In yet another novelty stunt to drum up interest in the least exciting All-Star game in American professional sports, the NFL will sheath the hands of its stars in Nike Vapor Jet gloves at the 2012 Pro Bowl.
These new lightweight mitts from the "Swooshsters" are designed to make one's grip sticky while improving the comfort of one's hands inside using a more breathable mesh material.
Of greater interest, though, is the aesthetic appeal of Nike's latest pigskin innovation. The palms of the gloves sport custom designs for each player's respective team that becomes fully visible when the hands are crossed, like so:
And more so:
If you look closely, you'll notice that the Carolina Panthers may have inadvertently leaked a new, tweaked version of their logo on the NFL's slick handwear:
Set them side-by-side, and the slick incorporation of more blue into the original snarling cat becomes apparent, as do the curvier fangs and eyes:
It's a nice (and much-needed) update for a team that could use some flair to reflect the excitement and energy that Cam Newton has brought to the franchise with his "Superman" act.
Nike pulled a similar stunt with the Pro Combat uniforms it dispersed across the college football landscape this past season. Players from LSU to Oregon and beyond wore gloves adorned with their school colors and symbols, as seen here:
As gimmicky as the new gloves may be, it's tough to deny that they actually look pretty cool, so long as players don't spend too much time throwing their hands up.
It's not because they shouldn't show off their colors, but rather because doing so would make it much more difficult for them to hang onto the ball, grip or no grip.
If anything, it's interesting that the NFL would be so willing to adopt equipment that seems to encourage celebration and individual aggrandizement. Perhaps commissioner Roger Goodell is softening his stance on the issue, if only to make the duration of his tenure more amicable amongst the players.
If nothing else, having the players wear tricked-out gloves beats the heck out of letting them tweet during the game.
Depending on who's hogging the Twitter machine, of course.
Too bad nobody will get to see the gloves in action.
That is, unless someone accidentally flips to NBC on Sunday while the Pro Bowl is on.
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