Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

NFL Runway with Vinny and Dave: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Dave Bernreuther and Vincent Verhei

Vince: Before we wrap this series up with our last division (which, ironically includes some of the NFL's oldest teams), we have some new business on other divisions to discuss.

1) In our look at the AFC West, we discussed the Chargers' full-time switch to powder blues and yellow facemasks. I was cautiously optimistic, but I wanted to wait until we saw what they looked like in games before rendering my final judgment. Well, preseason is here, and while the powder blues have not been unveiled as of this writing, we have seen the yellow facemasks in action -- and I can already tell I'm going to like them. It's a subtle thing that makes a world of difference.

Dave: My snap judgment was that these would be bad. My snap judgment was wrong. I love it.



2) Speaking of AFC teams with new uniforms, we have now seen the Jets' new threads under the lights (the white ones, anyway). It's immediately clear that these colors are a huge improvement.

Dave: The green looks fantastic. I'm still crabby about the lack of the speedbird.



3) Now we revisit the NFC North, where I lamented that Minnesota's classic uniforms often featured helmets and jerseys in different shades of purple. Apparently this kind of thing is a Vikings tradition -- I never noticed it, but the helmets didn't even match the jerseys last year. Now they have taken steps to correct that.



You and I may be the only ones who can even tell the difference, but yes, those helmets are lighter -- and, since they match the jerseys, better.



4) Finally, and apropos of nothing, please do me a solid and go buy Football Outsiders Almanac 2019 in either PDF or hard copy right now. Better yet, buy 'em both.

With all that said … how 'bout them Cowboys?







(All graphics appear courtesy of

Vince: I have such powerfully conflicted emotions about Dallas' uniforms. I hate that they almost always wear white jerseys -- and when they do, I hate that the silver in their helmet doesn't show up anywhere else in the uniform. I hate that the navy blue star on the helmet doesn't match the royal blue in the jersey numbers. I hate that the silvery green pants don't match the blue in the star or the blue in the numbers or the silver in the helmet -- or, for that matter, anything else in nature. I hate that the royal blue numbers don't have outlines even though the royal blue stripes on the sleeves do -- but then, I even hate those outlines, because they are black, and there is no black to be found anywhere else in this uniform.

But then one year the Cowboys came to Seattle to play the Seahawks at night, and I went to the game and saw them in person, and … oh man. The TV cameras do NOT do those things justice. Everything stands out so brightly and sharply. They don't just look shiny, they look luminescent, like they are producing light themselves. In person, these uniforms are breathtaking.

Dave: You think? I've seen them in person and found them just as full of conflict as you describe on TV. If anything, the pants seemed greener and even more out of place.

I'm never one to argue with long-standing tradition. In fact, I'm as likely as anyone to pardon bad choices on account of history. But man I hate that the Cowboys wear white so often, and I hate that for years, only two division rivals -- Washington, who also defaulted to white at home, and Philadelphia, who apparently did it for spite -- forced them to wear their navy set. I *really* hate it, because the current navy non-throwback set that dates back to 1996 is easily one of the top five uniforms in football.

Everything matches. The color scheme of navy and silver alone is unique. The striping from top to bottom is consistent and great. The numbers have the spaced outline that you highlighted in our first column and it looks great. The sleeve stripes with the star in the middle look great. The silver actually shines, unlike the Raiders' "silver" pants. There is not one single negative thing to say about that uniform set, and this is coming from a person that grew up DESPISING the Cowboys.

So of course they introduced a near-perfect uniform in a decade in which they were often playing five preseason and three postseason games … and it almost never saw the light of day because they wore the white set 22 times. To make matters worse, for a while they only wore the white-sleeved throwbacks as their dark option instead of the good ones. I actually like those (and the white variant that has become their current Color Rush option) too, but the orientation of the star on the shoulder always bothered me. They could've taken a cue from their NHL city-mates on how to orient an unusually used star. Not having the point of the star centered on the shoulder is just weird. Of course they quickly ditched those anyway, in favor of the 1960 white-yoke throwback, so it doesn't matter.

