May 25, 2024

Lions unveil new uniforms: Dan Campbell’s deal with team ownership led to return of black jersey

The Detroit Lions unveiled their new uniforms this week, paving the way toward a more classic approach after the franchise tinkered with a modern twist to the jersey in years past. While the home and away uniforms veered back to past classics, a popular alternate uniform returned to the rotation.

The black alternate jersey returned for the first time since 2016, thanks to a promise made by the Lions ownership group to head coach Dan Campbell. Win the NFC North, and the black jersey will return. 

“We’re in the draft room literally months into his tenure, and he wore the black when he was here,” Lions team president Rod Wood said to reporters Thursday, via WXYZ Detroit. “He said, ‘Rod, when can we get the black jerseys back?’ 

“I said, ‘I’ll make a deal, when you win the division I’ll bring the black jerseys back.’ So I went out on a limb. Thankfully, he delivered. That’s a true story.”

The Lions debuted the black jerseys in 2003 when the entire league seemed to be going the way of the black alternate jersey. That jersey worked in Detroit and was popular among the players when Campbell played for the Lions from 2006 through 2008. Detroit abandoned the black alternates in 2017 in favor of gray alternates, which are not part of the next uniform rotation. Gray actually was disbanded in favor of silver, a more traditional color for the Lions. 

There is a catch with Wood’s promise to Campbell. The Lions would have had to submit their uniforms and helmets for the 2024 season 18 months in advance, so these uniform and helmet designs would have been completed during the 2022 offseason —  which was after the completion of Campbell’s first season as a coach. 

The change in leadership in Detroit sparked the uniform overhaul, but the Lions also had significant faith in Campbell that he would turn the franchise around. Campbell rewarded Wood and the ownership group by winning the division for the first time since 1993 and going to the NFC Championship for the first time since 1991. 

Detroit’s black alternate jerseys have a unique twist, as the black alternates have “Lions” above the number, which are in the team’s Hawaiian Blue colors. The blue alternate helmet will remain and will be paired with the black alternates, along with black pants or blue pants. 

Thanks to a promise fulfilled by Campbell, the black alternates are back. Although they likely would have returned anyway based on how the league has to conduct business with the NFL on its uniform policy.