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1997 Steelers' Nike Prototypes


Gothamite

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I found this very bad photo on Google News of the Steelers unveiling their new, Nike-designed jerseys in early 1997.

1997_SteelersUnveilNumbers.jpg

I've always hated the italized number font, but it looks as though it was tweaked between the unveiling and production.

SteelerNumberVariations.jpg

The game-used jersey I used for the comparison was from 2001, but the 1997 gamer has the same numbers:

20035a_med.jpeg

Has anybody ever seen that prototype number font before?

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Could it just be the way it's being worn? Bettis' doesn't seem to have the inconsistent weights.

Also, IIRC, the early white jerseys had black NOB letters instead of the current yellow outlined in black.

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I don't know - I would expect a bad image to distort the numbers, but not necessarily in that way. And the photo of Bettis so bad, I don't know that we can reliably extrapolate anything about his numbers other than the upstroke of the "6" seems to be unchanged.

I'd really love to see a better copy of this photo.

And you're absolutely right about the black NOB - I didn't notice that in the auction image above.

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Did a quick archive search on that paper and saw an article that mentioned the font they went with is Futura Condensed Italic. Maybe that's old news but just in case. You have to pay to see entire articles so maybe a Steelers fan will take that on, it doesn't interest me enough to part with $$. B)

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I've always HATED this crappy font, bring back the block.

I don't like it either, but I wouldn't be opposed to the Steelers using Purdue's current number font:

70214_Purdue_Indiana_Football.jpg

It's more industrial-looking, more readable, and less awkward. I'd also like to see the Steelers ditch those massive sleeve stripes too, those simply don't work in this day and age.

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I've always HATED this crappy font, bring back the block.

It's more industrial-looking, more readable, and less awkward. I'd also like to see the Steelers ditch those massive sleeve stripes too, those simply don't work in this day and age.

Ummm no. The Steelers will probably keep it that way for years to come. The Lions have massive sleeve stripes, they don't look terrible. Also, how does it not work in this day and age? Plenty of classic teams use sleeve stripes.

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I'm not against the Steelers having italicized numbers (after all, IIRC, they were on their helmets even before they were on the jerseys) but the specific font they use now is atrocious.

the numbers need to be slightly less italicized and thicker like the stickers...that would be a huge improvement

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I've always HATED this crappy font, bring back the block.

It's more industrial-looking, more readable, and less awkward. I'd also like to see the Steelers ditch those massive sleeve stripes too, those simply don't work in this day and age.

Ummm no. The Steelers will probably keep it that way for years to come. The Lions have massive sleeve stripes, they don't look terrible. Also, how does it not work in this day and age? Plenty of classic teams use sleeve stripes.

They look silly on the Lions as well. The main reason sleeve stripes don't work is because the jerseys simply don't have sleeves. They're basically just patches that happen to be in a striping pattern, because they only occupy the space between two seams and don't (well, can't) go all the way around. It's the proverbial square peg in the round hole. As the uniforms get even tighter and have fewer seams, they're look even more ridiculous.

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I've always HATED this crappy font, bring back the block.

It's more industrial-looking, more readable, and less awkward. I'd also like to see the Steelers ditch those massive sleeve stripes too, those simply don't work in this day and age.

Ummm no. The Steelers will probably keep it that way for years to come. The Lions have massive sleeve stripes, they don't look terrible. Also, how does it not work in this day and age? Plenty of classic teams use sleeve stripes.

They look silly on the Lions as well. The main reason sleeve stripes don't work is because the jerseys simply don't have sleeves. They're basically just patches that happen to be in a striping pattern, because they only occupy the space between two seams and don't (well, can't) go all the way around. It's the proverbial square peg in the round hole. As the uniforms get even tighter and have fewer seams, they're look even more ridiculous.

You are absolutely right on every point here. On the current jersey cuts, sleeve stripes are a mess. But getting rid of the sleeve stripes is not the only solution. How about this for crazy, out of the box, thinking?

Bring back sleeves? IMO, the whole "super-tight-super-short" sleeve business is all about the players thinking it looks cool and showing off their HGH-induced guns. If there is some competitive advantage, it?s miniscule, and would be mitigated by making everybody wear the exact same sleeve, say a league mandated halfway between the end of the shoulder pad and elbow. And with the modern advances in fabrics, that sleeve could be made tight enough to have the same effect on preventing holding that the lack of sleeves supposedly does. I keep reading how brilliant Nike is from all the swoosh-honks on this board? make it happen.

I understand that the players wouldn't like it... so what? They hate most of the NFL uniform rules, but they wear knee length socks because they aren't given a choice.

I'm sick of looking at every New York Giant lineman's gross arm pit. (What is the deal with that team?)

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I've always HATED this crappy font, bring back the block.

It's more industrial-looking, more readable, and less awkward. I'd also like to see the Steelers ditch those massive sleeve stripes too, those simply don't work in this day and age.

