Dolphins Redesign a Retro Reminder of Simpler Design Times

Written By: and  •  Thursday, April 25, 2013

White. That’s what you see when you first look at the new—dare we say retro?—Dolphins’ threads.

The redesigned uniform, done in conjunction with a new Miami Dolphins logo that has a brighter sunburst and modernized dolphin, “has a lot of influences from the past, the team’s history and when they first came to Miami and created a culture,” says Nike’s football design director Todd Van Horne.

Players will have a bold, orange, “Miami” tramp-stamp on the small of their back.

The design, especially the wordmark, reaches into the design esthetic of the 60s, when Miami was a city where the stars flocked.

“They had unique colors and used white,” Van Horne says. The new uniform embraces that past, returning Miami to a predominance of teal (a tweak of the color brings that tone closer to where it was in the ‘60s than in 2012), representing Miami’s water, less reliance on its newly updated sun-like orange and a full embracing of white, a play off the beaches of Miami.

“I just like the idea of the use of white,” Van Horne says. “It is whiter than white.”

The Dolphins showed off two variations for 2013, both with white helmets and white pants. They will don either an all-white ensemble or mix in a teal jersey. And in all cases, Miami becomes only the second team in the NFL to have an all-white facemask (Kansas City is the other).

Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace says he loves the tight fit of the all-white uniform. “When you put on that uniform on game day your whole mentality changes,” he says. “It is business time. You turn into a superhero, like Batman or Superman putting on that cape.”

On the helmet, the white facemask and white background play dominant. The new logo offers a sleeker, less cartoony feel and the wide teal stripe adds to the retro look. The orange plays as an accent on the lid, a concept that flows throughout the uniform.

The white jersey, which appears to be Miami’s color of choice, based off early promotional material, offers the “Dolphins” wordmark in teal, with a orange drop shadow, above the teal numerals. The numbers themselves mimic the helmet stripe, with the dominant teal outlines in both darker blue and orange. In fact, the striping and 3 color use is very consistent, with the exception of the wordmark.

The power of white continues with a no-color collar and limited color elsewhere on the jersey. Including the first Dolphins jersey we can find with no attempt to include the sleeve striping so prominent in their early days.

When Miami does opt for the teal top, expect to see the numerals and wordmark to go white, still with a blue, then orange, outline.

The all-white pants, the only option the Dolphins have offered to the public so far, include a stripe that follow the pattern of the uniform, with teal as the main color and a darker blue edge leading to a final orange outline. The wordmark “Miami” is on the rear beltline, actually in orange.

White jersey, teal numbers, dark teal and orange outlines. (We struggled with that at first, thinking this was some sort of hieroglyph in white on the teal jersey.)

Expect plenty of teal from the socks and the shoes too.

Now that three teams have joined Seattle in giving at least some sort of substantial, Nike-based update to their look for the upcoming season—teams can only upgrade uniform designs every five years, as per NFL rules—Van Horne hopes more will join in, opening up the opportunities of design.

After all, as Wallace—like so many of his colleagues—pointed out: “If you look good, you feel good.”

While the outlines appear navy, or even black in some of these photos, the detailed pictures, and the team’s official Pantone colors, assure us that this is a  deeper shade, in this case, called “blue.” Courtesy Donovan Moore of the invaluable we have his incredibly helpful chart for the Dolphins old vs new color palate.


As you can see, thanks to Donovan’s hard work, that the entire set has gotten lighter. Navy has become blue, coral to orange, and aqua to… a lighter aqua.

Pants striping is thick, like the top of the helmet, and lacks any fancy termination. It simply stops when it hits the top of the pants.

The pattern shown here is on all teams’ gloves, rendered in team colors. We have seen the exact same for the Jaguars

The real question is, here; Did the Dolphins upgrade their jerseys? Let’s look to answer that, by showing the past.

2012 Miami Dolphins Uniforms

Last year, the Dolphins had the Nike template, complete with the awful “press-conference-dress-shirt-under-jersey” teal collar. Differences are numerous, starting with the two color stripe on the helmet, with white providing a border to the center orange stripe, teal on the outside. The pants striping matched the helmet, and terminated at the top of the pants, as it does now. The numbers were a standard “athletic font” with outsides and a drop shadow. Gone is the shadow, replaced with the three-color number, in their distinct font.

1996 Miami Dolphins uniforms

Back in 1996, the Dolphins didn’t have the drop shadow. Or use much of a darker color anywhere. Ahh, the strange placement of the Wilson logo is delicious.

