[Editor’s Note: I recently received an e-mail from a reader who provided some fascinating information on the history of Marquette’s mascot — a history I knew nothing about. I asked the reader if I could run his e-mail as a guest-written entry. He said sure, as long as I didn’t divulge his identity, a condition to which I agreed. — PL]
Given Uni Watch’s recent discussions of teams with Native American-related nicknames, I thought you might appreciate some background on Marquette’s nickname quandary.
From 1954 through 1994, Marquette’s teams were known as the Warriors. Uni Watch has mentioned the school’s colorful basketball uniform history during those years, and the university itself even embraces that history. In 1977, Marquette won the NCAA Basketball Championship for longtime and fiery head coach Al McGuire, who had announced that 1977 would be his last year.
Marquette’s mascot for much of the era was, well, rather insensitive. Willie Wampum, as he was known, routinely used his tomahawk to “scalp” opposing mascots and riled up the crowd with stereotypical Indian maneuvers. His costume was most noticeable for its large, brown, papier-mâché head. Keep in mind, unlike some of the professional sports teams with such mascots that appeal to the entire population of a community, Marquette is a university whose largest student population is mostly upper-class and white, and this was the era of civil rights unrest in America, even though Marquette’s basketball teams were known to often be all-black and tough as nails.
Having fielded complaints from Native Americans, including prominent ballerina Maria Tallchief, the university decided to retire Wampum in the ’70s, but the Warriors nickname lived on and became lionized with the ’77 national title — the only national championship in the school’s history.
In the 1980s, Marquette took a different tack on the recommendation of some Native American students. The school changed its logo to be representative of indigenous Wisconsin natives and implemented a new mascot called the First Warrior, which took into account a number of local tribe traditions. The First Warrior, a Native American student, would do a traditional dance at halftime and stand respectfully on the sidelines — something that became an issue when rival University of Wisconsin mascot Bucky Badger apparently tried to engage the Warrior in “mascot play,” only to have the Warrior decline because he didn’t want to tarnish his respectful image with frivolity. The idea failed miserably, to the point where the First Warrior was often booed, had things thrown at him, and was even subjected to racial slurs. He didn’t last long, and neither did an attempt at a generic, Phillie Phanatic-type mascot called Bleuteaux.
In 1994, Marquette’s president decided it was time to do away with the Warriors name and its connotations altogether and gave the students and alumni the chance to vote on a new nickname: Golden Eagles or Lightning. There was outrage, particularly from students, since it was felt that the decision to change the nickname had been made unilaterally by the president’s office and was not run past the student or alumni population before the voting began. Golden Eagles was chosen, but fans continued to chant, “Let’s Go Warriors” at games.
The fervor among alumni has never died. At a halftime on-court player reunion a few years back, 1977 team captain Bo Ellis riled up the crowd by exaggeratedly referring to the team as “Warriors” a few times in his speech. An ill-fated attempt to smooth things over with a different nickname resulted in a momentary change to Marquette Gold (like “Stanford Cardinal” in reference to just the color), which created even more of an uproar and was eventually reversed back to Golden Eagles. “Warriors” gear is still treasured among alumni and can be found, unlicensed, in smaller local shops and is common at games. Some of it even features Willie Wampum.
Perhaps the most damaging moment came in 2004, just one year removed from Marquette’s first trip to the Final Four since 1977, when a Board of Trustees member, as part of his speech at graduation and without having informed anyone else at the university, pledged $1 million and said another Trustee would match his pledge if the university would change the nickname back to Warriors. There was a riotous cheer from the graduating students, but no change has been forthcoming.
Today’s Marquette players and students weren’t even born when the team was last known as the Warriors. Yet students still wear “Indian” headdresses to games and chant for the Warriors. Many still want to see the nickname changed back, though I think many aren’t fully aware of the insensitivities of the history, nor does the university want to reopen old wounds by going over all of that again. The most reasonable claim made by those who want to see the Warrior nickname brought back is that it could be used without any reference to Native Americans, much like the Golden State Warriors have done. However, the history is strong, and I think the university knows the connotation will be hard to ever remove. I also think there’s a large segment of fans who are fine with the current nickname, although they’re not as vocal or visible as the ones who want to go back to Warriors.
Several universities have changed their Native American-based nicknames, but I don’t feel like any other school has had to deal with these issues to the extent Marquette has. The university has done its darnedest to toe the line, basically eliminating all references to Golden Eagles in its current athletic branding and encouraging the focus to be on the university, not the nickname (including the somewhat generic and clichéd slogan “We Are Marquette”). But clearly, the ties to the old name run deep -– $1 million dollars deep to some, apparently.
