Kreative Kat Helmets
April 21, 2009 | Kevin Zdancewicz

 Jungle Kats

It’s becoming more and more apparent that terms like “football-season” or “basketball-season” are obsolete. Professional sports are a year-round enterprise nowadays, both for the athletes who must train 365 days a year and for the fans who continue to hear about “off-season” news long after actual games have ended (sometimes ad nauseam, cough NFL Draft cough). With this in mind, I don’t feel as bad making a football uniform this week’s JOTW because even with so much sports action going on (start to MLB season, NHL and NBA playoffs) I think you’ll agree this uniform is too good to pass up.

The featured uniform belongs to the Cincinnati Jungle Kats of arenafootball2 (af2), the Arena Football League’s minor league. The most noteworthy and eye-catching aspect of this uniform set is the unique helmet which looks rather inconspicuous from the side but when rotated 90 degrees reveals a design style I have never seen before. At first, such a design seems laughable: how could a team put a tiger face on the top of its helmet? But when you think about it, Michigan’s iconic helmet design is drastically different from the common helmet with logos on both sides and you don’t hear people complaining about that. I welcome a unique helmet experiment, but I think there is a reason that this look hasn’t made it to a higher level of football. I would venture to guess that in addition to being different, the intention was for the helmet to intimidate opponents. But that’s a tall order without clearly visible teeth. The style reminds me a little bit of a goalie mask in hockey (notice the teeth), where the Kats’ design would fit right in.

The Jungle Kat uniforms overall are like a cross between the Cincinnati Bengals (coincidence?) and the Denver Broncos (for the side stripes). There isn’t a ton of information about the origins of the team’s unique name, especially since the franchise’s web site is no longer accessible, but I did find this post on an AFL message board which states that former Bengals DT Sam Adams bought the team on a random off day. Take it with a grain of salt, but apparently the name derives from the “fact” that “when you think of Cincinnati, you think of ‘The Jungle’” and “you don’t find dogs in The Jungle.” In any case, whoever designed the logo and uniforms probably should have brushed up on his zoology since white tigers are rarely in the wild and are actually poor tree-climbers (not ideal for the jungle). Sadly, these uniforms are no longer with us as the Jungle Kats folded in 2007 after one season in af2 – leaving behind a legacy as “that team with the weird helmet” which is better than “that team that spelled Kats with a K” in my book.

Photo Courtesy of Photobucket via Uni Watch blog