Reggie Roby punts for the 1989 Dolphins

1989 is the first time we can find the Dolphins wearing teal pants. The 87 team started a number of years with aqua numbers outlined in orange with a white padding, this lasting until ’94.

1980 Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have tweaked their main aqua/teal color officially only 3 times, including the uniforms released today. But, several years, the jersey just seemed slightly darker, closer to blue, or whatnot. And sleeves, glorious sleeves. Gaze upon their many-striped wonder.

In 1980 the darker, bluer jerseys were first accompanied with matching aqua facemasks. This tradition marks 2012 as its last appearance, having been replaced by white.

1970 Miami Dolphins

In the 1970’s the Dolphins didn’t look much different. Teal numbers outlined in orange. Helmet strip with white spacing. More simple sleeve striping.

So, all-in-all, the history of the Miami Dolphins is not exactly rife with changes. These qualify as rather substantial. Especially for this team, having played since 1966 in largely the same look.

But, are you a fan? Tell us how you feel about the new look Dolphins.


JR Francis contributed with Tim Newcomb on this article.


So, what else was there, or IS there to expect? After a tweet from alert reader Evan Hoffmeier, we went back and watched the Nike release video for the Miami uniforms again. We saw something we didn’t catch the first time.

The Dolphins talked about going “white.” But, here we see aqua pants (later pictured during their modeling.) They showed their white jersey and almost acted like they didn’t even WANT to have a teal jersey. But here, we see teal and an orange alternate.

Admittedly, these are simply papers being shuffled on a desk in a promo video. They are only on-screen for less than a second.

But, every other thing we saw in this video was announced. The numbers, the wordmark, the whites, the aqua… everything else was production-quality renderings of things that came to life.

Could these orange jerseys be real?

Exciting possibility. I bet you have an opinion about it, don’t you?

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Tim Newcomb

Tim Newcomb is a journalist based in the Pacific Northwest covering news, culture, sports design and entertainment. He has written on uniforms and sports logos for TIME Magazine, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. Visit his website here.

  • ..finally, my team with a clean soft and lighter tone.
    was hoping for something radical, but I’ll wait for the alternate jersey.

    Looking great up close.

  • Jim Pericotti

    Clean, yes. Not a fan of the “weird for the sake of weird” numbers, the 1 especially looks top-heavy. And they have de-emphasized the coral to the point it looks golden. The Dolphins should be coral and aqua first, not teal, then traces of orange and navy.

    • Jason

      There is no navy in the new uniforms. It’s the same darker sade of aqua on the belly of the dolphin logo. Also, there is no teal. This is the original aqua and coral from yester year. Don’t go by what you see on your computer screens, as the colors can show up very skewed that way.

  • Troy Griggsby

    Much, much, much better than Jags. Nike, it appears, is capable of restraint. The Jags owner not so much.


    First off, I’m NOT a dolphins fan. But I DO feel bad for them. That being said, here are a few nitpicks about this redesign…

    1. The helmet logo is horrible. Gone is any sense of tradition by creating a logo that looks good on a SeaWorld souvenir t-shirt, but is totally bland on a NFL helmet — ALSO, where is the mini-helmet with the “M” on the fish? That was what WAS cool about the original logo. I’d be really pissed to wear that new logo around Miami and tourists ask where’s SeaWorld.

    2. Oh look… a teal and orange jersey in the National Football League. Can you guess what team has those colors? NO? Okay, let’s spell out “DOLPHINS” in large letters in front so that people know what team we are. Seriously? Can it be any more gaudy?

    3. Speaking of Orange… where is it? It’s one of the three primary colors they use right?

    I have spent over 20+ tears as a creative professional in the marketing world. Sometimes I have no idea what NIKE is thinking. I know, I know… mostly it’s to sell merchandise, but a lot of people forget that most iconic logos and uniforms (think Yankees, Canadiens, Celtics) were NOT designed with the fans wallets in mind. They were to represent the TEAM.

    • J. Reynolds

      ^^^^^This guy has it.

  • What’s with the tramp stamp?

  • Michael Kersey

    The uniforms aren’t bad, but the helmets are hideous! That new logo has GOT to go!

  • Bryce Reynolds

    These are the best of the new ones recently shown, and easily one of my favorites in the league. Well done Miami/Nike. Clean and classic is better.

    • coolbreeze42

      Ummm… Have you seen what the Vikings are wearing… And unlike the Fins, they kept the helmet logo the same

  • One of the best uniforms I’ve seen in a LONG time. Well done.

