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Rut-Roh: Trademark Flap Puts Vegas NHL Team’s Identity in Doubt

It seems like just barely two weeks ago that the NHL’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, unveiled their name and logo. Actually, it was barely two weeks ago — and now the whole thing is in doubt because the team’s trademark application has been rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Why? Because it’s too similar to the mark used by the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights, a small school in Albany.

The details are spelled out in this SB Nation story, which was published last night. To clarify an important point: Saint Rose did not challenge the Vegas team’s mark. Rather, a USPTO attorney noticed the similarities between the two marks while reviewing the trademark application and rejected the filing on that basis.

The team has a chance to respond to the USPTO ruling, and ownership put out a statement late last night saying they intend to do just that. In case you can’t read the fairly small type, it says:

There are countless examples of college sports teams and professional sports teams with coexisting names, including Vegas Golden Knights and Clarkson Golden Knights, UCLA Bruins and Boston Bruins, U of Miami Hurricanes and Carolina Hurricanes, etc. We will plan on making these arguments and others in our detailed written response to the office action which must be filed by June 7, 2017.

Office actions like these are not at all unusual, and we will proceed with the help of outside counsel in preparing a response to this one.

It’s not clear why team ownership didn’t already have this issue settled before unveiling the team name two weeks ago. Seems like a major failure of due diligence, right?

I sent a note last night to Uni Watch’s resident intellectual property expert, attorney Anthony Verna, to get his take on this. Here’s his response:

1) Looking at the marks, both of them share “Golden Knights.” The question is if those marks use “Golden Knights” in their dominant portion. They do — even though the NHL team’s filing is “Vegas Golden Knights,” we get to ignore “Vegas” because the goods/services are going to actually come from Las Vegas. (We call that geographically descriptive in trademark law. If the goods/services come from the a geographic area mentioned in the trademark, then the mark describes an aspect of the goods/services and the descriptive portion is not protectable.)

2) The goods/services are exactly the same. Regardless of sport, and regardless of skill level, the exhibition of a sport is going to be deemed the same as the exhibition of another sport and that’s the situation here. This is true even though price points are different, salaries are different, the reasons consumers consume their products are different, etc. (The USPTO is not there to say that the NHL price point for a ticket is radically different than a college’s price point for a ticket, therefore, their consumer markets are radically different.)

All is not lost for the NHL team, though. Many trademarks receive this “office action” (which is our fancy trademark law terminology for “rejection”). The Vegas team could present a substantive response, arguing why the marks are different (and they have different stylizations, different pronunciations, and probably different denotations and connotations). Another response would be to have what we call a co-existence agreement, in which both parties agree there are substantive differences in the markets or in the consumers or in the channels of advertising. Submitting evidence of an agreement in which both parties agree to their differences will usually push a mark towards registration.

Also: The NHL team could appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (you heard about that federal administrative court in the Redskins cases) and argue that the USPTO attorney is incorrect in issuing the office actions. The NHL team could appeal to the TTAB and try to cancel the college’s registration. There are so many different directions this could move in. It’s impossible to predict how it will play out.

Big thanks to Anthony for his expertise.

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Culinary Corner: One of our holiday traditions here at Uni Watch is the annual appearance of my recipe for homemade Irish cream. In other words, homemade Bailey’s. In other words, melted ice cream that gets you drunk. It’s super-easy to make, it’ll make you the hero of whatever party you bring it to, and lots of you have told me how much you like it. Here’s how to do it:

Start with some decent Irish whiskey — Bushmills, Jameson, Tullamore Dew, something like that (but not super-high-end stuff, because the nuances will be lost in this preparation). Pour a pint of the whiskey into a large-ish container and mix it with a can of sweetened condensed milk, a pint of heavy whipping cream, a tablespoon of chocolate syrup, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a quarter-teaspoon of almond extract, and a teaspoon of instant espresso powder dissolved in two tablespoons of hot water.

Mix well (if the container has a tight lid, you can just shake vigorously), refrigerate, serve over ice, and get ready to become the most popular person in the room. No need to thank me afterward, but you’ll want to do so anyway — trust me.

• • • • •

Blues news you can use: My favorite music is Delta country blues (i.e., the first generation of Mississippi country bluesmen, who recorded in the 1920s and ’30s) and golden-age Chicago blues (i.e., the next generation of bluesmen, who mostly learned on acoustic instruments while growing up in Mississippi and then moved to Chicago and made their country blues more urbanized and electric in the late 1940s and ’50s). And if you love that music as much as I do, this has been a very interesting week.

