The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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26 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2016 lic Aug. 1 at The M Den on State Street in Ann Arbor, the university's official retailer, and Michigan announced a party on State Street in the hours lead- ing up to a midnight opening. Downtown Ann Arbor looked like Times Square on New Year's Eve when thousands of fans showed up with eyes on a large countdown clock, syn- chronized to mark the official launch of Jordan and Nike apparel in Ann Arbor. The line to enter The M Den stretched for blocks while a DJ played and sev- eral special guests took the stage to keep the fans entertained. The last time U-M had worn Nike gear, after all, Lloyd Carr was being carried off the field by the team after a Capital One Bowl win over Urban Meyer's Florida Gators in Carr's final game as coach. Former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard was among those who spoke to the masses. "A lot of people ask about the Michi- gan difference. This is the Michigan difference," Howard said with his sig- nature smile. "When I won the Heis- man, Michigan was a Nike school — and now, we are a Nike school again." Former basketball star and Fab Five member Jimmy King said it was rem- iniscent of some of his teams' glory days. "This reminds me of the time when I was here from the early-to-mid '90s with all of the excitement," King said. "We are all witnesses. We're going to win that national championship in football this year, and with basketball following football, we expect the same thing." Former U-M linebacker LaMarr Woodley also spoke before Harbaugh took the stage to a rousing ovation. A usually modest public speaker when it comes to talking about winning cham- pionships and predictions — at least as a coach — even he got in on the championship talk. "I have lived 52 years, many of those years spent right here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I have never seen any- thing like this," Harbaugh said. "This [crowd] looks like what it should be when we win championships." Harbaugh then shouted a "Go Blue!" and led the entire street in the singing of the "The Victors" as he walked off the stage. Demand was so great that The M Den website crashed well into Aug. 2, with many having to wait until that night to place their orders. Those who did took to social media to boast of their purchases, many of them in the hundreds of dollars. A NEW LOOK The official jersey presentation a day later, meanwhile, was a specta- cle itself, held at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit. Just a few feet away from Henry Ford's origi- nal office in the building where the first Model T was built, CBS sideline reporter Dana Jacobson (a Michigan alum) and Woodson were introduced in front of showcased uniforms and other gear. It was important to him to be there, Woodson said — and judging by the reaction on social media, to just about everyone else, as well. Senior corner- back Jourdan Lewis said the feedback he received was such that he had players from other teams asking him for some of his gear. "The big deal for me was seeing that Jumpman [logo] on the jersey," Woodson said. "That was the big deal. I think it's great for our university, great for our program, great for the players to be associated with Jordan and Jumpman. I'm just excited. "To me, [the Jordan brand] has nothing to do with basketball. It's all about Michael Jordan's greatness be- fore you look at the championships and the MVPs — what went into Michael, what got him there. Yeah, Michael Jordan is the best basketball player to ever live, and that opinion is shared by a lot of people, myself included. But how did he get there? It's all about the work. How did this university get to where it is now? It didn't just pop up here one day and all of a sudden it's one of the greatest universities that we know. "There's a lot that went into it … that journey, that role to get to the point where somebody can revere you as being the greatest of all time." It was also an affirmation, Harbaugh said at the Piquette Plant unveiling, that Michigan's "Leaders and Best" mantra and ambition is working. "We're telling Jordan and the Jordan brand, 'Who can have it better than to have you?' Them wanting to have us, they are telling us they believe in us, as well," Harbaugh said. "It's a very mutual thing there. You see it. You just walk by the aisles [of Nike gear] here and see the product they have, what else can you say? You just know it when you see it. It's great." Harbaugh saw it on his players' faces, too, when he noticed their jaws drop upon seeing the gear. Lewis, for Former Michigan stars like Desmond Howard (above) and Jimmy King attended the school's block party outside of The M Den before the official release of Nike gear to the public and voiced great pleasure with the decision to go back to the apparel giant that furnished U-M uniforms during their playing careers. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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