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Uni-Verse Is Brimming with White Privilege

As we were discussing the placement of the NHL centennial patch last Thursday, I found myself drawn to the two Blue Jackets photos shown above. “Huh,” I said to myself, “the white patch really sticks out there, because that uniform has no other white elements.”

Just to confirm that, I looked at a full-body shot of the Blue Jackets’ alternate uniform. Sure enough, no white (unless you count the skate laces, the skate guards, the NHL logo, or the maker’s mark on the helmet, which I don’t):

And that’s when it hit me: It is very rare to encounter a completely white-free uniform. Sure, there are lots of uniforms that are mostly colored, but they still tend to have some combination of white trim, or white outlining on the numbers, or white NOB lettering. The Blue Jackets’ alternate design is one of the rare exceptions.

How rare? If we leave aside one-off uniforms and stick to designs that are in teams’ regular uniform rotations, then by my count there are only four other white-free NHL uniforms: the Bruins’ and Senators’ throwback alternates, and the Wild’s home and alternate designs. Much like the Blue Jackets’ alts, these four uniforms all make heavy use of cream (or vintage white, or wheat, or whatever we’re calling it this week) instead of white:

(I know it looks like the Ottawa sleeve number is white in that photo, but it’s not.)

The Rangers’ alternates almost make the cut, but they’re lazy and use their regular white-trimmed pants and gloves. If they really wanted to make that a fully integrated uniform design, they’d swap out those elements for cream-trimmed versions.

Of course, we could also do a count of how many uniforms don’t have blue, or red, or whatever. But white is different — it goes with everything and it tends to enhance everything it touches, so it’s interesting to see which uniforms don’t include it.

What about other sports? It’s impossible for a standard NFL uniform to be white-free, because all the socks are white from the mid-shin to the shoe (or at least they’re supposed to be). But the sock rule is waived for Thursday-night games — are any of those uniforms white-free? The 49ers’ design comes close, but the Niners have white in their helmet design. Ditto for the Seahawks and Vikings. So by my count, there are no white-free NFL uniforms.

I suppose one could also says it’s impossible for an NFL uniform to be white-free because of the chinstraps and nose/neck bumpers, but I don’t consider those to be part of the uniform. That’s admittedly a somewhat arbitrary distinction.

I was too busy with other projects to do a uni-by-uni check of the NBA and MLB, but longtime reader Warren Junium generously offered to help me with that.

For the NBA, I imposed another arguably arbitrary standard: I decided that we’d look only at the jersey and shorts. We wouldn’t heabands, socks, or sneakers, all of which seem to have become more like uniquipment, rather than true uniform elements.

With that standard in mind, Warren found six NBA uniforms that don’t include any white: the Hawks’ road and alternate designs (for those two, neon basically stands in for white); the Cavs’ three alternates; and the Pacers’ Hickory throwbacks (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):

For MLB, I decided not to count sanitary socks, since most players no longer wear stirrups (and baseball hosiery in general now falls into the uniquipment category. But I decided that we would count sleeve patches — they’re part of the jersey design, after all — and it turns out that a lot of MLB teams have white-inclusive patches. For example, I initially thought the Mets’ road uniform is white-free — but I forgot about the sleeve patch. To my mind, that counts.

With those ground rules in place, Warren found only two white-free MLB uniforms — the Giants’ black alternates and orange alternates (it doesn’t really matter whether they wear these jerseys at home or on the road, because the Giants’ home pants are cream, not white):

So out of the Big Four pro leagues, which cumulatively have 122 teams and something like 400 home, road, and alternate uniforms (I’ve never done an exact count — would anyone like to tackle that one?), Warren and I found at a total of 13 white-free designs. Did we miss anything?

