Penn State Football: Why Adding Names to Jerseys Is the Necessary Choice
It was announced on Tuesday that Penn State's football jerseys would be a little bit different under Bill O'Brien. The Nittany Lions are known for their plain uniforms with no name labeled across the back.
According to ESPN, that will change this season:
Players' names are being added to Penn State's football jerseys for the coming season, the university announced Tuesday, along with blue ribbons to show support for victims of child abuse.
The first reaction of Penn State fans may be one of protest, but it shouldn't be. This is another step in the "right" direction, and it was a completely necessary change to make.
For one, don't you want to know who is on the field, especially this season? These are the players who weathered the greatest storm a college football program has ever seen. They endured, and continue to endure, a multitude of obstacles in their college careers.
Penn State fans should want to see their names. Avid followers know who they are, but they should want to point them out specifically and say "hey, there's Michael Mauti (No. 42)." That was never relevant before, but these players have done something special in light of some extremely dark days.
Happy Valley hasn't been all that "happy" lately. The players who decided to stand by their beloved program deserve more than anonymous recognition on the field of play.
There are other, more obvious, reasons as well. This is the dawn of a new era for Penn State. Bill O'Brien is doing his best to push the program beyond "the Paterno era," and into a new time.
This is a major step in the right direction. They may only be letters, but their absence signified everything under Paterno.
Their presence means just as much for O'Brien and his new wave of Nittany Lions.
You may groan at the thought of this, but teams can still play "team-first" football with recognizable names on the field. It doesn't really change anything.
No-name jerseys would have been another reminder of Penn State's yesteryear. Whether you like it or not, Penn State must move forward, and this was a very simple way of easing that process along.
When you watch the Nittany Lions play this year, you won't just see numbers. You will see the name of the player who stood by while everything cam crumbling down.
That stands for something, and O'Brien was right to recognize that.
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