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Monday Morning Uni Watch

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Out with the pink, in with the G.I. Joe. That was the message all over the NFL yesterday, as the league shifted into “military appreciation” mode. There were G.I. Joe captaincy patches; G.I. Joe goalpost bumpers; G.I. Joe gloves; G.I. Joe pylons; G.I. Joe graphics on the game balls; G.I. Joe ribbons for the coaches and the zebras; G.I. Joe isotonic beverage towels (no word on what the cups looked like or what they were filled with); branding on the end line (first time I can ever recall seeing something printed there); and military escorts for player intros. All teams wore G.I. Joe ribbon decals on their helmets, and many teams added military service unit decals for good measure (with a few teams using lots of different ones). At least one team — the Colts — dressed its cheerleaders in military uniforms, which strikes me as wildly inappropriate. Oh, and just in case anyone was missing the point, Lambeau Field featured this. Subtle.

All this hokum is supposedly at least somewhat connected to Veterans Day. But (1) Vets Day is next Sunday, not yesterday; (2) the festivities are actually more geared toward active duty personnel, not veterans; and (3) although the NFL’s G.I. Joe-isms may be seasonal, they’re part of a larger G.I. Joe industrial complex that has become a full-time enterprise throughout the sports world — an enterprise that includes all those fighter jet flyovers, all those military personnel singing the national anthem and “God Bless America,” and, of course, all the camouflage uniform elements that have become a staple of the uni-verse. Seriously, when was the last time we had a week without some team going G.I. Joe? We’ll see more of it this Friday, when at least eight college hoops teams (or maybe more, I’ve lost track) will go G.I. Joe for their season-opening games.

Collectively, this enterprise has turned the sports world into a de facto propaganda mill, implicitly promoting the notion that all military endeavors are inherently just and honorable — a notion that is false. Of course, many military endeavors are just and honorable, but the blanket rubber-stamping of “military appreciation” strikes me as a worrisome and even dangerous trend, as does the implicit conflation of “military appreciation” with patriotism. We all know that Vietnam vets got a raw deal upon returning to America, many of them being blamed for their participation in an unpopular war. But it feels like our culture has now overcompensated, giving the thumbs-up to virtually anything military-related without any critical thought or analysis. (By coincidence, there’s a good article about this in today’s New York Times.) The sports world, and especially the uni-verse, has been a prime mover in this cultural shift.

By far the most interesting move on the field yesterday was made by the Cardinals, who chose to appreciate the military by wearing “40” helmet decals — Pat Tillman’s old number. Of course, the military lied about the circumstances of Tillman’s death in an attempt to create a fraudulent propaganda narrative. In other words, they exploited his status as an athlete to promote their own agenda. Now the NFL is exploiting his status as a solider to promote the league’s agenda. Nice now everything comes full-circle, eh?

I know some of you reading this are past or present military personnel. I know some of you may have enlisted out of a sincere desire to serve your country, that others of you may have enlisted out of economic necessity, and that still others may have enlisted in order to forge a career path. There’s nothing wrong with any of those routes. I have respect for what you do, and I know that some of you can truly be considered heroes. But I also know that not all military members are heroes, just as not all heroes are in the military. I mean you no ill will, but I believe the sports world’s celebration of the military has gotten badly out of whack.

(Incidentally: It’s worth noting that every NFL helmet has carried an American flag decal since Sept. 11, 2001. Wasn’t that to support the troops? Maybe the effect of the flag wears off after 11 years. Or maybe that’s now a perma-decal..? Hmmmmm.)

A certain subset of the readership will no doubt complain that I’ve gotten “too political” today. But don’t blame me; instead, blame the NFL, because they’re the ones who put all the G.I. Joe-isms front and center. Make no mistake, that’s the political act here. I’m just responding to what I see.

Now then, as to the rest of yesterday’s NFL action:

• The ’Skins wore their 1930s throwbacks, and I hope we can agree that those leatherhead-esque helmets were an unqualified success. Hope to see more teams doing this. Meanwhile, I don’t approve of the image on Mike Shanahan’s sweatshirt, but I do like that it appears to have been chain-stitched. (Interesting to see that Shanahan didn’t wear the G.I. Joe ribbon, incidentally. Probably for the best, given the American military’s history with the people depicted on the sweatshirt.)

• Colts interim coach Bruce Arians is still saluting his boss.

• The Jags wore solid black.

• When the Seahawks go full scuba, it doesn’t really look that different than it looked last year, only now there’s more neon snot.

• Pewter vs. silver makes for a very nice-looking game.

• I really hope the Bills stick with the blue pants on the road. Very nice look.

• Two fans in Green Bay came up with some jack-o-lanterns that put all of ours to shame.

•  During last night’s Cowboys/Falcons game, NBC ran a promo for next Sunday’s Bears/Texans game, including a photo of Brian Urlacher that had obviously been Photoshopped. Looks like their throwback typeface on the primary jersey. Odd.

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One flap down: The good news, as you’ve probably figured out from the length of today’s entry, is that I can once again type with my right hand. (If you don’t know why this is noteworthy, go back and check out Friday’s entry.) The bad news is that today I’ll be busy with pre-surgery testing, tomorrow I’ll be busy with assorted Election Day stuff, and Wednesday I’ll be busy trying to finish my college hoops season-preview column for ESPN, so the rest of this week’s entries will probably be on the shorter side. (In fact, Johnny Ek may pinch-hit for me tomorrow.) You can go ahead and send in Ticker submissions as per usual, but I may not have time to get to all of them. Thanks for understanding.

Then on Thursday I’ll have surgery on my fractured wrist (assuming the coming Nor’easter storm, due to hit here late Wednesday, doesn’t force a postponement). That will cause my hand to swell up, so my typing situation will be back to square one.

I’m lucky enough never to have undergone surgery before, so I didn’t know that the doctor actually has to write out a prescription for the procedure, as you can see above. Interesting! (Insert jokes about refills and generics vs. brand names here.)

Although I can type, I can’t lift anything (like, anything, not even a sheet of paper) with my right hand, so I’m living a one-armed life, which is annoying, but whaddaya gonna do. The biggest adjustment, aside from figuring out how to carve a big hunk of meat (tricky but doable), is that I can no longer go for my daily bike ride — something I’ve been doing for over 14 years.

I knew I’d miss the endorphin rush that comes with daily exercise, plus I don’t wanna get fat. So I did something I never thought I’d do: I joined a gym.

I don’t like gyms. I’m not opposed to them, mind you, but I’ve always felt that they’re not for me. The jacked-up meatheads, the thumpa-thumpa music, the pervasive sense of passive-aggressive narcissism — not my scene. Plus I prefer to exercise outside, not inside. So it’s sort of amusing to find myself pedaling away on the stationary bike while reading a magazine and listening to a podcast, just like everyone else (only they’re all reading, like, People and Shape, and I’m reading The Believer). It’s just another punchline to the joke of my broken arm.

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Election Day research project: With America’s quadrennial spasm of democracy once again upon us, it’s time to revisit one of my favorite tropes: the tendency of Election Night talking heads to wear purple neckties, purple shirts, purple dresses, and other purple attire, which they do in a largely fruitless attempt to appear non-partisan (blue + red = purple, get it?).

Here’s how you can help: If you spot any election reporter wearing this most loathsome of hues on Tuesday, please take a screen shot and then either (a) send it to me or, even better, (b) upload it and send me the URL. Broken wing willing, I’ll post the images on Wednesday.

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If you’re looking for coverage of the new Astros uniforms, go back to Saturday’s entry.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Very interesting 20th-anniversary patch for the Rockies. I like the unusual shape. … Check it out — Wilt wearing a mask (great find by Jerry Wolper). … Intriguing helmet news from Leo Thompson, who writes: “Jon Falk, the equipment manager over at the University of Michigan, was interviewed on a local Michigan radio station when a question came up asking whether or not Michigan would ever change their helmets. Mr. Falk answered with something along the lines that he wanted to get have ‘shiny helmets like Notre Dame’ but that it was tough to do right now because of the specific colors of Michigan. He then went on to say that we may see something new next year.” ”¦ Joe Giza found an old swimming jacket with lots of cool patches. ”¦ Nicole Haase was at an AHL game and noticed a ref wearing wider zebra stripes than a linesman. … Bryan Molloy came up with a cool Marathon-related T-shirt design, with the proceeds going to hurricane relief. … Complete identity makeover in the works for the Reading Phillies (from Adam Brodsky). ”¦ Pink uniforms have become so commonplace on all levels — minor league, high school, whatever — that I rarely bother to mention them anymore. But Central High in Louisiana took the concept further than most teams do the other day (from Troy Gaulden). ”¦ Loads of 1969 football cards here. ”¦ Oh baby, look at these awesome 1970s women’s bowling team photos (big thanks to Thomas Langan). ”¦ Thomas White has started a blog devoted to the Pacific Coast League — lots of great photos. Recommended. ”¦ Thinking good thoughts about you, Bizkit. Hang in there.

