Northwestern's patriotic uniforms: Tribute? Tacky? Both? (w/VIDEO)

The back of the uniform Northwestern football players will wear Saturday, featuring what the manufacturer calls an "authentic distressed pattern." (USA Today Sports via Darren Rovell)

The back of the uniform Northwestern football players will wear Saturday, featuring what the manufacturer calls an “authentic distressed pattern.” (USA Today Sports via Darren Rovell)

College football fans are used to one-off specialty uniforms — everything from desert camouflage to futuristic shock trooper to whatever Oregon decides to wear this week. But Northwestern’s gear for its Saturday home game against Michigan has drawn some criticism for its design — a flag-themed ensemble with splatters of red all over it that’s supposed to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.

The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off after the final gun, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the WWP. Replicas sold by the school will also benefit the charity — one dime out of every dollar, according to the school’s website.

A close-up of the gloves Northwestern football players will wear Saturday. Note "distress" on left hand. (USA Today Sports via Darren Rovell)

A close-up of the gloves Northwestern football players will wear Saturday. Note “distress” on left hand. (USA Today Sports via Darren Rovell)

Our good friends at USA Today Sports called them “the most patriotic jerseys in American history.” Popular sports blog Deadspin called it “gore porn” and said the red splatters are clearly meant to convey fake blood. Most other reports are leaning toward the second description.

In response, manufacturer Under Armour and the school issued statements saying the red stuff isn’t blood — it’s part of a  “distressed pattern” inspired by “a flag that has flown proudly over a long period of time.” A similar pattern, albeit slightly less prominent, was used in Boston College’s star-spangled getups last year.

A 2009 uniform campaign to benefit the WWP didn’t involve splatters of any sort. It did involve  Steve Spurrier.

Check out video of the uniform rollout below, and leave us your thoughts on the design.




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  1. Excerpt from US Flag Code:
    The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.
    That is all.

  2. As a Veteran who was medevac’d to Walter Reed in 1971 and who lost a relative in Iraq, I have to say I found the uniforms offensive. Football and combat are not the same . Football is a GAME. Combat is, well I guess you have to experience it to understand,

  3. So people are getting pissed because they are showing patriotism to our brothers and sisters in arms? Any idiot can see that yes, the “red” is blood, but honestly, is it really affecting you that much mainstream America? It symbolizes the blood that WE have shed to protect their candy liberal asses. People are just trying to find a reason to start shit. Because that’s what America is all about now, don’t hurt others, don’t offend anyone, kiss everyones ass and to hell the with the military. Suck it up, deal with the Uniforms.

  4. I like these uniforms! So what if it is to represent blood or the red of our Flagg….these men and women have sacrificed it!!! Like my father and brothers did! We need to wake up and support our soldiers that fight for our freedom of ignorant rants!!! Thank you for reading! HOOAH!!!

  5. I love the idea behind the uniforms and what they represent, but I think it looks to be in bad taste. The splatter pattern may be meant to reflect and battle worn flaag, but does lok like blood platter. A little more thought should have been put in to creation of these designs. Aside from that, I am all for the endorsement of the WWP. My battle buddies could use the support.

  6. Phillip Thompson on

    Hell yea i’d wear that, in a heartbeat, That’s a great looking uniform, and it benefits the best charity of all. So if you want to send me one i wear a large…Thanks

  7. Super cool, It’s great that they are supporting the wounded warrior project. I don’t see how anyone could infer that they are saying football and combat are the same. They are just showing their support. Where can I get one?

  8. This isn’t a rap video, its not some skank turning it into a mini skirt at the MTV music awards, this is a”single” football game with proceeds benefiting the WWP….one of the most revered and respected organizations in the nation. And if you’ve ever looked at a “real authentic” flag…not a cheap piece of shit, then you would know that after months of wind battering and water damage…the do get distressed and the red will bleed over. Go find another soapbox to get on if you don’t like this….there are far worse attrocities going on in america as we speak. Good day and god bless……and yes I’m a 13 year veteran of the united states army.

  9. I think these uniforms are the best i have ever seen worn. I am currently in the Army and have been for over six years my mos is 11B Infantry

  10. I like the idea of them supporting Wounded Warriors but I am not a fan of the uniform. Knowing that they will be tackled and thrown on the ground bothers me. I am huge on respect for the flag and part of that respect is that you don’t treat the flag like a rag…you don’t let it touch the ground. I don’t have flag towels or flag swimsuits…I don’t have flag napkins or plates but I do fly the flag proudly off my front porch and I have two flags that flew over bases in Afghanistan on my mantel but they are all treated with respect. I think they could and should show their respect in a different way.

  11. Retired U.S. Army on

    For those who have forgotten, the red stripes on the flag, do in fact, represent the blood that was spilled in the creation of this country. That is precisely why the color red was chosen. If it takes a couple of red splatters on a red/white/blue flag themed uniform to wake up the American people, and to get some nation wide support for the Wounded Warriors, then, – let’s roll.

