The Dapper Packer not a Color Rush fan
BY JEFF ASH
SPECIAL TO PACKERLAND TITLETOWN USA
In the NFL’s rush to the Color Rush uniforms worn on Thursday nights, Chance Michaels worries that someone, and something, has been lost along the way.
“I kind of feel like every game at Lambeau Field is going to be somebody’s first game, and anytime the Packers aren’t wearing Vince Lombardi’s classic uniform is a missed opportunity for them,” says Michaels, who has studied and written about Green Bay Packers uniforms for more than 20 years.
The Packers went white for their Color Rush game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, Oct. 20. The Packers added white pants to their familiar white road jerseys. The Bears wore navy blue jerseys and pants.
“This game will be some kid’s or some fan’s first exposure,” Michaels said, echoing a similar sentiment from baseball great Joe DiMaggio, who in 1951 said: “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best.”
All white, at least as far Michaels is concerned, is not the Packers’ best look.
“It’s primal how we connect in our heads and our hearts with Vince Lombardi in a way you don’t with Curly Lambeau. Vince Lombardi’s Packers look a lot like our Packers. Anytime the Packers get away from that is kind of bittersweet for me,” he says.
The Packers last wore white jerseys at Lambeau Field in the first two games of the 1989 season. They hadn’t worn white pants at home since the 1956 opener and again in 1958.
“Color Rush was not optional, but I think they’ve done a great job to satisfy the needs of the promotion and to satisfy the league,” Michaels says of the Packers.
“They’ve done a pretty good job of threading the needle, letting Nike and the NFL design uniforms without letting them sell out their visual heritage or aesthetic legacy.”
He also appreciates that the Packers don’t seem to be cashing in on Color Rush. They already sell white jerseys, and white caps appear to be the only other item added for Color Rush sales.
Michaels sees only one advantage to wearing white at Lambeau Field, and it isn’t on the field.
“In a sea of green and gold, white jerseys stand out,” he says of fans who wear white jerseys.
The Packers are among six teams wearing white for Color Rush games. The others are the Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders.
Michaels sees the Color Rush promotion as a mixed blessing for the Packers.
“I’m not a big fan of it in general,” he says. “The NFL season is relatively short in terms of games played, and I’ve never been a big fan of diluting a team’s identity. But I love the opportunity to educate on the Packers’ history of blue and gold.”
Michaels, who says he’s “always been an amateur designer,” has some different ideas about what the Packers should have done for the Color Rush promotion.
He’d tweak the white uniforms to add the green-gold-green stripes seen during the Lombardi era rather than the current green-white-gold-white-green stripes.
“Don’t put white and gold together. They kind of blend together,” Michaels says.
Truth be told, “I’d rather see gold on gold or green on green,” he says.
“I probably would encourage them to go with true 1950s throwbacks, kelly green with gold numbers and gold stripes. Or if they really wanted to make a big splash, had gone with gold jerseys and gold pants.”
But not white on white.
“My other big fear is that we see these white pants added to the general rotation. It seems plausible that they become alternate pants paired with the green jersey. That dilutes what has over 50 years been a strong and solid package,” Michaels says.
Michaels started writing about Packers uniforms in a self-published magazine in Madison in 1994 – “I managed to get through two issues before it petered out,” he says – and has since been doing so digitally. He moved his Packers uniform database online in 2004 and since 2008 has been writing about Packers uniforms at his blog, The Dapper Packer. (You’ll find both the blog and the database at TheDapperPacker.com)
Michaels, 44, was born in New York, but was raised in the Milwaukee suburbs and lived in Wisconsin for a long time.
“I may be the first Packers uniform historian, though put that with a question mark,” he says. “I came across a clipping from the ‘40s. It was black and white, but I could tell they were wearing something different. I started doing research at the Milwaukee Public Library.”
Almost 20 years ago, he moved back to New York. He now lives in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. He describes himself as “an off-off-Broadway producer,” and he confesses to being “a sign buff and an amateur vexillologist, someone who’s into flag history.” He also runs BorchertField.com, a history blog dedicated to the old minor-league Milwaukee Brewers.
Writing about the Packers’ uniforms, Michaels says, keeps him in touch with his Wisconsin roots.
“My grandfather had tickets going back to State Fair Park,” he says. “My kids have never lived in Wisconsin, but they bleed green and gold just like the rest of us.”
Some other takes on the Packers’ white Color Rush uniforms:
“This one feels like a major missed opportunity. They could have gone retro and put the Packers in green (there’s historical precedent for it) and had the Bears wear white Gale Sayers-era throwbacks. Instead they have the Bears wearing navy (yawn), and there’s something about the Packers’ white pants that makes the whole affair feel like a scrimmage.” – Paul Lukas, ESPN.com
“That’s not a bad look at all! Going all white would seem to run against the premise of something called ‘Color Rush’ (all green might have been the best path to take), but it’s a clean look that’s nice on the eyes and still appears like the Packers.” – Matt Mueller, OnMilwaukee.com
“Wow, Packers, way to really go bold here. There isn’t really anything wrong with the Packers’ setup. Of all the unitard colors, white tends to work the best as far as looking good top to bottom. Sadly, the Packers’ set is just too boring.” – Garret Heinrich, CBS Radio Houston
“I was terrified the Packers would be forced into hideous all-yellow uniforms. I am relieved to find that they will wear all-white, sporting the standard away jersey with new white pants. The Packers jerseys are classic.” – Adam Watts, Worthington (Minn.) Daily Globe
“The Packers deserve credit for doing the absolute minimum required to meet the ‘Color Rush’ scheme. … It’s bland – but it keeps the traditional Packers look and saves the players from looking either like human taxicabs or pine tree air fresheners … The Packers … will look like actual adult men playing a game meant to be enjoyed by serious fans and not making a giant sales pitch to Millenials that need flashy colors to hold their interest for more than a minute.” – Jonathan Krause, WOSH radio, Oshkosh
Packers tweet on Color Rush uniforms:
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 13, 2016
And the #ColorRush color is…
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 13, 2016
UniWatch tweet on Bears-Packers Color Rush matchup:
Color Rush Oct. 20: Bears (dark navy) at Packers (white). pic.twitter.com/JnjnUef3zj
— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) September 13, 2016
Chance Michaels’ take:
— The Dapper Packer (@TheDapperPacker) September 15, 2016