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How One Comment Changed My Whole Perspective on the State of the Uni-verse

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Good morning everyone! I hope everyone had a pleasant Wednesday. (ICYMI, there was another purported LA Dodgers City Connect jersey spotted yesteday, this time at a Mets/Dodgers game.)

A few weeks ago, the New York Football Giants unveiled a fauxback uniform featuring elements from several of their early seasons. Fan reaction to the uniforms was mixed, with many on social media expressing their, um, displeasure with the new duds. Still, others like it, including yours truly — although that was before we had any inkling this uniform would be an actual throwback! After seeing it, I still feel that way and am looking forward to it being worn once or twice this coming fall.

Fan (or even uni critic) reaction is one thing: it’s another when the players themselves voice their views on a team’s look. Enter Giants rookie WR Malik Nabers, who is apparently not a fan.

There was an exchange of dialog there, but a couple sentences from Nabers and the questioner stood out to me:

“It’s gonna be hard to swag it out.” and, in response to the question of “How are you gonna make that look good?” he seemed a bit vexed, and added, “I don’t know. I’m gonna see when I put it on.”

My initial reaction was almost a reflexive, visceral thought: You haven’t played one minute in the NFL. You don’t like this uni and your biggest concern is how to “swag it out.” Shut up and play football.

I also had some feelings along the lines of, “You’re just a kid and you wouldn’t know a good uniform from a bad one. Us longtime Giants fans want to see this, and your opinion is wrong.”

But then I thought about it for a while. A long while.

Before we get any further, and before this sounds like a Simpsons meme, I want to stress that I’m very happy the Giants selected Nabers, and I hope he’s the second coming of Odell Beckham, Jr., another outstanding receiver from LSU (also drafted by the Giants) and to whom he’s been favorably compared. I watched him a bit at LSU, and he’s an incredible talent. I wish him nothing but success and good health in his NFL career.

Nabers is, by far, not the first athlete to talk about swag and express his opinion on uniforms. In fact, he probably shares the same views with any number of today’s professional athletes. And just like any top-level athlete, I believe he genuinely cares about how the uniform looks, and how he looks in the uniform (swagged out or not). I also tried to put myself in his shoes.

While no one can deny that social media is an overriding force today, are the generation playing professional (or college) sports today that much different from athletes of a different generation? On Uni Watch, both in articles and in the comments, there can be at best the appearance of, and at worst actual disdain for, the way modern (versus older/throw-fauxback) uniforms look, and how they are being worn by the players of today. There is some truth to this. Paul often described NFL hosiery (to use one example) as a “shit show” and we’ve reached a point where many teams will have different players wearing different color and types of socks on the field at the same time. (This is not even a new phenomenon.) Sure the players are fined, but visually, it is — to most of us anyway — less than appealing when a team’s uniform isn’t. We bemoan the lack of uniformity, but do we really delve into why today’s players want to stand out? Or why players like Nabers aren’t fans of a uniform but others clearly are?

Were players of the Boomer, Gen X or Millennial generations that much different? Do today’s athletes “style” or “swag out” their uniforms any more than those from yesteryear? Many of us bemoan these “kids” today, some of whom want to customize their uniforms in order to stand out. But today’s athletes actually follow a long line of those who’ve sought to wear their uniform “differently” — did we complain about them? Or did we actually (and with the benefit of time) look back somewhat fondly on those who liked to stand apart — or stand out — from their teammates? Has social media magnified the generational differences?

Pete Maravich was famous for his droopy socks. Did folks back then criticize him for a sloppy look? Was he styling? Or did we view this as more of an endearing quirk? If Twitter were around then, what would its users think of the baggy hosiery?

Michael Jordan famously wore his UNC shorts under his Bulls shorts, which required his Bulls shorts to be tailored a bit longer than the (then) very short-short look of NBA pants. Between him and the Fab Five, the race to longer and longer shorts lengths worked to a crescendo until finally returning to the current look (albeit with a lot of compression gear). Was there a great hue and cry then about how long, baggy shorts were ruining the NBA aesthetic?

How about Big Klu? If social media were around in his day, would folks back then be railing about the gun show, and complaining about his lack of sleeves? If this site were around in the 1950s, would we be calling Kluszewski a “look at me” player?

The greatest hockey player of all time famously tucked his jersey into his breezers. I don’t recall anyone ever complaining about it — if anything, folks thought it was a wonderful eccentricity. But if social media were prevalent then, would folks have complained that Gretzky didn’t wear the uniform the same way as his teammates?

The list of athletes from years past who modified their uniform is a long one. But it’s not a new phenomenon.

To bring this back to uniform material and design: If Uni Watch were around in the early 1970s when baseball moved from flannel uniforms in white and gray (for the most part) to polyester pullovers and sansabelt pants, would we all have been calling them gaudy and and an affront to those with eyes? Would we have said the equivalent of “Baseball uniforms have jumped the shark”? Having grown up with powder blue roadies (and all the crazy uniforms from the 1970s), those seemed normal or, at least, not garish to me (but they were then and they still are). It’s all a matter of perspective. Fashion — in uniforms and in life — is somewhat cyclical, and when we’re younger, we generally want to wear what’s “hip” and be on the forefront of innovation or experimentation. We don’t want to wear our fathers’ uniforms. But what if the uniform a team wears today is basically the same one worn for decades? If we’re wearing our fathers uniforms, how can we make them a little different?

(I personally love consistency and that generations can wear the same uniform as those who preceded them. I love that we can look at the uniform Lou Gehrig wore, and realize it’s basically the same worn by Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. But I realize not everyone feels that way.)

I bring this all up to say that as I continue as editor, I want to approach each and every uniform and each and every athlete who wears the uniform a bit “differently” by trying to look at things from their perspective, rather than just my own.

That’s not to say there are aren’t too many uniforms and alternates today (which are at least partly driven by Big Uni merchandising), and a number of them aren’t very good. But did I always feel this way? When I was 20, I can honestly say I didn’t necessarily like the “classics.” I was intrigued by (and often wanted to wear) something new and different.

