adidas backpack A trip down this uniform geek’s Memory Lane

adidas weightlifting shoes A trip down this uniform geek’s Memory Lane

Somewhere in a dusty photo album exists a black and white picture of my dad’s junior high basketball team. He’s the tall guy in the back row. As astonishing as that fact is, what makes the picture more memorable are the uniforms high socks, short shorts and black Chuck Taylors.

Basketball uniforms are considerably more modest these days. The trunks have grown a couple of feet in length while the socks are invisibly tucked below the high top. But when you think about it, the same amount of leg is showing. It has just switched from thigh to calf.

Football uniforms have evolved over the years as well, though the changes have been more subtle. I think it was the uniform that made me a football fan in the first place. As a kid the players looked like superheroes with helmets hiding their identity and the padding bulking up their proportions to resemble a character from DC Comics.

As a kid I tried to replicate that look but the catalog ordered Dolphins uniform didn’t have the same affect. The Rawlings helmet came with a two bar facemask that nobody except the occasional kicker had worn since the ’70s. On the back was a sticker that warned “Not for protective purposes,” not that it prevented us from butting heads with the replica headgear.

The shoulder pads which came with the uniform were utterly worthless. A thin layer of Styrofoam sewn under plastic padding was the football equivalent of the Halloween Superman mask with a thin elastic band holding it to your head. Still, I loved the uniform, even wearing it to bed. Amazingly the combination of the curve of the helmet and the collar of the shoulder pads provided adequate neck support while snoozing.

This was the 80s and my uniform was definitely a product of the era. When I think of football in the 80s I imagine Mike Rozier. No one better personified the decade than the Heisman winner. His shoulder pads were approximately 8 feet wide. His jersey was loose fitting, exposing the midriff and made of mesh with holes that could be spotted from the top row of Memorial Stadium. And the pants were probably a poly cotton blend with no spandex shimmer like you see today.

Also in the 80s, every player had a towel hanging from their belt. They said it was to keep their hands dry, but judging by the absence of the towel today, I’m guessing it was more of a fashion accessory. My mom is missing many hand towels as a result of trying to replicate that look.

By the time the 90s rolled around football uniforms had gotten a glossy makeover. The mesh jerseys and dull pants had given way to shinier, stretchable materials. Who doesn’t want to see 300 pound men wearing spandex?

Even in the short time between now and the turn of the century, there have been changes to uniforms and equipment. The helmets, which used to weigh about 15 pounds, have switched to these ultra light models with a ridge in the back and a triangular ear hole. The jerseys are now form fitting tank tops which stretch over the pads. In high school, we used to wear our jerseys to school on game days. Doing so now would violate the sleeve requirement in the school dress code.

So why am I rambling on about uniforms? For one,
adidas backpack A trip down this uniform geek's Memory Lane
the Idaho State game wasn’t that interesting. Secondly, because through all of these changes the overall look of Nebraska’s classic uniform has remained the same. Finally, because this week Nebraska and Wisconsin, whose regular uniforms are fairly similar, will break out new “Unrivaled” series uniforms from Adidas.

By now, you have probably seen them so I’ll spare you the details. While I’m a proponent of this change, I will also be in Memorial Stadium on Saturday and I have to say it will be strange to see black helmets popping out of the tunnel.

Whether the uniforms go down in Husker lore or we end up mocking them in photographs like dad’s old basketball garb, largely depends on how Nebraska performs on the field. If Nebraska wins, don’t be surprised if this one and done uni becomes an annual thing. Should they lose . . . well, we haven’t seen the Huskers decked out in all red since a home loss to Oklahoma in 1986.

Nebraska should win this game, which has me worried. This has all the makings of the 2010 Texas game. We finally have a better team, we are playing at home, the opponent has looked terrible early in the season . . . yet Nebraska finds a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Big Ten enters conference play as the laughing stock of BCS conferences. They didn’t do anything to help the cause last week. Iowa lost to a Michigan school, which isn’t a surprise until you realize it is not a Big Ten Michigan school. Illinois got trounced by Louisiana Tech and Michigan fell to Notre Dame. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State looked less than stellar against mid major schools. While Nebraska dominated one of the best high school teams Idaho has to offer, UCLA didn’t help the Cornhusker’s cause by falling to Oregon State.

Nebraska rarely has a “must win” attitude. How many times after a loss have we heard, “our goals are still intact?” Every game from here on out is a “must win” with the conference struggling to be mediocre,
adidas backpack A trip down this uniform geek's Memory Lane
Nebraska must reach the Rose Bowl to sustain any fiber of credibility.

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