Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Updated: February 2, 5:15 PM ET
Look to the unis for XLI winner

By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2

Uni Watch

Like any good football fan, Uni Watch reader Ronnie Poore has been breaking down the numbers in anticipation of Sunday's big game. But while everyone else focuses on worthless statistics like net points scored and average passing yards per attempt, Poore has come up with a much more relevant figure: Only four previous Super Bowl teams have worn white helmets, white jerseys and white pants -- the Jets in Super Bowl III, the Colts in Super Bowl V and the Dolphins in Super Bowls VII and XIX -- and three of those four teams won. That's a good omen for Indianapolis, which will be wearing white-on-white-on-white this Sunday.

Indeed, as Uni Watch has pointed out in the past, haberdashery is destiny on Super Sunday. Remember the simple Super Bowl rule: The best-dressed team usually wins. That's been the case in 26 out of 40 times -- a tidy .650 winning percentage. Even allowing for the occasional miscarriage of sartorial justice, those are pretty good odds.

But picking the best-dressed team this year is no easy task, because this weekend's game will probably rank among the most aesthetically pleasing Super Sundays ever, right up there with Super Bowls II, XIII and XVII. With the Bears slated to don their home colors and the Colts due to wear their road whites, here's Uni Watch's annual element-by-element comparison of Super Bowl combatants, with each uni component weighted to reflect its relative importance:

Helmet (4 points): Two classics here. Indy's riveted horseshoe vs. Chicago's wishbone C -- both timeless, elemental, archetypal. But the Bears have had major quality-control issues with their helmets this season, with many players' logo decals ripping or coming off altogether. Plus Uni Watch gives Indy extra credit for those cool rear-helmet uni numbers. Advantage: Colts.

Jersey (4 points): Once upon a time, when the Colts' shoulder stripes wrapped all the way around (as they did as recently as a decade ago), this category would've been a close judgment call. But today, with modern jersey tailoring forcing the stripes to just lay there atop the shoulder pads, like unfinished Etch-a-Sketch lines, it's no contest -- Bears all the way. The deep blue that stops just barely short of black, the sleeve stripes, the left-sleeve "GSH" perma-tribute to Papa Bear -- it's near-perfection. And hey, let's take a moment to salute the Bears' unique uni number typeface. Slender and curvilinear, almost elegant, it's nearly the diametric opposite of the NFL's usual heavyset block numbers. It would never get off the drawing board if someone proposed it for an NFL team today, but Chicago's been using it for so long (at least since the 1950s) that it's got a sort of accrued muscularity. Or to put it another way, this typeface may not say football, at least not in the most mainstream sense, but it sure says Chicago Bears football. Advantage: Bears.

Pants (3 points): Twin blue racing stripes here, orange piping there -- what's not to like? Advantage: Even.

Hosiery (2 points): Sigh. Just a year ago, when Indy was still wearing striped socks, this game would've been a full-scale hosiery hoedown. But the Colts switched back to color-blocked socks this season, and that's no match for the Bears' orange stripes with white feather-edge accents, which are the best socks in the NFL and arguably in all of sports (plus dig how they echo the sleeve stripes on the jersey). Advantage: Bears.

Footwear (1 point): Both teams wear black shoes, but Chicago's cleats feel like a natural extension of their uniform's color scheme, while Indy's can look a bit clunky, especially when paired with the road whites. Advantage: Bears.

Patch Compatibility (1 point): The big problem with Super Bowl jersey patches is that the logo is designed about a year before the game, so the colors sometimes end up clashing with a team's chromatic scheme. But we got lucky with this year's logo, since the blue goes well with both teams' uniforms. Plus the logo's orange typography meshes perfectly with Chicago's jersey and the lighter blue goes well with Indy's. Advantage: Even.

Coaches (1 point): So many NFL coaches seem to go out of their way to behave like total jerks, so it's refreshing to see two coaches who both come off like decent guys. Still, that doesn't mean they're equally pleasant to look at. Uni Watch doesn't mean to get all man-crushy here, but Lovie Smith is a pretty sharp-looking dude, whether he's buttoned down or bundled up. Tony Dungy, meanwhile, always looks like he's on a hunger strike or something, plus he's got this weird thing about crossing his arms (over and over and over and over and over and over and over again), which makes him look off-puttingly guarded and isolated. C'mon, Tony, belly up to the dessert cart and loosen up a little. Advantage: Bears.

Our final tally: Bears 10, Colts 6, although, as the TV guys like to say, it was a closer contest than the score would indicate. Still, the uni numbers don't lie: Expect da Bears to be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.

Red Alert
In case you were fortunate enough to have missed it, Uni Watch regrets to inform you that the Pirates unveiled a red alternate vest jersey last weekend, which looks even worse than you can imagine. Full details, including more photos, here.

Star Time
The NBA released this year's All-Star Game unis late last week. Aside from some distressing logo creep on the shorts, Uni Watch thinks they look pretty sharp. For further details, look here.

Meanwhile, the NHL's much-vaunted All-Star Game uniforms turned out to be, for the most part, a big yawn. In fact, the real uni-related news from that game had nothing to do with the players -- it involved the refs, who wore silver armbands instead of their usual orange, a change that will become permanent next season. Full details here.

Uni Watch Cross-Country Party Tour
Tired of getting blank looks when you complain that the blue on the Cowboys' helmet and pants doesn't match the blue on their jersey? Wish you could find someone who'd nod appreciatively when you hold forth on the intricacies of NFL sleeve lengths and baseball cap brim curvatures? Salvation is at hand, brothers and sisters, as Uni Watch will be convening meet-and-greet gatherings in three cities over the next week. Here's the itinerary:

Feb. 3, Brooklyn: Kick off your Super Bowl weekend as we gather at 3 p.m. at the 12th Street Bar (corner of 8th Ave. and 12th St.; take the F train to the 7th Ave. stop). The bartender will be none other than this column's editor emeritus, former Village Voice sports editor Miles Seligman, who's promised to come up with a Bloody Mary-esque drink special called a bloody jersey.

Feb. 7, San Francisco: Uni Watch's first-ever West Coast shindig will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Lefty O'Doul's, possibly the only sports bar to bill itself as a piano bar.

Feb. 8, Dallas: Come out and join us at 7:30 p.m. at the Ginger Man Pub, where we'll place crank calls to Jerry Jones ("Do you have T.O. in a can?") and take bets on how soon Eric Gagne's arm will blow out. OK, that's mean -- maybe we'll just stick to the crank calls.

Paul Lukas can't wait to wear this T-shirt in Dallas. His Uni Watch blog, which is updated daily, is here, his answers to Frequently Asked Questions are here, and archives of his columns are available here, here, and here. Got feedback for him, or want to be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted? Contact him here.