Every NFL Team's Best Uniforms

I got this idea from the Creamer boards here where members are picking their favorite uniform design from each team's history. For my own collection, ill be going by a slightly different set of rules.

Most of my scribbles here are not about what i think looks best, but what i think works best in design, and is a practice where you have to admit something is good, even if you don't like it. But for this i'll just focus on the pure aesthetic and select a single design (not a home/away set, just 1 uniform) from each team's entire history as my favorite. So, I'll ignore that the Panthers look too much like the Lions and other branding issues. But, I will consider each team's logos as part of the uniform.

Dolphins - Miami's logo wasn't quite as good then, but the lack of navy and large drop-shadowed numbers makes this a stronger design. Also, stripped socks are always a win.

Jets - I'm not the biggest fan of green, so using it as a secondary color in a design looks better to me than using it as a primary. I dont think they've ever had a really strong logo or a great execution of jersey stripes but this is the lesser of evils in their history.

Bills - The stripes look cheap on the jersey and Nike ruined their collar with their FOLO (fake polo) design, but the 2011 Bills never looked better. I really liked their previous red helmet and the standing buffalo helmet era, but this one is a clear winner for me. Glad to see them wearing blue pants on the road now too.

Patriots - The single most retarded, dumb-ass design decision in sports history was putting a American football team named the Patriots in a red jersey and white pants. I mean, come the fuck on.  This is supposed to be all about the pure visual, but i can't get passed that. So, by default I arrive at this era, but i actually really like this uniform. Their number font and logo are especially great.

Steelers -  Little change through their history but I'm one of the few that likes their current number font. The black jersey is great too, but I like the white because it makes the player look lighter and more athletic. (light colored objects appear larger, but lighter in weight). And, you get that cool ABC 3 piece look where helmet/jersey/pants are all different colors

Bengals - I actually really like this design. The stripes, the number font, It's all good by me.

Browns - I dig the white on white, but the brown pants are unique and add a nice alternate, modern look to a classic design.

Ravens - The Ravens can't win. They have a terrible dark color palette that would benefit from using more gold/yellow. Bad numbers, bad logo, bad stripes. But, the purple and black combo is ok.

Colts - The difference between the Colts unis now and from the Unitas days is the stripes that go all the way around the shoulder (though, the truncated stripes do work better on modern cuts) and the striped socks. When they changed their color to a darker blue in 2004 and added the grey mask, they also had striped socks, which was meant to look like this uniform, but the full stripes look so damn cool. PS - i hate the blue face mask era

Jaguars - Like the Ravens, they have never had a uniform I liked. This one is a great color combo though.

Titans - Another team that dosent have a uniform I really like, except the jerseys. Some silver would do so much for this identity

Texans - Solid design and i love the red number on this jersey. One of my favorite number fonts and maybe the best logo in the NFL

Chiefs - I've always felt this was a boring design, but at least its a solid one with no glaring flaws. The white on white combo is pretty awesome though.

Raiders - One of my favorite uniforms in the league. The silver trim on the numbers is a small detail with a large impact. Something the black jersey lacks.

Chargers - The pants stripe is awful, but this is my favorite color palette in league history. Why they dont wear powder blue today full time, i have no idea.

Broncos - This was a hard one to pick. I like the colors from the Elway era best, the jerseys from '66, and the current logo. Which is what is came down to really, the other logos are terrible. I also like the all blue monochrome look today, but i cant get enough of white on white. Both of those looks have the stripes fit together the best too.

Cowboys - When I was a kid this was the coolest jersey in the universe. For the most part, I still feel the same way. I'd love for the 'Boys to go to these full time. The throwback versions never really got the stars right

Eagles - Beautiful colors here. It's one of the few greens i like in sports. silver pants with this jersey would be ace.

Giants - They might be doing a throwback version of this soon. I love the current uniform, but this jersey is stunning. I'd love to have a sweatshirt with this design.

Redskins - This was a hard one to pick too, lots of great looks for the Skins. I decided this one over the current unis because of the sleeve stripes.

Bears - I've always liked the white logo and grey mask on this helmet. White on white again, it works with any secondary color especially blue (and orange as a tertiary) like the Broncos.

Vikings - They have a white on white option, but the purple jersey too unique not to like and the stripes look great on it. The white jerseys had shoulder loops which i just dont feel for them. I like the current uniforms too, but these are classic.

Packers - One of my top 3 favorite current NFL uniforms. I chose the modern version over the Bart Starr era unis because those sock stripes were a mess. Strangely I prefer the modern solid color to that design.

Lions - The current set is nice, adding black a few years ago was a great move that helped give life to a boring design. But these throwbacks are so simple it goes beyond boring and comes out the other side as awesome. The 1 piece solid colored socks are the best part.

Falcons - Another one of my top 3 current uniforms. Great numbers, logo, and colors. Very hard to chose one set here, any pants/jersey combo is a winner. The throwback uniforms are also a beautiful design but I can't stand that old logo.

Panthers - I dont like this uniform design, their logo has been hacked to shit, and the whole identity is too close to the Lions for my liking. But this jersey is likable; a very cool color.

Buccaneers - I love their colors and the blood red jersey screams "bad ass band of pirates!". The flag on a sword logo leading the player into battle is one of my favorite helmet/logo designs ever.

Saints - I hate their current uniform but this uniform with the bold stripes and yellowish gold pants is one of the single best uniforms i've ever seen. If they wore this full time i would seriously consider becoming a Saints fan. I mean look at Lance Moore there, he's dancing because he's so happy to be wearing this uniform!

Rams - This is the only jersey/pants combo I like of their current design but it's a damn good one. This is a sweet modern look with some of my favorite number font, secondary logo, and helmet design.

