football

Pat Patriot, Silver Wings and Monochrome White Sox

Discussing the Best and Worst of Sports Uniforms

Toronto Maple Leafs Re-Design
football
tombierbaum
It was just a couple days ago that I learned the distressing news that hockey’s Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly re-designing their uniforms for next season as part of a celebration of the team’s100th anniversary. I found this distressing for two reasons – first their uniform is my favorite in the NHL by a mile and it will be crushing to see any sort of trendy re-design of a truly classic uniform, and second because the news motivated ESPN.com’s Uni Watch columnist Paul Lukas to announce a Maple Leafs re-design contest and it seemed impossible that I could participate.

In addition to having little enthusiasm for re-designing a uniform I love, the demands of my job have been pretty brutal the past couple of weeks, leading to a condition of physical exhaustion that’s put me behind on all kinds of commitments, including just about any holiday activities this Christmas season.

So a couple of times I made the firm decision to just skip this contest, but nevertheless found myself still kicking around ideas and sketching potential logos. Things like an impossible deadline and an unappealing assignment can sometimes really unleash the creative impulses – what have you got to lose? -- and before long, I found I had enough interesting ideas ratting around that I had to invent the time and get those ideas down on paper.

So here it is, my reluctant re-design of the Toronto Maple Leafs…



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Spokane Specters Design
football
tombierbaum
A month or two back, reading the Uni Watch blog, they mentioned that the Spokane team from the Indoor Football League was in need of a new team name after switching leagues. Since this was literally over the days when my sister was moving from Western Washington to a small town in Eastern Washington where Spokane would be the nearest city, and since a team name immediately presented itself -- the Spokane Specters -- I decided I should enter their contest.

And while they clearly weren't especially interested in anyone's uniform designs (saying only that if you wanted to suggest a logo to go with your team name, that would be OK), I pretty immediately started imagining what I would do with a football team named the Specters and decided I should carve out some time I didn't have to work up a couple designs.

The team's site said they were planning to keep the teams colors of navy blue and orange, and as non-Specter-ish as those colors were, I thought it worked for the best, since I was thinking in terms of a monochrome gray uniform and the idea of using navy and orange to bring to life a gray background appealed to me.

And thus, I came up with this incarnation of the Spokane Specters...



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L.A. Clippers Re-Design
football
tombierbaum
Here are designs I came up with last June for a Uni Watch contest on ESPN.com to try to top the recent actual re-design of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. As usual, my schedule at that time was impossible, but I'd had a Clippers design in mind for a couple years, so felt like I had to find the time and make sure I tossed my idea into the Uni Watch mix...


And for you "Legion of Super-Heroes" fans out there, read on, ther's a Legion reference coming...

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Brooklyn Devils Design
football
tombierbaum
The great website Uni Watch is running a weekend uniform context, this time to suggest a team identity if the Tampa Bay Rays end up moving (as had been rumored a few months ago).  I've always thought it would be cool for baseball to return to Brooklyn, so I decided that's where I'd re-locate the team and found in the borough's history that it supplied a decorated unit to the Union cause in the Civil War that was known as the Brooklyn Red Legged Devils. And since the original pro baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, was earlier known as the Red Legs, this seemed like a bit of baseball-compatible Brooklyn history that needed to be resurrected.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, your Brooklyn Devils...


A few notes:

Those jersey are true vests, not the awkward equivalent we've been seeing in recent years, when teams wear sleeveless shirts rather than actual vests.

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Las Vegas Silver Six NHL Design
football
tombierbaum
The Uni Watch column at ESPN.com had another uniform-design contest, this time to come up with a team name and uniform for the rumored Las Vegas NHL expansion team.  What I came up with was a reference to Nevada being the "Silver State" and the fact that a hockey team generally has six players on the ice at a time (barring penalties) -- the Las Vegas Silver Six.


As usual, I wanted some striking colors that would really stand out and be unique within the league's current palette, so the Silver Six uniforms are gray / silver with burgundy and a gold / orange color.  Also as usual, I wanted a fun mascot kind of characxter, so their logo / chest emblem is a silver knight playing hockey with his sword fashioned into a hockey stick.



I was having trouble coming up with a team name / identity that I was especially happy with, but when I started toying with a Roman numeral "VI" with the "L" from Las Vegas turning into a hockey stick and the dot of the "I" turning into a puck, I decided the "Silver Six" was meant to be.

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Oklahoma City NFL Design
football
tombierbaum
An Oklahoma-based fantasy football player invited readers of espn.com's UniWatch column to submit designs for a hypothetical Oklahoma City NFL franchise, since there's been some chatter that Oklahoma City is emerging as one of the more viable homes for a re-located or new team.  The organizer has picked a team name, the Oklahoma City Roughnecks, but I decided right off that I was going to violate the rules of the contest because I just don't like that name much and I've had an Oklahoma City team in my mind for 45 years.