For the sake of argument, I wondered how many additional MLB teams would qualify as white-free if we didn’t count sleeve patches. By my count, another nine uniforms would then make the cut: Rays fauxbacks; Cleveland road; Mets road and blue road alternate; Pirates road; Diamondbacks road and teal-trimmed road alternate; and Giants home (which is cream, not white) and road. All of those uniforms are shown below (if you can’t see the slideshow, click here):

One thing I’ve learned from exploring this topic: White is really powerful. A little of it can go a long way — some outlining on the numbers, say, or a hairline stripe — but it makes all the surrounding colors look brighter and tends to make things “pop” a bit more. I think many of the white-free uniforms (or, in the case of the NFL Thursday designs, almost white-free) could have been improved with a touch of white here or there.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsThe A’s will be giving away a Bob Melvin bobblehead this year — and it appears they mistakenly included headspoon piping on the home jersey (from The Golden One). … Check out this incredible Cubs sweater from 1916 (from Phillip Santos). … Remember when the Padres almost moved to Washington in 1974? The controversy birthed this weird Willie McCovey card and a few others (from BSmile and SportsCollector).

NFL NewsPiggybacking on an item from yesterday’s Ticker, it was apparently pretty common for NFL players to wear MLB caps on the sideline: Here’s a Pats coach in a Red Sox cap, Washington’s Sonny Jurgensen in a Senators cap, and some Steelers in Pirates caps  (from William F. Yurasko). … A group of Seahawks fans from the Baltics gave Earl Thomas a custom Russian fur hat (from Dustin Jensen). … Ryan Arave was poking around Facebook and found someone selling a mattress with NFL logo creep.

College Football NewsSpotted at the Tampa Airport: Alabama championship merch, sold at a steep discount (from Mike Feld). … From the Lord Jeffs to the Hamsters? Amherst is looking for a new nickname (from Andrew Hoenig). … Players in the Polynesian Bowl — a high school All-Star game — will wear these Polynesian-themed Riddell SpeedFlex helmets (from Rob DeMello). … ASU Uniformity is counting down the Sun Devils’ best combos this season.

Hockey NewsThe Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL will be wearing U of Arizona unis this weekend. They’ll be auctioned off after the game (from Dane Drutis). … According to this story, a Canadian bank altered one of hockey’s most famous photos — Paul Henderson’s game-winning goal against the USSR in the ’72 Summit Series — for an ad campaign (from Ted Arnold).

NBA NewsUnusual-looking game last night in Toronto, as the Raptors wore their Toronto Huskies jerseys and the Celts wore their sleeved gray alts (from Funhouse). … Meanwhile, the Nets and Hawks went grey vs. black — not exactly the best kind of color-on-color action (from Pat Costello). … The Hawks will wear their racing-stripe throwbacks on Friday (from Chris Brueckner). …

College Hoops News: Indiana wore the striped/camo jerseys from the Armed Forces Classic last night at Maryland. They’ve only worn their traditional red unis once this season. … Brandon Daley points out that Kansas’ jerseys last night had a different style of trim than their normal jerseys. Anyone know why? … Pitt will be going BFBS — with illegible chest scripts and NOBs — on Jan. 28 (from Michael).

Soccer News: “Here’s a story from the League of Ireland in 1993,” says Denis Hurley. “Cork City decided to launch a new black away kit that clashed with the match officials’ shirts, but they failed to inform the league. Luckily, a referee read about the new jerseys in a newspaper article and alternate shirts were procured for the referee and linesmen.”

Grab BagCouple of racing items from David FirestoneJohn Hale of the NHRA has a new sponsor. Also beginning in 2018, NASCAR’s Toyota Camry will get a makeover. … Michigan state police are giving their cruisers a makeover for their 100th anniversary (from Josh Medroe). … When your sweatshirt betrays you (from Alex Shedden). … New rugby uniform for England (from Andrew O’Brien).

NHL to Eliminate Alternate Uniforms Next Season

With hockey fans already nervous about what the Reebok-to-Adidas changeover will mean for NHL uniforms next season, a Minnesota Wild article in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune (helpfully brought to my attention by reader Luke H.) included the following news:

Multiple sources tell the Star Tribune that all NHL teams will be permitted to have only home and road jerseys next season as Adidas takes over for Reebok as the official outfitter of NHL uniforms.

