Larry Fitzerald may have been on hand to help launch the Cardinals new Nike jersey, but fans would be forgiven for believing he had accidentally suited up in last year's duds.
With the exception of the Seattle Seahawks, fans hoping for a major redesign of their teams uniforms have been left largely disappointed. To say that the changes are subtle would be a huge understatement.
By far the biggest changes are technological, not cosmetic. Nike's big breakthrough, according to their promotional material, is speed. The jerseys are more form fitting, and lighter—especially when wet—being made from a new stretch woven fabric. The are also more breathable, and moisture-ebbing—allowing moisture out, but not in.
The Cardinals jersey also incorporates Nike's new "Flywire collar" which aims to keep the collar down and in place. Aside from the Nike Swoosh, this is the only visual clue to the fact that the Cardinals jersey has changed at all. The next biggest cosmetic change is not visible in normal usage, each team's jersey will include a unique slogan inside the back of the collar, which changes each season.
Some would argue that Nike has made a mistake not making more radical visual changes right out of the bat. Nike only has the contract for the next five seasons and strong sales out of the gate are considered a must for the equipment manufacture, and radical changes were promised prior to the much hyped announcement .
However I believe that Nike have made the right call.
Nike have indicated what the future holds with the Seattle Seahawks major redesign, and fans of most teams should expect a similar treatment in upcoming seasons. However public opinion towards to the Seahawks redesign has been mixed at best, and by staggering the changes in phases, gives Nike the chance to gauge fan reaction, and compensate for any missteps along the way. A single hated uniform, after all, is far preferable to 32 fan bases gunning for you.
NFL rules do not allow major changes for five-years once a redesign has been undertaken, so drastically changing the uniforms for all 32 teams would have locked Nike into these designs for the entire length of their contract. This would be a huge issue for the manufacturer should fans rebel against the changes.
Keeping the majority of jerseys largely unchanged today, and staggering the changes would also allow Nike to demonstrate sustained sales throughout the course of their contract, with a few groups of fans forced to re-buy their jerseys every few years. This will certainly help them with their future bid to continue supplying the jerseys for the foreseeable future.
Arizona fans will likely see changes in the Cardinals uniform in coming years, but for now, fans can rest easy that their team won't be playing in this...