Cardinal rule.

My God, that’s a clever title. The Arizona Cardinals recently opened their new Cardinals Stadium, complete with retractable dome and air conditioning. This, combined with their relatively new uniforms and new logo, will ensure that hometown fans will be able to watch their team suck in comfort and with style. You can dress them up as much as you want… they’re still the Cards.

I’ve always believed that good uniforms will not make teams play better, but bad uniforms will make teams play worse. It makes sense, right? Dressing something or someone up may not make them any more competent, but looking like a slob or looking silly can be demoralizing.

There probably isn’t any valid statistical support for my proposition, so I’ll just have to make do with the best available anecdotal evidence: I submit, for your consideration, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For years, the Suckaneers were the most horrible, awful team in the league, and you could usually pencil in a “W” where you saw them on the schedule. It was bad enough that their “city” is actually a body of water, but they chose to wear the most humiliating uniforms in the history of history itself. Football is supposed to be controlled barbarism; a large part of the game is beating your opponent to a pulp and flat-out intimidation. Yet every Sunday, for twenty years, teams playing against the Bucs would line up against what looked like orangecreamsicles come to life.

How could you possibly look at them and be intimidated? You get down in your three-point stance, you hear someone across the line shouting out defensive coverages, screaming obscenities at you, threatening you. Then you look up at the source: grown men wearing light orange jerseys and white helmets featuring the worst logo ever: an orange-and-red gentleman with a dagger in his teeth who is winking at you. At that point, you know everything’s going to be all right and you’re going to crush these pantywaists.

However, in 1997, they started wearing red, black, and pewter. Even wearing a color named after some of the trinkets you’d find at your grandmother’s house, the Bucs were suddenly a team to be reckoned with. No longer did they run out on the field looking as fearsome as a pack of tropical Skittles; they ran out looking like men. Men with “pewter power.”

Let’s look at the numbers. The Buccaneers with lame uniforms (1976-1996): three winning seasons in 21 years, including an 0-14 inaugural season, three playoff appearances and one playoff victory. The Buccaneers without lame uniforms (1997-present): six winning seasons in nine years, one 8-8 season, six trips to the playoffs and one Super Bowl Championship.

One could also cite the Broncos and Patriots as examples of this rule; the Broncos didn’t win the Super Bowl until the year they got rid of the Gator-esque uniforms and snorting-horse-in-a-giant-D helmets, and the Patriots didn’t win until the year after they got rid of their hideous shadow-striped jerseys.

Where the uniforms the only difference? Probably not. But nobody wearing Buccaneer Bruce (yes, that’s the mascot’s name) on the side of his helmet was going anywhere near the Super Bowl.

Back to the Cardinals. The Cardinals have a long tradition of being horrible dating back to their founding in 1898. However, they were champions of the NFL in 1926 and 1947 and runners-up in 1948, meaning that they occasionally threw in some success. In accordance with my hypothesis, that was all back when they had plain, logo-less helmets, and were named “Cardinals” because of the color of their first uniforms. Then, tragically, they added the cute little redbird to their helmets in 1960 and haven’t done jack since. One measly playoff victory in forty-six years. That’s it.

Changing the bird on their helmets from looking slightly perturbed to looking greatly disappointed is not going to make them play any harder, or feel any more aggressive. Air conditioning may make the fans feel better—at least, until they see the product on the field. It’s time for the Cardinals to get rid of that horrible logo once and for all, and go to plain, blood-red helmets. Otherwise, those grown men with the cute little redbirds on the sides of their helmets will be doomed to chronic underachievement.

3 Responses to “Cardinal rule.”

  1. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:
    August 20th, 2006 at 8:34 PM

So, lets take another look at the Buccaneers’ old scheme: pastel colors, a winking logo with a foppish hairdo named Bruce, etc. Not to be homophobic, but . . .

Interesting that you left out another team that got relatively better with a uniform change – the Atlanta Falcons in the early ’90s, when Jerry Glanville took over the team and they went to the silver and black scheme.

Speaking of football, do I have to be commisioner for MWAFFL again this year? Or will we see the return of the Payton Memorial Fantasy Football League?

  1. VDV Says:
    August 22nd, 2006 at 7:30 PM

Yes, you’re commissioner again. And you’re right; the best thing Glanville ever did was switch the Falcons to black helmets and uniforms. Of course, they wear those fancy Arena-league wannabe uniforms now… oh well.

I’m going to root for whatever team announces that they will abandon their logo, take the names off the backs of the jerseys, get rid of every stripe, dot, swoosh and other adornment on their uniforms, and wear all white at home and all black away.

  1. Andrew Jackson Says:
    August 22nd, 2006 at 10:12 PM

Aye, when Sappy Maddy (Madison) decided to change our regulars into those fabulous red and blue jackets before the redcoats came back in 1812, the boys weere ready to kick some British arse in New Orelans. Indeed, methinks Hamilton met his end only due to that absoltuely horrid salmon sweater his wife knitted for him (I mean, was that a sweater, or did her sewing kit throw up?). Burr, with his stunningly sheek petticoat, could smell the non-bulletproofity. Hamilton should have known better, though. Salmon was, like,sooooo “1790s.”

Hold fast,
Andy J.