There will be no third jerseys, in order to make the initial implementation of new sweaters easier.

The Wild is in the midst of deciding whether to go with red or green home sweaters. If the Wild chooses green, which sounds probable, the jersey likely will be slightly redesigned from the current third jersey.

The report was quickly confirmed by poobah Chris Creamer (among others), who then reported that the Oilers will promote their orange alternates to primary home uni status next season and that the Devils will have new uniforms.

That’s a lot of info to process, and it has led to lots of questions, some of which are only tangentially related to the “no alternates” policy. Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

Is this “no alternates” policy permanent?

No. It should last only one season.

How many teams are affected?

According to, 17 of the 30 NHL teams currently have alternate uniforms. So this no-alts policy will affect a little more than half of the league. If you’re a fan of, say, the Canadiens or Stars, it won’t make much difference, except as it pertains to your favorite team’s opponents.

Has the NHL ever done anything like this before?

Yes. When the Reebok Edge template was introduced for the 2007-08 season, teams only had home and road uniforms — no alternates. By the following year, however, alternates were being used by 18 of the league’s 30 teams (and the year after that, the number was up to 22 out of 30). I’m sure the same thing will happen this time around.

What about the Winter Classic and other outdoor games?

It’s a safe bet that they’ll still have special uniforms for those games. For the 2008 Winter Classic, which was played in the middle of that 2007-08 “no alternates” season, the Penguins and Sabres still wore throwbacks. “No alternates” doesn’t necessarily mean “no one-offs.”

What does it mean when then say they’re doing this to make “the initial implementation of new sweaters easier”? Reebok and Adidas have the same corporate ownership — isn’t that easy enough?

You’d think so, right? I’d love to know more about which issues are at work here — like, are they talking about gameday logistics? Retail/merch concerns? Something else? Not sure. Trying to find out.

For those 17 teams that currently have alternate uniforms, will they simply scrap those alternates and stick with their current homes and roads?

Some teams probably will. The Rangers, for example, will no doubt just mothball their retro alts for a season. But other teams may have choices to make. As noted in the Star Tribune article, for example, the Wild are pondering whether to go with their home reds or alternate greens as next season’s home jersey, and the Oilers have already made a similar choice by redesignating this season’s alternate as next season’s home uni. What about, say, the Capitals — might they redesignate their throwback alternates as their home primaries? And people are already speculating about what the Hurricanes will do. Which other teams might be pondering their options? All good food for thought and fodder for discussion.

This is stupid — Adidas is losing out on lots of alternate jersey sales!

Maybe, maybe not. But why should any of us care about Adidas’s balance sheet? That’s not our concern. Instead of calling them stupid, let’s give them credit for doing something that doesn’t follow the usual depressing pattern of cranking out extra product just for merch/retail purposes.

How many teams will be getting new uniform designs as part of the Adidas changeover?

I don’t know. As noted above, the Devils reportedly have a new look in the works, and I imagine we’ll see a few other teams with new designs as well, just as we would in any other year. Just as the NFL’s shift from Reebok to Nike in 2012 didn’t result in a larger-than-usual number of uniform design changes, I don’t necessarily expect the new NHL’s new deal with Adidas to result in large-scale changes. (By contrast, I do expect the NBA’s new deal with Nike to result in a lot of changes, but that’s another subject for another day.)

Will teams all wear the three Adidas stripes on their game jerseys?

I don’t know. But if I had to bet, I’d say no.

Okay, but the NHL is moving ahead with ad patches, right?

Actually, no, there’s no indication of that.

I wouldn’t mind losing the alternates if they went back to wearing white at home. Are they gonna do that?

I don’t think so, unfortunately.

Any thoughts of your own? Discuss.

• • • • •

Screen shot by @SportsFunhouse; click to enlarge

College football goes out with a bang: Jeez, you think Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson was wearing enough bling for last night’s national championship game against Alabama?

