The Redskins have worn their gold pants many times this season. Until yesterday, though, I don’t think any ’Skins player had done what offensive linemen Jammal Brown did: He wore gold undersleeves (and if you look at the upper-right corner of this shot, you can see that at least one sleeve was festooned with little Redskins helmets). I immediately thought of all the Amateur Armistice concepts Phil had run yesterday — had he been ahead of the curve on the gold sleeves? Alas, although Phil did provide contrast-colored undersleeves for some teams, he gave the ’Skins burgundy sleeves to match their jerseys.
Lots of other uni-notable moments on the pro and college gridirons since I signed off last Thursday. We’ll start with yesterday’s NFL action and then work backward through the various bowl games. Here we go:
• I never did get a straight answer from the NFL as to whether Tim Tebow was fined for writing a Biblical message on his wristband on Dec. 26. But I note with a raised eyebrow that his wristband was scripture-free this time around.
• I love green, but not this much. Let’s hope the Jets only did this because it was a meaningless game played primarily by second-stringers.
• Always disappointing to see the Saints going solid-black, but can you spot the unusual element in this photo? Answer: Reggie Bush usually wears fairly high whites, no matter what uni combo the Saints are wearing. But yesterday he skipped the whites altogether.
• From that same game, Roman Harper had some sort of tape job on the waist of his pants.
• As promised, Mississippi State QB Chris Relf, who usually wears No. 14, switched to No. 36 for the Gator Bowl, in honor of teammate Nick Bell, who died in November.
• In the Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray had some decal problems.
• Surprising move in the Liberty Bowl, as UCF’s bowl patch covered up their badge of douchebaggery. Wonder what poor soul is gonna lose his job over that one.
• Coupla notes regarding Notre Dame’s appearance in the Sun Bowl: First, the Irish added NOBs for the occasion — first time they’d worn NOBs since playing in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl. And in an odd quirk, QB Tommy Rees has now made four starts in four different uniforms in four different stadiums: 1) ND Stadium, blue jersey; 2) Yankee Stadium, green jersey; 3) LA Coliseum, white jersey, NNOB; and Sun Bowl, white jersey with NOB.
• In the Chicken Sandwich Bowl, Florida State appeared to be wearing new gloves with a shiny silver top color, but the same silliness on the bottom. (As an aside: I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am surprised that so many players at so many different schools are robotically doing that Nike-fied sieg heil. What’s the point of a gesture like that if every other Nike team is also doing it? Just another way the Swooshkateers have managed to subsume individual team identities into the larger Borg cube of Team Nike.)
• For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Vonzell McDowell Jr. of Washington went NNOB in the Holiday Bowl.
• SMU went BFBS in the Armed Forces Bowl, supposedly “as a tribute” to Army, who just happened to be their opponent. Lame. Also lame: SMU QB Kyle Padron had Adidas-branded socks. Not lame: SMU added a Don Meredith memorial decal. Oh and here’s a nice little footnote: On Friday a Dallas radio guy reportedly said he’d seen photos of black pants and helmet to match the SMU jersey. Can’t wait to hear what excuse they come up for wearing them next season. I mean, they can’t be playing Army every game, right?
(My thanks to all contributors, including Ryan Alexander, William Banowsky, JP Bertram, Robert Daniel Lim, Dan Sankar, Dan Cichalski, Doug Keklak, Alex Zeese, and David Pealing.)
By any other name: I didn’t include the Rose Bowl in that rundown because it deserves its own little section, mainly because of TCU. As you may recall, they unveiled this uni during last month’s Nikegon event, but word quickly began circulating that they’d most likely be wearing purple jerseys, not black. That notion was reinforced when they wore purple jerseys with Rose Bowl patches for media events leading up to the game.
But when TCU took the field, they were wearing the black jerseys after all — but with purple pants. Why the switcheroo? A little birdie tells me TCU really wanted to be “purpled up,” but Nike wasn’t happy about the team’s plans to not wear the black jerseys. So the corporate tail wags the on-field dog yet again. Douchebags.
A few other notes from that game:
• Several TCU players had problems with poor footing during the game. Although I didn’t hear the audio, a number of people told me that the broadcasters spent a fair amount of time blaming the new Nike cleats for all the slipping and sliding. Awwwww, what a shame.
• How much time do you think this moron spent making sure his logos aligned? The stripe effect would actually be pretty cool if not for the gratuitous marks of the beast.
• Just to show that douchebaggery isn’t limited to Nike, Bucky Badger wore a special Rose Bowl jersey — with Adidas logo creep. (As reader David Vines points out, Bucky’s usual jersey is blissfully free of such nonsense.)
• And just so you don’t think I’ve gone 100% crankypants, I really, really liked TCU’s special helmet with the rose in the frog’s mouth. Uni Watch’s highest rating.
Winged helmet update: Last Wednesday’s entry about Michigan State debuting the winged helmet in 1934 prompted two readers to find even earlier examples.
First up: Klaus Gebhard, who presides over the excellent Infinite Helmets site. He provided shots of the winged helmets being worn by Ohio State in 1930 and 1934 (he says they wore that same design for the intervening years as well), and by Indiana in 1933.
Larry Bodnovich confirmed the Indiana ’33 finding, as you can see by clicking through the first 11 photos of this gallery (and just in case you wanted to be sure that those shots are from 1933, you can cross-reference the Hoosiers’ opponents listed in the photos’ captions against their ’33 schedule).
