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[Deputy Editor’s note: You guys may recall that last year, I asked uniform and logo designer Todd Radom if he’d share some of his logo case studies during Paul’s vacation, and he happily obliged. I had planned on running this one while Paul was on vacation, but I had enough ledes to carry me through, but I wanted to be sure to share this awesome one as we prepare for the Rams to open the season back in LA tomorrow! I’m sure you guys will enjoy it. It was originally published on September 6, 2013 — Phil]
Athletes as Artists — Andrew McCutchen and the 1948 Los Angeles Rams
By Todd Radom
Andrew McCutchen is an All Star center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player award in the National League. “Cutch” is rightly cited by many as a role model; raised in humble circumstances by hard-working parents, he is deeply involved with many charitable causes both in Pittsburgh and on a national level.
Not only that—his talents extend to the visual arts.
I recently issued an artistic challenge to McCutchen on Twitter, the results of which were fantastic. The man can draw. Turns out that he has always loved the arts—the challenge originated with an interview that my good friend Buster Olney did with McCutchen for ESPN’s E:60. During the interview McCutchen discussed his talent for drawing and his desire to go to art school.
This exchange got me thinking about other athletes who had artistic abilities and one name came to mind: Fred Gehrke.
Fred Gehrke is recognized as the first designer to incorporate a logo or insignia on a professional football helmet. He was also a star running back for the 1948 Los Angeles Rams and a 10-year NFL veteran.
An art major at the University of Utah, Gehrke joined the Rams in 1940. He worked as an aircraft technical illustrator for Northrop Aircraft in Los Angeles during World War II.
A 1994 Sports Illustrated article about Gehrke and his artistic creation states the following:
Fred Gehrke liked everything about football except the leather helmets he and his fellow NFL players had to wear. “My gosh, I loved the game,” says Gehrke, 76, who was a halfback and defensive back for the Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams during the 1940s and for the Chicago Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers in 1950. “But those gosh-awful helmets we used to wear? At best, you’d have to call them dull.”
So one day after the 1947 season, during which the Los Angeles Rams had gone 6-6, Gehrke took matters into his own hands. Deciding that his teammates needed inspiration, he went to coach Bob Snyder with an idea. “I told him we needed to put some kind of design on our helmets,” Gehrke says. “No other team had anything like that, and I thought it was time for a change.”
Gehrke, who had majored in art at the University of Utah, painted one of the team’s brown helmets dark blue and then added the now familiar yellow horns. He and Snyder presented the helmet to the Rams’ owner, Dan Reeves, who liked both the idea and the design. Gehrke took 75 helmets home with him that summer and decorated them all. He was paid a dollar for each paint job.
The article goes on to cite the first usage for the helmets as September 2, 1948, an exhibition game against the Washington Redskins, but that is not so-the following Los Angeles Times clipping shows that the Rams wore their new helmets in an in August 25 inter-squad scrimmage at Hollywood’s Gilmore Stadium, attended by 11,205 fans.
Gehrke was a versatile player for the Rams, playing both ways and returning punts and kickoffs. His versatility extended to the maintenance and care of the Rams’ helmets—he said that “for two years I touched up the bonnets after every game. I kept a can of blue paint and a can of gold paint in my locker, and even took them along on road trips.”
Riddell introduced plastic football helmets to the NFL in 1949—the Rams’ horns were then baked right into the plastic, thus ending Gehrke’s helmet repair career. He retired from the NFL after the 1950 season, then became a pro football scout and executive, eventually becoming the general manager of the Denver Broncos in 1976. He passed away at the age of 83 in 2002, his unique legacy as artist/athlete forever secure.
In recognition of his Rams helmet design, the Pro Football Hall of Fame honored Gehrke in 1972 with the first Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Pioneer Award for a “significant, innovative contribution to professional football.”
The Sports Illustrated article further quoted Gehrke as saying the following: “I spent the better part of my life in football, and I’ll be best remembered for some work I did with a paintbrush, but that’s O.K. “I’ve been called the Da Vinci of football helmets, and that’s not all bad.”