Seahawks - Love their colors now, but they never have had a uniform design I like, and the current ones are probably the worst in NFL history. But again, white on white.

Cardinals - I really like this design with the modern logo update. I hate that they're hanging on to the grey mask though, everything about this team is modern and the mask is out of place.

49ers - I almost went with the 80s version because the jersey stripes arn't hacked and the socks are striped too but what i love about the current look is the pants color and helmet logo.

Looking at everything together it's apparent I like white; sue me. Lots of white jerseys showed up here and white on white combos. Striped socks are also a personal favorite, I just can't stand the modern 2 tone solid color socks. I really like an ABAB combo with the helmet matching the pants, and jersey matching the socks. Or, an ABCB combo where the helmet, jersey, and pants are 3 different colors but the socks match the jersey. Small details include grey face mask and black cleats.

Pre-order SIGNED copies of Chris Ware's Building Stories

The inimitable Chris Ware is coming to sign books, and we want to make sure you get your hands on 'em.
And by book, we do mean the architectural marvel that is his latest, Building Stories. You may have seen it on our Facebook page, in our store window, or everywhere. A signed copy of this gem is worth having, and this is your opportunity to pre-order it.
Ware will be at the JCC on October 23rd, and we'll be taking orders up until that date. Unfortunately, due to the expected turnout, we cannot offer personalized inscriptions.  Order it now, pick it up (or have it shipped for free!) on the 24th! 

Building Stories, in pieces

(video) On Bookselling

We made this video for a contest: Why My Bookstore Matters.  Did we capture the essence of Green Apple?  What do YOU like about Green Apple that we missed? Do these books make our butts look big?

Relief for the blog-deprived

As you can see, we haven't been posting here much lately.  To best stay in touch with all things Green Apple, find us here:

We hope to see you in person soon!

September's Apple-a-Month Club Pick: Don't Take Our Word For It...

Happy Apple-a-Month Club subscriber Michelle Richmond posted these lovely pictures of our latest offering on her excellent blog, Sans Serif. Maybe there's a filter involved, but I'm choosing to believe that this is just how nice the world looks when you open an Apple-a-Month Club package. 

Says Cervantes (in the above word bubble) of September's pick: “As the creator of the immortal Don Quixote, I (Miguel de Cervantes) deserve a suitably rich story, which I get here in Jaime Manrique’s Cervantes Street: a novel full of the vibrancy, clamor, and catastrophe of the 16th century. Manrique deftly intertwines my life and adventures with that of my friend-turned-rival, Luis de Lara. (Our relationship, unsurprisingly, soured over the love of a woman.) Told in alternating chapters, so each character (humbly permit me to say I get the better parts) gets his say, the novel builds layers of swashbuckling adventures and back-stabbing betrayals. A page-turner worthy of its subject.”

Want to unwrap a similar marvel -- and have such nice lighting when you do -- next month? Subscribe

New Fall Season

The equinox has passed, autumn is in the air, bones are broken and brains contused against the skull--America's most popular sport has returned for another glorious season. While here at Green Apple, books on America's past time have proven more commercially viable than those on America's more violent Sunday showdowns, a few great titles concerning professional football have arrived this fall, to wit--

Best of Rivals by Adam Lazarus is an in-depth report on the days when Steve Young backed up Joe Montana during the 49ers glory years. Thankfully, the local eleven are quite strong this year, so the media isn't dependent on digging up old news to satisfy local fans. Nevertheless, having two #1s at your most important position is a good problem to have, except for the #1 who ends up sittin'. However closely one may have followed this story, there will be something new discovered in this exhaustive work.

The Last Headbangers by Kevin Cook is mis-titled, as many heads are banged, hammered and slammed in the modern game. To be fair, the violence of today's NFL is in many aspects quite tuned down from the legalized muggings of the 1970s. Cook begins his story with the 1974 Oakland-Pittsburgh Divisonal playoff, immortalized as "The Immaculate Reception" in the Steel City and remembered less charitably by East Bay devotees and sympathizers. Miami and Dallas figure in as powers of the time, and the end of '70s style pro football is marked here by "the Catch," the January '82 Dwight Clark reception heralding the rise of 49ers dynasty.        

The Code by Ross Bernstein purports to explicate the "unwritten rules" of the game and the penalties enforced by other players on those who cross them. In practice it's a compilation of anecdotes about the culture of physical intimidation on the field. No one wants to injure anyone, they just want to hit them so hard they stop playing. Well then.

The National Forgotten League by Dan Daly covers the early days of pro football, ending with the birth of the AFL in 1960. This book is also a collection of anecdotes, but darn, there are some good ones. The first professionals were regarded by the general public as thugs too undisciplined to work for a regular criminal enterprise. The fans were held in even lower regard, being largely immigrant single men who spent the Lord's day gettin' drunk and gambling on the aforementioned thugs. Football is a rough game today, but it's nothing like the Coal Leagues of Western Pennsylvania, where nationally renowned referees had to be imported to prevent fans who bet on the losing side from rioting.

The professional football season is only five months a year, so let those of us who care, care deeply, and let's use the power of reading to broaden our historical knowledge. It would be a shame to run out of things to yell about.      

An Election Year Message from Green Apple Books

The evolution of a Green Apple commercial:

1. It's campaign season. We should do something political.

2. We have this major online competitor, and we think people should buy their books from us rather than from them for a lot of reasonable reasons.

3. Reasonable is boring.

4. This happens:

2012 CFB Uniform Preview & Critique

A – Exceptional. Design that is unique to the school and/or perfectly captures the specific culture/brand. Technical craftsmanship is without flaws.

