Several readers have been clamoring for updated info regarding the NFL officials’ cold-weather slacks, and I think I’ve finally got some — no thanks to the NFL, I might add.
First, a quick recap: As you may recall, the officials inexplicably wore the slacks for the Cowboys/Lions game back on December 9th — an odd choice, given that the game was played indoors. Same goes for last Monday’s Chargers/Broncos game which was a decidedly non-chilly 62 degrees at kickoff. What gives?
I’ve been trying to get an answer to that question from Mike Pereira, the NFL’s Vice President of Officiating. That’s him in the purple polo, which should give you an idea of where this is going. Turns out ol’ Mike is, shall we say, a tough man to pin down. I’ve been leaving messages with his office for weeks now — the most recent one was yesterday — but he hasn’t bothered to call me back.
Fortunately, reader Austin Henley checked in yesterday with some news that sheds a bit more like on the subject:
On the December 12th edition of Total Access on the NFL Network [which I don’t have — PL], Mike Pereira was on for his weekly “Official Review” segment. … He said a couple of things that I thought were interesting:
First: He gave the referees the option to wear the long pants and shirts at their discretion once the calendar flipped to December, meaning that referee Gerry Austin made the decision for the crew to go with the slacks and short sleeves [for the game in Detroit].
Second: He said that although he had given them the go-ahead to wear what they wanted, he did not like the short sleeves with long pants. He didn’t say Austin was reprimanded, but he said that you should not expect that look to reappear. He did say he really liked the long pants and long-sleeve shirts, which shouldn’t be surprising, since he played a part in their design.
John Parry, not Austin, was the referee for Monday’s game in San Diego, but it seems that more and more refs are taking advantage of Pereira’s late-season lenience.
Interestingly, the first time I called Pereira’s office and told his secretary that I wanted to ask him about the slacks worn in the Detroit game, she said, “Oh yes, I know there was some concern about the slacks being worn with the short sleeves,” essentially repeating what Pereira himself apparently said in his TV spot. Can’t say I understand the fuss, because I think the slacks look pretty much the same — i.e., like crap — no matter which jersey they’re paired with.
And that’s why I don’t like this “up to their discretion” business one little bit. When I discussed the slacks about a year ago with NFL officiating exec Larry Upson (who was much more accessible than Pereira but, unfortunately, is no longer with the league), he said, “They have to ask before they can wear ’em, just so we don’t have guys going around willy-nilly wearing them.” Wish they’d stuck to that protocol, because it’s starting to look like the officials prefer the slacks. If so, that’s a tragedy in the making, because NFL officials are more or less the last humans on the planet who know how to cuffs their knickers just right — mid-upper shin, just a bit of blousing — and are also among the rapidly dwindling ranks of the striped hosiery set. The slacks’ increasing prevalence is akin to the advent of pajama pants in baseball — and just as odious.
And if any officials out there think the slacks are more comfortable than the knickers, or less of a hassle, I frankly don’t care. Think of the proud heritage of high-cuffed football officials. Think of all the sock mills that depend on you to show off their striped hose. Think of how the slacks make you look like a cross between a bellhop and a sales clerk at Foot Locker.
You’ve chosen a special role for yourself. Now dress the part.
Uni Watch News Ticker: 49ers lineman Larry Allen is apparently quite a jersey collector (with thanks to Al Cummings). … Yesterday I mentioned that one of the officials in Wednesday night’s Blues/Red Wings game lost his luggage and had to wear borrowed equipment. Turns out Teebz knows the official in question and provided the full story in yesterday’s comments. Check it out here. … Lots of new soccer kits on display here (with thanks to Chris Cruz). … Amazing old Iowa football jersey up for auction here. … Seton Hall wore silver-gray uniforms last night. … Several readers have pointed out that Bill Simmons’s current column includes a link to this video clip from the 1984 NBA Old-Timers Game, which features loads of FNOB action (plus lots of disturbing shots of fat old guys squeezed in snug-fitting jerseys). … Japan’s two basketball leagues have unveiled their all-star uniforms. The BJ League will look like this and this (hmmm, wonder where they got their design inspiration?), and the JBL will wear this and this (as forwarded by Jeremy Brahm). … Cricket fan Jordan Owen reports that Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist wore pink gloves and a black armband the other day, for reasons explained in the third paragraph of this story.
Holiday Schedule: Unless something really momentous happens over the weekend, we’ll just have open chatter from tomorrow through New Year’s Day, then back to regular content next Wednesday.