Mulhall column: Vestis virum facit
Maybe it’s sour grapes because the Broncos are 1 and 4, but it seems the only watch-worthy programming on the NFL this year is Fox NFL Sunday — if for no other reason than to watch retired NFL players set men’s fashion trends real-time.
Sure, there’s Terry Bradshaw. I don’t care how dreadful a mood you’re in, you can’t look at Terry Bradshaw without grinning involuntarily at the thought of his hit single “I’m so lonely I could cry” or his performance in “Failure to Launch.”
As if Terry weren’t enough, they have Rob Riggle for even greater comedy firepower, though Riggle’s shtick runs hot and cold. On- and off-camera, Bradshaw keeps the humor alive, mainly because when Riggle runs out of fresh material, which usually occurs about week four, Riggle starts writing Bradshaw jokes with abundant references to trailer parks, sex appeal and Wilford Brimley.
This steaming cauldron of comedy potential notwithstanding, real-time men’s fashion is the real reason to watch.
Before I really rip the lid off the men’s fashion Petri dish that is NFL Sunday, it’s worth mentioning that I lack any credibility on fashion whatsoever. Ask anyone.
Still, deficient credibility never stopped me from writing about politics, so there’s really no reason to stop reading what I might say about men’s fashion.
Full disclosure: I wear the same black vest every day.
My family calls this vest “man purse,” a term that may have originated in a Seinfeld episode. I think of it as a wallet extension, though pocket contents vary widely between infrequent washings.
You could just as easily call my vest “bib,” for it’s also the guardian of whatever shirt I’m wearing when some kind of soup, condiment or salsa drips. “Bib” must have been taken because “man purse” stuck.
Suffice it to say that whoever wrote “the clothes make the man” never had a man purse, which is why a guy like me — and there are a few of us out there — benefits from NFL Sunday. It’s a veritable big-and-tall-eye-for-the-old-guy education on men’s clothing.
Perhaps for the sake of body-type balance, Jerry Jones and Jay Glazer represent the height-impaired, but whatever political correctness their presence achieves gets torn asunder by Riggle’s midget jokes.
Former Cowboy’s head coach Jerry Jones, a particularly snappy dresser, poses some interesting challenges for the camera crew. Panning off a flattering Jones’ close-up without elevating the shot can lead straight to the gap between Michael Strahan’s front teeth, yet another Riggle favorite.
In fairness, each member of the NFL Sunday crew probably has an entourage of minions who get them dressed every Sunday morning.
That’s right. Terry, Howie, Jimmy and the rest are basically mannequins.
However, I did find out that the show’s guiding fashion sense is none other than former Giants defensive end Strahan.
“My style is sensible, classic and modern,” Strahan says about his role decking out his counterparts. “It’s about being yourself, but doing it so that you can look back and respect yourself and the decisions you made.”
Well OK. Just how does he explain Howie Long’s shoes then?
Yes, amid all the pocket squares, bright ties and worsted flannel that appear on the NFL Sunday set every week, there’s Howie Long’s shoes.
Sometimes Skechers. Other times a shoe that looks like a light tan Naugahyde faux leather over All-Star Converse soles —maybe because it’s no foul to wear a sneaker that looks like pig-skin on a Sunday morning football show.
Most folks who notice Howie’s footwear just let it slide though. He is, after all, a former NFL linebacker.
He may not be Romanowski-spit-in-your-face tough anymore, but you still wouldn’t want to laugh at his shoes, at least not without the anonymity TV affords.
Even so, you really can’t blame Howie for wearing the shoes Strahan puts out for him. My bet is that on Sunday evenings he crawls back into his pickup wearing his favorite cargo shorts and a man purse.
Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father and longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent and at postindependent.com.
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