SANTA CLARA, Calif. (June 13, 2007) -- Coach Mike Nolan will be a sharp-dressed man at all the San Francisco 49ers' home games this season.
Nolan and Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio got permission from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to wear suits and ties to all eight of their clubs' regular-season home games in 2007.
The dress-up detente was the result of nearly three years of negotiations among Nolan, the league and Reebok. Though the league determines what apparel can be worn on the sideline, Reebok provides that clothing for coaches -- from Bill Belichick's sleeveless sweatshirts to the black suit Nolan was allowed to wear in two games last season.
"As I mentioned before, I made this request out of the high amount of respect I have for the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers, my father and all of the former coaches who have worn suits," said Nolan, who's 11-21 in two seasons with the Niners.
Ever since he got the 49ers' top job in 2005, Nolan has sought permission to dress like his ex-coach father while projecting an image of authority. Nolan got a trial run last year when both he and Del Rio were allowed to suit up in coat-and-tie ensembles manufactured by Reebok during two home games.
But Nolan wanted to wear his old-school outfit at every home game. He saw the move as a tribute to the league's great coaches of the past -- including his father, Dick, who coached the 49ers from 1968-75 but is now in poor health with Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said other coaches also would be allowed to wear suits at home games if they desired -- though only Nolan and Del Rio expressed interest when the league surveyed the coaches during NFL meetings in Arizona in March.
"Commissioner Goodell made the decision to help," McCarthy said. "It was something that we re-evaluated, and we wanted to work with Coach Nolan and also open it up to other coaches."
Last week, Nolan expressed frustration with the league and Reebok over its reluctance to provide suits, saying the process was "ridiculous," and "they wish it would go away, but I try to keep it alive as much as I can."
Nolan's outfit last season consisted of a black suit, a white shirt and a red-and-gold striped tie. Goodell said the new Reebok outfits for the 2007 season must reflect team colors as well, though the details will be worked out later.
Nolan's quest attracted support from 49ers fans who backed an online movement to persuade every spectator to show up to the home opener wearing a suit and tie.
The Associated Press News Service
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