First some quick housekeeping: We had some technical problems on the site on Saturday night and Sunday morning. They’re mostly fixed now, but one lingering issue is that you should look closely at your name and e-mail address when commenting, because some browsers are auto-filling other people’s names and addresses. I think this problem has now been solved, but be careful, just in case.
Now then, some uni-notable details from the weekend’s NFL playoff action:
• The Packers don’t wear captaincy patches during the regular season, because they rotate their captains each game. But they always name a set of postseason captains and added the patches for the playoffs.
• I was very surprised that the Packers didn’t wear any kind of memorial for coach Joe Philbin’s son. I’m not saying they should have worn something — just saying I thought they’d do so.
• What’s worse than a team with the leotard look? Two teams with the leotard look. Just another indication of the dysfunction in contemporary NFL hosiery. Gimme some contrast between the pant and sock, please!
• Ray Lewis and Arian Foster, taking a page from the world of soccer, exchanged jerseys after the Ravens/Texans game.
• In the 49ers/Saints game, I noticed that Justin Smith of the Niners is another player who goes bare-handed and finger-taped. (And yes, as several readers noted, Smith — a Missouri native and Mizzou grad — also has an Anheuser-Busch tattoo. We’ve discussed that here on the site before.)
• Frank Gore apparently made some hosiery adjustments at halftime. Not sure if he changed from Capri-length red tights to leg-warmers, or if he was wearing leg-warmers all along and they simply slipped down. Either way, not good. Meanwhile, in the photo on the right, look at fullback Bruce Miller in front of Gore — biker shorts, but no exposed skin, even with that big-ass knee brace! Much better.
• The Niners went with red end zones for the playoffs, something they’ve been doing for postseason games since the 1981-82 season.
• It’s a little hard to see, but they also added red outlining to the yard-marker numbers. Is that also a postseason tradition at Candlestick? If so, I hadn’t been aware of it until now.
• The Sky Sports studio set had the wrong Niners helmet. That’s the one they used from 1996-2008.
(My thanks to Jason Goede, Derek Linn, and Aaron McHargue for their contributions.)
Aussie Open Preview
By Brinke Guthrie
The Australian Open starts today, bringing with it a flurry of new looks for the players on both sides of the draw. Among the top men, galactic No. 1 Nola Djokovic rolls out a new look from Sergio Tacchini. Details on Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal’s Nike looks are here. Rafa has also switched to a heavier Babolat frame, and here’s the obligatory shot of Federer’s shoes, complete with the requesite number of Aussie Open trophy icons.
Federer also seems to be sporting a new PJ. Never heard of the term “PJ?” A common practice is for a player to paint an older model frame with current cosmetics, hence the term “PJ” for “paint job.” (The definitive article on this questionable marketing practice is here.)
Current U.S. Open women’s champ Sam Stosur, who’s Australian, is sure to be a heavy crowd favorite in Melbourne, and has switched from Lacoste to Asics shoes/clothing, so see ya later, gator.Yes, I know Lacoste’s logo is a crocodile, not an alligator, but gator rhymes. While we’re at it, did you know “Asics” is an acronym? It’s Latin for “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano,” which means “A sound mind in a sound body.”
Speaking of Aussies, Lleyton Hewitt has had an across-the-board Yonex deal (shoes, clothing, racquets) but has been practicing in Adidas sneakers. Uncommon, but not unprecedented, as there have been occasions in the past where shoe companies let their endorser wear another brand, depending on the surface of the event.
Serb Jelena Jankovic has moved from the relatively unknown Chinese line Anta to Fila for clothing and shoes. (There appears to be some kind of corporate connection between the two.) She also appears to be using a blacked-out Wilson after years with Prince. Russian Vera Zvonareva also moves to Fila, from K-Swiss.
Can’t talk about women’s tennis attire without mentioning American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who always brings a rather, um, unconventional style to her game. And Maria Sharapova’s Nike outfit, as well as the Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki Adidas lines, can be found here.
Finally, there’s Serena. That photo is from a practice session yesterday. Would she wear kinesio tape in a real match? Sure, she’s done it before. The only surprise is that she hasn’t color-coordinated it to her outfit. Yet.
But would his NOB include “Jr.”?: Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I don’t know about you, but I always found King a confusing figure when I was a little boy, mainly because of his name, which was a mouthful: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
First there was that whole “Reverend Doctor” thing — I didn’t know what that meant. Was he, like, a medical doctor? Was it even possible to be a minister and a doctor at the same time? Then there were his first and middle names, Martin Luther. I didn’t know anything about the Protestant Reformation, but I vaguely recognized that Martin Luther had been an important historical figure. Was King somehow related to him? That was confusing, since King was black and I intuitively assumed that Martin Luther had been white, so how could a white and black man be related? (Yes, there were all sorts of mistaken assumptions embodied in that line of thought, but I was only eight or whatever.)