Program from first regular season game that the Rams wore decorated helmets
Thanks so much, Todd, for allowing me to share this article with the readership! Great, great stuff as always. You’re the best, buddy — see you at Shea this Wednesday!
“Leo’s World” is a new, semi-recurring feature here on Uni Watch weekends, 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 most of the images below to enlarge. — PH
Familiar Gridiron Players (and a Basketball Player) in Unfamiliar Aussie Rules Uniforms
By Leo Strawn, Jr.
The Australian Football League season is gearing up for the Grand Final, the AFL’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. Since NFL/NCAA football is underway I thought this might be fun…and very difficult, oi!
For our Aussie edition, rather than our usual Familiar Players in Unfamiliar Uniforms scoring system of 6 questions and an extra point (equivalent to a TD and PAT), Australian rules football scoring is 6 points for a goal and 1 point for a behind (goal kick that doesn’t quite hit the mark, essentially going “behind” the goal post). However, a behind isn’t kicked after a goal like a PAT so if you want to score 7 points you must kick a behind first, then intercept the kick from the goal square and score your goal…everything is upside down in Australia! Keeping with that theme, the “behind” question in today’s edition is a reversal of the rest: It’s about an American who was a basketball player before playing Aussie rules. Following that are 6 Australians who played football in USA after playing footy in Australia and who must be identified in their Aussie rules kits, except for the last one who is pictured in his gridiron uniform.
Answers in today’s edition will contain three links, one for a photo of their American playing days, one for a Wiki bio, and a third for additional info. (Note: AFL in this edition refers only to Australian Football League, not American Football League.)
Ready? No Googling…
If you know the name of the American and former Oklahoma State Cowboy basketball player who now stars at forward and ruck for the Collingwood Magpies and is the tallest player in VFL/AFL history; he finished tied for fifth in goal kicking for the Pies in his rookie season of 2016 while kicking the club’s second highest goals/game average.
This former punter for the Dallas Cowboys, whose tragic murder has gone unsolved for 23 years, played for the Victorian Football League’s Carlton Blues on the reserve squad and was a 1956 Olympian in the high jump. He is pictured here showing Aussie rules legend Ron Barassi how Americans throw a football.
This former midfielder for the AFL Brisbane Lions and Port Adelaide Power made waves as a punter, returner and wide receiver in Hawai’i.
This former Geelong Cats captain played 12 years in AFL before becoming the oldest NFL rookie in 2005 and tied an NFL record in 2009 with 42 punts inside the 20.
Playing a few games for the West Coast Eagles and 5 years with Melbourne Demons, this forward averaged 2.8 goals/game, leading the Demons in goalkicking for two of those seasons in VFL/AFL before becoming a two-time NFL Pro Bowler.
This player broke #3’s record to become the oldest rookie in NFL history after a stellar 15 year career with Collingwood Magpies and the Kangaroos, leading the Pies in goalkicking every season from 1993-99 and ranking 13th all-time among VFL/AFL goalscorers upon retirement.
This player’s kicking prowess was legendary in the early days of American football; he played for Melbourne Fuchsias and Essendon FC in the VFA (predecessor to the VFL which is now known as AFL) before coming to the USA to play football in college and later coached at Notre Dame and Missouri. Sadly, I couldn’t find even a team photo from his days at Melbourne and Essendon but I would be remiss if I did not include him on this list because of his place in college football history, so here is a photo of him from his college football days.
Behind. Basketball photo here, bio here and additional info here
#1. Gridiron photo here, bio here and additional info here
#2. Gridiron photo here, bio here and additional info here
#3. Gridiron photo here, bio here and additional info here
#4. Gridiron photo here, bio here and additional info here
#5. Gridiron photo here, bio here and additional info here
#6. Another college football photo here, team photo here, bio here and additional info here
How did you fare today? This one was really tough…like an Aussie footballer!
