The end of the year is always a good time for review and reflection. 2019 saw the CFL’s uniform provider switch from Adidas to New Era — a company with no prior jersey manufacturing experience — and a number of clubs took advantage with redesigned uniforms.
After seeing the league in action for a full season, the time has come for the first definitive “CFL Uniform Monitor” ranking.
As an aside: my self-proclaimed title of “CFL Uniform Monitor” is one that I take seriously. With great uniform power comes great uniform responsibility.
9. Toronto Argonauts
They may have avoided finishing last in the East Division in 2019, but the Argos find themselves at the bottom of this list. The biggest issue with the Argos isn’t what they look like now; it’s what they got rid of in the switch to New Era.
The Argos had, in my opinion, the second-best kit in the league in 2018. The outlined white numbers on their navy home uniforms were fantastic (and much better than the current light blue numbers), and the sleeve striping was gorgeous. Now we’re left with what look like left-over NFL Pro Bowl uniforms (and that’s not a good thing).
The revamp this year eliminated everything that was great about their uniform, and it was disappointing that not even four weeks of the beloved boat logo on their helmets could make up for it.
8. Ottawa Redblacks
Ottawa’s look didn’t change much with the switch to New Era, but the team moved from awkward underarm striping to awkward chest striping.
The Redblacks have now had three different uniform variations in their six-year existence, yet none have come close to touching what the Rough Riders wore during the Russ Jackson era. I understand the franchise needed a new look in 2014, but after six seasons, three Grey Cup appearances, and one championship, the time is right for a throwback.
Ottawa: do the right thing in 2020 and give us a Rough Riders throwback.
7. Saskatchewan Roughriders
I was happy to see the Riders ditch black entirely in their 2016 redesign, but I think they could have come up with something better than what they have now. The team is very fond of wearing mono-colours, which I really don’t care for — the team looks so much better with a contrasting jersey and pant.
The biggest uniform issue I have with the Riders is a common complaint: they have their retro-uniforms sitting in the closet most of the year. The Riders’ retro outfits are fantastic. It’s a shame the club rarely wears them unless it’s Labour Day. If the Riders ever switch to their retros full-time, expect them to skyrocket up this list.
6. Montreal Alouettes
I was thrilled to see Montreal unveil not only a new uniform for the 2019 season, but also a completely new logo and brand identity. It was long overdue as the Als hadn’t made a significant change to their uniform since re-joining the league in 1997. I can understand not wanting to change the look of the organization during the Calvillo era — even if those uniforms were atrocious — but this change should have happened several years ago.
Switching to a darker, more modern colour scheme and uniform was clever. Their new logo just won Best New Primary Logo of 2019 on sportslogos.net — although I don’t necessarily love the placement of the logo on the top of the helmet — and the relative simplicity of their uniform is welcomed. As with the Riders, I’d be happy to see the club mix up their blue and white jerseys and pants to avoid the mono-colour look going forward.
5. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos redesign in 2016 simplified their uniform overall and marked the end of their ridiculous green helmets. The switch to New Era resulted in essentially no uniform changes, seeing the club stand pat.
I don’t think the Esks really need to change much. The uniform is simple and effective — even if I don’t like drop shadow numbers — but my biggest concern with Edmonton is the “signature” third uniform they continue to wear. I disliked it when it was released, and I loath when it comes out again a couple of times each season.
From what I can gather on social media, the fans in Edmonton like them but they are the main reason I’ve ranked the Esks lower than their provincial rivals.
4. Calgary Stampeders
Much like the Esks a few years ago, the Stampeders’ biggest addition in 2019 was a subtraction — the elimination of their black helmets. Black helmets simply have no place in Calgary’s locker room. I don’t mind the Stamps’ all-black “outlaw” uniforms that they wear on Labour Day, but I’m tiring of them. As with the Eskimos, I’d be happy for the club to retire the blackout unis and move on to something else.
While on the subject of the Stampeders wearing black, I want to offer a suggestion which I imagine won’t be overly popular in Cowtown: remove black altogether from the team’s colour scheme. With a team in the league literally named the “Redblacks,” it’s high time for the Stamps to leave red and black to Ottawa and embrace red and white.
I’d throw in some silver for good measure (the fairly recent 70’s throwbacks were absolutely stunning), which would give the Stampeders their own unique colour scheme. I don’t expect the club to make this change any time soon, but I’d love to see it.
3. B.C. Lions
The best part of these new uniforms is the helmets. I was never a fan of the logo Adidas put on the Leos’ helmets, so it’s great to see the familiar lion head and “BC” wordmark back in game action. The combination of the stripe on the helmet, outlined numbers on the jersey, and orange pants with classic striping give a retro-feel to these uniforms.
I have already stated that I don’t like mono-coloured uniforms, but I don’t mind the Lions orange jersey and pant combination at home. The addition of the black helmet and prominent black shoulder colouring break it up. The Lions are also the only team in the CFL to wear orange, so I’m all for the Lions embracing it as much as possible.
2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Simple, yet effective. The Ticats made only one substantial uniform tweak in 2019 — the very welcomed return of their yellow helmet stripe. These uniforms have fantastic sleeve striping, are very legible, and adding just about anything else would only be a downgrade.
With that said, there is one thing I would ask the Ticats to change — I’m not a fan of the mono-black the Ticats wore through the playoffs. I’d much rather see them in black jerseys and yellow pants, or at the very least throw a yellow stripe down the side of the pants to break it up. Overall these uniforms are deserving of a ranking near the top of the league.
1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
All is well in Bomberland. The team ended a 29-year championship drought and did it in the best uniforms in the CFL. Since the Winnipeg Football Club came to their senses and switched back to a royal blue colour scheme in 2016, their uniforms have been the best in the league.
Before anyone calls me out, I will admit to being a lifelong Bombers fan. While some readers may think this is a hometown bias, there simply is no denying the Bombers uniforms are glorious. If it helps appease any uneasy readers, I can confirm that at no point during the Bombers’ stint wearing navy blue (1997-2015) were their uniforms near the best in the league.
There you have it — the definitive “CFL Uniform Monitor” uniform ranking. Disagree with me? Sound off in the comments or let me know on Twitter: @CFLUniMonitor.