Also: There had been some question as to whether Michigan State had first worn the winged design in 1934 or ’33. Judging by this 1933 shot that Larry provided, the Spartans didn’t wear the wings that year, so they must have started wearing them in ’34. That means at least two teams — Indiana and Ohio State — predated Michigan State in the wing-ding derby.
The real lesson that’s emerging here is that no school or coach “invented” the winged design. It was simply a stock item offered by sporting goods companies (definitely Spalding, perhaps others) and several teams in the early 1930s chose to use it. As for the longtime Crisler/Princeton party line, it’s pretty apparent now that that’s just a triumph of mythmaking. The surprising thing is that it’s lasted this long.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Minnesota-Duluth’s new hockey arena is about to open, so the team is adding this patch (with thanks to Eric Berg). … Big sting on counterfeit NHL gear. … Gooooaalllll! (Thanks, Kirsten.) … An interview with the L.A. Kings’ third jersey? Sure, why not (with thanks to Alex Kinkopf). … Back on Thursday I linked to a Texas A&M photo archive. Todd Hotz went exploring in that trove and came up with something really tremendous — take a look. … The Bobcats used to wear white sneakers, white socks, and orange headbands at home. But when Paul Silas took over a few games ago, all those uni elements changed to black (as noted by Dan Buckalew). … Coupla things of note in this Mo Vaughn photo. First, Mo always went low-cuffed, so it’s stunning to see him wearing standard Bosox stirrups. Second, looks like he wore a knee pad. But the big thing is that this photo is from 9/20/95, when the Sox clinched the 1995 A.L. East title — which means Mo was doing the celebratory horse ride thing more than a year before Wade Boggs took his much more famous ride at Yankee Stadium (great find by Brian Erni). … One reason several of those OSU players were suspended is that they sold their “Gold Pants” trinkets. For those not familiar with the Gold Pants, look here (with thanks to Patrick Sokolowski). … Always good to see an article about Packers seamstress Marge Switzer (with thanks to Joe Jurkiewicz). … New military-appreciation jersey for the Edmonton Oil Kings (with thanks to Thom Dennis). … Small Gestures That Made My Day, Vol. 1: Marty Hick recent sent me a check to cover his Uni Watch membership fee, and he did a really nice job of addressing the envelope. … Small Gestures That Made My Day, Vol. 2: Baroness Karen McBurnie presented me with a really nice gift over the weekend: some chocolate in a gorgeous wrapper. … Oh wow, scroll down to take a close look at the amazing chest patch on this jacket. … Latest college hoops team getting the sublimated back-jersey design treatment from Nike will be West Virginia. … Another discovery from the Texas A&M photo archive: That’s one big-ass uni number. … Here’s another example of the kind of uni number stitching that the Sabres’ throwback is based on. That’s Sherbrooke St-Francis from the early ’50s (screen shot courtesy of Jeff Czuba). … Here’s the new logo for the 2016 Olympics. “The shape is similar to that of Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar),” explains Jeremy Brahm. I like it, but apparently it’s fairly similar to this logo, which has already led to some controversy. … Interesting coffee cup decal on the Mercyhurst College hockey helmets. “I’m told that a prominent supporter of the program with the initials A.B. died this year, and he owned a Tim Horton’s coffee shop franchise in the Erie, Pa., area,” says Tris Wykes. … Both head coaches in the Winter Classic wore groovy varsity-style jackets, plus Pens coach Dan Bylsma added a fedora. … Did you know Reebok now makes baby shoes? (As noted by Brian Young.) … New cycling kit for Garmin-Cervélo (with thanks to Walter Young). … Looks like Under Armour won’t get to pick Maryland’s new football coach after all. … Cross-dressing alert: Pascal Dupuis of the Pens warmed up for the Winter Classic in a Steelers helmet. … No Mas honcho Chris Isenberg and I had lunch at Peter Luger last Thursday. Shortly after we sat down, Ron Darling walked by, heading for the exit. He lives nearby and, I was later told, is a frequent customer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get anyone to tell me how he likes his steak done. … More cross-dressing, courtesy of Scott Snow: “Greg Anthony drove to the lane during a game in 1989-90 season (UNLV’s championship year) and broke his jaw when he fell to the ground. He wore a hockey helmet with a football facemask in practice but never wore it in a game. His jaw was wired shut and he had to have a tooth removed so he could drink through a straw.” … Now that the holidays and the NFL regular season are both over, can we pleasepleaseplease have no more of the Hyundai ads with the insufferably cutesy musical duo playing Xmas songs at every freaking commercial break during a game? The duo is called Pomplamoose, and they’re not untalented, and yes, we get it, a boring compact car suddenly looks a lot more interesting when there’s a wholesome-looking yet sexy girl singing in front of it, but holy Christ, people, those commercials got tiresome back around Dec. 6. And for some reason they seem to be running more often since Christmas passed. Okay, I’ll buy a Hyundai, I’ll download some Pomplamoose songs on iTunes, I’ll turn my life into a series of adorable quick-cut videos that show off my playful sense of whimsy — just make it fucking stop already!
Please join me in wishing the happiest of birthdays to Uni Watch bench coach Phil Hecken. Little fella finally turns 21 today, whoop-whoop!
In all seriousness: I’m sure Phil’s birthday usually gets swallowed up by the post-holiday exhale we all do in early January. Who wants to celebrate something else when you’ve just spent what seems like the last three months celebrating? He deserves better, so drop him a line to let him know how much you appreciate his work on the weekends.
And here’s something I didn’t know until a few weeks ago: Phil’s father’s birthday is tomorrow. Here’s to both of them — enjoy, guys.