I was young and impressionable in a time with flashy, bright uniforms. For many birthdays, I received hats displaying my favorite teams in a variety of colors and logos. I remember the Philadelphia Phillies' light blue uniforms, the Flyers' bright orange away jerseys, and the Eagles' kelly green helmets. I had a Green Bay Packers coat and Buccaneers sweatpants.
The neighborhood was filled with color when we played tackle football on the church lawn or street hockey in the asphalt shopping lot.
So when I went to college at Penn State, I didn’t own anything as boring as blue and white. It was not Duke blue or even the Quebec Nordiques visitor’s shade. It was this dark blue and white. I remember going through the bookstore with my parents and they asked me to pick something out to wear. All they had were gray t-shirts with the same emblem and blue and white hats with the same Penn State University text.
It was not until my senior year when they brought out the lion on the rock stuff, which was hideous. My wardrobe took a turn to the drab even though I might not have spent $100 on PSU clothing.
I am a proud Penn Stater. I just never liked the colors. I was never big on tradition, if that tradition meant white helmets. I never understood why everyone wore the same spikes on the football field or boring uniforms when all the other sports teams had modernized theirs.
So, I was pretty excited when I heard they were changing the uniform, even though I think the reason is ridiculous. Joe Paterno did not create the uniform and the Nike swoosh broke the tradition 15 years ago.
I was hoping they would go all the way back to the original Black and Pink. Now that would liven up the bookstore. I was hoping for silver helmets with the lion emblem. I was hoping for all blue uniforms or even silver pants.
All we get as fans this year are names on the Penn State football uniforms meant to break from the past. I guess you cannot move Mount Nittany in one year, but is this really breaking from tradition and beginning a new era in Penn State football?
The New York Yankees never put their names on their jerseys. The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox continue this tradition of team over individual recognition. If you are interested, this is great history on jersey names.
But the players make up the history of a sports club, and I am glad the NFL has all the names on their jersey. One of my favorite parts of going to the Eagle’s games is seeing the years of players walk by on the fans’ backs and telling old glories and follies. Penn State will start to enjoy that tradition.
The university and football program should celebrate the individuals that make a ton of money for the university. They should not bear the burden or brunt for the wrongs of people who should have made the right decisions.
I do not know what tradition has to do with jerseys and helmets. The only tradition I like is knowing that on a fall afternoon there is a Penn State football game. I just wish I could get some apparel to wear at the bar that does not look like I am going to a funeral. Maybe they can start a new tradition – no more boring helmets or colors.
You can follow James Dugan on facebook and on Twitter @jamesduganlb. Purchase his new book through Amazon What Baseball Teaches: A Poetic Odyssey into 2008 Season of the World Champions Philadelphia Phillies