The screen shot at right shows Navy placekicker Matthew Harmon from a 2006 game against Stanford. You’ve probably seen it before — it frequently shows up in listings of uniform typos. I linked to it myself in this ESPN column back in 2007.
But here’s the thing: As the years have gone by, I’ve started to have a funny feeling about that typo. Here’s why:
• The misspelling was so blatant, so egregious — how is it possible that nobody caught it?
• The first mention of the typo that I could find was in this entry’s Ticker back in 2006. As you can see, there was no photo — just a mention from a reader who didn’t give his name. The screen shot didn’t come until several days later (again, it’s in the Ticker). Hmmmmm.
• I’ve never seen any other visual on this typo — just that one screen shot.
• Given that Navy was using simple block lettering on a white background, with no major shadows or folds in the jersey fabric, this typo would be very easy to create via Photoshop.
All these factors have combined to make me a bit skeptical about this typo. Over the past two years or so I’ve stopped referring or linking to it.
As it happens, a list of jersey typos recently appeared on SportsCenter. I didn’t compile the list, although they ran the list by me beforehand. It included Matthew Harmon and his “Nayv” jersey. I considered saying something — there were certainly other typos that could have been swapped in — but ultimately held my tongue. I can’t really explain why, but maybe a little part of me wanted to put that typo out there in wider circulation, just to see if it prompted any response.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened, although the response came from a place I never could have anticipated. It came in the form of an e-mail from one Matthew Harmon. Here’s what he wrote to me:
My name is Matthew Harmon and I live in Yokosuka, Japan. I graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2009 and was the starting kicker on the varsity football team. Being on active duty in the Navy and stationed in Japan, I have a hard time keeping up with sports in the States, but my buddies are telling me I was on SportsCenter as one of the top 10 misspelled jerseys.
A little background: We were playing Stanford the year they opened their new stadium, 2006. I was the backup kicker at the time. We played very well and ended up winning the game by a large margin.
At the start of the fourth quarter, I was being heckled by a couple of fans. I didn’t want to acknowledge them, but I decided to turn around to figure out why there were yelling at the backup kicker. The fans told me to look down at my jersey and that’s when I realized that my jersey read NAYV, not NAVY. Once I saw the mistake, we shared a laugh and I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, because I never got in the game anyway. But toward the end of the game, we had a big enough lead that the backup kicker (me) was able to get in the game and make his first collegiate field goal.
So I made that kick and was the picture of the week on collegehumor.com. During a team meeting the following week, Coach Paul Johnson said, “Harmon, that’s the last time I call a timeout to put your ass in the game.”
And there you have it, right from the horse’s mouth. I wrote back to Matthew and asked if he still had this jersey. His response: “I don’t know what happened to it. It probably got stashed away somewhere in a closet. I do know that Nike apologized, though.” Oh really? Did they issue an official statement or something? “I don’t know about that, but I know the A.D. was involved and they apologized. I don’t think anyone expected the picture to be such a big deal.”
Indeed. Interestingly, that screen shot was contributed back in 2006 by reader Andrew Shieh. According to our site-search function, it’s the only time he’s ever contributed to the Ticker, but he sure made it count — that one screen shot has spread all over the web, and even to SportsCenter. Andrew, are you still out there? It’s almost time for your quinquennial contribution!
Uni Watch News Ticker: When the Cards and Royals play an interleague series next week, both teams will wear this patch to help support relief efforts for tornado-flattened Joplin, Missouri. The patch — which probably sets a record for the most logos appearing in one patch design — will also be available for purchase, plus game-used uniforms will be auctioned off, etc. Further details here. … Here’s a good article on the design of the torch for the London Olympics, plus an accompanying video. … Way back in the olden days of 2004, Delta Airlines ran a fashion show on the history of flight attendants’ uniforms, and Russell Goutierez was there to take a bunch of photos. … The Chicago Bandits — a professional fast-pitch softball team — wore All-American Girls Professional Baseball League throwbacks the other day. Lots of photos if you scroll down a bit on this page (with thanks to Kenn Tomasch). … Speaking of the old AAGPBL, check out this great program (nice find by Jeff Wilk). … New football uniforms for Northwest Missouri State. … Here’s one of the better surveys of Canucks jersey history that have popped up in recent weeks (with thanks to Will Leslie). … While looking for something else, I came across a shot of John Hodgman — the “I’m a PC” guy in the Apple commercials — posing in old-school football gear. … Here’s a really interesting analysis of an old Willie Mays photo (big thanks to Chris Howell). … Ray Barrington spotted this old Jets program cover featuring a helmet design that the Jets have never worn. … The graphics on this old St. Louis Browns schedule are really charming (Jeff Wilk again). … Here’s a look at historically ugly jerseys in Aussie football (with thanks to Mike Powers). … Look at all the Nordiques shirts in this photo, plus a Whalers shirt for good measure. “I think that’s pretty neat, considering those teams didn’t even exist by the time those kids were born,” says Jamison Nash. … Mark Reynolds of the Orioles has started wearing stirrups. He talks about it briefly at the 1:36 mark of this video clip (big thanks to Jack Krabbe). … Interesting note regarding the Heat/Mavs series from Andrew Rader, who writes: “I believe this is the first time that two opposing teams in any sport’s championship round have had their home venues sponsored by the same company — American Airlines Arena and American Airlines Center.” Can anyone confirm or refute? Are any similar situations even possible? … The movie The Doors is set in the 1960s (duh). So why does this scene from the movie open with a televised clip of what appears to be Rod Carew from the ’70s? (Good catch by Jim Slade.) … Can anyone tell Doug Mulliken exactly what Lebron is wearing under his jersey? … Joe Alvernaz notes that the new USA rugby jerseys owe a substantial stylistic debt to a certain 1970s daredevil. … I don’t know who this chick is, but someone needs to get me her phone number, stat (carnivorous thanks to Chris Flinn). … Brad Reissig notes that Big Papi’s helmet logo is riding kinda low. … The Rays’ latest unusual road trip attire: pajamas. Additional shots here and here (with thanks to Mike Edgerley).