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Backward Nike Swooshes On NFL Uniforms: Wrong Or Stupid?

Illustration for article titled Backward Nike Swooshes On NFL Uniforms: Wrong Or Stupid?

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?

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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.

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