I now consider myself a uniform “classicist,” but that doesn’t mean everyone is. And I think back to my youth when the Astros debuted those Tequila Sunrise jerseys and I thought they were, to use a more modern descriptor, “fire.” (They weren’t.) With age comes wisdom and experience, but if those same Astros jerseys were introduced today, I probably would hate them. I’d venture that if Uni Watch were around then, a majority of us would feel the same way.

I’d still like to know what Malik Nabers really means when he says it will be “hard to swag (the Giants throwback) out”. But I can assure you that he and countless others of his generation are just as concerned with how the uni looks on him as I would have been at that age, and if he is looking to stand out just a bit from his peers, I get it. I don’t necessarily agree with it…but I get it.

As I’ve said before, whenever a new uniform is introduced, I’ll say if I like it. And if I don’t, I’ll say that too, and I’ll try to explain why that is. But going forward I’d also like to try to approach each and every new uniform from the eyes of a younger generation. That likely won’t change my opinion, but it should temper my perspective a bit.

If you’re young(er), know that your own tastes will change as you age, and those who are just being born now may very call you an old man screaming at the clouds in a couple decades. If you’re old(er), remember what it was like to be young and experience new and different uniforms that were (in theory) designed for you.

Not every new uniform is bad, and not every old uniform is good. Not every old design is good, and not every new design is bad. We may disagree on many things, but let’s all agree on that.

Going forward, I will do my level best to try to take all perspectives into consideration when critiquing uniforms: past, present and future.

To bring this all back to where we started: a little off-handed comment from Malik Nabers to a reporter about a uniform that will be worn maybe twice this season has, in a very roundabout way, given me pause, and caused me to reassess my views on uniform design and “customization.”

Paul often admonished us to “Think harder.” I shall use this sage advice before reflexively bemoaning the state of the Uni-verse. A little positivity will go a long way.




A Houston Oilers "Hat" Trick

Got a note the other day from Jimmy Corcoran I wanted to share.

Now that the NFL has relaxed its helmet rules (permitting up to three differnt shells for some teams this season, and for every team beginning next fall), we’ll see lots of players wearing three different helmets for the same team (and in the same season, no less).

But it wasn’t always this way. Most teams had one shell they wore for years, some *never* changing them. But the Houston Oilers actually changed helmets three times in a short period as they underwent uniform redesigns.

I’ll let Jimmy take it from here:


The Houston Oilers’ 1972-74 helmet is well liked by many Uni Watch readers, not just the Jimmer (Jim Vilk). I have to say the white 1972-74 Oilers uniforms are one of my favorites. I also liked the Oilers’ 1971 helmet, but I thought the uniform was not as good as the helmet; I thought the pants stripes didn’t work with the sleeve stripes and I always thought the Houston Oilers looked better with the numbers on the sleeves instead of on the shoulders like they wore them in 1971. If you played for the Oilers from 1975 all the way up until the time they left Houston, you would have worn the same white helmet; the only change would have been that the facemask was changed from gray to red. But if you played for Houston from 1971-75 you would have worn three different helmets in just five seasons. That is a big piece of Oilers helmet history right there, not to mention those are some nice helmets they got to wear during their careers.

You would figure there would have been quite a few players who were there during this era to wear all three, but only ten players can say they are part of the big three club. Here is the list of players who wore all three. Some are among the greatest players in franchise history while others are players you never heard of. In alphabetical order, here they are:

1. Willie Alexander #19
2. Bob Atkins #48
3. Jim Bernie #81
4. Ken Burrough #00
5. Lynn Dickey #10
6. Elbert Drungo #75
7. Robert Holmes #39
8. Zeke Moore #22
9. Dan Pastorini #7
10. Ron Saul #64

Thanks, Jimmy!



Guess the Game from the Uniform

Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Scott Strauss.

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.



And finally...

…that’s going to do it for the early article. There won’t be a Ticker today (those will run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday), but I will have at least one more article to follow later, more if uni news breaks.

The Toronto Blue Jays are scheduled to officially unveil their City Connect uniforms tonight, so I’ll more than likely have a full rundown of those tomorrow morning. (It’s possible I’ll put something up once the uniforms are unveiled, but my critique and review will definitely be on Friday.)

Everyone have a great Thursday!



Comments (115)

    I love the look back at the Oilers helmet evolution. My strongest gridiron aesthetics opinion is that there are too many white helmets, and other than the Colts every white-helmet team would look better with a colored shell. Those beautiful silver and blue Oilers helmets validate my anti-white helmet prejudice.

    On the Astros tequila sunrise jerseys, I was a small child when they came out, and at first I thought they were the coolest thing. Then I had to wear them for two summers of youth ball, and the rainbow guts were a minor but consistent source of embarrassment. Opposing players teased my team about our silly rainbow shirts constantly. I grew to hate them as a result.

    I doubt the Cardinals and Dolphins would look better in a non-white helmet.
    Bills may look alright back in the red helmets.

    That is of course the Cardinals stop their mono-red monstrosity of a home uniform.

    I’d give the Dolphins a pass and put them near the bottom of my list of teams to convert to team-color helmets. A sufficiently attractive logo can almost make a white helmet work. But the Cardinals? Absolutely they need a real-color helmet. Personally, I’d prefer the Cardinals to do something skeuomorphic with their helmets, like the Vikings or Eagles. Like a red helmet with black around the face and a streak of the black running back to frame an eye on each side, with a yellow facemask. Basically the Cardinals bird logo applied to the whole helmet. Even if it’s a garish monstrosity, it will still be a less ugly helmet than what they currently wear.

    Bills definitely need to go back to red helmets. Preferably the 1994 fauxback standing buffalo.

    Cards and Dolphins look great as is. I wouldn’t mind a giant cardinal head helmet, but it isn’t high on my wish list. Arizona needs to fix what’s below the neck first and foremost.

    Thanks for the Oilers piece, Jimmy!

    You are welcome, Jimmer, hope we see more here on the 1972-74 Oilers. For today’s fans really just a footnote in NFL history, but to those of us who saw them play in them, a great short period in Houston Oilers uniform history. There were two players on the Philadelphia Bell who wore the blue Oilers helmet, Benny Johnson and Linzy Cole.