Aside from that, it wasn’t a particularly uni-notable game, except for ’Bama linebacker Reuben Foster have a glitch with his striping tape:

• • • • •

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

The NFL playoffs are in full swing, with the participating teams taking their best shot to reach the Super Bowl. One of those teams is the Steelers, who represented here on a classic-looking NFL helmet buggy. And if you look at the auction listing, you can see that they accurately omitted the logo on the other side of the helmet. Good job!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Here’s a press pin/tie clasp commemorating the Joe Willie Super Bowl from 1969 in Miami.

• Most excellent-looking Montreal Expos toque here, eh?

• Another week, another look the Eagles font on this 1970s pin. What’s interesting here are the helmet wings — they’re almost right, but not quite detailed enough. Does that ever bother you, when they’re not precise with the design?

• Seahawks fans toted around this late-1970s-1980s team umbrella. Didn’t need it during home games back then, of course, since the team played in the Kingdome, but Seattle is a rainy place, so an umbrella is still handy.

• I bet this Bobby Orr action figure sold like hotcakes in New England way back when.

• This 1970s New York Football Giants helmet lamp would look good at Uni Watch HQ, no doubt.

• Now why would this 6″ display pin say “Islanders New York” rather than, uh, “New York Islanders”?

• When I spotted this 1970s Dolphins belt buckle, I thought it had a DIY vibe to it, but no — flip it over and there’s your Officially Licensed Product logo right there.

• Here’s a patch for the Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders, of all people. Note how they imaginatively they worked the team logo into the lower part of the “F.”

• Don’t see too many items that say “Phoenix Cardinals,” but that’s what it says on this pennant.

• • • • •

Raffle results: The winner of the Pillbox Bat Company raffle is Peter Piroso. He has chosen navy pinstripes as his bat design. Congrats to him and thanks to all who entered. More raffles coming soon.

• • • • •

KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a somewhat tattered cloth lanyard. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Here’s a promo clip that shows several glimpses of the Indians wearing navy jerseys with red pants (and also, unfortunately, shows lots of fan-made Wahoo signs). … Here’s some rare color footage of the Giants’ last game at the Polo Grounds (from Chris Flinn). … New uniforms for the Kia Tigers, a Korean team (from Dan Kurtz).

NFL News: Steelers DE L.T. Walton wears No. 96, but check out his helmet number from Sunday’s playoff game. The bottom of the 9 and top of the 6 both tore off, leaving him with something that looked like double-zero, or maybe a percent symbol (from Jason Pratt). … Anthony Bowyer was traveling for business in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, and was surprised to see that one of the local political parties had adopted a variation on the Texans’ logo. “I was able to track down some rank-and-file party members, but none had heard of the Houston Texans or had a particular interest in the NFL or American football,” he says, so it’s a bit of a mystery. … Speaking of politicians making use of NFL logos, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a state of the state speech yesterday in Buffalo and used a graphic based on the Bills’ old “standing buffalo” logo. I initially thought, “Eh, that could be any buffalo,” but then I compared it, and it really does seem to be the team logo. … For the 1979 AFC Championship Game, the TV intros for the Steelers’ players show them wearing Pittsburgh Pirates caps (from Marc Viquez).

College Football News: If you’ve been looking for a ranking of Syracuse’s 12 best football uniforms, today’s your lucky day (from Bryan Prouse). … Here’s a faaaaascinating article — disturbing, too — about what happened to a Stanford player’s brain after he took a big hit. He was wearing a sensor-equipped mouthguard, which provided researchers with a wealth of data. Recommended.

Hockey News: 1990s throwbacks upcoming next weekend for the Missouri Mavericks of the ECHL (from @RockChalkDisc). … The Jets wore some very nice throwbacks last night. Lots of additional photos here.

Basketball News: Deadspin has written an article on Bucks G Jabari Parker’s shorts, which expose, in the writer’s words, “miles of leg just hanging out.” They mean that in a good way (from Jeff Ash). … Want your shorts to be shorter? Roll short shorts legs and roll your waistband. That’s St. John’s F Tariq Owens (from @bryanwdc).

