In less than four weeks we will watch as Roger Goodell shakes hands with, and inevitably hugs, the NFL's newest group of employees. All of the players will be carefully dressed to the nines for the occasion, the 2019 NFL draft, with that look finally completed, when each drafted player places a cap on his new team.
New Era has long been in charge of the design of the official draft-day cap for the NFL, and this year the hat group has integrated local flags of each city into individual team hats, which goes on sale at 10 am. ET is on Tuesday, April 2.
Last year The New Era decided to feature team slogans are on the front, and the group kept the local theme this year. One thing that really stands out: these hats, more often than not, give off the vibe of "you have to be from here to get it."
"This idea as we go through to celebrate the past of the NFL and "Ryan DiNunzio, New Era's director of football, says. "It's a unique way to say this is where we started, this is who we are, this is what we are about, this is the community we represent. At the same time, it tells a separate story of welcoming a new member to that community. Really trying to tell this message of this is where we're going, this is who we represent and welcome to the community. "
As for my favorites, in alphabetical order I'll go Arizona, Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville , New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Seattle. You can view 31
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
SI: How did this idea for integrating the local flags with the team logos come about?
RD : For us, it really started around the brainstorming for the 100th season of the NFL and telling
Each team's hat will feature a NFL 100 logo on the back. These are hats for the Cardinals, Rams and Chargers, LR.
SI: The state flag colors do not necessarily match the colors of the team, and maybe the state flag design may not without super appealing in some cases. Generally speaking, how ambitious was this idea?
RD: This was one of about four ideas in the 2019 season that we knew was going to be a challenge. You mentioned a couple of examples of how it would be a challenge, not just the quality of the design of the flag or what it represents, but also identifying the flag that best represents each individual club, because there was no master formula that we could use We could not use all city flags because the NFL has a team in Carolina that represents the two states.
At the same time, I may not know that this is what the flag of the city of Detroit is. It's about working with each individual team to identify for them what they really wanted to be the flag to be or what links them to their community. , but someone from Detroit knows immediately when they see it. We had a few instances where we had to get a bit creative in working with the club and finding solutions, one being in New England where you represent a region. The club wanted to stick with Foxborough, which is their home base. In Seattle, it was a great educational experience to understand the flag that people would say is the Seattle flag was actually designed for 1990 Goodwill Games and had nothing to do with the city. And at the city hall they fly the 12 flag. So the 12 flag genuinely represents the flag as a city, even at a formal level, so it made a lot of sense to use it. And one of the last challenges was Raiders and trying to understand their identity today in this transition from Oakland to Las Vegas and where they would be. We went with the neutral.
SI: It also helps that the Raiders are very national brand. It's not like you're putting the U.S. flag on the Bengals hat.
RD: It's one of those fun ones where right now they represent multiple communities.
SI: What was your easiest one or maybe the one that made sense when you put it all together?
RD: The Cowboys may have been the easiest one. Seeing it in person in the prototype is different than seeing it on paper. It just seemed so appropriate. It was really an easy way to incorporate their mark into the flag. And that really is one of the most recognizable flag … When you look at Houston, how do you differentiate using the same flag and not executing it same way, especially with the mark of texans, which is Texas state flag. So it was fun to be able to pull some other elements to tell the same story with the same flag but with two different teams.
SI: Help me understand the process. Do you all come up with four or five ideas and show them to the individual clubs or do you go to them and say hello what would you like? What's the back-and-forth like?
RD: It's roughly a 16-to-18 month process. Candidly we are already finalizing the concepts to send to the clubs for 2020. We started roughly in November 2017, and sat down with our design staff and had an idea session. From there they come with anywhere between eight and 16 concepts on paper and we'll narrow it down to three or four and start prototyping them. And once we really get the physical samples of one or two teams, we begin to dial in and say 'this is what we thought in our minds and we want to bring this story to life.' For us, last season for the draft we made It's really fan centric and customized for every individual club, using the team's slogan, and saw a tremendous amount of success with that. Additionally over the last 12 months we've started to see that when we take a really localized approach to that fan base and community, there is a greater resonance than when we take a paintbrush and say that this is a cool design and it works across all 32 teams so let's bring it to life.
SI: In the past year, you have probably reinforced this for you all, but do you recognize that across the board that not every fan is going to love what you did with a certain team's hat? Is there any understanding that a fan in Arizona may not love what you did with, say, Buffalo, but that Buffalo should love what you did with Buffalo?
RD: This is the key for us. As we're taking this very localized and customized collection, it was more about connecting with that team and that team's fan base. … As we go through it, we know not all 32 teams going to resonate with everyone. There are going to be some that are genuinely liked by all and some that will just be liked by fanbases, and we know that this is ok, because we would rather be individually connecting with 32 fan bases.
SI: What Was it the most challenging flag that ultimately you came out of this good feeling about how you accepted the challenge and integrated it to your liking?
