Fashion doesn't fit coaches
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- And now for the show-within-the-show.
With apologies to MTV, it's time for "Pimp My Coach," in which Patriots and Eagles players are offered a chance to make over Bill Belichick and Andy Reid, two of the worst-dressed sideline models in the NFL.
Assisting them is Melissa Rivers, who covers the red-carpet arrivals at the Oscars and Grammy Awards ceremonies for the TV Guide Channel.
"Keep in mind that the Super Bowl is just like the Academy Awards," she said. "These pictures will follow you through your whole career. So maybe you do an arrival outfit, a different outfit for performing and then a party outfit for afterward -- something fetching and victorious when you meet with the press."
Fat chance of that happening today.
Belichick almost certainly will wear a gray hooded Patriots sweat shirt and blue Patriots headband before, during and after the game, looking to all the world like someone who picked out his wardrobe at a souvenir shop.
"He doesn't put too much thought into it, obviously," New England receiver David Patten said, "but he doesn't worry much about any of the extracurriculars. The only thing Bill ever worries about is winning.
"Personally," Patten added, "I'd give anything to see him show up in one of those shiny pimp suits. But that might trip some of the guys out."
Coach Reid 1,sense of style 0
Reid, a size XXXL, will counter with the rumpled sweat suit and ballcap favored by so many of his contemporaries. Like Belichick, he'll probably accessorize with a headset, clipboard and sneakers. No wonder then that when Eagles linebacker Ike Reese was asked to describe his coach's sense of style, he simply chuckled and said, "He has none."
Dhani Jones, a notorious clotheshound and another member of the Philly linebacking corps, thought Reid's biggest problem was lack of a theme.
"He looks like Father Time to me," Jones said, "so I could see him in spats and three-piece suit, definitely a watch pocket on the vest, and maybe driving around in a model-T Ford."
Speaking of the old days, the last coach to work the sideline in coat and tie was probably Dan Reeves, who finally traded them in for a polo shirt when he moved to Atlanta in 1997. Reeves' mentor was Cowboys coach Tom Landry, who favored snap-brimmed fedoras and houndstooth-checked coats, his look so distinct that like Vince Lombardi, George Halas and Paul Brown, you could identify any of them just by seeing their profiles.
"True," Eagles receiver Todd Pinkston said, "but let's be honest. If you saw Coach Reid in profile, tell me you wouldn't know who it was."
And therein lies part of the problem. Reid admitted earlier this week that he was large, even as a kid -- "I got a lot of free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," he said -- and so outfitting presents a special challenge.
"At least he knows to wear the team colors," Rivers said. "But I'd go with something more slimming. And definitely, definitely, definitely, no horizontal stripes. Maybe something in a tailored tweed jacket -- tweed is very 'in' right now -- with a white polo underneath, showing a hint of collar."
As for Belichick, Rivers said, "Since he's a no-nonsense guy, he can just go with a Navy blue blazer and white button-down shirt. Anything would be better than that hoody, frankly; it makes him look like somebody who's always wearing his older brother's clothes.
"Speaking of that," she added, "the players are always so much better-dressed that it makes the Super Bowl a perfect opportunity for coaches to show them up. It's the one time players all wear the same uniform. They could even take their coaches shopping -- it would be a great bonding experience."
Rivers had one final suggestion for the coaches.
"No matter what you wear, slip on a wetsuit underneath," she added. "That way, you're warm and dry, even after the Gatorade bath."
The chance any of this advice will reach the coaches in time to do some good is zero, ensuring there will be not one but two wardrobe malfunctions at the Super Bowl this year. And things could get worse.
Before Terrell Owens went down with leg injuries on Dec. 19, he had 14 touchdown catches and a standing bet with Reid. The coach promised to wear tights if his star receiver caught 15 TDs, which became a possibility again with Owens' return to the Philly lineup. If he does, be sure to avert your eyes.
Earlier in the week, someone opened a high school yearbook in front of Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who correctly picked his coach out among the rows of headshots. Then, a few pages later, Bruschi again picked out Belichick from a handful of students lined up a walkway.
"Check out those flood pants!" he squealed.
And then he paused.
"He's not dressing much better than that now," Bruschi said gingerly, "is he?"
XJim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitkeap.org.