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Lions revived alternate black jerseys for Dan Campbell on 1 condition

In Sports
April 19, 2024

The Detroit Lions officially unveiled their new uniforms Thursday night. As seen when the new looks were leaked online earlier in the day, the Lions didn’t make drastic changes. The updated uniforms are more of a nod to the team’s past, especially the Barry Sanders era.

Included among the alternate uniforms is a black jersey dubbed “Motor City Muscle,” resembling jerseys the Lions featured from 2004-07 when such looks were popular. But the uniform looks different, featuring the team’s signature Honolulu Blue in the jersey numbers and the helmets.

Prior to the reveal, Detroit fans on social media dreaded the return of the black jerseys. For one, the dark tops muted the color that distinguished the team from other NFL clubs. More importantly, the Lions were not good during those four seasons, compiling a 21–43 record during the dreadful Matt Millen regime.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell (89) wore the black jerseys when he played tight end for the team. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell (89) wore the black jerseys when he played tight end for the team. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

However, one key figure who played for the Lions during that era liked those jerseys: Dan Campbell. The former tight end wanted the team to bring the black tops back shortly after he became head coach in 2021.

Lions team president Rod Wood revealed at Thursday night’s uniform reveal for season ticket holders at Ford Field that he made a deal with Campbell: Win a division title and the black jerseys can come back.

Campbell and his team fulfilled their end of the agreement. The Lions won the NFC North with a 12–5 record, making the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Wood may have been joking when he said reviving the black jerseys was “a reward” for their success last season. The timetable of designing new uniforms and clearing them with the NFL was a two-year process. But the timing worked out well.

(The Lions president didn’t say so, but the black uniforms replacing the all-gray “Color Rush” look may also have been a reward to NFL fans who no longer have to see them.)

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