If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That was the approach most Uni Watch readers took regarding the Minnesota Vikings' helmet when they sat down to give the team a new look. And who can blame them? Although the real Vikings (the Scandinavian warriors, not the football team) didn't wear horned helmets, the horns have nonetheless become iconic, and the Vikes' helmet design (the football team's, not the Scandinavian warriors') is one of the best in the NFL. Why mess with that?
But there's plenty of room to experiment with the rest of the team's visual program, and Uni Watch readers came up with several intriguing concepts. Here are the most interesting ones (for all of these, you can click on the image to see a larger version):
1. Best Mascot Character: Tom Bierbaum
There's something great about a horn-helmeted Viking wearing spikes and tossing a football, as Bierbaum's "Victor the Viking" character is doing. Bierbaum proposes that Victor be used as a sleeve patch. Although the overall uni feels somewhat rote, Victor is a keeper.
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2. Best Overdesigned Uniform: Chris Giorgio
Giorgio breaks all kinds of design rules: His pants have unnecessary color panels; his socks have too many colored stripes; his uni numbers are unnecessarily color-gradated; his collar and sleeve-cuff designs are too busy. And yet, and yet ... somehow it all comes together. The collarbone stripes function as horns and as a Viking ship -- with oars! The yellow road socks will have to go, but everything else works surprisingly well.
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3. Best Awful Idea That You'd Think Nike Would Have Tried By Now: Adam Hainsfurther
You know those college basketball jerseys with the patterns screened onto the back? Hainsfurther's design applies that concept to football jerseys -- something Nike hasn't tried yet, surprisingly enough, although you'd have to think it's working on it. And if Nike wasn't before, it probably will be now. You saw it here first! (Speaking of NCAA fads that haven't yet hit the NFL, Steven Schwertfeger has given us a look at how the Vikes would look in solid gray. Let's hope that one stays in the collegiate ranks.)
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4. Best Modern Pants Design: Denver King
Here's a simple rule: If you're going to add a bunch of odd stretch panels and gewgaws to football pants, put them on the back. King's design follows that rule to superb effect. The uniforms look reassuringly straightforward from the front, with a little bonus prize in the back. Imagine a linebacker getting that rear view as Adrian Peterson runs by -- perfect.
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5. Best Design That Would Raise Some Eyebrows in Green Bay: Christopher Savage
Yellow is a Vikings team color, but the Vikes have never worn yellow pants. Savage's design gives us a sense of what that might look like. Feels like the purple version of the Vikings' most prominent division rival, no? Wearing yellow pants for every game might be too much, but what if the Vikes donned the yellow knickers for games against the Pack? Or for games in Green Bay? The Battle of the Yellow Britches!
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Honorable Mentions: Brendan Jang channeled the old Minnesota North Stars for his design. ... Dan Taylor came up with the best helmet design: real horns! And check out the sea serpent about to devour the Packer. ... Spencer Wisch knows that stripes are popular at Uni Watch HQ, but he overplayed his hand in that regard. ... You know those Rutgers helmets that are supposed to look battle-scarred? Chris Pirrone went after a similar visual effect with his design. ... Dan Kennedy came up with a simple but super-effective logo that feels NFL-ready.
Want to see more? Check out all of the reader-submitted designs.
Meanwhile, the real Vikings -- the team, not the Scandinavian warriors -- will unveil their new uniforms April 25.
Paul Lukas expects the Vikings' new uniforms to be a big improvement over what they currently wear. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his daily Uni Watch website, 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.