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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Maybe Some Good Can Come Out of

this.

In one corner you have the NFL, which signed a contract with Reebok, which obligates all head coaches to wear Reebok apparel on the NFL sidelines for a period of time. A deal is, of course, a deal.

In the other corner, you have Mike Nolan, the new head coach of the 49ers, who asked the NFL if he could honor his father, one-time 49er coach Dick Nolan, by wearing a shirt and tie on the sidelines.

How do you think the NFL answered young Nolan:

a. No.
b. Hell no.
c. We're not the NBA.
d. Too many coaches are battling weight problems, so we prefer to cloak all head coaches in clothing that drapes.
e. Err, sorry, but you're a runway model for Reebok.
f. The Vince Lombardi look went out a long time ago.

Or perhaps the NFL front office was more diplomatic than that. Perhaps Young Nolan will don a headband during games, a Reebok headbank, albeit with a likeness drawn on it of Dick Nolan coaching on the sidelines in a shirt and tie. Perhaps Jim McMahon, one-time Bears' QB for those SportsProf readers who may be too young to remember the gunslinging QB from BYU, will model it.

I kind of doubt it.

Now, I am a big believer in business casual, especially where there's a serious job to do under pressure. I also love the HS coaching look of the best coach in the business, Bill Belichick, who is all business even if he coaches cold-weather games in a hooded sweatshirt. Now that's a nice look, a classic look, and you could envision him working the tackling dummies while growing up in Annapolis wearing a similar outfit.

But compared to the game-day outfits the coaches wear, I'd prefer the suit and tie look -- Blanton Collier, George Halas and of course the one-time offensive and defensive coordinators for the New York Giants -- Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry, who had some success in Green Bay and Dallas, respectively. They looked like real head coaches, and not models for an overweight society's attempts to look comfortable on weekends.

It's a somewhat minor point in the scheme of things, because I doubt whether any franchise really cares what a coach wears so long as he wins games -- and so long as he wears Reebok. Put another way, I'd prefer to have Andy Reid and Bill Belichick than the other head coaches, whether they are in bespoke suits or Reebok jumpsuits.

Still, the embrace of commercialism has thrust old traditions to the wayside. It's nice to honor one's father, and it's touching that Mike Nolan wanted to honor the dignity of the coaching profession by wearing a suit and tie.

A deal might be a deal, and there usually are many suits around when deals are signed.

Too bad that a suit can't be around at a time when proud traditions should trump hard economic realities. Easily.

Here's a request of 49ers fans and the 49ers, do the following:

1. 49ers: create a 49er-oriented tie that will support a charity, say, for example, the American Heart Association or American Cancer Society. Sell the tie over the summer in local stores, give the proceeds to charity. Encourage the fans to do the following:

2. Fans: buy the tie in droves, support the charity, and wear a white shirt and that tie to the home opener of the 49ers. Reinvigorate your support for the team and team spirit, and stand in support of what you hope will be a new era for your 49ers.

Honor the Nolans and honor your past and present -- 50,000+ strong of you.

And show the NFL that at some point it should give the boot to a shoe company.

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