B – Very Good. Design is appealing and appropriate. May be a template, but no mistaking for competitors. Perhaps a slight miss on brand and/or minor flaws in craftsmanship

C – Passable. There are issues that need to be addressed in the future, or have overlooked some details. Perhaps a bad branding move, but has a steady foundation.

D – Poor. Too off brand, poor design decisions, and/or poor craftsmanship. Will have to be redone, but there is something worth saving.

F – Fail. Off brand and bad craftsmanship. Poor design decisions and details overlooked.

Air Force
Grade: C-

At first glance this looks like a nice uniform, but once you start digging into the details it really falls apart. Blue and grey is a nice combination. Nike seems to be throwing greys into everything they can now but it works so well for the Falcons.

That’s a really popular helmet design but I’ve never liked it much. The bolt is so thin and takes up such a horizontal space, it seems weak and applied awkwardly. To make things worse they’ve added a white stroke to everything on the grey version, which isn’t at all needed, and ends up looking even cheaper and amateurish.

The same bad decision is made in the jersey where the added strokes don’t help separate the word mark and numbers from the base color, but makes it look clunky, like a bad Photoshop style. It even makes the numbers and word mark harder to read as the grey and white start to blur/vibrate together. Simply removing the strokes would increase the design’s quality so much. We also see an unnecessary panel fill on the shoulders that Nike loves so much. I like shoulder elements like this when there’s something to support it.  Right now its just a fill-in-the-blank design.

Appalachian State
Grade: B

This design comes right out of the Nike catalog but they did a good job of putting together a respectable uniform.

The helmet is a slick, simple design and the athletic gold is never a bad choice for a lid. What holds it back is the shotty logo (also seen on the jersey sleeves) but I try to over look logos when critiquing uniforms design. They added a gold stroke to white numbers which is unnecessary and, like Air Force, makes things harder to read. It also causes a lack of unity with the helmet which uses no white or extra edge strokes. Why they would want to highlight Nike’s FlyWire I have no idea, but damn that is some tacky shit. Why not use yellow thread to sew the whole jersey together while you’re at it?

You can see white outlines on the pants stripes too, another element that’s out there doing its own thing. This uniform is so close to being so good, but the bad details really holds it back.

Grade: D+

When Nike gets things right they make some great uniforms. When they’re off, they can really disappoint. Arkansas is the latest example of the latter. Nike threw every tacky, bad trend they had at the Razorbacks. Harsh gradient numbers, anthracite into a color palette (and identity history) that dosent support it, fill-in-the-blank panels, and a white alternate helmet.

Arkansas wants to look like they’re heading into the future and separate themselves a bit from the many other red and white schools, but what they’re wearing is already played out and they look like the poorest red and white school in the nation. If you remove all the crap and let this uniform be a simple, solid, red and white design they still stand out and look like they are heading into a bright future rather than a dark present without abandoning their entire tradition. I predict there will be changes next year.

Grade: A+

Last year Army wore a white version of this jersey as a Pro Combat Rivalry design. Now, they’ve adopted the design as their main look, complete with black version and a matte helmet.

This is Nike at their best. Everything here is done well and appropriate and if they still wear their digital camo uniforms im going to do a back flip. This is one of my top 5 uniforms in CFB. If anyone should have that tough matte helmet it’s Army. A perfect fit. I love the stencil numbers, the stripe on the undershirts, and the company badges on the sleeves. Theres no flaw in the design at all. Maybe elements you don’t particularly like, but nothing here is wrong.

Bowling Green
Grade: B

Last year I ripped BG for their new design. It seems they came to their senses after realizing they looked fucking ridiculous. They addressed the 2 main issues in the number font and pants stripe. This font works well with their primary logo and word mark and they just gave up the pants stripe altogether which is probably a good idea.

Theres not much left to not like, but the wing design on the shoulder is questionable. It’s out of the Nike catalog which anyone can use but as far as I know, only Eastern Michigan uses is other than BG. The main thing is it has no unity with the other elements. The numbers are stroked, the word mark has 2 or 3 strokes, but the wing is a 1 color element. The wing itself isn’t a great design either, there’s no motion, no integration into the jersey design, just a wing sitting on top of the sleeve.

Central Michigan
Grade: D

This feels like CMU told Adidas they wanted to look like a Nike school. Its closer to Arizona State than what Central Michigan has worn before. We’ve got some major consistency and lifeless trend issues here.

Theres 2 different helmets with this set, the new addition being a matte black of course and sports a new stripe design. If you’re going to do an alternate helmet this is about as good as you can ask for. It’s different enough from the standard to be interesting but not so different that it looks like it dosent belong.

4 different jersey options all of which are the same template except for the black option. It’s a totally different design that features “Central Michigan” across the chest, a different stripe design, and a different number font. Personally I like the black design best. It’s rare to see piping on uniforms any more and most of those designs fail because the lines will highlight the odd shapes of the shoulder pads or a big lineman’s flabby body so as they get pushed around and distorted you’re just seeing that instead of a nice flowing line. This won’t be any different. The undershirt has something that we haven’t seen very much but I have a feeling it will be a new trend. I don’t mind a nice design on the sleeves or a cool slogan but a generic “Fire Up” or cheesey “Chips” isn’t very inspiring.

It looks like all the pants are the same design but the logo on the black pant is much larger. My personal favorite uniform combo would be maroon helmet, black jersey, and yellow pants.

Eastern Michigan
Grade: C-

The grey addition really kills this color palette.  They’re forcing green on top of grey and having to use white to separate it. The grey matte helmet could not be more dull and lifeless. If they used grey as an accent color it could work and give some depth to the elements in the uniform, but trying to make it part of the primary theme is not a good idea. I like all the green and white stuff, and hope they wear that a majority of the time.

