By Phil Hecken
The first two Wild Card games of the 2016-17 NFL Season are now in the books, with the Texans and Raiders playing in Houston, and the Seahawks and Lions up in Seattle. And the first thing that struck me is how the games were almost mirror images of one another, uni-wise. Both home teams wore blue helmets, jerseys and socks, and both road teams wore silver helmets, white jerseys and silver pants. And both were surprisingly good looking games.
I had actually thought about “predicting the winners of the games by the team with the better uniform” (as I kinda/sorta do with College football and have done in the past with the NFL), but I thought better of it. For one thing, the uniforms that will be worn for the NFL playoffs, save for a couple elements like pants (and maybe socks), are usually known. So, would I pick the winner based on the overall best uni (like I do for college) or based on the uniform I expect the teams to wear? Probably the latter. In any event, had I done so for yesterday’s games, I would have picked the Raiders (one of the top 5 uniforms in football) and the Seahawks. (Wait…what?). Yes, even though I initially did NOT like the Nikefied treatment of the Seahawks uniforms when they were introduced in 2012, I’ve actually grown to like them quite a bit. In fact, I’d say they’re now one of the better “modern” uniforms in the game (and certainly better than the new uniforms the Jaguars, Browns and Buccaneers have received, and marginally better than Miami and Minnesota, both of which I don’t hate, but neither of which is as good as previous uniforms). I’d even rate the Seahawks ahead of the Lions overall, although the Lions uniforms now aren’t bad.
I still don’t like the Seahawks habit of going mono-blue, particularly when they have a perfectly fine set of gray pants, but it’s their look, and it’s what they wear at home. Too bad the game yesterday wasn’t in Detroit, though, because I think Detroit in honolulu blue jerseys versus the Seahawks would have looked even better. Of course, in years past, the game would have looked a LOT better.
We would have had mirror image games yesterday if the Texans had gone mono blue, a terrible look for them. It’s too bad they couldn’t have gone with the blue/red/blue/red look they debuted against the Jags, but you know how the NFL gets when it comes to alternates.
The Raiders vs. the Texans in Oakland (will that cease to exist next season?) would probably have been a much more aesthetically pleasing game, because there are few more iconic looks than da Raidahs in black and silver. And as you know from reading Paul’s Friday Flashback (and if you haven’t, a link is below), the Raiders haven’t changed their look much in 50+ years. And with good reason.
If I were picking today’s games based on “better uni,” it would be no contest. Our first game is between the Steelers and Dolphins (which are not fish), and while there is uncertainty on which pants the Dolphins will wear, they’ll likely go with aqua pants, though they look much better in all white (simply due to the leotard look with the aqua socks worn with the aqua pants). Still, the Steelers black/gold is superior in every way (though both teams had better uniforms years back — an check out the stripe malfunction on William Judson!).
The second half of the double-bill is between the Packers and the Giants, and this one isn’t close either. I happen to think the Packers home uniform is the best in all of football, and the Giants road uniform pales in comparison to their very good home look. Even if this game were in Giants, er…Met Life Stadium (just pretend the Giants have white pants there), I’d still like the Pack, based on the better uni, but it would be a tougher call. But in Green Bay? No contest. Of course, if history is any guide, maybe I should pick the Giants in Green Bay…
I actually think most of this year’s playoff games (no matter who advances) will look pretty good: Dallas and Kansas City (with byes this week) have stellar unis; probably the two weakest sets of unis also involve teams who are off this weekend: Atlanta (arguably the worst of all playoff teams) and New England (not bad, but not great). If only the Falcons could wear their fauxbacks. This might be the best set (again, arguably) of unis in the playoffs in quite some time.
The NFL had (and has) a lot of problems, including the ridiculous color rash mandates, but at least we can feel pretty good that this year’s playoffs will be aesthetically pleasing.
Ben Traxel’s Cleanup Project
Long time readers will remember the name Ben Traxel — way back in the day we did a number of posts together, and we even shared some time back in Minnesota, at the Uni Watch “Deep Freeze” gathering. But as time has passed, we haven’t much kept up.
So, the other day I heard from Ben, who wanted to share another project with me — one that’s pretty neat actually. I’ll let Ben explain:
Hope all is well. I was messing around and did a little cleanup project. I started photoshopping what the playoff teams would look like without all their “stickers”. A couple of them look a little blank but I think that’s because we’ve unfortunately gotten adjusted to seeing all blank space occupied. Raising the front numbers would probably fix that. Overall though, much better. I did take a few liberties on some. Chiefs – lowered the sleeve stripes, Patriots – got rid of the apron strings and added a small red stripe to the shoulders, Texans – added a small white stripe to the shoulders and thinned the collar, and the Seahawks – shortened the gray collarbone stripes.
