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Bruce Allen: Take Names Off Jerseys

Posted by Andrew Walker on July 10, 2012 – 10:23 am


Note: Washington Redskins’ Executive Vice President and General Manager Bruce Allen filled in this week for Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King and his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column. The Redskins Blog will be highlighting some of Allen’s comments from the column, which you can read in its entirety by clicking here.

If Bruce Allen had his way, the Washington Redskins would return to the days of the pre-1970s NFL — at least when it comes to team uniforms.

Allen — the Redskins’ executive vice president and general manager — touched on the topic Monday in his Sports Illustrated column, in which he offers this as his “Contrarian Viewpoint Of The Week:”

“Take the names off the back of the jerseys,” Allen wrote.

It’s certainly worth a follow-up to ask Allen to explain this stance a little more, so stay tuned. But when I’ve heard this topic come up before in the college ranks, for example, it’s usually a coach or team official encouraging team unity over individual play (the “it’s about the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back” mentality).

Fair enough, but let’s play along for a minute. According to ESPN.com’s Uni Watch, professional sports teams didn’t put names on the backs of jerseys until 1960, when then-Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck began the practice for his baseball squad.

Though the American Football League also jumped on the names-on-jerseys bandwagon in 1960, it wasn’t until 1970 when the National Football League — and the Redskins — joined in.

Currently, Major League Baseball is the only major sports league that does not require names to on the backs of their teams’ jerseys. The argument for names, I’d say, is because it makes the players more recognizable on TV.

And even in the MLB, the New York Yankees are the only team that has been able to stick with completely nameless uniforms. The Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants do not have names on their home jerseys only.

Other MLB teams — like the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers — have also tried taking the names off their jerseys in recent years, but the move was quickly reversed after negative reaction from either the fans or the players (or both).

In a completely hypothetical sense, it’d certainly be interesting to see the Redskins playing without names on the back of their jerseys. Without them, however, we wouldn’t have the interesting story lines about rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Roy Helu Jr. being allowed to wear “Griffin III” and “Helu Jr” on their uniforms this year.

What do you think? Do you long for the NFL uniforms of old without the names? Or are you a names-on-jerseys supporter?


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Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »


13 Responses to “Bruce Allen: Take Names Off Jerseys”

  1. By Jeff on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    A reversal to the times of no names on jerseys is really not feasible today; especially in the NFL, where you have twice as many players on teams than you have in baseball. I applaud the Yankees for keeping with tradition and leaving their jersey’s nameless, however I wouldn’t want my team to revert to that philosophy.

  2. By DC on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    I think it would be good to have no names on the throwback uniforms for maximum authenticity.

  3. By David on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    It is about the name on the front. I think it is a good idea, football is a team sport.

  4. By Michael on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    Simple: No one wants to revert to the past… we want to push into the future!

  5. By ria on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    I’m more interested in WHY he wants the names off. Smells a little fishy to me, as though he wants to diminish the accomplishments of his players. It also makes it harder for fans watching at home and in the stands to see who’s who; let’s face it, footballers tend to come in only a few body types, so silhouettes don’t really help. Additionally, I was under the impression that teams (and the NFL) made a LOT of money off of jersey sales of the most popular team members, so what’s up with that?

  6. By keiserdx on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    And if you’re watching another team’s game week 1 after your fantasy draft, how will you know if your WR just made a catch if you have no idea what his number is or what he looks like? Gotta think of the fan experience, and fans want to recognize their players and feel connected to them. You can’t feel connected to a bunch of nameless players.

  7. By EdWood94 on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    Fans are complaining about the costs of attending games and paying for parking, food, etc. and then there is a consideration of reducing marketing opportunities by taking off the ‘RG III’ from the jersey?

    Will never happen in the NFL. Agree – be authentic and do it on the throwbacks, but the regular jerseys are a big money maker with the players names and the NFL is all about the money

  8. By oshea57 on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    I think its good for the fact that opposing teams will find it harder to follow players on the field

  9. By Willie on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    Ok, let’s revert back to the 1960′s and remove the names, but then also revert back to 1960′s pricing for game tickets, food, and beverage…if you’re gonna go, go all in!

  10. By dan on Jul 10, 2012 | Reply

    Retro uniforms only.

  11. By jeffrey on Jul 11, 2012 | Reply

    It’s about time for a major revision to the Redskin’s uniform. The helmet is so tired looking.

  12. By Bruce on Jul 11, 2012 | Reply

    In the days when the name wasn’t on the back of the jerseys a player played his career on one team, so you had time to associate the name and the number. Of course now in the time of free agency a player isn’t on a team long enough to learn these things, or care about them personally like we did when I was a child in the day of Sonny, Sam, Larry Brown, Charley Taylor “the over the hill gang”, but we knew these people for years.

  13. By John K. Benfield, III on Sep 14, 2012 | Reply

    The current Redskin helmet is a work of art-leave it alone.

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