Fade to Black: 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars

“It’s better to fail doing something different, than to successfully follow in someone else’s footsteps.”

That’s a quote from a past article I wrote titled “Getting Better and Moving Forward”. That’s a hard “truth” to accept when put in context with the new Jacksonville Jaguars uniforms. Today, I feel what my twitter friend and fellow graphic designer Cliff Dixon said about the Jags’ desgin is more true: “It's a shift in aesthetic power. The ‘radical’ portion of design is running out of ideas. Envelope has been pushed too far”.

Its seems to me this whole re-brand is not just about becoming a modern, forward thinking franchise. It’s about having something no one else has. Doing something that has never been done before, which I love. We need more new ideas and to be different is exactly why we have/design identities. But, to execute these ideas with a total disregard to what is valuable, interesting, and well crafted design (or just a complete lack of good taste) does not validate the new ideas.

The helmet is the biggest change. The metallic gold to matte black gradient, which splits half of the helmet couldn’t be more of an eyesore. One of the first rules you learn about gradients is “no harsh gradients”. But so what? I love a “fuck the rules!” mentality as much as anyone. . . but not when the end result is completely jank. I actually hate every single decision made about this helmet. 1.) The combination of colors. 2.) The combination of finishes. 3.) The tight transition from one color to the next 4.) the location of the transition on the helmet 5.) The use of a gloss black decal on a half matte black fnish. 6.) The use of a gloss black mask against a matte black part of the helmet.

Most importantly I hate the concept Nike tries to sell us on as to why the gradient was used. Mostly, because it’s the exact opposite execution of their idea.

“the jaguar comes out from  the shadows and attacks” – Todd Van Horne, Nike

The jaguar on the helmet is actually running into the darkness on the helmet, so congratulations on that epic failure, Nike. But let me help you out and spin it this way: Think of the player as the animal and when you look at him straight on, he is shrouded in darkness with the light at his back. Does that help? No, because it’s still a shitty looking helmet.

The jersey is tolerable. I do like the collar element as it’s a new design that dosent get chopped off on the end to highlight Nike’s flywire (see the Saints, Bills, Chargers). I love when sleeves/shoulders are different colors too, but there has to be some designed element there, like it’s done with some purpose, not a fill-in-the-box treatment that’s used here. Nike seems to love that though. I even like the number font and the double outlines. The black and white jersey numbers look great. The teal one is a let down with the black numbers. I don’t think that’s a nice contrast and it’s the one jersey that’s dominated by 2 colors instead of nicely balanced by 3 (the sleeve fills and number are the same color here). It looks visually “heavy”.

What’s going on with the shoulders, I have no idea. It’s a different piece of material, something shiny. I haven’t been able to find anything about it. So now we have matte and gloss pieces on the jersey, but they’re the same color instead of oddly contrasting which is just as bad.

The only thing that looks military influenced to me is the patch on the chest, which I think is a tacky detail. I’m not a fan of sports teams going military. It’s a game, not war. I don’t think a team should be officially calling itself by it’s nickname. “Jags” is what I refer to the team when talking about them, but it dosent seem very professional when they’re promoting it themselves. Also, it would apparently be a bad idea to wear it in London because the term “jag” is slang for binge drinking or drug abuse, across the pond.

The pants’ stripe is interesting. It’s not an exact complement to anything else in the uniform, but it dosent feel out of place either. Maybe a little too wide, or not long enough, but I don’t think anyone will be too upset about the pants. I appreciate the effort to get all 3 colors into the design as well. How mad can you be at the socks? It’s the standard NFL color fills, but a single stripe would be an improvement to at least break up the large amount of black when the black socks and pants are paired together. Well, with so much already going on from the knee up, maybe it’s best to have some negative space in the uniform?

Overall, I don’t think this is the worst design in the NFL, but that’s just because the Seahawks are so much worse. I do think this is easily the worst helmet in the league though. If they had not focused so much on the “hunting from the shadows” bullshit and trying so hard to be different, and just gone with 1 color either gold or black, It would be a design that I would be able to watch on TV, but the helmet is so bad I don’t think I can stand to do so. So, instead of saying “good for you Jaguars for being bold and creating an identity that is somewhat respectable” I can only say that I can’t wait for them to change it again, and as soon as possible.

Using my CFB uniform grading system on this, I would give the Jaguars a D+