And what about that surname, King — it sounded like an honorific, sort of like Esquire or Ph.D. So was he, like, a super-duper Martin Luther? Martin Luther King? Or maybe he was somehow connected to royalty? And then he had the Jr. at the end, just to add one last bit of complexity. It took a long time (well, probably a year or two, but everything seems like a long time when you’re a kid) before I realized that his name was simply Martin King and that all the other stuff was basically window dressing.
By any name, he remains the greatest American of my lifetime (or, arguably, anyone’s), and we’ll probably never see his likes again. Happy birthday, Martin.
Photo call for kids in uniform: Looks like I’m going to put together an ESPN slideshow consisting of readers’ childhood photos of themselves in uniform, similar to (and in some cases repeating) the images we’ve recently run here on the blog. If you have good images of yourself as a uni-clad kid, let’s have a look-see. And if you’ve already submitted photos for use on the blog but don’t want them used on ESPN, speak now or forever etc. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: A few small MLB developments: (1) In addition to the new “SF” alternate road jersey, the Giants have also added a headspoon to their primary road jersey. Disappointing. (2) Although the new pinstripe-free Rockies road jersey hasn’t been officially unveiled, it has leaked on various retail sites. (3) Another leak: the Braves’ new retro home alternate. Not bad, but also unnecessary. And that crossed-tomahawks sleeve patch is waaaay too Blackhawks-esque. … Latest example of comic book marketing: At a time when practically everyone involved with football is trying to get players to stop using the helmet as a weapon, Schutt has come out with a new helmet model called the Vengeance, which it is promoting with the line, “NFL and college-level football players will soon have the opportunity to face their foes head-on with Vengeance.” I’d love to point out all the things wrong with this, but someone else has already done a very good job of that. Recommended reading (big thanks to Rocky Lum). … Nike has taken a major step in Japan, becoming the official outfitter for the Pacific (baseball) League. “And so it begins,” says C. Trent Rosecrans. “It should be noted, though, that the two Japanese baseball leagues operate much more independently than the National and American Leagues do. The Central League has more of the traditional teams, including the Yomiuri Giants, by far the most popular team in the country and comparable to the Yankees. I know they, like the Yankees, had a deal with Adidas at one time. Not sure if they still do.” … Someone had a clever take on Ohio State’s merit decals (from Brig Slaughter). … “I believe this is the first photo we’ve seen of Union’s new kit,” says Enrico Campitelli Jr.. … New logo for Stephen F. Austin (from Chris Mycoskie). … “Marc Vandermeer, ‘Voice of the Houston Texans,’ appeared on a Kansas City sports radio show this morning,” says Brady Graham. “He was asked if he likes the team’s red-on-red uniform. He stated he prefers red-on-white and offered that his favorite is blue-on-blue.” … The Rockets will reportedly bring back their pinstriped uniforms as throwbacks next season. … Good video clip of the Lambeau turf being painted for Sunday’s playoff game (from Geoff Poole). … After reports of a locker room split regarding who should be the Penguins’ captain, the players all wore Cs for practice the other day. But if you look at the photo you’ll see that Evgeni Malkin actually wore a K, as is customary in Russia. … Hmmm, this isn’t interesting: a Saints helmet with a gold fleur de lis. It appeared on Ellen Degeneres’s show the other day (as spotted by Ari Cohen). … Check it out: BFBS hits the world of tobacco products. … Nebaska A.D. Tom Osbourne prefers traditional uniforms. Key quote (emphases mine): “‘I think many of these clothing companies would appreciate it if you would do something unusual or bizarre or change up because it calls attention — I guess — to their brand,’ Osborne said. ‘Personally, I don’t see where it adds a lot of value if people think the uniforms are really outlandish. Apparently there is a value to the companies. But we’ve always been fairly traditional here.'” Leaving aside the question of whether you like or dislike Nebraska’s uniforms, the important thing here is that Osbourne has nailed the truth of the situation, which is that the Nikes of the world care little about the schools except as vehicles for their own branding agendas (from Gil Neumann). … Alan Kreit pointed me toward a page filled with awesome old NY Rangers pics. Of particular interest: Ching Johnson with some makeshift headgear; Bert Gardiner with the old-style cup extension on his chest protector; Jean Ratelle gunning for a hair tonic