A few days ago I received a note from reader Zach Smith. He sent along a PDF of what he said was an internal NFL memorandum that had been shown to him by a friend who works for the league. I’ve done a bit of checking and have confirmed to my satisfaction that the memorandum is legit.
Zach has asked that I not show the memo itself but says it’s fine to describe and discuss its contents. His own description is a good place to start:
[The memo is about proposed] changes to the NFL’s alternate uniform rules. As I’m fairly certain has been covered before, the rules currently allow teams to wear their alternate uniform twice in the regular season and once in the preseason, but the NFL is looking to tighten those restrictions.
Here’s what they’re proposing:
• Alternate uniforms would be limited to two uses in the regular season (eliminating the preseason option).
• Alternate uniforms would only be used in Sunday-afternoon games (not prime-time or nationally televised games).
• Alternate uniforms would only be worn prior to the start of the “flexible scheduling” portion of the schedule, which begins in Week 10.
The rationale appears to be an attempt to “protect” the team’s brands [specifically, the memo says that the increasing use of alternate uniforms could “potentially compromise a club’s national brand equity” — PL], although given most of these third jerseys’ popularity with teams and their fans, I tend to think the real reason is that the NFL doesn’t want a casual fan to turn on a Sunday/Monday night game and find the Jets wearing navy and gold and have no idea who’s playing. An unfortunate change, in my opinion.
One small detail in the memorandum that Zach didn’t mention: The proposal would also limit alternate uniforms to games played in the United States.
Personally, I don’t really care if throwbacks and alts are worn in the preseason, or in December, or on Monday nights, or for games in London. All of that strikes me as typical NFL micromanaging.
The real news here, it seems to me, is that the league’s shift from Reebok to Nike isn’t going to bring any drastic changes. Even though this memo is just a proposal (Zach’s source at the league isn’t sure whether it’s been voted on or approved yet), its wording makes it pretty obvious that the NFL is way too conservative, way too committed to its core brand identities, to allow major tinkering by the swooshkateers. An NCAA-style parade of alt designs? Not gonna happen.
Which, incidentally, is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. People can make all the crazy-ass mock-ups they want, but the NFL is still gonna look like the NFL in 2012. Bank on it.
A uni story lurking within a non-uni story: I have a new ESPN column today about a woman named Patti White, who’s carved out an unusual niche: Her company provides the closed captioning for hearing-impaired fans on the scoreboards at four MLB ballparks.
While I was working on the story, Patti mentioned that she had attended the Yankees’ first-ever fantasy camp for women. She sent me a photo of herself in her Yankees gear, shown at right, and I immediately thought — just as I bet many of you are thinking — “Hmmm, that undershirt color doesn’t look right” (it’s more apparent if you see the photo at its full size). Patti then sent me an article that she wrote about her fantasy camp experience, and it turns out that the camp’s kangaroo court actually fined her for wearing the wrong-colored undershirt. Good to know we’re not the only ones paying attention to this stuff.
Collector’s Corner, by Brinke Guthrie
Even though Uni Watch was closed yesterday, Collector’s Corner was hard at work, putting the finishing touches on another great batch of eBay items:
• Look at the size of those numbers on Bradshaw’s helmet.
• Dig the low-slung facemask action on this 1965 NFL Hall of Fame program.
• Several Cincinnati items from reader Doug Smith: Here’s Johnny Bench groovin’ to Jesus Christ Superstar at his Mt. Adams bachelor pad; a Cedar Rapids Reds jersey; a 1963 Reds photo pennant; and an old-school shot of Joe Bell of the Cincinnati Mohawks hockey team.
• Cool 1980s Nike Frisbee. I always liked the wordmark/swoosh combo better than just the swoosh.
• Is this a neat 1971 ABA Squires program cover or what?
• Great logos on this 1970 ABA serving tray.
• Completely forgot I owned and played this 1970 NFL Sports Illustrated game. I was good, too.
Seen something on eBay that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: NFL teams may soon start covering their empty seats with a tarp. … Hmmm, are these the new Maryland football uniforms? … Some guy in Ohio has carved an OSU logo out of a tree stump (with thanks to Jason Hillyer). … Holy Toledo! That’s apparently what the Mud Hens were wearing in 1979. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I really like it (great find, Ricko). … I hear this T-shirt is mighty popular in Cleveland these days (or at least in Scott Cummings’s house). … Andrew Tucker was driving around L.A. and spotted a company that’s drawing some, uh, inspiration from the Lakers logo. … Here’s something I hadn’t seen before: The NCAA baseball logo design shows a player wearing a dark-colored jersey. … Here’s an odd one: Wright State baseball is wearing small black sleeve marks. At first I thought maybe they were very understated memorial gestures, but a bit of Photoshoppery reveals that it’s actually a cover-up of the Wilson logo — weird. Same thing for the logo on their pants. Meanwhile, what’s that other sleeve logo they’re wearing? (Good spot by Chris Smith.) … Those last two Ticker items use photos from a page that is loaded with photos of beeYOOteeful Texas A&M stirrups. …One odd thing about the bumblebee-era Pirates is that they used much larger NOB lettering for players with short surnames, like Lee Lacy. But even that example is nothing compared to Ed Ott’s NOB (big thanks to Ken Stephon). … Whoa, check out the amazing stirrups that come with this old uniform. … A high school pitcher in Utah is wearing a really unique facemask (with thanks to Ed Bauza). … You’d think the Army and the Marines would be on the same side, but they’ve gotten in a spat over who gets to use a certain camouflage pattern (with thanks to Kyle Kalkwarf). … Bosox pitcher Alfredo Aceves is risking a fine now that he’s drawn a cross