There is a lot going on in the world of Steeler football this week: who will start at running back, which defense will show up against young rookie sensation RG3 – the ones who played the first five games of the year, or the ones who bowed their backs and played a great second half last week? What about the weather? How will the predicted cold and rain impact the game? But, for me, the most burning question is, how will Casey Hampton look in his throwback jersey?
The Steelers will take the field tomorrow, midway through their 80th year as a franchise, dressed in 1934-era jerseys. If you haven’t seen them yet, then you are lucky. They have a relatively simple design, alternating black and honey mustard gold horizontal stripes with two block patches in white with their jersey numbers, gold pants and striped socks that match the jersey.
ESPN published poll results today stating that 65 percent of the respondents hated them. I would have been among them. Personally, I detest them. However, they do have their apologists. I have a friend who really likes them because they are authentic – or nearly so anyway. Pull up a photo of the 1934 Steelers and you will see that the designers of these throwbacks were true to the source. My retort to that is that I consider myself a history buff, but that doesn’t mean I wear a corset. There are some things that are just meant to remain in the past.
I liked the throwbacks the team unveiled for the team’s 75th anniversary, the Ernie Stautner era uni’s with the gold numbers on the black jersey with the matching gold striping on the sleeve. Maybe I like them because they are a simple, classic version of what the team wears now. Not flashy, but effective. Like the team (most of the time). I might even be persuaded to not moan and groan too much if they recycled the same jerseys they wore in 1994 to celebrate the league’s 75th anniversary – because at least the stripes are vertical and the Fort Pitt logo is sort of interesting. The worst part of those uniforms, as I recall, was that the pants were taupe and didn’t match at all. Well, maybe that wasn’t the worst part, but it was jarring. But at least there was something visually going on to pull your attention away from those horrible stripes.
Every photo I have seen of this year’s throwback has featured younger, buffer members of the team, as if dazzling us with handsome men is going to somehow make us forget that what they are wearing is an assault on the senses. But tomorrow everyone is going to have to suit up in those bad boys. Everyone. Casey Hampton, Max Starks, Willie Colon. And while there is strength in numbers, there is also visual overload. Imagine 11 large men on the field at once dressed as large bumblebees. One man commented on the ESPN survey to look for RG3 to throw six interceptions, he’d be so distracted by the visual chaos. One can only hope that commenter is right. In which case, I’m all for them. But, otherwise, please leave them in the closet.
I was in one of the Steeler Sideline stores today picking up my Thanksgiving Terrible Towel and noticed the cost of the fan throwback jersey is $140. You would have to pay me that much to put one on. Yet, watch and you’ll see some up in the stands tomorrow. Whatever floats your boat I guess, and just so long as they play hard we won’t remember the attack on our fashion and pocketbook sense. Lose, and those awful things will seem downright criminal. In every way.