New ESPN column today — here’s the link.
Meanwhile: For months now people have been telling me to pick up a copy of The Football Book, part of a series of coffee table books produced by Sports Illustrated. Last week I finally got around to getting a copy, and sure enough, it’s loaded with great uni-related photos. The only problem is that the book is too big to fit in my scanner, so I had to take photos of the pages. Here’s a sampling:
• As you’d expect, there are lots of great helmet photos. Among the highlights: two Lucite facemasks visible in the same frame; a seriously battered helmet; and a good historical survey of gridiron headwear.
• The book features two spectacular footwear close-ups, beginning with one of the most famous shoes in NFL history: Tom Dempsey’s special kicking shoe, which he used to boot his record-setting 63-yard field goal in 1970. Less celebrated but still fascinating is Doak Walker’s kicking shoe, which included a zipper as well as laces, because he played both ways and had to be able to switch footwear quickly. I love that heavily taped zipper tab.
• Note the handwritten rear-helmet uni numbers worn by the Browns players.
• Speaking of the Browns, check out the team-colored goalpost, shown here in the aftermath of the 1964 championship game.
• Two photos of officials caught my eye. Note how the two zebras in this shot have slightly different stripe widths and sleeve cuff patterns. Meanwhile, anyone know who this memorial armband was honoring?
• Good view here of how Jim Burt had his jersey custom-tied for maximum tightness.
• Before there were Super Bowl rings, there were other championship trinkets.
• And before footballs themselves were manufactured to standard specs, officials kept a special ball caliper on hand to make sure game balls were the proper size and shape.
• Gorgeous gallery of WWII-era game programs here.
• What’s up with the grommets — or are they snaps? — on the pants?
• Why would a player wear his uni number on his spat job?
• And finally, this isn’t uni-related, but it brings up something I’ve always wondered about: When I was a kid, every team huddled up in a circle — except for the Chiefs, who set up like this, with the quarterback facing the rest of the offense. I remember being fascinated by this protocol when I was little, and then they stopped doing it and I forgot all about it until I saw this photo in the book. Anyone know more about this? Was it a Len Dawson thing or a Hank Stram thing? If the latter, did the Saints use the same huddle format when Stram coached them?
And so on — plenty more where all of that came from. Highly recommended.
Tomlinson Update: Sure enough, as several people noted in yesterday’s comments, Ladainian Tomlinson’s flag decal was missing yet again on Sunday. Dude’s been in violation of a league uniform guideline for nearly half a season now! Is it really possible that nobody else has noticed? Or is he making some kind of statement? Seems unlikely, given his antics during the Chargers’ home opener, but LT is clearly a complex character, so who knows what’s running through his head.
I talked about this with Giants equipment director Joe Skiba when I was out at Giants Stadium two Fridays ago. He gave me a flag decal and suggested that I FedEx it to Tomlinson along with a short, well-worded note (maybe just “Are we missing something?”). It’s a tempting thought — but what if he slapped the decal on his helmet? Then the game would be over. I’ve come to enjoy the weekly “Will he or won’t he?” anticipation surrounding LT’s flag. Why ruin it?
Then again, I love the FedEx idea — I’m torn. And so I turn, my brothers and sisters, to you: Should I sit on my hands and let the weekly game play out, or should I send the flag decal to LT? And if the latter, what sort of note should I include? Cast your vote by sending an e-mail to unipoll at earthlink dot net (not the usual Uni Watch address) and I’ll take the readership’s wishes under advisement.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Not sure how I missed this, since I was watching the Giants/Dolphins game, but Brandon Jacobs’s jersey patch apparently fell off at some point in the second half (with thanks to Eric Stangel, who says he first saw this mentioned on GameUsedForum.com). … Remember back in the late ’80s, when several NBA teams used socks with the team name knit into the hose? Rob Montoya notes that several Albuquerque high school football teams are using that sock style, including Eldorado High and Cibola High. In addition, Highland High’s socks have stripes, vertical lettering, and a team logo. Albuquerque: the unlikely athletic sock capital of America! … Speaking of sock adornment, check out this photo (forwarded by Russ Yurk), which was taken during Cardinals training camp in 1981. What’s with the number-stenciled socks? Anyone ever seen that before? … “South Africa, the recent Rugby World Cup champions, unveiled their 2008 strips this past weekend,” writes Dominic Litten. “It’s quite different from the jerseys they wore in the World Cup. Another interesting quirk about South African rugby is the awesome suit jacket worn by the head coaches (who, by the way, aren’t on the sidelines during games).” … “Dress to the Nines” curator Tom Shieber checks in with the following observation: “Is this a first? The Rockies wore different uniforms in each game of their four-game World Series loss to the Red Sox. Game One: black vest with gray pinstripe pants. Game Two: gray pinstripe jersey and pants. Game Three: black vest (same as Game One) with white pinstripe pants. Game Four: white pinstripe jersey and pants. Maybe they figured they’d keep switching uniforms until they won. Didn’t seem to work.” … Nice find by Jeff Barak: a web page that lists every NHL player to have worn a given uni number. … Neil Berger was looking through some old photos and found some shots of a Bucks uni-history gallery that he took a few years back at the Bradley Center. Additional pics here, here, and here. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Before an NFL game, the game footballs are inspected by the referee, who puts a mark or stamp on them to ensure that there’s no switcheroo. You can see those marks on the tip of the balls used in Sunday’s Niners/Saints game. … The Hershey Bears wore pink breast cancer awareness jerseys during pregame warm-ups on Sunday. … The concept of naming rights has gotten seriously out of hand. … While researching something else I came across a photo of Lance Rentzel wearing a really crude-looking facemask, similar to the cheapo-looking one that Gale Sayers used to wear. … Michael Rich was at the Georgia Tech/Clemson game a few weeks ago and spotted a fan wearing a custom Tech jersey. … Interesting interlocking “X” and “V” being used by the Charlotte Checkers for their anniversary patch (with thanks to Kyle Ostendorf). … Any article that includes the quotes “People would make fun of us and stuff” and “Like if we travel around, people are going to give us a lot of crap” has got to be worth your while — and it is (nice find by Todd Davis). … More lower-leg shenanigans for the Packers secondary last night, as seen here, here, and here.