The Senior Bowl must not have been that stimulating for reporters. Amid reports of players’ stock rising and sliding before the NFL Draft, there was one footnote of Lane Kiffin’s attire. Apparently Kiffin’s lack of Raider apparel stood out to a few reporters who noted he wore Under Armor gear unlike the rest of his assistants. So is this young coach’s decision to neglect to wear his franchise’s emblem a simple error, perhaps happenstance or rather a silent protest to back up his comments of “It’s not an issue” to the press? Only time will tell in the saga that continues to smolder in Oakland.
Nonetheless it is odd in a league where players must wear their pre-determined uniforms exactly as the league dictates. After all the NFL is one of the stricter leagues when it comes to dressing in lock step. Fines are levied for the wrong color socks, cleats; even clothing that is not sanctioned by the front office. So it is no surprise that clothing off the field and on the sideline would be such an issue for those with a flair for self expression.
Exhibit A we will call Brian Urlacher, who wore a Vitamin Water hat during a Super Bowl press conference last year. He was smacked with a hefty $100,000 fine, which is far more than other players have been charged for physically heinous acts such as stepping on a player’s head.
Exhibit B we will call the illustrious and gaudy Terrell Owens. Owens was fined by the league for using and cheering on the sidelines with his own personal towel. Talk about sensitivity to the utmost. It is unlikely that the league feared Owens would put an eye out by using this towel to snap the tail of it on an opponent or fan.
No, the fact is that the NFL is all about monopoly and profit. Urlacher was fined because he was promoting a product that was not sanctioned by the NFL. Terrell Owens was also disciplined because he was promoting his own product, not an official item that could be bought on NFL.com.
It would seem that this begs the question as to whether or not clothes actually do make the man. Clinton Portis frequently amuses fans and media alike with his costumes every gameday. With Portis, the more outrageous his costume, the more he garners attention. Maybe this is the route that Warren Sapp should have taken in order to promote himself within a league that frowns on aggrandizement that does not benefit the league as a whole. But then Sapp never shared the same proclivities of Dennis Rodman, Carmen Electra notwithstanding.
If you want the polar opposite of Portis, look no further than the sidelines of the Forty-Niners Mike Nolan and the Jaguars Jack Del Rio. These two head coaches petitioned for permission to wear suits on the sidelines. For Nolan this was homage to the throwback days when his father roamed the sidelines as a head coach. Nonetheless coaches had to wait for Reebok to develop an official line of suits for them to wear so it would be official NFL gear. Imagine that, instead of going to the Warehouse for Men, someday it will be possible to get a suit just like one worn by an NFL coach. Not excited yet? Maybe Kelly Green or Powder Blue might not fit too well in the board room just yet.
Now if you really want to be business like in your demeanor then take a page from the Giants playbook. Just don’t let Michael Strahan or Osi Umenyoria see you do it. Evidently the theme out of Rutherford, NJ is “Men in Black”. It’s entirely possible to envision Plaxico Burress quoting Will Smith to his quarterback Eli Manning, “You know the difference between you and me is, I make this look good.” Perhaps not, but the Giants do seem to take to heart the idea that your uniform off the field determines part of your attitude on the field.
Of course, should you really want to be chic you can always go cheap and emulate one of the most successful coaches in the NFL this decade. Just buy yourself a ratty old hoodie sweatshirt and you too can imitate the droll, down-to-earth coach of the Patriots. But don’t have high expectations of lifting the Lombardi trophy with Tom Brady and Junior Seau. Only the most prepared and savvy coaches get the privilege of coaching in a Super Bowl, much less winning one. Now be serious. You really didn’t think that the clothes really make the man to that extreme did you?