The NFL’s 300-pounders and their fashion faux pas

October 3, 2012

Maybe the solution is to make the numbers bigger? (Mel Evans / AP)

There’s a bit of a problem with the NFL’s new Nike uniforms. It seems that, in some of the larger sizes, the uniforms are unflattering. And they’re downright revealing when subjected to massive amounts of sweat.

“I hate them. They are built for thin guys,” Alex Boone, the San Francisco 49ers’ 300-pound starting guard, told the Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Clark. “It makes me look like I have big old love handles.”

In April, the league switched to Nike uniforms, which boast what it says is a “body-contoured fit.” Some bodies, it turns out, really shouldn’t be contoured.

“‘It looks like you ate a small baby,’” Boone said his wife told him when she saw him in the new jersey.


Compare Alex Boone (left) with Colin Kaepernick, who makes this look good.  (Mike Segar / Reuters)

In Nike’s defense, the uniforms look just fine on the more chiseled players and the relentlessly buff LaRon Landry. And there’s a competitive reason for jerseys that are form-fitting: there’s less material for offensive linemen to grab onto, not that offensive linemen ever are guilty of holding. The problem is that the NFL is a league filled with 300-pounders. 

“We have 40 years of experience in the football business and the idea in our products is for optimal performance and we work with the athletes to find fit and function,” a Nike spokesman told the WSJ. “The uniforms are available in a variety of sizes and cuts for different players with enhanced performance in mind.”

Which sounds great in theory. On a football field, it’s something else, particularly when the pants are white. In the season opener, viewers were offered a very revealing look at tackle Jeff Backus (see it here). Granted, it’s only about a 5 on the Janet Jackson Scale of Wardrobe Malfunctions and National Outrage, but it was a little more of Mr. Backus’s backside than anyone really needed to see.

Covering a 300+-pound lineman isn’t an easy task and there’s some sentiment among players that Nike should just make bigger jerseys. But, as Backus so graphically demonstrated, something happens when the material gets wet. “It feels like it tightens up and stuff, it’s hard to breathe, it constricts,” Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Terrence Cody said. “It’s kind of ruined [when it gets wet].”

This results in lots of tugging and pulling and, really, sports doesn’t need more of either of those things.

Follow us: @CindyBoren | @MattBrooksWP

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After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Matt Brooks · October 3, 2012