Soccer News: New NWSL team: the North Carolina Courage. No word on whether they’ll be getting a celebrity endorsement from Dan Rather.

Grab Bag: Unfortunate logo for the Vermont maple syrup industry, which looks like a guy taking a leak. … The Georgia Swarm — that’s a box lacrosse team — have three flags on their helmets, for their American, Native American, and Canadian players (from Noah Muszall). … New lacrosse uniforms for Missouri Valley College (from @BobE_22lax).

Monday Morning Uni Watch: Wild Card Edition

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Amusing NOB juxtaposition during yesterday’s Giants/Packers Wild Card game, as Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams and New York cornerback Eli Apple had some serendipitous positioning. Kudos to reader Bill Kellick for capturing the moment.

In other news from Saturday’s and Sunday’s playoff games:

• The Packers never wear captaincy patches during the regular season, because they rotate their captains each game. But they always add the “C” patches for the playoffs, when they choose one set of postseason captains. The patches made their annual January reappearance yesterday.

• Prior to the game, Giants wideout Odel Beckham Jr. wore a Lawrence Taylor sweatshirt for pregame warm-ups.

•  Giants wideout Tavarres King, who wears No. 15, wore teammate Larry Donnell’s No. 84 winter hat on the sideline.

• Similarly, Steelers wideout Antonio Brown, who wears No. 84, wore teammate James Harrison’s No. 92 hat.

• It kinda looks like Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley may have cut a hole in his sideline hat in order to accommodate his headset.

• During pregame warm-ups prior to that game, Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry wore a Ricky Williams jersey with alligator skin-patterned numbers.

• Turning to Saturday’s action, here’s an item that Phil had in yesterday’s Ticker, but just in case you missed it: At the Raiders/Texans game, Oakland owner Mark Davis wore a shirt with the old NFL logo.

(My thanks to James Burditt, Andrew Cosentino, and Stephen Hayes for their contributions to this section, and thanks again to Bill Kellick for the splash photo.)

• • • • •

Being a gracious host: With the Steelers and Dolphins facing off in Pittsburgh two days ago, several readers noted that one of their previous playoff meetings in Pittsburgh — the 1972 AFC Championship Game — featured the Dolphins’ team name spelled out in one of the end zones (albeit in Steelers colors).

That would never happen today, of course, but it was actually fairly common (or at least not altogether uncommon) when I was growing up. There are lots of examples shown in this discussion board thread.

The visiting team’s name sometimes also appeared on the padding around one of the goalposts (and the padding was important in those days, because the goalposts hadn’t yet been moved to the back of the end zone). You can sorta/kinda see that in this shot from the 1973 NFC Championship Game, which featured the Cowboys hosting the Vikings at Texas Stadium in Dallas (click to enlarge):

All of this seemed perfectly natural at the time. After all, both teams were playing, and it seemed gracious and sportsmanlike for the home team to acknowledge the visiting team, plus it was a way to promote both teams and, by extension, promote the league. But if you’ve never seen it before, it probably seems weird, or even nonsensical. One guy on Twitter was astonished that it had ever happened and told me that it felt like giving up part of the home-field advantage. I dunno — seems to me that having 80,000 screaming hometown fans would outweigh a word painted in one end zone, but what do I know.

So here’s a question to ponder: Would it bother you if your favorite team painted its opponent’s name in one end zone each week? Would it feel like giving aid and comfort to the enemy? Would you enjoy the variety of the ever-changing designs?

Also: If anyone know of additional examples of this phenomenon (aside from the ones shown in that thread), I’d be interested in seeing them — preferably with visual documentation. I’d also like to know when the practice fell out of favor and stopped.