RD: There is probably a couple out there. Cleveland's flag is busy. I think the Tampa Bay flag was a tough one to get all the details to make sure people understand where it came from. Candidly we started with really over-the-top and dialing it back to have a subtle approach to it. I think we ended up in a really great spot with it, and it's been really well received. And the same thing with the Browns' cap. The effort that went into the Ohio flag and bringing it to life, it's a challenging logo to work with in the beginning, and trying to work that into a flag was tough. But we got to a great spot that we all felt really happy about.
SI: Among my eight favorite hats, Cleveland was way up there for me. Knowing the kind of pride Ohioans have and Clevelanders have, that it worked out so well was neat. And my other personal favorite, because I'm a sucker for the California flag, is the 49ers hat because it was super subtle to me.
RD: That collection between San Francisco and the L.A. clubs were a fun one to work on because it was, we're going to go to California flag for all three teams. How are we going to make this work? And they said no we really want to dial on L.A. San Francisco, their logo worked very well for that design and really fit in nicely. It was one of the easier ones to get done.
SI: The draft is in Nashville and they're happy to have it. If I were you, I would think that there is no way you can screw up the draft city and home team. Not that it's way more important than the other 31 teams, but how much value did you put on Tennessee?
RD: It's crucial. As we are looking at that community aspect and that local tie-in, we know that most fans at the event will be Titans fans just because of where we are. As that cap starts to take prominence in Nashville, you need to make sure it resonates with that community. We went through probably six different iterations on that one where we did take a little bit of extra time with the club. We took the same type of care in Dallas with the slogans. We wanted to make sure we hit this one out of the park because all eyes are in Dallas. And as we look forward to 2020, there's going to be a hint of Vegas in our design and design elements from where we are in the prototype stage.
Arizona has one of the most visually appealing state flags in America. Replacing the yellow rays with black, the Cardinals hat is one of the best of the bunch.
This Georgia state flag came to be in 2003 as the state tried to rid itself of its old Confederate-inspired flag. That would have been tough to work around in 2019.
You were probably wondering how the New Era would work with the Maryland state flag, probably the loudest, most active flag state flag is there . Thankfully, the Ravens had already worked on the Maryland flag in its own shield, and hat-designers could work with that.
If you're from Buffalo, you know about the 13 electric flashes on the city's flag.
The New Era team spent extra time on this Panthers hat to get it where it wanted. Charlotte's city flag is not known among its residents, and the team has strongly spokeswoman for its "two states, one team" motto
The Chicago city flag may be the most well-known city flag in all of America. The four six-pointed stars run up the right side of the hat.
The three wavy lines in the Cincinnati flag represent the Ohio River, beside which Paul Brown Stadium is located.
As mentioned above, the Ohio State Flag is not the easiest to work with. No one is the Browns helmet logo. The cowboys hat remains incredibly true to the Texas state flag, with only the thick red bar being replaced with Cowboys silver.
The Cowboys hat remains incredibly true to the Texas state flag, with only the thick red bar being replaced with Cowboys silver. New Era had two great choices here with Colorado's distinctive state flag and Denver's city flag.
If you're not from Detroit, this is probably your first time seeing the busy Detroit flag.
Green Bay Packers
] NFC NORTH
New Era went hyperlocal here featuring the Green Bay city flag, which already has the Packers' iconic logo in it.
The Texans have always had the Texas state flag colors, and getting the subtle star in the middle
Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana, has long called itself the Crossroads of America.
This design keeps sunburst but removes the silhouetted Andrew Jackson by riding a horse and tipping his hat. No really This is the Jacksonville city flag.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs' Colors and This … interesting Kansas City flag had to make this one a challenge. The design represents Kansas City's "City of Fountains: The Heart of a Nation" theme. Three years ago, KCUR asked the listeners to redesign the city flag and here were the submissions.
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
For the Rams and Chargers, New Era ditched the green, gold and red in LA City flag but kept the jagged lines. Bonus points If you remember that this flag was raised at the closing of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow instead of the U.S. flag
The Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings representing the The Twin Cities, New Era went with the Minnesota state flag. It's the obvious choice when you see how disparate the flags of Saint Paul and Minneapolis are.
New England Patriots
As mentioned above, there's no New England flag. The Pats has played in Foxborough, Mass. since 1971, so using the city's flag and there makes sense here.
New Orleans Saints
It really does not get much easier than the Saints logo and the New Orleans city flag.
Replace the New York City's orange with Giants red and install that distinct ring around the seal and you get this hat. The Giants logo replaces Native American and colonist "working" together in "unity" at the center of the flag.
Stuck between Oakland and Las Vegas, the Raiders get Old Glory. Working in the big oak tree in Oakland's city flag would have been a challenge.
Philadelphia Maneth is translated to "let brotherly love endure," and it's the ribbon on a well-known city shield.
The checkerboard design comes from the city's coat of arms.
San Francisco 49ers
There's a fascinating history behind the California Bear flag that, if you have an hour, you should read.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone in Seattle with Any affection for the Seattle city flag, which was created by a city council member solely for the Goodwill Games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Talk about a busy, difficult city flag.
The three-star emblem in Tennessee is one of the The country's best known, and the Titans have used that since leaving Houston for the Volunteer State.
Like Chicago, Washington's city flag is known throughout the nation.
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