on his cap logo (as noted by David Greene). … A whole buncha shit is gonna go down on 11/11/11, including this: That’s the day the Marlins will unveil the team’s new logo and uniforms (thanks, Phil). … This is pretty great: a baseball cap inspired by the BP oil spill. … The map for the Metro — that’s Washington DC’s subway — is being redesigned (with thanks to Bryan Stabbe). … Kirsten just alerted me to a really excellent rephotography project called Dear Photograph, the most recent entry on which happens to be uni-related. Click on the annoying faint “Home” button at right to see the full site, which has the makings of something very special. … Bruce Menard likes to go through old auction listings in search of cool stuff we’ve all overlooked, and he just found four beauties from a 2006 sales at Legendary Auctions: (1) You probably knew the AFL used orange and white zebra stripes, but did you know they also used orange and black penalty flags? Never seen a ref’s jersey with a crotch strap, either. (2) Major find here: At one point Al Davis was apparently pondering going with a gray alternate jersey for the Raiders, and here’s a prototype of that look. (3) I didn’t know Jackie Robinson had his own haberdashery and clothing line. Click on the first thumbnail for a closer look at the excellent tag design. (4) Best. Baseball. Jacket. Ever. … Bryan Justman’s latest DIY project is a late-’80s Astros BP jersey. “I used a T-shirt with grosgrain ribbon for the racing stripes and a rubber-sheeting fabric for the lettering,” he says. “My dad had asked me to make him one for a while, so this will be his Father’s Day gift.” … In case you missed Sunday’s “Colorize This!” photos, Chris Powers colorized the bowling/baseball shot of Duke Snider and George Altman from Friday’s entry. … Ay yi yi (blame Matt Benedict). … Jason Greening notes that the Giants’ coaches’ helmets have very dark “SF” logos compared to those of the players. “I don’t have a shot of the 3B coach, but it’s the same for him,” he says. … “During Sunday’s New Hampshire girls lacrosse state semifinal involving Kearsarge High School, one of the Cougars’ shoes began to shed its bottom in the late going,” writes Tris Wykes. “So the trainer improvised, which wasn’t pretty but got the job done.” … Andy Roddick has designed his own signature line of Lacoste clothing (thanks, Brinke). … Further evidence that Adidas doesn’t own the concept of three stripes as a design element: UConn baseball wears Nike uniforms, but check out their awesome triple-striped stirrups. Like I’ve been saying all along, sometimes three stripes are just three stripes (big thanks to Dan Cichalski). … Also from Dan: Eyeballs must have been bleeding after the UVA/ECU game, which featured a brutal color-on-color match-up. … Rays skipper Joe Maddon had the team dress in beach attire for a road trip the other day. … Buried within this story about Jason Bay is the revelation that Willie Harris “wore hot-hitting Justin Turner’s socks for Sunday’s [Mets/Braves] game, hoping it would start a hot streak.” … Here’s a good article on ballplayers and their gloves (Brinke again). … Jason Lord notes a strong resemblance between the new ASU logo and the logo for Sottomarino Watches. … In a related item, the Mountain West Conference New logo unveiled a new logo yesterday, and Bryan Stevens notes that it looks a lot like the Dr. Who logo. … Meanwhile, here’s more background on the development of the new MWC mark (big thanks to Matthew Robins). … Quinlan Kasal reports that Devin Hester has started a poll on his Facebook page, asking his fans which is Bears uniform is the best. … The Florida Panthers will officially unveil their new red jersey at the NHL draft later this month (with thanks to Mike McLaughlin). … Speaking of unveilings, here’s a thought: When the Bills unveil their new uni set on June 24, who’s going to model the uniforms? If the lockout is still going on, they won’t be able to have players wearing the new threads. … Back when the Padres were a minor league team in the Pacific Coast League, they wore uni numbers on their pant legs (another gem from the vaults of photo archivist Dave Esekenazi). … Ted Lilly wore a white undershirt with his road grays yesterday, which doesn’t sound all that odd, but it looks a bit off (as noted by Casey Gross). … Check out Willie Mays in this awesome ad for socks (big thanks to Eric Davis). … The Iranian women’s soccer team recently had to forfeit an Olympic qualifying match because they showed up wearing hijabs. “I’m sad to see FIFA take this position,” says Morris Levin. “The Olympics are an opportunity for inclusion. One of the challenging questions in many Middle Eastern societies is the changing role of women in the context of traditional societies. Here’s an opportunity to enable both to coexist.” … Ever heard of StarCraft? It’s a video game that’s apparently so popular in South Korea that it has the status of a major-level sport, complete with sponsorships, televised tournaments, and, of course, uniforms (with thanks to Mike Ortman). … “I took my daughters to the Museum of Flight in Seattle over the weekend,” writes Markus Kamp. “One unexpected exhibit there is a collection of old flight attendant uniforms.” … Uniform rankings are generally pretty lame, but soccer fans don’t often have a chance to experience that for themselves, so here you go. … Javier Baez better make it to the bigs fast, because he’s gonna take a lot of flak in the minors over his tattoo (with thanks to Tom Van de Kieft). … Darren Rovell has written one of his patented “Hey, if it’s good for business then it’s good, period!” pieces, this time about Nike’s 2009 makeover of Rafael Nadal. Of course, the question of how Nadal himself felt about switching from clamdiggers to shorts isn’t addressed anywhere in the piece, presumably because Nadal is just a Nike delivery device. Lovely (that Brinke fella again). … Gordon Blau notes that Bill Simmons’s Twitter profile photo shows Larry Bird playing baseball. … Just in case Anthony Weiner is reading this: I don’t care about your bare chest or your underwear, but pics featuring striped socks are always welcome.
My thanks to all who expressed concern about my family yesterday. We’re fine, no crisis, no emergency. Just had some family business to attend to. Okay? Okay.