Thursday, May 31, 2018

Steelers give the fans what they want

By Paul Lukas
May 30, 2018
When you cover the uniform world, you tend to hear certain refrains from fans, especially regarding the NFL. Dolphins fans are always saying, "I wish they'd bring back the original 'leaping dolphin' helmet," for example, and a certain contingent of Patriots fans is forever calling for the return of the old "Pat Patriot" helmet.
But that's nothing compared to Pittsburgh Steelers fans, most of whom have spent the past two decades saying -- nay, shouting -- "Bring back the block numbers already!"
This year they're finally getting their wish, at least for one game.
The Steelers on Wednesday unveiled a new 1978 throwback uniform, timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the team's Super Bowl XIII-winning season. The uniforms feature the familiar block jersey numerals that the Steelers wore up until 1997, when they switched to their current sleek, italic number font.
The throwback design, which will be worn for a home game against the Browns on Oct. 28, also includes traditional block lettering for the players' nameplates. It replaces the team's 1930s "bumblebee" throwback uniform, which had been widely derided by many fans since its introduction in 2012.
The 1978 design is sure to be a crowd-pleaser (that noise you hear in the background is Steelers fans saying, "They should wear it every week, not just once!"). But at the risk of drizzling on everyone's parade, here are two small bones of contention:
• Aside from the block typography, and the removal of the Steelers' logo chest patch, the new throwback is the same as the team's primary home uniform -- same helmet design, same pants, same socks. That's not much of a throwback. If the design had been based on the Steelers' Super Bowl IX or X teams, at least the throwback helmets would have had gray face masks. Instead, the new throwbacks will use black masks, just like the team's standard look.
• Some fans, your friendly uniform columnist among them, had hoped that the Steelers' new throwback would be based on the team's old "Batman" design from the late 1960s. Granted, the team didn't win any Super Bowls (or many games, period) while sporting that uni, but it's still a sharp look. Here's hoping it eventually gets the throwback treatment.
But those are ultimately small quibbles, not major criticisms. And it's hard to argue with a team giving its fans what they want. Grade: A-
Paul Lukas has a feeling he may have to wait a long time to see those Batman throwbacks. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

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