[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site. Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month, although Paul is still on the clock over at ESPN and may be popping up here occasionally.]
By Phil Hecken
Yesterday, after about a year of anticipation, the University of Michigan unveiled their new football uniforms for 2016. It was a pretty-hyped event, capping a two-plus day “turnover” from UM being supplied by adidas to Nike. The bigger news was that the football team would now be outfitted by the Jordan Brand (which is technically different from Nike — kinda like how a Chevy is different from a Cadillac, but both are under the General Motors umbrella); this is the first football team to carry the Jordan Brand (and logo) on the uniforms. The good news (for traditionalists and uniform purists) and bad news (for 17 year olds are attracted to new and shiny things): the uniforms for 2016 aren’t dramatically different from the previous set.
I’ll hit on the major points below (and try to keep it somewhat short); I was actually interviewed by Zach Shaw of 247 Sports (part of the “CBS Sports Family”) on the new uniforms last night, and a podcast of that is here (and that offers a much more in-depth discussion of the new uniforms).
There are really only three or four changes, the helmet (now matte), new fonts, the road jersey has TV numbers on top of the shoulders, and the maize (“amarillo” as Nike now calls it) is slightly darker, more orange-y and less lemony, than the previous yellow/maize was under adidas. Supposedly the blue is darker too, but it’s hard to tell.
Let’s start with the home uniform. Here’s a comparison for 2015 with 2016:
Side-by-side comparison of old (left) and new Michigan home unis. New number font is evident in the "2." pic.twitter.com/0fSXjK0YFC
— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) August 2, 2016
As you can see by Paul’s tweet, the number font is different (more on that later). They’re slightly thicker than last year’s, and it’s a new font family. Here are some closeups of the new uniform (click to enlarge any photos below):
Very nice. It looks exactly like one would expect a Michigan home football uniform to look. Yes, it’s going to take some getting used to seeing a jumping Michael Jordan logo on a football uni, and the design is whatever Nike’s latest hyper-elite/Elite 51 or whatever they’re calling it. You can definitely notice the different hue of yellow/maize too. Also, notice the model is wearing “43.” That wasn’t an accident. More on that below.
Let’s move on to the road uniform.
Side-by-side comparison of old (left) and new Michigan road unis. Coach Harbaugh says white pants are here to stay. pic.twitter.com/XlDv3pTich
— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) August 2, 2016
Like 2015, this one features both a white jersey and pants (very similar to the all white uniform brought back by Coach Jim Harbaugh last year — it’s technically a throwback to the uniforms worn during the 1973-75 seasons).
Like the homes, there really isn’t much different between this set and last year’s. The one major difference is the TV numbers, which had been on the arms, just below the shoulders, are now moved to the top of the shoulders.
The helmet, as mentioned above is now a matte finish.
As I’d mentioned above, there are new number fonts, and the model wearing #43 was no random decision. The story (there’s always a backstory, right?) is the number “4” is itself a throwback to the numerals worn by the 1934 team. That 1934 team had a player named Gerry Ford on it (you may remember him for other things, such as being President), and a black player named Willis Ward. Back in the day, Michigan was scheduled to play Georgia Tech, but segregation still was a thing and race-relations were much different than today, so Georgia Tech refused to play Michigan if Willis Ward played (Michigan sat him out). Ford became so upset by this that he threatened to quit the team. Ward, so the story goes, talked him out of it. The rest is history.
Here’s a close-up look at the stylized “4” that is new this year:
And here’s a photograph of Ward and Ford, back on the 1934 team, with a similar font:
So the team has decided to pay a small tribute to the 1934 team by bringing back the stylized “4”. Ward, by the way, would not fade into obscurity after the Georgia Tech incident. He became a lawyer and Wayne County judge. So I guess you could say what could have been an ugly incident (kinda) had a happy ending for both guys involved.
And there you have it. The new football uniforms for Michigan. Which look a lot like the old uniforms for Michigan. And that’s a good thing, especially if tradition and continuity are what you’re looking for. And if you have a few minutes, give a listen to the podcast (link above) as Zach and I get more deeply involved in the uni discussion.
The floor is yours.
Timberwolves Redesign Contest
Paul’s Timberwolves Redesign Contest results will be running on ESPN today. Some great entries (Paul let me peek), including the very minimalist secondary logo you see to the right (from Chris Kim).