Georgia Tech
Russell Athletic
Grade: F

This is Russell's premier design this year, nothing else they have done for this season has been a major change or for a major school. GT and Russell, I want you to know this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. (probably not, actually)

Im not sure if this is all Russell's doing or how much input GT had in this, but regardless the uniform is trying so hard to copy Nike's success in most areas and with their original ideas i just don't even. . . 

The helmet features a gold honeycomb/hive pattern which isn't the worst helmet i've seen. It's done by HGI so as cheesy as the idea is it's pulled off as well as you could ask for. Maybe it's just me but gold on white always has this nice vintage connotation that is hard to beat (even though theres nothing at all vintage about this uniform, but not a big deal). The hive pattern works pretty well as a special helmet or 1 off, but this is something they're planning on using every weekend. That will be hard to get used to. 

The jersey is where things get confusing, frustrating, and highly disappointing. There are 2 different templates being used and theres a white version for each, the only difference is the side panel and blue sleeve looping, so you have to wonder what the hell is the point here? Why couldnt a decision be made on one template? There is absolutely no reason to have these 2 templates unless they're running a season long focus group test to find out which one people like best which only suggest theres no confidence in either one. It dosent even matter which one they go with anyway because they both fucking suck! The number font is a poorly crafted modern sans made even more clunky and awkward by the outlines. A colored name plate 'ala Philadelphia Flyers might be cool but this is such a weird shape that is very out of place. the short side stripe jersey is the better (less awful) of the two as it at least attempts to house the hive pattern and separate it from the main jersey color. The other's twist-stripe creates a visual tension like a twist in a balloon animal. I wonder if the players can feel that pain in their ribs? it looks like it. I don't think i even have to mention how bad the hive pattern is with it's various treatments. In the numbers, it looks like a bad Photoshop layer style.

The pants are just as bad, but at least they're consistent. Theres 2 different pants stripes to try to match the jerseys. The hive overload continues here. 

The sad part about Russell is not that they're trying so hard to copy Nike, but that they just have really shitty taste in design and Georgia Tech has to take some blame too. They havent had a good uniform in years (thinking back to the Calvin Johnson era). There is not a single element or inch of this uniform to be remotely proud about. The idea of covering the uniform in a honeycomb/hive pattern is the silliest part. It's not a bad ass or cool, or even a likable design, it's cute at best. It's as much a connotation to Winnie the Pooh and honey bees as it is Yellow Jackets. There's nothing to save here, even the color palette is drab with that gold.

Under Armor
Grade: D+

I really liked the 2011 uniforms (except for the Pride unis) and they’ve made some tweaks to them here. Problem is, I’m torn over the 2012 version. I think the 2 color stripe on the shoulders worked better than the pattern of color (you see it on the pants too). Now, it really looks like a crash test dummy outfit. I think they removed the tortoise shell pattern from the shoulders too which was a good move. On the red jerseys the texture cause the shoulders to appear lighter in color, so it was almost a pink and red jersey.

This new helmet is much tamer than the Pride helmet, but somehow is a worse design. long horizontal straight lines don’t flow over a helmet’s curves or occupy a strong space well at all. If there is one thing you shouldn’t do with a helmet design, it is this. The complex flag design is too much in a small area. You have this large amount of white space around it and it just allows you to focus on everything that is awkward about it. If they keep the black helmet and shell helmet they will look great, but this over use of the flag is killing it.

Grade: A

This is one sharp set! They have great colors to start with, and thankfully they and Nike realized that no more were needed. You cant go wrong with any of these combinations but yellow jersey/maroon pants is my favorite.

Could they be any simpler? It’s an excellent modern design that is absolutely timeless. Theres no stripes, no other elements besides numers on the jersey and a logo on the helmet, what could you change? The matte helmet looks great in maroon and the logo is strong and bold. I even like the double outline on it. The black face mask works as a nice neutral color, not fighting for attention with the helmet and still feeling modern where grey would have a stark contrast and really feel out of place. 

My favorite part is the number font, the 4 and 5 are just gorgeous. The new word mark is in the same style, If there’s one thing I would change, and I can see it happening soon, its that there’s a brick pattern inside the numbers. I think that’s an awesome texture idea for collateral, but leave the pattern out of the uniform. It’s not really school specific anyway; most campuses have brick buildings.

Mississippi State
Grade: C

This is a great design that comes up short because its so much like Texas A&M. Adidas redesigned both uniforms this year and used some of the same ideas for both. Both schools are maroon and white and have the same stripe on the jerseys, except here we see a ribbon design.

I really have to question every decision they made here. Why when these 2 schools have the same colors and now play in the same conference did you give them the same stripe treatment? Why are the grey pants so light (what’s the point when you have a white option)? Whats the purpose of having the same helmet but with 2 different face mask colors? It dosent seem they were interested in doing much to separate themselves from Texas A&M and if they were, Adidas did them no favors either.

I love the word mark on top of the numbers. If they let that be the design hero element and removed the jersey stripe, it would do so much for the whole design. Only thing we’re left with is a reflection of A&M.

Grade: B-

The design ideas are all over the place with this set. Its hard to grade because each set is so different. The only things that ties them together are the numbers, word mark, and colors. The jersey designs are completely different.

The standard helmet is a nice evolution. There is a subtle tiger stripe pattern in the yellow stripe which tapers at the front and reflect the lines in the logo nicely. The matte helmet is as well done as any matte I’ve seen with a powerful, oversized logo. I think some white in the logo there would help though. It’s a different logo when you drop the white.

