There have been whispers over the past several months about the reemergence of classic, kelly green Eagles uniforms, whispers the team tried to squelch. But today in a news conference at Penn, a few feet away from Franklin Field, the Eagles unveiled the uniforms they will wear in their Sept. 12 (edit- yeah, I had the wrong date originally, now it's right) season opener against the Packers at the Linc -- the Chuck Bednarik-Tommy McDonald-era kelly green, at long last. (So far, just for the one game. But you'll be able to buy the jerseys long afterward, rest assured.)
The throwback uniforms will be part of a three-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1960 NFL championship, the last the franchise has won. Current players Stewart Bradley, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek modeled the new/old unis, which will feature white pants and classic kelly green helmets with silver wings and gray facemasks. Also on had were prominent members of the 1960 team, wearing kelly green blazers. It was interesting to watch Maxie Baughan shake hands with Stewart Bradley, who was wearing pretty much the exact No. 55 uniform Baughan wore.
"They look bigger than us," Baughan noted afterward.
The fan base perception has been that since Jeffrey Lurie changed to midnight green in 1996, two years after he bought the team, the current regime was not a fan of the classic color. In 2007, the Birds commemorated their 75th anniversary season with yellow and powder blue uniforms designed to commemorate the team's first season, in 1933 -- even though very few if any Eagles fans remembered ever seeing the team wear those colors, and most fans were unaware the Birds ever had worn them.
Today, Lurie denied being old school-averse.
"Oh, no no, no, no," Lurie said. "Not at all. In fact, I was so glad that the Green Bay game was the first one here, because we were always going to do it for the Green Bay game.To kick off the whole season with kelly green, that was a big plus."
Lurie said he was just thinking ahead when he brought out those Team Sweden unis for that Sept. 23, 2007 home game against Detroit, a 56-21 Eagles victory.
"I went with the blue and the yellow because I already knew this (celebration) was going to be kelly green," Lurie said. "I never said that, because I wanted all the attention to be on that anniversary ... the blue and the yellow, we played great that day! What can I say."
Those uniforms were not a big hit and have never resurfaced. But NFL rules allow a team to wear an alternate uniform twice a year, plus once in the playoffs; the kelly green might have a longer shelf life.
"We've got all the options," Lurie said.
Some observers might think emphasizing 1960, as the Eagles will be doing this season, unfortunately highlights the fact that the Eagles have failed to win the title since then. Lurie said there could be no such thing as more title pressure being brought to bear.
"It's all self-inflicted; we think about it every day," he said. "It's already there, and you want that ... you want to create the best possible team every year that you can."
That seemed a natural segue into this year's Eagles, and the changes that have rocked the franchise in the offseason, headlined by the trading of Donovan McNabb. Lurie hasn't answered any questions about all that, and he declined to do so today.
"I've got to focus on this, not the team going forward," Lurie said. He said such questions will have to wait for his annual state-of-the-team address in early August at Lehigh. "I just don't want to take away from this," he said. "It's once every -- it's such a very long period of time."
Jackson more or less dodged reporters throughout the minicamp that concluded Sunday, but Monday, modeling the kelly green No. 10, he couldn't avoid the microphones. He reiterated what he has said previously: Jackson, with two years left on his rookie deal, would like to make more money, but he understands the 30 percent rule triggered by the expiring CBA makes that very difficult. He deferred to agent Drew Rosenhaus on how the one-year extension given Kevin Kolb -- which contained a $10 million-plus signing bonus, not covered by the rule -- might affect his situation. But obviously, a player with one year left on a deal, as Kolb had, is easier to extend with a signing bonus and a relatively low base salary than a player with two years left. Essentially, since the Eagles want to sit down with Kolb again in a year if there's a new CBA, they are paying him the hefty bonus in lieu of being able to really boost his 2010 salary. With Jackson, there would have to be a bigger boost. It probably just makes more sense for everyone involved to wait for next year and the CBA.
"It's unfortunate, but I can't get frustrated," Jackson said. "It's not going to change until the CBA ... You just have to deal with it and hope something will work out."