Outside of January, when the National Western Stock Show is in town, you don't see a lot of bolo ties in Colorado anymore, even though they're as much a part of Western garb as cowboy boots. "Bolo ties are not a high-volume seller," says Rockmount Ranch Wear owner Steve Weil, whose grandfather, Jack A. Weil, is often credited as having created and sold the first commercially available bolo ties at the family business. "It's a specialized niche." But that may change due to a villainous gunslinger named Philip Rivers.
Back on December 12, Rivers -- the baby-faced, tantrum-throwing quarterback of the San Diego Chargers -- sported a bolo after beating the Broncos 27-20, which made the Chargers the only team to beat Denver and Peyton Manning at home this year.
Could he have been sending a message to the Broncos -- a team whose very name is a tribute to the West? Or was Rivers just choosing a fashionable path less traveled?
Either way, he has worn bigger and bigger bolo ties after each game since then -- most recently a massive elk-horn bolo with a blue stone in the middle, sent to him by a fan after the Denver win, according to San Diego Union Tribune reporter Kevin Acee.
Another screen capture of Philip Rivers sporting a bolo tie.
Many Chargers fans believe the bolo has become the team's good-luck charm, helping them first make it to the playoffs and then beat the Cincinnati Bengals on January 5; in fact, ESPN's Adam Schefter (a former Denverite himself) said as much that day, tweeting: "Chargers QB Philip Rivers knows just what he must do next Sunday when he leads SD into Denver to play Broncos: he must wear the Bolo tie."
That game, scheduled for 2:40 p.m. on January 12, will certainly be an Old West-style shootout -- but since it takes place on the same weekend that the Stock Show is in town, Rivers had better wear that old shoestring necklace correctly. Photos show that he typically keeps it below his top button -- which is not the traditional look.
But Weil says it's probably acceptable. "There are two ways to wear a bolo," he explains. "Most people wear it tight up against the top collar button. But I've seen them lower, and I don't think that's a fashion faux pas.... There are a lot of guys who, at the end of the day, lower their ties, and so at the end of the day, after a game, I think it's okay to lower the bolo an inch or two."
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Roxanne Thurman, who owns Cry Baby Ranch, another longtime downtown Denver Western-wear store, disagrees; she thinks the proper way to wear a bolo tie is up tight against the neck. "But [Rivers] will probably set off a whole new craze with this, which could be good for us," she adds, suggesting that all of the Broncos players should also wear bolos on Sunday in order to reverse the quarterback's bolo-tie mojo.
While Weil admits that he appreciates Rivers's sense of style, he adds: "I still hope that he doesn't throw a ball as well as he wears a bolo tie when he plays us."