Thought you might like to see.
Thanks Ben. It’s amazing what a little “cleanup” can do for an NFL uniform. Below are the fruits of Ben’s labor (you can click to enlarge):
Thanks, Ben — it’s amazing how even just removing the swoosh and the shield those unis look quite a bit better. Great stuff!
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it on Friday, with the Raiders back in the playoffs Saturday — their first postseason appearance since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 — Paul’s latest Friday Flashback piece over on ESPN takes a look at some quirks and eccentricities in Raiders uniform history (including Kenny Stabler’s facemask, which had the scars from where the center vertical bar had been sawed off and removed, as seen here).
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Wow! Here’s a wonderful shot of the James M. Beard, Branch 3, National Association of Letter Carriers baseball team. Buffalo, 1894. Love those wide, white belts! (great find from Michael Blake Raymer). … Here’s kind of a cool article detailing six “tidbits” of Yankee uniforms you probably did not know. Important stuff too, like where do the unis get washed (but also some historical “facts” — Uni Watch readers may dispute the fact that the last “change” in the Yankee uniform occurred in 1915, for example). … The Ohio Bobcats will have raised helmet decals on matte helmets this year (from Joe Carlone). I usually *hate* any new trends in baseball aesthetics, but I have to say I really like the raised logo/matte look (like the Dodgers currently have). … Yesterday was National Bobblehead day (that’s a thing?). Here’s a really nice old NY Mets bobble (from Bruce Menard). … How sensitive are we (Uni Watchers) to logos? A couple people sent me this graphic of championship droughts, with Chief Wahoo being used for Cleveland, rather than the “Block C”.
NFL/Football News: “Saw this display at walmart,” writes Joseph Bailey. “I know they’re probably going for a generic helmet look, but the stripes look pretty close to a Browns’ helmet. I wonder if the NFL gets upset with this kind of stuff (no NFL endorsement anywhere on the sign).” … Apparently, Chris Cooley’s story about uniform number is ‘completely inaccurate’ — here’s the pertinent quote from Cooley: “When you signed Josh Norman, you forgot to tell Duke Ihenacho that you were going to give his number away, and for eight weeks of the season you had a rift with the coaching staff and the organization and Duke Ihenacho, with the fact that he couldn’t sell his number to Josh Norman,” Cooley said. ” ‘Hey, Duke, here’s an extra 50 grand; Josh is gonna have your number now. Sorry. He’s Josh Norman; you’re Duke Ihenacho. That’s how things work in the NFL.’” Unfortunately, that’s not quite true (thanks to Tommythecpa). … All ads on unis are bad, right? Well, maybe not “Now this is an ad on a uniform–Dibello Pontiac football. Buffalo, 1940.” Another great find by Michael Blake Raymer. … A couple different people commented on Raiders’ owner Mark Davis’ wardrobe. He’s apparently notoriously miserly — still uses a 2003 Nokia phone and drives a minivan, despite being worth millions. … Ken Stabler of the Raiders was not the only NFL player to modify his facemask by removing the center bar — also employing this modification are Kenny King and Matt Millen (from Andrew Disney). … More helmet logo/tape inconsistencies: “Some lion tails are covering the helmet vent, others are cut out,” says Funhouse. “I want answers!”
College Football News: Are you a fan of Iowa State in anthracite? Well, you may be in for more uniform shenanigans in the coming seasons. Interesting quote in that article an Matt Campbell, “while admitting to being a traditionalist, also understands the power of something so simple as the makeup or variety of uniforms. From his first day in Ames last fall, Campbell has embraced social media to sell a rebuilding program and he understands that uniforms and branding have the ability to move fast and far.” … Hmmm. Have we seen this before? Check out the odd facemask/visor on Royce Freeman of the Oregon Ducks (good spot by Sean Pellatz). Also of note in that photo: the “Forever Young 22” undershirt on Darren Carrington. … I’m not 100% sure if we’ve covered this or now, but there’s a reason Youngstown State has an ‘upside down’ Y on their helmets (from Josh Sanchez). … Had this item in yesterday’s ticker, but Ed Hughes grabbed a game photo of the custom hand painted name on helmet from the Army Bowl. He adds, “In addition to the player’s surname being printed in block all-caps on the upper right of the front of the jersey (as Army football apparently also does), it’s also printed in script on the back of the helmet.” (Actually it’s hand painted). … If these graphics for the National Championship Game are any indication, no orange britches for Clemson (from Mike Nessen). But I wouldn’t take that as gospel by any means (Pleasepleaseplease wear orange pants Clemson). … Speaking of “the Natty” (as I’m hearing it referred to…ugh), both endzones will be black (from Matthew Shephard). Here’s another view (from Mark Johnson). … Aside from tracking Auburn’s uniforms (all two of them) all season, Clint Richardson has also been tracking those of USA. They wore 12 different combos in their 12 regular season games, so it should come as no surprise they wore a different one for their Bowl game.
