This illustration of Darryl Strawberry was done by LeRoy Neiman I’ve never been much of a Neiman fan, but the Strawberry image is part of a series of sketches that appear in the new issue of Victory Journal, the magazine published by longtime Uni Watch comrades No Mas, and I really like them. Here, check out these depictions of Vida Blue and Broadway Joe:
I love how spare and primitive these images are — much better than Neiman’s signature large-scale paintings, which I’ve always found to be too busy, too fussy. Wanna see more? These next spreads show, in order, former heavyweight champ Sonny Liston skipping rope and hitting the heavy bag; Grand Prix driver Ayrton Senna; 1972 World Chess Championship contenders Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky; and boxing promoter Don King and Pistol Pete Maravich:
The Neiman portfolio is one of several excellent features in this new issue of Victory Journal. In case you’re not familiar with it, Victory is an oversized publication — 11″ x 17″ — and the production values are pretty stunning. If there’s a better publication for sports visuals right now, I’m not aware of it. When they bleed a photo across like the gutter to create a two-page spread, as they did with these shots of the Dolphins’ cheerleaders and a New Orleans high school football team, the colors and details really pop:
There’s also a big feature on bullfighting, which includes a unexpected uni-related photo — this shot of a picador adjusting his leg armor:
There’s more — a lot more — but I don’t want to give away the whole store. Suffice it to say that it’s very impressive, and it’d make a great stocking stuffer to boot. You can purchase a copy here.
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Can’t wait to hear what The Jeff has to say about this one: Bizarre scene last night in Charlotte, as the Hornets wore their teal alts and the Celtics wore their road greens, creating a color-vs.-color matchup that might charitably be considered to have had less than the optimal amount of contrast. Granted, it wasn’t as bad as last season’s Knicks/Hawks fiasco, but still. (Lots of additional photos here.)
But to give credit where it’s due, whoever was behind this move has succeeded in getting me to write a sentence I never thought would come out of my keyboard: They would’ve been better off if the Celtics had worn their sleeved gray alts.
After 14 weeks, it occurred to me that I never redesigned the NFL logo to fit this project. I’ve finally done that, using the 1990s Marvel Comics logo as inspiration — you’ll see it in this week’s design.
Speaking of which: Tonight’s game is between the Cardinals and Rams, and I’m happy to bring in one of the comics world’s most popular and funny anti-heroes and an equally popular villain from the Marvel films (click to enlarge):
For the Cardinals, I figured I needed a hero with a red mask and some heavy black around the eyes. Got to be Spider-Man, right? Wrong — this is Deadpool, baby! Aside from the colors, the clincher for me is the point at the top back of his mask, which is always drawn in comics and mimics the same spot on Arizona’s team logo. Since Marvel’s “Merc With A Mouth” does occasionally get decapitated, it seemed fitting to have his head appear ripped off here as well.
For the Rams, it’s all about the horns. Trying to find a hero with curved horns is a tough task, but a villain is much easier. Marvel’s Loki has the most distinctive golden horns in all of comics, and I managed to include the eye, teeth, and back of St. Louis’s ram head logo. This should make for a nice pairing next time the Rams face the Vikings (Thor) in the NFL.
The final NFL Superhero matchup takes place next week, between the Titans and the Jaguars. Who will be the heroes that represent these last two teams? Post your guesses in today’s comments.
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Theoretical stocking stuffers: Wouldn’t it be great, hypothetically speaking, if shirts like these were available this holiday season? If you like discussing hypothetical situations, get in touch and we’ll have a deep philosophical dialogue.
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Coolest two minutes you’ll spend today: The video I’m about to show you defies description, but it includes team logos, patches, boxing gloves, a football, a soccer ball, tube socks, and several other sports-related visual elements. And for bonus points, it’s set in a delicatessen. Trust me when I say it is totally worth the two minutes it takes to watch it:
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Mike’s Question of the Week By Mike Chamernik
Which stadiums and arenas that you’ve visited have you found to be overwhelming? In other words, which venues have really impressed you, either by exceeding expectations or catching you off guard with their awesomeness? What stood out about these places?
Also, which venues have underwhelmed and disappointed you, and why?
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Uni Watch News Ticker By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: The Braves released some artist renderings of their new ballpark. “There is a lack of attention to detail here,” says Michael Rich. “For one, the traffic on the highway is traveling in the wrong direction (first image). Second, it’s blurry, but the home team appears to be losing on the scoreboard (third image). As someone discovered and posted in the comments, the artist picked a real scoreboard from a game the Braves won in 2011 — in Nationals Park. Also, not only did they pick a road scoreboard, they picked the final Braves win of the 2011 season, which saw the Braves execute a historic September collapse to miss the playoffs on the final day of the season.”
