Monthly Archives: January 2020

49ers want to wear all-white throwback uniform in Super Bowl, NFL reportedly hasn’t allowed it yet

For as long as we care about football and NFL history, a team’s Super Bowl highlights will be played. It has been 50 years and we still remember clips of Max McGee and Joe Namath in Super Bowls before they were officially called Super Bowls.

So uniform choices for a Super Bowl matter. Like a high-school yearbook photo, this look will live forever. And the San Francisco 49ers are pushing for what they feel is their best look for Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The only problem is the NFL hasn’t approved it, yet.

49ers prefer throwback uniforms for Super Bowl

The 49ers will make a push for their all-white throwback jerseys in Super Bowl LIV, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic.

The 49ers wore them in the 1994 season, the NFL’s 75th anniversary season in which each team wore throwbacks on certain weeks. San Francisco continued to wear the throwbacks that season when it got on a winning streak and wore the throwbacks in a Super Bowl win that season.

The 49ers want to go with that kit against the Chiefs but Lombardi reported “the NFL currently won’t allow it,” according to 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. The 49ers got an exemption to wear the throwbacks in a Week 17 game against the Seahawks, and they’re sharp:

Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers in the team's all-white throwback jerseys.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and his team want to wear the all-white throwbacks in Super Bowl LIV.

The NFL can get weird about teams and which uniforms they wear, but hopefully the league lets San Francisco wear the uniforms it wants.

49ers will likely wear white

The Chiefs are the designated home team in Super Bowl LIV, so they’ll get first choice of uniform. It seems obvious they’d wear their normal red uniform, leaving the 49ers to wear white.

When the 49ers wore their throwbacks in the Super Bowl win over the Chargers at the end of the 1994 season, they wore red. That’s the last time the 49ers won a Super Bowl. It’s still a classic look, though so is the 49ers’ normal road uniform.

There’s a lot to talk about in the two weeks before Super Bowl LIV, and the 49ers’ uniforms might be one of those topics.

49ers quarterback Steve Young runs over the Chargers' Darrien Gordon in Super Bowl XXIX, played in 1995.

Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones rank top 10 in NFL jersey sales

With the season reaching its midway point, the NFL released a list of the top-selling jerseys across the league. Of the top 10, two are members of the New York Giants.

Running back Saquon Barkley came in at No. 6, and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones was No. 9.

While a high ankle sprain forced Barkley to miss three games this year, the star running back has shined when on the field. Barkley has carried the ball 74 times for 373 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and two touchdowns while adding 22 receptions for 161 yards and an additional score.

Meanwhile, Jones has put together a promising start to his NFL career. In his six starts, the rookie has completed 132 of 212 passes (62.3%) for 1,449 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Following his strong performance against the Lions this past Sunday, Jones joined Dak Prescott as the only rookie quarterbacks to have two games of at least 300 passing yards, two touchdowns passes and zero interceptions in NFL history.

The Giants were one of only two teams with multiple players in the top 10 of jersey sales, along with the Dallas Cowboys.

Here is the top 10:

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
4. Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
5. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
6. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
9. Daniel Jones, New York Giants
10. Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

Los Angeles Rams Announce That New Uniforms Are Coming For 2020 Season

Los Angeles Rams helmet sits on the sidelines during the NFL game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Atlanta Falcons on October 20, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.

The 2019 NFL campaign is done and dusted for the Los Angeles Rams, which means that it’s time to look forward to what should be a very eventful 2020 season for LA’s NFC representative. The brand-new SoFi Stadium will be opening by then and this has also been talked about for a couple of years now as the catalyst for the Rams finally exiting their uniform purgatory and getting themselves what should hopefully be a clean and consistent uniform identity.

While the NFL mandates that you have to play five seasons in your current uniforms before making any major changes (which is why we’re going to see the Browns alter their look, as 2019 was their fifth season wearing their ill-fated uniforms), the Rams have actually been eligible to make their switch for a few years now. So instead of making a major change, the Rams worked within the league’s uniform rules in an effort to switch things up on a minor scale.