“Leo’s World” is a new, semi-recurring feature here on Uni Watch weekends (and now, weekdays during Paul’s blog-cation), featuring some excellent uni-related finds from Leo Strawn, Jr.. Each installment will feature a new, unique or just very cool collection of related uniform observations and research. You can click the images below to enlarge. — PH
Familiar Players in Unfamiliar Uniforms, v 2.0 CFL Edition & Update on Crazy Legs
By Leo Strawn, Jr.
You may recall a couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on Fred Gehrke’s hand painted 1948 Rams helmets and a photo of Crazy Legs Hirsch wearing an odd helmet in 1949 with some evidence to suggest Gehrke may have painted that helmet, too.
I contacted Riddell and asked if they had manufactured a custom leather helmet for Hirsch in ’49 and, if so, whether they had any additional info regarding that helmet. The reply I received from a representative at Riddell, who kindly took time out to answer my questions, offers a bit of insight…and raises more questions:
First and foremost, Riddell never made leather helmets…while we are aware of the 1949 red helmets, the contention in the email is not correct, at least insofar as the leather helmet that Mr. Hirsch wore in 1949.
At some point Mr. Hirsch did switch to a plastic helmet…we know that finding a color photograph from the 1949 season is next to impossible, and that would be the only way to determine the color of the helmet Mr. Hirsch wore in 1949…
So, the helmet in the photos of Hirsch from 1949 that we examined a couple of weeks ago on UW was not manufactured by Riddell. That leaves us with no idea who made it, but it is different than the 1948 version that Crazy Legs wore in a training camp photo and the Rams wore on field…
…so it had to have been painted in 1949, which was confirmed by a statement made by Gehrke that indicated he touched them up for two years and kept blue and gold paint in his locker for that purpose. Whether the custom Riddell was made for Hirsch later in the 1949 season than the photos we have of him or whether the Pro Football Chronicle article is wrong and Riddell didn’t make that helmet until the following season is uncertain. Equally uncertain (still) is the color of the helmet, whether red like the rest of the team or blue (based on Gehrke’s comment, quoted in SN).
I am very appreciative of Riddell for taking the time to set the record straight. We know for certain they did not manufacture the leather helmet Crazy Legs is shown wearing for the Rams in 1949. That gives us one question answered, but the as for the rest of the questions those photos have raised, we may never know.
Now, on to our uniform quiz…
We’re all familiar with those odd photos of our favorite players either just starting or finishing out their careers in unfamiliar uniforms. Rather than just post a bunch of photos, I thought it would be fun to let readers guess who these legends are. It’s football season in Canada so it’s the perfect time for the CFL/LCF edition, eh?
Ready? No Googling! [Most of these photos below are full size]
1. This player won a Super Bowl but lost a heartbreaking Grey Cup with Toronto.
2. In just six CFL seasons this player won 5 Grey Cups with Edmonton but he never went to a Super Bowl in any of his 17 stellar NFL seasons.
3. This Alouettes QB led his NFL team to their first Super Bowl appearance.
4. This QB won one Grey Cup in two appearances with British Columbia and one NFL Championship but never won a Super Bowl.
5. This player (wearing #85) helped the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a Grey Cup victory and was sold to Saskatchewan the following offseason, then later helped his AFL team to a Championship and was again shipped to another team during the following offseason.
6. This former San Diego Chargers RB won a Heisman Trophy in college and a Grey Cup with Montréal.
Extra point if you know why this former LB for the Oakland Raiders and B.C. Lions is more commonly associated with boxing.
How did you do on this one, eh?
Till next time…
Grand Rapids Griffins Contest Design Reminder
I’m currently hosting a contest to redesign an alternate jersey for the Grand Rapids Griffins. All the details are here.
The deadline for all submissions is Thursday, August 11th (Midnight Eastern Time).
