Chiefs uniforms maintain tradition while undergoing dramatic technological overhaul

Posted Apr 3, 2012

New Nike uniforms gain approval from players and front office

BROOKLYN, NY – The best way to describe Nike NFL’s Uniform Launch: Football meets Iron Man.

Between the laser light shows, fog machines and the sensation of movement offered through surround sound accompanying a massive HD video screen, Nike’s NFL uniform “experience” resembled a Tony Stark production from the movie Iron Man.

The fact that Nike’s launch was held at Steiner Studios, the largest US film and production studio complex outside of Hollywood, only enhanced the surreal movie-like feel of the event.

However, behind all the glitz and glamour of Nike’s production was a breakthrough in football technology. The NFL is changing through its partnership with Nike, but upholding tradition at the same time.

The Chiefs’ new Nike uniforms underwent dramatic changes with Nike. Not in look, but in the way they are constructed.

“Maintaining the traditional look of our uniform is something that was very important to our family,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “We are one of the few teams in the NFL whose uniform has changed very little over 50-plus years. We spent a lot of time working with Nike trying to find the right balance between the technologies they were introducing, but always maintaining our traditional look.”

Visually, the most notable change to the Chiefs’ jersey was moving the secondary numbers from the sleeve to the shoulder pad while re-defining the boldness of the team’s stripes to close off the sleeve.

The shade of red maintained its traditional color as well, but comes off bolder and less shiny thanks to Nike’s new material.

“It’s a proud moment for us to take the heritage and the history of the Kansas City Chiefs and bring the innovation side of things to the uniform while maintaining that proud heritage,” said Todd Van Horne, a lead designer of Nike’s new NFL uniforms.

Before laying out any type of design work with each franchise, Nike’s team of engineers went to the players.

The feedback they received resulted in a complete overhaul of uniform fit and technology.

“I want a uniform that is lightweight and durable,” explained WR Dwayne Bowe, who served as Kansas City’s player model at the launch. “I want it to be able to last four quarters without being drenched in water and I don’t want it sagging down for guys to tackle me. This jersey is fitted for your body.

“With this technology, first off, the numbers are not as stiff. These jerseys are very flexible in the arms for making those tough catches that maybe you couldn’t make before. It’s just so comfortable; I can’t even explain it to you. I had this on all day like it was a regular outfit, so you can imagine how I feel about the new uniforms.”

Bowe’s needs mirrored those of the 31 other players on hand for Nike’s unveiling.

 “First and foremost, what the athletes have told us is that the jersey is lighter weight and they have more mobility,” Van Horne explained. “Part of it is that the jersey has four-way stretch material.

“It really fits them tight where they want it tight and offers a lock down fit. There is also zone ventilation that allows airflow to enter in and around the torso and exit out the back through the lower lumbar area.”

Both the jersey and the pant are constructed out of water-shedding material that maintains its fit regardless of weather conditions.

Aesthetically, Seattle was the only team to make sweeping changes to its uniform. Most teams mirrored the Chiefs preference for overhauling technology while upholding tradition.

 “It was very important to me that the color remained traditional Chiefs red,” Hunt said. “Nike did a great job of hitting that.

“The numbers, which have traditionally been up on the sleeve have moved up on to the shoulder pad. That was really just a by-product of the uniform fitting very tightly over the shoulder of the players and there wasn’t room to continue to have the numbers on the sleeve. We thought the right compromise was to move the numbers up on to the shoulder pads.”

Minor alternations were also made to the team’s jersey collar, pants and socks to accommodate Nike’s new technology.

Kansas City’s helmets, featuring the iconic Arrowhead logo, were left unaltered.

 “It’s definitely a change, but it goes back to the tradition of the Chiefs and that’s the way we like it,” Bowe said.

The new jerseys will be available for purchase on draft weekend with pre-order opportunities opening in several weeks.

Number and Stripe Changes

Notice the increased focus and new positioning of the iconic stripes on the sleeve. They are bigger and bolder with numbers moved to the top of the shoulder.

Jersey Technology

The four-way stitch material can be seen with different textures featured throughout the jersey. Numbers are made of new, thinner material and more flexible for player comfort.

Pant Technology

Water resistant pants feature full inner-lining of pads and increased air flow throughout the side panels.

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