So behold, your Oklahoma City 89ers...

tom bierbaum okc 89ers home tom bierbaum okc 89ers road



The name probably sounds funny to most ears, but the old minor league baseball team from Oklahoma City used to be called the 89ers (after the people who rushed into the state when it was opened to settlement in 1889) and I actually saw that team play at the Tacoma Cubs in old Cheney Stadium in the summer of 1968 as a field trip with my Colt League baseball team. For whatever reason, I was fascinated by that visiting team, the city and the name, so that fall, when us Bierbaum kids decided to "add" expansion teams to our pretend pro football league, I came up with the improbable idea of creating an Oklahoma City 89ers in the pro ranks.

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Portland TrailBlazers Re-Design
football
tombierbaum
The Uni-Watch column at espn.com ran another re-design contest, this time addressing the NBA's Portland TrailBlazers, and I once again managed to place among the "winners" that got recognition from the Uni-Watch columnist Paul Lukas.  Here are the designs I came up with...

Alternate Uniform:

tom bierbaum blazers alt

Home Uniform:

tom bierbaum blazers home

Road Uniform:

tom bierbaum blazers road



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Ohio State Football Re-Design
football
tombierbaum
When daughter Emma elected to go to Ohio State last spring, I thought I'd thank the school by coming up with a nice re-design of Ohio State's football uniforms, but life being what it is, I never got around to working on it until well into our Christmas break.  So I pulled out the old colored pencils and took a couple half-days and managed to get my ideas down on paper.  Now, I think the Buckeyes have one of the better current designs in the college ranks, but I've always felt there was room for improvement.

ohio state homeohio state rad

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Charlotte Hornets Re-Design
football
tombierbaum
There's another re-design project being run by the Uniwatch column at espn.com, this time coming up with ideas for the soon-to-be restored Charlotte Hornets NBA team.  Here's what I came up with...

tom bierbaum hornets home tom bierbaum hornets road
And here's the logo I created.
tom bierbaum hornets logo
As usual, my design combines an essentially traditional look with bright colors and some fun touches like a cartoon mascot. To me, the yellow-and-black colors seem almost inevitable, though I gave my yellow an orange-ish tint to give the thing a litlte bit of a distincitve feel.  Obviously I tried to work in black-and-yellow striping wherever possible, including in the numbers and lettering.   The stripe on the trunks is inspired by the Seattle Sonics of the late 1960s and early 1970s, who had, in my opinion, one of the best basketball uniforms ever.  I put the jersey number over the wordmark because my lettering style took up a lot of space horizontally and I couldn't fit "Charlotte" or "Hornets" above the number.

I gave the mascot, Hoops the Hornet, a few distinctive touches, including sunglasses that create the requisite over-sized eyes and little basketball-shaped deely-bobbers.

OPPOSING TEAMS: The home Hornets are facing an interesting version of the Houston Rockets, who are wearing a design that occurred to me the minute I imagined the Rockets taking on the red-over-yellow scheme of a team we made up back in about 1969.

The road Hornets are playing a version of the Dallas Mavericks uniform I submitted to Mark Cuban's contest.  I kept that home Mavericks uniform white, one of the very few times I've used white in one of my NBA re-designs and decided here to see how the design looks with the white being replaced by a light shade of the uniform's lime green color.  It's OK, but the pencil I use for that green color is just not quite bold enough to pull off the effect I was envisioning.

Dallas Mavericks Uniform
football
tombierbaum
Here's my entry in the uniform contest being run by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban...

mavs home mavs road

I came up with a wordmark that turned the "A's" in "Mavs" and "Dallas" into little cowboys, then added a mascot on the trunks that's a cowboy dribbling the ball down the court. I was envisioning a gold-and-brown color scheme that for me would have fit the maverick theme, but Mark wanted to see designs in colors similar to what the team has worn, so I took its former green-and-blue colors and livened them up with a bright lime green.  One thing I usually go for in my designs is eye-catching color (I shoot for schemes that would make the team instantly recognizable during SportsCenter highlights) and this was where my instincts took me.  Very reminiscent (though not intentionally) of an alternate uniform the Atlanta Hawks wore in the early 1970s.

OPPOSING TEAMS: Facing the home Mavs is a re-worked version of the Miami Heat. I wanted to try a sky blue-and-orange color scheme and I decided I couldn't let the dreaded singular team name "Heat" stand, so I renamed the team the Miami Oranges. Of course, no such makeover is remotely possible, but it's fun to imagine a world where such a thing could actually occur.  (My brother Bill designed a football team back in 1967 called the Florida Oranges and I take my inspiration for this team name from that.) The road Mavs are facing the San Francisco Warriors in a re-design loosely based on their great uniforms of the mid 1960s, complete with trolley car on the shorts.

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