First, a new movie opened, called Two Trains Runnin’. It’s a documentary about an incredible series of coincidences that took place in Mississippi on a single day in the summer of 1964. First, there were three white college kids who’d driven down to the Delta from Boston in search of the enigmatic acoustic bluesman Son House (that’s him above), who had recorded a handful of 78s in the 1930s and ’40s and then vanished. On June 21, they found him. Unbeknownst to them, another carload of young white blues fans had driven to Mississippi all the way from California. They were searching for another vanished bluesman, Skip James. They found him on that same date — June 21. Meanwhile, swirling all around them was the tension and violence of Freedom Summer, as hundreds of civil rights activists were coming to Mississippi to set up schools and register black voters. On that same day, June 21, three of those activists were murdered, which would galvanize the civil rights movement and help lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Here’s the movie’s trailer:

I saw the movie last night. It’s powerful stuff, with the twin strands of the blues researchers and the civil rights activists occasionally intertwining. Two projects, both with complicated racial dimensions, both involving outsiders descending on Mississippi. I knew the stories of the Son House and Skip James being rediscovered, and of course I knew the famous story of the civil rights murders, but I hadn’t been aware that they’d all taken place on the same day (which, for what it’s worth, was the day I turned three months old). I cried a few times during the movie — in part because blues often affects me that way, and in part because of the tragedy that was the state of Mississippi in 1964.

For those of you in NYC, Two Trains Runnin’ is currently playing at the Metrograph and will be there at least through next Thursday. Don’t miss.

The other blues-related news this week was the release of the new Rolling Stones album, Blue & Lonesome, which consists entirely of Chicago blues covers. The Stones haven’t been artistically relevant in over 30 years, but they’re still my favorite rock and roll band, and a straight-up blues LP sounds like a good approach for them, at least in theory. They got their start playing blues covers, and their name comes from a Muddy Waters song.

Unfortunately, it’s a dud. The guitars crunch and wail at all the appropriate junctures, Mick’s vocals are okay, his harmonica is more than okay, the sound and engineering are fine (although I continue to hate the way producer Don Was insists on making Charlie’s cymbal crashes sound like a steam pump), and the whole project feels respectful and, at times, joyous. But it also feels empty. Why? A few thoughts:

• When the Stones played lots of blues covers in the early 1960s, it was because they hadn’t yet learned how to write songs. They’re doing a full album of blues covers now because they’ve essentially stopped writing songs. They haven’t released an album of originals in 11 years, and they haven’t released a good album in 35 years. In short: They’re tapped out. Viewed in that context, an album of blues covers feels more like a lazy placeholder than anything else.

• The whole point of doing a cover version (to say nothing of a whole album of cover versions) is that it should tell us something new about the song, the artist covering it, or both. These covers do neither. The arrangements are straightforward reproductions of the originals, and it’s not exactly a secret that the Stones are big blues fans. There’s no revelation here, no challenge, nothing to be learned. Just lots of confirmation of what we already knew. The whole thing feels way too easy, too comfortable.

• One reason those original Chicago blues records still sound so exciting today is that they sound primitive. The instruments and amps were battered, the musicianship was superb but very raw, the sound engineering was even rawer, and the vocals had all sorts of incredible nuances that had to do with issues of race, class, rural upbringing, and even education (people who can’t read or write tend to listen more acutely, which in turn means they tend to vocalize more acutely). When the Stones played blues covers in the early years of their career, they had a primitive aspect as well, because they were still learning to play, learning how to command their sound. But now they’re first-rate career professionals playing with state-of-the-art gear in a state-of-the-art studio. There are some raw bits on the new album, but the rawness feels manufactured or even curated, not organic. It’s more like a museum version of the blues.

• Another big reason those Chicago blues records still sound so good is that the bluesmen were, well, legitimately blue. They led hardscrabble lives, they often lived in slums, they rarely had much money, plus they had all the attendant problems of being black men in a highly segregated city well before the civil rights era. The urgency of their lives — and the escape from that urgency that their music represented — was reflected in their recordings. The Stones, by contrast, are among the wealthiest and most comfortable people on the planet. I don’t begrudge them that status (on the contrary, like I said before, I’m a big fan), but it’s not a situation that leads to good blues.

• When the Stones were playing blues covers back in the early ’60s, most white music fans — hell, most white people, period — didn’t know jackshit about the blues. They’d never heard of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, or Little Walter, much less heard their music. So when the Stones played that music, it was challenging, it was risky, it was even educational. In 1965 they were asked to appear on the TV show Shindig and said they’d only do it if Howlin’ Wolf could appear on the show with them — a seriously ballsy move at the time (and the producers agreed to it!). Half a century later, though, blues is now an entrenched part of rock and roll’s origin story and most rock fans know the drill. The Stones deserve credit for being a key part of the blues’ ascent from historical footnote to treasured American cultural legacy, but one result of that ascent is that there’s really no point in them, or any conventional rock band, playing blues covers anymore.

(As a side note: Blue & Lonesome has what appears to be one of history’s laziest and worst album covers. Even more puzzlingly, the vinyl version is a double-LP — absurd for an album that has only 12 songs totaling 42 minutes. I realize most of the people who listen to this album will be streaming it, not purchasing a physical copy, but still.)

So my tl;dr take on this week’s blues news: See the movie, skip the album.

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Going, going…: Today’s the next-to-last day to get the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s final design of 2016. The design is a mash-up of uniform elements from all of our previous 2016 shirts (click to enlarge):

The only new element is the baseball cap (which didn’t appear on our baseball-themed shirt because the player was wearing a batting helmet). It’s comes in four color options — our usual grey, black, green, plus a new “military green” (that’s what the manufacturer calls it, although I’d just call it light olive) — and is also available with either short or long sleeves.