NFL News: The Bengals will wear white jerseys with black pants on Sunday. … In October of 1989, Browns CB Hanford Dixon had his pants slip down while making a tackle, revealing some pink compression shorts. “The very first Pinktober,” says Matt Barnett. … The ’Skins wore some reflective numbers in 1938 (from Jeff Flynn). … Buffalo Bills cheerleaders were paid less than mimimum wage but were still required to spend $650 on their own uniforms. … A Bucco Bruce helmet made an appearance in the latest episode of New Girl. … In reference to yesterday’s Ticker, it seems that having the visiting team’s wordmark in the end zone wasn’t just a one-time thing. In the 1983-84 AFC Championship Game, the Seahawks had their logo in an end zone at the LA Coliseum, and in 1986-87, the Broncos had their wordmark at Cleveland Stadium (from Matt Larsen and Kevin Ortiz, respectively). … Ndamukong Suh had two pairs of gloves with him for the Lions’ most recent game. “I know players put their gloves on their facemask all the time, but this was my first time seeing a player doing so while already wearing a different set entirely,” says James Thomas. … Colin Kaepernick designed caps for New Era (from Tommy Turner). … Here’s a great shot of the 1939 NFL Championship Game between the Packers and Giants — look at that official with “NFL” on his back! And here’s what the game’s program looked like. Excellent stuff. Green Bay won the game 27-0 (from Bruce Menard).
College Football News: Here’s what the College Football Playoff National Championship ring will look like (from Phil). … George Monroe spotted an Ohio State fan’s car. … Here’s the patch West Virginia and Texas A&M will wear in the Liberty Bowl. … A character on the show The Middle attends Notre Dame, so he wore a jacket with both an ND logo and logo creep on it (from Matt Williams).
Grab Bag: The Anaheim Ducks have created a farewell logo — and possible jersey patch? — for Teemu Selanne (from Chuck Eldridge). … Caddyshack-themed hats are now on sale (from Andy Horne). … “Some interesting jerseys have been unveiled for the NRL Auckland Nines rugby league comp,” says Kerry Hudson. “Many of the designs are quite ‘loud’ compared to the teams’ normal jerseys. Also, two sleeveless designs, one of which features a charity’s logo on the front.” … New logo for Impact Wrestling, also known as TNA Wrestling.
As you know, Nike has already won the college football playoff because all four of the semifinalists are Nike-outfitted schools. So now the swooshkateers are all “In your face, Under Armour!” (But they’re not even mentioning Adidas — you know, just to rub it in.) The actual playoff is therefore a meaningless formality — an exhibition, basically — but yesterday Nike took a victory lap by releasing the uniforms that those four schools will be wearing, just because.
I’ve prepared a slideshow for each one, plus an additional slideshow for the footwear (if you can’t see the slideshows below because you’re on a mobile device, you can click to go directly to the Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, and footwear photos):
A few thoughts:
• Nike inexplicably chose to show home unis for Florida State and Ohio State, even though those teams are the No. 3 and 4 seeds and will presumably be the designated road team. Several hours after Nike’s uniform announcement, a Florida State blog confirmed that the Seminoles will be wearing their road uni, not the home uni that Nike showed. No similar announcement yet from Ohio State, but it’s a safe bet that they’ll be wearing white (even if the NCAA wanted to grant a color-on-color waiver for the playoff games, that wouldn’t work for the Alabama/OSU game, because you’d end up with red vs. red). So why did Nike release these uniforms instead of the ones that will actually be worn? Go back and re-read the bit about how these games are just exhibitions from Nike’s perspective.
• The Nike logo on all the jerseys and pants is diamond-patterned. Not the team logos on the collars (or on the nose bumpers or anywhere else) — the Nike logos. Because this college football playoff system is, you know, all about Nike.
• The Oregon uniform is interesting, at least to the extent that they’re dispensing with the helmet feather and going with the “O” helmet logo (and the Donald Duck nose bumper — nice).
• The Ohio State jersey has some interesting elements (the sleeve stripes, the black TV numbers), but there’s no point in discussing them because there’s no way the Buckeyes will be wearing this design.
• I think the shoes are pretty nice.