Remember to send all your entries to Phil.Hecken@gmail.com in the format described in the article.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: “This ballgirl making a — perhaps life-saving — catch appears to be wearing a number 90 jersey,” says Paul Lee. “I thought all ballboys/ballgirls wore the number of the year, i.e., 16? Or was it perhaps the batboys/batgirls?” … There was a colorful softball top matchup over in Japan the other day (from Graveyard Ball). … The Harrisburg Senators will be wearing custom jerseys that feature photos of doggies on them this Saturday (from OT Sports). Woof! … On Monday, Baseball Tonight featured an outdated photo of Rogers Centre (from Frank McGuigan). … The 1969 Syracuse Chiefs Team — a Yankees AAA farm club with Thurman Munson seated in the front row — bear a striking resemblance to today’s White Sox (from Bruce Menard). … Charlie Finley had NOTHING on these guys: Yesterday, in 1938, the Brooklyn Dodgers try an experimental yellow baseball vs. the St. Louis Cardinals at Ebbets Field! (great stuff from Bruce Menard). … CROSS-SPORT ALERT: The Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) wore an Anaheim Ducks batting practice jersey as part of their “Ducks Night” promotion last night (also posted in Hockey). Here’s another look. … The HighDesert Mavericks (a Single-A affiliate of the Rangers) will be wearing these cancer awareness jerseys in the accursed color of death on Saturday night (from OT Sports). … Also from OT, the El Paso Chihuahuas will be sporting these Bark-in-the-Park jerseys on Sunday. Also, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans will don these jerseys on Saturday (OT again). … The Rancho Cucamunga Quakes will be doing a Dora the Explorer thingy on Saturday, August 13th (from Minor League Promos). … Matt Moore of the SF Giants had no problem switching to #45 (from Brinke). … Speaking of uni numbers, newly acquired Orioles Wade Miley and Steve Pearce will wear #38 and #28, respectively. Pearce wore #28 on his previous stint(s) with the O’s (from Andrew Cosentino). … The Brewers’ Scooter Gennett sported some ‘Say No To Drugs-esque’ sweatbands last night, only his had a more religious message (h/t Gazza). … John Turney tweeted this photo of Bobby Bonds wearing a red jersey and powder blue pants, thinking it might be a spring training shot. Keith Olbermann cleared things up. … Joey Votto tried to catch a foul ball but a Reds fan got in the way. Votto reminded him what team he’s rooting for (Mike C. again). … “Wil Myers of the Padres has currently been in a slump since the All Star break,” says Jason Ricles. “I noticed then (last) night against the Brewers he was wearing high socks (he always uses no gloves so that is nothing new), of course it wouldn’t be complete without the Stance logo on the socks (ugh).”
NFL News: “Interesting uni choice made by clark toys on some of their Patriots products,” writes Eric Wright. “Its’ been a few seasons, I believe since they wore this combo: This is a Gronkowski Wobblers Bobblehead.” … Cowboys K Dan Bailey says he wears the same cleats from his rookie year in 2011 (thanks to Mike Chamernik). … Looks like the Washington football team has solid burgundy pants for practice this year. Don’t think we’ve ever seen solid burgundy before (game or practice), have we? (h/t Andy Johnson). … “Here’s a video clip of my former teammate from college Scott Tyrcha (Ter-cha, not Teerha as Spice says in the video) and his Bears man cave,” says Andrew Horne. … The Carolina Panthers have released their jersey schedule for 2016. … Is this the final year for Steelers bumblebee throwbacks? (from Mike Chamernik).
College Football News: Middle Tennessee State University football again boasts thousands of uniform combos. … The Tennessee Volunteers’ Todd Kelly Jr. changed his jersey number to honor the heroic teenager killed shielding girls from gunfire. … Sweet: Our pal Clint Richardson, who runs the Auburn Uniform Database, has designed his first two logos. … Here’s a look at the new SMU Mustangs unis at media day (from Nick Colosimo). … New uniforms coming soon for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (from Coach Adam). … Football and Futbol: Nippert getting ready for double duty with the Cincinnati Bearcats camp starting (from Bill Fenbers). … No more Walmart Khakis for Jim Harbaugh, what with the new Nike deal (from Alex Hider). … Color v color for UGA vs. UNC in their season opener (and also black jerseys for Dawgs sometime this season). From Chris Brueckner. … Last week the Nebraska football team suffered a sizable loss when punter Sam Foltz was killed in a car accident. “The social media department came up with, what I think, is a very nice tribute patch/logo,” says Brett Baker. “(Yester)day the equipment crew posted a pic of the hats the team will wear to ‘fan day’. If you look closely it appears the tribute patch/logo has been embroidered on. No word yet on how/wear the tribute will appear on helmets or jerseys.” … Hmmm, are there new number fonts for Notre Dame as shown in Malik Zaire’s latest insta post? (from Casey McHugh). … New jerseys and a new Russell Template for Ohio Bobcat football (h/t Clint Richardson). … “You Know If They’re Still Painting UM Helmets in Ohio?” asks Joseph Giordano. Remember this story from awhile back. “Would love to know if Michigan is still doing this,” he adds. … Speaking of Michigan football, “THIS is what Jumpman should have rolled out with the Michigan Football uniforms.” says Conrad Burry. “Makes a bit more sense, eh?” … The University of North Dakota has unveiled new helmets. … A couple folks tweeted this: new cleats for the Florida Gators. … SCar has modified their garnet helmets (from Oscar Cullom). Also the seniors will decide the uni combo for that week’s game.