    I remember Linzy Cole from my 1972 Sunoco NFL stamp book!
    He looked a bit bow-legged on his stamp.

    I knew him as a kid, he will be featured in a story I am going to write for Uni Watch called The Philadelphia Bell goes Hollywood.

    Wow, this is extremely refreshing. I have to say, I’m a little bit shocked that an article like this was published so soon into the new regime, but I’m here for it!

    People tend to pick an arbitrary time period of when things were “right”, and then claim that things should return to how they were during that period. I have learned a lot from Uni Watch (both the staff and the community) and have adjusted my opinions accordingly, but one thing I could never wrap my head around was the sentiment shared by many that uniforms suck now and they were so much better when they were kids – despite the age range of UW writers and commenters spanning several decades. I’m glad that way of thinking is being addressed.

    That was an interesting take by both Malik Nabers and Phil. I’ll return to my comment yesterday in response to the Baylor uniform release and the propensity of both NFL and college football programs doing all they can to depersonalize the individual from the uniform because I think Nabers is speaking to this point, although in a somewhat different context. Players are people and not widgets and I think what Nabers is getting at is the fact that this fauxback makes it nearly impossible for him to take the field as an individual and not as a widget pushing a product for which he has no agency. It is possible for there to be both a uniform and individual expression without one overtaking the other. Klu’s sleeveless look is an example of that as were MJ’s longer shorts. To me, I see a battle between the players who want to express their individuality and the clubs who want to suppress all of that as much as possible and Nabers is upset because in this case he believes the club has gone too far.

    He thinks the uniform looks bad. If it looked good, it would be easy to swag out (which just means “look good”). I don’t see how he’s addressing personalization at all here.

    I think what he was getting at was that this fauxback had no connection to him. BTW, the NFL wouldn’t have employed an African American back when the Giants wore those unis so to ask a Black man to “celebrate” that era is perverse and obnoxious, IMO.

    That’s a fair point to consider when thinking about throwbacks like this. But Nabers didn’t bring up anything even close to that. The only thing he said was “it’s gonna be hard to swag out.” Which means, “it’s gonna be hard to look good.”

    100% agree with you, Dylan. This entire conversation has been taken a long way in the wrong direction. He’s not talking about accessorizing.

    That being said, this article was a refreshing breath of fresh air for Uni-Watch. Too often, I feel like I’m surrounded here by people whose favorite color is gray.

    The Fab Five should be every man’s favorite all time team, if only for the fact that they popularized longer men’s shorts. IMHO

    Was there a great hue and cry then about how long, baggy shorts were ruining the NBA aesthetic?

    Yes, at least from me.

    I’m so glad Michigan won the 1989 title with proper shorts, but the Fab Five never did.

    It’s been a long time since anyone won anything with those John Stockton peek-a-boo shorts that could land a fella on a registry, and to that I say good riddance. I know short shorts are on the come back trail, as all things eventually are in the fashion world, but there’s definitely a limit to good taste when considering the male anatomy.

    A string of words I never thought we’d ever hear Jimmer say (even out of context, haha): “I’m so glad Michigan won the 1989 title…” ; )

    Michigan may have been first but Arkansas did it better (and I’m not a fan of either)

    Great piece to present how you will be looking at uniforms I’ll keep in mind.

    My brother and I sometimes would sometimes wear something weird or an actual good jersey to play pick up games with the thought that if it made us feel good, we would play good. I wonder if Malik was trying to refer to that sentiment, because it would feel pretty awful to put on a jersey you didn’t like and thought made you look like a clown and then have to play at a pro level.

    Good think piece Phil-really resonated with me since I too grew up during the sansabelt/powder blue era. I remember when teams started going gray and thought it was new and exciting, despite that being SOP for the majority of baseball’s history.

    I think a lot of the visceral hatred towards the proliferation of uniforms comes down to three things:
    1) The obvious cash grab.
    2) The artificial storytelling in lieu of good design.
    3) Laziness by repeating designs across markets (airport codes/area codes/etc.) or simply swapping colors and calling it a new design.

    “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”

    As someone who has been around and interested since the flannel era, I have seen uniform trends that were well received and those that were not. The long basketball shorts were laughed at by most people I knew who followed that sport. Same for long hockey pants. The advent of polyester uniforms in the MLB, and subsequent explosion of “modern” uniform designs with bright colors was very well received. I’m a tradionalist, but I thought many MLB teams upgraded during the 70’s. What turned me off during that period was the increased popularity of the ribbon sock and the decline of the stirrups.

    “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road…”
    Phil, I think you make a lot of good points and I give you high marks for being willing to acknowledge the validity of other’s uniform preferences when they go against your own. But, as I think Paul always tried to point out, innovation, and changes in style preferences are one thing, but there is a degree of objectiveness to design. Beyond that I think when someone’s argument in favor of their preferred style is inherently flawed, then it is fair to say “what you like is not good, and your reasoning for liking it is flawed because x, y, and z.”
    I don’t have a bone to pick with Nabers, but if his reasoning for not liking this uniform is because of “swag” that is flawed reasoning as far as critique of a uniform. I also don’t throw stones at him directly, because like many in his age group, he has been overwhelmed with marketing speak and other nonsense that have shaped his views on this sort of thing. His views on uniforms are clouded by a generation’s worth of uniforms-as-in-the-moment-merchandise.
    Then there is the case of this uniform in particular. And it is interesting the reaction I have seen to it online. People talking about how ugly it is. But they are sort of missing the point, it is a fauxback, to a design that is nearly a century old, by its very nature it is not going to look pleasing in the context of “modern” design, be it a classicalist design or a contemporary design. Yet the same people will love whatever nonsense Nike puts out in the CC program because it is uniforms-as-in-the-moment-merchandise. This isn’t supposed to look “fresh” or “swaggy” it is supposed to look old because it is a tribute to the age of the franchise.
    It is nice you want to give slack because younger generations have different preferences, and the “style” of uniforms is progressing one way. But “progress” isn’t always in the right direction. And when you consider the why behind much of modern uniform design, I think it is justified to say it is going the wrong direction at the moment.