  • The logo looks fine. Quit bitching.

    • Paul

      Bitching continues……..the helmet logo is hideous. The SeaWorld analogy is correct. Appears designed in 20 minutes by an 18 yr old SeaWorld employee on his cell phone app during his lunch break. A free app.

      The rest of the uniform isn’t bad.

      • Harry Flores

        I agree the logo SUCKS! The colors are fine though

  • jason rohloff

    While I’m not crazy about the new logo I do like the design overall. Font of the numbers works well and the white looks sharp. Wish the orange was a little more prominent.

  • ..also, the matte finish on the pants looks great.

  • It’s simple. It’s not 26 different colors, there aren’t 50 different alternates, and when you see it you know what team you’re looking at. I like it.

  • Josh

    A cacophony of typography. On the uniform, I count four different fonts:

    1. The numerals (doesn’t the “3” look top-heavy?).

    2. The standard collegiate block lettering for the player’s last name.

    3. The rounded “Dolphins” under the NFL; why retain the drop shadow here and only here?

    4. The sharp “Miami” above the ass. (I have a personal preference for this over the rounded “Dolphins” which I find fussy.)

    Just not sure what they’re going for here because none of that ties together very well. The new logo doesn’t scale to the size of the shoulder patch; all of the eye detail is absent. I love the all-white look, at least in the photos, but the white facemask doesn’t work with the teal jersey.
    The helmet striping is a winner, and the new colors are an improvement.

    • I think the 3 is just the angle of the shirt; it looks normal from behind.

      • Josh

        I’m talking about the rounded top over the angled bottom.

        I also just noticed that the top of the 1 and 3 in the thirteen align, but look at the top of the 5 and 1!


      nice catch!

  • It’s not like the 1st version of the redesigned logo, which didn’t include an eye on the dolphin.

  • I think it’s a good overall design, but I think the facemask should be aqua and the thin sleeve stripes should’ve remained (with tweaked colors, of course).

  • Michael Kersey

    I’m entitled to my opinion……THANK you!

  • Kevin

    did you say these were practice jerseys? I sure hope you did.

  • I am clearly in the minority because I love the new helmets and logo. I always hated the old ones. Now if we could get my beloved Patriots to make a change in theirs.

  • DJ

    As you can see, thanks to Donovan’s hard work, that the entire set has gotten lighter. Navy has become blue, coral to orange, and aqua to… a lighter aqua.

    So why does the author insist on calling it “teal?” Jacksonville wears teal. The Miami Dolphins wear aqua.

  • Douglas Snazel

    Logo is awful but the colors and lines are nice. Less is more Nike, thank you for finally realizing that! Now if you could go back and fix the AWFUL Seahawks jerseys, I’d be obliged! 🙂

  • Pod

    The new helmets are fine. I’m not big on the wordmark. The lighter colors are great, and I dig the all-white look. Nice work!

  • I do like the Miami print on the back of the pants

  • Charles Thompson

    This is actually really nice, I was afraid they were gonna go all over the top Nike on them, but they actually made a professional looking uniform. Seahawks should take some notes, this is how you do a redesign.

  • Mike

    I’m thinking they’ll go back to the helmet dolphin and lose the tramp stamp in five years, but otherwise I actually love these.

  • mahlon

    Why, oh why people like ALL WHITE uniforms is beyond me. Does Penn State’s away jerseys look at all impressive to anyone? That’s exactly what I see when I look at this all white, bland, boring, detail-less uniform.
    I’m all about classic and simple, but come on. Do the Packers have all white, do the cowboys? steelers? Sure some teams do, but again, B-L-A-N-D, not “sharp” at all.
    Please give us back the REAL logo (i mean the very first ORIGINAL), put some more orange in it, ( cuz i can hardly see any) and give us at least a little more flare than all white

  • Drew

    As a Dolphins fan, I’d love these uniforms if only they’d kept the helmet/pant stripe the same as previous uniforms. I’m okay with change (the new logo doesn’t look too bad on the helmet), but when you’ve had ONE striping pattern since inception (save for the addition of small navy stripes during the last overhaul), to abandon that in favor of a strong light blue stripe (and, thereby, abandoning orange as a major part of the look) is not something I can say I like. Fix the helmet/pants striping and it’s a 7/10. As-is, it’s a 3/10.

  • F19

    Bring back the 1988-1996, so expertly modeled here by Reggie Roby and Zach Thomas.

