Notice anything unusual about this photo of Steelers kicker Chris Boswell and center J. C. Hassenauer (taken during this year’s regular season opener on Sept. 11)? Check out all those seams on Boswell’s jersey — he’s still wearing Nike’s old Elite 51 jersey template!
For the record, I didn’t notice this myself. It was spotted by eagle-eyed Uni Watch reader Joe Rybnick. Here’s another side-by-side comparison, this time with Boswell and quarterback Mitch Trubisky. In this comparison, you can see the differences in the collars, in addition to the seams:
Is this just a thing with Boswell’s white jersey? Nope — the seams are harder to detect on his black home jersey, but they’re there. I adjusted the saturation on this shot from last December so we can see the seams more clearly:
And what about the team’s Color Rush jersey? Yup, same thing (again, I’ve blown out the saturation to make the seams more apparent):
So it’s official: Chris Boswell prefers the Elite 51 template. According to Gridiron Uniform Database, the Steelers (or at least the rest of the Steelers) last wore that template in 2016, which was Boswell’s second year with the team. Does he prefer the old-style jersey for performance reasons, or maybe because of a superstition?
I emailed that question to Steelers communications director Burt Lauten. Honestly, I wasn’t optimistic about getting a reply — this is the kind of deep-cut uni topic that team reps often don’t want to deal with. To my pleasant surprise, however, Lauten responded right away: “From my understanding, since he wears small shoulder pads, he prefers the previous version that is custom-made for him.”
In other words, it’s not so much that he prefers this template — it’s that he had three jerseys custom-fitted for himself and prefers to stick with those instead of having new ones made.
Are there any other kickers (or other players, for that matter) still wearing the old template while the rest of their team has upgraded?
(Big thanks to Joe Rybnick for making this post possible.)
On a similar topic, I’ve noticed that the Colorado Buffaloes still wear the old Fly-Wire template. Does Nike still produce those, or are the Buffs sitting on an old stash from 6 years ago?
They just haven’t changed their uniforms in a while. I believe the New Mexico white w/ turquoise numbers jerseys they’ll be wearing tomorrow are that same template too.
This is correct. Our white with the turquoise and our anthracite ones are the fly-wire template. Our regular uniforms are a different cut.
The Steelers introduced the block number throwbacks in 2018. He wore the new template with that jersey He also wore the new template in 2019, when the NFL had NFL100 instead of just the shield. link
link.0.jpg working link for the first pic.
I guess not.
Oooh, I forgot about checking the throwbacks — good call!
But that just reinforces the notion that he’s not partial to the old template per se — he’s just partial to the *old jerseys* he was originally wearing and has stuck with. There was no old version of the throwbacks, so he just went with a new jersey (custom-tailored, presumably) in the new template.
Let’s see if this link works: link
I hate to be that guy, but every photo I’ve found of him from 2019 with the NFL100 collar patch, including the block-letter throwbacks, has him wearing the old template.
He also has the old template on the block-letter throwbacks from 2018, pre-NFL100 shield:
It can be a little tough to tell in both of those block-letter throwbacks, but there are a few quick ways to tell beyond the positioning of the seams: the first and maybe most obvious is the ‘sweatbox’, as this site has called it in the past, on his stomach that’s easy to spot. Secondly and maybe least obviously is that the seams that create the collar itself on the Elite 51s make it WAY thicker than the collar on the Vapor Elites. And lastly, and maybe most crucially, it appears that all of the above photos have him missing the mesh triangle that’s at the base of all Vapor Elite collars that the NFL shield is placed on:
Conclusion: I think there is a little more to this story than just ‘he had some jerseys customized way back when and doesn’t want to change them’, because he appears to at least had one other Elite 51 jersey made for him in the post-Elite 51 era for the Steelers.
For what it’s worth, Ben ALSO stuck with the Elite 51 template past its transition date, all the way thru the 2018 season, including the block-letter throwback:
He DID switch to the Vapor Elite template in 2019 (with the NFL100 collar shield), but only got to play a couple games before hurting his elbow and being out for the season. When he came back for 2020 and 2021, he still used the new Vapor Elite template with the standard NFL shield on the collar.
In fact, in that 2018 photo of Ben wearing the block-letter throwback, you can even see where they removed the Steelers logo chest patch. So it’s likely he had several Elite 51s that he preferred over the Vapor Elites, and they modified one of his regular home jerseys to become a block-letter throwback. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boswell had the exact same setup, with multiple regular home blacks that he’s kept.
Incoming pedantry: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like you’ve adjusted the exposure, not the saturation in those photos.
Impossible to read on mobile, left side cuts off for some reason
Thanks for letting me know (I don’t always look at mobile) — will try to address!
Ah, the old Tom Rafferty situation, though Boswell’s fonts match those of his teammates.
Also, check out an old Nike jersey template Florida State was wearing when it wore white against Louisville last week (I think). Not sure which template it was, but it was not up to date.
This is a great piece of Uni-investigation Paul, and it’s impressive that you got a reply from the Steelers. I’m sure the explanation you got from Burt Lauten is in good faith and it’s what Boswell has told people, but I can’t say I really buy Boswell’s explanation! I would say from observation that pretty much every player has their jersey’s tailored to them. It is particularly evident with the Steelers because of the way the sleeve stripes get cut off to a varying amount depending on how the jersey is tailored. And I haven’t heard any other players complaining that the Vapor template is a worse fit than the Elite 51. I think if it were a problem, there would be more cases like this. So I think that it is much more likely to be a superstition based reason, given how well Boswell has kicked the last 5 or so years. But for whatever reason Boswell doesn’t want to (publicly) admit that. Plenty of players are superstitious and there is nothing wrong or shameful with it, and TBH as a Steelers fan I don’t want to see anything affect his performance! But I really ain’t buying it!