Thursday, October 15, 2009

Catching Up With The Denver Broncos, Part One: What Can Brown Do For You?

It has been a long, long time since I've written about my football team. I can make excuses--the job, the kid, the baseball season, the swine flu--and while any one of them is legitimate (except swine flu, it was actually genital warts), the fact is I thought that this team was going to suck this season. Like 5-11 suck. And now they've played five games, and they've won every single one of them.

Not that sucking would preclude me from writing about the Broncos, commenting about terrible teams is actually kind of fun. Heck, from time to time I write about the Chiefs and the Royals, and those two teams define incompetence. Sure, if it's your team that stinks it's more personal and more painful, which is why I spent an entire summer gearing up for the inevitably shitty, pitiful, historically loss-filled season that was to be Denver Broncos 2009. I was ready to rip on the coach, rip on the quarterback, rip on the old-ass defensive free agents, rip on that dickhead Brandon Marshall, rip on the stupidity of giving away the Bears' first-round pick in 2010 while keeping our own, rip on Bowlen, rip on every last lousy bit of it. But in eviscerating my beloved franchise, I wanted to find both comedy (losing is hard, you must hold on to your sense of humor) and optimism (gotta have hope for the future). This was my game plan, I gave myself no other options for the season.

And then, of course, it turned out these crazy kids could actually play football. They're pretty damned good. How good are they? Can they be great? What is the ceiling on this insanity? We'll get into all those meaningful questions in due time. For now, with Halloween just around the corner, we have to ask: What in the fuck was up with those uniforms Sunday?

All in all, there was a lot to like about the 1960 throwback duds. While I'm not lobbying for a permanent mustard and brown color scheme, I don't completely hate it--I kind of dig those old Padres uniforms, and I've been watching the Wyoming Cowboys rock it for years.

The helmets, admit it, they're awesome. Player numbers on the helmets always look good (the Chargers will wear their throwback powder-blues Monday night with numbers on the helmets). Alabama has had the same uniforms my entire life, and for good reason. The helmets rule.

As for the jerseys and pants, they're the same as every other set in football history--block letters and numbers and a stripe down the leg. Nothing weird or offensive, outside of the fact that the Denver Broncos were not wearing orange and blue.

Then we get to the socks, the vertically-striped hosiery we as Broncos fans had heard about our entire lives. The ugliest socks in football history. So ugly that when the team retired them, fans showed up and burned them in a bonfire. A pair of these socks is preserved at the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio, kept under glass as a permanent reminder of how stupid human beings can be. The socks were supposed to be the deal-breaker, the reason that we had never seen these throwback threads before.

And, yeah, the socks were horrendous Sunday. They were shockingly, glaringly, distractingly hideous. They were bad enough of their own accord, but Jabar Gaffney had to twist his like a barber pole. As if he didn't quite look fucking stupid enough. Brandon Marshall did have some pretty tight custom kicks in brown and yellow that went nicely with his dumb-ass socks.

What's worse, as Paul Lukas points out over at his freakishly in-depth Uni Watch site, the socks were wrong. Back in the day, the vertical striping only appeared on the top half of the sock, the bottom was white. I can't really tell if that detail would have mitigated the socks' visual rapery at all, but the Broncos get another chance to get it right (or much, much more wrong) Monday night, when they'll break out the road version of these craptastic costumes against the Chargers. And then, if their is truly a God, we'll have another bonfire and forget any of this ever happened.

I do have to admit, though, that as that game progressed the socks and the entire uniform started to look better. Not because it was good, but because the team was playing well. The same thing happened in 1997, when the current uniform was introduced. Initially, I hated it. I thought it looked dumb, and way too Nike-y, and I could not imagine Old Man Elway coming out of the tunnel in this goofy spaceman outfit. Then the team won the Super Bowl in each of the first two years in those uniforms, and all of a sudden they looked fantastic.

The immediate on-the-field success has faded, and I'm back to neutral on the uniforms. I can handle the regular, blue-over-white home getup. I like the number font except the 2's and 4's, and I like the socks. I'm OK with darkening the team blue from royal to navy. And the team logo is fine, but has nothing to do with the city of Denver or state of Colorado.

I can't stand the side panels that run from the jerseys to the pants. I dislike the little extraneous serifs on the nameplate font. I hate the pointed stripe on the helmet. I'm not keen on the orange alternate or the blue-pants-with-blue-shirts look. And I'm not a fan of wearing white pants with white road jerseys (the previous uniforms did this too). I'd prefer the road pants to be a darker, contrasting color, but the uniform mandates that long side panel on both jersey and pant leg, making blue or orange pants impossible.

But whatever, it's not the worst uniform in the league or anything. I just wish that instead of wearing these catastrophic brown throwbacks or alternates they would, once a year, wear the classic Denver Broncos uniform. The royal-blue helmet with the "D" on it. The actual Orange Crush jersey. They look awesome. You could make it a Monday Night game, or a divisional rival (the Raiders and Chiefs make the most sense, since their uniforms are unchanged from the 1980s). It doesn't really matter, and it will probably never happen, but I would like it very much.

And with that, we've filled our quota of flamingly homosexual fashion critique for about a dozen years. Stay tuned for actual football.


Cecil said...

Man, I was *just* wondering when we'd bring back the actual unis. Why do they have such a block against it? Did Anabel Bowlen find them offensive to the eye?