My latest ESPN column, which I thought was going to run today, ended up running yesterday while I was traveling. Some of you have already seen it; for those who haven’t, look here.
While researching that column, I received a contribution from reader Steve Johnston, who sent me a shot of the Hinsdale (Illinois) Central High School Red Devils. He wanted me to know about the “PTR” on their nose bumper, which is short for their slogan, “Pound the rock,” but I was actually more intrigued by their helmet design, with its little devil horns. “They’ve been wearing the horns for as long as I’ve known them,” Steve explained. “My dad wore them in the ’60s, and I’m sure it was going on a lot longer than that.”
Horns have always been an appealing helmet motif. They were, of course, the first design ever applied to a football lid, and people routinely tell me that the Rams’ helmet design is the NFL’s best, “because the design is part of the helmet, instead of just a logo put onto the helmet,” or words to that effect (plus I occasionally hear similar things about the Vikings, although their horns have always struck me as less attractive, because they’re supposed to be sticking outward, which means they’re more of an applied logo than an embedded design).
Until Steve sent me that Hinsdale Central photo, however, I’d never seen little horns on the front of a helmet. But then two photos showed up on Chris Creamer board, showing that very similar horns had been worn by the West Texas State Buffaloes in the 1960s and the Colorado Buffaloes in the mid-1950s.
Colorado, as it turns out, has used a surprisingly wide variety of horn designs over the years. In addition to the front horns in the mid-’50s, they wore this stylized design from 1959-61 (further info here) and this version — which happens to be my favorite — in the late 1960s (additional info here).
Antlers aren’t quite the same thing as horns, but they’re close enough for our purposes. But I’d never seen antlers on a helmet until a few days ago, when Riley Adair sent me some pics of the Buckhorn Bucks, an Alabama high school team (additional pics here and here).
This raises some interesting possibilities, because there are lots of other horn and antler styles out there. Imagine if there’s ever a team called the gazelles or the reindeer. Best of all, imagine the unicorns — now that would present a good design challenge.
Membership Update: A new batch of membership kits went out in the mail on Tuesday, so those should start showing up in your mailboxes momentarily.
Meanwhile, I had originally set this weekend as the deadline for placing orders for discounted gift memberships, but I’ve decided to extend that deadline to next Wednesday, the 5th.
Also, for those who keep track of such things, we’re now just a few orders away from our 500th member. My thanks to everyone who’s made the project such a big success.
As for today’s showcase design, it’s based on the early-1970s California Golden Seals.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Several people have mentioned to me that the mid-field logo at Sun Devil stadium had been altered for the Thanksgiving USC/ASU game, so that the devil was skewering a turkey leg, but nobody had a photo. But now Andrew Ranck has come up with one. Wish more teams would do holiday-themed tweaks like this. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The U.S. Army is retrofitting a million of their uniforms due to “crotch durability problems.” Yes, really. … Decal maven Chris Willis reports that the Sean Taylor memorial decal will look like this, but I’m still holding out hope that some of the ’Skins will do something stripe-related. … The double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats have unveiled their new uniforms and logo designs, which you can see in this PDF file. Naturally, I like the color scheme and the vertically arched road-jersey insignia, but the rest of the design looks painfully rinky-dink.