McCormick Place - November 2016
We had vowed this year, by popular demand, not to do a football uniform column on the grounds that when you say uniforms are important, some people think you are crazy. However, if you check the internet, you will find we are not a lone nut. It may be true that we were the first to critique uniforms, back before players even wore helmets, but today it has become its own industry. Whole sites are dedicated to the subject. We kept this vow until one-third of the way through the season. Events of the last few weeks, however, have created a moral obligation, on behalf of God himself, to comment on some of the disgusting appearances some high profile teams have made.
The breaking point came on the professional level, which is unusual, for successful, professional teams are noted for not messing with winning uniforms. Dallas, Kansas City, the New York Giants, Oakland (a personal favorite), Pittsburgh, Chicago and Green Bay are, oddly enough, the most traditional. When you surf channels on Sunday afternoons, you don’t have to question their identity. And once upon a time, that was true of the Miami Dolphins. Back in the Don Shula championship seasons, and even before, the Dolphins were in that group. On most Sundays, home or away, they appeared in all white. They always wore white at home in deference to the Florida heat, and on the road, most teams chose to wear their colors, so the Fins hardly needed a second aqua jersey. But either way, they reeked class and played like it too.
They rarely wore those stupid green pants, but when they did in the ’80s, it was the first sign of their decline. Then, in recent years, they changed their color shade to an effeminate tone of computer-screen blue, and came out more often in matching pants, and lost consistently. They changed coaches every 30 seconds, but none of them had the good sense to return to the winning look of old. And then came a recent game against the Cincinnati Bengals (a team with the ugliest uniforms in sports), and the Dolphins come out in absurd yellow-orange jerseys and pants. With their standard white helmets, the uniforms would go over well at a Papal event, but as football gear they managed to out-ugly even the Bengals, and they played even uglier. We can find no evidence that this was even a throwback uniform. This game was our vow-breaker, and thus we call for the total dismantlement of the Dolphins, beginning with the somewhat new stadium and ending with the costume designer.
This disaster occurred on the same weekend as one of the biggest college games of the year, which was lost by an excellent Louisville team when they gave Clemson 10 points by wearing splotchy acrylic red helmets that seemed to have been composed of recycled 1947 yo-yos. It ruined the day for Louisville’s great quarterback, Boynton Beach’s Lamar Jackson, who should transfer to Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Alabama or Auburn, where they would know how to dress him for the success he deserves.
And speaking of Notre Dame, the Irish are not having a good year, but not because of their uniforms, which are little changed from the outfit that Johnny Lujack wore in the 1940s. Only rarely has ND messed with their iconic dark blue and real gold helmets look, and they’ve usually paid a price when they did. An example was the late ’80s, when they hired a high school coach who changed the jersey hue from dark blue to a lighter “Blessed Mother” blue. And they lost to Miami, 58-7.
In a dream, God’s football adviser, Saint Knut, told us Notre Dame’s troubles are not their defense, whose coordinator got fired, but punishment for last year’s sin when they wore novelty uniforms for one game. They managed to win ugly that night against Boston College, but when God saw his favorite team wearing bilious combinations of green that made them look like the GEICO lizard, he had to take action. Thus 2016.
It is too early to rate UM’s uniforms under their new coach, Mark Richt, but it is worth noting that he attended Boca Raton High School, whose uniforms clone the famous Michigan garb. And his previous post, Georgia, is a college not known for messing with their suits on game day. So far there are indications that UM is going back to a look similar to that when they won national championships—a welcome contrast to the last few years when they changed their guise almost every game, each time looking worse than before.
Also, Richt played at Miami under coach Howard Schnellenberger, a man who understands tradition. He wore a jacket and tie on the sidelines. And he designed the original Florida Atlantic uniforms when he founded that program and had remarkable early success. Unfortunately, FAU has gone crazy with uniform changes since his retirement, even switching the colors of their helmets. Coach can’t be happy. He sure wasn’t 10 years ago when UM, a school he led to national titles, began adopting a slash and burn look, a bold and stupid departure from the uniforms they wore to greatness.
Schnellenberger, when he was at FAU, was asked one day what he thought of his old team’s changed uniforms.
“They’re awful,” he said.
God nodded in agreement.