With Reebok's apparel agreement with the NFL due to expire one week from today, I thought I'd take a look ahead at what the new Nike contract means for the Denver Broncos. If you haven't already heard, the Broncos are returning to their predominantly orange roots for the 2012 season. The blue uniforms in which the Broncos achieved Super Bowl success will be replaced with what we currently know as our "orange alternate" jersey...
...or will they? Stick with me after the jump...
In 2010, when fans petitioned the Denver Broncos to make the color scheme change, the team listened. On October 3, 2011 the league officially approved the switch and the Broncos will again be clad in orange when the 2012 season opens. According to this article from the Denver Post, the uniform change is essentially a full time switch to what is now our current alternate jersey...
However, a few days ago Pro Football Talk''s Mike Florio published this article about the league's changeover to Nike. In looking at both the Denver Post article and Florio's article, I'm beginning to wonder if the uniform will indeed remain the orange alternate everyone suspected since the news was announced.
...With a Nike exec saying in October 2010 that the company plans on "changing the NFL jersey dramatically," the league is now saying otherwise.
"Logos are controlled by teams and the NFL," league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT by email this morning. "That will not change. Teams have to apply to league to make changes to logos and colors.
While logo and color changes have to be approved by the league, there's nothing that says that the actual uniform design has to be. Essentially, the Broncos can get their scheme approved and then covertly rework the uniform design without scrutiny. Especially since Broncos Country was satisfied/elated with the announcement not to interfere with questions about it.
It's important to note that once the press ran with story of the the Nike exec's comments about the "changing" of the jerseys, Nike quickly backtracked saying that the changes would be in the materials they're made of and not necessarily the designs.
However, in recent weeks there have been rumblings of certain changes around the league. Last week there was a flurry of twitter rumors that the Seahawks were having some work done either to their full time or their alternate uniform - something that's in step with Florio's article.
Yesterday Nike released a preview of things to come with the Vapor Jet gloves that the players will be wearing in today's Pro Bowl. People on twitter immediately noticed that the Carolina Panthers logo is slightly different from the one that will appear on Cam Newton's helmet in today's Pro Bowl (the changes are in the mouth area and whiskers - it looked a little more aggressive and angry).
Then there's this bit of information from the Miami Sun-Sentinel on January 25th:
[Dolphins team President Mike Dee]... said teams have been instructed to not disclose specifics of the Nike gear until after the Super Bowl, the last NFL game in Reebok attire.
Nike continues to stoke anticipation with a promotional video [posted above], "Nike Football Epic Transformation" narrated by Michael Irvin, who says dramatically, "Friday nights and Saturday afternoons don't lie, change is good. And we're bringing all the change we've got to Sundays."
The NFL's Nike jerseys will be unveiled in April. The draft could be the coming out party for Nike's new line.
The conservative nature of the NFL suggests the change will not be revolutionary. Nike clearly wants to put its stamp on the look of the league, as it has on college football in recent years.
"We're going to be aggressive," Denson said in another CNBC interview last summer. "Some teams are willing to go further than others."
Florio's PFT article also references the April unveil date:
Thus, we won't know for sure the team jerseys that will look different until the new jerseys are unveiled. The league says that'll happen in late April, in connection with the 2012 draft.
So what does all this mean?
Considering the fact that the Broncos have already sought and received permission to switch their color scheme from blue back to orange, there's a high probability that Denver will be a big part of the uniform unveiling in April. There's a good chance that we'll know a bit more about possible changes once the Reebok contract expires with the waning seconds of this year's Super Bowl.
I personally am very excited at the possibility that there will be something new in the Broncos uniform arsenal. Hold off on buying any new jerseys folks! You might miss out on the next chapter of Denver Broncos uniform history.