By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2

You think Sean Taylor and Clinton Portis are Uni Watch readers? You might think so after seeing the sock shenanigans they unveiled Sunday night against the Eagles. While the rest of the Redskins were wearing their usual basic white socks, Taylor went candy-striped ( la Randy Moss at Marshall) and Portis wore solid burgundy on one leg and stripes on the other ( la, um, probably nothing recorded in history).

Uni Watch's strong preference for striped hosiery is well-documented, so it's tempting to applaud this lower-leg freestyling. Ah, but what about team uniformity? What about not placing oneself above one's teammates? After all, there's no "I" in "sock" (or even in "totally cool sock that looks way better than anyone else's on the whole team"). Do stripes make right? Such a quandary -- oh, cruel fate, why do you torment Uni Watch so?

Let's table that question for a moment and instead address the matter of how Portis and Taylor created their stripes. Uni Watch initially thought Portis was wearing one of the excellent throwback socks that the 'Skins wore in 2002 (here's the original version), but a closer look shows this is clearly not the case. Did he use striped wristbands? Colored tape? And what about Taylor -- was he wearing multiple sets of the standard white socks? (Teammate Ryan Clark clearly was, although Uni Watch doesn't think he intended for multiple stripes to show -- the outer socks were just drooping down.) Uni Watch's Monday-morning deadline left no time to investigate the specifics, but expect a follow-up on this.

Expect Portis and Taylor to be fined, too -- and not for the first time. They incurred the NFL's wrath in 2004, to the tune of $5,000 apiece, after Week 13 of last season, when they wore burgundy socks, instead of white, against the Giants. The next week, all the 'Skins wore burgundy, creating the dreaded leotard effect, but Portis and Taylor went a step further by going without lower whites, resulting in $10,000 fines. Portis was up to his old tricks again in Week 4 of this season, when he wore black shoes, instead of the team's usual white, against the Seahawks (although Uni Watch didn't hear anything about a fine for that one). He was wearing black shoes again Sunday night, but that was overshadowed by the sock situation.

In fact, just about everything was overshadowed when Portis' hose were in view. Indeed, as several readers pointed out while the game was still in progress, this marks the second straight weekend that asymmetry has reared its ugly head on the gridiron: First came the loathsome mismatched sleeves Virginia Tech and Florida wore two weekends ago (the Hokies wore them again this past Saturday, incidentally), and now we have Portis and his mismatched socks. Is Vegas laying odds yet on whether he'll wear one white shoe and one black shoe next Sunday?

But although Portis' fashion statement went too far, Uni Watch thinks Taylor's went just far enough. Face it: Hoop socks rule, and we could do much, much worse than to see more of this look in the NFL. With that in mind, Uni Watch hereby makes the following offer: If Taylor can get the rest of the team to go candy-striped this coming Sunday, Uni Watch will pay his fine from Sunday night. Think he can do it? Stay tuned.

(With extra-big thanks to C.J. Fogler and Craig Sallinger for the Sean Taylor screen grabs.)

Paul Lukas has never incurred a fine for his clothing choices. Archives of his "Uni Watch" columns are available here, here and here. Got feedback for him, or want to be added to his mailing list? Contact him here.