The shirt will be available through tomorrow night. The shirts are due to ship right after Christmas, so they should arrive in time for you to wear them on New Year’s Eve. (I had hoped to have them delivered in time for Christmas, but it just wasn’t possible to get things finalized in time for that. Sorry.)

If you’ve ordered all five of this year’s previous shirts and also get this one, you’ll be eligible for our year-end “Collect ’Em All” prize, which will be a patch based on the jock tag design used on this year’s shirts. To qualify, please send me proof that you’ve bought all six shirts. The proof can either be (a) a photo showing all the shirts or (b) screen shots of the “Thank you for your order” emails you received from Teespring and Represent.

Once again, the new shirt can be ordered here. Thanks for your consideration.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Indiana’s new uniforms have candy striping on the sleeve cuffs (from Ryan Cotter). … On several occasions during the 1991 season, the Expos’ Tim Wallach wore road pants with the stripe colors inverted. Instead of red in front like the rest of the team, Wallach had blue in front (good spot by Denis Lacloche). … Clint Evans wanted to see what the Dodgers would look like with the Under Armour-branded uniforms, so I made a Photoshop for him. … Several minor league teams, including the San Jose Giants, had some themed jerseys on display at the Winter Meetings (from @213MFS and Andy Horne). … The Chiba Lotte Marines’ stadium has a new logo and naming rights advertiser (from Jeremy Brahm). … Most schools and teams that adopt the Brewers old ball-in-glove logo have the initials MB. Here’s how the Rocky River Bucs handled it.

NFL News: Odd sight this past Sunday as the Saints wore throwbacks but team legends wore current jerseys, complete with the neck roll collars (from Scott Peterson). … Never meet your heroes: A Steelers fan will never wear her Antonio Brown jersey again after the wide receiver showed up late and treated her rudely at a meet-and-greet autograph session (from Brinke). … Washington players shared their thoughts on their personal team-specific emojis (from Jon Solomonson). … The Southern California Sun of the long-defunct WFL had a good helmet cart (from Dwayne White). … If the NFL is the No Fun League, then what can we call the CFL? League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge fined more than 20 players for sock violations during the Grey Cup. Two other players were fined for wearing “improper” (not Adidas) footwear (from @PureLipschitz and Wade Heidt). … No photos, thankfully, but San Francisco coach Chip Kelly says his father was buried in a 49ers sweat suit. … Here’s a better look at the Seahawks’ new green end zones (from Eric Hansman).

College Football News: Tom Herman’s business cards show how Texas’s logo has changed over the years. Herman is the new coach and was a graduate assistant in 1999 and 2000 (from Alex Speth). … A Louisiana company produced marching band figurines for a few schools including Ohio State, USC, and Notre Dame (from James Gilbert).

Hockey News: The Ontario Reign are holding a vote for next season’s 10th anniversary logo. They’re all a tad bit busy, but I would vote for B (from Kristopher Sharpe). … Fox Sports North used the old Maple Leafs logo in a graphic last night (from David Steinle). … Gustavus Adolphus College, quaintly known as the Gusties, wear uniforms that are based on what the 1937 team wore (from Brent Kivell). … Boston College G Katie Burt hails from Lynn, Mass., and has a very cool shout-out to her hometown on her mask’s backplate (from Tris Wykes). … Maple Leafs G Karri Ramo’s new mask has an Edgar Allen Poe theme (from Wade Heidt).

NBA/ABA News: Darrun Hilliard II’s NOB is off-center. My guess is that the Pistons applied the suffix to a jersey he wore last year, when his NOB was just “Hilliard.” … Jeremy Lin, who’s missed the majority of the season due to a hamstring injury, has worn some pretty fashionable courtside outfits. … According to a note in the Jan. 6, 1968, edition of The Pittsburgh Press, a game between the ABA’s Pittsburgh Pipers and Dallas Chaparrals was delayed for more than an hour because the Chaps’ players and uniforms were sent on separate planes, and the uni plane was running late. Also: Note the 8:15pm tip-off time — much later than the starting time for most sporting events today (from Jerry Wolper).

College Hoops News: New unis for George Washington last night (from Byron Kerr). … My coworker thinks that Davidson’s logo looks like Brak from Space Ghost. I agree. … In a game against Gonzaga in the mid-1940s, Washington’s Perry Nelson wore a leather football helmet with facemask to protect a broken nose. More info on Gonzaga’s war-era hoops team here (from Matthew Eng).

Grab Bag: A shop in Jerusalem sells American sports T-shirts with team names in Hebrew (from Brian Spiess). … The cycling team Lotto Soudal has a new uniform, and one of the changes is a second team logo near the shoulder that will allow riders to “capture it on their selfies” (from Alan Evans). … Here’s a good collection of the world’s best volleyball jerseys this year (from Jeremy Brahm).

Some Thoughts About the Aesthetics of Punting

I played football in a rec league from fourth grade through eighth grade. I was a small kid but I had a strong leg, so I sometimes ended up as the punter. My coaches gave me a few pointers, but mostly I just tried to mimic the NFL punters who I saw on TV. All of those guys held the ball horizontally out in front of them and then dropped it so that it laid parallel to the ground as it fell (just like Rams punter Johnny Hekker is doing in the photo shown above), so that’s what I did too. I learned certain variations — drop the ball from a higher position if you want the punt to go high but not as far, drop it from a lower position if you want it to go low and long — but the ball’s horizontal orientation was a constant.

