Fans can expect some substantial alterations to other teams’ uniforms, but not the Lions. The team changed its logo in 2009 and is still under the NFL’s five-year rule which prohibits any other uniform changes for the first five years after an initial change.
“Anyone who was outside of that five-year window could do something and some teams did,” Lions equipment manager Tim O’Neill told Detroitlions.com. “We couldn’t do anything to our uniform, but that being said, it is going to look different because we used to be in that cloth diamond mesh."
The Lions logo and color schemes won’t look different, but the material Nike is using is a significant change from what NFL fans are used to seeing.
"You're not going to see a lot of visual difference," Lions president Tom Lewand recently told season ticket holders at a town hall meeting. "It'll look very much the same as the uniforms that we have right now so everybody wearing your (Ndamukong) Suh jerseys and your (Matthew) Stafford jerseys, you're safe.
"What will be different is the technology behind the uniform. You'll see a lot more of the fabrics and the lines and the makeup that you see in quite frankly a lot of major college programs. That'll be the big change for us out of the gate."
All 32 teams will be wearing the “Nike Speed Machine” uniform made from state-of-the-art four-way stretch mesh that’s two times stronger than last year’s jerseys.
“If we hung a jersey on a hanger, it would look like a medium t-shirt,” O’Neill said. “It’s amazing material. It’s a form-fitting silhouetted uniform.”
The new jerseys are 30 percent lighter when dry and 50 percent lighter when wet, according to Nike, than those worn by NFL teams last year.
“I’ve talked to college equipment managers and they said by the time the guys turn in their jerseys after the game, most of them are dry,” O’Neill said.
The uniforms are designed to assist with heat release and core temperature and promote cooling in the lumbar region.
“Basically, moisture can escape but can’t come in,” O’Neill said.
It’s an integrated uniform, which means the stripes along the Lions pants aren’t separate material any longer. They're built into the stretch woven pants with hydrophobic yarns.
“If Nike can reduce a quarter ounce of material here or there, they will,” O’Neill said.
One difference that could be noticeable for Lions fans right away is a duller grey for their pants. It’s not shiny silver the team has had in previous years.
Nike took over as the league’s official provider of equipment and apparel on April 1.