    Great piece, Phil.
    I’ve been thinking about this for a while, because it applies to most things in life. We tend to think of the way things were in our childhood as “The Right Way”. Whether it’s music, clothes, movies, etc., we spend so much time in our childhoods completely enveloped in these things that they become part of our identities. We look back at the previous generation as “The Old Way”, and the one constant of all industry is that you have to keep doing new, different things to remain “cool” to the new generations.
    It also works the other way, as we get older, typically our tastes stay the same for the most part. Now we look at the younger generation as “The New Way”, which no longer appeals to us. It’s a cycle that repeats time and time again.
    It is also hard to mentally cope with the fact that as we get older, we are no longer the Target Market. Companies are still trying to appeal to the 18-35 year old demographic, but when you aren’t in it any more, it feels like all the companies and products that used to love you so much have turned their back on you.
    I’m 43. I love sansabelts and pullovers. I think CCM made the best hockey jerseys, hands down. I haven’t worn white socks since 1990 (Fab Five). And I miss the hell out of the big old facemasks on the football field like Lawrence Taylor used to wear. That’s my snapshot. That’s what will always feel “Right” to me.
    But I know my 11 year old nephew thinks vastly differently. And guess which one of us wears jerseys every day, not me any more.

    Nice piece, and I generally agree. I remember seeing. Pic of Lou Gehrig and young guys of that time wore their belts with the buckles conspicuously off-center. It’s hard to think of Lou Gehrig as one of this young punks with no respect for tradition.

    Gotta give a shout out to Jim Thome and the 90’s Indians for bringing knee-high socks back into baseball!

    As an Astros fan, I grew up with the rainbow guts being the primary uniform, home and away. So I love them. But, if they weren’t my team growing up and if I had been an adult when they came out, I probably would have hated them.

    As for the Oilers, probably the reason only 10 players wore those three helmets is because Oilers went 1-13 in 1972 AND 1973. That probably would be enough to cause some major player turnover.

    I think a lot of uniform developments have gotten objectively worse over the past ten years in the name of merchandise sales.

    at the same time, i think this is a refreshing perspective: one of the limitations of this site’s relevance is being run only by the perspective of white men in their 50s/60s…so i think it’s a great idea to have an open mind, and maybe at some point you could cultivate perspectives of others outside of your own experience.

    As a black man in the 40’s, who followed UW since the ESPN days, I’ve often had to bite my (figurative) tongue at some of the comments here. There is definitely a middle aged white male sensibility that pervades the editorial tone here (as well as the comments section) that makes this place feel a bit less than hospitable at times.

    Everyone (and do I mean everyone) keeping an open mind might be a good thing moving forward.

    Can always count on someone to inject race into every discussion. I guess you’re that guy.

    Look man, how fragile are you that you can’t even think about race without it upsetting you? The mere mention of it makes you discredit this man’s entire comment? Really? It was a good comment, too. 100% valid take. Give it some thought and you might realize it yourself.

    It was Chris who brought up “white men”, not Jay. You noticed the black man bringing it up because it feeds a narrative that blacks are all lying that American culture is white-centric.

    Why are you and T Ganz singling out Jay when it was chris who initially brought up race?

    i’m the one who wrote the comment originally, so go criticize me for having the audacity to be aware that things like age and race often impact someone’s stylistic preferences. i’m 40 and white, for the record. people like t ganz and kaegan, who are triggered by the slightest acknowledgement of this, make this website and the world a less hospitable place.

    It is most definitely NOT ridiculous. Most people will associate a certain look of a team with a particularly good period of their lives – often when the team was successful, but sometimes not – and seeing a team wearing a throwback design evokes memories of that period. By the same token, it can work the other way around; look at all the teams that wore a symbol of good luck in the Victorian period – a swastika. Suffice it to say, most of society will have a strong negative reaction to use of that symbol today.

    Most of those posting opinions here are middle-aged, white males, and we must recognize that some things that we associate with good memories can and will stir up bad feelings in others. Think residents of the DC area have a warm place in their heart for the Washington football team during the Marshall years? I know that ushers at Briggs Stadium in the 40s and 50s went out of their way to make life unpleasant for African-American fans of the Tigers. You don’t have to like someone’s opinion, but you do have to respect it, because you don’t know where they’re coming from.

    Preach on. I have felt the exact same way about the tone of both some of the posts and especially the comments as a 40-something Black man. Phil taking a step back and thinking about uniforms, designs and attitudes around them from a different perspective is a welcome development.

    Jay, I appreciate your comments. Unfortunately people today are used to being in an echo chamber, and get upset if someone doesn’t agree with their views.

    Chris, I have absolutely no issue with you acknowledging the facts of the matter, nor was I trying to blame you for anything. I just found it interesting the the person who mentioned whiteness wasn’t criticized, while the person who brought up being black was. Cheers for your sensible response.

    This is a great thought-provoking piece. I love “thinking harder”!

    It’s the “look at me” generation. I don’t understand the push for inclusion and everyone being equal. Yet, I want to stand out and separate myself from everyone for my ego trip.

    You’re gonna need to clarify “I don’t understand the push for inclusion and everyone being equal” because I don’t think that came across as you intended.

    I want to apologize to those I may have offended by my comment. It was, as I can see, to be “hateful”. Was not my intention, and was stated in a very hateful way……. I just don’t see why players are supposed to be a “team” and want to “show they are not a team” by wearing attire that make them “different” from that of the rest of the team. When I played sports, our teams all wore the same uniform to show “unity”. Our coaches didn’t want anyone “showboating” and being a distraction. If you want to dress anyway you want to dress to and from the game, that is your business. But, once on the field, be a team and dress together. What’s next? A player fighting the system and wearing whatever jersey/pants combo they want every game?????? I’m just throwing that out there.

    I agree with Jay. What do human rights and the way we treat each other have to do with personal expression?

