Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Updated: August 19, 5:11 PM ET
Mr. Blackwell picks Philly
By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2
From a uniform perspective, the Super Bowl has generally been a snooze.
What else can you say about an event whose biggest uni-related moment over
a four-decade span was when Thurman Thomas
misplaced his helmet?
Still, it's fun browsing through the Super Bowl's pictorial history, if
only as a reminder that NFL players once wore real
sleeves, shoulder stripes once encircled the entire shoulder, and the guy holding the down-marker once
wore stirrups. It was during just
such a browse that Uni Watch began to discern an intriguing pattern. To
The best-dressed team usually wins the big game.
Don't think so? Just look at the rundown of past Super Sunday results and
see for yourself. By Uni Watch's reckoning, the better-looking team has won
25 of the previous 38 games -- nearly a two-to-one ratio. That includes
obvious aesthetic mismatches like Super Bowls XXIII and XXXVIII, as well as closer judgment calls like XVII
and II. Yes, there have also been occasional miscarriages of sartorial justice. But two times out of every three, haberdashery is destiny.
So who needs oddsmakers or insider analysis? We can divine the Super Bowl's
outcome just by reading the uniform tea leaves.
The NFC is the designated home team this year, which means the Eagles will
be wearing their green jerseys and the Pats will be wearing white (their
record-setting fourth different Super Bowl uni, don'tcha know; you can read
about the other three here). With that in mind, here's
a head-to-toe examination of the two teams, with a weighted point scale for
each uni element:
Helmet (4 points): Back in the Pat Patriot days, this would
have been a tough call, maybe even a toss-up. But now it's no contest --
Philly's winged design romps all over Flying Elvis. Advantage: Eagles.
Jersey (4 points): What's the deal with side piping on jerseys? It
always looks lame-o, regardless of the sport or era, whether here, here, here, or here -- or, unfortunately for the Patriots, here. Advantage:
Pants (3 points): Simple rule: Symmetrical pants piping is always better than
asymmetrical. Advantage: Pats.
Hosiery (2 points): Even simpler rule: Striped socks are always cooler than solid-tone socks. Advantage: Pats.
Footwear (1 point): Simplest rule of all: black shoes always look better than white shoes.
Patch Compatability (1 point): This category merits a quick
historical survey, because jersey patches have provided some interesting
Super Sunday plotlines:
Super Bowl IV featured competing patches: The Vikings wore the
NFL's 50th-anniversary shoulder patch (you can get a better look
at it here), which all
NFL teams had worn throughout the 1969 season. That prompted the AFL to
create a 10th-anniversary
patch for the Chiefs to wear in the Super Bowl -- the last game before the two leagues
Super Bowl X took place in January of 1976, so Pittsburgh and Dallas
donned a bicentennial
patch. The Steelers wore it on their upper
chest, the Cowboys on their left sleeve.
Super Bowl XXV brought the first patch devoted to the game itself -- an
oversized, unsightly splotch worn by the Bills and Giants.
After a seven-year break, game-specific patches re-emerged for Super Bowl
XXXII. This time, thankfully, they were smaller. They stayed at a manageable size for a while, but lately they've been getting bigger (and have also spread to accessories like wristbands and towels, which seems
like a bit much). It's now clear that they're here to stay.
Leaving aside the question of jersey clutter (which reached its apotheosis
in this year's Rose Bowl, where Michigan actually printed the game's date
on their jersey's left shoulder),
the problem with Super Bowl patches is that they're designed way in
advance, before we know who the participants are. So they
sometimes end up clashing with a
team's color scheme. This is going to be one of those years: The logo for
this year's patch is mostly blue, which means it'll coordinate a
lot better with New England's uni design than with Philly's. Advantage:
That leaves the Eagles leading, 9-6. But there's a wild-card category: the
coaches. You know Reid and Belichick will get at least as much
on-screen time as any player, so we may as well factor them in. Not that
it's exactly a battle of glamourpusses -- more like the fatso versus the vagrant. But
Belichick gets credit for having turned his look into a signature style. In
short, he has a uniform; Reid is just a shlump. Advantage: Pats.
