We all have our niche obsessions, and Noel Basnight has one that’s really, really specific, even by Uni Watch standards. I’ll let him explain:
I have my own opinions about uniforms from all sports, but there was something about pro football jerseys that caught my eye back in my heavy ball-watching days: last names that contained only three letters.
I don’t know if it was how diminutive they seemed, how infrequently they appeared on the screen, or just their sound. Ker, Ard, Kab, Nix, Jax. Terrific!
So the Three-Letter Name team was born. As with any elite organization, there are ground rules for membership. These were established by me and are fluid enough to be broken at my whim:
• Member surnames cannot exceed three letters (gotta be pretty strict with that one).
• Player has to have appeared in a pro football uniform that actually had his name on its back. I believe this became mandatory in the NFL starting in 1970, following the merger, and the AFL used NOBs from the league’s inception. So, if a player retired before these benchmarks, too bad.
• Player has to have played at least three full seasons. Arbitrary but works for me.
• Player has to have been retired at least three full seasons.
These rules were devised in an attempt to give the roster some air of exclusivity while still allowing for enough participants to sustain the team’s existence. For example: There were several players surnamed “Lee.” Establishing the above-state membership criteria whittled the pool down to a more manageable number.
Although I didn’t realize it until Basnight got in touch with me, I’ve always been a little intrigued by three-letter NOBs, too. Back in the day, there was something about Billy Ard’s jersey that always seemed inexplicably fascinating, for example. I’ve never had a similar feeling about short NOBs in other sports, maybe because NFL nameplates usually stretch the full length from shoulder to shoulder, even if the NOB is really short (well, usually), which just accentuates the shortness of the name.
Working within his above-stated parameters, Basnight has come up with the following roster of charter team members: Billy Ard, John Alt, Bryan Cox, Fred Cox, Tom Day, Bob Dee, Ernest Dye, Tim Fox, William Gay (not to be confused with this William Gay), Ray Guy, Jack Ham, Garth Jax, Billy Joe, Vyto Kab, Clarence Kay, Crawford Ker, Wade Key, Ernie Koy, Amp Lee, Jacky Lee, Charley Leo, Mark May, Ray May, Ron Mix, Kent Nix, Blaine Nye, Jimmy Orr, Bobby Ply, Johnnie Poe, Darrol Ray, Terry Ray, Don Shy, Les Shy, Mel Tom, and Charles Way.
As you can see, rear-view photos of these players are relatively rare and often of less-than-stellar quality. If you find pics of any of them (game pics, please, not just a photo of a disembodied jersey), you know what to do. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Wade Boggs wants his number to be retired. … With Matt Holliday no longer on the A’s roster, Nomar is reclaiming No. 5. … Cole Jones has posted the latest entry in his North Stars uni-history project. … Reggie Granados found a web site devoted to Phillies fans with personalized jerseys and also reports that the Jonas Brothers were presented with 76ers jerseys last week. … While researching something else I found some pics of Redskins lineman Mark May wearing an unusual face-protection rig (here’s another view). Anyone know more about this? … Luke Pellegra sends this passage from a Tennessee football site (I’m printing the excerpt because the site requires registration): “[T]here will be some changes in the [Vols’] road uniform, as Tennessee is expected to wear orange pants on the road like they did a year ago at UCLA. Now, it’s not clear whether or not they will wear them at Alabama, because it has been thought that Tennessee will wear orange jerseys this year on the road in Tuscaloosa.” … Graham Henry, head coach of the All Blacks, appears to be wearing Adidas eyeglasses. ” What’s next,” asks Caleb Borchers, “logos on wedding rings? Dentures?” … Add Curt Schilling to the underbill inscription club. … Here’s a new one: David Cone appears to have worn real stirrups over faux stirrups. … Remember the fuss over Marcin Gortat’s tattoo? Here’s the inevitable fallout (with thanks to Chris Flinn). … New gridiron surface for Kansas. … Assuming the UFL ever actually gets off the ground, their uniform outfitter will be GameWear. Never heard of them? Me neither, but here they are. … I had passed this along to Phil, since it was a follow-up on something from last weekend, but then it showed up in yesterday’s comments, so here it is: The Indians wearing navy tops and red pants. Now we just need to find a color version. … Good spot by Matt Edwards, who noticed Troy Tulowitzki wearing a camo-bodied undershirt last night. … And so it has come to this: a soccer team sponsored by a soccer video game (meta-thanks to Alan Borock). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Yesterday I posted this photo of Bret Saberhagen with his sleeve cuffs rolled up. That prompted Larry Wiederecht to note that the rolled-sleeve look was common in KC in the 1980s, as seen in these pics of Bo, the Bull, Mark Gubicza, and Frank White. … Awesome find by Louis Griffel, who came up with this rare “Tony C” shot of Tony Conigliaro. … Remember Brian Harkless, who entered the KFC T-shirt contest (his design was No. 6)? He won second place, entitling him to free KFC for a year. The first place winner, of course, got free KFC for a month. … No. 99, No. 1, same difference (good catch by Blain Fowler). … The Giants unveiled their Sue Burns memorial patch last night.