I wrote for ESPN for nearly 15 years, from the summer of 2004 through March of 2019. I have nothing but good things to say about my time there — great people, lots of editorial freedom (plus the freedom to do this blog while doing feature-length stories for them), and of course it was a privilege to have my work running on the world’s preeminent sports media platform. Even when they let me go, they gave me plenty of notice, and they had already kept me on through several rounds of earlier layoffs that claimed a bunch of my colleagues, so I had a good run. No hard feelings, then or now.
All of which is to say, I have absolutely zero axe to grind when it comes to ESPN, even regarding their uniform coverage. It’s common now for media outlets to have beat reporters write about uniforms, so I can understand why ESPN no longer felt the need to keep a full-time uni reporter on the payroll.
However … several readers have alerted me to the fact that ESPN has published some really shoddy uni-matchup previews for Weeks 2 and 3 of the current NFL season. Among other things:
- These previews repeatedly describe the Cowboys’, Lions’, Panthers’, Pats’ and Raiders’ silver helmets as “gray.” You can certainly make a case for using that term with these teams’ once-silver pants, but the helmets are clearly still silver.
- Even more confoundingly, the previews describe the Bucs’ helmet as “gray.”
- They also describe the Commanders’ burgundy/maroon elements as “red.”
- The Week 2 and Week 3 previews both said the Rams would be wearing white pants. That would qualify as major news if it were true, because the Rams do not have any white pants in their portfolio.
- The Week 2 preview also called for the Cardinals to be wearing red helmets. Maybe in the Bizarro World, but in this world the Cardinals do not have a red helmet.
- The Week 2 preview also mistakenly said that the Pats’ throwback jersey is white (it’s actually red) and that the throwback combo would be returning to the field “after a 10-year hiatus” (it actually returned last season).
- The Week 3 preview said the Panthers would be wearing black pants, but they actually wore grey.
- The Week 3 preview also said the Pats would pair their navy jersey with white pants. Again, that would be a major news flash, because the Pats don’t have any non-throwback white pants. Instead, they went navy over navy, as usual.
That’s a lot of mistakes for something that’s basically just copying/pasting info from teams’ Twitter feeds.
These previews were put together by a guy named Anthony Gharib, who according to his LinkedIn page joined ESPN a few weeks ago after interning for three months at USA Today Sports. He graduated from USC earlier this year, which means he’s younger than Uni Watch.
I don’t mean to pick on Gharib. I made a ton of mistakes when I was fresh out of college too (and still make some now), and I’m sure he’ll get better as his career progresses. But if ESPN is gonna put a rookie on the uni beat — or, really, on any beat — they should fact-check him, or at least have someone skimming the copy who’s sufficiently NFL-knowledgeable to say, “Wait a minute, the Cardinals don’t have a red helmet!” ESPN’s readers, and the uni-verse, deserve better.
Meanwhile, if you really want to know what NFL teams will be wearing from week to week, your best source, as always, is the mighty Gridiron Uniform Database.