And there you have it. Remember, when betting on these games, just bet on Nike. Can’t lose!
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Click to enlarge
A contagious case of mono: At the beginning of the 2001 season, only one NFL team in the Super Bowl era had ever worn a solid-colored uniform (obviously not counting mono-white, which I’m not including for the purposes of this exercise). By the end of the 2002 season, all of teams shown above had done so, along with the Saints and Jaguars. My latest ESPN column examines the rise of going mono-colored and also provides a team-by-team breakdown of which teams have done it, which teams can and can’t do it, and which teams should and shouldn’t do it — check it out here.
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Couldn’t happen to two nicer folks: Word came last night that Nike is suing three of its former designers who left the company in September. The suit alleges that the designers stole trade secrets and will be using those to conduct business with Adidas. Here’s the crux of it:
The lawsuit, which asks for more than $10 million in damages, alleges that before the three [designers] left Nike, they were already consulting with Adidas. To further sell themselves and capitalize on their position, Nike says Dekovic [one of the designers] had the contents of his laptop duplicated, which gave him access to “thousands of proprietary documents relating to Nike’s global football (soccer) product lines” where Adidas and Nike most fiercely battle. …
Nike says the three [designers] had signed a noncompete contract that spanned to September 2015. Yet less than two weeks after the three resigned, Adidas announced that it would back a Brooklyn-based design studio managed by [the three designers].
Even though Adidas said at the time that the three wouldn’t work for them until 2015, Nike remained concerned about the trade secrets it claims were stolen from them.
Will this suit leave both companies with huge legal bills that they’ll pass along to gullible consumers in the form of inflated prices for their already overpriced wares? One can only hope.
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Uni Watch earns prestigious accolade:Forbes, a highly respected business magazine that people often mistakenly think I used to write for (I was actually a columnist for Fortune; people at both magazines are used to this mix-up, which happens all the time), has published a list of 100 “must follow” Twitter accounts pertaining to sports business. It’s annoyingly spread out over seven screens, with no single-page option, so I’ll save you the trouble and tell you that @uniwatch is listed on the fifth page.
This is, of course, a tremendous honor — especially considering that probably half of my tweets are just retweets of stuff that Phil posts (and the only reason I even bother to do that is because Phil emails me the links to his tweets). Even funnier, Rovell didn’t make the list, which tells you everything you need to know about internet lists and general and this one in particular. And people wonder why I don’t like doing ranking- and list-based columns.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go add “Named a ‘must follow’ Twitter-er” to my résumé.
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Membership update: Another batch of designs has been added to the membership card gallery (including Gareth Hammond’s card, shown at right, which is based on Liverpool’s 1990-91 jersey — great job by Scott on this one). The printed/laminated versions of these cards should mail out by the end of the week.
We’re now fully caught up with the flood of orders we received when I posted that “Now or maybe never” notice last month. Thanks for the outpouring of enrollments — we’ve really enjoyed working on them.
The membership program will definitely stay open for another month or so, and hopefully longer. If enrollment slows back down to the glacial pace we were at before last month’s announcement, I may pull the plug, but we’ll see. For now, I’m very happy with all the recent activity — thanks again.
As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can buy a membership gift voucher here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we make the cards here.
Pro Football News: Love this wrapper from a 1966 pack of Topps football cards (big thanks to BSmile). … Check out these bars of Cleveland Browns soap (from John Sheehan). … Ah, Lambeau Field, a classy haven of legendary refinement. … Lots of readers noted that Cam Newton’s car crash yesterday was sponsored by Under Armour. … Here’s more on that Harry Potter figurine that was on the Eagles sideline on Sunday (from Jonathan Daniel). … Yesterday was Dick Butkus’s birthday so the Bears posted a Butkus photo gallery. Interestingly, a few of the photos show the Bears wearing jerseys without sleeve stripes, which I’m pretty sure means it was a preseason game. There’s also a shot of the Bears wearing the block-numbered road jerseys that were briefly used in 1971, and this shot of Butkus in a Pro Bowl uni (from Jim Howicz). … Jim Cramer, a professional entertainer who plays a financial advisor on TV, is a big Eagles fan, but he must have lost a bet regarding last Sunday’s Eagles/Seahawks game because he wore a Seattle jersey on the air yesterday (screen shot by Chris Howell). … Green Bay’s indoor football team, the Blizzard, has a new logo (from Jeff Ash). … Steve Santillo was watching the 1985 AFC championship game between the Dolphins and Pats and was surprised to see that one end zone featured the Pats’ team name, even though the game was in Miami. Also: The “S” looks upside-down and the “I” kinda looks like it was added as an afterthought. Sloppy work. … Good catch by Lee David Wilds, who noticed that Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount’s visor tabs were silver (or maybe clear, with the silver of the helmet showing through) early in last Sunday’s Pats/Chargers game and were then dark later in the game. Did he switch visors? Switch helmets?