Comments (219)

    I looked at the Urlacher photo before I read your remark and didn’t catch the font. However his head appears to be too small for his body. Almost like the guy in the waiting room in Beetlejuice sprinkled him with some of the magic powder.

    I disagree the cheerleaders dressing in military uniforms is inappropriate. The USO has had women dressed in military uniforms for years.


    For what it’s worth, the general consensus among the Michigan fans listening to the interview was that link Especially because, as the poster says, Michigan AD David Brandon’s inbox would explode.

    And this, from Hunter Lochmann, UM’s chief marketing officer for athletics, “do not believe everything you read. We are not messing with the helmet.”

    I think the only way they might “mess” with the helmet is to make it easier to apply the wing and stripes; perhaps HGI could do it for them. But it won’t really look different.

    Very interesting lede today, Paul. Glad to see you’ll be getting the injury fixed up quickly, and I hope you heal up AQAP!

    In the recent past I have actively tried to refrain from ranting about the subject of today’s lede. For those who don’t see my annoying comments on it from time to time, I am a Navy Vet, I served in the Submarine force for just short of a whopping 5 years, and admittedly spent a lot of that time on shore duty because of 2 shoulder surgeries and years of physical therapy. This brings me to an impass of sorts with the subject today. Patriotism and Military Appreciation, and the mix-up of the two. I am a huge patriot. I fucking love this country. It’s why I joined the military, and why I have such vitriol(sp) for this kind of stuff.

    I have no problem with patriotism, I love it, I encourage it, and I appreciate it. “Military Appreciation” is great as well, when its genuine. When someone would walk upto mw while I was in uniform, shake my hand and thank me, and then proceed to tell me something like “I really appreciate what you’re doing for me and my family. I don’t support the war, but I support you 100%” or something always along those lines, was torn. In my personal experience and opinion I didn’t really do all that much to deserve such praise, appreciation, and recognition. Like Paul mentioned, Vietnam Veterans did much more, for much longer, and for much less “appreciation” to say the least. This is why, every single time I got that handshake I would reply with something like “Thank you very much Sir/Ma’am, but I’m just doing my job.”.

    I am not, nor have I evr been a “hero”. I served, I loved it, and I have MANY post-military problems to deal with on a daily basis. I may be getting a little off-topic, slet me close with my main point. I gave a lengthy backstory so people will know where I come from with my opinion on the matter of “Military Appreciation” in the NFL and all the other possibly, but probably not well intentioned campaigns by other major sports leagues… Fucking stop already. You want to “support” veterans? Create ways to help them get jobs, not hats. Help them transition from military-life to civilian life, don’t put a special paint job on your field/uniforms. Shake a veteran’s hand, don’t create a league-wide money grab and use us as the front.

    I don’t ask for thanks, I don’t ask for hand-outs, and I sure as hell didn’t ask for a ribbon on a pylon.

    Sorry to be so long-winded.

    If all this “patriotism” is so rampant and so genuine, why is our military stretched so thin that many of our personnel are on their third, or even fourth, overseas deployments?

    As someone from a generation for whom a minimum of a couple years service was considered one of our obligations as a citizen, this all sounds SO phony.

    Comes off like…”Me join the military? Oh, no, we have people for that. And God bless ’em for getting me out of it.”

    Bryant McKinnie runs up a $375,000 tab (supposedly) at Miami strip clubs. Here’s an idea, maybe he could give $375,000 to a fund to help military families stateside instead.

    Oh, wait, he’s broke, isn’t he.

    Point being, “Yes, I have the IQ of ice cube (or the common sense of one), but thanks to others serving instead of me having to do it, I can stay home and make enough to run up a megatab in strip clubs.”

    I’ll be honest, and I am speaking for myself only here of course, but I don’t want “that guy” serving next to me. I’d rather be stretched thin, serving multiple back-to-back deployments than serving with a shit-bag who doesn’t want to do the job. Trust me, I served with quite a few of them.

    I am not disagreeing with you, ricko. At least not fully. I hate to see the “oh, someone else will take care of it” attitude of many people today, but at the same time, if he feels that way I think my division is better off without him anyway.

    But yes, that 375,000 could do a LOT to help active-duty families.

    “I hate to see the ‘oh, someone else will take care of it’ attitude of many people today, but at the same time, if he feels that way I think my division is better off without him anyway.”

    No doubt. Can’t rely on the jagoffs.

    But I wasn’t suggesting the draft should be re-instituted. Rather that an awful lot of his “patriotism” is phony bullshit. Lip service. From players and fans alike. Warriors, my ass.

    For those who HAVE been in the service and know who “Jody” is…to me it feels like Jody wearing a camo hat to show his support. Hey, thanks, Jody; glad I could make your life easier.

    Your long-windedness did a good job of saying what you wanted to.

    And good luck with those post-military problems.

    I’m with you on this one Paul and Coleman. With all the money wasted on producing all the items for sale by these large corporations it makes me cringe to think of the wasted money.

    Think what could be done if people simply donated money directly to the organization rather than buying a product with a licensed logo on it. My wife is a victim of this system. She sees something for breast cancer and wants to buy it to “support the cause”. In my mind why don’t we save the money and send Susie G the check for the money we would have spent on the junk.

    Agreed. It’s also consistent with the “eliminate the middleman” rhetoric that is still very popular.

    Thanks for saying that, Coleman. I have a co-worker who served in the first Desert Storm. He’s the opposite of you. You can’t mention a thing about the military without his getting bent out of shape (which is irritating as he never saw any action – but still served – gotta give him that). Nice to know that there is another side taken by vets.

    Thank you, jen. Just remember, as I am sure you would anyway, that your co-worker does not represent the majority of us veterans. I don’t speak for us all by any stretch of the imagination, but I imagine the majority would agree that we typically refrain from conversations like the stuff we’re talking about here. Since we’ve been on the “inside” of it, if you will, we have such a different view on it all than most, and many people just aren’t open to hearing the truth. They’d rather be gung-ho with their misinformed, false ideas of what the military is all about, and bash us for it.

    Sorry, that one got into a bit of a rant too. I’m noticing a trend here for myself, better shut up while I’m ahead!

    And that’s what gets me, Coleman, my co-worker doesn’t think I should be allowed to have an opinion on the military or any military campaigns as I was not in the military. There are soooo many different opinions and branches of arguments that can touch off. Furthermore, the military, to him, is an almighty being never to be questioned. It’s quite scary as I’m a fairly intelligent human being, yet I feel I need to kowtow to just keep the peace in our shared 12×12 cell!

    (Whoa is me!)

    Wow, that is seriously ridiculous, and again, NOT how the majority of military personnel, that I know any way, look at things. You pay our salaries for goodness sake! We quite literally work for the citizens, and their (your, and now our) opinion matters immensely.

    I’m truly sorry you have to deal with someone like that on a daily basis.

    Marty, it’s ridiculous. He started websites, sticks his nose into meetings with generals (which is impressive since he’s been out of the service for 20+ years), etc. Again, yes, he served, but a forklift ran over his foot the second week he was on the ground. I mean, I get it, you served, but my Dad, who’s a vet in his own right, is flabbergasted by this guy.

    In fact, my Dad launched into a diatribe about the whole “Hero” thing. Yes, thanks to everyone who leaves home to serve and protect, but not everyone who wears a uniform is a “Hero”.

    Again, it’s a subject that touches a nerve and I would never disrespect anyone in uniform by telling them that they “are any less than”, but it’s not a conversation that should be off-limits.

    Most of the people I’ve met who were in the military impressed me as being intelligent, open minded and dedicated. And I’m sure they faced tough situations when deployed. That said, I wish we could provide them with the same sort of intelligent political leadership. They deserve it.

    Excessive flag waving, cammo unis, “American the Beautiful” and so on tend to make the average thoughtful volunteer look more like a one demential GI Joe character, and desensitizes our decisions to send complex human beings off to fight in situations that our leaders may not fully understand. Or are being honest about.