I know I'm just rambling on and complaining at this point, but I believe it's with good reason. The Cowboys' navy uniform set is spectacular. They should wear it as often as possible.

Vinny: Funny -- I actually prefer the throwbacks. The all-white look with the star on the shoulder is clean and very distinctive. The navy-and-silver is good, and as you said, all the important details matched. But it strikes me as humdrum somehow. And as I've said before, I am a sucker for jerseys where the shoulders contrast with the rest of the jersey.






Vince: One year, I was watching the NFL kickoff special on opening night. The Giants were fresh off a Super Bowl win, and some of their players from that game were on the set. And they looked horrible. I was stunned that the NFL's own network would put their players on TV in shoddy, generic football jerseys, too cheap to spring for authentics. It took me several minutes to realize that those discount-bin threads WERE authentic jerseys. And that's when I decided that I hated the Giants uniforms more than any others in the league.

Note that I said they are my most-hated uniforms, not the worst. The Jaguars' two-tone helmet look was objectively uglier than the Giants', and the Titans' current get-ups might be too. But neither make my skin crawl like the Giants'. Let's make a list:

  • The logo: Lifeless. Flat. Stagnant. Boring. Plain.
  • The helmet: Blah. It's blue, like half the other helmets in the league. Except the facemask, which is grey, just to make it as dull as possible.
  • The pants: Also grey, just to make them as dull as possible. Even the stripes are just dark blue and dark red on grey. It's always cloudy when the Giants play.
  • The home jersey: Cheap and chintzy. No borders on the numbers. No stripes on the shoulder, sleeve, or collar. A design that could be accurately re-produced by any 8-year-old in Newark.
  • The road jersey: The worst part of the whole bit. They threw in some sleeve stripes, but the stripes are red. Like the numbers on the chest. And the numbers on the shoulder. Except for the NFL logo in the collar, the only colors in these jerseys are red and white … which would be fine, except THE TEAM'S NICKNAME IS "BIG BLUE." You know what color the Tulane Green Wave wear? They wear green. The Stanford Cardinal? They wear cardinal. The Red Raiders wear red. The Scarlet Knights wear scarlet. The NHL's Golden Knights wear gold. THIS SHOULDN'T BE THAT HARD.

Dave: Actually the Golden Knights wear this odd ugly slate grey. (And black. And red. And white. And gold. Everyone ate them up but I am very anti-Vegas' jerseys.)

Vince: Mostly, though, I hate the Giants uniforms because they are not the Lawrence Taylor Giants uniforms. I mean just look at these:



Come on. That's a Hall of Fame-caliber uniform right there. Dark helmet and jersey, white pants, strong contrast color for details. Platonic ideal striping on the pants and sleeves. Strong, aggressive logo. Like the Vikings, the helmet color didn't quite match the jerseys -- was this a problem with the materials and dyes used in 1980s football uniforms? -- but that nitpick aside, there's nothing I would change about these. I even think they would work with blue pants like New York had in the 1970s:



And that is why I hate the Giants' uniforms so much. It's not just that they're a D, it's that they've gone from an A+ to a D. Like a stern father, I'm not mad, just disappointed. Except I don't have kids, so, yeah, I guess I am mad.

Dave: Well, you beat me to it. I agree with every criticism of the current Giants' set. There is only one thing I like about it: The old-school NY logo is better than the Giants logo that I grew up with. That's it. The rest is a trainwreck of boringness and bad matching.

I'll disagree with you about half the L.T. uniforms, though. Like you pointed out with the Vikings, they had serious helmet color match issues.



