During Sunday’s Bears/Seahawks game, I got about half a dozen e-mails asking about the “extra nipple” on Lovie Smith’s jacket. Nobody could figure out what it was (neither could I), and it didn’t appear to be included on any of the Bears jackets currently available for retail sale.
Yesterday I chatted with a Reebok spokesman, who patiently explained the whole thing:
Uni Watch: So was that a pump on Lovie Smith’s jacket, or an iPod attachment, or what?
Reebok: It’s a pump jacket. It’s not for sale yet — it’s just being wear-tested. Basically, it’s to keep you warmer. The idea is that you inflate the jacket and your body heat warms the air.
UW: Are any teams besides the Bears using it?
RBK: The Buccaneers used it earlier, and I think some others — I’d have to check.
UW: So although my readers and I first noticed it this past Sunday, it had actually debuted a few weeks or even months earlier?
RBK: Yes. I mean, it’s not like it’s being worn all across the sidelines. It’s just been a couple of different guys.
UW: Is it only for extreme cold weather? Or could you also wear it on a moderately chilly day?
RBK: Yeah, sure.
UW: And the user can regulate the amount of air he puts in there?
RBK: Correct. There’s a valve up on the right shoulder, and then the actual pump actuators are in the pocket.
UW: The pump what?
UW: So you, like, squeeze something with your hand in the pocket?
RBK: Exactly. The pump itself is almost like a grip.
UW: So you stick your hand in –
RBK: — in the pocket, and you can squeeze it up as far as you want it to go.
UW: Just one pocket?
RBK: Both pockets.
UW: So you can just be standing there with your hands in your pockets, talking to someone, or whatever, and meanwhile you could be pumping up the jacket?
UW: And the little nub is the valve to release the air?
UW: What’s printed above and beneath the valve?
RBK: The half-circle around the top reads “Pressure Release Valve,” and underneath it says “the Pump.”
UW: Is there an official name for this yet?
RBK: It’s officially called the Pump Sideline Jacket. Like I said, it’s just being wear-tested — it won’t retail until later.
UW: “Later” meaning, what, next winter?
RBK: We hope so, yeah.
So there you have it. Inflatable jackets are nothing new, natch (especially if you’ve seen Sleeper), and neither are extra nipples. But those in-pocket pumps are pretty intriguing. Given that most NFL head coaches are total control freaks who are wound tighter than a drum, it’s not hard to imagine some of these guys getting in the habit of reflexively pumping the “actuator” every time there’s an interception or a missed tackle, until they blow up like the Michelin Man. Might give new meaning to the term “blowhard.”
Uni Watch News Ticker: Reggie Bush’s high school team sure wore some killer socks (video clip here, with thanks to Brian Terreson). … Ryan Muraro reports that the Milwaukee Admirals will wear “Hawaiian-themed” jerseys this Friday. Not sure if there are any Uni Watch readers in Hawaii, but let’s all apologize to the whole state, just in case. … Had a good e-mail back-and-forth yesterday with Tyler Kepner, who covers the Yankees for the New York Times. “I used to cover the Seattle Mariners in 1998-99,” he wrote at one point. “One day they just decided to wear their BP top for the games. It was the strangest thing. I remember thinking, ‘Can they do that? Isn’t there some uniform czar to regulate this stuff?’ ” … Back in October, I linked to this page, in which Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said, “We will eventually go back to red, white, and blue [as the team's colors].” The latest development on that front comes from Washington Post reporter Dan Steinberg, as noted by reader Dan Franko: “In Steinberg’s blog, he says that he was talking to Mystics President Sheila Johnson (the Mystics and Caps are both owned by Ted Leonsis’s Lincoln Holdings, along with part of the Wizards.) She mentions that the Mystics are looking to go “to red white and blue, too,” but that they have to wait until the Caps do it, so the two teams can do it together.” The full blog entry he refers to is here. … Jeremy Brahm, in a rare non-Asian-related contribution, reports that Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who suffered a fractured skull three months ago is returning to action in a rugby helmet (full details here). … According to this article, Chris Webber is wearing No. 84 at the suggestion of “his 6-year-old nephew, who had a dream in which Uncle Chris was wearing that number.” Let’s all be glad six-year-olds can’t count any higher than that.