    What does personal expression have to do with wearing a uniform and complying with your employer’s rules for wearing said uniform? You and voluntarily employed, and are well compensated.
    I’d love to be able to wear flip flops to work every day in my office, but I can’t. It is the dress code. Sports even more so, since matching uniforms are necessary for clearly delineating between the opposing squads, let alone the idea that in wearing and playing for the uniform, you are showing you dedication to your team and teammates. If personal expression via their clothing, at work, is so important to these athletes, pick a non-team sport and you’ll have the freedom to pick out whatever garbage Nike is telling you is fashionable in the moment.

    Greg, your comment doesn’t even deserve a response, but you clearly didn’t understand the point of mine at all, so let me clarify:
    I wasn’t advocating for personal expression. I may or may not support it within the context of sports uniforms – but that’s entirely irrelevant.
    I was challenging the initial commenter’s logic of suggesting that equality and personal expression are contradictory.

    I really appreciate the subtle change in editorial tone. I’ll just leave it at that.

    This is exactly the kind of change in tone that I was hoping would come around these parts sooner or later. Excellent and thought-provoking post! I think it’s important to try to keep different perspectives in mind and never forget that at the end of the day, we’re all just arguing about opinions anyway. And opinions, by definition, cannot be proven right or wrong.

    I’ll add a couple of my own thoughts…

    Even at the age of 42, I still tend to gravitate toward uniforms that are loud, garish, and maybe a bit ridiculous. Maybe I haven’t aged out of that phase yet, or maybe this is just who I am. One of my general rules of thumb is that I don’t like uniforms whose color scheme is just a single color plus white. For example, a lot of people view the Detroit Red Wings unis as “classic” (which I suppose they objectively are, in a certain sense). But to me they’ve just always looked boring.

    I might get thrown off the blog for this next take, but I will admit that I’m a fan of change for change’s sake. No matter how good a uniform is, after a couple decades, it starts to feel out-of-date to me. To use another NHL Original 6 example, I love how the Boston Bruins have consistently tweaked their look every couple decades or so to keep it fresh and interesting, without compromising the overall feel of the design. I much prefer that approach to that of the Canadiens or Wings, who are apparently just going to wear the same exact thing forever.

    Daniel, I’m a few years older than you, and I’m the same way. No problem with a bit of garishness; I *hate* gray and wish every team in baseball would wear color on the road. I was too late to see my Cubs wear those amazing light blue uniforms with white pinstripes and *love* those; I was several generations too late to see then wear all-dark-blue uniforms from the 1880s to 1910s and was ecstatic when they came back as a throwback twice and then in another form as their City Connect. I’m cool with all generations of uniforms; every era has something good to admire.

    I’m a 58-year old Red Sox fan. I loved the tequila sunrise Astros unis when they came out, and I still love them now. We do have a tendency to hold on to what we loved when we were 12. (But Draw The Line really was a killer album!)

    I like the Giants fauxback jerseys. I think it’s a great design. There’s a reason why the Canadians have sported this look for decades. I love the tan pants, an old school look that really works in my opinion. If I were a player who was concerned about how I look on the field, I think I could find a way to feel the swag. But, again, 58-year-old white guy from northern New England talking. My culture might not be your culture.

    I can’t imagine that the look of a uniform (as opposed to the fit) would ever impact my play one way or another. I’m playing a game, not looking at myself in the mirror. My baseball peak came when I was 12, playing little league in these godawful flame orange unis – shirts and pants – with mismatched red caps. At least we had cool stirrups. Worst unis but best season.

    Going a little off topic here, but I remember how excited I was when Draw The Line came out! Al Hirschfield was a big name at the time and finding the hidden “Nina” in the cover art was almost as exciting as listening to the music on the album. Here’s the funny thing – I had that album and then somewhere along the line I lost it or something, and I don’t think I’ve thought about Draw the Line in close to 40 years. Thanks for the reminder!

    What a breath of fresh air for this site. I’ve always felt Paul’s opinions felt dated and much like the Simpsons meme mentioned earlier. Very glad that the site is headed in a new direction with you at the helm, Phil!

    Think this goes the other way as well. While some might be critical of uniform changes, others are sometimes wanting more. Such as so many Dolphins players being vocal about making the throwbacks the primary uniforms. Seems like it will never happen due to Stephen Ross being so stubborn with his logo and uniform but the players have been very vocal about wanting throwbacks to be permanent.

    Justice Potter Stewart when trying to explain hard-core pornography, or what is obscene, said….”but I know it when I see it”
    Well, this quote is how I feel when seeing different types of uniforms. I wasn’t around for Kluszewski, but I’m not a fan of his sleeveless look. I did love Pistol Pete’s socks, and I copied it both in basketball and tennis. I liked Jordan’s longer shorts, but hated it when it was taken to extremes. I also loved when stir-ups were getting longer, showing more sanitary socks. But the 70s pullovers and sansabelt pants were an abomination, though I’ve now come around to appreciating the pullovers, but still a hard no on sansabelt pants. Today I absolutely hate how the NBA is allowing players to wear shoe colors that aren’t team colors, and likewise in MLB wearing different colored florescent sleeves. But I also understand that players are going to push the envelope, which can be good by introducing looks that could be an improvement. However, I also don’t want the inmates running the asylum. There needs to be rules, and enforcement of these rules.

    Agreed. One might say that there should be..what’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh yeah, there should be uniformity in what the players are wearing.

    I think what you wrote is why I have a different perspective about “BFBS” and GFGS” and the idea of neutral colors. Simply because most baseball home unis were white and most road unis were gray, that doesn’t mean those two are the ONLY neutral colors that can be worn as a base for a uniform. Teams have used cream/sand/tan and powder blue as a base color. Black is a neutral color as well, and there is baseball history precedent for black being used as a base color (whether it is a team color or not).

    Yes, I would agree that teams using black as a neutral color is a “money grab”. But what I don’t see (and this is a matter of my perspective) is as much vitriol when a team decides to have a “white out” night, replete with all white uniforms and the attendees wearing all white in the crowd.