    Or, more importantly, will they still call it the NATIONAL Football League? (Sorry ’bout the ALLCAPS–I’m not HTML-savvy enough to italicize or boldface the word).

    Haha see also: National Basketball Association (Toronto, formerly Vancouver); American League (Toronto); National League (formerly Montreal).

    If they put a team in London, I hope they expand to Hawaii, Mexico City and Toronto. Put them in the same division and play all games at midnight eastern :)

    If there ever was a 3rd rail topic this is one. I frankly am on Paul’s side on this overall. Maybe it is my obsession with history, but I worry when a nation becomes hyper militarized like the US has in areas that have no cause for it.

    Why is it third rail? It’s a topic we can all discuss reasonably and intelligently (or it should be). Don’t set it up for unnecessary drama.

    I just know from my time in the political world that any time you question any showing of rampant patriotism the hawks start circling.

    Alex raises an important issue: the post-1980 celebration of all things military is a huge break from America’s traditional values and our political heritage. In the time of the Founders, and all the way up through the 1930s and even the following two decades, Americans, including those of our presidents from Washington to Jackson to Grant to Eisenhower who were themselves military leaders first, distrusted the idea of a standing national military. The culturally and politically conservative stance on the military is distrust, because throughout human history strong military establishments have always – always – undermined liberty and self-government.

    Make no mistake: Americans have always honored veterans who served, especially those who served in wartime. But the notion of celebrating the military or the services individually as institutions is a radical break from longstanding small-r republican values.

    Just one of many sports/cultural issues where Paul argues from a deeply conservative position.

    how about the NFL does a fucking “sandy relief appreciation” weekend?

    while i fortunately (finally) got my power back yesterday, there are still hundreds of thousands without and it’s fucking 30 degrees at night now

    /off to the office (which, fortunately or unfortunately, has had power throughout) to try to help those without power, as i’ve been doing for the past full week, sometimes for 12 hours a day

    it wasn’t fun sleeping (if possible) in the cold, dark, wearing six layers and waking up to the site of my breath…and im one of the lucky ones because at least i had a place to come home to

    no offense to the guys and gals serving in the military, but fuck this shit…get some power and help to the 100’s of thousands who have none still

    Classy. Transparency doesn’t equate with being appropriate.

    There were a lot more Sandy ads yesterday than military ads during CBS, FOX, & NBC broadcasts.

    Things are terrible for a lot of people in the mid-Atlantic right now, don’t get me wrong. Things are terrible all of the time for a lot of people – including families with parents and children serving in active war zones.

    It’s sport. If we always worry about the “bigger issue” we shouldn’t have stadiums, televisions, and blogs. That isn’t to say we should be negligent or inappropriate (right?), but we need some perspective.

    The vitriol for purple and the angst against ribbons sound pretty similar.

    And before I get blasted, I am in the mid-Atlantic. Family and friends have it just as bad as anyone.

    And, for the sake of argument, let’s say that things like sports are supposed to serve the purpose of taking us away from the endless manner of bad stuff that comes just with being alive. Pick a season for ANY sport where SOMETHING tragic didn’t happen.

    Maybe, just maybe, sports should stay the hell out of all of it. Why do they have to show us they care? Shouldn’t we just ASSUME they care? Shouldn’t we understand they’re just games, entertainment, escape? Isn’t attempting to be “socially relevant” kind of ill-advised on the face of it? They can’t just be games?

    Swear to God, it almost seems to stem from the NFL still trying to make up for the fact they played the Sunday after JFK’s assassination. And the other leagues don’t want to be painted with that brush.

    “There were a lot more Sandy ads yesterday than military ads during CBS, FOX, & NBC broadcasts.”


    well, now see…

    i wouldn’t know that because my sunday wasn’t spent watching football … i was working a 6th consecutive 11-12 hour day trying to help people without power get it


    Good point.

    George Lucas (any relation to Paul?) just donated 4 billion dollars to education. So… we should get his opinion on ribbons and uniforms and grey facemasks, because his altruism is far superior to your 6th 11-12 hour day – and obviously much greater than me watching football.

    Phil, ABC pulled out all the stops this morning. They had a telethon for Sandy victims. It featured the biggest stars of our generation, including Tony Danza, Snookie, and the cast of some show I’d never heard of before.

    The cast of “Good Morning, America” all suffered rotator cuff tears today, patting themselves on the back for how much they were doing for humanity.

    Phil, maybe you should thank the 7000 Guardsmen and women who have left home to help those affected by Sandy.

    ‘Skins throwbavk helmets look too oddly-gold-ish from afar. They needed to add some sort of faux stitching or something.

    Hey Paul,

    I sent you an image about a year ago of an idea I came up with and worked up in Photoshop that looks exactly like what Dumb Guy is talking about. A leatherhead-looking modern helmet with stitches and all. I can’t seem to find it anywhere. This is a longshot, but… you wouldn’t still have it, wouldja?


    This makes me feel like the guy who created the Ravens logo before the Ravens “created” it. :D

    Here’s an ESPN story idea for you, Paul. I’m not sure they would run it seeing as they are in bed with many of the guilty parties, but it’s worth a shot.

    You should visit some (or one) of the major DI campuses that do the GI Joe pageantry and interview a wide swath of parties concerning their impressions of and support for/against this movement. These parties should include the actual athletes wearing the uniforms, the coaches, ADs, presidents, history professors, president of the faculty senate, active military students, etc.

    This trend not only talks to the militarization of sports, but that very trend intersects with two other already intersected trends. Those being the corporatization of higher education and the always increasing power athletic departments hold. These departments have power because of the corporatization of higher education. The corporatization of higher education includes universities doing what sports apparel companies tell them to do. And the loop continues endlessly.

    But, seeing as universities are, at least theoretically, places for academic engagement and critical thinking, shouldn’t there be some questioning of these very practices. Shouldn’t people (students, presidents, faculty members) be asking – is this good? is it just? is it the ideology we want to be presenting?

    And that’s where it gets tricky. Because, yes, it is the ideology they want to be presenting because only could can be gained from “celebrating” and “supporting” the troops, even if such celebration and support lacks any thread of critical thinking, engagement, and reflection. It’s as nonacademic as a university can be.

    The issue, and this shows how more to the left I am, is that few people seem to have an issue with this militarization or, said differently, care to realize the irony of an academic institution acting sans critical thinking. Just look at that GB photo (yes, I know, not college). It doesn’t seem like anyone cared to “opt out” from participating.

    This is all sad commentary on the state of higher education in America. It’s not the support that bothers me. It’s the lack of critical awareness present.

    Anyway, I’d love to see a embedded look at how these cultures function on college campuses. Clearly, very few people are caring to oppose such pageantry. Maybe more students should be required to read Orwell.

    In sum, I’m shocked (but not really) at how few people care to address this matter critically. That includes school presidents, the mainstream media (many of which broadcast the teams), and even academics. For all the academic groundswelling in opposition to Native American names and logos over the years, there seems to be very little of that in opposition to this current and growing trend.

    That seems an issue well worth investigation.

    Hell, Matt…..If Paul can’t do it, submit it to one of the correspondents on “Real Sports” on HBO. They specialize in long-form projects such as these. They receive many of their story ideas from folks writing in.

    I’m curious as to what the alternative to the Women’s *INDOOR* Bowls Championship might be!!!

    Actually, WIBC stands for Women’s International Bowling Congress.

    (PS: I nearly had a apostrophe catastrophe before I proofread my post)

    While I think any appreciation is generally a good thing, I think the level that it’s taken to defeats the purpose. I coach high school football and I have kids each year wanting to wear gloves, cleats, chin sleeves, you name it, but when you ask them why they’re wanting to wear those items, it’s not for support of a mother, aunt, or grandmother, it’s because it’s “tight” or different, or what the pros do, it’s an attention grabber. The meaning has been lost.

    Limit the appreciation to a ribbon, decal or patch. I think it’s a small gesture that, in my opinion, doesn’t take away from the identity of the team. I would like to see the proceeds of whatever merchandise sold on behalf of the appreciation, to fully go to whatever foundation or group that’s being “appreciated”, not the 5%-10% that seems to be the norm. Heck, why not a portion of the ticket sales?

    There is no such thing as a free lunch, someone, somewhere is paying for the pink, baby blue, camo. If you just bought patches or decals, instead of a uniform set, paint, cleats, whatever, and applied that to a foundation, or auctioned the game used items off, great, that’s how you show support and raise funds.