Olympics News: Mackenzie Brown has a very cool archery-themed Olympics tattoo. … Even though the Olympics Opening Ceremonies aren’t until Friday, the Olympics actually start today (here’s a sked of each event). … If you’re a fan of certain shoe brands, you won’t be seeing their logos at the Olympics (thanks, Brinke).
Hockey News: Here’s a look at Canada’s new jerseys for World Junior Championship & World Hockey Championship. … In a related story, Chris Creamer has a post on Team Canada’s new hockey jerseys. … CROSS-SPORT ALERT: The Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) wore an Anaheim Ducks batting practice jersey as part of their “Ducks Night” promotion last night (also posted in Baseball). … “My kids received the 2016 Playmobil toy catalog today,” notes Julian LaFerla. “The catalog is probably old by know, but it’s interesting to speculate whether they had early access to the new Maple Leafs uniform design but kept it secret, or if they themselves had to wait until the unveiling before they could design and manufacture their toys.” … Didn’t have a photo yesterday, but here’s a look a Michigan’s maize hockey sweater (from Chris Hall). … Whoa, check out this “1966 goalie mask photo of the day” — From the front page of the 2/10/66 Montreal Gazette (from JW). Does that look like something from which George Lucas took inspiration?
NBA News: A restaurant in Italy made DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Danillo Gallinari, and Andrea Bargnani’s faces out of sushi, says our own Mike Chamernik. He adds, “Those likenesses are actually really on-point.” … Remember that time Reggie Miller basically single-handedly eliminated the Knicks from the playoffs (he used to kill the Knicks.? And then that time he gave the “choke” sign to Spike Lee? Apparently you can now get that image on a cap (from Megan Brown).
Soccer News: The new kits for Nigeria for 2016-17 have been released, and they’re beautiful (they’ll also be worn in the Olympics). … Good article from Sky Sports details which EPL club crests which have changed for 2016/17 (h/t Donald Wine II). … Good spot by Ben Isaacs who points out that South African team Bidvest Wits uses an image of Seattle’s Century Link Field on their profile, even though their real stadium holds only 5,000. … New number font for @EFL (2nd-4th tiers of English soccer) w/ prostate cancer awareness logo (from Yellow Away Kit).
Grab Bag: The next three submissions come from Andrew Cosentino: Here are the latest photos of Virginia Tech’s Merryman Athletic Facility. It was renovated this summer. … “UNC-Chapel Hill Library posted on Facebook that today is National Coloring Book Day [actually yesterday], with some pages to color based on items in their special collections archives, including this from the Yackety Yack [student yearbook], 1915,” says Elena Elms. “Next to it, I am representing Uni Watch with the great t-shirt, in Little Havana, while at the SABR Convention in Miami last week.” … Here’s “The Story of the Broom-I-Loo Jersey on Display at The Military Museums” (from Mike Styczen). This unusually named sport is a military tradition for one Canadian Prairie-based army unit that’s been playing it since the 1920s.
And that will do it for today. *Phew*
Thanks to Leo for his “Leo’s World” and don’t forget to keep sending in your concepts for the Griffins Jersey Design contest!
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Anyone of a certain age who grew up in the NYC metro area, when they hear Christmas in August, will always think of Crazy Eddie.”
— Jon Rose