Around that same time, I was obsessively reading and re-reading a 1960 book about the NFL called The Pros, which featured a two-page spread of punters dropping the ball in that same horizontal manner. The accompanying text even referred to the ball being “dropped precisely flat and level” (click to enlarge):

Judging by other old photos and video, it appears that punters had pretty much always punted like that, with the ball staying parallel to the ground. And they kept on punting that way for a long time. There were a few guys who had their little quirks — Reggie Roby, for example, always held the ball really high (and, as all good uni-watchers know, wore a wristwatch on the field). For the most part, though, punters’ styles and forms were pretty interchangeable.

But at some point in recent years — I’m not sure exactly when — a new way of thinking came into vogue. Depending on the situation, punters began dropping the ball with the nose pointing down:

Every time I see a punter drop the ball this way, I wince. Part of it is that it’s not the way I learned to punt and not what I grew up seeing. Mostly, though, I wince because I always think it looks like a shanked punt waiting to happen. Like, if you keep the ball horizontal, then you have a nice, broad surface to strike with your foot. But if you point the nose down — well, then you’re gonna kick the nose, and that’s not going to turn out well at all. Imagine a horizontal ball landing on the ground (it’ll bounce fairly true) versus a nose-down ball landing on the ground (it’ll bounce in all sorts of crazy directions). The same thing will happen on your foot, right?

Of course, that’s not how it actually works. The nose-down ball also presents a broad surface to impact — you just have to hit it when it’s lower to the ground, so your foot is properly angled to mate with the ball, as nicely demonstrated in these photos of Broncos punter Riley Dixon:

I’m pretty sure this is a variation of — and an improvement upon — the old “drop it lower, kick it lower and farther” routine, right? Maybe some people with legitimate punting expertise can fill us in on that. But this website is about aesthetics, and this new-ish way of punting, with the nose pointed down, just does not look right to me. Nossir.

What do you folks think?

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Naval gazing: Yesterday we had Army’s uniform for the annual Army/Navy game. Now we have the Navy design, which is based on the team’s 1963 uniforms. Here’s some additional info and photos.

Phil will take an in-depth look at the Army and Navy uniforms on Saturday, so you’ll want to check back here for that.

• • • • •

T-Shirt Club reminder: In case you missed it last week, the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s final design of 2016 is now available for ordering. The design is a mash-up of uniform elements from all of our previous 2016 shirts (click to enlarge):

The only new element is the baseball cap (which didn’t appear on our baseball-themed shirt because the player was wearing a batting helmet). It’s comes in four color options — our usual grey, black, green, plus a new “military green” (that’s what the manufacturer calls it, although I’d just call it light olive) — and is also available with either short or long sleeves.

The shirt will be available through this Friday. The shirts are due to ship right after Christmas, so they should arrive in time for you to wear them on New Year’s Eve. (I had hoped to have them delivered in time for Christmas, but it just wasn’t possible to get things finalized in time for that. Sorry.)

If you’ve ordered all five of this year’s previous shirts and also get this one, you’ll be eligible for our year-end “Collect ’Em All” prize, which will be a patch based on the jock tag design used on this year’s shirts. To qualify, please send me proof that you’ve bought all six shirts. The proof can either be (a) a photo showing all the shirts or (b) screen shots of the “Thank you for your order” emails you received from Teespring and Represent.

Once again, the new shirt can be ordered here. Thanks for your consideration.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: The Yankees will retire Derek Jeter’s No. 2 next season. Interestingly, the retirement date, May 14, is Mother’s Day, which means the Yanks might be wearing pink for Jeter’s festivities. … Fun stat: Red Sox INF Travis Shaw hit 16 home runs in seven different jerseys last season. … Chris Sale, Red Sox, something-something, throwbacks, something, scissors, something-something.

NFL News: Marriott — the hotel company — has been helping out NFL gameday tailgaters by sending out supplies and provisions that are delivered by crews dressed in bellhop uniforms. … Some Cowboys players made holiday-season visits to a local children’s hospital. They wore team jerseys with ad patches (from Brent, who prefers that his last name not be used). … The Titans-Browns custom cleats fiasco — first the players were told they could wear the cleats this Sunday, then they couldn’t, then they finally could after all — shows that the NFL can’t get out of its own way (thanks, Phil). … The Seahawks are apparently installing green end zones (from @IPA_Hunter). … Someone on eBay is selling an L.A. Rams 1978 cheerleader’s uniform. The cheer squad at the time was called — get this – the Embraceable Ewes. Yes, really. … This is pretty funny: a T-shirt that mimics an Ezekiel Elliott crop-top jersey with his exposed abs.

Hockey News: The Blues have a jersey-style display of retired numbers on a wall outside their locker room, with the players’ names all shown as FNOBs (from Moe Khan). … The Predators added a small helmet decal last night for the East Tennessee forest fire victims (from The Soulful Ginger). … If you’ve been wondering what an NHL version of Color Rash would look like, wonder no more (thanks, Mike). … Awesome 1938 throwbacks for the Alaska Nanooks (from Mike Eidelbes).

