Uni Watch: The NFL's Thanksgiving leftovers.

The stadium scene.
Dec. 2 2003 1:23 PM

Uni Watch

The NFL's Thanksgiving leftovers.

Shawn Bryson
Bryson: Lion rampant

What with all the turkey, stuffing, and arguing with your in-laws, you may have missed the finer points of the NFL's annual Thanksgiving ritual of outfitting its teams in throwback uniforms. Fortunately, Uni Watch was on the job, a drumstick in one hand and the TV remote in the other. Here's how the four teams fared in evoking their respective pasts:

Green Bay: The Packers were reprising their 1967 unis—not exactly the most ambitious design project, given how little the team's visage has changed since then. But close inspection reveals that they got lots of little things right, beginning with a subtle narrowing of the side piping on their pants—such a brilliantly sublime detail that Uni Watch practically leapt off the sofa at the sight of it, resulting in a cranberry sauce stain that will forever serve as a reminder of the day's festivities. Other historically accurate touches: The Pack wore black shoes instead of their current white, sported gray facemasks instead of their current green, had five stripes on their sleeves instead of their current three, added small uni numbers to the backs of their helmets, and revived their sorely missed striped socks. The lone gaffe: Auxiliary jersey numbers remained on players' shoulders, instead of down on the sleeves where they belonged. Grade: A-

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Miami: Too bad about the white shoes and the shoulder-high auxiliary numbers, but for the most part this homage to the team's 1973 look was on the money. Proper jersey numeral typeface and color scheme? Check. Revised striping on pants, sleeves, socks, and helmet? Check. Gray facemasks? Check. And in a truly inspired touch that Uni Watch wouldn't have even thought of, they remembered the orange belt! Grade: B+

Detroit: The Lions play every Thanksgiving, so you'd think they'd have the throwback routine down pat by now. Alas, such is not the case. I mean really, people, black undersleeves? Black facemasks? Yes, they also got a few things right (like a logoless, all-silver helmet—boy, there's a real design challenge), but the overall effect was mediocre at best. Grade: C+

Dallas: What a disaster. Granted, the Cowboys' early-'60s jerseys are awkward, as the NFL discovered when it briefly revived them in 1994. But the jersey Dallas has been wearing for the last several Thanksgivings, generously described by the league as "an adaptation" of the 1960s design, isn't a throwback at all—it's just the team's alternate uni and is way too contemporary to pass for a retro look. Plus the helmet color, pants color, shoe color, and sock design were all wrong. Memo to Jerry Jones: Get with the program already. Grade: F

Meanwhile, with the retro regimen now entrenched as an annual Thanksgiving event, it's not too early to start thinking about which teams should be put on the holiday schedule next year. Uni Watch, for one, would gladly forgo turkey altogether for a chance to see the Broncos in their 1960-61 duds, complete with the infamous vertically striped socks (scroll down to see them). Now that would really be something to be thankful for.

Questions or suggestions for Uni Watch? Send mail here.

Paul Lukas writes about food, travel, and consumer culture for a variety of publications.

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