Single page view By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2

OK, enough of this collegiate stuff. With the NFL season set to kick off Thursday night, it's time to turn our attention to the pros.

You probably know about the big storylines already, since Uni Watch covered the season's major uniform revisions months ago, as they were announced. A quick recap for latecomers and amnesiacs: The Cardinals now look like an Arena League team; the Giants have a new road uniform, which isn't really all that different from their old road uniform; the Lions have a rather unfortunate new black alternate jersey (no word on whether they're calling the color "Honolulu Black"); and the Bills have a really cool throwback outfit, complete with the old "standing buffalo" helmet (which they'll be wearing Sunday, incidentally).

Ah, but there's a slew of smaller developments that you probably haven't kept track of or even noticed. But fear not -- what seems subtle to you is salient to Uni Watch. So here's a breakdown of what to look for on the gridiron, which you'd do well to commit to memory. That way, when the loud dude with the hat asks if you're ready for some football, you can honestly and sincerely answer in the affirmative.

• No more Thanksgiving Day throwbacks for the Lions -- they'll wear that black monstrosity instead. Dallas, however, will wear this design on Turkey Day, white helmet and all. The moral: You win some, you lose some.

• The Giants have replaced their "Giants" chest logo with a "ny" logo (on the road jersey, too). Is it just Uni Watch's imagination, or is the "ny" positioned unusually low on the jersey? Very odd.

• The Giants have also switched to black shoes, which raises the number of black-shod teams to 13 (the others: Falcons, Panthers, Bears, Bengals, Lions, Colts, Jaguars, Saints, Jets, Eagles, Seahawks and Bucs) -- up from just one in 1999. Uni Watch counts this as progress.

• As if the Bengals didn't have enough problems, that stupid white side panel on their jerseys is now extending even higher -- but only for some players. So now the team not only looks like crap, but it looks inconsistent to boot. Most aesthetically impaired franchise in pro sports, hands down.

• As NFL sleeves continue to disappear, the latest development is that the Jets' contrasting sleeve color, which used to enclose the entire sleeve (green sleeves for the white jersey, white sleeves for the green jerseys), has been truncated to cover only half the sleeve. Check it out: half a white sleeve for the green jersey, half a green sleeve for the white jersey. Lame.

• The Redskins have traditionally paired their maroon pants with striped white socks, but that changed during a game against the Giants last December, when Clinton Portis wore maroon socks (without any whites, in blatant defiance of league regulations), which the 'Skins normally paired with their seldom-used white pants. The whole team adopted this maroon-on-maroon look -- with whites, thankfully -- for the rest of last season, and they've maintained it during the 2005 preseason, so expect to see more of it this year. It's a stupid move, of course, because it defeats the whole point of NFL sock design, which is to provide contrast at the pant/sock intersection (compare this, this, or this), but Uni Watch long ago accepted the sad reality that today's pro athletes are utterly clueless when it comes to hosiery.



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