By: Eric Thomas
Matt Stafford is goofy.
I say this with all due respect.
He's not a fashionista, nor should we expect him to be, and anyone who suggests it should be ridiculed with intensity. I feel dirty just looking up how to spell "fashionista."
No one should listen to Mike Ditka when it comes to fashion, either. He's not Tim Gunn. He's barely Mike Ditka anymore.
Non sequitur: when I watch the discount double check commercial where Ditka gives Norm (Norm!) from Cheers a back rub, I almost drop to a knee and explain to any children in the room how much it hurts to see this. I want to say, "Timmy," the child's name is Timmy in this scenario, "you have no idea how awesome that guy used to be. He got so angry at his team he punched a locker broke his hand! When the Bears played the Lions, Ditka would just stand on the sideline with sunglasses on and chew his—" I realize it's useless at this point in the explanation. The kid doesn't care. The enigma of Mike Ditka is gone and never coming back. I hated him when he was the coach of the Bears, but there was nothing like him and there will never be again. His heart attack in 1988 did a lot to calm him down, I guess.
Ditka entered the realm of media luminaries such as Joan Rivers and criticized Matt Stafford's choice of hat wear. Stafford often wears his baseball hats backwards. Ditka doesn't like that. Coach Ditka said he needed to be more a leader—with the way he wears his hats, apparently.
You gotta love February. Americans only pretend to care about the Olympics, the NBA is in the doldrums, the NHL is on break, March Madness still a long way off—the sports media world has to come up with content. Ever wonder why the Swimsuit Issue is in February? There's your answer. This is how we get Mike Ditka commenting on Matt Stafford's millinery.
I guess I'll throw my sombrero in the ring on this one. Stafford has never been, nor will he ever be, a cool guy. When he was drafted, his fashion choices were so obviously lacking he shot a segment with Maria Sharapova where she gave him a makeover. The Lions QB has never cared much for his personal appearance. He battles his baby face daily by growing an Amish beard, which always looks ridiculous. While Tom Brady shows up at the post game podium wearing a suit so intricate that it would look natural on a Batman villain, Stafford saunters into the media room usually wearing a sweat soaked hoodie. That's if you're lucky. He sometimes has his uniform pants on and whatever was on under his shoulder pads. The man doesn't care what you think about his fashion sense. It doesn't enter his head.
This isn't a criticism. I'm glad he doesn't care. While Brady's wife clothes him in designer sparkle, Peyton Manning tries too hard. He always looks odd in those suits. Stafford is a 26-year-old multi-millionaire who plays a game he's always loved for a living, has a gorgeous girlfriend, and he doesn't need to impress you with threads.
Older guys have always had a massive problem with the backwards hat thing. George Carlin even did a bit about it. It drives old men crazy, for some reason. I'm not even sure if it's in style anymore to do it.
I've worn my hat backwards many times. In fact, I have my hat on backwards in an old publicity photo that makes my skin crawl when I see it. I look like I just got home from summer camp. I can't throw stones at Stafford, but I can acknowledge it's a bad look. I have a baby face too. It sucks. As I grow older, it just looks more awful. I try to keep a little stubble at all times, and it's really hard to keep the balance. When you have a baby face, you look awful clean shaven and awful with a beard. It's a constant struggle. I always try to shave two days before anything important, and deal with the fact that I look horrible the day I shaved. This is just my experience, of course. From all available evidence, Stafford doesn't care about his appearance at all. I have a lot of respect for him because of that.
Ditka is way off here. Stafford looks awful. He has a baby face and wears it with a backwards hat and the Amish stubble beard. He parties with his shirt off even though he has a gut. How do you not respect the guy? Does Ditka think that people look at Stafford like a leader because he doesn't have a fashion sense? People respect Tom Brady because he's among the greatest quarterbacks of all time—they give him respect DESPITE the fact that his wife dresses him. Stafford looks awful, and doesn't care. He might not even notice it. If he wants to wear his hat backwards, regardless of how ridiculous it looks, let him go.
Who knew that Mike Ditka had certain standards for dress? He really isn't the same Ditka any more.
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