste of where we're going.

In lifting the rule, the NFL required all throwback helmets to coincide with the era the team was throwing back (i.e., a team can't invent a "fauxback" logo that wasn't used at the time), and all Color Rush or alternate uniforms must utilize a logo already in use. Alternate helmets must also be paired with alternate uniforms, so the Saints couldn't use the above black helmets with these jerseys and pants.

Screen Shot 2022-06-16 at 11.55.56 AM

But, come on.

Nike has been the NFL's official uniform supplier since 2012, pretty much matching the timeline of the one-shell rule. The Swoosh took over the NBA's uniforms in 2017-18, and the idea of a consistent uniform program vanished almost immediately. Gone is the symmetry of the home team wearing white (or yellow, if you're the Lakers) at home and dark uniforms on the road. Now NBA teams have "Association," "Icon," "Statement" and "City" uniforms, which can be mixed or matched on any day for any reason. The "City" edition uniform changes every season. 

NBA city

Here's an 11-minute explainer, because NBA uniforms now need 11-minute explainer videos.

Nike took over Major League Baseball's uniform contract in 2020. The Swoosh adorned each jersey the following season, and in 2021 the "City Connect" program launched.

Behold, the Boston Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox

The Colorado Rockies.

Colorado Rockies

And the Chicago Cubs.

Chicago Cubs

Now, you may love some of these uniforms Nike has cooked up. You may love all of them. Chances are, you love some and despise others. Either way, that's beside the point.

Nike's goal isn't necessarily took create aesthetically pleasing uniforms; the goal is to produce aesthetically different uniforms. The greater variety of new uniforms Nike creates, the more Nike gets noticed, and the more Nike can sell. That's the goal. NBA, MLB and, soon, NFL uniforms are merely the canvas upon which Nike creates brand awareness for Nike. 

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