November 5th, 2013
07:57 PM ET

Northwestern University's special football uniforms have some seeing red

By Larry Shaughnessy

(CNN) – The Northwestern University football team has come on hard times. After an impressive start to the season it’s in the midst of a five-game losing streak. And this week the school is caught up in a controversy about, of all things, a uniform that some say appears to be splattered in blood.

The Wildcats will play Michigan Wolverines at home on November 16, just five days after Veterans Day. The university teamed up with Under Armour and the Wounded Warrior Project to design a special flag-themed set of uniforms for the game.

One-tenth of the proceeds from the sale of replica uniforms will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a public-service organization founded by veterans to support veterans who’ve been wounded on duty. And after the game, uniforms worn by players on the field will be auctioned off and 100% of that money goes to WWP.

An Under Armour spokesman said the program could raise upwards of $100,000 for Wounded Warriors.

But some don’t like the design of the special uniforms. A blogger on the Deadspin website wrote, “But isn't ‘flag covered in blood’ a little on-the-nose for something honoring a group that operates programs for injured veterans?”

The writer is referring to red streaks on the white stripes of the flag that at first glance may seem like blood.

The founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff, tweeted Monday “Northwestern Honors Wounded Troops With Gore-Porn Football Uniforms." He called it “Not OK.”

But a closer look at the blue-and-white side of uniform shows similar blue streaks, which no one could mistake for blood.

Northwestern’s Paul Kennedy, assistant athletic director for communication, said in a statement that the streaks of red and blue represent “a distressed pattern on both the stars and stripes that was inspired by the appearance of a flag that has flown proudly over a long period of time.”

Still, the university did acknowledge that some people may not realize what the streaks are. “We apologize for any misinterpretation,” Kennedy said.

Northwestern’s head football coach talked about the special uniforms at his weekly press conference.

“We are honored to partner with Under Armor and the Wounded Warrior Project on the 16th as we get ready here to play Michigan this week,” Pat Fitzgerald said. “More importantly, I think (it’s) a great statement from our program and Under Armor to support those that are out there defending our country.”

Under Armour's chief spokesman, Matt Mirchin, told CNN on Tuesday that the company designed the special uniforms, and both Northwestern and the Wounded Warriors Project were able to see the design and request changes. Neither did.

He said people are entitled to their opinion, but he sought to assure those who object that there’s nothing on the uniforms that is meant to represent blood.

“That was never the intent,” Mirchin said. “The last thing that we want to do is to disrespect or upset these heroes.” has an unscientific poll on its website asking people whether they like the uniforms. About three-fourth of respondents said they do.

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soundoff (544 Responses)
  1. JZ

    Are the cleats even available for purchase?

    February 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  2. Gregg

    "Show the blood and don’t you dare apologize for it."

    January 3, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  3. Kathy

    Do they have available a sweatshirt so that we can show our support?

    November 21, 2013 at 6:26 am | Reply
  4. Brandon

    This is BS. Im a disabled combat veteran and think these uniforms are great. Always going to be someone looking for something to start drama. I say, well done Northwestern University, Under Armour and WWP.

    November 9, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  5. Curtis

    this is news? who cares? you want freedom? then allow the NFL and its teams do whatever they want...stop being self righteous

    November 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  6. Greg S

    I consider myself anti-war as most people in the world are. However, even if we (as Americans) are against a specific war or military action, the men and women in harms way deserve our utmost respect. Many are wounded or give the ultimate sacrifice. I am a Northwestern alumnus and am proud of Pat Fitzgerald and the team to wear these very appropriate uniforms. The Wounded Warrior Program made the decision that these uniforms were appropriate. I was never in the military but I know that, without the men and women in uniform, we would live in a much different America and world than we live in now. We would not be free.

