Backward Nike Swooshes On NFL Uniforms: Wrong Or Stupid?S

The preseason Jets-Bengals game was on in the bar Friday night, and while the endless five-yard outs thrown by the dynamic Jets offense made it feel as if we could have been watching anytime, there was one new glaring difference: the Nike logos on the uniform sleeves. They jumped out all the more because half the time, they were pointing the wrong way. Twitter agrees: Why is the swoosh on the right sleeve pointing backward?

Nike's answer is that the swoosh is not backward—that the fat end is supposed to always face forward, with the skinny end trailing behind, like it does on either side of a running shoe. This is the same logic the American military uses for having soldiers wear their flag sleeve patches backward, contrary to the normal flag code: the troops are like human flagpoles, so the flag is meant to look as if it's streaming out behind them.

The NFL's previous supplier, Reebok, used a logo based on the design from the sides of its shoes too. But Reebok put it inside a border and kept it facing the same way on both sleeves, because a football jersey is not a shoe, and because the manufacturer's tag is supposed to be subordinate to the uniform design. Unless you're Nike.