    Nice to see some restraint from Nike but these are just bland for a team with such great, unique colors. Aqua and Orange has been exactly ONE team in major pro sports since 1966 and that’s the Miami Dolphins. Make use of it!

    And the new logo still looks like it’s more suited for the cheerleading squad or the Miami Seaquarium.


    They only get that because at least there is some resemblance to the team’s history – unlike the other recently rebranded marine-themed pro sports team in town.

  • Aaron

    Now that I have a better look at these uniforms, they look great. The font, could’ve easily kept the last one.

  • Ryan

    These new uniforms are a work of art. Only a miracle worker could fix the awful uniforms from last year!

  • Juancho

    Dolphins WILL wear aqua pants. I’m guessing it will be a combination used when they play on the road whilst the the all-white combination will make appearances on home day games.

    Pic of pants:

  • Michael

    Logo still sucks.

  • Patrick McReary

    The uniform in general is awesome. Perhaps make the script on the shirt slightly smaller.

    I don’t hate the new logo that much as others do.

    Other than that, the uniform is quite nice. I think they’ll use aqua pants, as an alternate. All in all, Nike did a good job.

  • Joe

    Total step backwards, I don’t really like these at all. I agree with what others said, its too plain, the helmet logo sucks and really does look like some streamlined Sea World logo. Wow this sucks, because I used to absolutely love their unis, not anymore.

  • J. Reynolds

    Too plain, but I’d rather have it too plain than too…much!

  • The numbers are a bit odd, and the logo is a bit too sterile. I agree with the poster above who said this will be tweaked in 5 years. Hilarious that people are calling the back wordmark a tramp stamp! This is why I love this website.

  • Aaron

    Now if we can get the Miami Marlins to go with a similar colour scheme.

  • Bill A

    Not a Dolphins fan (Eagles), but not a hater of any. A very good redesign in a time when some (Seahawks, Giants) got carried away with the uniforms. Nice to see an understated approach. I also think the orange jersey will be used.

    • Aaron

      The Seahawks, yeah, they got carried away with their uniform approach. The Giants didn’t do much with their uniforms except keep it simple.

    • Tom

      Are you talking NY Football Giants. They have the one of the most basic designs

      • Bill A

        Yeah, it was a stretch, its just a matter of taste, but I didn’t like the red-on-white jersey. They should have included more blue. I just hope Lurie doesn’t get carried away with the Eagles.

        • Tom

          Understood Bill but if you look at the history of the giants they have always had some red in it and actually a big part of the logo in the 50s. I think it was just bringing back history. I will say not a fan when they had red jerseys!

  • Tom

    For Nike, and all of the crazy uni’s coming out these are pretty good. My only thing is it needs a little more orange or what is already there needs to be more bold.

  • 54321

    Whites look very ‘Miami’, dark teals look lazy but that’s fine since the Dolphins play in their whites 80-90% of the time anyways yes? I think the logo is growing on me having now seen actual NFL players wearing it & all over the net via draft coverage.

  • Sidearm Justice

    I truly miss the old-school, loose-fitting uniforms in the NFL (NHL too). These new skin-tight uniforms to me are very unattractive and they make the players look like muscle-bound robots on the field. As for the new uniforms, I really like the Vikings simple, colorful design, while the Dolphins are really boring with all of that white. Why not make good use of the orange to provide some much-needed highlights and contrast?

  • machete

    what pantone are these new colors?
    And what are the fonts of the word mark and the jersey letters?

  • BILL

    Well looky what we have here, another team identity destroyed by the idiots at nike. the Dolphins rebrands looks like crap from helmet to shoes. Typical of Nike, they have zero regard for a team’s tradition. good thing they don’t make uniforms for MLB, NHL or NBA. those nike nimrods would probably make a design for the Yankees that would have no pinstripes and “Yankees” on the front in some uglier than sin font, with a unique ( see “ugly” ) font. nike ruins every team’s uniform set they touch. they can’t even match the 49ers pant color to the helmet, or get 3 one-color sleeve stripes on straight. NIKE=pathetic.

  • I like them, but I hope now that they have a sleek design, they’ll wear throwback jerseys once a year. Late 80s or early 90s throwbacks would be nice.

    Just wish the orange was a bit thicker on the numbers.

  • ingmar66

    More orange ans sleeve striping are needed here. The logo is still incredibly boring and bland, but somehow seems to work on the jersey. For the helmet a capital block M in aqua, orange and blue should be used, just like the old dolphin would wear on its helmet.. And lose the tramp stamp, it looks horribly slutty in a Jersey Shore way.