    I appreciate Phil’s “pause” in his thought process as he analyzes a uniform. “But going forward I’d also like to try to approach each and every new uniform from the eyes of a younger generation. That likely won’t change my opinion, but it should temper my perspective a bit.” I don’t expect anyone to change their opinion. If you don’t like black uniforms, I get it. But there are many who do, and I would also argue that if you take the fact that the uniform is BFBS out of the equation, you may actually look at the black uni and think “ok, they aren’t that bad” or “I still don’t like black uniforms because black isn’t a team color, but the design of the uni is good”.

    This is an honest question, but are there teams that don’t have white as a team color, but have white unis?

    Why do teams need to use a neutral colour for the base of their uniform?

    That’s another good question. Tradition has it that for baseball, it’s the neutral white for home and the neutral gray for the road. Some don’t like “softball jerseys” (color jerseys). Others don’t like black alts, or all black unis. I guess I’m just looking for the underlying issue. Is it a tradition thing, and aesthetic thing, or a “money grab” thing as to why people don’t like black jerseys/unis

    Baseball has a tradition different from football, basketball, and soccer of visually branding players with design elements placed on the uniform. Think a midnight navy NY on the chest, or a bright red “TWINS” script across the chest. The other sports have stronger traditions of visually branding players with the design of the uniform itself. So for the team identity elements to work in baseball, it makes sense to place them on a more neutral canvas.

    That said, I have long wished baseball would draw the lesson I did from being a young fan at the tail end of the powder-blue road fad and embrace team-color-adjacent neutrals for road uniforms. The old tan Padres road is a favorite of mine because it does exactly that. Back when the Rays were still sort of a green team, they’d have looked great with mint green road uniforms, sort of the green equivalent of powder blue. The Phillies have just generally poorly designed uniforms across the board; one of the major flaws is the poor spacing of their home pinstripes, which in some conditions makes their home uniform look pink. Not great for the Phils. But the Nats would absolutely rock a pink road uniform. And so on. I’m not looking for MLB to go full NFL with the embrace of boldly team-colored uniforms, but more color, less gray would be an improvement to me. Also, if gray, darker gray. Graphite, not the kind of barely-off-white that a realtor uses to stage an empty house, which is what most teams seem to wear these days.

    Mr. Rogers, that was a perfect response to my question! I had never really considered that, but I think the examples of soccer and hockey best depict your interpretation.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your wish to see MLB teams adopt adjacent colours for their road uniforms. Phil seems to be in line with that too, based on some of the design series we’ve seen on weekends past!

    what I don’t see (and this is a matter of my perspective) is as much vitriol when a team decides to have a “white out” night, replete with all white uniforms and the attendees wearing all white in the crowd

    I’m guessing you don’t read the Sunday Morning Uni Watch 5&1…

    There are some good all-white uniforms (not you, Penn State, I’m talking Auburn), and there are some good all-black uniforms (Missouri). But the whole whiteout/blackout thing bores me to tears because it makes everyone look like everyone else. And yet each fan base goes nuts over them, despite the fact that their school looks like any other school from a distance.

    Not always, but often the &1 in the 5&1 is when two colorful teams decide to look like chess pieces instead of their usual selves.

    By the way, Marcus, I like your Ravens when they go mono. It makes sense for them.
    I just don’t think every team should water down your distinctive look.

    I do check out the 5&1 often! It just seems that (again, perspective lol) when a team goes all white, it’s “classic”, “clean”, etc., but all black is “a money grab”, “unnecessary”, etc. The City Connect program, while the designs of the unis are “unique” to put it politely (although I have some faves – Colorado, Washington, Baltimore, and a few others), a sentiment I see often is “here we go again, dark/black pants/unis”, as if white/gray/cream/powder blue are the only acceptable options.

    “Clean”… I prefer grimy.

    By that, I mean I’d have no problem with teams going gray* instead of white, like the St Louis Battlehawks, for instance. Easier on the eyes.

    *Unlike the whiteouts and blackouts, I wouldn’t want a grayout helmet. Keep the lids in the regular team colors.

    Appreciate the perspective, Phil. I’m torn on this subject.

    On the one hand, I appreciate that players want to personalize or individualize they way they look, and looking good = feeling good = playing good. On the other hand, I lean heavily in the direction of playing for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back.

    Yeah, I tend to like the uniforms that I grew up with. I think it’s natural when you’re in your 20s or 30s to think your music, fashion, slang, and general cultural touchstones are the bee’s knees/cool/groovy/gnarly/awesome/dope/phat/fire/on fleek (insert generational slang for “good” or “fashionable” here). But I wonder if, 30 years in the future when Nabers has long since hung up his cleats, will he look back on this fauxback with nostalgic fondness or if will he still feel the same way then as he does now. I wonder the same about anyone in the younger generation. Will people in their 20s and 30s who read this site or buy jerseys today still have a fondness for those grey jerseys or City Connect styles years from now when their own kids think the styles of the 2020s are terribly old-fashioned?

    Sure, people of my generation (I’m closer to Paul and Phil’s age) can be accused of having “dated opinions” and tend to favor classic designs. But there will come a time when those opinions that today feel so fresh and cutting-edge become just as dated. It’s a good idea to be open to both sides of the issue.

    It is a good example of the me-first-as-I-am-my-own-brand-and-this-stupid-old-uniform-makes-the-brand-look-bland attitude. A player can and should be free to criticize any uniform for any reason but in this case I am slightly baffled: I cannot show my swag in these. That is a circus acrobat or a catwalk model talking, not a football player.

    If Nabers does not like it, I guess he can retire! Not everyone loves what they have to wear to work every day, but people do it to make a living. I say to “swag” on your own time. I can’t “swag” on the time my employer is paying me. Nothing wrong with that.

    Please ignore my previous articulate response of “it.” Apparently posting is hard.

    I think Nabors’ attitude is that from a culture of expressing (or ‘celebrating’) individualism and outspokenness. Very common of the modern college or professional athlete (soon to be the same thing).

    I think the attitude this player and the younger generation has actually is the opposite of being indivualistic and standing out. Younger people who are concerned with how they look and post online a lot I find are much more in tune with a certain style that will get them the most views, which is generally a style that everyone likes and approves of. So a throwback jersey like this might actually stand out more for someone wearing it as a shirt and posting pictures of themselves. It has an old timey feel, it’s not a black jersey that goes with any outfit and can be posted without people commenting about the jersey.

