Northwestern unveiled plans to wear patriotic-themed uniforms against Michigan on November 16, but stateline veterans have mixed reviews on whether the uniform's detail is desecrating an American institution.
"I personally don't find them offensive or anything," said Art Blewett, Staff Sgt. with the US Marine Corps during Vietnam. "But then, I'm of a different generation."
The idea is to promote the Wounded Warrior Project to honor soldiers, and to have the uniforms auctioned off with the proceeds going to charity. However, a close look could easily lead one to believe that blood splatter is covering Old Glory.
"To me, it shows disrespect to the flag," said Dwayne Barton, a Naval veteran speaking at the Rockford American Legion. "That I'm not in favor of. That red stripe was the blood, representing the blood shed on the battle fields. It doesn't need to be any more than that."
Under Armour disputes the idea of their uniform depicting blood streaks, saying that "anyone who thinks that is completely false and uninformed."The manufacturer says it represents a wornout flag, battered and tattered. Veterans aren't buying it.
"Years ago, there might have been some bleeding of the colors and everything," Blewett said. "But with all the new materials that they have in the last 20 or 30 years, I have never seen a flag that ran."
"I understand it, that when they start tattering at the end, they're supposed to be replaced," said Barton.
One thing is certain, while the Wildcats have struggled on the football field, they are trying to understand the bigger picture.
"We've lost some tough games," said Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald of his team's five-game skid. "But it pales in comparison what these great warriors do to defend our freedom so you've got to keep some things in perspective."