    At the high school level, all of the girl’s volleyball, field hockey, basketball, softball, soccer teams that create a shirt, or special uniform, more often than not, they weren’t given to the team for free, they were purchased. Instead of buying that BCA shirt, no matter the cost, send that money along to the foundations.

    Too bad Ice Capades isn’t still around.

    All their costumes could be camo.

    And wouldn’t that be special.

    I agree with Hank. In addition, as it regards that article and many others like it, can people pick up a thesaurus (or pull it up on their computer/phone) and use some words other than “brand”/”branding”?

    When I was very young and impressionable, I thought the Topps buffalo logo had human feet (actually, it’s a shadow). For the longest time, I drew horses, cows and other animals with feet and even toes. It took a while to break this habit…I’m talking third grade or so.


    Wow… just wow.

    I think those of you who apparently hate the idea of pink and vet colors are sincerely over-thinking this whole promotion. Relating the NFL’s promotion akin to some kind of propaganda is utter nonsense. Paul is clearly entitled to his opinion on his own website, but it upsets me to think that something like what was worn during Lions @ Jaguars evoked this much emotion and anger out of people. It’s just decals and patches, nothing more.

    Then Paul wants to complain about Sandy victims actually deserving their own decals and field paint over others. How selfish. Hello, did you not watch sports this weekend or any TV at all? The Red Cross phone line was clearly on display and damn helmet stickers really won’t do anything for victims. Yes, Sandy’s aftermath was horrible, I’m not denying this and the victims are real victims. Having no power, heat and losing homes is horrible. So are the the thousands of soldier’s who recieved brain trauma, lost limbs or their lives.

    My point is there are a lot of people hurting out there regardless of circumstance and you can’t please everyone or help everyone. Don’t look at the NFL to be a model at anything, we already know the NFL is just a business and nothing more.

    Side note (and full disclosure): As a service member, I didn’t find the cheerleader outfits inappropriate. I find females who take time out of their day inside a war to paint their nails or dye their hair way more incredulous than some cheerleaders wearing slutty costumes. They reminded me of vintage pin-up girls and I’m not against that.

    Relating the NFL’s promotion akin to some kind of propaganda is utter nonsense.

    Interesting point if expounded upon; irrelevant when asserted. Please explain WHY it is nonsense.

    Then Paul wants to complain about Sandy victims actually deserving their own decals and field paint over others.

    For the record, that was Phil — not me.

    I’m having issues reading today, didn’t see that first part.

    I feel propaganda is a very strong word and allegation to represent something. I’m not saying budget, internal and foreign policy issues are not abound in regards to the military. They’re clearly there and it’s a problem. But in respect to this particular NFL “Salute to Service” promotion, when you call it propaganda and politicize it you’re diverting attention away from the core message. Even if it’s cheap or there is an ulterior motive (and in today’s world, what doesn’t have one, honestly?) and I hate to say the ends justify the means, as long as one soldier gets a prosthetic or one soldier gets mental health rehabilitation out of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” ad campaign, I don’t care. Service members comprise of less than 1% of the US population and they need a voice as much as any other. You could easily make the case Chris Christie is doing the same thing with his own state right now. There is an undeniable, real crisis with his citizens but, in the end, he really only cares about himself and we all know it. But meddling about that really isn’t crucial in my book and that people getting aide and restoring their lives is at the top of the list.

    when you call it propaganda and politicize it you’re diverting attention away from the core message.

    No. I’m not politicizing anything; the promotion is already a political initiative, whether you choose to recognize it as such or not. That’s my point. And you’re damn right I’ve diverting attention from its core message, because its core message — i.e., that anything military-related is worthy of celebration — is false.

    You’re indirectly helping make my earlier point, JDK.
    Why get involved at all?
    What’s the next step? The NFL gonna establish a Department of Tragedy and Distress Evaluation?

    “This is to inform you that, upon further review, your particular cause/tragedy is not deemed significant enough for NFL recognition.”

    It’s like the patriotic hat thing in MLB. When they began all this “social relevance” did they ever think that they likely could be overwhelmed, and there would absolutely NO viable exit strategy? They couldn’t see what a can of worms they were opening?

    These are two very different issues, but they both speak to the corporatization of professional sports. Fifty or seventy five years ago, the players lived in the community where their team was located. The owner ran a business in that community. The staff all lived there, too. And when there was a disaster, it affected them as much as their fans. They’d hold a charity exhibition, or the players would donate their salaries from one game, something to connect the team to the relief efforts. Now it’s ribbons and decals and numbers flashed on the teevee, because aside from a stadium location, the teams have no real connection to their communities. We’ve lost something.

    As for the military stuff, what’s wrong with a simple poppy patch, worn over one weekend, like FA teams do in England? Our Camo Overload is less about honoring the military, than selling more crap to the yahoos. It’s a deeply cynical promotion.

    (And Paul, your “full circle” observation — the military created the death myth of Pat Tillman, Athlete to suit their agenda, and the NFL exploits the myth of Pat Tillman, Fallen Warrior to suit its agenda — is cleanest, most succinct and preceptive analysis of that tragedy that I’ve ever read.)

    I have to agree with you on your 11/5 post about the NFL military tributes Sunday. I also do not understand why the NFL is doing this a week before 11/11. My two concerns:

    1. Our service men and women are being used as props for pro sport teams, especially in the NFL and MLB. They are becoming as much a presence at games as mascots on ATVs and pretty girls using compression air cannons to shoot T-shirts into the stands.

    2. My cynicism drips from my fingers as I type this. The leagues do this because it’s good for business, pure and simple. I feel like they’re pandering to me to make me feel good and to keep me tuned in. Cheerleaders holding up puppies and shiny coins would have a similar effect.

    I’m all for recognizing our service men and women, but I believe this stuff you wrote about lessens the response with a “I gave at the office” feel to supporting the troops. There has to be a better way to think about and support those who serve.

    Much agreed. As the NFL and college football manage to do in nearly every other area, they’ve done more to advertise their own crassness than to advance any cause that ISN’T them.

    Still, one quote brings out the devil’s advocate in me: “We all know that Vietnam vets got a raw deal upon returning to America, many of them being blamed for their participation in an unpopular war.”

    You know what? We damned well DON’T all know that. The country is packed with relics who reflexively say such things, but give every impression that they’d prefer being socially freer to utter the same stuff they were saying in the ’70s. Contemporary people don’t keep reiterating this “I support the military” stuff out of brute jingoism, or to beat a dead horse, but because they can sense bien-pensant opinion bridling every time they do so … on many levels, the horse is far from dead.

    (It’s like the non-trivial number of people who’ll testily, begrudgingly say things like “Yes, yes, we all know the right side won the Cold War” as if they have a bad taste in their mouths–leaving it clear that whatever sounds their mouths are shaping, their hearts will never actually be on board with that sentiment.)

    This is probably the best lede I have ever read on Uni Watch. It is exactly how I feel when I see all the camo/pink things in sports, however I never know how to properly express myself. If I say what I feel in a public forum, I get absolutely blasted by my friends saying “You love cancer?”, and “You don’t like America? Get out!”

    I love my country, and I sincerely hope we find a cure for breast cancer, but none of that belongs in sports. It’s all a “look at me” show for the players and the leagues doing it. They want you to know they care, and they are doing their part to help. Bull shit. If that was the case they would donate 100% of all proceeds ALL the time. Not a measly 5%.

    I have said it to all my friends and family all the time… before you buy licensed pink gear or camo gear because you are doing your part in supporting a cause, please think again and directly donate to charities.

    I have no problem expecting all of the proceeds/profits to go to the charity in question. After all, the company is still making the hats and paying their employees and making sure the CEO has has yacht paid for before the profit comes into play, so yeah, 100% to charity. However when they use the 5 or 10% number, they might be implying 5-10% of the sales price goes to charity, which is typically in the ballpark of a companies profit.

    Secondly. I think the folks who read this site need to be careful about how they go about stating “enough with the pink crap” and “military displays” to others who aren’t as familiar with the Uniwatch issues surrounding these displays. I don’t think the average sports fan cares enough to think about the inner workings of using pink or military displays. They see the pink and think breast cancer awareness, see the military displays and think military something or other. And that’s it. And that’s fine, they might be interested in other aspects of the game.

    So when someone says “jeez all that pink crap looks like crap” the majority of the folks around them are going to be like “what an ass, doesn’t he hate cancer?”. So there’s nothing wrong with the stances discussed here today, but to the outsiders I think it needs to be handled in a dignified way. That’s why we get the “you love cancer/hate the military” responses.

