Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Florida Football And Its Leading Offenses

Life by the beach inspires an array of styles, not least of which is the irrepressible Hawaiian shirt. It’s an item that not only conjures the islands, but also California surfing, Miami boardwalks, and Andy Reid at the post-game podium.

For every elaborate floral print—and apologetic head coach—however, there’s a slick suit, and in a subtropical climate like Florida, there’s something both wildly insane and wonderfully cool about that. Of course, the man that made the suit-loose-tie combo iconic in the Sunshine State was Frank Sinatra, and to this day, the Chairman is the benchmark for making impossibly stylish sartorial moves.

Speaking of which, pro football’s three Floridian teams have also been daring to dream of greatness, if not on the sporting field then en route to it. For these clubs, 2014 might be highlighted by colorful runs from the locker room more so than actual footballing prowess. Still, in some circles, like club marketing meetings and around pro shop water-coolers, this might be a thrilling season. Indeed fashion, like football, is all about your perspective.

Which brings me to the latest ensembles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars, teams known for sun splashed decals. In the case of the Bucs, it’s not that their new unis are lacking pizazz, but more so that the team's brand and heritage has been put to the sword. Since the NFL banned the club from wearing its vintage creamsicle collection (due to nonsensical concerns over ill-fitted helmet switches), we don’t see it anymore. Instead, we’re faced with the bold red and beautiful pewter combination—now accompanied by an enlarged helmet logo—which is in its own way striking, and certainly useful to people short of sight.

Then there's the Dolphins, who have gone from their famed aqua to a distinctly brighter blue, and more notably, from a cartoon dolphin wearing a helmet to a sleeker elongated version completely void of protective head wear. What would Ol' Blue Eyes say? This proved a difficult adjustment for many among the Miami faithful, because the club's most iconic images are those awash with its venerable branding, that of Strock, Griese, Csonka, the Killer Bs, Duper, Mercury and Marino. You simply can't erase a winning formula. Well, you can, you just need a 40 year buffer since the last major success.

Finally, Jacksonville's new two-tone helmet is really quite astonishing. Did they run out of gold sharpies or something? I'm just not sure what to make of the whole amalgam, which seems more confused than Senator Keely in South Beach. When they called it the bold new city of the south, they weren't messing around, huh?

Now none of these designs are offensive as such, it's just that they defy tradition. And if we start neglecting NFL traditions, then what do we have? That's right, an even grizzlier version of Coach Ditka. And nobody wants that. So the only way to subdue the poked bear is to get Errol Flynn back on the side of Tampa's hat, demand that Flipper straps up, and have the Jags revert to their all black dome. Anything less than these moves would be akin to Colin Farrell trying to be Don Johnson, the ultimate of Floridian vices.

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