People often tell me, “I’ve spent years looking at sleeve stripes [or facemasks, or collar styles, or pork chops, or whatever], but I’d never really thought about them until I read what you wrote about them.” It’s one of the nice things about my work.
I had the same type of “Aha!” moment a few days ago, when reader Bill Kellick sent me an admirably obsessive note about a specific uni accessory I’ve always been aware of but had never spent much time thinking about. I’ll let him explain:
Growing up in the ’70s, I was a big fan of Walter Payton. I admired everything about Sweetness, right down to the distinctive mouthguard he wore throughout his career. Even in the backyard football games with my best friend next door, we would try to re-create his mouthpiece by using orange peels.
This mouthguard, I later learned, was called a Mill-Mont. There were other players of the era who also wore it, like OJ Anderson, Joe Washington (he also wore it in college; here’s his old Oklahoma helmet with the Mill-Mont still attached to it), Robert Newhouse, Billy Joe DuPree, Alfred Jenkins, Harold Hart, Greg Sampson (I believe he wore it for his entire career, 1972-78), William Andrews, and many Cardinals and Falcons players from the late ’70s and early ’80s. The last player to wear it was Bo Jackson in the late 1980s. (I’ve compiled this list of Mill-Mont players, although there were probably more.)
With the advent of eBay, I began to scour the listings for a Mill-Mont of my own. It took several years before I finally saw one listed in its original packaging (they have since become more frequent and I have acquired several for my collection). As you can see, the photos on the package show a football player without a facemask and the address has a postal zone instead of a zip code, meaning it was probably manufactured in the 1950s or early ’60s. They later added a zip code, but that’s the only change they ever made to the package, at least as far as I can tell. Every Mill-Mont I’ve ever seen on eBay has used this same 1950s-era package design. It’s amazing to think that this package was still showing up in NFL locker rooms as late as 1987!
You know, as soon as I started reading Bill’s note and saw his reference to Walter Payton, I knew exactly which mouthguard he was talking about, and I immediately thought of Robert Newhouse and a few of the other players he ended up mentioning. Definitely a distinct visual signature that certain players had. One of those things I’d noticed but hadn’t really thought about — a classic Uni Watch moment.
As for the Mill-Mont, it was patented in the early 1950s by one Scott Miller. He’s presumably the “Mill” part of the name; it’s not clear who the “Mont” was.
It also isn’t clear exactly when the Mill-Mont fell out of production, or whether the company made anything other than its one signature product. Googling “Mill-Mont” is no help. If anyone out there knows more, let’s hear it.
Membership update: Over two dozen new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Craig Deno’s card, shown at right, which is based on the 1966 Reds — a genius choice on his part). The printed/laminated versions of those cards won’t mail out until next week, plus there are a few cards more in the pipeline we’re still working on, so if you signed up recently and don’t see your card in the gallery yet, don’t worry — we haven’t forgotten about you.
Meanwhile, my Amazon Payments account is still messed up, which is both infuriating and embarrassing (I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I won’t be buying Amazon stock anytime soon, I’m looking for a new e-payment system, and no, I still can’t use PayPal — grrrrrr). So if you want to buy a membership for yourself or as a holiday gift for someone else (which there’s still time to do — just get your order in by tomorrow morning), the best way for now is to mail me a check and then shoot me an e-mail with the particulars of your order. We’ll start processing it pronto, before the check gets here.
Year-end giveaway reminder: Today’s the last day to enter for the year-end giveaway. Details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: If you want to see something amazing — like, really amazing — check out this video of the Hawaii marching band forming a single-bar-facemasked player kicking a field goal (major thanks to Phil Johnson). … I was going to bid on this super-groovy all-star jersey, but it got a little too pricey. … Yesterday I mentioned that my vintage Warsaw uni would’ve looked better with an orange undershirt. So Jerry Reuss fired up the Photoshop and took care of that, along with an orange/green cap! … Auburn signed an extension of its deal with Under Armour nearly a year and a half ago, but it wasn’t publicly announced until yesterday. I was told about this deal a few weeks ago but wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Not sure why they’ve been so secretive. … In case you haven’t seen it already, here’s some awesome Cleveland Stadium letterhead with an even more awesome letter typed on it (well done, Vince). … I’ve posted many photos of the Astrodome’s original staff uniforms, but not this great shot of a waiter that Paul Wiederecht just sent me. … Interesting note from Evan Schreiber, who writes: “Looks like Oregon is paying a little tribute to the former Mac Court and using some former center-court logos on the floor of the new Matthew Knight Arena concourse.” … Ken Clark was going through some old boxes and found a copy of the 3/2/93 Orange County Register, which featured a bunch of info about a brand-new NHL franchise called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Among the highlights: a logo contest and the unnerving sight of Michael Eisner in a prototype jersey. It’s hard to be sure, but is the duck on that jersey smoking a cigarette? … Update: I’ve now been informed that that’s actually a jersey from the first Mighty Ducks movie. … Nice little ode to the cycling cap here (with thanks to Sean Clancy). … Titus Young had “NWA” inscribed on his forearm tape last night. So is he an old-school rap fan or does it stand for something else? … Mike Hersh has written another great piece about old sports posters. … Most baseball stadiums are dormant this time of year, but the Indians have come up with some creative uses for the Jake. … This has nothing to do with uniforms, but I can’t resist a story that involves hockey and waffles. … Oooh, now them there’s some my-t-fine undersleeves. That’s the 1921 Gonzaga baseball squad. And who’s that in the back row, third from the right? None other than der Bingle! (Great find by Larry Brunt.) … Here’s a question I never thought I’d be asking: What do Rex Ryan and I have in common? Answer: People think we’re foot fetishists — me because of my Brannock Device tattoo, and him because of some videos that may feature his wife. Personally, I’m not into feet (my obsession with the Brannock Device is based on its role as the quintessentially inconspicuous object — everyone knows what it is but nobody knows what it’s called), but it sounds like Rex might be, or at least he didn’t deny it yesterday, which leaves us free to draw our own salacious conclusions. Rex isn’t exactly my favorite guy in New York, but I say good for him for standing tall yesterday and saying, “It’s a personal matter, it’s a non-story — let’s move on.” Like most kinks, foot fetishism is completely harmless, and if Rex and his wife have figured out what turns them on, well, they’re doing better than a lot of other couples I’ve known over the years. Good for them. Now let’s see if either of them gets a signature shoe deal out of all this.