Seahawks: a Retrospective on Uniforms

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The Seahawks are off to an 8-5 start and surely there are better things talk about than uniforms, but this last week after the Hawks put down the Minnesota Vikings and firmly cemented a Wild Card spot, NFL fans were treated to the god awful Action Green uniforms again. Of the 10 uniforms that the Seahawks have had it is quite easily the most nauseating and best left for the occasional preseason game or gag white elephant present.
The Action Green unis are a nod to what was supposed to be, a one and done nod to the Seattle Sounders back in 2010. Many fans saw it as a portent of doom as the “one and done” head coach Jim Mora Jr had a post game meltdown as the Seahawks lost to Chicago on a issued field goal by an “idiot kicker.” It was this jersey that launched a 5-11 season removing Mora as head coach and eschewed the brighter color schemes in the Pete Carroll era.

That isn’t to say that the original 1976 jersey was the end all be all for all. The original away uniforms were pretty bland. There was piping with a bright lash green on the pants and sleeves, but did that really do it for any one? Perhaps the effort was conservative and inline with the other teams in the NFL, but a silver helmet and silver pants on white, looked a bit washed out.

This boring look has been emulated in the Seahawks current #3 alternate jersey in “Wolf Grey.” This is a pretty darn boring design, a notch above those 1976 outfits, but not much. When I see these Wolf Grey outfits all I can think of is “did anyone wash last week’s jerseys?” Furthermore, it seems even the Seahawks don’t like this jersey as they rarely ever use them: in fact, it seems they have used the Action green more often. It is hard to get angry at the Jack Patera era unis as many of us don’t even remember them as they were changed pretty quickly during the 80’s and the Chuck Knox era.

The 1980s saw an upgrade in the design of the original outfits. Player numbers were moved to the shoulder pads and the iconic Native American design became prominent on the sleeves. The piping on the pants also became more prominent as green became a fashion statement uniquely distinguishing the Seahawks among other teams when they were in their road whites.

By far, the best road uniforms however, were in the Mike Holmgren era in 2002. The color of blue goes from a basic color to a metallic color. As well, the green accents get revamped it turns into more of a lime color. The infusion of color but remaining understated makes a much better road outfit that fit the personality of head coach Chuck Knox. It was a good upgrade from the original offering.

And I know what many of you are thinking, “what about the current Hawks white unis? And to that I respond that they just not as good as the previous iteration but better than the original. The sleeves feature a Nike swoosh that reeks of “sellout” and horizontal blue stripe on the upper chest seems forced and woefully out of place. Additionally, the pants piping is trying far too hard to get that Action Green to fit in where it really isn’t wanted. I know, I know, a lot of people love this look—but I feel like a lot of people temper that opinion with a certain Super Bowl, where the greatest defense in NFL history defeated the greatest offense in the Denver Broncos. Don’t let success fool you when it comes to a choice in unis, cuz there is no comparison, the Hawks looked best on the road with a toss sweep to Shawn Alexander with Steve Hutchinson and Walter Jones mowing down the bad guys.

Let’s move on to the home uniforms and start with my least favorite. While the Holmgren era white unis are my favorite, the home jerseys are the absolute worst (with the exception to the Action Green). Straight up head to toe metallic blue with a meaner looking Seahawk logo, made for a boring look and screamed “cash grab” when it was instituted. The all blue was reminiscent to Canadian football teams or even the University of Oregon but unlike Oregon, it had no flair as the metallic color was a boring color of blue in its absurd quantity. Maybe it is the old-timer in me, but it screams new Seattle and not the one I grew up with.

And similar to the road unis, as much as I like the Holmgren era road white jerseys, I am very partial to the Pete Carroll era unis. It screams attitude matching the personality of the team that wore it. It has enough infusion of color that it doesn’t get washed out and the piping on the pants doesn’t look out of place rather it seems very complimentary. I still don’t like the Nike logo being prominent, but the use of action green works on a palate of blue far better than on the road whites.

The 1976 original unis are not a masterpiece. But they do have the absolute best logo in the NFL. There are some iconic logos, like the Green Bay “G” or the Dallas Cowboy star; there are some aesthetically pleasing helmets logos like the Rams or the Vikings; but there are only a few unique helmet logos that are iconic, pleasing, and definitive of the area that the team comes from. Pittsburgh Steelers have one of them—but lets face it, if you aren’t from Pennsylvania, do you really know what those 3 stars are? Someone explained it to me once, but I have forgotten and don’t care to look it up. But the other iconic logo is that Seahawk. Instantaneously, you get a symmetry, a fierceness, and callback to the heritage of the original peoples who lived in the Seattle area.

But that isn’t my favorite uniform of all time. It is the 80s / 90’s brand home unis. They took a good design and improved on it. With the classic helmet a strong and powerful blue color this is the uniform that should be the current Seahawk’s alternative jersey. If it weren’t for some idiotic rule that you cant have more than one helmet color in the NFL, this should the uni that the Hawks at home on Thursdays or Monday night football. If the NFL would just reverse it’s decision, jersey sales would go thru the roof for these legacy unis. But unfortunately, the NFL makes a lot of bad decisions and we are stuck with a lesser product for it.


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