Basketball News: This is pretty good: underwear that looks like NBA game shorts (thanks, Mike). … Wake Forest wore grey alts last night. As you can see, the jersey design splits “Wake” and “Forest” over two lines, but the school’s style guide says the school name should always appear on one line (excellent contribution from Will Lawson). … Florida State wore red at home last night. … New BFBS alts last night for Texas. Sorry, that’s the best picture I could find (from @HomeWhites82).

Soccer News: UNC won’t use certain keeper jersey colors. No red, because of NC State, and no royal blue, because of Duke. … Rainbow-patterned jerseys in support of LGBT rights in the video game FIFA 17 has run afoul of a Russian law that prohibits “gay propaganda.” … The Carolina Railhawks are now being known as NCFC and are aiming to become part of MLS (from @EleteTSC). … England is about to announce a new kit deal with Nike (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: There’s an operation called the Sport Gallery that has locations in Toronto, NYC, and Vancouver. They sell mostly retro-themed photos, apparel, and related merch. Ted Arnold recently visited the Toronto outlet and took these photos. … New kit manufacturer for the Super Rugby team Sharks. … This is pretty cool: cycling gloves with built-in turn signals. … An architecture firm in Chicago wants to use Pink Floyd-style pig ballons to obscure the city’s Trump Tower logo. … New uniforms for the Nevada Highway Patrol. … Socks are reportedly the holiday season’s most popular gift. Key quote, from the owner of a sock-centric website: ” It’s a way to express yourself. Sometimes having the ‘f’-word on your socks, even if nobody else can see them, is enough to get you through the day.” I’m not sure if something invisible qualifies as “express[ing] yourself,” but, uh, okay. … The historic Nike Moon Shoes that Bruce Mortenson wore at the 1972 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, are up for auction.

Under Armour Logo to Appear on MLB Chests in 2020

MLB made it official yesterday: They confirmed that Under Armour will be taking over from Majestic as the game’s official uniform outfitter in 2020 — a development that had first been reported, but not officially acknowledged, about six weeks ago.

But yesterday’s announcement came with a new wrinkle: While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

This is, of course, extremely disappointing. Just as the addition of the New Era logo to MLB caps collapsed the wall between major and minor league caps, and also between on-field and retail caps, the chest placement of the Under Armour mark will erase the boundary between professional and college jerseys, the latter of which often have the marker’s mark on the chest. It’s the latest step in what seems like an inexorable spread of branding and advertising on sports uniforms.

Baseball isn’t the only college sport that features chest-positioned maker’s marks — you can see the same thing in college football, college hockey, college basketball, and so on. Chest-based logo creep is also common in lots of international sports, like soccer, rugby, and cricket, along with Japanese baseball and many others. But just as the Big Four pro leagues here in North America have resisted the use of uniform advertising, they’ve also kept manufacturer logos off of their chests. That will change next October, when NBA uniforms begin carrying the Nike logo on the chest (along with uni ad patches, of course). With MLB moving to a chest mark in 2020, you have to wonder how long it’ll be before the NFL and NHL move their maker’s marks to a front-facing location. All of this feels like a move toward a more international model of uniform design.

So how will it look? We can get a hint by looking at Under Armour’s college and high school uniforms. Here’s a good example (click to enlarge):

But it’s one thing to see a chest logo on the jersey of a team you’ve never heard of. It’s another to see it on a jersey design you’ve been staring at for years. And thanks to the magic of digital imaging, it’s easy to get a sense of what that will look like:

And we already have a good sense of what the Giants will look like, because Under Armour already outfits the Yomiuri Giants, who have the same color scheme and a similar jersey design:

Of course, all of this is still four seasons away. And will we get used to it, just as we’ve gotten used to all the other little things that have chipped away at the integrity of uniforms? Yes, we will — but it’s beginning to feel like death from a thousand cuts (to the uniform as well as to my psyche). And if you don’t think the move to a chest mark is a big deal, check out this Bloomberg News story, which says the chest placement doubled the value of the deal for MLB. Think about that — Under Armour was willing to pay twice as much to move the logo from the sleeve to the chest. That’s how unavoidable the Under Armour mark is going to be.

That story also includes the following quote from Under Armour founder Kevin Plank: “Think of a Yankees fan who is standing in front of a shoe wall deciding what they want to buy. They will think about the fact that there is an Under Armour logo on the front of their jersey.”

And there you have it: The point of Under Armour’s deal with MLB is to sell sneakers. That isn’t really a big revelation — you probably already realized it, at least on an intuitive level — but it’s really something to see it spelled out so plainly, right?

By coincidence, the day before this news broke I was reading a really good article about the encroachment of advertising into everywhere from national parks to report cards and permission slips and even church sermons (which all comes across as another example of a system that has succeeded too well). The guy who wrote that piece, Tim Wu, has a new book called The Attention Merchants, which is about the history of advertising’s various attempts to worm its way into our brains (like, say, by putting a logo on a baseball jersey in order to sell sneakers). I haven’t read it yet, but there are reviews here, here, and here, and there’s an interview with Wu here.

