Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Trending - ESPN Playbook [Print without images]

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Fly or Fail? NFL coaches edition

By Samantha Rubin
ESPN The Magazine

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick berates a referee in decent style ... for him, anyway.
The zebras have gotten all the headlines lately, but this week's "Fly or Fail" focuses on the men patrolling the sidelines. Long gone are the days of football coaches wearing suits, ties and fedoras, ą la Vince Lombardi. Over the years, for better or (mostly) worse, the casual look has become the default style.

This season, Nike is outfitting not only players, but also coaches, and while the offerings are mostly the same — polos, long-sleeve tees, sweatshirts, etc. — the Swoosh has definitely made a point to create a cleaner sideline look.

Who cares about sideline style, right? It's just a football game. Wrong. All eyes are on you, Coach — and if you look like a mess, you will be called out.

Rex Ryan
Sexy Rexy's pants are a little too baggy.
Coach: Rex Ryan, Jets
Game: Jets at Steelers, Sept. 16

Outfit: Sexy Rexy has definitely earned his nickname this year by dropping over 100 pounds during the offseason. Unfortunately, he's still channeling Rick Santorum (or Chandler Bing) by rocking a dorky sweater vest. I’m into the fact that he has created a signature look for himself, and the vest and T-shirt fit well enough, but his pants are still way too baggy. He could definitely go down a size and also lose the pleat in favor of a flat-fronted pant to show off his slimmer profile. PSA to all NFL coaches: Flat fronts are slimming; pleats add bulk. If you lose over 100 pounds, don’t be afraid to slim down your whole wardrobe as well!

Verdict: Svelte FLY.
Mike Tomlin
Tomlin, defeated by pleats.
Coach: Mike Tomlin, Steelers
Game: Steelers at Raiders, Sept. 23

Outfit: I’m into Coach Tomlin — in my opinion, he’s always one of the flyest coaches on the sideline. I think this is due to his commitment to the aviator shades, which are tough and masculine. Tomlin pretty much looks dope except for one huge problem: Pleated khakis strike again! Tomlin is young and fit enough to wear a flat-front pant that has a slimmer leg. He’d look way more up to date, especially when topped with a basic Steelers long-sleeve tee.

Verdict: Aviator FLY; Khaki FAIL.
Pete Carroll
Carroll could use some more Cali cool.
Coach: Pete Carroll, Seahawks
Game: Cowboys at Seahawks, Sept. 16

Outfit: Compared to the controversy that went down Monday night, no one was really checking for Carroll's sideline gear. Which is fine, since he looks as sloppy as every other NFL coach with the requisite pleated pants that aren't quite the right size. (Though Pete's are closer than most of his peers'.) On the other hand, the zip polo is pretty neat and Carroll did a good thing by rolling up the sleeves. The Seahawks have the coolest unis in the game right now — I love the neon green pops of color that Nike added this year. I wish that the coach's gear had a bit more character to match. Otherwise, I'm pretty much underwhelmed.

Verdict: Replacement ref FAIL.
Gary Kubiak
Kubiak goes monochromatic.
Coach: Gary Kubiak, Texans
Game: Texans at Jaguars, Sept. 16

Outfit: All right, Kubiak: not looking too bad. The monochromatic choice for this game is on-trend, and it’s slimming. What does bother me are the fact that his pants seem a bit wide and long. He could definitely try a slimmer leg and take the length up about an inch so there isn’t as much fabric pooling around his sneakers. All in all, a pretty safe look.

Verdict: BLAH. Neither here nor there.
Mike Smith
Smith could use a tailor.
Coach: Mike Smith, Falcons
Game: Falcons at Chiefs, Sept. 9

Outfit: We've never seen Smith in anything but a polo, so this is par for the course. Sadly, Smith shares the same problem among with nearly all of his fellow coaches. I really don’t understand why it’s so hard to find a proper-fitting pair of pants! Pleated and too long, they create a sloppy look that could be avoided by a better fit and tailoring. The polo shirt fits pretty well, but the pants make it all go downhill.

Verdict: Pleated FAIL.
Bill Belichick
Belichick gets a star for Most Improved.
Coach: Bill Belichick, Patriots
Game: Patriots at Ravens, Sept. 23

Outfit: : I shocked myself this weekend when I thought to myself: Wow, Bill Belichick actually looks neat?! It took me a second to process this, considering we are used to seeing him roam the sideline in a ratty hoody with cutoff sleeves. But lately, Belichick has smartened up. His Patriots sweatshirt is not oversized and bulky, and his khakis, though pleated, are not baggy and the length is on-point, hitting at the top of his sneaker. His Nike+ FuelBand adds a nice touch. Belichick in clean lines with proper proportion? This might be crazier than some of those ref calls.

Verdict: Sweatshirt FLY, Sideline FLY.