endorsement contract; and a great shot of the old MSG. To see the full set of photos, look here. … “My son is in the Hanover (N.H.) Youth Hockey Association’s ‘Learn to Play’ program,” says Tris Wykes. “One of his fellow players wore knitted hockey socks today. His mom thought I was insane when I became all excited and took that photo.” … At a Cubbie convention over the weekend, Tony Campana still had last year’s Ron Santo patch but Starlin Castro didn’t (from Bryan Redemske). … Harvard and Union wore retro hockey uniforms for Friday’s Frozen Fenway game (from Seth Horowitz and Casey Hart). … Here’s a good illustrated timeline of Formula 1 race suit evolution (from Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: “The soccer team Shimizu S-Pulse are celebrating their 20th anniversary season this year and their uniform is a bit of a throwback to their first uniform. This page shows the different uniforms the team has worn, from a globe, to leaves, to a normal look, and back to the globe.” … Gotta love this: a suitcase full of stirrups! (Nice find by Eric Stangel.) … Here’s a good time-lapse video of the Prudential Center being turned over from Devils mode to Nets mode to Seton Hall mode (from Will McGillis). … If you’re into industrial decay, as I am, here’s the mother of all abandoned building explorations: the former Soviet space shuttle launch site (mega-thanks to Robert Tusso). … Here’s a very informative rundown of NFL facemask styles. … A single-gloved MLBer I’d forgotten about: Junior Griffey went single-gloved for a single plate appearance in 2009, as a tribute to Michael Jackson (from Steve DuHamel). … Whoa, here’s something really interesting: a Ford Motorcraft tequila sunrise jersey! … Please Kill Me Now Dept.: During Saturday night’s Miss America pageant, Miss Oregon introduced herself by saying, “From the home state of Nike, I’m here to just do it.” John Muir thinks the swooshkateers paid her to say it, but nobody watches the Miss America pageant anymore (except, apparently, John Muir), so the price couldn’t have been too steep. … John also points out that the Islanders wore white at home on Saturday for Pat Flatley Night, so we’ll cut him some slack. … Here’s a head-scratcher: Seth Horowitz is currently staying at a hotel where the TV in the bathroom is, for some reason, NBA-branded. That would be weird enough, but the punch line is that this hotel is is Taichung, Taiwan! … The inventor of the flak jacket has died. “He also invented the prefabricated tennis court (a bust), inflatable running shoes (he successfully sued Reebok over the Pump shoe), and stadium seats with solar panels,” notes Jeff Ash. “Check out the last graf of the obit for the only piece of protective gear he wouldn’t make … or test.” … “This is my friend Charlie Biando wearing a vintage Falcons sweater he picked up recently at a thrift store in Chattanooga,” writes Morris Levin. “There is no tagging — size, manufacturer, or otherwise. But so cool.” Indeed. … Bruce Menard sent along a scan of the Dodgers’ 1955 Christmas card, which featured preliminary art showing their championship ring design. … Here’s a really nice 1918 college football uniform catalog with a killer cover illustration. It’s similar to a 1924 catalog that I already have, so I’m gonna pass. … NFL.com posted a photo gallery from the 1982 NFL championship game (i.e., the game with The Catch). While clicking through the pics, a few things stood out for me: I love the two Niners fans at lower-right in this shot (and yes, they’re mocking Cowboys QB Danny White in effigy); you can really see how ridiculously oversized the 49ers pants stripes were in this shot; pretty rare to see the starting QB serving as the holder for placekicks; look at that panopoly of sock stripeage! … New football uniforms in the works for Texas-San Antonio (from Fred Goodwin). … A fan at the recent Pens/Lightning game had a rather unusual NOB (from Timothy Burke). … The Ontario Warriors, who will be playing in the American Indoor Football league, are sponsoring a logo design contest. Short notice, as submissions must be sent by Jan. 20 (from Hugh McBride). … “While I was walking to my gate at Honolulu International last Friday, I couldn’t help but notice the display case of items commemorating the career of ‘Hawaii’s Two-Sport Superstar,’ Wally Yonomine,” says Claude Jacques. “All kinds of uni-related goodness.” … Here’s an eBay seller offering a treasure trove of old CFL programs. … How cool would it be if Kansas State went back to this helmet logo? (Nice find by Jeff Flynn, Jr.) … “Krish Joseph of the Syracuse basketball team is really into sneakers,” Glynn McGehee. “He wore Christmas-colored shoes earlier this season and explains why in this video clip.” … Also from Glynn: The Ramblin’ Wreck accompanies the Yellow Jackets everywhere — apparently even on the ice at hockey games.