Throwaway, Not Throwback Uniforms

October 21, 2013

Why is it that football teams, both college and professional, take great pride in wearing hideous looking throwback uniforms?  We all know the answer, that being money.  Uniform makers, such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour make millions of dollars selling team jerseys, and by having more than just the typical home and away jerseys means much more revenue.  Especially from fans of the Oregon Ducks, who have something like three hundred different possible game uniform combinations.

Watching Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and my beloved Cleveland Browns, I could not help but laugh at the dreadful looking throwback uniforms worn by the Packers.  There is a very good reason why that team changed the design of their uniforms many years ago, that being they are truly ugly.  The Browns might have gotten their butts kicked by the Packers, but at least they did not look comical in doing so.

For it to be truly a throwback uniform, there should only be a couple of numbers and maybe the team name or insignia.  And especially no uniform manufacturer’s name or emblem plastered everywhere. However this is never the case.  Football lost its soul when it started placing the player’s name on the back of the jersey.  Identification of each player is the reason for a number in the first place.  After adding names, football as a game, changed from being about team and instead, certain position players (i.e., quarterbacks, running backs and especially now, wide receivers) have become huge stars, many times overshadowing the very team for which they play.

Granted, there are several pro teams whose throwback uniforms look better than what they currently wear, those being the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers.  However, all three of these teams came into existence in 1960 during the creation of the American Football League, which later merged with the National Football League in 1970.  I have yet to see a throwback uniform dating back much longer than 1960 that does not look repulsive.

Another thing many college teams are doing is wearing black uniforms, even though the school colors are anything but that.  Again, the reason is money, as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all know that black jerseys sell.  While channel surfing in search of a good game to watch; now days you never can tell what teams are playing because of all the different uniforms being worn.  Call me old-fashioned, or just plain old, however, when I watch a game I like to be able to recognize the teams playing by their uniforms.  Not being able to do so, I might as well be watching a game between Podunk U. and Northeastern Southwest State instead of two traditional powerhouse universities.

Thankfully, when the Browns, the team of my youth, wear their throwback uniforms, they look almost identical to what they currently wear.  The only thing that indicates something different is a small number on the helmets.  The reasoning for the popularity of these modified throwback uniforms, we are told, is that the players like them.  In reality however, what really do 18-20 year old, college kids know?  It is this very same generation who proudly wear their pants down around their knees.  We all know the real reasoning for the old-time uniforms.  Authentic team apparel is big business.  That is the sole reason for throwback jerseys rapid rise in popularity in recent years.

Steven H. Spring

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