Long snapper Jake McQuaide #44 congratulates kicker Greg Zuerlein #4 of the Los Angeles Rams after a field goal in the game against the Arizona Cardinals at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

The Rams were absolutely insistent on waiting until their new home in Los Angeles was ready before going ahead with their big changes. Now that the stadium is indeed going to be ready, the team has confirmed that new uniforms are on the way. In an open letter to the fans, Rams COO Kevin Demoff stated that the team would be getting a complete redesign, “from logos and colors to uniforms and helmets.”

Now that we can officially expect to see the Rams sporting a new look once next season rolls along, what should we expect? The last time we checked in with the Rams and their hints for new uniforms, Demoff told the fans last April that they were trying to nail a look that was “classically modern.” I also speculated that this could mean that the team is going to stick with the navy blue-and-white color scheme that they adopted as their primary look when they returned to Los Angeles.

Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

While I think that’s it’s more likely that we’re going to see a royal blue-and-white color scheme since that’s what the franchise has been angling towards for years now, I could also see the team calling an audible and going with the popular choice of blue-and-gold. They bounced back and forth between the classic color scheme and the modern color scheme for the past couple of seasons, so there’s also the possibility of “classically modern” meaning that they’ll come up with a look that straddles the fence of the two color schemes. This is all speculation, since we don’t really have anything concrete to go on.

Fortunately, we won’t have too much longer to wait. New looks are usually revealed at or around the NFL Draft, so we’re clearing nearing the end of this particular saga. The Rams’ stay in uniform purgatory is inching towards a close as this should hopefully result in the team finally embracing a consistent visual identity.

Browns back to the drawing board after firing Freddie Kitchens

Fans gathered in downtown Cleveland’s Public Square in late May to celebrate the announcement that the city would host the 2021 NFL Draft, and as officials from the city, NFL and Cleveland Browns took turns speaking from a stage beneath a tent, a man in the crowd suddenly shouted “JOHN DORSEY!”

Browns fans considered Dorsey to be their Football Moses, the man appointed in late 2017 to lead them out of 20 years of irrelevance through a parted AFC North sea into contention. Cleveland spent the entire offseason projecting wins for its team, remade by the general manager who implored everyone available to help “reawaken this sleeping giant.”

They were most awake in Week 1, when a raucous FirstEnergy Stadium crowd welcomed its heroes to begin their quest for glory. They fell asleep at the start of that game’s fourth quarter, stirring intermittently before finally giving in to hibernation. After a 6-10 finish that extended the team’s streak without a playoff berth to 17 seasons, you can cancel the reservations at The Clevelander in Miami. These Browns aren’t going south for the winter, unless it’s for their own vacations. Freddie Kitchens might be on that list after he was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Browns on Sunday.

Dorsey selected the little-known, longtime assistant to lead his assembly of talent, calling Kitchens the “right fit” for the job with a “great vision” in January after a lengthy search pointed the GM nowhere but inward. Kitchens had, after all, established a rapport and rhythm with Dorsey’s handpicked franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield. The Browns rattled off five wins in their final eight games in 2018, feasting on lesser opponents but never acknowledging the voyage may have been more downhill than taxing.

Dorsey then provided Kitchens, previously a pilot of a fully loaded Ford Fiesta, with a Lamborghini when he traded for Odell Beckham Jr. in March. Visions of the Browns reaching breakneck speeds through the curves of the NFL season, racing past opponents en route to a triumphant trip to the winner’s circle, danced through the minds of fans.

As a staff writer for the Browns earlier this year, I observed each of Kitchens’ physical, pounding training camp practices. Soft thuds didn’t exist in Berea, nor did days in shells or just jerseys and shorts, with few exceptions. Kitchens even had the team back at the facility practicing the morning after its dominant preseason performance against the Washington Redskins, stressing the importance of toughness and how valuable it would be in September and beyond.

The Browns came out of the most difficult part of preseason preparation with plenty of positive momentum. They’d “been through the fire” of camp and forged a team, Kitchens said, and they’d exerted their will on the Indianapolis Colts during joint practices.

Mayfield took plenty of shots to Beckham and Jarvis Landry and even lesser names like Derrick Willies, producing viral highlights from the practice field on a near-daily basis. The Browns raced out to leads in the practice games, taking down Washington, Indianapolis and Detroit.

