Football gets new look

Torches blazing and spear tips glinting in the light with a malice only Viking storm troopers can create. Ransacking villages and raiding towns is a common occurrence for the Vikings of old.

Torches blazing and spear tips glinting in the light with a malice only Viking storm troopers can create. Ransacking villages and raiding towns is a common occurrence for the Vikings of old. The garb of these ancient sailors was something to behold: heavy furs, chest-plated armor and sharpened weapons held by giant beings larger then the average human. The earliest dated raid came in 787 when a group of men from Norway surprisingly sailed to Portland, Dorset (a county in present-day England), and attacked royal officials. The visceral image of these early explorers has yet to appear in the football uniforms of today. On Tuesday, Portland State athletics unveiled the football team’s new uniforms that have been designed incorporating ancient Viking images and artifacts distilled into a modern, fresh look for the Jerry Glanville era. –Based on Glanville’s preference for black clothing and the new standard of intimidation that Portland State plans to drum into its opponents this year, the uniforms are predominantly jet black. The new threads lack the dark green of other PSU sports. But what the uniforms lack in tradition, they gain in ferocity, definitely “following suit” with Glanville’s emphasis on the hard-hitting image he hopes to bring. Todd Van Horne, a Nike creative director who spearheaded the design efforts, met with Glanville to brainstorm different uniform concepts. “When coach [Glanville] came to town it was an opportunity for inspiration,” Van Horne said. “He described black as ‘not a color, it’s an attitude.’ And we thought, there it is. Let’s bring a new attitude, lets show a visual difference to what Portland State is.” –The biggest change Nike has added to the uniforms is a traditional, stylized Viking spear painted over the helmet’s crown with the point culminating between the player’s eyes. During Nike’s research of Viking folklore, it was determined that the spear was an important symbol of the warrior and it therefore became the uniform’s focal point. “The mentality we imagined was three down lineman in the their three-point stance with the spears pointing and coming at you. We feel that definitely adds to the intimidation factor we we’re going for,” Van Horne said. Historically, Vikings did not use the cartoonish, horned helmets seen on T.V. or in movies: Vikings were warriors, and the cumbersome helmets caused more harm than help during battle. More important to the ancient warriors were their spears. Nike found an old Viking spear and used it for their inspiration. “When we started using the spear as our concept, it started out very clean and traditional,” said Tom Andrich, Nike designer. “But it didn’t fit the attitude we we’re looking for. We wanted it to be a little more modern and stylized but still look as though it was hand forged from iron,” –The numbering on the jersey is a dull silver, similar to the Oakland Raiders’ jerseys, but with even less flash. The coloring on the numbers looks as though Nike took a glitzy silver color and put a sheen over it to make it less flashy. The mystique of the simple, basic jersey accentuates the team’s feeling of unity and togetherness, and it also creates a newfound aggressiveness. “We just get goose bumps putting them on,” said Jordan Senn, starting linebacker. “I just feel like we are going to go out and roll people. When you’re wearing all black, it’s hard to not have an attitude.” –Nike initiated the idea for new uniforms and helmets when Portland State discussed an interest in marketing the football team. The marketing team in charge of designing an alternative logo was led by PSU alumnus and former All-American quarterback Chris Crawford and marketing director Rosemary St. Clair. The marketing team strived to design a fresh look while retaining the comfortable feel of Portland State’s previous Nike uniforms. “Nike makes great uniforms,” Senn said. “These ones are all embroidered now before they were printed on. They are nice, they are comfortable and they look good.”