On Wednesday night I received a note from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous. It went like this:
Supposedly there is a major bitch session going on between NFL equipment managers and the league about the quality of the new Nike NFL jerseys. I learned this during a conversation with a seamstress for an NFL team. She had a jersey ready to alter for a particular star player for this week’s game. This player has already gone through four jerseys since the start of the preseason. When the jersey is washed a couple of times, the Flywire collar has a tendency to fade drastically and the shiny design gets white and flakes off. As you might imagine, this would not look good on TV. The equipment managers were complaining so much that the NFL supposedly sent out a memo in the last week telling them to discontinue their bitching, as there is a 12-year contract with Nike and that’s the end of it.
Other points she highlighted were:
1. Nike found out they didn’t have the means to produce enough jerseys to supply all 32 teams and had to contract with an outside vendor. Ripon, which made Reebok jerseys, is now making about 28 teams’ jerseys with Nike sending the tagging.
2. Many players are having the “Flywire” collar cut down height-wise, as it is so thick and rigid that it was cutting and irritating their neck.
3. Teams are no longer creating custom “game cuts,” as the fabric would rip at the seams if altered. When equipment managers complained, Nike said that they were using subpar thread and sewing machines (way to pass the buck).
4. Nike is only offering three cuts — linebacker, skill, and QB/kicker. Reebok offered several more cut/style options.
The person who sent this to me would not identify the team that the seamstress works for. He explained to me how he knows her but will not allow me to share that information.
I wanted to know more, so yesterday I contacted several NFL equipment managers and asked them about this. Two of them wrote back. The first said, “We have not had nearly the number of issues with our jerseys that some teams have had, so I have not seen anything along those lines.” The second said, “I have had no issues with the Nike jereys. I haven’t heard anything about that e-mail [from the league], either.”
For now, this looks like a non-story — an anonymous source spreading gossip via another anonymous source, with zero real-world confirmation. My initial inclination was not to write about it at all.
The reason I eventually decided to go ahead with it was that the first equipment manager implied that some teams have had numerous “issues” with their jerseys. So maybe there’s a bigger story lurking under the surface here — maybe.
I know lots of people around the league read Uni Watch. If any of you have info to share (off the record is fine), there’s no time like the present.
Spur of the Moment: The Spurs unveiled a new alternate uniform yesterday. Advance word was that it’d be “a bit of a departure,” and that certainly turned out to be true:
Most of the reaction I’ve seen so far has been negative. Personally, I don’t care for the gray (they’ll call it silver, but come on, it’s gray), but I’m intrigued by the simplicity of the spur logo on the chest. No team name, no city name — interesting. For a sport that seems to have run out of creative options lately (how many different ways can you put some lettering across the chest and a number underneath it?), this uni suggests a new range of possibilities. I’m curious to see if other teams try something similar.
PermaRec update: A rephotography project based on some 100-year-old postcards, like the one shown at right, is the focus of the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.
Uni Watch News Ticker: 49ers QB Alex Smith was issued a $15,000 fine for wearing an SF Giants cap to Sunday’s postgame press conference, although the fine was later rescinded (thanks, Brinke). … Also from Brinke: The Marlins have created their own bobblehead museum. … New sweatbacks for Minnesota (from Jeremy Formo). … New kits for the English national rugby team (from Josh Jacobs). … Andrew McCutcheon of the Pirates tore one of his batting gloves while taking a swing in last night’s game against the Brewers. Never seen that before (from Geoff Poole). … Here’s the logo for next year’s Kentucky Derby. “Horrible is an understatement,” says Matt Dowell. … Andy Chalifour notes that yesterday’s Ticker-linked screen shot of Ruppert Jones’s nickNOB also showed Chisox catcher Wayne Nordhagen wearing a brimless helmet. … Another example of advertising’s encroachment onto public space: An illuminated street billboard in Boston projects its message onto the sidewalk. Shame on whichever municipal agency approved this (from Ben Marciniak). … All the caps for next year’s World Baseball Classic have now been unveiled. I especially like Australia’s and Israel’s. Also, Canada’s cap logo looks a lot like Chris Creamer’s logo. … New marching band uniforms for James Madison (from Andrew Rader). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Graduating seniors on Clemson’s football team get a mortarboard decal. … Here’s a possible first: a high school football throwback game. … Here’s another high school football team with near-illegible uni numbers. That’s Tigard High in Oregon (from Travis McGuire). … Here’s a time-lapse video of the Missouri Mavericks’ (CHL) ice being prepared for this season. “Tons of on-ice advertisements, but that’s typical for = minor league teams, and it makes for a more interesting video,” says Brad Barker. … Remember our recent discussion of schools selling shirts for blackouts and orange-outs and so on? Southern Miss is now selling blackout shirts. “I have a problem with that,” says Michael Martin. … Speaking of color-coordination, last night I was at an art event and bumped into my friend Nina Katchadourian, who told me about a project she’d done while attending art school back in the ’90s: She and some collaborators arranged to have all the cars entering the school on a particular day park according to their color, resulting in a full parking lot of red cars, another lot of yellow cars, etc. Very cool. … The world’s largest collection of baseball caps — over 109,000 of them — is in need of a new home (from Joe Nocella). … If you can watch this video clip showing Utah’s new BFBS helmet without rolling your eyes or just laughing, you’re way ahead of me (from Frank Mercogliano). … New third jersey for the AHL’s Springfield Falcons (from Josh Tremblay). … Pink accessories on tap for Ohio football (from Johnny Bruno). … Gregory Koch’s high school — Spackenkill High in Poughkeepsie, New York — went BFBS last week. “I’m very disappointed in them,” he says. … Whoa, look at the placeholder Dodgers uniforms shown in this photo, presumably taken just after the team’s move to L.A. (nice find by Dennis Hasty). … Also from Dennis: Check out the team-branded crew socks in this 1957 photo of former 49ers R.C. Owens.