    I think there’s some connection to how there isn’t really any counter-culture anymore, everything is a style that has it’s own in-group to accept you in to it if you look the part. And throw back old timey jerseys are not really a recipe for a style that a lot of people will approve of.

    Anyway that’s some half-baked ideas it makes me think of. Very general and not terribly true lol

    It’s a lot of truth to “look good, play good.” Us sports history nerds will love period-appropriate 1930s fauxbacks, but the actual players might not be feeling it. And really we gotta respect that.

    As a Cincinnati born person, I absolutely love the Big Klu, especially the awesome stirrups he’s wearing.

    As a 23 year old, I have found it fairly hard to relate to some of the sentiment on this site as of late, so I am very appreciative of this piece Phil! I think it’s good for everyone to take a step back and realize that we all see the world (and Uni-verse) differently. If we don’t remember that fact, we can often find ourselves thinking “This uniform is objectively good because I think it is, and everyone else is wrong!” I know I am certainly guilty of this myself. Thanks again Phil!!!


    Great article. I largely agree that we tend to gravitate toward the uniforms of our youth and get more curmudgeonly as we age. For example, I have a soft spot for the gradient alternate jerseys from the 90s the NBA and NHL offered up. Being a teenager at the time, I found them appealing, but if released now, I would hate them. Keep up the good work and thanks for the engaging read!

    Phil, a confession: I’ve been … nervous … about the transition of the site from Paul to you.

    By all means, I’ve always recognized the weekend pieces in the previous era of Uni-Watch have required great amounts of work, and I’ve always respected that. But they’ve also tended to be less analytical. Plenty of content; often more than the weekday pieces. But also a lot of user-submitted “what if?” designs, a lot of sheer documentation of the gazillions of college football uniforms, and so on. Again, not that what you do wasn’t great. It was just different than Paul, who had a very thought-out voice and opinion. Not that you didn’t necessarily have your opinions or thoughts, either. They just didn’t shine through.

    That said, if my continued readership was at risk with Paul leaving because I feared that element may have been missing without him, I think you may have won it back today with this piece.

    I have little add other than … I pretty much agree. I have often talked about how opinions of uniforms I see online are often shaped in much the way people shape their opinions of music: They want things to be like they were when they were young, not because things were necessarily better when they were younger but because it’s better to *be* young, healthy, vibrant, full of life, in one’s prime, and so on, and people want to have as many reminders of that as possible. I think it takes a very conscious effort to say, “No, I’m not that age anymore. This is intended for people who are that age, and I have to think about whether it’s effective for them as the target audience, not me.”

    And that’s exactly what you said you want to do here.

    I’m also not just commending you because I agree with you. I’m commending you because this is a forum where, if you’re going to truly follow Paul’s immense legacy, having your own voice and opinions will be important. And with this, you’ve done that: You’ve both followed Paul’s lead by doing a deep, thoughtful piece, while also voicing an opinion that, to be honest, I think is a little different than how Paul approached things. I feel like this is an almost ideal piece for your first week in the role to set your own, unique tone while not straying from the feel of Uni Watch as a whole.

    This is great stuff, Phil. I was nervous. I’m a lot less nervous and actually pretty excited after this. Great piece. Great reading. Thank you for taking on this project and doing your best to fill (Phil?) Paul’s massive shoes. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your thoughts & opinions as you grow into this new era of the site.

    *”reminders of that” = “reminders of their own time of youthfulness”

    An open mind about uniforms, eh? Well, I don’t like it. No sir, I don’t like it one bit.


    Regarding Gretzky tucking his jersey in, people may not have complained about the aesthetics of it, but it was actually against the rules and is enforced much more now than it used to be. There’s a reason you hardly ever see the tuck anymore: link

    That pic of a St. Bonaventure player in the “crescendo” moment of long shorts was photoshopped, right? That can’t be what someone actually played basketball in!


    Yes. Both are photoshopped. That pic was more for dramatic effect ;)

    TJ Ford’s pic is legit and he recently told a whole story about it.

    I’m gonna assume the Bonnie’s player isn’t.

    Thanks for the clarification! I shouldn’t have said “photoshopped,” (as it wasn’t), but rather “was never worn on court in-game”

    The story behind TJ Ford’s shorts: The Bucks thought they were going to draft a big man but changed plans and took Ford. But they only had that one pair of shorts for the introductory photo shoot.

    Phil, I really admire this piece and appreciate this approach. Looking forward to all that lies ahead.

    I’m a millennial and I really get excited when a team reintroduces a 90s element to their uniform (or throws back to a 90s look) because it’s a reminder of how sports looked when I was waking up early to watch SportsCenter in 6th grade, but I know that some of those looks are really not great out of context. Which is to say: it’s important to identify why a team/league makes a uniform design decision, but it’s also important to examine why someone responds a certain way to it. Be curious and not judgmental and all that. (Which is different than being critical—that’s important too.)

    Alternates are fun done once or twice a year as a special occasion or signifying a big game, etc. Today too many teams do too many uniforms, which to me is problematic for two reasons. First is the simple idea that if everything is special then nothing is special. The other problem comes from particularly in college football, I believe a lot of programs do themselves harm from never having a consistent identity. When you turn the TV you don’t know who they are. They have no visual identity which I think makes it harder to identify them as a program.

    Love it – especially the willingness to question your own assumptions and inject some positivity into the place! Thanks for all you’ve done over the years, and thanks for all that is to come!

    I referenced Paul’s “think harder” advice in my parting comment to him last week.
    Glad to see that those words left a lasting impression on you as well, Phil!

    I’d love to see the Titans revive the ’72-’74 Oilers look…yes, even with the gray facemasks and blue pants, but the silver dome/pants era need not return – “…not every old uniform is good. Not every old design is good,…” applies to those.