The helmet was dark enough to almost be black, and depending on the light, the blue jerseys didn't even lean slightly navy from center. The all-white with the white facemasks always bothered me too, just because of how plain they were, although I found their blue-pant look in the '70s quite odd. As a kid I hated watching when the Giants were on the road. When they were out in San Francisco for that Matt Bahr playoff game there was a part of me that was rooting for the 49ers, just because they looked so much better. (And didn't kick five field goals. I hate field goals.)

But those blues, though … Blue with red and white is plain. The striping they chose is plain. The logo and helmet were plain. And yet they're beautiful.

Everything else about the Giants' uniform history is pretty poor. It's hard to screw up red, white, and blue, but the Giants have been doing it for almost a hundred years. The current retro set that you hate? It's all a throwback to the '50s and '60s, and even those were a huge upgrade over what came before. I'll give them a pass on the "Big Blue" thing because that's not their actual team name, but even so … the white road set featured NO blue whatsoever on the socks, pants, or jerseys, but kept the blue helmet. That changed -- barely -- in the 2000 reboot, only to drop the number striping and -- for some reason -- make the striping on the home and road grey pants not match for a decade.






Vince: The Eagles have really cool helmets. They should go back to kelly green -- the midnight green they use is too dark, especially when they break out black jerseys and it's hard to tell where one color ends and the other begins. Otherwise I don't have a lot to say here. There's nothing earth-shattering or special about the design of the Eagles' uniforms, but there's nothing offensive about them either, and they're immediately recognizable when they pop up in highlights at halftime. That's really all I ask for.

Dave: It's obvious from our Jets discussion that I'm a big fan of a royal or kelly green, but if we're being honest, I still found the Buddy Ryan Eagles' uniforms pretty uninspired while growing up. Maybe it was the grey. Or maybe it was just that the green was duller than the Jets' green. In any case, when they changed, I was a big fan. I'm still a big fan; it's a brilliant set and was an excellent evolution of the old ones, as opposed to a complete overhaul. The green pants look great and match the helmet, and they still looked good even when it was white-over-white. Their pant striping is an odd choice, but that's really a minor issue. The only thing to complain about is that they should never wear black jerseys. Especially because, as you point out, the green is already dark enough.

Still, nobody would complain if they lightened the green up substantially. And maybe after 24 years of dark green it'll be time for a subtle change: keep the 3D wing -- hell, even keep the black -- but lighten up the green as a nod to the past.

Just as an excuse to print a photo, no discussion of the Eagles' uniforms would be complete without a nod to the 2007 game where they put up 56 points against the Lions while wearing Tweety Bird costumes:



Those one-off 1934 (!) throwbacks were another one worthy of the word "higlarious." Worn more often, they'd be hideous and annoying, like the bumblebee set on the west side of the state. But worn once, while thrashing the other team no less, they were a thing of beauty.






Dave: Washington's uniforms, on the other hand … are decidedly un-beautiful.

Which I don't even mean all that negatively, really. There are plenty of things about this franchise with which to take issue, but the uniforms aren't one of them. They've been consistent for decades, they tend not to make terrible head-to-toe unitard-like decisions, their brief foray into yellow pants territory made sense historically, the yellow facemasks are nice, and the fonts and number striping all make sense. I just can't ever look at that color scheme and think complimentary things. To me it's somehow worse than K.C.'s ketchup-and-mustard look and worse than Green Bay's scheme. All three teams make the best of a bad situation, but somehow I'd still rank these a good ten slots lower than those other two teams.

Vince: I wish the Washington NFL franchise would change its name and logo -- but if they want to keep everything else about the uniforms, that would be fine with me. They don't wear red like Arizona or Kansas City, they wear burgundy -- an important distinction that makes them unique in the NFL, and very rare in sports. Thank goodness they've gone back to the white pants; the yellow pants might have worked as a once-a-year thing, but full-time they were just no good, especially with those goofy, over-complicated sock stripes. Burgundy-and-white, with flashes of yellow? Yeah, that combo works.


