The first Sunday of the NFL season featured a predictably unappealing mix of Nikelaces, neck rolls, and sweatboxes. We were all expecting that. What we weren’t expecting — but what we nonetheless got, as you can see in the photo of Lions tackle Jeff Backus shown above — is a pair of pants that left nothing to the imagination. Let’s all chip in and buy a present for the underpaid garment worker who sewed that center panel onto the back of the pants, shall we?
The interesting thing about this is that the Lions are the one team whose pants looked significantly less metallic during the preseason. I realize some other teams’ pants look a bit less shiny this year, but the Lions are the team whose pants have really jumped out at me. I’m assuming that has something to do with the see-through effect.
Here are some other uni-notable observations from Week 1:
• Just as I’d rather not see Backus’s sweaty thighs, I’d also rather not see Saints linebacker David Hawthorne’s underwear waistband.
• How can a senior be young? When he’s Titus Young Sr., who’s wearing SrOB. Yes, it’s bogus (he’s not Young Sr., he’s Titus Sr.), but still, that’s best possible SrOB, no?
• In a move that was announced on Saturday afternoon, the Broncos have added a ribbon decal for the victims of the Aurora shootings and the Colorado wildfires. They’ll wear it for the entire season. I love the visual reference to the Colorado state flag, but I’d give anything for a “worthy cause” decal that wasn’t ribbon-based.
• My bad for not having mentioned this during the preseason or in my NFL season-preview column last week, but the Northwestern striping on the Steelers’ sleeves has been badly compromised. For most players, the lower stripe no longer exists. The primary exception, of course, is the quarterback.
• I was wondering if Buffalo’s new blue road pants, which weren’t worn in the preseason, would make their debut in the Meadowlands. But the Jets ruined any chance of that by wearing white at home.
• Speaking of the Jets, this was a bit easier to see on TV, but their shoulder stripes were clearly a different shade of green from their sleeves and numbers. Here’s another view. (Doesn’t look like that in the style guide, natch.)
• What’s worse than a sweatbox? Not much, but I’d say four sweatboxes in a row would qualify.
• Robert Griffin III had a lot of logo creep cover-ups going on yesterday. First, during pregame warm-ups, he covered up his undershirt’s swoosh with a rather strained attempt at anatomical inspiration. Then, during the game, he head black spatting tape over his Adidas stripes.
• Speaking of cover-ups, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was once again wearing his cover-up patch. As you may recall, I’ve speculated that it might be one of his old Stanford shirts — maybe his “lucky” shirt or something like that. But an inside source now tells me (a) it is indeed an old Stanford shirt, but (b) it’s not rooted in superstition — it’s just the Niners’ solution to Nike not producing that style of shirt, which Harbaugh happens to like.
• Aaron Rodgers had a pair of extra rivets or inflation valves or something, one on each side of his nose bumper. Anyone know more about that?
• Even by current NFL hosiery standards (or lack thereof), D’Qwell Jackson was really pushing it with his socks.
• I noticed Andre Johnson wearing a Breathe Right strip. Is it just me, or have those largely disappeared from the game over the past year or two?
• Have the ball boys always had their first names on their vests?
• Most (all?) fields were emblazoned with this logo. Strikes me as exceedingly lame-o, but then I don’t like the “Opening Day” logos on MLB fields either. Like, is it really necessary to tell people it’s the start of the season? Was anyone watching unaware of that fact?
• Now then, about those shoes: Colorful, eh? Here’s a few dozen examples (if the slideshow doesn’t work for you or you’re reading this on an iPad/iPhone, you click here):
Some of them are wretched (I’m sure you can guess which ones I slot under that heading), but I think some of them look fine, or even better than fine — at least when viewed in a vacuum. The problem is that now each team has a total crazy quilt of footwear colors. You’ve got one guy wearing black, the next guy wearing red, and the next guy wearing gold — it’s a mess. In some cases you even have one guy in black and the next guy in white.
Turning to Saturday’s college action, you should start by checking out Phil’s post from yesterday. But here’s some additional coverage:
• We all know Penn State is new to the whole NOB thing, but didn’t anyone tell them that heat-pressing the letters without sewing them down is a recipe for disaster? Embarrassing.
• Illinois switched to a blue facemask (first time they’ve worn that color on their mask since the late 1970s) and is now issuing merit decals (for the first time ever, I think, but I know for sure they didn’t have them last year).
• Speaking of Illinois, they’re no longer using Chief Illiniwek, but ESPN is.
• BYU has reduced the size of its merit decals, which had previously made the helmet look too cluttered.
• Two Florida players wore striped socks.
• Vanderbilt has a McNOB inconsistency.
• Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson has a tattoo that appears to include a football and a swoosh.
• Take a look at this shot from the Rutgers/Howard game. Notice anything odd? There’s no Dial-a-Down marker on the far sideline! A few plays before that photo was taken, a runner fell out of bounds and apparently damaged the Dial-a-Down. So they took the first down indicator stick and used it as the line of scrimmage marker, leaving the first down marker strip all by itself on the ground.
(My thanks to all contributors, including Dan Badalamente, Paul Deaver, Andrew Greenwood, Dan Hannon, Matt Harris, Jason Kerzer, Kyle Kruszynski, Ryan Mandel, John Marshall, Jason Mattina, Matthew Meo, Shawn Mulvey, Erik Nystul, Marcus Ramsey, Andy Rawlings, Drew VanNess, Steven Wojtowicz, Patricia Wren, and Dan Wunderlich.)
