April 23, 2013
Jacksonville wideout Justin Blackmon sports one of the Jaguars' sleek new uniforms.
Courtesy of Nike/

As Jacksonville hunts for a better position in the standings, new uniforms will help bring them out of the shadows. At least visually.

The Jaguars released their set of three new looks -- jerseys include black, white and teal -- offering up the NFL's first two-toned, faded-color helmet, starting with a matte black on the front and fading into Jacksonville gold, an embodiment of a jaguar coming out of the shadows to hunt.

Along with the new design, certainly highlighted by the helmet, comes a slightly revised Jaguar logo -- the fangs got sharper, the tongue more teal and the wordmark "JAGS" included -- and hits of color from pants to lids.

"As players, this is something we look forward to," Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon told SI.com. "It is always fun to have something new and different that you can call yours."

With black pants the only option shown during the uniform unveiling -- Blackmon loves the "black on black look" -- expect the shadow theme to play dominantly in the on-field uniform choices, especially with the new shoulder markings. Mimicking claw scratches, a new application gives certain parts of the shoulders a shiny appearance and others a matte look.

A custom-made Jacksonville font adds angularity -- at a level far beyond what other teams have used in an effort to further distance themselves from the NFL's other 31 teams -- for the numerals and back nameplate. "I like the way the numbers are," Blackmon says. "They are a different type and people usually just use a generic number. These have a little flair to them."

When Nike took over the NFL's on-field and sideline gear contract in April 2012 the only team to carry out an aggressive redesign of its uniform was the Seattle Seahawks. Jacksonville is the next to completely overhaul its entire visual identity.

The technology of the uniform includes nine different materials, from breathability zones, four-way stretch fabrics, stretch-fit materials for fewer grab points and even tension strands in the collar to turn an easy-to-grab spot into a tight fit. The jersey comes to teams in three basic cuts, one for line players, one for skill players and another for quarterbacks, says Todd Van Horne, Nike's football creative director. But each team has its own tailor and individualizes the fit from there.

"All have nuances of shoulder length, sleeve openings or tightness of jersey," Van Horne says. "Then it gets to the individual athlete and their preferences."

Blackmon says the most important aspect to him is fit. "I need a nice, tight fit so I can reach out and stretch in different ways," he says. "I want to have a jersey I can put on that basically feels like I'm not wearing anything, that you can do all the things outside of the jersey as in the jersey."

The new logo, with placement on the sides of the two-toned helmet, also gets worn inside a patch over the left breast and on the side of the uniform pant. The NFL design team worked with the Jags to create the logo; Jacksonville teamed with Nike to build the new uniforms.

Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan really wanted to provide a "new direction" with the uniforms that included offering modern colors, Van Horne says. The 18-month design process, which includes researching inspiration and toying with new materials and applications (as seen on the shoulder), proves an aggressive timetable, but one that gets Jacksonville a new look before Thursday's NFL draft.

The modern color gets noticed right away, with a sharp teal stripe -- paying homage to the sky and water in Jacksonville -- on the uniform pant, teal playing heavily on the sleeves and, of course, the gold on the helmet tying with gold trim throughout the uniform.

"A lot of design references came in the way a jaguar hunts," Van Horne says. "They hunt in the shadow, so it was super exciting to be able to do that."

For all its fanfare, Blackmon admits he enjoys the ballyhoo surrounding the uniforms. "It gives the fans something to look forward to," he says. "When you have options, you let them try and figure out what we're wearing and nobody knows what we are going to come out in. I'm sure we'll mix it up during the season."

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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