Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Color Rush Reaction and Review

This morning, the Packers unveiled their "Color Rush" uniforms, which they will wear Thursday, Oct. 20, when the Chicago Bears come to Lambeau Field.

This league-wide promotion, introduced last year, involves the teams dressing in a single, defining color. And the Packers' defining color is... White.

This is the first time since the 1950s that the Packers will wear white at home, with the exception of the first two games of the 1989 season.

Here's the whole lineup. Click to enlarge:

And a closer look at Clay:

The Color Rush promotion dresses players in a single color, shoulder-to-toe (nly the NFL's "one helmet" rule keeps teams from matching their shells to the rest of the uniform). That single color must be drawn from the team's existing color palette, either a current color or one worn in the past. That means the options facing the Packers were: navy blue, forest green, kelly green, dark sea green, gold, or white.

That means the Packers could have used this chance to wear a 1950s throwback; in that decade the team wore a variety of monochromatic uniforms; all-gold, all-green and all-white.

To top it off, the current gold helmets, stripped of their decals, would have been period-appropriate for either the mono=green or mono=gold throwback. But alas, the Packers chose to go in a different direction.

Instead of designing a total throwback, the Packers will be wearing their regular helmet and road jersey, only with a new pair of white pants to match.

On the one hand, I appreciate that the Packers aren't just cashing in with a brand-new jersey to sell, as almost every other team has:

On the other hand, I hate the Packers' road jersey. And I dislike pairing it with a matching set of white pants. It's a further watering down of Lombardi's classic uniform, but to understand that we must first talk about where the current white jerseys look the way we do.

In the Beginning...

Young Packer fans may not even realize that the Packers departed from Lombardi's road design decades ago. When Vince took over in 1959, he overhauled the Packers' uniforms and colors. On the road, his team wore white jerseys with alternating green and gold stripes on the collar, sleeves and socks.

Coach Lombardi later tweaked the road uniform slightly, abandoning the road socks and simplifying the pants stripes to the green/white/green "Braisher Stripe" pattern found on the team's helmets. socks and home jerseys.

But the jersey stripes remained untouched, three on the neck and five on the sleeve.

1960s Boyd Dowler Green Bay Packers Game Worn Road Jersey
(Mile High Card Company)

Through five World Championships and the first two Super Bowls, this road jersey was an important part of the Packers' classic visual legacy.

80's "Improvments"

It endured until 1984, when former offensive tackle Forrest Gregg took over as head coach, and put his own spin on Lombardi's uniform.

In addition to adding gold stripes and numbers to the pants, he overhauled the jersey, adding "Dad" Braisher's "G" logo to the sleeves and adding thin white stripes in between the green and gold.

1984-86 Gerry Ellis Green Bay Packers Game Worn Road Jersey

This brought the road jersey striping pattern closer in line with the Braisher stripes found on the home jersey. But where the green/white/green is bold and unmistakeable even at a distance, the green/white/gold/white/green pattern is muddy and unclear. There's not enough contrast between the white and gold, so they easily blend together into a light-colored blob.

Forrest Gregg didn't last long as the Packers' head coach, but elements of his design are still with us today. The Packers chipped away at it over the following few years, bringing back many elements of the 60s design, but left his road jersey striping design in place.

...Which Brings Us to Today

These road stripes are the only thing I can't stand about the Packers' uniforms, and I'm very unhappy that they're expanding it. I'm further concerned that these white pants will make their way into the regular rotation; I don't want to see them with the green home jerseys.

What Might Have Been

Since the NFL gave them no choice but to participate in the Color Rush promotion this year, I wish the Packers had considered a throwback to Lombardi's original striping pattern. A slight tweak would have made it so much better:

Could have been a win-win. This would have honored the Packers' history within the Color Rush promotional confines, not to mention given the Packers a new throwback jersey to stock at the Pro Shop.

Ah, the road not traveled. With a little luck, this will be a one-off, as easily forgotten as those previous two games where the Packers wore white at Lambeau.

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