• • • • •

Curling update: Despite some seriously cold weather and some truly terrible ice, my curling team won again last night, 5-1. That wraps up the season for me — my three teammates will play on through mid-March, but I only signed up for nine weeks. Our record during that span was 7-2 — not bad! Big thanks to Phil for being such a great skip, and to Omoy and Doug for being such excellent teammates.

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Raffle reminder — LAST CALL: Today is the final day to enter the raffle for a custom-painted baseball bat from the Pillbox Bat Company. Details here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Anyone know anything about this obscure 1980s Detroit Tigers logo? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that logo before — or the wordmark, for that matter. (From Christian M. Zummer). … Check out this early photo of the Louisville Slugger bat factory — if that’s what it really is. Those scare quotes raise some doubts (from Buckner’s Knees). … Last Tuesday’s episode of the TV show NCIS: New Orleans featured a scene with a vintage framed New Orleans Pelicans jersey visible in the background. The Cardinals-style jersey design is likely due to the team being affiliated with the Cards from the 1940s through the 1970s (from Chris Adams).

NFL News: Seahawks’ WR Doug Baldwin wears No. 89 in honor of recently retired receiver Steve Smith (thanks Mike). … Weird that Tony Romo is the only player wearing a Color Rush jersey in this promotional poster (from Frank McGuigan). … Jamie Burditt was going through old photos when he found a shot of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry, then assistant coaches with the Giants. Interesting that the “NY logos on their jackets don’t match — Yankees-style for Lombardi, Mets/Giants-style for Landry. … The uniforms in this 1961 Packers/Giants game look a lot like the ones from yesterday (also from Jamie). … It’s hard to imagine a time when teams provided menswear accessories to media members (from BSmile). … Looks like Batman and the City of Gotham poached the Packers’ logo back in the day (from Aaron McHargue).

College Football News: Here’s what Alabama and Clemson will be wearing for tonight’s national championship game. … White pants are on their way for D-III Mount Union (from Adam R. Meyers). … Just about all D1 offensive linemen wear knee braces during practices, and most wear them in games as well, but there’s isn’t much evidence that they actually do any good (from Jason Hillyer).

Hockey News: We have our first on-ice look at the NHL centennial patch on the Penguins’ jerseys (from Jerry). … Speaking of the Penguins, they wore white at home yesterday (from David Shucosky). … You might already know that the Flames wear a Canadian flag on their left shoulder and the flag for the province of Alberta on their right shoulder. But Sean Robbins points out that the Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, wear an American flag on their left shoulder and a California flag on their right shoulder. … The Rangers’ Nick Holden wore an old jersey with a Reebok vector logo to a charity appearance a few weeks ago (from Mike Engle). … The Bakersfield Condors of the AHL played a (rainy) outdoor game on Sunday. They wore warm-up jerseys with a Kern County (California) seal, and wore these sweaters during the game (from Brent Nelson). … The Regina Pats wore Blue Jays-themed jerseys on Friday night (from Shawn Anderson). … Jonathan Toews lost a bet to Patrick Kane on the World Junior Championship game and had to wear Kane’s Team USA jersey from the 2014 Olympics (from Marc-Louis Paprzyca).

NBA News:The Kings wore black at home last night, with Golden State wearing white on the road (from Zach Loesl). … The Cavaliers are already selling Kyle Korver jerseys, but this promotional Tweet doesn’t include a gold championship tab on the back collar (from Kevin J. Chmura).

College Hoops News: Color-on-color matchup on Saturday between Louisiana-Monroe in maroon and Louisiana-Lafayette in sleeved greys (from Travis Webb). … Wisconsin (red) and Purdue (grey) also went color-on-color Sunday (from Beau Parsons). … Fauxback uniforms the Providence women (from Joey Misdemeanor). … Not quite sure what’s going on in this 1950 UNC game program, but I dig it (from James Gilbert).

Soccer News: Anyone else know the meaning behind the number design for teams in second-tier English soccer this season? (From Steve in Florida.) … Atalanta forward Alejandro Gomez wore a Frozen-themed armband to mark his daughter’s birthday (from The Boot Room).