Till next time…
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Glad to have you back on the weekends!!!
Paul’s Latest on ESPN
With the Ryder Cup set to begin in two weeks, Paul had an ESPN piece on Friday about Team USA’s new uniforms. Paul notes, “I don’t often write about golf, so this was an interesting change of pace for me, and the finished piece includes quotes from Team USA captain Davis Love III; his wife, Robin Love (the captain’s wife traditionally has a role in creating the team’s look); and the PGA’s merchandising director.”
It’s a great read, so check it out here.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: A New Kinston, N.C., baseball team has narrowed its new name choices to five options (from James Gilbert). … Have you ever wanted to customize your (New Balance) cleats? Well, New Balance will let you customize your (New Balance) cleats. … Surprised this custom Blue Jays jersey got through the sponsors (from Anthony Delfino). … Tweeter Bill Madison asks, is @NewEraCap logo getting added to MLB game caps? … I’ve got a better word than “priceless”: “When two @MasterCard cardholders join the @RedSox team photo… That’s a #Priceless Picture”. … The Atlanta Braves have cut ties with the Carolina Mudcats (h/t James Gilbert). … His pajama pants were hiding them for most of the night, but check out Matt Kemp’s socks (from Tony Andela).
NFL News: The NFL has banned Adidas Yeezy cleats and Kanye probably won’t be happy. … From our own Mike Chamernik: “Interesting tidbit from yesterday’s deadspin funbag: This week I went to the NFL Shop to order a Pat Williams jersey …. only to discover that I couldn’t. If you’re buying a jersey from the NFL Shop, there are strict rules on customization beyond the standard “No HARAMBE 69 jerseys”-type shit. If you choose the number of an active player, you have to have THAT player’s name on it. You can’t use TRUMP, or BIG AL, or your name … or an old player who also had that number. This is almost certainly due to merch agreements with the NFLPA and perhaps retired players as well. Sure enough, the site won’t allow you to customize a Calvin Johnson Lions jersey, a Peyton Manning Colts jersey, a Randy Moss Vikings jersey, and so on. Though, you CAN customize a jersey with an active player’s number.” … The Cleveland Browns will be wearing orange/white/brown/orange for this Sunday’s game (thanks to Robert Hayes). … Dolphins fans are taking to burning Miami jerseys to protest four players who took a knee during the ‘phins last game. … Reason #246 for not spending hundreds on a polyester shirt: “Got a 2016 @RAIDERS #NikeElite jersey & it doesn’t have the black outline on the numbers like it should,” (from Val Sobrevilla). … Paul had great coverage of the Bills/Jets Color Rash game yesterday, but if you didn’t get enough, here are the 11 best photos from that game. … The Tampa Bay Bucs will be going pewter/white/white/pewter tomorrow (from Tory Thompson). … This isn’t exactly news to Uni Watchers, but here’s an article entitled, “An NFL safety rule is limiting the full potential of new uniform designs,” which discusses how the NFL’s one helmet rule affects such things as throwbacks and Color Rash (from Josh Claywell). Paul is referenced in that article. … The Jaguars have their old shoulder pad numbers on their color rush jerseys (from BROKEN Brother Famor). … Whoops, looks like Madden
improved fucked up the jersey number fonts for the Vikings Color Rash jerseys (they’ll have the ‘sail font’). From Joshua Kramer).
