4. The First Stripes (1981-1996)
In 1981, the Bengals surprised everyone when they unveiled their new uniforms. The first and most noticeable is the orange helmet with black stripes and a black face mask. It has become the staple of the Bengals uniform and won’t change until last season with an alternate helmet. But the majority of the season is still played in this iconic helmet.
Next, the jerseys now have stripes on the shoulders at the top of the sleeves. These black and orange stripes go all the way around the sleeves are remain there for their home and away jerseys. The numbers are outlined in color and alternate from their jersey. Black jerseys had white numbers outlined in orange and vice versa.
Paul Brown stated he wanted to change the helmet because:
""You couldn't read Bengals on our helmet from a distance", Brown said at the time. "When you were far away, it looked like Cleveland's helmet.""- Bengals.com
This was a fortuitous change, in their first season in the stripes they made the Super Bowl. They also made their second Super Bowl appearance in this set. Maybe it’s time to bring these back? As long as they leave off the striped pants.
The reason this set is lower is because of the pants. The stripes look like they were hand drawn on each player with Sharpie. That stripe runs all the way down the side of each pant leg as well, much like the weird white column on the newer jerseys, these stripes look very weird, boxy, and unflattering.