Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2006 4:47PM; Updated: Thursday November 16, 2006 2:59PM
But let's be honest. The majority of those wallet-opening female fans are not going to buy a Joey Porter jersey because there's a thump every time he hits someone. That's not what most of them will think of first when they list their favorite players, and that's not why most of them will remember him. Now those gold shoelaces on the other hand...
The NBA got it right when it headlined its spring playoff campaign with "The game is only part of the fun."
In papers and magazines, "conversation pieces" trumpeted the oncoming Finals. There was an anecdote about Shaquille O'Neal, the Miami Beach reserve police officer, and one about Ben Wallace's afro. At the ad campaign's launch, NBA commish David Stern said, "women want to understand the entertainment aspect of the game."
Yeah, we do.
The NBA did the cute clothes thing several years ago, and had Reebok -- can't they make Mike Nolan a suit? -- stitch up curve-cradling jersey dresses. But in the end, the NBA knew women weren't going to buy more than the one pink cap if they weren't emotionally vested.
Women who love sports love sports because of the characters. Their interest is piqued by personality and their connections are forged when they feel they at least sort of know who's under the shoulder pads.
Clothes can do that. Personal style can do that.
The NFL saying no to Nolan (because of a supposed agreement with Reebok) and to Plummer (because of a need for uniformity) was absurd. Issuing fines ($5,000 to Johnson) is dumb. Look, if the NFL truly cared about fashion, someone would've done something about the Vikings' purple gloves.
Mike Nolan's a guy who wants to honor his dad. Thank goodness the NFL finally got that Wednesday. So Sunday, when Nolan's in a suit, I'll wager men will be digging that just as much as women do.
I bet there are guys out there who noticed R.W. McQuarters traded regular eyeblack for SpongeBob band-aids in Sunday night's Bears-Giants game. I bet a bunch more would be into Plummer wearing a Pat Tillman decal, especially since Terry Glenn's been slapping a Buckeyes one on his helmet these past three weeks.
Male or female, fans like stories. We want to be entertained and inspired and made to laugh. And it's just plain lame for the NFL to strip its athletes and coaches of ways to do that. Especially when it's just about clothes. Legislate behavior if you must. But let the players do their job in whatever outfit they want.
Oh, and speaking of, one last thing. Dad, you can stop freaking out. I wrote this one in my apartment.