Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The War on Sleeves

I couldn't let this go any longer.  I've had enough of this.   I want my sleeves back in the NFL.  I want SLEEVES!

Jerseys, torso, collar, numbers, colors, SLEEVES!   What happened to sleeves in football?  When I was a kid, jerseys had proper sleeves running down from the shoulder to the elbow.  That was great!  That was winter wear, that was FOOTBALL.  Then some jokers had to justify their removal so they could show their macho arms and "not worry about grabbing jerseys."

When the Bears and Chiefs chose this year to place their TV numbers (the number on the sides of their jerseys) up onto the shoulder pads, I lost all respect for jersey manufacturers.   Do I even need to explain why breaking up the numbers and the classic stripes underneath them destroys the very fabric, no pun intended, of what made both Chi-Town and KC's shirts so great?  It is an absolute FARCE.



There is no reason for the number and the classic Bears stripes to be broken up so hap hazardly with the swoosh in the middle.  NONE.  This is an utter disaster of epic proportions.

I highly doubt that holding penalties was the primary reason to abolish sleeves in the NFL.  In fact, it's so bad now that even kickers and punters don't have sleeves.  Instead, they just have this goofy stretch out pouch which looks like a sleeve but doesn't run the full circumference of the cuff.  It's awful looking, terrible aesthetically and just plain stupid.  Let me run down my plight.  How did we get here to the sleeveless nation?

To understand the demise of sleeves, we go back to the beginning, to when sleeves ruled the Earth.  NFL: the 1960's.  The Packers were KING.   So too were their long glorious sleeves.

Packers, 1968:

Ahhh, look at Bart Starr in his glory, running a play with his sterling TV numbers perpendicular to his shoulders.  Observe the FIVE alternating green and yellow stripes running side by side, below the number.  In the beginning, sleeves were meant to keep the player warm, and on cold winter days, they did.   In fact, here, the sleeve was too long... it actually ran well below the shoulder... it was practically a long sleeved shirt.  I digress.  Onward...

Packers, 1978:

Check out these cool cats in full garb.   Sleeves are the exact perfect length, right about the elbow or a little above it.  TV numbers right on the side as they should be, not crowding the crap out of the jersey up on the shoulder pads.  But observe!  Already, we see an alarming trend!!   Do you not see the number of stripes reduced from 5 to 3?  Only three lone stripes now represent the Packers, and there's no give beneath the stripes themselves.  After the stripes, we see a hard cutoff.  But still -- the full splendor of a fully cuffed sleeve takes place.   Sleeves were in a zone from 1978 through 1986.  Everything was just right.  Need proof?  Check out any 49ers, Rams, Steelers, Browns, Cowboys, or Colts game from that era.  Perfection. The best part was, EVERYBODY wore the same sleeves -- linebackers, quarterbacks, receivers, special teams players.  It was an equal universe of fully sleeved athletes.  Brace yourselves, friends, it gets worse...

Packers, 1988:

Now it's starting to get ugly.   First, the obvious -- the TV numbers are now in the dreaded shoulder-pad region.  Boy do I hate this.   You can plainly see any player's number on the front of the jersey... need we be double reminded by two crowded numbers running up against the helmet?  I don't like it on any team, frankly.  Moving on, *yes*, the original five stripe configuration was restored but look at that awful looking "G" logo plastered on them!!  What in the hell is THIS?  To be honest, the entire Packers uniform in the 80's was plain gaudy.   A similar distracting "G" logo was posted onto the sides of their pants.     The uniforms on the whole were flat-out busy... too busy.  Worst of all, you can already see the length of the sleeve creeping up above the elbow.  Then...

Packers, 1996:

It starts...  Here's the 1996 Super Bowl team and their subtly reducing sleeves... at this point the sleeves were hanging by mere threads.  It's a sad, sorry sight.   TV numbers now fully encroaching the shoulders.   Five stripes, yes, but all mangled up so that you can barely see most of them and the sleeve itself was now halfway between the elbow and the shoulder.  On a positive note, they dumped the "G" logo from the stripes but boy did the rest of the sleeve pay the price.

Packers, 2007:

This takes us to modern times.   The stripes are now practically rubbing up against the still crowded TV numbers on the shoulder pad.   The sleeves are now nonexistent, we're back down to three stripes, and what used to be a fully cuffed sleeve is now just an extension of the shoulder pad fabric.  It's only aim is to cover the actual pads themselves, so as not to make the players look like armed robots.  And yet, the magic of what once were sleeves is all gone.  The jerseys now reduced to a mere vest.  Such calamity, even for a franchise that holds to tradition.

Packers, 2012:

 We get it, you have big hairy arms.    The vestiges of the sleeves are now just sloppy cut outs so macho people can show how many muscles they have.  Wonderful... have we no respect for the concept of uniform now?   Must we now just apply shoulder pads and practically paint on the color, numbers and stripes?  It's just not my scene.  By the way, if Clay Matthews wants to flex, he should consider some time out in Venice Beach...

Thus ends my exhaustive study on the fabric formerly known as football sleeves.   I'm a saddened man today:  jerseys used to be used to protect the player, keep him from the elements, and show the fabric of your franchise.  Today it's just one more object in the way of rippled biceps.  It doesn't have to be this way... but macho is the rule in today's football.   Nothing *wrong* with that, but it would be nice of players had a bigger picture in mind when putting on those shirts.   Aesthetic is a winner, and perhaps one day, in a long distant future, I will see my long lost sleeves return to the field.  A man can dream......


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