He looked grim, no wonder – star quarterback Tom Brady (40) of the New England Patriots had just lost the Super Bowl, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 33-41.

At the press conference after the game, he talked to the media, with black stripes under his eyes made Brady almost threatening.

But why do football stars even have these stripes?

The so-called “Eye Black” has a long tradition in US sports: First photos from the 1940s show how baseball players painted black lines under their eyes, then with a carbonated cork.

This is a bit more modern today: The substance consists of beeswax, petroleum and coal. It’s also easier to apply with a simple eye-black deodorant. Some players also stick black stickers under the eyes.

But what good is that?

The black stripes are designed to reduce glare from the sun’s rays. Especially for a quarterback, who has to overlook the whole field, extremely important.

In daytime games with low sun, but also in arenas with headlights, the player has more clarity when the sun is absorbed. There are studies that prove this, even if the impact is minimal in practice.

In addition: It just looks more dangerous. Football is a tough sport for tough men, and this “war paint” should also help intimidate the opponent.

At least in the Super Bowl at Brady and the Patriots did not work …


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