    November 9, 2013 at 9:23 am | Reply
  7. scooby24210

    I think the uniforms look pretty awesome. The thing that came to my mind when I saw the picture was exactly the answer given, worn stripes on a flag. The thing that 'bothers' me is only 10% of replica jerseys going to the WWP. How much are the replica's being sold for? My guess is the retail price is about 2x the cost, or 100% markup. Even if it was 50% markup, UA makes plenty of profit so 25% donated per sale would STILL leave them with 25% profit. Personally I just see the 10% as a token gesture & if they REALLY wanted to show support, they'd be donating more than 10% per sale.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  8. Warren

    To those of you that have served, I thank you. we are a special breed. To those of you that have not served, You will never understand. WWP is for Vets that have gave their all so you candy a** crybabies can have something to whine about. Veterans Day is my Holiday and I wish all Veterans a Happy Veterans Day and I hope we will see many more.
    Lead, Follow or Get the Hell Out of the Way!!!!

    November 8, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
  9. Justin

    I think the design is fine and just one more thing for people to complain about or say their feelings are hurt. Grow up and go about your day. I am in the military and have worked with the Wounded Warrior Project as well as the Wounded Warriors and this is nothing. The Wounded Warrior Project uniforms first started in 2009 and 2010 with 4 teams wearing uniforms. The current style of what looks like blood was worn last year by Hawai'i and Boston College and no one complained. So let's focus on more important things.

    November 8, 2013 at 8:53 am | Reply
  10. junkie

    Blood of the innocent is one of the main colors of the USA.. seems perfect.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:20 am | Reply
    • Robert

      Just curious, what color is the sky in your world?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:27 am | Reply
    • ChicagoRich

      The red stripes on the U.S. Flag are representative of some of the first colonies that united to make up our country. As have many countries, we have had to fight to remain free and independent over the course of our history.

      November 8, 2013 at 7:08 am | Reply
  11. Will

    So has everyone forgotten what the color red symbolizes? I, as a currently deployed Infantryman, think it is great. Ive seen first hand what the money from WWP goes to,and anything that helps to support this great foundation is good in my book. All too often it seems that the American people have forgotten where the red in the flag comes from. That red has been spilled and left in many countries around the world. Instead of discussing ways to help veterans or about how great his organization is, we are upset that someone thinks the streaks look like blood. Suck it up and move out.

    November 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • Rumsfeld

      that red has been spilled in many countries around the world. yes. most of these countries do not threaten the US in anyway shape or form, yet we attack them and lose americans in the process. our rights are not under threat by any stretch of the imagination and thats not because we attack other countries but because we spend A LOT more money on the military than anyone else. We dont need to attack anyone and we'd still be strong and unpenetrable. People forgot what real threat is, like the Nazis in WW2. Now we feel threatened by a bunch of villagers in slippers that have no military hardware. because we're so proud of ourselves now for little petty things if a real war ever comes with a capable force, we're screwed. we're going to be shocked and wonder THATS what real war looks like?

      November 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Reply
      • Sick of the Idiots

        If you are so sick of this countries unprovoked wars leave and go to Ghana, Iraq, Syria, the list goes on on. Sit down, get educated and STFU!!!!!

        November 8, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  12. john snow

    what are you guys doing in life you bloggers

    November 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  13. David Gaines

    It's not just the blood, though that's a big part of it. The design is grotesque from top to bottom and looks as if it were pieced together randomly with the ghost of Jackson Pollack invited at the end to splash red paint all over it. It's an embarrassment to NU alumni. Is it no longer possible to do these military tributes with some taste and restraint, reflecting the dignity and solemnity involved, instead of absolutely having to be ultra edgy and turning the occasion into a cross between a walking video game and a Fox News Channel set on LSD?

    November 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • Justafizz

      Love the uniforms and what they stand for.Love what Northwestern and Under Armour is doing for the Wounded Warrior Project.There is many things to complain about this country of ours but these uniforms are way way down the list.

      November 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      The design is grotesque? That is your opinion, for what it is worth. The rest of the world likes it just fine.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:21 am | Reply
  14. Aaron

    Does anybody remember what the red on our flag symbolizes?