    A week or two ago someone mentioned they tweeted something about their school wearing pink and how ugly it looked, and the school retweeted it and he was met with a number of negative responses. I’m wondering did the tweet say something like “That pink crap looks like ass” or did he say “I am respectful of the anti-cancer displays, however I do believe there are more appropriate ways to help fight cancer.” Just needs to be handled the right way.

    The 1969 Tops football cards were the first cards I ever collected. Looking at them brought back a lot of memories:
    I was only seven, but I remember being really annoyed by the team logos on the cards. Most were “real” team logos (Falcons, Steelers, Dolphins) but some were just odd (Bills, Bengals, Jets). Also note that Sonny Jurgensen’s card has Chiefs’ artwork. I guess it was hard to tell the indians apart.
    I wonder when the tide will turn from angry, grimacing mascots back to witty, fun ones like the Cowboys and Broncos on those cards.

    This set included two cards that haunted me. The late Brian Piccolo, died the summer of 1970. Bengals linebacker Frank Buncom died of a pulmonary embolism early in the 1969 season. Mortality is a difficult concept, especially for kids. Here’s a great photo of Buncom: link Uni note: it’s a great shot of the 1963 Raiders uniform which featured black numbers on front & back, with silver TV numbers.

    In this set you can also has two of my favorite cards: Raiders defensive end Ben Davidson is in a classic running back pose and has an awesome mustache to boot! Tom Day, Chargers defensive end, is in the friendliest “hello everybody” pose ever. I got his autograph the year before when he was with the Bills. That card is how I remember him responding to my request for an autograph.

    Since I can’t reply to Paul in my thread, I will make one last statement here:

    I don’t think the core point is anything military related should be celebrated in the case of the NFL Salute to Service. The core point is every point scored will be 3 separate donations of $100 because of those suffering from the military.

    Side note: it started on TNF and will even bleed into December as it’s represented one home game for all teams.

    That NYT article said it:

    “there is only unequivocal, unhesitating adulation. The political costs of anything else are just too high.”

    This framework trickles down from Congress into all our state and local government (which are really only farm teams for Congress), business (the NFL is, after all, a corporation) and down to our civic institutions and daily life. Everyone wants to be in the good graces of the folks writing laws and allocating resources. The drive to avoid political costs influences all. That’s why it’s a “complex”.

    My prescription: a more diverse political landscape in which dissent from permanent militarization is an acceptable opinion to express.

    My prescription: a more diverse political landscape in which dissent from permanent militarization is an acceptable opinion to express.

    Which is precisely why I write things like today’s lede.

    Wasn’t it Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote a lonnnnng time ago about the dangers of majority coercion?

    Toqueville: Goddam Frog soccer fan. U-S-A! U-S-A!

    If you want a more diverse political landscape, the most important change tha could be made is altering the 1911 law that stopped expanding Congress to meet the growing population and capped it at 435 seats. We need a larger Congress with members who answer to smaller, harder-to-gerrymander districts. Aside from reducing the near-lock that incumbents have on reelection, a larger Congress would make it harder for any party to achieve the kind of dangerous ideological unanimity we see today – and also reduce almost to zero the chance that a presidential candidate could win the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.

    As a bonus, the size of Congress can be changed by simple statute; it doesn’t require a constitutional amendment like most proposals for structural change do.

    There are a number of important changes that can be made. The key thing is to realize that the way our system makes political, business and civic leaders act is not a natural result of evolution. Someone made it this way for a reason.

    And I appreciate it. I do feel like there is a certain point where dialogue, as sensible as it can be, is not enough. In fact, because I work in politics, I *know* this to be the case. Our political system has been designed to filter a diversity of opinions and styles into a very limited set of “acceptable” public opinions and actions. To make it into positions of power, politicians are forced to give up their political diversity to win promises of institutional support they need to stay in office.

    TL;DR: political parties want it this way so all our lawmakers live with this fucked up system.

    Great read today, and so far the comments have been excellent arguments, both pro and con. My question to anyone is, what defines propaganda? “Uncle Sam wants you!”? Sorry for my lack of linking skills. Let sports be what they are, a distraction from reality that unfortunately has turned into big business. How about we give some love to Vanderbilt’s uniform set this year (minus the all black)? Anyone?

    A good question. But please remember that I said the G.I. Joe-isms amount to a “de facto propaganda mill” (emphasis now added) — in other words, it has the effect of propaganda, even if it isn’t intended as such.

    Agreed, and for the record, the G.I. Joe-isms this month, and the pink last month makes me wonder, are we about to be subjected to Christmas/Channukah themed fields and such during December? Wait, let’s put snowflakes on the uniforms!

    Fascinating topic. Great discussion. As a vet myself, there is much about this trend that bothers me, but I think others are covering that ground.

    I want to throw out a thought that others have hinted at, but which I think is the overarching “theme” behind the problem many Uni Watchers have with the “awareness” and “appreciation” initiatives.


    You beat people over the head enough times with something, whether it be an overplayed song on the radio, marketing for a movie, Christmas ads in November, John Mellencamp promoting pickup trucks (Remember, “This is our country”?), breast cancer “awareness” or military “appreciation”, and your audience is going to get tired of it. There are plenty of other reasons to be bothered by the NFL’s antics, but for me, it all comes back to overkill, pure and simple.

    What he said.

    As you might imagine, I get a lot of press releases about these promotions. They almost invariably use the word “special” — as in, “The team will be wearing a special patch” or “The team will don a special uniform.”

    The thing is, almost EVERY game now has some “special” uniform element.

    And when you try to convince us that every game is special, the net effect is that no game is special.

    That is the ONE thing that you have to love the Bengals for.

    Unless mandated by the NFL, the Bengals don’t use “special” anything. Except when Chris Henry fell out of the back of a moving truck by his girlfriend and died.

    They didn’t even do a memorial patch to Paul Brown when he died. And his son owns the team!

    As far as I know, the Bengals did not use a patch celebrating 25th, 30th, 35th or 40th years. They did use a 40th year artwork, but no patch.

    I’m glad the Browns were sold so that the AL patch goes away next year. Al Lerner was the majority owner for 3 1/2 seasons; his memorial patch has been on the jerseys for 10.

    Regardless of the sale, I thought Randy Lerner had already said before the season that 2012 would be the last year for the “AL” patches, because “10 years was enough”?

    To play the devil’s advocate and really push this beyond its borders…

    What about men’s health recognition? After all, it’s Movember, and men everywhere are growing moustaches. Why does the military and breast cancer get all the recognition when prostate cancer is being ignored? I’m pretty sure there are more men playing in the NFL than women, and there are more male fans than female fans. Does no one think of men’s health as important?

    After all, according to the CDC, prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men of all races, and the second biggest killer of “white, black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic men”. And all it takes to spread the word is a little facial hair and a “see your doctor” message. No colors (although blue is the official color), no camo, and no dressing up a stadium with false pretenses.

    Why does the military get the push in November, breast cancer in October, and nothing gets said of men’s health – something that affects 50% of the world’s population?

    1.) Prostate cancer has it’s own month which happens to be during the off-season, although it is appropriately exploited honored by MLB.

    2.) The NFL doesn’t feel like it needs to pander to a gender that already enjoys football so much (not to say that the whole pink month is just to get women to watch more football, but that doesn’t hurt).

    I’m totally with you on this, Teebz. That’s what gets me about the whole pink thing — men are expected to care passionately about women’s health, whereas women generally don’t give two hoots about men’s health. And women already live seven years longer than men! If that were reversed, we’d never hear the end of it.

    Grandfather was a veteran. Father is a veteran. I am a veteran.

    All this “G.I. Joe” stuff is embarrassing. All of it. Insincere and tasteless. Clearly aimed at simpletons that want to appear patriotic and still support their favorite team by purchasing the corresponding merchandise. (No different than all the black alternate uniforms, aimed at simpletons that want to appear “badass” and still support their favorite team.)

    If you really want to honor a veteran … if you really want to show your appreciation … instead of spending 30 bucks on an ugly piece of officially licensed crap, donate to one of the countless charities that help veterans find jobs, learn trades, secure home loans, small business loans, pay medical expenses, help pay for their kids college or buy them a drink.

    Yep, like I said above, much better things could EASILY be done to help/support veterans.

    But then they would have a cool camouflage hat with theire favorite team’s logo to show for it.

    Like I’ve said earlier, the yellow ribbon has always been used to “support our troops”, but yellow ribbons aren’t cool and won’t sell. You know what will? Camo! I guarantee that if they don’t get to it this season, the NFL will have a whole line of camo sideline apparel next November.