14 comments, Last at 21 Aug 2019, 10:04pm

1 Best suggestion I've ever…

Best suggestion I've ever heard for Washington is just to change their logo to a potato. Then they can keep the name and everyone is happy!

2 I hated the new Jets look…

I hated the new Jets look when I first saw it, and that video just confirms it. I mean, it's nearly indistinguishable from the Eagles. How is that a good thing? In HD it's fine, but in lower-definition videos and especially wider shots, they're way too similar. Even the *logos* are roughly the same shape from a distance.

It also sucks because it means there's a strong argument for the Eagles to *not* lighten the green, because they'd be even less distinguishable from the Jets.

3 new poll

Vince, the lastest poll on the Redskins came out last week in WaPo. The number 1 word from 500 native Americans used to describe their view of the name Redskins was "proud." Proud! It's time to put our White privilege and colonialism aside and let the majority of Native Americans have their day.

8 1 in 10 I read is offended…

In reply to by batesbruce

1 in 10 I read is offended. That's actually a good score nowadays, where the notion 'I like to eat yellow m&ms' offends people who prefer green m&ms.


13 I'd love to know how the…

In reply to by batesbruce

I'd love to know how the poll classified "native american". I'm guess there's a lot of "1/32nd on my great grandmother's side" there. 

4 The greatness of the Cowboys…

The greatness of the Cowboys white jersey unis is that they pair so well with other teams' unis. Every team's uniform looks better when they're paired with the white top/silver bottom Cowboys. The Raiders' and Steelers' road unis have the same effect. It's beauty by addition.

And note that none of the three have silly, superfluous borders around their numbers (though the Steelers really need to go back to the block numbers).

6 This is an excellent point,…

This is an excellent point, and matches my issue with the NHL's home/road reversal word for word.

My whole childhood, the NHL wore white and home and colors on the road. Same as MLB and the NBA. The NFL was different because helmets and pants had so much more variety (with a few rare exceptions in the 80s, the NHL teams have always worn white helmets with white jerseys, regardless of how good it can look to still match the helmet to the pants:


Dave USEh

(Before you ask, yes, that's me.)

It has been almost two decades now and I still get confused at first when I put a hockey game on. And with the reversal, now every game is the same: The Islanders are in blue and playing against a team in white. That's it. That's your only choice as a season ticket holder. I hate it.

That said, I still think the Cowboys' whites are ugly and blues are sublime.

7 I just don't know what to do…

I just don't know what to do with a take that considers the 80's Giants look to be superior to their current uniforms. But I like my uniforms classic (Raiders/Colts/old Jets that were just unceremoniously tossed out the window).

11 Well that's sort of the…

Well that's sort of the talking point. We're both mostly in the same "classic is good" camp; but if you really think about it, the Giants' classics are pretty weak. And they don't match. At all.


9 The Colts home jersey is…

The Colts blue home jersey is almost as unimaginative as the Giants blue home jersey. At least they have some shoulder stripes where the Giants have numbers.

And maybe the Giants ditched their away unis because it was too similar to the Bills'?

10 Watching this current…

Watching this current Chargers game, I do have to say that the yellow face masks are far less excellent when they wear the navy pants with white jerseys.

Actually they're still pretty excellent; they just make a lot less sense.

12 Unifomrs

Eags- craptastical numeral fonts. Wish twam wouls go back to unis worn on openinf dsy vs Packees from about a decads ago

Squirrels - wouod look so much bettsr with docile squirrle on helmet instead of redskin guy on it.

C9wboys- good uniforms even though lot of mismatching stuff


Gainfs- pretty horrible bland stuff more you tuink about it. White jerseys really should have more blue. If you want red bad, then at least outline numerals in blue. ny worse than GIANTS. ny looks like little baby. GIANTS looks like big thing.

14 I'm convinced the Eagles are…

I'm convinced the Eagles are waiting for a 3-13 season to go back to Kelly green. The current uniforms are 20-years-old and the font is garbage. They are long overdue for an overhaul.