Laces Out, Dan!: 2013 Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins' logo updates scream "cruise line" and not surprisingly, the new uniforms complete that look. This is sort of another modern-retro direction where they pulled an orange and aqua that are very similar to the ones they wore in the 60s and 70s, but all the other elements are completely new for Miami. Those new (old?) colors are all absolutely gorgeous! Whether isolated or used together, the orange, aqua, navy, and white make for one of my favorite color palettes in sports. My one concern though, is that it might be a bit feminine. Florida natives will probably have no fears about sporting those colors, but fans from the rest of the country might find them too "soft".

A trend in the 1980s, that has come back strong in the last 2 years, is white face mask on white helmets. The Dolphins are the first NFL team to jump on it and I actually really like this look. It dosen't date the helmet to the 80s in my mind, it looks really fresh and clean. The most identifiable element of their identity has always been the color palette, and the 2nd was the helmet stripe.  This helmet, and whole uniform, just dosen't look like the Dolphins without it. It's going to be a hard adjustment to make. The helmet stripe's colors are fine, but the width of those lines are too small. The orange disappears and because the navy and orange are so small, it just looks like there is one too many strokes. It feels clunky and heavy without any white space between the colors.  It's not a visual vibration, but you can see there's something odd about it.

At first glance, the jersey is really nice. I don't mind the emphasis of aqua and white, but some of the orange will be missed. Digging into the details, I am quickly disappointed. I never like a helmet logo being repeated on the sleeves, it's a redundant element when viewing the players from the side. The numbers might get points for matching the helmet stripe for color, but the lack of definition with the 2 outer colors being so thin makes the stripe and numbers look a bit of a mess from a distance. 

What completely ruins this uniform for me is the number font. Nike's biggest problem for 2 years, even in the CFB level, has been type design, especially number design. With the Dolphins, they are just trying way too hard to have an original modern-meets-vintage font that is neither consistant or attractive. I believe the serif of the "1" is thicker than the stem, I mean, WTF?! If there was a focus on a single idea, either classic block or rounded corners, then either idea would fit in very well with the rest of the uniform. Instead, they give us an amateurish bastardization.   

Consistency from piece to piece (helmet, jersey, pants, socks) is often something Nike struggles with, but even as bad of a stripe as they came up with, at least the pants have a perfect union with the helmet (and jersey numbers). And of course, it has the same problems as the other applications. They just cram all this color into a tiny area with so much negative/white space around it, the focus of the uniform becomes the ugly stripe and numbers. I usually love socks with stripes, but in this case it's probably best to go with solid tops and avoid any more exposure to the new stripe design. 

This was a design where the more that was changed, the worse it got. They went back in time to pull those amazing colors, but all the original designs from the logos, to the font, to the stripe makes the uniform a mess, and not very Dolphin like at all.  At this point, I wonder why they even bothered with the new-old colors. Maybe they should have pushed forward with everything and gone with a silver helmet and orange jersey? It's a real departure from so many things that have made up this identity since day one, the end result to me looks like a team stuck between the past and future with no clear idea of who they are or want to be. When you hear "this is about tradition" from Nike they're just bullshitting us, and from Dan Marino he just has no clue. It was about doing something new enough for people to be excited about, and try to hold on to some equity so older fans wouldn't be upset. You can never have both. Grade: D