There are good-looking teams, there are bad-looking teams, and then there are the Cincinnati Bengals, who exist in a stylistic universe all their own.
Where to begin? There are the white side panels on the jerseys, which have never made any sense. There are the clownish stripes on the pants, which look sort of like a tiger's tail (if a tiger had two tails, one on each thigh). There are the assorted brutal uniform combos, like solid black and orange over black.
And that's not even counting the NFL's most polarizing helmet design, which looks like either a tiger's head or a Halloween outfit, depending on your point of view. Granted, it's an innovative concept, and some people love it. But many others have never warmed up to it.
In short: The Bengals look like a mess out there. There's a fine line between uniform and costume, and they've been on the wrong side of it for decades. The Bengals are such a hallmark of bad sports design that they've become the basis for a pejorative adjective here at Uni Watch HQ: Bengalian, as in "That design fails on a near-Bengalian level." (That "near-" qualifier is important, because almost no sports designs fail on an actual Bengalian level.)
In a perfect world, the Bengals would realize the aesthetic error of their ways and give themselves a makeover. But since they've shown no inclination to do that themselves, we're going to have to do it for them. That's the basis of our latest Uni Watch design challenge: Redesign the Bengals!
Here are the ground rules:
• Your entry must include a primary logo, full home and road uniforms (helmet, jersey, pants, socks), and up to two alternate, Color Rush, or throwback uniforms. If you like, you can also include secondary logos and a field design, but those aren't required.
• You can maintain some of the team's current elements (the helmet design, say, or the color scheme), draw upon the team's visual history, or start from scratch and change everything. Up to you.
• Your designs can be created in any digital or analog medium (Illustrator, Photoshop, crayon, whatever) and can be submitted in any standard digital format (JPG, PDF, TIFF, etc.). You can also create a video presentation, upload it to YouTube, and submit the YouTube link as your entry.
• The files you submit should be named after yourself (JohnDoe.jpg, for example). If you're submitting multiple files, please either number them (JohnDoe1.jpg, JohnDoe2.jpg, etc.) or use some other designation (JohnDoe-HomeUni.jpg, JohnDoe-logo.jpg, etc.). Files that don't follow this format will not be considered.
• In keeping with longstanding Uni Watch chromatic policy, entries with even a hint of purple will not be considered.
• Email your entry to Uni Watch HQ. If you have more than one concept, feel free to enter as many times as you like.
• Deadline: Submit all entries by July 12. We'll showcase the best entries here on SI.com shortly thereafter. Good luck, and godspeed—if our contest helps to nudge the Bengals in a new design direction, it will practically qualify as a public service.
Official Legal Disclaimers! No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. See complete rules for more.
Paul Lukas has been writing about uniforms for 20 years. You can read his daily Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for his mailing list. Want to learn more about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.