Hockey News: Great job by Brian Rowland, who is tracking all the equipment — helmets, visors, gloves, sticks, skates, etc. — worn by L.A. Kings players. … The Canadiens appear to be going for some sort of record with their memorial “4” for Jean Bevileau. First it was on the helmets, then it was on the jerseys, and now it’s on the ice behind the nets (from Matt Larsen). … Isles LW Matt Martin tore his jersey in a fight (from Dan Schneeman). … We’ve seen the NHL All-Star Game logo, but there’s also an All-Star Winter Park logo (from Leo Strawn Jr.).
NBA News: NBA commish Adam Silver has commented on the “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts: “I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues, but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules.” No indication that the players will be fined, though. … Silver and others who don’t like to see athletes wearing these social commentary T-shirts can take heart in the fact that yesterday’s release of the Senate report on CIA torture didn’t prompt a single NBA player to wear a shirt that said, “I Can’t Breathe (Because I’m Being Waterboarded).”
Soccer News: The Bank of Nova Scotia has struck a new sponsorship deal for the Gold Cup, which is the championship for national teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. … Manchester City’s new training facility features 16 training pitches, one of which is sky blue Field Turf (from Cort McMurray). … The 2nd round of the English FA Cup featured a pink and black ball (from Graham Clayton).
One of the happiest days of December here at Uni Watch HQ is the annual arrival of a package from longtime reader/baker Elena Elms, who always sends me an assortment of uni-themed holiday cookies. This year, as you can see above, she chose to honor Derek Jeter. Having spent the past two decades rooting hard against Jeter and his team, I’ll be biting into these cookies with extra gusto.
But wait, there’s more. This year, for the first time, Elena included something for Uni Watch mascots Tucker and Caitlin — a pair of hand-sewn Jeter jersey catnip toys (click to enlarge):
These were a big, big hit with their target audience. Tucker and Caitlin could tell there was something for them in the box before I even opened it, and I had a hard time keeping them away from the catnip toys long enough to photograph them. (I pretty much had one hand holding the camera and used the other to try to keep the kitties at bay.) Once I got the photos, I put the toys down on the floor, where — well, see for yourself:
I enjoy thinking that the catnip jerseys are functioning like voodoo dolls, and that Derek Jeter is even now feeling the kitties’ cold, wet sandpaper tongues against his body. Squirm, Derek! The only question now is whether I can sell the “game-used” catnip toys to Jeter’s auction house, Steiner Sports. (Kidding. Mostly.)
Thanks so much for your generosity and thoughtfulness, Elena — you’re the best.
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Collector’s Corner By Brinke Guthrie
Dave Boss alert! Never seen this Jets poster before. These Chargers and Bills posters are new to me, too — wow! This last one isn’t Boss, but you can’t beat the style and contemporary graphics of this Oilers poster, either.
You say you want more than just posters? Okay, then — here’s the rest of this week’s eBay haul:
• We all know it doesn’t get much better NFL gear-wise than Sears from the 1970s, and this is Exhibit 1-A: Cool Sears Chicago Bears varsity jacket, with matching gloves. Had one of these in Bengals style, as I recall.
• Do you think any team these days would go with a logo as simple and goofy the 1960s Cincinnati Royals logo shown on this set of four bar glasses?
• We’ve featured 1970s NFL switchplates before, but I’ve never seen this pose or these KC Chiefs graphics before.
• Here’s a set of four vintage 1970s MLB bumper stickers for assorted teams (plus a 1971 game program thrown in for good measure).
• First time I’ve seen the classic 1970s Placo brand helmet plaque with the red Bills helmet.
• Check out the psychedelic cover art on this 1973 Detroit Tigers yearbook. “The Champions of the East.” And I owned this 1973 Reds yearbook — I’d buy these the first day they came out, usually at the “580 Building” Reds gift shop near Fountain Square.
• And we wrap up this week with some vintage NFL Helmet Buggys. We’ve got the Stillers right here, and that same seller also has the Pats and Giants.