Ummm no. The Steelers will probably keep it that way for years to come. The Lions have massive sleeve stripes, they don't look terrible. Also, how does it not work in this day and age? Plenty of classic teams use sleeve stripes.

They look silly on the Lions as well. The main reason sleeve stripes don't work is because the jerseys simply don't have sleeves. They're basically just patches that happen to be in a striping pattern, because they only occupy the space between two seams and don't (well, can't) go all the way around. It's the proverbial square peg in the round hole. As the uniforms get even tighter and have fewer seams, they're look even more ridiculous.

If they must have sleeve stripes I think this sorta works

TroyPolamalu.jpg

but this

Dallas+Cowboys+v+Pittsburgh+Steelers+P3emlEIGyXil.jpg

Brett+Keisel+Pittsburgh+Steelers+v+Baltimore+UUqhTReNVBzl.jpg

looks terrible.

The steelers either need to shrink their sleeve stripes so they can fit on every player the way they fit on Polamalu or they need to move away from sleeve stripes altogether. I vote in favor of scrapping them altogether.

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I think a good scale-down a la the way the Packers did back in the mid-'90s would go a long way towards improving the aesthetics of those stripes...but I DON'T think they should lose them altogether, because if that were to happen, the jerseys would essentially lose their "Steeler" essence--which I'm firmly aware some would say that already happened when they switched to the Futura italicized numbers.

Which segues me into this point...I prefer the current numbers. It's their way of adding a slight modern touch to what's otherwise a classic look, one-sided helmet decal and all. And to the point of whoever it was that posted about Purdue's numbers up top somewhere...those are straight-up horrible. The difference in what the Steelers have now and what Nike designed for Purdue is this: one's a faithful and very slight customization of an actual font (Futura), while the other is an obvious customization-for-the-sake-of-customization--in other words, a bastardized version of DIN. It's one thing to have unique numbers...but it's another when they're an obvious CFCS job. And not to veer off-topic, but this is the difference in what the Jaguars used to have, what the Eagles and Ravens have now, and say, what the Lions and Chargers currently use. In the case of the Jags, Eagles and Ravens, those numbers look like they could stand alone as part of an actual font (one of them, the Ravens, actually is--a slightly customized version of Matrix, while to me it appears that the Jaguars' old numbers and the Eagles' numbers were both customized from the same base font--can JP or another fontologist out there confirm/deny?), while the Lions' teardrop numbers and those bastardized-Agency numbers the Chargers used are obvious over-customized jobs (in my opinion, of course), as are the current Jaguars' numbers. And then of course, you have those that fall into the middle of the spectrum somewhere, like the Atlanta Falcons--I don't necessarily hate them, but I've never really been a fan of them either, while I have come around on the Arizona Cardinals' current block numbers--those have actualy aged pretty daggone well.

Anyway, back to the Steelers... ^_^

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I think a good scale-down a la the way the Packers did back in the mid-'90s would go a long way towards improving the aesthetics of those stripes...but I DON'T think they should lose them altogether, because if that were to happen, the jerseys would essentially lose their "Steeler" essence--which I'm firmly aware some would say that already happened when they switched to the Futura italicized numbers.

Which segues me into this point...I prefer the current numbers. It's their way of adding a slight modern touch to what's otherwise a classic look, one-sided helmet decal and all. And to the point of whoever it was that posted about Purdue's numbers up top somewhere...those are straight-up horrible. The difference in what the Steelers have now and what Nike designed for Purdue is this: one's a faithful and very slight customization of an actual font (Futura), while the other is an obvious customization-for-the-sake-of-customization--in other words, a bastardized version of DIN. It's one thing to have unique numbers...but it's another when they're an obvious CFCS job. And not to veer off-topic, but this is the difference in what the Jaguars used to have, what the Eagles and Ravens have now, and say, what the Lions and Chargers currently use. In the case of the Jags, Eagles and Ravens, those numbers look like they could stand alone as part of an actual font (one of them, the Ravens, actually is--a slightly customized version of Matrix, while to me it appears that the Jaguars' old numbers and the Eagles' numbers were both customized from the same base font--can JP or another fontologist out there confirm/deny?), while the Lions' teardrop numbers and those bastardized-Agency numbers the Chargers used are obvious over-customized jobs (in my opinion, of course), as are the current Jaguars' numbers. And then of course, you have those that fall into the middle of the spectrum somewhere, like the Atlanta Falcons--I don't necessarily hate them, but I've never really been a fan of them either, while I have come around on the Arizona Cardinals' current block numbers--those have actualy aged pretty daggone well.

Anyway, back to the Steelers... ^_^

Eagles font is a customization of Schadow Black Condensed, shown here: http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/bitstream/schadow/black-condensed/

Jaguars look custom, both current and previous versions.

Steelers is Futura.

Bengals is DIN (see USMNT from late 90s/early 00s).

Ravens is Matrix (which could also be used for the Dolphins, in theory, since the wordmark is Matrix Script).

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