Wu’s thesis is that we need to be more selective about what we pay attention to, and that we shouldn’t give away our attention so easily, because that’s when advertisers get to manipulate us. But how can we avoid that in a realm like sports, where advertising is everywhere, from TV commercials to stadium naming rights? I’ll have more to say about that — and will be presenting you with a small defense mechanism — in a few days. And what about all the advertising on this here website? I’ll have more to say about that shortly as well.

Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the look of the next three MLB seasons. Well, except for the caps.

———

One footnote to all of this: Ever since news of the Under Armour deal first surfaced in October, officials in Pennsylvania have been very concerned about preserving the 600 job at Majestic’s factory there, and they’re now lobbying to have Under Armour either acquire that facility or use it as a subcontractor. Lots of good info here.

(My thanks to @Braves_Leo, @GetterOne, Doug Rowan, @Whittness, and Phil for the MLB jersey mock-ups.)

• • • • •

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Parachutes not included: Army unveiled its uniform for this weekend’s Army/Navy game, and it’s a doozy. It’s based on the uniforms of Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division, with a difficult number font, patches that identify individual regiments and battalions within the division and a helmet design mimics the netting worn by soldiers of the era. There’s additional info here, and here are some additional pics (click to enlarge) and a promotional video:

Interestingly, as you can see, the flag patch (which has 48 stars, don’tcha know) is facing the “right” way — which is actually the wrong way, according to proper flag protocol. Phil will have more to say about that, and about the rest of this uniform, and also about the upcoming Navy uniform, on Saturday, so you’ll want to check back here for that.

• • • • •

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

The Dallas Cowboys look like the team to beat in this year’s Super Bowl derby. This “Doomsday Defense set” from the Danbury Mint reminds us that they were pretty good back in the 1960s and ’70s, too. Look at the detailing here! Mel Renfro, Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley, and Lee Roy Jordan were mainstays in Big D for years. How ’bout dem Cowboys!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• This 1970s Cleveland Barons NHL Puck Bank is still in the package!

• This New York Islanders tee from the 1970s uses the team font in the lettering. Note the “Y” in “My Game.”

• Coca-Cola was the sponsor for this 1970-71 season poster of Yvon Cournoyer of the Montreal Canadiens.

• From reader Mike Powers, check out this vintage 1940s hockey jersey (or sweater, whatever you like). “BR Flyers” on the front, and “Colmers Park” on the back.

• Here’s a set of 1970s PRO! gameday magazines. Check out the cover art on that first one. It’s Clobberin’ Time!

• Remember way back when these “SuperStripe” caps were all the rage? This Cowboys cap looks like it’s never been worn.

• Great artwork on these 1970s NFL curtains!

• Even better is this 1970s NFL belt. Never seen this one before!

• How ’bout a pair of official New Orleans Saints wristbands from the 1970s, still in the package. Extra absorbent, too!

• Still in the 1970s, but this time featuring the Chicago Cubs: Look at this retro art for this window decal!

• And from reader Will Scheibler, three CFL items: an Ottawa Rough Riders satin jacket, a 1974 Edmonton Eskimos Dave Syme Quarterback Buck, and a rug from the office of the Baltimore CFL Colts.

• • • • •

T-Shirt Club reminder: In case you missed it last week, the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s final design of 2016 is now available for ordering. The design is a mash-up of uniform elements from all of our previous 2016 shirts (click to enlarge):

The only new element is the baseball cap (which didn’t appear on our baseball-themed shirt because the player was wearing a batting helmet). It’s comes in four color options — our usual grey, black, green, plus a new “military green” (that’s what the manufacturer calls it, although I’d just call it light olive) — and is also available with either short or long sleeves.

The shirt will be available through this Friday. The shirts are due to ship right after Christmas, so they should arrive in time for you to wear them on New Year’s Eve. (I had hoped to have them delivered in time for Christmas, but it just wasn’t possible to get things finalized in time for that. Sorry.)

If you’ve ordered all five of this year’s previous shirts and also get this one, you’ll be eligible for our year-end “Collect ’Em All” prize, which will be a patch based on the jock tag design used on this year’s shirts. To qualify, please send me proof that you’ve bought all six shirts. The proof can either be (a) a photo showing all the shirts or (b) screen shots of the “Thank you for your order” emails you received from Teespring and Represent.

Once again, the new shirt can be ordered here. Thanks for your consideration.

• • • • •

On a personal note: One of my all-time favorite roadside attractions is Roadside America, a completely amazing and thoroughly charming miniature village in Shartlesville, Pa. If you’ve ever been there, you know how awesome it is.

Roadside America now needs our help. The roof is leaking, threatening the village display, and a new roof will cost at least $80,000. If Roadside America has given you pleasure over the years, as it has for me — or if you just care about preserving America’s vanishing culture of quirky roadside attractions — please consider donating to their repair fund. Thanks.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Dodgers held a press conference with Rich Hill yesterday after the pitcher re-signed with the team. He was given a cap without a New Era logo and a blank Dodgers jersey. Again, he re-signed with them, so he could’ve just worn a game jersey, or even a retail jersey, that already exists (from David Feigenbaum). … R.A. Dickey’s high school baseball team at Montgomery Bell in Nashville used the Brewers ball-in-glove logo (from David Arnott). … A few things are wrong with this Derek Jeter jersey-shirt (from Jack Connell).