Grab Bag: Cyling note from Paul Holdsworth who provided a rundown of what every team will be wearing in the UCI (Cycling) World Tour this year. … Back in 1989, Mizuno developed a women’s volleyball unitard that looked a lot like a one-piece bathing suit. Japanese women’s star Motoko Ohbayashi, who wore the unitard in competition, recalled, “It was easy to move in. However, with the unitard alone, it could look like you were wearing underwear, so we had to wear a body suit (for the top with sleeves) and leggings (for the legs), so it was really difficult to go to the bathroom with the unitard on” (from Jeremy Brahm).

• • • • •

A life well lived: Whenever I start writing for a magazine or website, there’s usually someone on staff who I really admire, someone who makes me think, “Shit, I can’t believe my byline gets to run alongside that byline!” When I started writing for ESPN’s Page 2 back in 2004, for example, Hunter S. Thompson was also writing for P2. Granted, his powers were pretty diminished from their long-ago peak, but still — shit, I couldn’t believe my byline got to run alongside Hunter S. Thompson’s byline!

When Uni Watch began as a column in The Village Voice in 1999, I thought, “Shit, I can’t believe my byline gets to run alongside Nat Hentoff’s!” At that time, Hentoff had been America’s preeminent civil libertarian journalist for a generation, writing obsessively and brilliantly about the Bill of Rights and, especially, the First Amendment. His column was usually the first thing I read each week in the Voice. He also had a deep history in the jazz world, both as one of the scene’s top writers and also as the A&R director for the Candid Records label (I’m listening to an LP he produced as I write this, and I have lots of albums for which he wrote the liner notes). He wasn’t just someone I admired; he was one of my heroes.

Nat Hentoff died on Saturday at the age of 91. He hadn’t written for the Voice since 2009, when, like all the other grown-ups at the paper, he was laid off. I hadn’t kept up with much of his post-Voice work, but his death still feels like a major loss. He had deep, deep principles that he always stuck to, and he was really good at articulating them. I didn’t always agree with him, but I always respected him, and there were lots of times when I was faced with an issue and thought to myself, “Hmmmm — how would Nat Hentoff respond to this?” I didn’t always do what I thought he would do, but it was always useful to run the situation through my internal Hentoff filter. It was sort of like using him to be (or at least shape) my conscience.

Hentoff was, for the most part, a leftist, but not in the doctrinaire sense. He took controversial stances by steadfastly opposing abortion rights and hate speech statutes, for example. In short, he was a complicated cat, and the many facets of his persona were nicely captured in a really great 2013 documentary, called The Pleasures of Being Out of Step. Here’s the trailer:

I never got to meet Hentoff at the Voice (I rarely ventured to the offices, and I’m not sure he did either). But one Saturday night about a dozen years ago I stopped at a storefront newsstand in the West Village and there was my hero Nat Hentoff, buying the early edition of the Sunday paper. He chatted a bit with the proprietor, who asked him if he’d finally started using a computer. Hentoff said his electric typewriter had always been fine and he saw no reason to change.

I thought about approaching him and telling him how much I admired him and his work, but then I thought better of it and the moment passed — something I now regret. He had a really interesting life, and I mourn his death. RIP.

Wild Card Unis *almost* Mirror Images

1-7-17 Playoff Games 550
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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.

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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):

Chiefs 1 Chiefs 2

Cowboys 1 Cowboys 2

Dolphins 1 Dolphins 2

Falcons 1 Falcons 2

Giants 1 Giants 2

Lions 1 Lions 2

Packers 1 Packers 2

Patriots 1 Patriots 2

Raiders 1 Raiders 2

Seahawks 1 Seahawks 2

Steelers 1 Steelers 2

Texans 1 Texans 2

Thanks, Ben — it’s amazing how even just removing the swoosh and the shield those unis look quite a bit better. Great stuff!

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UW Friday Flashback 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).

Check out the Friday Flashback here.


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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

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?

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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.


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“(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.

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