With the black jersey we see a nice update to what they wore last year. The white jersey is more lazy fill-in-the-panel nonsense from Nike with an awful 2 tone FOLO* (faux polo) collar (AKA “toilet seat collar”) yet somehow with the 2 crap elements combined they don’t seem as bad. The numbers on the shoulders also help break up what would otherwise be a barren land of greyness, and where the hell did the grey come from? Why not black, or yellow?

The yellow jersey is by far my favorite. The FOLO collar looks good here because of the addition and direction of the stripe off the shoulder, all leading your eye to the center and down to the number. It’s a nice flow and repetition.

The pants are all the same, just 3 different color options. The pants stripe has the subtle tiger pattern too and flows nicely up the leg and has a sort od claw mark quality to it.

*FOLO = term is ©Brandon Moore & Matt Kauzlarich 2012 :)

Under Armor
Grade: B+

The Northwestern stripe is the prominent design element on these new uniforms. It’s inspired by an old design, but they’ve done a great job of making it modern. No one else has a jersey like this, but I think we will see similar ones start to pop up now. This is a great use of a stroke on a number as it separates the number from the stripe and makes it very readable. There’s also a brick pattern within the numbers which, like Minnesota, I think is fine but a bit pointless and would do better to remove it. It probably will be removed anyway once the fad has run its course.

I would love to see a white stripe on the purple jersey but I think it’s best how it is. They keep the 3 colors balanced nicely and the number remains readable and separate from the background. I like that they left the pants blank too, as to not over use the stripe. There were smart decisions made in every detail of the uniform.

The only thing I might fault it for is that the stripe doesn’t run all the way around the jersey and just abruptly ends on the side seam.

Grade: C-

Nebraska breaks a lot of their identity habits here for the Unrivaled Series. I’m just guessing this game between Nebraska and Wisconsin is the 2012 version of last year’s Under the Lights, so we’re seeing the letters on the front of jerseys being a repeated, successful idea.

It’s almost strange to see someone come out with an alternate helmet now and its not matte. I like the gloss black helmet but the most important part (the logo) really gets lost on it. just making the N white would be a big improvement.

It seems they made all the wrong decisions with the jersey. Those stripes just do not fit on this jersey cut. We have black on red with the elements and it looks unfinished and cheap because of the lack of contrast. I almost don’t mind the black N, but white would definitely be a better choice. There is nothing eye catching about the jersey. It’s a bit of a mess.

The pants repeat the color problems of the jersey, and at this point it’s too much red. Red is a loud, attention whore of a color and that makes this uniform way too intense. It’s hard to look at.

I love the idea of Nebraska wanting to do something different and throw some black into the uniform. I just don’t think they’ve given us much to like.

Grade: A-

Of all the 2012 uniforms this is my favorite alternate and probably right behind Texas A&M overall.

Look at the line weight/consistency here. This uniform (without measuring everything myself) looks to be perfect in that area. The weight of the W's and stripes through out are the same, even the numbers. The rounded numbers are a nice fit because they provide a contrast to the rigid angles and straight lines of everything else. They also have a vintage charm; modern numbers are mostly blocks. The jersey design uses the TechFit template to its fullest potential where sleeve stripes and shoulder loops just don’t work on the sleeveless cut because they end being way too short. This Titans-like design does work. It also gives the uniform a better color balance, incorporating enough red to not be boring but not so much that its too loud (like Nebraska). the W on the chest looks great as 1 color, no outline. it may be Adidas' new style (or it could be just a recycled idea), but i have no problem with that as of now. It’s good to see something there that works, besides a number. The undershirt stripe is a bit odd though. Sure it matches the helmet but it’s forced. Just not much of a reason for it to be there.

The pants are almost Wisconsin's regular digs. The double stripe works and does flow with the undershirt stripe; the negative areas matching, and color consistency like seen with Texas A&M. The W on the hip dosent have much of a home there, its not integrated into the the design, its just sitting on top of the stripe. A missed opportunity there, but for the sake of the minimalist design, it might have been best to leave it off.

The helmet looks great too. I dont think theres anything better than a 1 color logo on a helmet (Nebraska, Indiana, Indy Colts, Kansas State, Texas, etc). i like the black face mask too. It’s a modern neutral, what grey was back in the day, black could be today. At least it works here well enough, especially with the black cleats and gloves. It doesn’t grab your attention like a white mask would, it takes a back seat in the design and lets the W really shine.

I’m a bit disappointed with Nebraska but I’m glad to see these 2 schools try something different. Their identities are well established and they both are wearing the best uniform design they've ever had, currently. Perfect time to change it up a bit and break up the repetition of simple red and white game after game.

If theres one area Adidas is kicking every ones ass in, its these promo shots for the uniforms. UA does this jank photoshop light explosion to display their new designs. Nike makes everything look like they're in a damn cave. Adidas uniforms against the soft brown of brick and decent lighting without having the models do a Hulk Hogan flex impression is very well done. It’s almost a locker room environment. Application and environment are everything with design, and its important to capture that in presentations. I like being able to actually see and focus on the damn thing

Notre Dame
Grade: D-

This is a design for 1 game which will be worn against Miami at Soldier Field. Like I said with Nebraska and Wisconsin, its nice to see Notre Dame do something a bit different because their current identity is so strong, but can get repetitive if not boring. After last years Under the Lights success, its no wonder they would want to do it again, and they worked with Troy lee Designs again to do something very unique.