  • Jimmy

    I like the jerseys and stripes on the pants and helmet, the logo? Not so much, I thought it was unique and cool that the Dolphin wore a helmet with the letter M on it, the logo falls under the category, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Again, all for the uniforms being spiced up and the colors tweaked, the logo is terrible, what’s up with Miami? First the Marlins destroy a great logo, and now the Dolphins. Nothing was bad as what the Marlins did, they destroyed their identity completely, all to look like a cheap hotel.

  • Georges

    I suppose I can live with these. They’re pretty simple. A helluva lot better that the Jags’ freak show they call uniforms.

  • Aaron

    I don’t think orange jerseys are necessary with this team. The logo itself isn’t too bad. It’s kind of growing on me although they could’ve just done what the Cardinals and Vikings did with theirs, just polish off a notch. At least compared to the Marlins, this looks like an actual dolphin.

  • F19

    Quit calling it “teal”! It’s aqua. Semantics perhaps but the ‘Phins have always been Aqua and Orange. At least they got that right with this unnecessary rebrand.

    Teal on the other hand does belong on the baseball team down here, but that’s another story.

  • vap19

    Initially, I was a little disappointed with the redesign. I still think the logo lacks personality but, overall the uniforms are actually quite visually striking. Especially the white ones. I also like that Nike is switching to embroidered patches. It adds a touch of sophistication to the overall look. Are they better than the old ones? Meh, I would prefer if they had the classic sleeve strips, but this could have gone worse considering some of Nike’s other projects.

    • ingmar66

      You are absolutely right about the embroidered patches (and numbers) being a plus on this uniform. Screen printed logos and/or numbers are really too cheap for words (a lot of soccer teams are into screen printed badges and it always feels like a ripoff if you want to buy an official replica shirt and the badge is just a print. Screen printed numbers on a soccer shirt I can understand, because of the added weight which makes it more difficult to move around).

  • Julian

    I like everything about this redesign from the new logo, to the new uniforms, and even to the colors although knowing how teams are, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if in 10 years the light colors get darker again.

  • Griffin Van Nest

    I was never opposed to an update, but simple put this is major design flaw. Too drastic and strays way to far away from the original template. This attempt at “rebranding” is clearly a money grab as it is no secret that the Dolphins ticket & merchandise sales have plummeted. I just have to wonder is any of this would have ever happened if he Dolphins didn’t struggle to be average for the better part of the last 20 years. I’m a lifelong fan and it pains me to write this but, the Dolphins suck and so does their new logo and uni’s.

  • the whale

    hate the logo, bring back the old dolphin. nike-swooshing for nike’s sake. ive heard it best described as a glob of aquafresh toothpaste. a little more orange would be great and the tramp stamp is all kinds of stupid but i guess they had to mess -something- up asides from the logo. thankfully not a total stretch, this is liveable for five years untill we get back the helmet dolphin.

  • Josephus

    What a load of mularkey. “A trip back to simpler times and the 60’s?”

    The logo is bloody awful. It’s a porpoise suspended, floating. It shows no power, sense of pop. It merely floats, which is perfect for this team because it floats between 7-9 and 9-7 on a regular basis.

    Where’s the orange? It’s been totally diminished by a powder blue that’s being pitched as the true aqua.

    The white masks? You want to go retro…you go GREY. Not white.
    The entire uniform looks like it came out of an unlicensed Japanese video game from the 80’s.

    And the aqua pants. This was one of things I tolerated because I loved my team. I was hoping we’d ditched them finally because the team had not been wearing them. Except you brought them back and managed to make them look even less-football-tough by going flat colors on the material.

    The word mark evokes the 60’s? Seriously? This wordmark looks like it came out Microsoft Word’s basic fonts.See the wordmark on this record jacket (which was pressed after the 1971 season)? THAT’s a 60’s wordmark:

    Everything looks like bad letterhead for a “swim with the dolphins” tour company.

    Everybody associated with this logo and uniform — Nike, Ross, any fan who purchases this trash — should be ASHAMED.

    You’ve taken one of the proudest, most successful teams in the NFL and delivered the coupe de grace. They have gone from NFL royalty to court jesters.

    This is our family crest. Not some fashion logo that changes with a whim. NONE of this had to happen this way. The logo could’ve been updated and the shape and spirit of tradition could’ve easily been maintained.

    I am DONE with the Dolphins until the team is sold. DONE.

    • K

      I couldn’t agree more. I see this new logo and I cry for my beloved Dolphins. .no power, no pride. Where’s Seaworld?