    Here’s an idea to help support the troops. The league could have teams set up areas outside of the stadiums where fans could drop off care packages on their way in.(They could even do this for Sandy victims.) Fans would be all over this and show huge support.

    what is next, huge military parades in the street, showing off our huge arsenal?

    it’s just some propaganda b.s. that i can’t stand.

    if you want to VOLUNTEER for the military, i applaud your choice. i say thank you & my taxes pay your salary and for the equipment that is used. it’s great.

    but i’m sick and tired of the never ending military b.s. that this country is stuck in.
    nationalism isn’t healthy. it isn’t good.

    paul said it very well, i’m just going on a quick rant. sorry.

    One fine day people will realize that service members(such as myself) also pay taxes therefore the “your taxes pay my salary” line is pointless. I’m not surprised that the camo issue has worked the author up into a lather, anything and everything that doesn’t share his worldview is an abomination. I enjoy Paul’s knowledge and admire his passion, but he is condescending and straight up rude sometimes. This site used to embrace a healthy exchange of ideas but anyone running contrary to the crowd gets an amazing amount of vitriol these days.


    As a 25 year vet and a combat vet I’ve become extremely uncomfortable anytime I hear a coach or athlete refer to playing a game as “going to war”. Football, or any sport, is nothing like war (I think that goes without saying). The hyperbole is more than I can f-ing stand most of the time and is frankly offensive to me. What’s even more offensive is the camo jerseys and all that BS. All that being said, in the end we all know it’s nothing more than a marketing bit. I don’t need it to validate what I did and I don’t care that much about it. I get waaaay more bothered by BFBS than the camo bit.

    If they really want to do something concrete and “special” they should do what Nebraska has been doing the last few years. Bringing wounded vets (all expenses paid including lodging) to a game and giving them the VIP treatment. You don’t need a camo jersey to do that.

    Just a note on the ‘Skins throwback helmets yesterday. At halftime of the Broncos-Bengals game, Boomer Esiason said they were the ugliest helmets in the history of the league. So … for what that opinion is worth.

    I liked them ok. I think they’re at least better than the ones the Packers wore with their throwbacks.

    Now we just need some invisibility paint so it will look like they aren’t wearing facemasks, either.

    I don’t think the NFL is trying to make political statements directly, hence Paul’s reiteration of “de facto propaganda.” I do think they are trying to get the same thing all the individual teams are out to get; attention. It’s the same reason for the alternate uniforms, etc. The biggest money isn’t made on the merchandise; it’s made on the TV contracts. More people watch Oregon games than buy jerseys. Some watch their games just to see what they have on. And networks are willing to pay a lot of money to have exclusivity to the viewing. FOX paid the Angels a billion dollars to broadcast Albert Pujols games for 10 years.

    The NFL and any other sport will throw together almost any gimmick just so you tune in to see what it is. Uni-Watch, is part of the solution and part of the problem on this one. On one hand, I personally wouldn’t be aware of the extent that this is happening without it. I notice things I never did before reading this site. On the other hand, ignorance can be bliss. Uni-Watchers look to see the horror; others look to see what’s next. But everybody looks…

    I’m willing to wager there are many like minds on this site that are true sports fans. The affinity for tradition allows our interests to bleed beyond the sport and into uniforms and other details. But we will always be the minority. There will always be more people interested in hockey for fighting, baseball for homeruns, basketball for dunks, and football for hits. In other words, it IS entertainment to them. And they are obviously entertained with all this crap, or we wouldn’t see it.

    I can’t think of a single white-helmeted team that looks GOOD with dark pants. There a handful that look kinda OK (the Jets come to mind). The Bills certainly do nothing to change my mind on this one. I mean, that is one link for them.

    Yes. And that particular combo makes it into my OK category. The white over dark blue looks like garbage, though.

    I would say no. Powder/light blue, Athletic Gold, neon green, silver, gray, Vegas Gold, beige I would consider “light”

    Crimson, maroon, red, orange, green, aqua, teal, blue, navy, purple, brown, pewter, black I would consider “dark”.

    If the term is ‘white over color’ then this is moot.

    Marty, do we really live in a world where the Packers & Steelers yellow pants are considered “dark”?

    That’s just crazy. Nobody ever called yellow (or sky blue) “dark” even in comparison to white.

    Bernard: I like the Titans light blue pants & the helmet isn’t bad. But the jersey, the number font & the navy jersey & pants blow big time.

    I think they’d be okay if the Bills had a darker blue. I like the Texans and Bears use of darker blues rather than the standard/royals of the Giants, Colts, Bills.

    I do love Detroit’s Honolulu blue, though. They still use that, right?

    I can live with the Bills’ blue pants, but not if they are paired with their blue-topped socks. Can someone here please put an stop to unitards in the NFL?

    I thought that the American flag decal on the back of the helmets after 9/11 were support for the police/fire/emergency service personnel that perished that day…not for “the troops”.

    The wars in the Middle East did not start until at least a month later.

    If the flag decal after 9/11 was for “the troops”,I wonder how many “troops” died on 9/11 as opposed to the police/fire/emergency service personnel?

    It was a to mark that we were in “a time of war” — even though the “war on terror” wasn’t really a war.

    One reason you can tell it isn’t really a war is that there’s no way to declare (or know when to declare) victory. Which is why the flag will probably be there forever. Which, like most uses of the flag on uniforms, just cheapens the flag.

    Which is why the flag will probably be there forever.

    Well they can’t ever remove it, or otherwise someone might think they hate America.

    I hate to sound like a girl about this – but the Skins throwbacks might be the most amazing uni design in NFL history.

    I have never been overwhelmed by such a cohesive (and coherent) NFL uni design….frankly, ever.

    They should seriously (I can’t believe I’m saying this) consider using these full time.

    Yes, because using hyperbole and talking about uniforms are strictly a feminine milieu. God forbid someone associated anything you did with females. How degrading for you.

    Shannon wasn’t the only coach wearing the throwback sweatshirt, all of the Redskin coaches were, it the same patch that is on the Redskins throwbacks. It’s also the only throwback that Nike if offering (since I last checked yesterday) in the NFL Shop. All of the coaches usually wear throwback apparel when the team wears throwback jerseys.

    For Remembrance Day in Canada (Nov. 11th – same day as Veterans Day in the U.S), the Royal Canadian Legion sells lapel poppy pins with proceeds going towards needy veterans. I believe this is also in the U.K. (Royal British Legion) and some former Commonwealth countries.

    In Canada the pins had a green centre from 1980-2002 (to represent the green fields of France). Switched back to black (colour of an actual poppy) after that.

    Is something similar done in the U.S. by the American Legion or someone else on Veterans Day (or if not Memorial Day)?

    It’s mostly a Memorial Day thing and poppy distribution is done by both the American Legion and the VFW.

    So the Reading Phillies want to completely change the iconic brand that’s 46 years old & tied for one the longest affiliations in minor league history (the other is Lakeland Flying Tigers. Longest were Bluefield Orioles 1958—2010 then Richmond Braves 1966—2008)… for?

    “We’ve come to realize we want our fans to be able to have their own brand,” said general manager Scott Hunsicker

    Corporate speak for: we want a cash grab. No other point for this other than we want money. Buy our new crap.

    I don’t have much regard for Minor Leagues because most of their logos & uniforms are just awful & most of my team’s affiliations are 700+ miles away. But why do Minor League designs have to be so… minor league?

    “The fans” and “their own brand.” So when the new merchandise starts selling, the team is going to pass along royalty checks to the fans. Right?

    One thing that’s been missing in this discussion is the historical side. MLB certainly had “promotions” to “support the troops” or the “war effort” going back to WWI. I’m pretty sure the companion book for Ken Burns’ Baseball has a photo of the NY Giants (being lead by a young FDR), drilling in formation before a game at the Polo Grounds. The 1917 White Sox had a full on link, and a flag patch. WWII saw the stars and stripes shields all over unis. I recently picked up an San Francisco Seals cap that’s link Oaks had one the year before.

    I think the degree of today’s “promotion” are patently ridiculous, and the Tillman issue is one of the most disgusting incidents in recent memory.

    While we’re at it, let’s talk about the “God Bless America” BS that has totally ruined the 7th Inning Stretch. Seriously, how the hell does link salute, remember or honor anything?