I love asymmetrical design, but this helmet may be the worst helmet design ive ever seen. Maryland’s Pride helmet was loud and bold, but it was 1 design which was acceptable. This helmet tries blending 2 designs together. The 1/3 blue piece is instantly awkward and the 2 different textures’ (engine turn gold and gloss blue) juxtaposition makes it worse. The white-out Irishman on the side is also shocking, I don’t ever recall seeing that logo in 1 color. The logo isn’t placed correctly on the helmet either (at least not in the promo shot). It’s too low and forward. The arm of the Irishman is getting cut off by the face mask and is strangely sitting right over the ear hole. The 2/3 split is probably the correct idea, in that it is true asymmetry with the “heavier” side (darker color) being the smallest, rather than a ½ split which would be a symmetrical balance. But one reason for doing asymmetrical design is to create an unsettling, odd, disruptive feeling which is what ends up happening here. So the execution for the idea given is fairly good, its just a bad idea to begin with. For Notre Dame, doing something that is totally unfamiliar is a big risk and I don’t think it all comes together well here, Last years Shamrock helmet worked as it was a nice evolutionary piece in the identity. This is too out of place and way off brand.

The number font and word mark are very cool, a prestigious vintage look that works really well together on this navy jersey. I would love to see this number font make a return in another design. We see the inclusion of this thin white stripe in every piece but its different on each piece. Its probably worse on the undershirt because it can be mistaken as an arm band, but even then I can live with that. It just dosent have a place or a reason for being. If there was more unity with the other applications it could work on the sleeve but we just get 3 different treatments and leaves us wondering what the hell is going on. It dosent need to be exactly the same on each piece, variety is good, but its too different here.

The pants stripe is way too wide. If a player wears pads in his pants it gets so distorted and warped that it becomes a terrible, bloated eyesore. The Irishman logo is squeezed onto the hip and looks as if hes trying to push the sides away to keep from being crushed. If he has some proper space to breath and not create a tangent against the stripe edge it could be tolerable, but I don’t like seeing the same logo on the hip as the side of the helmet. It feels redundant. If you cut the stripe in half you have the edge of the helmet design. But I think we’re just left wanting to see that whole stripe again elsewhere or not at all. The good thing about it is its only on one side, which completes the asymmetrical idea. 

You can see with each piece they’re going for a vintage racer look and nearly pulled it off but what holds it back are some really strange almost amateurish decisions that makes it fail. I usually don’t mind golds not matching especially in vintage uniforms, but when you have 3 or 4 different golds together it really looks cheap. The texture of the helmet, numbers, and pants are all completely different. The color corrected promo photos from Adidas is trying to fool us, but the photos from the unveiling show the ugly truth. All of the inconsistency, unfamiliarity, and odd design decisions just dosen’t  hold together. I love risky design and people being brave with their elements, but even as a 1 off uniform, It’s a bad design and I think Notre Dame fans are going to agree.

Grade: B+

Oregon might be the Apple Computers of college football. They’re a rebellious brand that does not follow tired, played out traditions but look to improve upon the status quo. Chip Kelly has done that with the football program and their identity reflects those values perfectly. They are the trend setters and now that so many have copied their look, it’s perfect time to change again. Nike hasn’t given us much to look at yet, but its clear that the 2012 Rose Bowl uniform will be the new design template.

We’ve seen a couple of different helmets with the wings on the side. So far, a carbon fiber helmet with chrome wings and a green helmet with green-chromeish wings are available. Their primary logo is one of my favorites but dropping it from the side of the helmet isn’t a bad move. The wings are as recognizable as the logo and these chrome helmets will never be mistaken for another school. Think of the wings as their own swoosh. There also appears to be a texture on the face mask

So far 4 jerseys have been released but I wouldn’t be surprised to see 1 or 2 more during the season. The number font is much better than the old Belotti Bold, which seemed too warped. This font is almost the same but is tall and strong. The numbers look like they have some kind of iridescent color, which is reflective of the wings of a mallard. I absolutely love that! The wing texture on the shoulders I don’t though. The flow of the wings are interrupted and cut off at the seam of the shoulder/chest with no proper conclusion. They simply go on and on until they run out of room and so its another one of Nike’s lame “fill in the panel” techniques which ruins an otherwise unique and wonderful pattern. The fact that they’ve made the wings so contrasting with the jersey base color (save the green version) makes it even worse. You can clearly see how bad it’s executed on the yellow jersey.

Oregon’s identity they had up til last year is one of my all time favorites. That wing design on the shoulder was made for that location and fit so perfectly, the total opposite thinking behind this design. There are things to love here and things to hate, which makes it the most frustrating design I’ve seen this year.

Grade: C-

What I wrote for Arkansas goes ditto here. This is a hot mess of played out trends and poor design elements. What makes it worse is the slight differences in the helmet. Theres not one that’s an iconic standard and im not sure if anyone will realize they’re wearing a different one from game to game. With Oregon, ASU, and Oklahoma State its easy to see they’re wearing something different, theres a reason for being with those designs. The battle scared armor treatment is cool for an alternate, but I see that getting old quick. Having one with black and one with red would be fine if you really wanted mulitples, But there’s that 3rdwith a grey face mask that doesn’t fit any uniform more than the other and is a redundant waste. HGI pulled off the look very well, its just not needed more than once here.

The jerseys suffer from the same FOLO collar as the NFL jerseys. Why anyone thinks that looks good I can’t say. It becomes an element that will either clash or pair with everything else, and with the Rutgers’ design it almost fits but I cant help but feel its still out of place. The word mark and numbers are pulled off fairly well, I do like the custom font and chrome treatment with the outline to make a tight, bold form. Color wise I think the red jersey and white pants (with chrome/red helmet if I have to choose) will look really nice.

The pants stripe is alright enough. It reflects the shoulder stripes and maintains a decent color balance. The Butt Hat name on the pants is never good though. Just another bad, played out idea Nike threw at them.