Unscientific poll: Eastern Michigan’s old Hurons logo — which was dropped 20 years ago amid concerns about Native American stereotypes — is being revived for the school’s marching band. According to this story, the move has the blessing of the Wyandotte Nation, which was formerly known as the Hurons, so it’s apparently a win-win.
We’ve discussed Native American iconography a lot here on the site. The topic always generates a lot of comments, including a few from people who identify themselves as being Native American, but I’ve never specifically asked Native American readers to weigh in. I’m going to do that now, though: If you’re of Native American ancestry (I realize that’s a somewhat controversial topic itself in certain circles, but I’m going to let you folks define yourselves as Native American or not for the purposes of this exercise), what do you think about the use of Native names and iconography in sports? What do your family members think, including those who aren’t sports fans? Is there a difference between, say, the Braves’ use of a tomahawk, which seems like an outdated stereotype, and the Seahawks’ use of Salish imagery, which is more part of the local culture in Seattle? Please let me know your thoughts on these and any other issues relating to this topic via this e-mail link (not in the comments, please). Again, Natives only, please. Thanks.
I met up with a big crew from Cooperstown at Saturday’s Mets/Braves game, including Hall of Fame curator Tom Shieber, Hall of Fame researcher Bill Francis, and Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz (an old college buddy of mine). Uniform designer Todd Radom also joined us, along with a few other folks. We had a great time at the ballpark and then headed to Manhattan, where we chowed down on some serious meat at Hill Country Barbecue. Given the day’s twin themes of baseball and carnivorism, I took the liberty of outfitting everyone with an appropriate uniform (click to enlarge):
Note that there were nine of us — a true murderer’s row lineup!
PermaRec update: Some old school documents, including an award card for being “A Good Boy” (shown at right), are the focus of the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Texans usually list their uni combos for the season on their web site, but they didn’t do that this year — until just now. Interesting to see that the red jerseys are no longer listed as being sponsored by corporate war profiteers this year (big thanks to David Westfall). … Cornell may sever its licensing arrangement with Adidas due to the latter’s abusive labor practices. … Interesting article about a semi-pro football player who’s 6’11″ and 500 pounds. … USA Today will unveil a redesign, including a new logo, later this week. … Oregon is instituting random drug testing for its athletes, which raises the intriguing question of whether a swoosh can show up in a urine test. … Here’s one of those “If the team logos really represented their teams” features (from Lou Sherwood). … SB Nation just released a new visual identity for their web network, and each site now has its own custom logo. “Many of these would be improvements for the teams that they cover,” says Adam Knor. … Here’s more about Buffalo’s new merit decals. … Meanwhile, Buffalo is also now rewarding the week’s best scout team player with a safari-style hat. “Each weekly recipient signs the hat and at the end of the year it’s given to the scout player of the year,” explains Dennis Abrams. … A Chinese mother with quadruplets had trouble telling the kids apart, so she shaved numbers into their heads. … Bobby Abreu has worn four numbers this season: 53 with the Angels, and 12, 23, and 33 with the Dodgers. “I assume this has to be a record, but I can’t find anything to support or disprove it,” says Kevin Wells. Hmmm — anyone know more? Also, why has Abreu worn three different numbers during his short stint with the Dodgers? … Georgia Tech played its first nighttime football game in 1936. According to this article, the Atlanta Journal had this to say at the time: “For the first time [coach William Alexander] has relented and permitted his team to wear yellow silk panties of a dazzling lustre. The jerseys are equally as radiant to the eye. Feminine hearts will certainly beat faster this year when the boys at the Flats trot out on the field.” Now that’s some primo early uni journalism! (Big thanks to Michael Rich.) … In a development I’m understandably giddy about, Phil Knight is being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. … The current issue of NCAA Insider has a story on the history of college football unforms (from Scott Musa). … New mask for Ilya Bryzgalov (from Scott Lederer). … New court design for the Grizzlies. … Kyle Clifford found a photo of former Lions WR Brett Perriman with some Reebok logo creep in an unusual spot. Based on Perriman’s tenure with the Lions and the team’s affiliation with Reebok, that photo has to be from either 1995 or ’96, so I looked at some other photos from those seasons. And sure enough, that logo positioning was very common in those years. I hadn’t remembered that at all. … The White Sox wore their green “halfway to St. Paddy’s Day” uniforms on Friday. The green caps included the MLB logo on the back — except for Gordon Beckham’s (good spot by Jimmy Couto). … Washington soccer went BFBS on Friday night against UConn (from Gregory Koch). … Rick Rutherford notes that Luis Jimenez seems to have an unusually large knob on his bat. … As I reported last week, the Mets are planning to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by wearing first responder caps during batting practice tomorrow, but not during the game. Several Mets bloggers are urging them to wear the caps during the game anyway, any potential fines be damned. There’s an additional example here. … No photo, but Austin Pendergist says Clemson’s mascot, “The Tiger,” has switched uni numbers from 0 (worn since the ’96 season) to 1. … Nick Markakis was wearing the Orioles’ old angry bird logo, or raging bird, or whatever the fuck he’s called, on his undershirt/pullover thingie the other night (good spot by Ben Gorbaty). … Members of the UGA marching band have had an allergic reaction to their gloves (from C. Trent Rosecrans). … During Saturday’s Mets/Braves rain delay, Zach Pearce spotted a Braves fan wearing stirrups. … The Colorado Rapids’ new home jerseys will have season ticket holders’ names woven into the fabric (from Pete Clark).