    Nah, that’s the best GBA costume ever. Because if you pay attention to the lyrics, it’s not actually a patriotic song. There is not one word of praise for America in it, nor any suggestion in the lyrics that America might be praiseworthy for any reason. Rather, it’s a prayer that first lists some of the many extraordinary blessings America enjoys, followed by a plea to God to bless America already. Which is to say, as a prayer, it’s a crummy prayer.

    The National Anthem is patriotic. America the Beautiful is patriotic. Hell, Marching Through Georgia is patriotic. God Bless America, whatever its other virtues, is not patriotic.

    Dont forget, they will throw you out of yankees stadium for not observing it.

    /atheists love baseball too

    I can’t believe I didn’t notice this yesterday, but the girl wearing The Catch photo on her shirt is my new hero. Did she make that shirt herself or did she find it at a store or online somewhere? If I wore that shirt and anyone asked me about it I could charge them for an art lesson.

    I was actually thinking about getting that photo tattooed on my body. Perhaps every single exhibit from my analysis going down one of my arms? My favorite is the one showing the one-point perspective; perfect for a giant tattoo mural on my back.

    So the Redskins lost at home yesterday, and there’s a reasonable chance that the incumbent may beat the challenger in the presidential popular vote tomorrow. Which would break the Redskins Rule for pretty much the first time ever. But! The Redskins lost in a throwback. Anyone know whether the Redskins have ever worn throwback or other special unis before on the last home game before a presidential election?

    I ask because the Redskins won their previous home game against the Vikings (mumble mumble Vikings mumble mumble), so if the president wins the popular vote tomorrow, then we may have a uni-related change to the Redskins Rule: the last Redskins home game in regular uniforms before the election, predicts the popular-vote winner.

    As a vet, I see the over the top military appreciation stuff as nothing more than disrespectul grandstanding. It’s just “hey look at me” bullshit. Your grand gesture is not helping a scared to death 19 year old getting shot at in the sandbox ONE…SINGLE…BIT.

    Agreed. I’m so glad, genuinely, to see that A) we have plenty of veterans here at UW, and B) that I’m not alone in my feelings on this matter.

    If I remember my Spanish correctly, there aren’t any words that start with enye – kind of a funny mistake to make.

    Is this it, Mark, or am I missing something else?

    That’s it, Sam. It’s Tom Nieto, not Ñieto. I bet the equipment manager or one of the players put that tilde on there as a prank.

    Terrific article in the Boston Globe on Sun, Nov 4 by Shira Springer. New Technologies are ready to assist NFL referees
    “From an engineering perspective, there is no shortage of options for new officiating technology, including virtual reality goggles, sensors implanted in footballs, cameras that chart every on-field movement, and intelligent equipment that relays data about players.”


    As a 22 year career Soldier and a Combat Veteran, the shameless promotion of “Support our Troops” has been a thorn in my side since 9-11-2001. When I joined no one thanked me for my service, but me and my comrades were proud of the work we had done. I fear that a ribbon on the back of your car is as far as some Americans go when it comes to “Supporting our Troops”. The NFL is adding to the idea that a ribbon cures everything, first with Breast cancer and now with Veterans issues. I also fear that this generation of Service members have grown too comfortable expecting support and adoration from the general public, and when it passes, they won’t know how to act. Please NFL, just play football.

    It looks like most of my points have already been covered here RE: the GI Joe stuff. But one more thing that bothers me… the whole event seemed to have no call to action. That’s to say, there was no charity they asked people to donate to, nothing specific to do to actually help vets.

    Ok, maybe I missed some small call to action… but the general overlay was just camo for camo’s sake.

    I can get on board with things like a NASCAR racer having the “Wounded Warriors Project” logos all over their car (someone did this weekend.) Its calling out for people to get involved in something specific, or at least send money.

    Or Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream charity race. Less camo, more call to action.

    All in all, as someone who didn’t watch much football this weekend… I see it as they ran this whole gig, and I have no better idea how I could help the vets or show my appreciation (other than joining in wearing camo*, which we all agree doesn’t do crap.)

    *I do have camo shorts. I just happen to like the look ;)

    “Ok, maybe I missed some small call to action”

    How about recruiting officers for all the Armed Services set up around inside the stadium?

    Y’know, on the off chance someone actually wants to put his money where his “America, F-Yeah!” is?

    They play “Proud to be an American ” by Lee Greenwood at Ravens Stadium when the colors comes out and everyone sings that they would, “Proudly stand up next to you and defend her still today.” I always want to ask those seated around me if they really would and want to hand them one of my recruiting cards. Never had the gumption to try, though.

    As someone who works with both active military and a lot of retired military turned govt employees and contractors, it seems like the majority doesnt like “phony grandstanding towards the miltary done for business purposes.”

    The most unctuous thing to me was seeing fidel goodell out ther gladhanding for photos with both military personel and storm responders at the meadowlands. He is such the son of a politician.

    Btw, november is “wounded warriors” month too, in addition to being Movember.

    In a related not, the poppies are out in the UK for futbol teams and commentators.

    One, that isn’t an official AB photo (looks like it was taken directly on the line) and Two, that is exactly what charity is, right? Sending something someone needs from people who can provide it. I think you are over reaching here.

    No, I’m not over-reaching anything. I was attempting, and apparently failing, to joke about the quality of their beer being already comparable to water.

    What’s the html code for “I’m joking”?

    I made the same comparison to Anheuser Busch beer = water on another site…..couple folks didn’t get the joke.

    I always make that joke when I see people drinking Michelob Ultra! Even more odd, and I’m dead serious about this, when I was still active duty my buddies and I called Michelob Ultra…. GatorAid! Full circle I tell ya.


    The guy on our left has done this before. He’s wearing shoulder pads, which the pumpkin is resting on, and also has a towel underneath it.

    The guy on the right is a rookie, and is going to have a sore neck, and goopy head by the end of the game.

    I came looking for photos of the UCLA jerseys. I found a most thoughtful essay on professional sports marketing the military for their own purposes. I have been wondering myself whether this represents “overcompensation” for the shameful reception we collectively allowed our Viet Nam veterans. I think the Padres’ weekly military uniform is appropriate in scale and scope to that team’s location and community, but overall, I worry that popular cultural thinks standing ovations, ribbons, merchandise and the like directed to “our military” obscure tne urgent needs of many military veterans.

    I agree with you on the Padres. Part of the reason I’m o.k. with their camo uniforms is because they have done it for so long. Long before the internet and long before sports teams and leagues became overindulgent in these issues. It reminds me of the term “first mover’s rights” I was taught in marketing classes. Cynically, it could still be said to be promotional (In trying to pull in military people to attend games), but they’ve been consistent in honoring the people from the neighnoring bases. And they’ve done that before the terror attacks of 9/11. I’ve never thought they were great looking jerseys but I give the Pads a pass.

    Long before the internet…

    Huh? I don’t know exactly how long the Padres have been doing the camo thing, but I’m pretty sure it’s no more than ten years. Even if you’re just talking about the World Wide Web, the Internet has been around much longer than that.

    Even better than an apostrophe catastrophe: Trader Joe’s celebrates Turkey Day with “gooble gooble” stickers: link

    Would love to see that on a uniform patch.

    Oh, good. I’m sure a lot of people were afraid they didn’t. Love America, that is.

    Y’know, them being one of them East Coast hippie universities. ;)

    Jesus fuck — that’s just embarrassing. It’s a comic book crossed with a video game crossed with a Halloween costume.

    It occurs to me that football goes more over the top with this stuff than baseball does because a significant percentage of baseball players are foreign-born (imagine asking a Dominican to wear that helmet), while nearly all football players are American.

    “imagine asking a Dominican to wear that helmet”


    ok, i just spit coffee on my keyboard, lukas

    Oh look, this hipster douche loser doesn’t like another patriotic themed uniform. I am completely surprised.

    Cuddle up with your cats tonight,bitch. I’m sure its the closest you’ve gotten to pussy in a long time.

    Do you share that sentiment with the rest of the active military and ex-active military personnel who have expressed the same opinion here?

    Did you notice in the 1969 photos that Ernie Wright of the Bengals in wearing what looks like a Charger’s jersey? I Googled him and he was on the Chargers until 67, but played for the Bengals in 68. Seems odd that they would not photograph him in a Bengals jersey, especially since it was also Cincinnati’s second season of existence.

    Perhaps the NFL is trying to turn Veterans’ Day into Veterans’ Month? I, too, was confused by the appearance of camouflage captaincy patches, among a great many other things, a week before the holiday.