South Dakota State
Under Armor
Grade: C+

Blue, white, and yellow is one of my favorite sports color palettes. It’s hard to screw up. I think every combination of jersey and pants here looks great as far as color goes, and I’d love to see the San Diego Chargers adopt these colors.

The helmet is the same design from last year but everything else has new elements. This has to be one of the nicest number fonts there is in CFB and pairs very well with their primary Jackrabbit logo and SD monogram. There’s rounded edges and tall straight lines; I don’t see how anyone could possibly dislike it especially in this context. I don’t think they have the brand and recognition to really pull off “STATE” across the chest, I actually first thought this was San Diego State. They have almost the same shoulder design that South Carolina got last year. It’s a weird design that dosent end or begin anywhere or have any kind of movement. It’s a block of color with no real purpose. The road and home jerseys seem to be dealing with that element in 2 different ways as well, but its kind of hard to tell exactly how from only this picture.

The pants stripe is a bit odd for this design, but it’s better than any kind of traditional stripe. The thing with this set of blue and yellow is that they are both so energetic and attention grabbing you need a almost a 50/50 split between them through the uniform so that 1 is not too intense; They balance each other out so the pants stripe does allow for that. The only thing I’m really disappointed about is that there is no yellow jersey. Yet.

Southern Methodist
Grade: B

This is such a cool jersey. It’s an original design that comes through a slight tweak in traditional stripe design. a Northwestern stripe over the shoulder works so well, except like all modern over-the-shoulder designs, are truncated and can be a bit weird to look at when they end so abruptly for no reason. Still, Its enough for me to love it. I’d love to see a blue jersey in the mix as well. I have to assume the helmet stripe will change too and it might be bet if they remove that stripe altogether.

The mustang on the chest is a really nice touch in 1 color and has plenty of space around it so its not crowded. The number font is a new-to-me design. It’s a spur serif as you can really see on the 1’s, and I fear what the 3 and 5 look like when the 2 is so top heavy with such a variation in thickness. A modern, bold, spur serif? I don’t like it.

Texas A&M
Grade: A

Finally we get to my favorite new design of the year! The one issue I have is that it’s so similar to Mississippi State, and that is a problem, but this design is just beautiful. The “12th MAN” on the undershirt sleeve is reserved only for 1 player a game so it is good that the rest of the team won’t be wearing that cheesy bullshit.

The helmet was done by HGI and they’ve made it more of a satin finish than matte which matches the surface texture of the jersey and pants really well. They kept the primary logo the same which I find a bit weird because you can see on the hip the new secondary design where the T has a beveled treatment. A small miss in consistency. The grey mask is a perfect choice, it softens the contrast of the previous white mask look while tying into the the grey used in other parts of the uniform. It’s a small detail that becomes the cherry on top of this sweet design. There is also a white alternate version that works just as well.

The jersey takes inspiration from a previous A&M design and teaches the rest of the manufactures a lesson in stripes. Whether or not every player wears the undershirt, they all end up in the same design. The undershirt is a part of the design that enhances it when added and doesn’t take anything away when removed. The school name across the chest is a strong, bold statement that A&M has always had. The numbers are a new design that dosent go too far from traditional block but adds some value to the identity with the beveling inside. I absolutely love that detail on both maroon and white jerseys. It’s not a harsh gradient or cheesy texture, just a well done flat design. It’s not been easy to get people to embrace it though. Last year I did a concept for the Kansas City Chiefs that featured beveled 2 tone numbers and everyone hated it. Theres not been much love for these either, but I just don’t get it. This is such a nice touch that I’m glad someone had the balls to apply to a big time school.

The pants stripe carries through the alignment and rhythm started in the jersey. The pants stripe is the same width as the negative space on the jersey stripes and the colors correlate correctly as well. Most of the time I like hip logos and I like this one. Its not forced into a design here, it actually holds its place on the stripe well.

I want so badly to grade this out as an A+ but the slight difference in primary and secondary logos as well as the identical treatment to conference rival Mississippi State keeps it from being any thing unique or perfect.

Utah State
Grade: B-

Utah State gets the standard Nike treatment: white helmet, matte helmet, grey uniform, texture within numbers, fucking yawn. It’s the same recycled ideas we’ve seen this year more than ever, but at least we can appreciate the execution of it. They also have new logos which designer Fraser Davidson worked with Nike on to complete the identity package.

The blue and white helmets both look very nice with the logo working just as well on both versions. You get to the jersey though and the bad details show through. White stroke on a grey number, white stroke against a grey jersey, it all cheapens the look so much especially with the texture inside of them. None of the word marks use strokes and they separate themselves from the jersey much better for it. With such a busy front, you’d expect to see something on the shoulders or sleeves but both are blank which I actually like. It’s a clean minimalist look that isn’t overly cluttered like most designs. I think the number font is very nice as well, the rounded bottom edges and sharp top edges pair perfectly with the word mark and primary logo, so I suspect its all the same font.

Not sure if the pants stripe is necessary, it’s a bit out of place. It seems like a single color stripe would work best here which would provide a better balance in both shape and color.  

Grade: D+

I don’t know why Nike wants to make me hate them so much. There’s no care put into this set. Lazy fill-in-the-panel design on the gold jersey which also has a useless and ugly white stroke on the number. Must there be a complete lack of gold on the black and white pieces? Number trim isn’t enough here. If they ever pair the white helmet with gold jersey and white pants I will just have to laugh. They don’t have bad colors. They don’t have a bad logo. But outside of the number font, this set just has nothing to like. Every new decision was a bad one.