Hockey News: Here’s how the new new NHL 100th Anniversary sticker looks on the Pittsburgh Penguins helmets (from Kellan Roellich). … The Chicago Wolves have been a longstanding proponent of animal adoption as more than 1,300 dogs have found forever homes over the last 15 seasons during the team’s Adopt-A-Dog Nights. The American Hockey League franchise will draw even more attention to the cause by wearing commemorative Animal Adoption Awareness jerseys on Jan. 7, 11 and 21 at Allstate Arena (from Steve Johnston). … “Here is a screen shot that show where the Flyers are wearing the Centennial patch on their 50th season jersey,” says John M (JMac). “Kind of squashed between the TV number and the orange band. Personally, I think it would have looked better centered on the orange band or above the TV number.” … The Muskegon Lumberjacks wore Sandtrooper jerseys last night (from Jeff Tasca). … I’m pretty sure this has happened before (drawing a blank as to when though), but the Bakersfield Condors wore three different jerseys in three different periods last night (from Quinn Balicki) … The LA Kings wore “throwback” jerseys last night, but what’s up with those socks? (from Zach Pearse). … The Ottawa Senators have their XXV logo at center ice (from Nick Gratton). … The Eugene Generals wore…wait for it… camo uniforms for Military Appreciation Night (from Eugene Generals). … WHOA! The San Jose Sharks have a (Bay Area/California/Golden) Seals exhibit (“pop up museum”) on their concourse! (great spot by Damian).
NBA News: Here’s some NBA news we may have missed from Friday, from Zachary Loesl: The Lakers wore their black, sleeved jerseys at home; Caris LeVert has a little E on his jersey; the Milwaukee Bucks wore Black at home with alternate court; and the Sacramento Kings and LA Clippers played a color vs. color game. … WHOA!!! This “Old-school NBA” Pinterest page is phenomenal (thanks to Funhouse). Hopefully we can tear Jimmer Vilk away from that long enough to pick the Vilkmas Raffle winners. … Not sure if we’ve seen this before, but Kevin Séraphin of the Indiana Pacers has acute accent over the e on his NOB (from Hit The Glass).
College Hoops News: The Florida Gators wore BFBS uniforms against Tennessee yesterday, and at least one player hopes they’ll wear them more times this year. … That game was color vs.
color black (from Grant Ramey). … Yesterday, Troy and Georgia Southern played a color vs. color gray game (from Luke Parks). … A true color vs. color matchup did take place between Manhattan vs. Quinnipiac yesterday (from Derek Turner). … Inconsistent NOBs for Ole Miss basketball thanks to the new Nike template. Also RNOB (thanks to Clint Richardson).
Soccer News: Jersey swaps are commonplace in soccer and football (the American kind), but not everyone likes to participate. Here’s what happened when Man U star Wayne Rooney tried to swap his jersey with Reading’s George Evans.
Grab Bag: Here’s a wonderful story about a ‘bookmender’ from Ronnie Poore, who writes “I know that you, like I, enjoy stories of those who do work such as this: He Fixes Cracked Spines, Without an Understudy.” … “New uniforms and helmet for the Vancouver Stealth of the NLL,” notes Wade Heidt. “Helmets are now a combination of black and red. Used to be solid black. Jersey has redesigned numbers and striping. The secondary fox logo has been removed from the shoulders. It is now found stealthily sublimated on the front of the jersey.” … Check out the basketball uniforms the UCLA Volleyball team wore yesterday (from Brent Yarina). … I should probably keep my day job, right?
And that’s it for today. Thanks to Ben Traxel for the “clean” uni project.
Last call, in case you missed it, last weekend my buddy Jimmer Vilk offered up another wonderful round of collectibles in our second annual “A Very Merry Vilkmas” reader appreciation raffle. All the details are here, so be sure to check it out if you missed it — so far I’ve received over 100 entries, but the contest is still open until January 8th (7:00 Eastern Time deadline), so if you’d like some of Jim’s
used crap generous Cleveland-related gear, there’s still time to enter!
Enjoy the Stillers/Dolphins and Pack/G-men today, and the “Natty” tomorrow. I’ll catch ya next weekend, but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“(T)he history of Chavez Ravine is extremely well documented, and involves way more than ‘some people being upset’ about the construction of a new ballpark. It’s not a political agenda to note that a vibrant long-standing community was wiped out to build a baseball field.”
— Hugh McBride.