For the first time in 23 years and just the second time in team history, the Bengals' uniform underwent a complete redesign in 2004.
The team's signature tiger-striped helmet, widely considered among the most distinctive in football since its introduction in 1981, was not altered. The changes to the rest of the new uniform, however, were numerous.
The most noticeable differences from the previous design were the additions of a third jersey, a second pant and a second sock. To supplement the black and white jerseys, the team added a special-occasion orange jersey which could be worn in up to two games per year. Black pants were added to the lineup, marking the first time in team history that pants of a color other than white were officially part of the team's uniform. And, the orange-topped sock — worn in the 1981-96 uniform era — returned to the lineup as a mix-and- match option, joining the black-topped sock introduced in '97.
All three jerseys displayed a new tiger- stripe pattern on the shoulders. The black jersey featured orange sleeves, and orange trim on the sleeves and collar. The white and orange jerseys had black sleeves, with black sleeve and collar trim. The sleeves of all three jerseys were given white undersides. On the black and orange jerseys, the white undersides on the sleeves continued as wide stripes down the sides.
Modern, more rounded numerals replaced the block-letter uniform numbers that had adorned Bengals jerseys of the past, and the orange outline on the new numbers was given a shadow effect. In addition, the leaping tiger logo was removed from the sleeve, while the team's new striped "B" logo was placed in the center of the chest area, just below the neckline.
Both pants featured a new tiger-stripe pattern on the sides of the legs. However, unlike the old stripes, the new stripes did not extend straight down the full length of the legs. Instead, the new stripes curved slightly forward to a point just above the knees.
Lastly, the team chose to revert its shoe color from white to black, which had been the primary shoe color from 1968-73.
Interesting fact from this uniform era:
• 2004 black pants were the first to be official, but not the first to be worn: The Bengals' uniform officially included black pants for the first time in team history in 2004. However, 2004 did not mark the first time the team had worn black pants in a game. A year before, in 2003, the team was granted by the NFL the option to use black pants in two games as part of the redesign process that resulted in the new 2004 uniform. The team exercised that option, wearing black pants on a temporary trial basis for both their 2003 regular-season opener and finale. Those 2003 black pants, however, possessed the team's older tiger-stripe pattern of that era (see 1997-2003 illustrations on previous page), and were never worn again. The black pants that were permanently added to the lineup in 2004 were updated with the new tiger-stripe pattern.