- - - - - - Awards - - - - - -

Best in Show – school: Texas A&M; manufacturer: Adidas

Personally my favorite of the bunch is Texas A&M, but only slightly over Army, Minnesota, and the Wisconsin alternate. I felt last year Adidas was right on the coattails of Nike in the design department and I think they are now very equal, but both companies recycle ideas far too often. 

Worst Design – Georgia Tech

The only school to earn an F this year. 

Most Improved – Bowling Green

The biggest improvement made from last year is Bowling Green who I gave a D- to last year. 

Biggest Loser – Arkansas

Arkansas took the biggest fall. I have little doubt they will be doing dramatic changes within 3 years.

Best Typography – Minnesota

As instantly classic as it is modern. Word mark, primary logo, and numbers are all beautiful pieces of work.

Best New Logo – Utah State

Almost by default, Not too much to choose from this year, but the alternate bull mark is the best of the bunch. Also an honorable mention to the update of Purdue's train logo which will be featured on the front of the jerseys. Both logos design by Fraser Davidson and Nike

Best New Helmet – Army

The matte gold is a perfect choice for this school. Tough, rugged, utilitarian design. I give Silver to Oregon (liquid yellow being my favorite) and Bronze to UNLV

Most Creative Piece –  Northwestern

For the new jersey stripe placement. The white jersey is gorgeous. 

The Fuck Are You Doing? – Nike

For the Paint-By-Number or Fill-In-The-Blank shoulder panel designs as well as the 2 tone FlyWire collars which also make an appearance in the NFL.

August's Apple-a-Month Club Selection: Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura

Wait, where did August go? I swear I left it around here somewhere.

Well, now that another month has snuck by without my noticing, it's high time we updated you dear readers on the exploits of the Apple-a-Month Club by introducing our August selection, Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura.

We first heard tell of Gone to the Forest months ago -- first from a sales rep whose enthusiasm for the book seemed particularly noteworthy, then over drinks with a fellow bookseller and longtime book buyer who works for a certain other legendary San Francisco bookstore. His raving about Kitamura's novel really sealed the deal, and we got on hands on it as soon as we could (this persuasiveness having nothing to do with the aforementioned drinks involved, I promise).

And then there was Julie Orringer:
“Gone to the Forest is a mesmerizing novel, one whose force builds inexorably as its story unfolds in daring, unexpected strokes.  Kitamura’s prose brings to mind Cormac McCarthy or Jean Rhys, but the music of these lines is all her own—lyrical, sharp-edged, spare, and unafraid. Be warned: you’ll find yourself reading long past midnight, out of breath and wide awake.  This is a bold and powerful book.”
And then there was Salman Rushdie:
One thinks at times of both Coetzee and Gordimer, but Kitamura is very much her own writer, and makes you feel keenly the tragedy of her three lost souls.” 
And THEN we found out that Katie Kitamura loves Green Apple (I hear the phrase "bookstore crush" was used), and while we had already made the decision by that point to send it to our subscribers so clearly we're not just being biased here, flattery never hurts.

Long story of accumulating book-buzz made short, in August, our subscribers were among the first to have a copy of Gone to the Forest put in their hands. Here's our pitch, to add to the chorus of deserved praise this novel has received:
Gone to the Forest is the story of a family in an unnamed colonial country  in an unspecified time, drawing the reader's attention directly to the riveting events taking place in a family in turmoil, with only hints of awareness that the larger world they inhabit is on the brink of civil war. The novel begins with a slow burn; Kitamura's pose, mesmerizing in its sparse, curt description, is a perfect vehicle for this tension as she conveys the complexities of fear, love, and home in the briefest of momentsGone to the Forest offers what few novels can: a story that feels at once eerily familiar and completely singular. In Kitamura's expert hand, it's a story that's sure to spellbind you.
(Interested in getting great new paperback fiction sent to you or a loved one once a month? Sign on up.)

Summer Means Ice Cream

As “summer” nears its end, the warmest days of the year are finally here, at least for those of us who live in western San Francisco.  So let’s talk ice cream.

We have a dozen or so ice cream recipe books on the shelves at any given time here, but of local interest are two newish additions to the shelf, both with a distinctly local flavor: Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book and Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones (the Bi-Rite Creamery’s entry).

They have a lot in common, from a predictable passion for good ingredients to clearly written recipes, from lavish full-color photographs to quirky flavors.  Both even feature mostly custard-based ice creams (vs. Philadelphia style ice cream, which is uncooked).  Mostly, the differences are in the tone and attitudes of the authors and in the details of specific recipes.  It’s almost as if one is the punk rock dude’s guide to making ice cream and the other comes from your smart, friendly, capable girlfriend.

Let’s start with Humphry Slocombe.  As I said, the roughly 40 recipes are clear and feature all the shop’s hottest flavors, plus some that rarely appear, from their top seller—Secret Breakfast, which includes bourbon and corn flakes cookies—through the rarely appearing strawberry (or, as they call it, “Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream.”).  The really unusual recipes are those involving veggies, beer, meat, and cheese. The book also includes a few sorbets, sundaes, sauces, etc.  Overall, it’s a solid book and fairly priced at $19.95 from Chronicle Books.

The Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones lacks the attitude, and makes up for it with thoroughness and 90 recipes.  There’s no lack of creativity, though—the book includes flavors like Earl Grey, Crème Fraiche, and Salted Caramel.  There are also a good number of non-ice cream recipes, including sorbets, cookies, sauces, ice pops, and more.  It is also a good deal—nicely produced, clearly illustrated, and bound in a hardcover for $24.99 from Ten Speed Press.

Take your pick—the edgy recipe book or the sweet one?  You won’t regret either one, so maybe just get them both.