But even then, the cracks were slightly visible.

Mayfield’s accuracy was a bit off throughout camp, and the offense ran into a roadblock during the third preseason game, failing in the red zone before the starters were pulled vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A minor bump, many thought at the time.

However, those same struggles surfaced again in a crucial moment in Week 3 on national television against the Los Angeles Rams, when the Browns had four chances to tie the game late in the fourth quarter from the L.A. 4-yard line and failed to do so, losing 20-13. They appeared repeatedly in Weeks 2, 5 and 6, and again in Weeks 9, 10 and so on. They never went away and were a microcosm of an offense that was clogged all season.

Mayfield targeted Beckham plenty, but never got on the same page with the superstar. The offensive line protecting him regressed significantly after the loss of guard Kevin Zeitler in the Beckham trade. Kitchens made changes at right guard, right tackle and left tackle, seemingly grasping at straws. The only two linemen to start all 16 games were premier blockers Joel Bitonio and JC Tretter. Mayfield rarely appeared comfortable and his slight inaccuracy dragged into the season, throwing 21 interceptions in a variety of fashions.

The lone silver lining was the play of Nick Chubb, who entered Week 17 as the league’s rushing leader and finished six yards shy of 1,500. That wasn’t enough to save Kitchens’ job.

Kitchens was hired because of his play-calling ability, as well as his understanding of Mayfield’s skill set and how to use it in concert with Chubb, Landry and Co. Adding Beckham was only supposed to make the offense even better.

But too often, instead of celebrating their latest touchdown, fans were greeted by commercials starring Mayfield during a break that followed Mayfield’s latest interception. Kitchens appeared to struggle to balance the duties of head coach and play-caller, making a remarkably befuddling decision on a near-weekly basis, be it clock management, play-calling (i.e., running three receivers 18 yards downfield on third-and-8) or ill-fated challenges. Onlookers watched Browns games waiting to witness the latest miscue from the sideline.

All the while, Kitchens remained outwardly steady, refusing to blame problems on officiating — even when it seemed warranted — and mostly backing his players in the face of adversity. The questions mounted, with “last year” finding its way into far too many of them. Why doesn’t this offense resemble that of last year’s? It seemed so much easier last year. What’s missing from last year?

Last year is what got Kitchens his first head-coaching job. Last year is what set expectations unbelievably high. Last year is what drove fans to buy every last one of the team’s season tickets and to purchase countless Mayfield and Beckham jerseys. Last year is what directed the nation’s attention to those wearing brown and orange along the shore of Lake Erie.

Last year — plus this year — is what got Kitchens fired.

A record of 6-10, 7-9 or 8-8 in a coach’s first year in Cleveland typically would be lauded as a building block, the first step toward a winning season and a bright future with a young leader on the sideline. This was, after all, a franchise that posted a winless season just two years ago.

But 2019 was not a typical season. Anything less than contending for a playoff spot would be seen as a total failure.

These Browns had their chances, even after losing Myles Garrett to an indefinite suspension and Olivier Vernon to a persistent knee injury. They were still alive a couple weeks ago when Kitchens visited the place he called home for a decade as an assistant coach. His team promptly fell flat on its face, losing 38-24 to the Arizona Cardinals, a brutal defeat for a team clinging to playoff hopes. Cleveland topped that backbreaking loss by falling to the one-win Bengals in the season finale.

The Browns are left to pick up the pieces in an offseason that will surely be filled with swirling rumors regarding the trade value of Beckham and Landry, the clear need for upgrades on the offensive line and how the new staff might try to push Mayfield back on track toward becoming a true franchise quarterback. That’s plenty to handle in a period that will see the high hopes of Browns fans float back down toward the surface of Erie.

Many of those associated with the Browns will speak of how much they like Kitchens and hate to see his run as head coach end like this. In my time working for the Browns, I grew to like Kitchens for his honesty and sharp wit, often hidden beneath his layer of southern charm.

But likeability doesn’t carry much weight in a league that is about wins and losses more than anything else. For Kitchens, that reality was what ultimately did him in.