College and High School Football News: The TCU Horned Frogs wore a helmet sticker for the late Jim Swink during their victory over Iowa State. … Army is wearing black on black for the game against Navy this Saturday, and Navy is wearing a custom uniform inspired by the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag (thanks, Phil). … Virginia Tech is wearing flag-themed helmets at the Military Bowl (from Andrew Cosentino). … Readers Ryan Knarr and Tim Brulia both sent in this story about the Pennsylvania high school football state semi-finals. It was a neutral-site game in Altoona, and both teams — Bishop McDevitt and Central Valley — were under the assumption they would be visitors on the scoreboard, so both brought their white jerseys. The PIAA wouldn’t allow a white vs. white game, so McDevitt played the first half in Altoona’s maroon jerseys, which were readily available because they were playing in Altoona’s stadium. McDevitt’s home blue uniforms arrived during the first half, and they switched tops at intermission.
Hockey News: Spy vs. Spy: Here is a spy picture of the upcoming San Jose Sharks uniform for the 2015 NHL Stadium Series (thanks, Paul). … “Check out the Gunzo’s logo on Denis Savard’s jersey. “Gunzo’s is a hockey supply store in Chicago and Morton Grove, Illinois,” explains Matt DeLeon.
NBA News: It’s spreading: Several Cleveland and Brooklyn players, including LeBron James, wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts while warming up for last night’s Cavs/Nets game at the Barclays Center. Both teams’ coaches said they were in favor of the move, and there’s been no indication that anyone will be penalized by the league for not wearing official shooting shirts.
College Hoops News: Reader Gregory Koch sent in this tweet from the UConn Trademark representative that implies that the UConn basketball team may wear throwbacks at some point, but not this year. … Illinois will debut new silver uniforms on tonight against Villanova.
Grab Bag: Belgian cycling team Omega Pharma-Quick Step becomes Etixx-Quick Step for 2015. This is a picture of the new kit (from Sean Clancy).
Lions running back Reggie Bush, Browns safety Johnson Bademosi, and Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram became the latest pro athletes to engage in some pregame social commentary when they wore T-shirts emblazoned with “I Can’t Breathe” — the last words spoken by New York City chokehold victim Eric Garner — while warming up for their respective games yesterday. Their gestures came one day after NBA player Derrick Rose wore a similar shirt during pregame warm-ups on Saturday night (and there may be more of that upcoming in the NBA, because LeBron James says he’s looking for a shirt of his own [although it’s not clear why he can’t simply grab a Sharpie or whatever]).
It’s particularly interesting that Bush took this initiative, because his mother is a police officer. Further info on his thinking and the reaction to his move here.
In other uni-related news from around the NFL yesterday:
• Speaking of the Bengals, wideout A.J. Green was wearing Oregon State cleats yesterday. The weird thing is, he didn’t attend OSU — he went to Georgia. In fact, nobody on the entire Bengals roster went to OSU. Hmmmm.
(My thanks to all contributors, including Jeff Flynn, Curtis Galvin, Brinke Guthrie, Mikhail Herrera, MH2212, Vince Maeda, David Nichols, Ty Schwab, Jeff Stumm, and of course Phil.)
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Baseball News: When MLB had everyone wear those lame-o Twins-inspired caps for this past season’s All-Star Game, everyone wondered, “What will they do for the 2015 ASG in Cincinnati?” Some of us speculated that they might go with old-timey pillbox caps. And judging from the patches the Reds were wearing at their annual Redsfest event over the weekend, that speculation looks dead-on accurate. Meanwhile, how many players will grow mustaches for the game, and/or how many Reds will wear mustaches all season long? … Garth Brooks wore a Cardinals jersey onstage the other night. “I’m guessing the Cards gave him number 14 simply for the year 2014,” says Matt Larsen, “but at first I thought, ‘Is Garth a big Ken Boyer fan?'”
College Football News: Temple has two players named Nate Smith, so they both wear FNOB with their middle initials (from Kevin Kolb). … What’s that thing on Marcus Mariota’s elbow — a honeycomb-patterned bandage? Solar panel? Something else? … Could Penn State’s football team be planning a pink-trimmed uniform, as the basketball team has done? Maybe (from William Yurasko).
Hockey News: The Sharks will be be unveiling their Stadium Series jersey later this month, but has it already leaked? Maybe, maybe not. Not a bad design, but I still don’t understand why teams need a separate uniform for these Stadium Series games to begin with. Part of the fun should be the incongruity of seeing a familiar uniform in an unfamiliar setting.