Clueless: These are the teams that never wear stripes. It's a depressingly large contingent: the Lions, Packers, Vikings, Bucs, Falcons (who have distinct socks for their red jersey and white jersey), Panthers (white jersey, dark jersey), Saints, 49ers, Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys, Eagles, Raiders, Giants (blue jersey, white jersey), Texans (blue jersey, white jersey), Titans, Steelers (who get tiny bonus points because their socks often have visible vertical ribbing, which provides a nice textural element), Bengals (white pants, black pants), Jaguars, and Ravens (who appear to have retired their old purple-striped socks, a rare instance of stripe decay that Uni Watch can applaud).

Almost Clueless: The Broncos and Bills don't quite have striped socks, but they do have a thin boundary of color separating the white and block-color zones -- sort of a chromatic DMZ. Not as good as real stripes, but better than nothing.

Half a Clue: These are the teams that have two sets of socks -- one striped, one not. This group includes the Chargers (striped, not), Redskins (striped, not), Browns (striped, not), Patriots (striped, not), Dolphins (striped, not), and Jets (striped, not).

Teams That Get It: As noted earlier, the Bears, Chiefs and Colts wear shin striping in every game. Can't other teams learn from their fine example?

Given the huge number of teams in that first group, all-stripes games like Sunday's Colts-Browns beauty are rare treats indeed (could someone in the league office please schedule a Chicago/KC game already?). But throwback games help the odds a little: The Bills' new throwback unis, for example, feature totally rulin' striped socks (although we've already seen the last of them for this season), and the Cowboys' Week 2 outfits -- which they'll be wearing again on Thanksgiving -- were a veritable stripe-o-rama.

Two final notes: First, look closely and you'll see that some of the best striped socks are worn by the guys who also wear striped shirts -- the officials. And second, any discussion of football legwear requires a mention of the brilliantly obsessive Web site administered by the pseudonymous sock savant known as Witesock. The link is here, but it might not work for you, because Witesock doesn't have enough bandwidth to handle all the hits from Uni Watch nation. So if you get an error message, bookmark the URL and check it again in a few days -- trust Uni Watch on this one.

Paul Lukas thinks that if college players insist on playing bare-legged, then they shouldn't be allowed to wear knee braces, because who wants to look at that? His full-length "Uni Watch" columns continue to run on alternate Thursdays, while "Uni Watch: Weekend Update" appears each Monday. Archives of his "Uni Watch" columns are available here, here, and here. Got feedback for him, or want to be added to his mailing list? Contact him here.



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