NFL News: The NFL changed course and will allow the Titans and Browns, who had byes last Sunday, to wear customized cleats for Week 14. There had initially been reports that the custom cleats would not be allowed, but the league backtracked late in the day yesterday (from Brinke). … A sign in the Georgia Dome has former Falcons QB Steve Bartkowski’s name spelled incorrectly. As Jake Jahimiak points out, the sign includes a photo of Bartkowski holding a jersey with his name spelled properly. … Not only is the XFL’s website still online, but there’s a page with logo and uniform style guides for each team! Tremendous stuff (from Joe Gemma). … Remember how someone once compared the Buffalo Sabres’ “buffaslug” logo to Donald Trump’s hair? There’s a new seafood eatery in Kurdistan called Trump Fish, and it uses an illustration of Trump with his hair represented by the Chargers’ lightning bolt logo.

College Football News: Penn State will wear blue for the Rose Bowl. Also, “I’m convinced that Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship in Indy was the first time that Penn State has worn blue jerseys for an indoor game,” says William Yurasko. “They wore white for five indoor bowl games (’75, ’79, and ’83 Sugar and the ’99 and ’07 Alamo) along with away games at Syracuse, Minnesota, and Indiana (at the Hoosier Dome).” … Old Dominion will wear these white helmets for the Bahamas Bowl. That’s quite the logo (from @norfolkology).

Hockey News: Dunkin Donuts will become the official coffee, donut, and breakfast sandwich of the NHL. It’s an odd choice, because Tim Hortons is not only synonymous with Canada, but it was actually founded by an NHL Hall of Fame player.

NBA News: Chesapeake Energy, the company that has the naming rights for the Thunder’s arena, may have a new logo (from Justin Cliburn). … Here’s a short video clip that explains why Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Wizards likes his shorts fairly tight.

College Hoops News: Last night, Providence wore jerseys with “Us. We. Together. Family. Friars.” stitched into the inner collar (from @joeymisdemeanor). … You may remember Grinnell College as the D-3 school that produced a bunch of record scoring performances a few years ago through a gimmicky offensive strategy. The team also wears some bad two-tone shorts that look particularly awful with a folded waistband (from Jesse Gavin).

Soccer News: West Ham’s kit man talked about equipment requests, building relationships, and cleaning players’ boots (from @the_boot_room). … DHL was named the new sponsor/advertiser of Pumas, a Mexican club (from Ed Żelaski).

Grab Bag: In case you missed it during the Thanksgiving weekend, Paul wrote about the death of longtime Uni Watch contributor Terry Proctor back on Nov. 25. Here’s a more formal obituary from The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (from Steve Lega). … American Airlines introduced new uniforms for its workers in September, but the flight attendants union is calling for a recall. It suspects that the uniforms have triggered headaches, rashes, hives, burning skin and eye irritation for more than 1,000 flight attendants (from John Gogarty). … The stock markets have soared since the election, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently rising above 19,000 for the first time. Some traders are wearing “Dow 19,000” baseball caps to commemorate the milestone. They are inspired by the “Dow 10,000” hats that were popular in 1999 (from Jason Hillyer).

Monday Morning Uni Watch

Click to enlarge

Yesterday the Tugboat Captain and I decided to pay a visit to Glacken’s, the estimable 76-year-old bar in the Bronx, where we watched plenty of football and dominoes (although not always in that order). The football was particularly pleasing to the eye, because the game on the tube was the Packers/Texans tilt at Lambeau, where it was snowing — plenty of photos here — although the domino action was definitely more intense. Best bar in NYC, hands down, plus we spent nearly an hour yakking with some guy who gave us tips on where to eat in Memphis. A win-win-win!

In other news from around the league yesterday:

• There was also a snow game in Chicago, where the Bears hosted the 49ers (lots of additional photos here). And a cold game in Chicago always means lots of cracked, peeling, or otherwise dysfunctional wishbone-C helmet decals:


• The Saints wore 1960s throwbacks (additional photos here). Man do I love that shade of gold for the pants and numerals. I don’t even mind that the shade of gold on the helmets didn’t match, although it would’ve been nice if they had gone with the slightly larger fluer de lis that they used to wear back in the day.

• The Bengals wore their orange alts. This was the first time since 2004 that they’ve worn the orange jerseys with black pants. Coach Marvin Lewis reportedly hates the look, but the players requested it. They’re 4-0 in that combo.

• The Chiefs and Falcons played one of those mirror-image games — red over white vs. white over red (additional photos here). And the Cardinals and Washington did something similar.

• The Jags went mono-black.

• In case you haven’t seen it before, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett wear the world’s smallest shoulder pads.They’re basically kicker’s pads, and he says he wears them to make himself use good tackling technique. If he doesn’t do it right, it hurts.

• Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos, who’s from Brazil, wore pregame shirt in in memory of the Brazilian soccer team that was recently victimized by a plane crash.

• Panthers quarterback and reigning league MVP was held out of the game-opening series for violating the team’s dress code. And what was that violation, you ask? He didn’t wear a necktie when arriving at the stadium. Yup.

• Nobody wore white at home yesterday.