    Just joining the choir here, but I really appreciate and respect you sharing those thoughts. Taking history and generations into account doesn’t just mean revering the old and boring. Here are some of my 70s thoughts: loved my A’s gold ‘softball’ tops (as Paul called them); hated the Reds’ stumpy short stirrups and solid black shoes; cut my stirrups in little league and added elastic like Frank Robinson; loved the diagonal striped Buffalo Braves unis; loved powder blue roadies; but also… loved the interlocking NY even though I hate the Yankees; love the Tigers’ old English D and belt loops; love the Reds’ wishbone C; and loved, and love, the McAuliffe font. And finally, wore long white tube socks on my high school basketball team. And today, I love players who have their own style but hate clownish MLB socks and neon non-team-colored basketball shoes. Bring back high team-colored stirrups! Thanks for a great post Phil.

    Taking history and generations into account doesn’t just mean revering the old and boring

    Thank you. To quote Mr. William Joel, “The good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” Also, today isn’t always new and improved, and some things left in the past shouldn’t be.

    loved the diagonal striped Buffalo Braves unis; loved powder blue roadies; but also… loved the interlocking NY


    love the Tigers’ old English D and belt loops; love the Reds’ wishbone C


    wore long white tube socks on my high school basketball team

    (Cue Sally Albright in Katz’s Deli)

    [Ugh… looks like I accidentally posted this up in the thread in response to another comment. That can be deleted. My apologies.]

    This is exactly the kind of change in tone that I was hoping would come around these parts sooner or later. Excellent and thought-provoking post! I think it’s important to try to keep different perspectives in mind and never forget that at the end of the day, we’re all just arguing about opinions anyway. And opinions, by definition, cannot be proven right or wrong.

    I’ll add a couple of my own thoughts…

    Even at the age of 42, I still tend to gravitate toward uniforms that are loud, garish, and maybe a bit ridiculous. Maybe I haven’t aged out of that phase yet, or maybe this is just who I am. One of my general rules of thumb is that I don’t like uniforms whose color scheme is just a single color plus white. For example, a lot of people view the Detroit Red Wings unis as “classic” (which I suppose they objectively are, in a certain sense). But to me they’ve just always looked boring.

    I might get thrown off the blog for this next take, but I will admit that I’m a fan of change for change’s sake. No matter how good a uniform is, after a couple decades, it starts to feel out-of-date to me. To use another NHL Original 6 example, I love how the Boston Bruins have consistently tweaked their look every couple decades or so to keep it fresh and interesting, without compromising the overall feel of the design. I much prefer that approach to that of the Canadiens or Wings, who are apparently just going to wear the same exact thing forever.

    GTGFTU :
    Dallas Cowboys at St. Louis Cardinals, 11/2/80?
    Neither team’s best look…good photo though.

    Call me an old school reader, but what the heck does “YMMV” mean after reading such an interesting piece.
    I know I can Google that, but I don’t want an artificial intelligence answer.

    Your mileage may vary, basically it’s a way of saying that other people may see things differently and that’s OK.

    For example, I saw that Phil referred to Wayne Gretzky as the greatest hockey player of all time. I’d take Orr in his prime over Gretzky in his prime but YMMV. Others may snort and refer us to Gordie Howe.

    Thanks to you both for clarifying, abbreviations are so overwhelming sometimes like ATL, ORL, ty, ur.
    Ugh just so unprofessional.

    Nabers should at least appreciate that the Giants’ throwback unis are a celebration of their 100th anniversary.

    “I used to be with ‘it’, but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’ anymore and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary. It’ll happen to you!
    Grandpa Simpson”

    ― Abe Simpson

    I’ve read UW comments for a long time but never once bothered to actually comment due to the “everything from my childhood was better” echo chamber that’s dominated this community. Thank you, Phil, for what feels like an opportunity to actually voice a dissenting opinion.

    Black/anthracite uniforms are popular for a variety of reasons, some more simple and some more macro and complex. For one, dark colors are slimming. For an athlete, that’s a big deal. It makes you feel more sleek and nimble. It’s purely psychological but that’s the truth. On a higher level, as someone in my 20s, our generation’s general opinion of society and the future is extremely bleak. It’s never been harder for young people to start their lives or afford anything nice. Stirrups, flamboyant socks and colorful uniforms just don’t represent this generation at all. It’s excessively decadent and corny. Black on black is the sports uniform equivalent of wearing sweats everywhere, which is significantly more relatable.

    I don’t see a new attitude or a new direction of editorial viewpoint here…
    I see an affirmation of Paul’s (and Phils) vision that everyone could like what the hell they wanted, even if it’s old school cred or new school swag…
    Too many people here want to draw lines and build walls here when what we should do is agree to disagree and be happy about it…
    Hell, I remember when Dwayne Shintzus and Brian Bosworth were told they should be banned for their haircuts LOL

    With the plethora of uniforms across all sports now, there is no reason to distinguish bad uniforms from good…the majority are bad and only classic untouched unis are any good- and thats because well enough was left alone. Everything new since the explosion in merchandise excuse has been dogshit. The problem is the reasons why they are changed.
    A paradigm shift happened in the mid 90s and its been rotten ever since.

    P.T. Anderson said it best (and I’ll paraphrase), “Its not okay to say a movie sucks, but it is okay to say that you didn’t like it.”
    Same goes for uniforms.
    As someone who grew up drawing uniforms from age 7 to 32, “new” designs are disappointing to me because I wouldn’t be able execute many of them when my marker hits the paper. I have to remind myself that kids today are way more savvy on techmology than I’ll ever be. So… kids today can execute.
    It’s okay to disagree, and there’s no need to get upset when you do.

    Be careful, Phil. I try not to let one comment change my perspective on anything. It has to historically poignant for me.

    Thank goodness for this post! Not to disparage Paul since he started this awesome site and we are all here because of him. But, it did feel like anything new or trendy was automatically categorized as a bad uniform. I think it’s great to bring some new perspective.

    On a side note, does anyone else have this issue of their web browser refreshing every time a new ad loads here? This is why I’ve had a few instances of partial comments being posted. New ad loads while typing my comment and that makes me inadvertently hit the Post Comment button. No shame in ads on the site – just wondering if it’s an issue with me or anyone else.

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