How much is the coach's category worth? Uni Watch leaves that up to you.
But however you choose to weigh it, it looks like a close game.
For the Birds
As if in response to Uni Watch's recent survey of logo
animals, the Arizona Cardinals chose last week to unveil an updated
helmet logo. If you haven't already seen it, brace yourself for a shock --
OK, so not quite. Uni Watch doesn't mind the logo tweak per se, but
making the cardinal look meaner and tougher seems rather obvious and
predictable, no? Like, why not show him furrowing his brow and gritting his
teeth while you're at it? (Answer: Because the University of Louisville
already took that idea.)
And in a real marketing coup, the Cardinals will give the new logo some
early exposure by having defensive end Bertrand Berry wear it on
his helmet in the upcoming Pro Bowl, which should be a great showcase
for the eight or nine people who actually, y'know, watch the Pro Bowl.
While the logo change is merely evolutionary, Cardinals VP Michael Bidwill
promises that the team's new uniforms, due to be unveiled in the spring,
will be "revolutionary," a term that should be setting off alarm bells in any perceptive person's head. Uni Watch's advice: Avoid
the rush and start hating the new uniforms now.
Last week's column on team captains left many readers wondering why the
great sport of soccer was omitted from the discussion. The reason, of
course, is that Uni Watch, like any other red-blooded American, is utterly
soccer-clueless. But now, thanks to helpful tutorials provided by a variety
of soccer fans, Uni Watch is happy to explain that a soccer captain wears a
armband (sometimes imprinted with a highly creative symbol or
can be removed and given to another player in the event of an ejection or
substitution. Now could someone please explain why a soccer uni is called a
Meanwhile, contrary to Uni Watch's initial report, there's been at least
one NFL team whose captains wore the designatory "C": the 1983 Cowboys, as
seen in these photos of Drew
Breunig, Danny White, and
Ron Fellows. Uni Watch, struggling mightily not to make any jokes about
the "C" possibly standing for "cocaine" (remember, the early '80s was when
Dallas became known as South America's Team), sends an appreciative
shout-out to the many Cowboys fans who wrote in to protest this oversight.
Speaking of oversights, Eric Hoey notes that at least one NHL team
has worn the "C" and "A" on the right side, instead of the customary left.
That would be the 1995-96 Kings, whose bizarre third
jersey featured a royal illustration where the letter would normally
Best "C"-related feedback of all: this story, relayed
by Andrew Spey. It only takes a minute to read -- enjoy.
It turns out that the Kansas City Outlaws hockey team (who, as noted in
last week's column, recently wore jerseys that mimicked the baseball unis of the old Kansas City Monarchs)
are far from the only team to have worn uniforms based on another sport's
attire. In fact, the cross-dressing trend appears to be fairly common in
Tom Rogers and James J. Bonsignore note that the Cleveland
Barons have held several "Pigskin on the Pond" nights, with the team
Mike McGrew points out that the Tulsa Oilers have worn jerseys honoring the OU
football team, and press releases indicate that the Oklahoma City
Blazers have done this too.
Mike Petriello and Robert Payne report that the Charlotte
Checkers welcomed the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats to town by wearing Bobcats-style uniforms. (The minor-league Charlotte Knights baseball
team went a step further, wearing actual
Bobcats jerseys for a game last August.)
There's a related example from the world of college hockey, where Cory
LeFevre informs us that the University of Michigan team wears
helmets patterned after the school's football
helmets (which are in turn patterned after the football team's old
leather helmets, which means the hockey headgear is a representation of
a representation). A bit of Uni Watch photo research reveals that the
school's lacrosse, field hockey, and swimming teams have also gone this route.
And there's more: James Weise reports that the Michigan trend
inspired the Ohio State hockey team to wear its own football-inspired helmets for a game against the Wolverines last month. No word
on whether the Buckeyes will be putting little merit stickers on the
Paul Lukas plans to wear a baseball jersey while watching the Super
Bowl. Archives of his pre-Page 2 "Uni Watch" columns are available here and here. Got a question or comment for him? Send it here.