Avid football fans might have noticed something new watching an NFL game this season: Nike is now the official licensed apparel outfitter. Everything, from a fan’s getup to player’s jerseys, pants, gloves, shoes and the referee’s (yes, even the replacement one’s) uniforms, are now exclusively designed by Nike.
Prior to the switch, NFL uniforms and apparel were provided by Reebok and have been for the past 10 years. The new five-year agreement with Nike ended Reebok’s run with the league and opened the door for other companies, including the New Era brand, which now provides NFL players, personnel and fans with the official on-field caps.
The NFL’s goal for the switch: to create new and innovative, “performance-driven” uniforms with changes in fabric composition. The change also gives the NFL apparel a wider fan base due to Nike’s exceptional distribution and mass appeal to the younger crowd, assisting the NFL by ushering in a new generation of players.
While there are new fans, new jerseys and newly decorated players, there seems to be an unpleasant “newness” this season as well.
If you would have told me before the season started that the Packers, Saints, Patriots and Steelers would all have a sub .500 record going into Week Four, I would have thought you were crazy. But in what has quickly become the most bizarre NFL season I have ever witnessed, the elite teams of recent history are not looking very “elite.” Combining for a record of 3-9 through the first three weeks, the teams we are accustomed to see dominate the field on Sundays, well, are not dominating anything.
In Week Three alone, we saw this group of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks and future hall of famers (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger) all suffer defeat in the same week for the first time ever. Through week three, we have also seen similar struggles by pro-bowl quarterbacks like Michael Vick, who has turned the ball over more than any player in the league and last year’s MVP and 2010 Super Bowl champion, Aaron Rodgers, has yet to throw more than two touchdowns.
It seems as if the league is in transition from the passing-heavy game we are used to, to more of a defensively minded league that was made evident through the emergence of teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. As we move forward to the rest of the season with the official referees, it’s going to be interesting to see if these players will bounce back to normal. Fans anxiously await discovering whether or not defenses are penalized for their physicality.
So while some changes are welcomed with open arms, others have not quite elicited the same effct in the loyal fans.
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