Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In Which I Find Myself Agreeing With Peter King

I'm not a huge fan of sportswriter Peter King, but he went on a rant in his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column yesterday that deserves to be repeated.

This was numbers six through eight on his "Ten Things I Think I Think" list:
6. I think I’m not saying uniforms should be sacred. When I was growing up, teams basically had two of them: home and away. In recent years, it’s changed, of course. But this constant fiddling with everything players and coaches wear, and the pink and the camouflage and the prison-stripe uniforms and so many throw-up throwbacks … it’s out of control. Isn’t there a uniform cop in the NFL offices who, very occasionally, says, “We’re making ourselves looks bad here. We’re a parody of ourselves. Are we seriously allowing our teams to looks different for more than half of each season?” The NFL so bastardizes everything about the uniform that it’s altogether laughable when they fine a player for having some odd-color shoes or different eye-black, or fine a player such as Cam Heyward when he puts his late father’s name in small letters on his eye black.

Example: Marcus Mariota, wearing this all-Carolina Blue uniform for the Color Rush (!!!) game and blue shoes, and with the Salute to Service camouflage towel tucked into his waist, dives to the pylon for a touchdown Thursday night. Camera goes to the sideline. There’s coach Mike Mularkey, with the camouflage headset, camouflage cap and camouflage lapel pin. Last month, it would have been the pink towel flying on Mariota’s dive to the pylon, with pink cleats, and the coach on the sidelines with the pink hat and pink-accented headset. In nine of 17 weeks this season, the NFL makes the uniform not a uniform. And in some other weeks, the uniform is something that’s not a uniform. In the Oxford Dictionary, uniform is defined as “not changing in form or character; remaining the same in all cases and at all times.” The NFL does not have uniforms anymore. The NFL has costumes.

7. I think I have one question for the NFL marketers: Just how many of the 256 regular-season games this year—six? nine?—are the players and the coaches allowed to dress in the traditional uniforms, instead of being billboards for whatever causes the NFL chooses?

8. I think, while we’re at it, get off my lawn.
Curmudgeonly quip aside, he's absolutely right. The NFL has been slowly moving from uniforms to costumes for years. Their partnership with Nike, who's been doing that to college football for a decade, has only hastened the decline of the pros.

One of the things I've always loved about the Packers' uniforms is that it takes the "one at home, one on the road" formula and distills it down to its purest form. Since 1960, the Packers have had one coherent uniform with only the jerseys being swapped out home versus road. No alternate pants or special elements (this after Vince Lombardi's one-year experiment with white socks on the road). It's always a gold helmet, gold pants and green socks. There's a purity to it, the perfect Platonic football uniform. That's been diminished to a certain extent in recent years by the throwback alternates, much as I love them. It will be significantly diminished next season if the Packers finally knuckle under and join the silly "Color Rush" nonsense.

If a dedicated company man like King can see that, and articulate it so forcefully, maybe there's still hope.

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