Timing, as the say, is everything.
As you’re probably aware by now, Mr. Peyton Manning will likely be playing for the Broncos this fall. It’s supposedly a done deal, contingent on Manning and the team coming to terms on a new contract.
Let’s say they work out all the details in the space of a week. That means the Broncos would be ready to introduce Manning to the Denver media with a March 27 press conference, The Broncos plan to introduce Manning to the media this afternoon at a press conference, where he’ll presumably get to pose with a Broncos jersey that’s been lettered up for the occasion.
And that’s where the timing comes in.
In a rather delicious development, this month is about the worst possible time for an NFL team to hold a jersey-centric press conference, because Reebok is still the league’s official outfitter — but only for another 11 days. Nike’s contract kicks in on April 1, and Nike plans to unveil all the new jerseys on April 3 (yes, I’ll be attending the event, which will be here in NYC). Even worse, it’s already been reported that the Broncos will be switching their primary jersey to orange.
So when the Broncos hold their Peyton presser, do they use a Reebok jersey (like the Photoshopped image shown above, which ran on ESPN.com yesterday), even though Reebok is basically dead man walking? Do they use a Nike jersey, even though Nike won’t yet be the league’s official outfitter? Do they jump the unveiling gun and show next season’s jersey? Do they use a jersey with no maker’s mark, like the ones that were worn at the Pro Bowl? Do they go with blue or orange? Do they wait until the following week to hold the press conference? (That last option seems the most unlikely, although it’s also the most odious, which means maybe it’s actually quite likely after all.)
I put those questions to the NFL and to Nike yesterday afternoon. (In retrospect, I should have asked Reebok for their thoughts as well, to see if they still felt territorial about their last few days in the catbird’s seat.) The first response came from a Nike spokesman: “We’re not discussing our deal with the league until we get to April.” Oh, and he also asked if I wanted to have lunch, which was very nice of him.
Then I heard from the NFL: “What the team does during its ‘welcome’ press conference is a team decision.” I found that surprising. Wouldn’t you think the league would be micromanaging these last few days of the Reebok-to-Nike transition?
In any case, since the league said it was a team decision, I sent a note to Broncos communications VP Jim Saccomano. His response: “We do not have new stock in yet. So as of right now, Reebok.” Of course, “as of now” is a very provisional term, and the Broncos might new stock on hand by this afternoon.
There are other uni-related considerations here, including which uni number Manning will wear, and what will happen to all those Tim Tebow jerseys. Personally, though, I’m more interested in how the press conference shakes out, if only because it shows the degree to which corporate logo creep and related machinations now control the game.
By Brinke Guthrie
The days of NFL coaches wearing suits and sweaters are long over. Remember the Tom Landry suit look, or the Bears sweater that Ditka made popular? Today it’s all swooshed-up polo shirts and khakis. A creeping corporate sameness. Of course, even in the pre-sameness days, it’s unlikely that a coach would have worn this Chiefs sweater.
As for the rest of this week’s eBay finds:
• Look at these great cardboard NFL helmets from some 1960s promo display!
• I like the look of this NBA gear bag of indeterminate vintage. Looks like 1970s to me.
• Astrological signs on a 1970 Eagles media guide? Groovy, man.
• I have my doubts about the authenticity of this patch. For one, I was an avid Reds fan in Cincinnati for 27 years and I never saw this patch. Also, the striping on Mr. Red’s uni isn’t right. But it’s still a nice patch.
• Check out this wrapper for a pack of 1967 “Official Pro National League” bubblegum cards.
• Wow, great-looking art print of a 1967 Bears/Niners game program.
• Here’s something similar, brought to you by Gatorade: the Illustrated NFL Playbook.
Seen something on eBay or Etsy (or anywhere else) that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
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Uni Watch News Ticker: Here’s a good way to beat logo creep: Crystal Palace is making its own jerseys (from Ross Hazlett). … Check out Akeem Olajuwon wearing just his first name during college (from Lou DeGeorge). … Florida baseball wore some nice throwbacks with triple-striped stirrups the other day (from Nolan Reagan). … In a related item, an unusual striping pattern being worn on the stirrups of this Florida Tech pitcher (from Josh Gallo). … Mikhail Herrera was on his way to work when he spotted someone with a handbag made from a Red Sox jersey. … Whoa, did you know St. John’s hoops used to have warm-up tops that were essentially just polo shirts? (Good find by Mark J. Galus.) … “Sevilla has found a new way to suck up more corporate money,” says Joe Hollomon. … In a move of questionable propriety, Maryland baseball has “Omaha” stitched onto the back of their caps (from my ESPN colleague Dave Wilson). … Here’s an interesting concept: sports-style pennants to celebrate non-sports activities (thanks, Kirsten). … “Over the weekend, Bolton’s Patrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch during the middle of a match,” says Chris Cruz. “The next day, his former teammate Gary Cahill scored a goal and revealed an undershirt that said, ‘Pray 4 Muamba.’ In addition, Real Madrid had both Muamba and Eric Abidal (who’s set to undergo a liver transplant) on their minds during pregame warm-ups.” … Typical douchebags. … Fun project idea from Stephen Sharp, who writes: “Ever since John Smoltz was traded by the Tigers for Doyle Alexander, I’ve always wondered what the Tigers would have been like with Smoltz on the team. The simplest way to visualize this: a Tigers Smoltz jersey. Over the years I have been mentally compiling similar possibilities. At first I thought it would be really cool to do jerseys but realized jersey shirts would be better for fans’ pocketbooks. I actually had a few conversations with Andrew McIver over at No Mas to see if we could make it happen. He said everyone loved the idea but with the licenses that would be involved, etc., it would be big headache. Maybe a Uni Watch reader will have an idea of how we can make it work!” … See the T-shaped taping or stitching on the shoulder seams? Steven Brown recently noticed it on a lot of Man U jerseys but isn’t sure if it’s functional, decorative, or what. Anyone..? … FIVB has issued some revised beach volleyball uniform rules, to allow for religious concerns (from Jeremy Brahm). … “I was at the Buffalo Bandits game on Saturday,” says Jeff Green. “They were playing the Minnesota Swarm, and I noticed Nos. 4 and 19 for Minnesota were both NNOB. Upon closer inspection, one was taped over. Not sure what that was all about.” … “Here’s another nice post from the Basement Geographer,” writes Doug Kalemba. “It includes the pre-1968 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile mandated color schemes for racing teams and some modern-day holdovers.” … As you might expect, I’m not too thrilled about the latest development in the Madoff case, since it means that the Wilponzis will likely be able to retain ownership of the Mets for the foreseeable future. Grrrrrrr. … Happy vernal equinox!