    November 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor

      November 8, 2013 at 4:26 am | Reply
  15. Robert

    I wrote a letter to the University in support of these uniforms and to thank them for their support of the Wounded Soldier program. In my reply I was told the jersey's from this game will be auctioned and 100% of the monies is to go to the program to further help the soldiers. BRAVO Northwestern..... You are awesome! Furthermore, the uniforms are designed to honor both a flag that has bee waving proudly for a long time and.... to honor our Veterans. How can you go against this?

    November 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  16. Robert

    I wrote a letter to the University in support of these uniforms and to thank them for their support of the Wounded Soldier program. In my reply I was told the jersey's from this game will be auctioned and 100! of the monies is to go to the program to further help the soldiers. BRAVO Northwestern..... You are awesome! Furthermore, the uniforms are designed to honor both a flag that has bee waving proudly for a long time and.... to honor our Veterans. How can you go against this?

    November 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  17. W1s3Guy

    As a veteran also, I really like these uniforms. One, they are good for awareness and support of their cause. Two, Under Armor did a fantastic job with the design and it really expresses the loss, blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice we have made in the last decade plus. Not to mention all of those that came before us.

    November 7, 2013 at 11:48 am | Reply
    • Psycho Abe

      Cause? As in the 'cause' of raping and slaughtering civilians around the globe in the name of 'democracy'.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
      • W1s3Guy

        I don't know about you but I haven't ever raped anyone or killed any civilians.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • Psycho Abe

        Glad to see you're a normal human being.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • Sane George

        Uh oh... looks like someone let the lib-tards in again. UGH!!!

        November 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • Onrake

        Shhhh, . . . they're watching.

        November 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • BWC

        You are true to your name

        November 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • john snow

        YOU are something else let me tell you something buster you even know what your talking about ok. you dont even freakin know the definition of democracy you civilian that never made it in life you ignorant american

        November 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
      • Robert

        You're an idiot...

        November 8, 2013 at 4:29 am |
      • Sick of the Idiots

        Quit disgracing our service personal, you are an idiot and do not deserve the opinion given to you by our military..Stupid people should be exempt from having an opinion. You are over qualified in the ignorance department

        November 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  18. Curtis

    As a Veteran of Marine Corps I think these uniforms are awesome. Under Armour does a lot to support veterans. People need to stop seeing the negative in everything.

    November 7, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply
  19. Jen

    I love the uniform! Even if it was blood, why hasn't anybody said "Wow! A tribute to those who bleed Red, White and Blue"? To me it is a testament to those who have served.

    November 7, 2013 at 10:14 am | Reply
  20. Just me

    At least their trying. They are trying to do something good for others and all they get is criticism from close minded people. Its no wonder people are so cruel these day's, everyone is to busy nit picking over stupid crap. When doing this all your doing is hurting more people, imagine the amount of people that would come out to help others if they didn't have stuck up know it alls harassing them for trying to help. Thank you world for showing my children how heartless humans can be. "God please watch over and guide my babies & others, allow them to express love as u would. Amen"

    November 7, 2013 at 9:27 am | Reply
  21. Ray

    I think what is being missed here is that it is Northwestern. Do they really think that all 15 northwestern fans are buying the jerseys? Why not go to a big name school?

    November 7, 2013 at 7:18 am | Reply
  22. Dopeboykid

    Idk wat evry body freakin out about at least they r doin it 4 a healthy cause. However, the uniform design is kinda one big misinterpretation

    November 7, 2013 at 6:54 am | Reply
  23. Scott

    I really think that the people of the US need to really look at what the school is trying to do. And not worry about what everybody thinks about the uniform. just to lwt you know veterns dead or alive have spilt blood for this great nation. even if the streaks were not to represent blood it just shows what are vetrens have and are doing for this country. And to think that there are people out there complaining about this is reduculias. Just think you can complain about this because a vetern has bleed in the battle field forgien and domistic.

    November 7, 2013 at 5:30 am | Reply
    • Trent

      You spelled so many things incorrectly it's "reduculias"

      November 7, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
      • Onrake

        Yuo mus bee a forgiener.

        November 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
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