College Football News: LSU will be wearing some awesome throwbacks today — so they decided to colorize a photo of Y.A. Tittle in said uniform. … J. Vince “found this at a local department store. He’s pretty sure this is not how visor “decals” work. … Louisiana Tech will be going red/red/red for today’s game against Texas Tech (from JJ Sledge). … Yeezy cleats may be (at least temporarily) banned by the NFL, but it looks like Louisville will be set up in them (from Heath Newman). … Today, in a big matchup vs. Florida State, the Louisville Cardinals will be remembering Muhammad Ali with a butterfly tribute, including this helmet sticker and this butterfly field art (you can read more here). FSU apparently shares these sentiments (h/t Christy). And here are U of L’s plans for today (from DC James). … According to this article, the Miami Hurricanes will be unveiling new jerseys this Monday (rumor is they’re either throwbacks or fauxbacks). … Football uniform combinations are becoming as varied as snowflakes, and the Montana Grizzlies have had a lot of them recently. Montana will debut its new home uniforms next month, the latest in its regularly scheduled three-year rotation. In the mean time take a look back at the best — and worst — Griz uniforms of the past 20 years. … Pitt football will be going blue/white/white for today’s game. … Bowling Green will be wearing brown/brown/white today vs. MT. … Eastern Washington will be wearing red hats today. … Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, whose teams are the Norsemen, unveiled all white uniforms yesterday (h/t Kade Witten). … The Duckies of Oregon will be going white/white/black today against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (h/t “Honeynut Queerio”) ***I’m NOT 100% sure this is legit***. — No, wait looks like it’s official. … Here’s a look at the special helmets LSU will wear today. … Apparently USC is going to wear all black today. … NC State will be going red/red/white today. … The University of Memphis was established 104 years ago, but the institution has only carried the name ‘University of Memphis’ for the last 22 years. Today, the squad will wear “Memphis State” helmets vs. Kansas. … Looks like the Illini will be going white/blue/white today (h/t Illinois Football EQ). … The West Georgia Wolves will wear white/red/red (h/t Bo Childers). … Here’s an up-close look at the uniforms Arizona will wear tonight to honor the USS Arizona (h/t Graig Sakuma). … West Point player Brandon Jackson died a few days ago in a car crash, and here’s how Army is remembering him. Looks like a “28” helmet sticker there (h/t Bobnpetey). … When color vs. color goes very wrong. That’s John Tyler and Rockwell (h/t Bryce Harden). … Ole Miss will be wearing navy blue hats and shirts for ‘bama. They will also have gray pants … aTm will sport the all white look vs. Auburn. … Vandy will go black/gold/black today vs. Georgia Tech. … The University of South Alabama Jaguars will be wearing an all white getup today (via Clint Richardson, who notes a new white helmet this week – silver nickel plated facemask and chrome decals).
Hockey News: The Michigan State Spartans have some new uniforms for 2016-17 (h/t David Jonathan Smith). … The Florida Panthers are using white pucks in their rookie camp focus drill — apparently you really lose sight of them on the ice (good find from John Muir). … USA Hockey has unveiled jerseys for the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game. … The Dallas Stars have a new center ice logo…. USA Forward Blake Wheeler doesn’t want ads “tarnishing” NHL jerseys. … Here’s a colour vs. color game between the Pens and Habs (that was from their rookie game scrimmage yesterday).
NBA News: New New York Knicks additions Willy Hernangomez, Justin Holiday, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas have decided which numbers they’ll wear with the team.
College Hoops News: Presbyterian College, the awesomely named Blue Hose, has some new uniform options for the upcoming season (from John Reynolds). … Kentucky alumnus Devin Booker does not like the ‘cats new uniforms. … Yesterday, N.C. State University unveiled statues of coaches, including Jim Valvano.
Soccer News: Bayer 04 Leverkusen has introduced a new, fourth kit option for the season (h/t Paul Zielinski). … “Strange sight in the DC United/Chicago Fire game,” writes John Muir. DCU’s Patrick Nyarko lost the ‘idas’ part of adidas on his chest. Funny, of everything on the fro”nt of the United jersey, THAT’S the part that goes missing.”
Grab Bag: There is a guy with no arms who is competing in ping pong in the Para-lympic games in Rio. He could probably beat you. … You can now vote upon the best and worst Ryder Cup uniforms. It seems to be the thing to do.
And that’s all for today. Thanks (huge thanks) to Todd Radom for the lede, and of course, Leo for “Leo’s World.” Lots on tap on the college gridiron today, and I’ll be back with the entire Sunday Morning Uni Watch crew for that tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
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“I respect the national anthem, but not some song by Irving Berlin that I disagree with.”
