Many were pleased by the Miami Dolphins' impressive 35-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday. What pleased us even more was that the two teams were dressed virtually identical to what they would have worn 40 years ago, when the Dolphins became the only undefeated team in NFL history. This is called tradition, and it counts. If it does not count, why are the Dolphins making such a fuss about the anniversary of that memorable team?
Back to the present. The Dolphins came out in all white. One could see Griese, Zonk, Mercury and – a personal favorite – Dr. Doug Swift, suited up in uniforms that only a real uniform freak (who notices socks) could distinguish from the suits of 1972. The Dolphins wear all white about as elegantly as any team. God only knows why in recent years they have often been wearing green pants. Those pants give the opposition seven points right out of the locker room.
As for the Raiders, with their basic silver hats and pants and unadorned black jerseys, they could have been the team that Ken Stabler led in some memorable games of that era. The setting reeked of nostalgia. And the Dolphins played like they thought they were the 1972 team.
It is not often noted, but the Dolphins have a rare advantage in uniforms that they often do not exploit. Most teams at home wear their color. The Dallas Cowboys are a conspicuous exception. But – and the warm weather explains this – the Dolphins usually wear white at home. That not only feels cooler by reflecting heat, it looks cooler. Of course, that gives the opponents a chance to look good, as the Raiders did, in their intimidating black. But when the Dolphins wear all white, things balance out, and they usually have their guests outdressed. And on the road they can usually wear white, which they sometimes ruin with those stupid green pants.
This idea about the importance of uniforms goes back to the days when we used to cut out full-page pictures of stars from SPORT magazine. Our favorite unforms, and it’s all we really liked about the sport, were the hockey outfits, mainly because there was so much to them, and this was before they went to helmets and face shields. It was a sharp contrast with baseball. It was a time when half the baseball teams wore either dark blue or black hats. And everybody wore white at home and gray on excursions. There wasn’t much color in those suits, except for the stockings, and then style practically did away with that charming bit of lower body color.
Among the black hats of that era were the Philadelphia Phillies. A few years later they went to red and blue caps, and then red with pin stripes in their home uniforms, and then occasionally back to red and blue caps and sometimes those junior high colored jerseys. Most baseball teams wear those jerseys from time to time, and the reason, it seems, is money. Some fans will buy anything their team wears. Thus we see Yankees hats in red and other disgusting examples of monetary policy.
To a real fan, uniforms count. Notre Dame courted disaster in pre-season when it displayed novelty helmets, a nauseating gold on one side, dark blue on the other. Not as bad as Boise State, but close. The reaction of Irish fans was immediate. Alumni threatened to burn down the Golden Dome. So far this season the Notre Dame management has listened to reason and stuck to their traditional outfits, which are all business, few stripes. Is is just a coincidence that they are 3-0?