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Yes, the New York Jets’ uniform change does, indeed, matter

New York Jets Uniforms
New York Jets Uniforms, Getty Images

A football team’s uniform matters, which includes the Jets latest update

The tortured souls who peruse X (formerly Twitter) long enough will undoubtedly run into one of the many similarly tortured New York Jets fans who utter the following phrase: “I don’t care what you guys wear, as long as you start winning games!”

Actually, wait a moment … . “Perusing long enough” isn’t even close to accurate.

Instead, simply open the app formerly known as Twitter, go to the Jets official account, and check out the comments on any uniform redesign post. The above quote will appear numerous times, whereas others pile it on with, “Each player could wear pink onesies coupled with unmatching Richard Nixon masks; as long as you win, I don’t care what the uniforms look like!”

Despite the admittedly internet-tough-guy (or gal) emphasis, make no mistake about it: Fans would indeed care if their team took the field in pink onesies with rabbit ear hats.

A football team’s uniform is anything but meaningless. It’s just not as simple as trying to find a reason why actual garb makes a football player run faster or block stronger.

Instead, it boils down to identity. (Well, that is unless a football has Iron Man playing center. In that case, the individual’s outer material is a bit more impactful.)

On Monday, April 15, 2024, the New York Jets unveiled their uniform redesign, which is the first step of an identity-searching offseason.

Reminisce about the Jets teams of yesteryear

What was the identity of the Rex Ryan teams that surprisingly rolled their way to back-to-back AFC championship games (2009, 2010)? The knowledgeable Jets fan answers similarly: Rex’s squads featured an aggressively attacking defense that sent players at the quarterback from all angles, one of the best special teams units in the league, and a ground-and-pound offense that relied on a studly offensive line that mauled their way to rushing yards.

Now, this quick: What was the Adam Gase-led Jets’ identity?

Although a great percentage of fans would have plenty of answers to this question—most of which feature the infamous NSFW tag—none of the responding answers would result in a true identity leading to football success.

Identity in football is crucial, and a team’s uniform is a part of that squad’s identity—if only to a modest degree.

Substance over style

“But Robby, if uniforms are so critical to a team’s success, why didn’t the 2019 Jets succeed? After all, that season marked the last Jets rebrand.”

First and foremost, I’m not claiming that the uniform is ever a great reason for a team’s success or failure. It’s just one part of a jigsaw puzzle en route to a squad’s potential identity.

Secondly, substance is always more critical than style—and the 2019 Jets never understood this.

From J.B. Smoove’s uniform party to the desperate Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley free agency signings, the 2019 offseason was all style. The only thing they nailed down correctly was replacing former general manager Mike Maccagnan with current front office boss Joe Douglas.

The social media-heavy Jets fans combined forces with Jamal Adams and Darron Lee to help the organization believe a rebrand was necessary. Not only was that a falsehood, but it led to an even stranger identity crisis for the franchise—with a modernized uniform that should easily be described as the team’s all-time worst.

Bill Parcells understood identity

Although the 2019 and 1998 offseasons both featured a Jets rebrand, only one featured actual substance.

After a shocking 9-7 record in 1997—where a game in Detroit separated them from the NFL playoffs—Bill Parcells took the next step in rebuilding a football program that enjoyed prolonged success (1998-2010).

Parcells led the charge to switch the uniforms from the 1980s green-helmet look to the Super Bowl 3 white-helmet look for all the correct reasons. Then-San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci said it best before the Jets’ Week 1 matchup at Candlestick Park: Well, I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something by way of uniform admiration for the classic look.

Despite Garrison Hearst breaking every Jets fan’s heart that day, Parcells led New York to its first-ever AFC East division championship (12-4) and an AFC title game appearance that year.

So yeah, substance is actually needed—if a uniform rebrand is to experience any on-field success.

Feel better, look better, play better: en route to a true identity

A football player’s in-season life is a grind. Imagine the daily routine, and then imagine the feeling of a player walking to his locker room, banged up and bruised, only to then stare at an ugly and ridiculous jersey hanging in his locker room.

Yeah, that’s not too sweet. (Cue the incoming, “Hey, they’re professionals!,” comments.)

Nonetheless, there is something to owning the culture of one’s surroundings. There’s a truth in a football player wholly buying into the program’s environment versus buying in at the socially acceptable level.

A uniform redesign that fully hits the mark is something of a magical boost. The fans are hyped to an extraordinary level, the players feel the buzz, and the team’s energy is catapulted to an unspoken yet extremely real degree.

Although the Jets’ new jerseys tip a cap towards an era that saw much more losing than winning, that’s not the trigger in this case. For Parcells in 1998, the trigger was a fresh identity, to think back to the 1968 glory days.

This time around, it’s a classic look to rid everybody of the “mistake for distraction’s sake.” Twenty-nineteen showcased no legitimate head coach, zero evidence for the front office having an actual football vision, and desperate free-agent signings and parties required to distract the fanbase.

Twenty-twenty-four bleeds traditional vibes with a quiet launch—as the news was correctly delivered on the internet with no celebrity guest host, party or absurd buzz.

In a lot of ways, the 2024 and 1998 rebrands are incredibly similar in nature. Both paid homage to the past, both were announced in a workmanlike fashion, and both served a legitimate purpose with an eye on the future.

No, folks, a team’s uniform can’t work magic by way of running faster, blocking stronger or winning actual football games. But what it can do is kickstart, help or even cement a cultural vision for a program.

It can help solidify a team’s identity—if only as the symbol that leads to the true identity at the end of the road.

Yes, a team’s uniform does matter, and on Monday, April 15, 2024, the New York Jets took another strong step in the direction of shaping their ultimate identity.

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1 month ago

The next step in identity building is getting their own stadium with a retractable roof, and one of those grass field they roll in like the European Soccer. The days of “bad weather, being real football” are long over. It’s a new era of, prop bets, fantasy football, passing attacks, and player safety. How many games did they play in the rain last year? I think 5 or 6 of the home games. Playing on sloppy fields can’t be good for player safety.

We don’t need to have people “proving their manhood” by playing in weather that has some fans getting amputations like the KC fans from the AFC Championship games.

Time for a new stadium to go with the fresh identity of the uniforms.