Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brown Bears (2012-13, 1984-89)

Welcome to the Ivy League, the land of 10-game schedules and perpetual self-imposed postseason bans. Someday, that'll change. Maybe.
When I think of Brown, three alumni come to mind: 
  1. Fritz Pollard, one of football first African-American stars and the NFL’s first black coach;
  2. Joe Paterno, member of Brown’s Class of 1950 before embarking on his long coaching career at Penn State;
  3. Steve Jordan, former Minnesota Vikings All-Pro tight end and co-star of this bit of awesomeness:

But there’s far more to Brown than that, especially after Phil Estes became coach in 1998. Under Estes, the Bears have won or shared three Ivy League titles, raising their total of Ancient Eight crowns to … four. Brown has also dominated in-state rival Rhode Island in the annual Governor’s Cup game, winning four of the last five showdowns. (The fact an Ivy team dominates a CAA team in an annual rivalry boggles my mind. Penn, a damn good Ivy team, has lost to the CAA’s Villanova Wildcats the last nine seasons). 
Sean Morey, Stephen Campbell, Zak DeOssie … These are names worthy of addition to the list of prominent Brown alumni.
Notes ’n stuff on Brown’s uniforms:
  • This is a tough team to research. The Bears could never seem to find a uniform they liked until the last decade or so.
  • Brown has worn tan, silver, gold, white and, yes, brown helmets. Helmet logos have changed frequently: Numbers, bear images, the Brown logo, a script “Bruins” (an alternate nickname, a la “Elis” for Yale), the school seal, a bear paw, blank helmets … The current one, a sprig of ivy weaved through the letter “B,” is pretty classy.
  • In 2001, Brown ditched its silver-brown-and-red combo for a more basic look: plain white helmets with a paw on the side and a simple brown jersey with brown or white pants. But three years later, the Bears returned the virtually the exact same uniform it had from 1997-2000! I can’t think of another team in this project dumping a style only to re-embrace it later in toto. OK, maybe Delaware in 2007, but that was for only a year. 
  • No manufacturer’s logo has EVER been displayed. I have no idea why, but I’m not complaining. But who does make Brown's unis? Every other Ivy team is outfitted by Nike. …
The archives are far from incomplete, and the menus are far from user-friendly, but the Brown Daily Herald has some decent stuff
The 2013 uniform (above) has its roots in the 1990s. (Note the double outline of the numbers. How dated can you get?) The funky red pant stripes were added in 2012 and are similar to Yale’s and other Nike teams (Hmmmm … I think I just answered my question).

The “classic” look takes us to the mid-80s, which was a time of mediocrity (four straight seasons of 5-4 or 4-5) before an 0-9-1 disaster in 1988. But I like this uniform, if only for the school seal on the helmets. Columbia did this for a year in the ’80s, and Harvard has made the school seal a jersey staple since 1980.

Up next: Those lovable losers, the Columbia Lions!

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