Our latest design challenge to the Uni Watch readership -- to create a makeover for the Chargers, in conjunction with their move from San Diego to Los Angeles -- was a tricky one.
For starters, most fans seem to agree that the Chargers look pretty good right now, so on some level, we were asking you to fix something that wasn't broken. (More than a dozen readers simply sent emails that said something along the lines of, "Just have them make the powder blues their primary jersey. There, that's my redesign entry.") In addition, incorporating the Chargers' signature lightning bolt motif into a new design can be, as we all learned last month, trickier than it looks.
Still, we received some very good entries. Before we look at them, here's a quick recap of what we asked for: All entries were supposed to include, at a minimum, a primary logo, complete home and road uniforms, and a patch to commemorate the team's inaugural season in Los Angeles. Readers were free to give the franchise a new name, if they liked, or to maintain the current name.
With those ground rules in mind, here are the best and most interesting designs we received. In each case, you can click on the image to see a larger version of it. Ready? Set? Charge(rs)!
Best primary logo: Chip Harris
Lots of readers struggled to find the best way to incorporate a lightning bolt into the letters "LA." Chip Harris came up with the most successful solution, superimposing a bolt over the letters to create dynamic mark. Not bad, right?
Harris' uniform designs are pretty sharp too (although he cheated a bit by using a different helmet color for each of his four uniform concepts, which is impossible under the NFL's one-shell rule). Even his inaugural-season patch was strong. Overall, a very solid package.
Best overuse of lightning bolts: Alex Rocklein
Alex Rocklein clearly never met a lightning bolt he didn't like, but he worked them into his design in such interesting ways that it's hard to complain. Look at how he used bolts to serve as a border for the jersey's shoulder yoke, for example. Then check out how he sneaked a bolt into the negative space between the "L" and the "A" in his helmet logo. Toss in the bolts on the pants, the jersey patch and the helmet's nose bumper and you've got a bolt-o-rama!
All kidding aside, the jersey concept is really interesting. Here's a look at the road, alternate, and Color Rush versions:
Best pants-driven design: Jimmy Nutini
If you look at photos of the Chargers' classic 1960s uniforms, you'll see that the key to their aesthetic success wasn't just that they wore powder blue jerseys. They looked their best when they paired those jerseys with yellow pants. Jimmy Nutini must be a fan of those old uniforms, because he used yellow britches for his home and road uni designs (although the yellow numbers on the road jersey might be going a bit too far). While we're at it, let's give a shout-out to Nick Maricondi, who also went with yellow pants in his entry.
Best Tinseltown reference: Ben Polizzi
Surprisingly few readers incorporated any Hollywood motifs into their designs. One who did was Ben Polizzi, whose inaugural-season patch is shaped like a clapperboard (that thingie they use to sync the picture and sound when beginning to film a scene) and uses lettering inspired by the iconic "Hollywood" sign. While the overall patch design is a little busy, the clapperboard and Hollywood concepts both work, and the lightning bolt-driven "LA" logo is pretty snappy. Nicely done. (Also of note: Micah Sheets' patch design was based on the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.)
Best presentation: Glenn Riley
Would Glenn Riley's submission have been featured in this article if he had chosen a more conventional presentation format? Maybe, maybe not. His designs aren't bad, but they're not all that different from what the Chargers currently wear. What put him over the top was the endearingly cartoonish template he used for his mock-ups. Remember, kids: Presentation counts!
Best renaming concept: Gene Sanny
Only a few readers decided to give the Chargers a new team name in their new city. Of those who took this approach, Gene Sanny was the most successful, coming up with a good look for his fictitious Los Angeles Surf. The helmet design is ingeniously simple -- the wave motif is sort of like an upside-down ram's horn -- and the inaugural-season patch works really well. The color scheme is probably a bit too Seahawks-esque, but the overall concept is so good that your friendly uniform columnist is willing to suspend his usual rule about team names being required to end in "s." (Also worth noting: Another ocean-themed entry came from Cal Nelson, who reimagined the Chargers as the Los Angeles Tides.)
Several other readers came up with design elements that are worth mentioning:
• Diego Yañez designed a "Return to LA" patch that makes a "17" out of the "A" -- a clever way to signify the year 2017.
• Ethan Dimitroff took the unusual step of incorporating lightning bolts into his jersey number font.
• Dwayne Hoffman came up with a new way of putting lightning on the Chargers' pants, with bolts running on the front and back instead of down the sides. Not sure that would actually work on the field, but it's an interesting approach. (Here's how it looks on his road and throwback designs.)
• Matt Harvey (presumably not the MLB pitcher) came up with two inaugural-season patches, both of which are pretty good.
• Steve Paterson tinkered with the Chargers' helmet by enlarging the lightning bolt and wrapping it around the helmet shell. Not bad!
• Speaking of wraparound lightning bolts, Ben Polizzi -- the same guy who designed the clapperboard-themed patch highlighted earlier in this article -- took the Chargers' jersey bolts and reimagined them as a way of framing the collar, similar to the trim on the Jaguars' jersey. Granted, emulating the Jags isn't usually an advisable move for a uniform designer, but in this case, it might work.
• Several people tried to incorporate the Chargers' ill-fated "LA" logo into their designs, most notably Immanual Ferrer, who jazzed up the logo a bit and turned it into the basis for a pretty swell inaugural-season patch.
Want to see more? You can check out all the design submissions we received here.
Paul Lukas will have more team-redesign contests soon. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.