By Brinke Guthrie
Sometimes you come across a logo treatment you’ve never seen before. Well, I’ve got a Bengals one for you. Now, I was living in Cincinnati during the period when this would’ve been produced, and was down at their Spinney Field HQ all the time, so I saw all the stuff they wore and was quite familiar with what was sold in stores. But I’ve never seen the “circles” design on this Logo Athletic jacket. Has anyone else?
As for the rest of this week’s eBay finds:
• Here’s a rather cool repro of a 1960s NFL Eastern Conference All-Pro helmet.
• Consider yourself an armchair QB? Then this 1970s Monday Night Football T-shirt is just the thing for you.
• This jacket reminded me of how the A’s won three straight World Series titles in the 1970s. Three straight! Will we ever see that again?
• Chiffon Margarine offered NFL decals in the 1970s, like these for the Packers, Redskins, and Brownies. Looks like Pop Tarts offered something similar. (I lived on Pop Tarts back then! Frosted cinnamon, please.)
• You don’t see many smoking accessories anymore, like this 1960s SF Giants ceramic table lighter and cigarette holder.
The thing that wouldn’t die: Just when you think you’ve finally nailed down all the FBS uniform changes, a few more trickle in:
• Notre Dame now has captaincy patches. Have they ever worn those before?
• Two things for San Jose State: First, they wore gold jerseys over the weekend — that’s new (and was apparently done with approximately zero fanfare). Also, if you look closely at that photo, you’ll see a “PS” helmet decal. That’s for Phyllis Simpkins, a bigtime donor to the athletics department and the marching band. (And speaking of the SJSU marching band, they have new uniforms too.)
(My thanks to Joe Reimers and Scott Winters for bringing these to my attention.)
PermaRec update: The balloon that this little girl is holding was released into the sky in 2001. Eleven years later, the balloon — and the message that was attached to its string — was found about 150 miles away, the message was returned to the girl, who’s now a college student. Details can be found in the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.
Uni Watch News Ticker: How many ways was Art Modell memorialized last night? (1) Ravens players wore these T-shirts. (2) They also added an “Art” helmet decal. (3) Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was on hand and wore an “Art” lapel sticker. (4) They also put “Art” on the field. (5) And for good measure, Ray Lewis wore Modell’s initials on his eye black. … The Cavs have a new third jersey, which they’ll wear on Opening Night. … Here’s an article about Bowling Green’s new uniforms (from Tom Konecny). … By losing the 49ers on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers lost a bet and will now have to wear a Niners jersey. … The Collingwood Magpies are adding a memorial armband for former player John McCarthy, who recently died (from Leo Strawn). … Yesterday I mentioned that USA Today will soon be getting a redesign, including a new logo. Here are some early prototypes that show how the paper might have looked when it launched three decades ago. … In another follow-up item, yesterday I mentioned that Clemson’s live mascot had changed his uni number from 0 to 1, but I didn’t have photos. Now I do (from Austin Pendergist). … Looking for some Ohio State-branded furniture? If so, then today’s your lucky day (from Jason Hillyer). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo had the Liberty Bell icon on one sock but not the other last night. … Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons wore the wrong batting helmet for his first plate appearance last night. He switched to the right one for the rest of the game (from Josh Williams). … Several good bits from Jonathan Goupil: (1) Troy Polamalu has been wearing a white tux jacket — complete with name and number! — for a shampoo commercial. The real question, of course, is whether the little red cross is there above his NOB. … (2) Calvin Johnson’s ear pads were knocked out of his helmet on Sunday. (3) Jonathan and Mark Larimer both noted that the Raiders’ uni numbers looked seriously wrinkled last night. … I had previously reported that the Chargers would wear white-on-white for their home opener this Sunday. The team is now promoting that fact (from Josh Phelps). … Last night I did the same thing I’ve done for the past six or seven Monday nights: I walked few blocks to the Rock Shop, where I saw a two-hour set by the Gowanus All-Stars — a bunch of local indie musicians who’ve settled into a really fun weekly residency where they play mostly country and country-rock covers. Some of the tunes are classics, others are cult faves that I’m familiar with, but many are obscurities that I’d never heard before. For the next few days, I’m gonna reverse-engineer an All-Stars set by embedding some of the songs they cover, starting today with this killer Roger Miller B-side, “Love Is Not for Me.” Enjoy.