What’s been the biggest change in pro football over the past 30 years? A lot of things come to mind: modern training methods, the increased size of linemen, the overall increase in athleticism and speed, the advent of video review, the increasing dominance of African-American players, the disappearance of jersey sleeves, the utter joylessness of head coaches.
But if you ask me, the biggest development — and easily the most underrated one — is the ubiquity of gloves. Almost everyone wears them now, even quarterbacks, and it’s no exaggeration to say that most of the acrobatic catches you see receivers making these days wouldn’t be possible without them. Yeah, some players in the pre-glove era wore stickum, but I saw Lester Hayes and Fred Biletnikoff in their primes, and they couldn’t make any of these one-handed catches that you routinely see guys making today. Gloves have completely redefined the passing game.
All of which came to mind during yesterday’s Cowboys/Eagles game, which featured something I’d never seen before: Philly WR Kevin Curtis took a spill along the sideline, and at first it looked like his glove had come off during the play. But as he got up, it became apparent that the glove had actually fallen apart — the upper part was still on his wrist while the lower part had been ripped right off of his hand, much to Curtis’s own confusion.
In other developments from yesterday:
• Jason Taylor’s captaincy patch was coming loose by the end of the Dolphins/Ravens game.
• As has been noted here several times in recent weeks, the “Ravens” wordmark has been missing from Willis McGahee’s black jersey in recent weeks, but it was present and accounted for on his purple jersey yesterday.
(Big thanks to Chad Todd and Randy Williams from the Kevin Curtis screen grabs.)
Research Project: My ESPN colleague Mary Buckheit is working on a piece about women’s volleyball uniforms — why they’re so skimpy, why some players have issues with them, why they’re so different from the men’s uniforms, whether they’re so revealing that they’ve actually led some players to develop eating disorders, that sort of thing. Here’s a note from her:
The sport of volleyball has seen it all — unitards, mesh shorts, bun huggers, long sleeves, racerback jerseys, tall socks, no socks — what’s the deal? What is the functionality of volleyball uniforms, specifically the super-short spandex? Are women really inhibited by “cumbersome” traditional athletic shorts? You know, the ones that are perfectly suitable for soccer and basketball. Do the minis really make you perform better? Would men’s statistics spike if they dared ditch their mesh or board shorts in favor of a biker boxer brief type uni? Would they tally more digs that way? C’mon.
When you see volleyball on TV, do you stop and watch for an extra second to scope out the 6-foot college coeds in 3-inch spandex shorts? If so, any feelings on what it would be like as a father of a high school volleyball player knowing guys in the gym are doing the same thing to your 16-year-old sophomore setter?
If anyone has any thoughts on this, please feel free to contact me. Thanks!
I know at least a few of you know a lot more about volleyball than I do, so please share your knowledge with Mary. Thanks.
Raffle Reminder: In case you missed it on Friday, I’m currently raffling off a bunch of stuff. For details, scroll down to the middle of Friday’s entry. As always, you can increase your odds of winning by joining the Uni Watch membership program.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Check out this photo of Lou Gehrig, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, and Babe Ruth. Odd to see that the insignia on Ruth’s jacket is “N.Y.,” but on Gehrig’s it appears to be just “NY” — no periods (with thanks to Bruce Menard). ”¦ A member of the Winthrop women’s hoops team has changed her uni number to honor her late fiancÃ© (as forwarded by Jonathan Carone). ”¦ A reader who prefers not to give his real name has gotten some good pics showing exactly how the Rangers are hemming their jerseys. ”¦ Yikes. ”¦ Northwest Missouri State safety Aldwin Foster-Rettig (who already has a lengthy NOB) tore his jersey on Saturday, leading to a rather makeshift repair (with thanks to Chris Wheeler). ”¦ Michael Poplawski reports that German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen modified their jersey crest to look like a Christmas tree on Saturday. Here’s a closer view. ”¦ Reprinted from Sunday’s comments: Wisconsin-Whitewater’s jerseys have a “Warhawks” wordmark, but it was missing from Justin Beaver’s jersey. ”¦ The Dayton hoops team has unveiled some alternate throwbacks (with thanks to Todd Herzog). ”¦ This has resulted in this. ”¦ More NFL fines assessed here. ”¦ Doug Weight, making his Ducks debut last night, was wearing a pair of Brad May’s gloves (good catch by Alex Warner). ”¦ Remember the recent Ticker item about the missing stripes on Bill Guerin’s jersey? Here’s a follow-up (with thanks to Michael Schuerlein).