    My problem is two-fold, really. First, I rather dislike seeing people wearing camo in public. Unless you’re heading to or from combat or a deer stand, what’s the point? Is it really that fashionable or necessary?

    Second, it strikes me as pandering. Like, the NFL (or MLB & the NCAA, for that matter) is counting on people who like camo- or American flag-themed merchandise to purchase these items that they break out for a week or two or four. Reminds me of the political ads I’ve seen/heard lately in which various local and state candidates describe themselves as former military first and foremost. And perhaps that’s just a problem with our culture as a whole, in which something like that is more important than a person’s actual stance on issues or their work ethic.

    And, call me crazy, but I’d rather not live in a country in which the military–or any person in power in the public sphere–is beyond reproach. The insinuation that patriotism = how much red, white, & blue you wear; how big your American flag is (or whether you have one at all); not being critical of the government and/or military is sicking.

    People: I want to thank/congratulate you all for having such a civil discussion today. Maybe you’re all being extra-courteous because of my broken wing or something (in which case I’ll have to consider breaking my arm more often), but whatever the reason, thanks for all the good dialogue. You’ve made me proud today.

    It actually seems that there’s not a lot of conflicting views being posted….A day for the ages! (that sounds crazy….)

    You wouldn’t have had this kind of discourse had this been posted on ESPN’s website. It was nice to see the open, frank discussion without the trolling.

    You wouldn’t have had this kind of discourse had this been posted on ESPN…

    Two very different animals. But I don’t try to curate the dialogue on ESPN (and wouldn’t be able to do so even if I wanted to). Here, though, I’ve tried to maintain a certain standard of discussion. We all met that standard today.

    Agreed. Reading through all the comments and I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve seen very little venom being spewed.

    From prior discussions in the comments section of this site, clearly there are those that are more well versed in flag etiquette than I. So, I’ll ask for a ruling on this which ties into the discussion on here today. At various sporting events, they’ll trot out the big flag on the field before the game. It’s impressive, but I keep thinking that there is no way that such flags don’t touch the ground at some point (especially when the people holding start flapping it around). If it does, aren’t they supposed to burn it? I would doubt that they do. Besides, the money that is spent on those huge flags could be better spent on giving it to a worthy charity.

    There’s no rule that a flag that touches the ground instantly becomes impure and must be destroyed. The Flag Code’s basic rule is that flags should be tre

    … should be treated with respect at all times, and when worn or soiled should be destroyed in a respectful manner. One should therefore take care to avoid letting a flag touch the ground, but not because the ground is evil, but because it risks soiling the flag. If you’re taking care, and the flag accidentally touches or rests on the ground, that’s OK. But if it happens and the flag gets soiled, it must either be cleaned or destroyed.

    Which is also the logic behind the Flag Code’s express prohibition of putting the flag on sports uniforms: A flag on an athlete’s jersey or helmet is guaranteed to be soiled and trampled on, and it’s Not OK to cause the flag to be ground in the mud or stepped on.

    How fitting.
    I am watching a M*A*S*H episode with a young John Ritter (AKA the closest I’ve had to a look-alike in Hollywood). He is playing a soldier who doesn’t want to return to the front. Naturally Col. Flagg and Burns are on his case. I just heard Tripper yell, “This doctor keeps waving the flag in my face.”

    This seems appropriate for the discussion today. Ohio State going full GI Joe for the “Carrier Classic.” No one can tell them that they don’t love ‘Merica.


    long time reader, first time poster…

    Paul, I definitely appreciate your stance on the issue. It bothers me that a corporate entity like the NFL joins themselves to a cause under the guise that it is charitable work, when in reality its nothing more than a thinly disguised cash-grab. Given the popularity of the issue, anybody who even questions the position get labelled as being anti-such & such.

    Looking at the NFLs arrangement with the breast cancer lobby; the agreement is that third party (and corporate partner of nfl) get an exclusive contract to produce special gear for nfl. A third party pays a boat-load of money to NFL for the rights to produce the merchandise. A minimal portion is paid out to ‘cancer awareness charity’. Knowing what we know about the large cancer charities, over 75% of incoming funds are used for admin costs and FUNDRAISING. I’d be extremely surprised if the charity receives over a dollar per 30$ cap sold…which means that about 25cents will actually go to the cause itself.

    If this isnt disgusting enough, theres also the tax implications. Mark my words, within a decade every month of the NFL season will be ‘insert your cause’ awareness month. The NFL franchises get massive tax benefits undfer the guise that they contibute to charitable endeavors, while not actually donating any money, assuming any costs or even putting out any sort of effort. They simply allow thrid parties to produce merchandise with their name on it (which they are getting paid massive amounts of money for) and allow players to wear gear promoting the issue.

    By next year I fully expect to see g.i. shoes, chin straps, etc. Whether it remains a weekly thing or becomes a monthly thing, time will tell…the pink thing didnt exist as it is today from the start, it was gradual, just as this latest one is.

    Just for Paul the NFL could institute purple awareness ribbon month, which according to wikipedia, is for all the following causes:

    Suicide Prevention[48]
    General Cancer Awareness
    Testicular Cancer Awareness
    Animal Cruelty/Animal Welfare
    Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Campaign[49] (But, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) uses orange and blue in their promotional materials.[50]
    Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign[51]
    Drug Overdose Awareness[52]
    Migraine Awareness Ribbon[53]
    Spirit Day and victims of homophobia[54]
    Sarcoidosis awareness[55]
    Lupus awareness[56]
    Arnold Chiari Malformation awareness[57]
    Fibromyalgia awareness[58]
    Pagan Pride
    Peripheral Neuropathy awareness[59]
    Childhood Hemiplegia and stroke awareness[60]
    Cystic Fibrosis awareness.[61]
    Alzheimer’s Disease awareness[62]
    Pancreatic cancer awareness[63]
    Workers’ Memorial Day[64]
    March of Dimes Awareness Ribbon[65]
    Hidradenitis Suppurativa Awareness Ribbon[66]
    Orca Whale Awareness and Protection Ribbon[67]
    Child Neglect Awareness and Prevention Ribbon[68]

    In relation to the NFL, I think that migraine awareness, alzheimers disease awareness, domestic abuse awareness, child neglect awareness and drug overdose awareness ALL seem like good causes. Throw general cancer awarenss on top of it all and we have a winner.

    Purple shoes, purple chin straps, special all-purple jerseys…purple end-zones, purple ref flags…in short, Paul’s nightmare. ;-)

    Given the alarming number of suicides in former players of football and hockey, you would think they’d want to do something for suicide prevention.

    Unfortunately suicide prevention just isnt a sexy issue. Hard to make sales on that kind of misery and it might get people to actually discuss the issue rather than, you know, unquestionably support whatever the league puts out.

    “suicide prevention just isnt a sexy issue. Hard to make sales on that kind of misery”


    plus, you keep losing customers

    In a junior hockey all-star game tonight between a team of Russian players and players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the officials are wearing special ref jerseys for Movember with a big mustache along the bottom front.

    Finally got around to reading your piece on Brooklyn. Very nice piece. Good timing, too. I started reading it as Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations episode on Brooklyn came on. Including a section on Crown Heights.

    Those flag decals on hats and helmets are disgraceful. In fact any use of the flag other than on a flag pole or casket, or at the top of some hill bought with gallons of blood, is disgraceful. Why do my local firemen (Atlanta) have big gigantic flag patches on their arms, but the real flag that flies over the station house is tattered and faded? When I was a kid, I was taught that you never leave the flag out in bad weather, and you take it down at dusk. With respect. And you fold that thing correctly!

    Here is the simple fact – pink ribbons, flag decals, GI Joe-ing of uniforms, is some sort of bizarre act of psychological act of projection by those who really don’t give a damn about who gets cancer, who dies on foreign soil, or how the flag gets treated and what it stands for.

    Were I playing in a professional league, I’d tear the decals off my uniform and refuse to play until everyone else did the same. A sports uniform or a business suit is no place for a flag. That is, unless you have no respect for it.


    Color on color alert (cause someone has to do it): Warriors (blue) at Kings (black). I don’t like it.

    As an active duty SSgt in the Air Force. I really wish sports and America in general would leave the camouflage to us. I have to wear it everyday to work and I don’t enjoy seeing it after work. I am a 23 year old who has been in for 5 1/2 years. My job does not deploy. I am an aircraft painter and the Air Force feels that I am needed here at home. I am no hero, and I know the men and women who are hero’s aren’t too crazy about being thanked all team time. Pre 9/11 sports would be greatly appreciated to see again.

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