• Players participating in postgame jersey exchanges included Antonio Brown (Steelers) and Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants); Nickell Robey-Coleman (Bills) and Malcolm Smith (Raiders); Zach Brown (Bills) and Kelechi Osemele (Raiders); Justin Hunter (Bills) and Mychal Rivera (Raiders); Mark Ingram (Saints) and Golden Tate (Lions); and several Eagles and Bengals players.

• Here’s a list of players who protested during the national anthem.

• Here’s a gallery showing lots of yesterday’s custom do-gooder cleats in action. I noticed that some of them didn’t make it onto the field, though. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for example, had a striking green and gold pair but just wore basic black yesterday. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was another player who was supposedly going to wear something eye-catching but instead went with his usual look. Hmmmm.

• In a related item: Although the Titans and Browns had a bye yesterday, a Titans spokesperson had told me that a bunch of their players would be wearing the custom cleats this coming Sunday. But now there’s a report that those two teams won’t wear the cleats this Sunday after all. Hard to understand the thinking behind that.

• And one more cleat note: Eagles receiver Dorial Green-Beckham apparently pretended that Kanye West has a charitable foundation so he could wear Yeezy cleats.

(My thanks to all contributors, including Mike Chamernik, Brinke Guthrie, Alex Hider, @RNs_Funhouse, and @Royalchief77.)

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

CFB Playoff unis released, sort of: For the third straight season, all four of the College Football Playoff teams are Nike-outfitted. And so the world is once again engaging in the odd ritual in which everyone makes a fuss over Nike “unveiling” the “new” uniforms for the four teams — which aren’t really new and don’t even make sense because two of the teams will be wearing white, so why show us their colored jerseys? (Wait, let me guess.) One of those teams is Ohio State. Everyone’s saying, “Oooh, ahhh, it’s the same jersey with the black TV numbers that they wore against Michigan.” Yes, but they can’t wear it in the first playoff round against Clemson because they’re going to be the visiting team and will therefore be wearing white. Word I’m hearing is that they’ll be going with this design, which they wore in the 2015 Sugar Bowl.

For those who like to keep track of such things, Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson will be wearing the new Nike template with the embarrassing name that I can’t bring myself to spell out, while Washington will be wearing the old Nike template with the other embarrassing name that I can’t bring myself to spell out.

Finally, speaking of Ohio State, here’s a non-uni-related footnote: The Tugboat Captain’s new roommate is a high school English teacher here in Brooklyn, and she taught OSU running back Curtis Samuel. Says he’s a nice young man.

• • • • •

T-Shirt Club reminder: In case you missed it last week, the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s final design of 2016 is now available for ordering. The design is a mash-up of uniform elements from all of our previous 2016 shirts (click to enlarge):

The only new element is the baseball cap (which didn’t appear on our baseball-themed shirt because the player was wearing a batting helmet). It’s comes in four color options — our usual grey, black, green, plus a new “military green” (that’s what the manufacturer calls it, although I’d just call it light olive) — and is also available with either short or long sleeves.

The shirt will be available through this Friday. The shirts are due to ship right after Christmas, so they should arrive in time for you to wear them on New Year’s Eve. (I had hoped to have them delivered in time for Christmas, but it just wasn’t possible to get things finalized in time for that. Sorry.)

If you’ve ordered all five of this year’s previous shirts and also get this one, you’ll be eligible for our year-end “Collect ’Em All” prize, which will be a patch based on the jock tag design used on this year’s shirts. To qualify, please send me proof that you’ve bought all six shirts. The proof can either be (a) a photo showing all the shirts or (b) screen shots of the “Thank you for your order” emails you received from Teespring and Represent.

Once again, the new shirt can be ordered here. Thanks for your consideration.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Alex Hider

NFL News: Bears RB Jordan Howard has been wearing the same T-shirt under his pads for every game he’s played in since the seventh grade. The shirt honors his father, who died when Howard was 12 years old (from Mike Chamernik).

College Football News: Oklahoma’s social media team had an Auburn helmet with a white face mask in its Sugar Bowl graphic yesterday (from Brady Vardeman). … The Sun Bowl had outdated Stanford and North Carolina helmets at its press conference yesterday (from James Gilbert). … The white jerseys Louisiana Lafayette wore on Saturday had a sublimated fleur de lis (from Tom M.). … Check out this awesome game program from the 1962 Army/Pitt football game (from EJ Borghetti).

Hockey News: The Penguins honored the 1991-92 championship team Saturday, and outfitted former players with sweaters featuring the 50th Anniversary logo. (from Rob Ullman). … The University of Regina is getting innovative with uni numbers on the knees — and some slick yellow unis to boot (from Wade Heidt).

College Hoops News: Creighton has worn two different white jerseys this season (from Padsker). … North Carolina gave away this Roy Williams bobblehead at its game yesterday (from James Gilbert). … Oklahoma State and Maryland played a gray/black game on Saturday (from Matt Shevin).

Grab Bag: This Chicago Cubs World Series commemorative bat doesn’t include Wrigley Field’s new video boards (from Jack). … Whoops. Penn State wrestling had a few errors on its ticket to its match against Lehigh: The ticket calls the match a football game, and says it takes place in Beaver Stadium. (from Chris Flinn).