Ravens unveil new uniform

OWINGS MILLS – In a fashion salute to the intimidation factor, the Baltimore Ravens unveiled all-black uniforms at the behest of All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis.<br><br> The Ravens' new uniform will be worn for one game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 7 at M&T Bank Stadium to be televised nationally by ESPN. The team has the option of making this a permanent shift, though.<br>

The look is one fashion critics like Mr. Blackwell would probably approve of: black pants sans stripes with a "B" logo on the hip, black jerseys with white numerals, purple stripes around the biceps and neckline and the team's standard black helmet.

Several players in the locker room joked that the jerseys will enhance the team's tough-guy image, calling the Ravens "The Raiders of the East."

Lewis and quarterback Kyle Boller modeled the uniforms Wednesday in a brief photo shoot in the weight room of the Ravens' training complex. 

"For us to come out with a different uniform, a totally different swagger, is our focus right now," said Lewis, who lobbied new majority owner Steve Bisciotti to trigger the change. "It is great, whether we make them our primary jersey, or if we don't. Kyle looks good in this.

"The black is what we represent. When you come out and wear all-black with 53 men out there swarming on the football field and you look at my defense, that is tight."

With the Ravens' input, NFL Properties designed the uniforms, which were manufactured by Reebok. Equipment manager Ed Carroll said the cost for outfitting the players was $25,000.

Carroll noted that the all-black uniforms might add a touch of intimidation, or some psychological benefit to the Ravens players who believe strongly in the power of dark colors. He also noted that the uniforms could retain a lot of heat if the Ravens made a permanent switch in the future and wore them, for example, in a September road game against the Miami Dolphins.

Senior vice president of business ventures Dennis Mannion said a replica black jersey has been available for years, adding that most retailers will begin selling this jersey at the end of the summer. He said that more jerseys will be circulated in November.

Teams may change their jerseys once every five years, according to NFL policy.
"Our attempt wasn't to sell more product, but to give our team a different look," said Mannion, who added that several jerseys will be signed by players after the game for auctions.

Mannion said it was Lewis who lobbied for the removal of any stripes from the pants, which represents a contrast from the black pants with an extra-thick white stripe and purple jerseys that the team sported during its inaugural season in 1996. 

This is the Ravens' third uniform change.

The NFL only allows teams to wear one color of shoes for the entire season, though, and Mannion said the Ravens will continue to wear white shoes with their traditional uniforms. He added that the team will contact the league to see if any flexibility exists that would allow them to wear black shoes with the new uniforms against the Browns.

Carroll said the team would likely monitor fan response, jersey sales and players' comments before deciding whether the uniforms are here to stay or not.

Offensive tackle Orlando "Zeus" Brown said he had heard that black had a slimming effect, an unusual concept for someone who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 365 pounds.

"I might actually look smaller in this uniform," Brown said. "I'm not sure if that's good for my game or not. I guess the black is all right. Why fight the image? Be who you are."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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