I'm not sure what I like more: San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan's decision to wear suits for his team's eight home games this season or his reasons for doing it. All I know is that Nolan -- as well as Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio -- is ahead of the curve here, launching a movement I hope catches on.
|Class is in? Mike Nolan's well-suited to lead the charge. (Getty Images)|
I'll second that motion. Because while last week's decision to allow Nolan and Del Rio to suit up for half the 2007 season doesn't seem like a big deal, it is -- and I'll tell you why: Because it allows the league's coaches to do what the NFL demands of its players.
In short, it allows them to look and act like professionals.
The NFL routinely fines players for failing to tuck in their shirts or not having socks of proper length. So where's the fashion police when it comes to head coaches?
I know, the league adheres to a strict code that dictates its coaches wear Reebok-issued clothing. But what happens if they do and still manage to look like the deadbeat in your sixth-period gym class? And, yes, I'm talking about Bill Belichick.
I'll tell you what: Nothing.
Well, something should. And something just did.
"Look, this is not for everyone," Nolan said. "There are a lot of reasons a lot of guys aren't doing it, and I respect that. In fact, if I were heavier I'm not sure I'd be all that interested because that's a lot of clothing you have to wear. Besides, you have to understand that when coaches were doing this in the past not everyone was doing it."
I do understand. But that's not the point. What matters is that Nolan and Del Rio are doing it now, and hallelujah. Once, I thought Nolan's interest was strictly personal, something out of respect for his father, former 49ers' head coach Dick Nolan, who also walked the sidelines in a suit.
And it is, only Nolan has more than just his Dad in mind when he goes formal on Sundays. And listen closely because this is what I like most about this decision.
"It's about professionalism," Nolan said. "We're always telling players to tuck their shirts in or to straighten up. Well, it's a two-way street."
Beautiful. Some coaches talk about addressing their teams' codes of conduct; Nolan and Del Rio are doing something about it, and they're starting with themselves. And they would have done more if they could. Nolan said he sought to wear suits for all 16 games, but the NFL told him it would get back to him on his request. When it did it offered a compromise -– either six games of his choice or eight home games.