Black to the Future: Ottawa’s new home uniforms retro-inspired, light on red

Image courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

The Ottawa Redblacks have a new home uniform, as 3DownNation first reported last year.

The gloriously retro-inspired jerseys were unveiled on Tuesday ahead of the 2024 season. The sleek “new” home look draws heavily on Ottawa’s rich history and is a nod to the 120 years of Rough Riders football.

Image courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

The shoulders feature a thick white stripe flanked by thinner red lines. The shoulder stripes match the new helmet — more on that in a minute — and the new striping installed in the east end zone of TD Place beside the retired numbers and list of Grey Cup years.

Much like the home uniform used from 2021 to 2023, the sides of the shoulders still feature the R logo, but without the saw blade that’s been a mainstay as part of the Redblacks’ branding since the team’s inception in 2014.

Something that jumps out immediately is that the team has leaned into the colour black and eliminated a lot of red. Aside from the thin shoulder stripes, there’s not much else red at all. The red striping from the old home jerseys across the collars, on the shoulders, running down the armpits, and along the sides of the jerseys is gone. Gone, too, are the red stripes on the pants — they are now all black — along with the R-Nation word mark.

Image courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

The Redblacks team name bar, which is located directly above the numbers, is now entirely white. Before, the “Red” of “Redblacks” was spelled in red. Now, the word is entirely white, which in my humble opinion, looks a lot cleaner.

When training camp kicked off, there was some concern that the new jerseys might not feature the franchise’s iconic notched numbers that many in R-Nation have come to love, as the practice jerseys no longer use them. Those fears proved to be unfounded, as the numbers continue to be notched. They’re also outlined thinly in red, just like the old look.

Another change is that the inside of the old collars had the word “R-Nation.” The new tag inside the back of the collar features the year 2014 in Roman numerals: “MMXIV.”

Finally, we come to the retro helmets. For many in the nation’s capital, these will be the pièce de résistance. These new helmets are quite close to what the team debuted in 2022 — and used a few times in 2023 — but are slightly different, with the white stripe much thicker and the flanking red lines closer to the middle stripe.

Image courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

What will provoke the most nostalgia, though, is the iconic white R on the sides of the helmet. For generations of fans, the notched white R alone, unaccompanied by the saw blade, harkens back to the 1960s, when the Rough Riders dominated the league and won multiple Grey Cups.

For now, these new helmets will only be worn with the black home uniform set, but given that teams constantly mix and match pieces of their home, away, and alternate looks, don’t be surprised if we eventually see them used with another jersey.

Personally, I think OSEG nailed the new uniform and that it’s a big upgrade on what was previously used before. If I were to nitpick, I’m not a huge fan of solid-coloured pants. Having some kind of stripe running down the legs — perhaps the same one used on the shoulders and helmets — would’ve been nice, but perhaps the team felt it would be a little too close to the home look used by Carleton Ravens.

Image courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

The main point is, R-Nation has finally been given what they’ve been clamouring for since professional football returned to the nation’s capital in 2014: a true retro-inspired look.

Those hoping to purchase the new jerseys can do so via the physical team store at Lansdowne or online. The 10th anniversary patches that will be on the upper right part of the chest are sold separately for those looking to add them to their collection.

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).