  12. Speaking as a Marine Vet. We shed the blood so you don’t have to. We don’t want or need your praise, admiration, or worship of our blood. If you want to show gratitude, walk up to a Vet and thank him/her; he/she will most likely shrug and say something to the effect of “no problem” or “it was a job”. The reason is we did it for our own reasons. We don’t want to see the blood of our fallen depicted by any one, we bear that burden ourselves as we bear many burdens so civilians don’t have to. I can tell you what my fallen Marines would tell you if you were to thank them, “If you want to thank me, enlist.” Were symbols of our sacrifice and saying you suffer with us is B.S. and you know it. You people are like Christmas Christians, those who only attend church and practice their faith on the holidays. Lace up your boots, take up a weapon, and follow me if you truly want to suffer with me. Leave the flag and our blood alone.

  13. If a person hasn’t been wounded in combat then they have no right to complain about these uniforms. I have been wounded, med-evaced to BAMC in San Antonio in 2007 and I love these uniforms. The players know what they represent and I’m sure they will be wearing them with pride. The uniforms are honoring the blood we have shed on the battlefield and then after the game the proceeds of auctioning them off will go to help more fellow wounded warriors that really need the help. Heck, if I had the money I would be bidding on them too. I could always settle for a replica though.

  14. As a combat wounded veteran double amputee from Afghanistan, I find these uniforms awesome. All those who think its offensive, it is njot. Its just a uniform to show respect and help out a cause.

  15. I personally dont see a problem with the uniforms. They are patriotic, cool and the money is going toward a good cause. Only bitchy little liberals would be offended by this. Lets stop trying to start shit about everything and look at the bigger picture; America and her Freedom!

  16. Herman Valentine on

    As a currently serving 31 year Army Veteran, I personally have no problem with these uniforms, in fact I think they’re a great way to honor those who have served this great nation both past and present, while at the same time reminding the 99% of Amercia that have not served, that we still have Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in combat!

  17. I am not a COMBAT Vet, but I am a Vet ((Army 11B, 14yrs); (NYARNG 79T, 8yrs)). If combat had came my way, I would have gone, but it never did. I can not speak for all Vets (Combat and Non-Combat type), but I do not see anything wrong with this uniform. The football commercial was not looking to disrespect combat soldiers; they were looking to honor them.

  18. I’m a combat vet (68D) and I can say, I’m not offended. I think it’s an awesome way to pay homage to those who were wounded and those who paid the ultimate price. Football isn’t combat, but it has many features found in the military: brotherhood, tactics and planning, objectives, loyalty, respect…

  19. Jordan Blackshear on

    As a PROUD Army wife, I find the uniforms to be patriotic and the fact that the proceeds go to the WWP should speak for itself. Our men and women sacrifice their lives, time, and families to defend a country who sits here bitching and moaning over uniforms??? Wow…pathetic America…stop worrying so much about offending people… If the military isn’t upset why the hell are you?

  20. It appears the Veterans community is up in arms today about the disrespect these uniforms represent. As a Vet who was medevac’d to Walter Reed with nothing I have been a long supporter of the WWP and have donated about 20% of my income to them. So if the WWP is your reason to support these abominations then pony up some money today.

  21. As a future Marine waiting on basic, and a brother to a Marine who finished his active duty a year ago and an Airman in the Air Force I for one like the uniform. It’s purpose is to support our troops. They’re not comparing football to war or anything stupid like that they are supporting our troops for the blood they’ve shed for our country. America needs to grow up. Things like this make me question why I should bother defending a bunch of self serving arrogant self righteous idiots. Fortunately for them there’s others who are worth defending in this country.

  22. This uniform is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. Would you bring out bloody children to honor the Sandy Hook victims? Would you wear a T-Shirts of a blood stained jogger to honor the Boston Massacre victims? Of course not. Why blood splatter? War isn’t a video game. Just because someone says “wounded warrior” then everything is supposed to be OK. I used to support wounded warrior, now i’m sick of seeing their $75 sweatshirts, credit cards with 27% APR. Copmpanies are using wounded warrior to guilt people into over paying for crap they don’t need. Sham on both Northwestern and Wounded Warrior.

  23. Ryan….obviously you did not read the text stating the red is to indicate the wear of the flag long flown much like the wear we have endured during our service. I’m sorry you think its stupid…and you are welcome for your freedom to state such an opinion. And it is only an opinion!!! If America and our wounded soldiers make you sick then perhaps you should consider moving to another country …

  24. Wow Ryan since you don’t agree with Lori she thinks you should leave the country. With this type of opinion it is no wonder the Country is in such a mess. Ryan you are correct someone is trying to advertise by USING THE SUFFERING OF OUR MILITARY not honor our Military

  25. Lol… Fred…I do not mean any rude content…for it is so easy to misinterpate words and opinions…we all have forever fought in this country and abroad for opinions and beliefs … we have no idea what each individual enlisted …past and present are experiencing … its a uniform designed by an artist that feels perhaps greatful for our military… much like art from Di Vinci it is misinterpreted… My Dad was WWII his father WWI…my two older brothers Golf War…my nephews …currently serving.. NFL players get paid more than our military… Can we not be respectful for a minute… its sad…. I tried living in another country…not so easy!

  26. Pingback: No Coast Bias In honor of July 4th, a Compilation of the Best Patriotic Uniforms Ever | No Coast Bias

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