— Jon Rose
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The NFL had its first Color Rash game of 2016 last night, as the Jets and Bills played a rematch of last season’s Colorblind Bowl (but with the Jets wearing white this time around, to avoid a repeat of last year’s problems).
• Generally speaking, I love striped socks. But I think the Bills’ uni would be better off without the sock stripes. For that matter, they probably could have scrapped the pants striping as well. If you’re wearing solid red, make it really solid red.
• I’m usually fine with grey facemasks. But the Bills should have swapped out their grey grills for red. Grey just doesn’t work in this context. (That noise you hear in the background is The Jeff fainting due to a mix of joy and disbelief.)
• In keeping with the red theme, the Bills used red visor tabs and clips. They did that for last year’s Color Rash game, too. (They normally go with white tabs and blue clips.)
• I mentioned the other day that the Color Rash jerseys rendered in Nike’s new tailoring template (the one with the name that’s too embarrassing to spell out here) are using a Chromaflex chip for the NFL logo. That may seem like a minor detail, but it definitely looks shinier and more reflective on the field:
• At one point Jets wideout Brandon Marshall lined up without gloves, which is unheard of for an NFL receiver. I think it was after he came back from an injury — must have taken the gloves off while getting treatment and neglected to put them back on when he returned to the field. (Marshall also changed cleats at halftime.)
• Check out this goalpost padding:
First, the lettering should be centered, not flush-left. And second, shouldn’t the background color be red, not blue?
• The Bills retired Bruce Smith’s No. 78 last night, and they had a really cool uni-themed giveaway in conjunction with that — jersey shaped towels:
• In what I think is a first — and can only hope is a last — the Bills set up a Color Rash fan-spraying station at their stadium (further depressing info here):
(My thanks to Mark Heggen, @santullo, Darren Rovell, and Matthew Whitney for their contributions.)
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“Fore!”: With the Ryder Cup set to begin in two weeks, I’ll have an ESPN piece today about Team USA’s new uniforms. I don’t often write about golf, so this was an interesting change of pace for me, and the finished piece includes quotes from Team USA captain Davis Love III; his wife, Robin Love (the captain’s wife traditionally has a role in creating the team’s look); and the PGA’s merchandising director. Check it out here.
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’Skins Watch: The girls’ basketball team at an Iowa high school has come up with a very ill-advised poster. Note to the school: Even Native Americans who are okay with the word “redskin” are usually not okay with non-Natives wearing headdresses and ceremonial face paint. Jeez (from Omar Jalife).
Baseball News: Red Sox 1B Hanley Ramirez, who won last night’s game against the Yanks with a three-run walk-off homer, has some pretty ratty batting gloves (from Wayne Miller). … Dodgers CF Joc Pederson is the latest MLBer to wear a faceguard despite not having suffered a facial injury. After the game he said he did it mainly because he thinks it looks cool. Also note that the faceguard is matte, to match the helmet (from Jason Harambi). … The White Sox held a charity auction last weekend. The full listing of items can be found in this PDF. If you go to page 88 of the PDF (or page 92 of the catalog), you’ll find 10 pages’ worth of World Series press pins. Lots of other good stuff, too — worth spending some time scrolling through this (big thanks to Pete Hoelter). … While we’re at it, Ryan Mattern points out that Cubs OF Jorge Soler is also wearing a faceguard, and I’m not aware of him having suffered any facial injuries either. These players, along with Cardinals C Yadier Molina, appear to be part of a trend of players wearing the guard proactively, to prevent an injury (rather than reactively, after an injury, which had been the standard protocol in the past). Anyone know of other players who are wearing the guard despite not having been injured? (Please, no mention of Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, or other players who we all know had facial injuries. Thanks.)
NFL News: The Rams have announced that they’ll be wearing their royal/yellow throwbacks for this Sunday’s home opener. … Here’s something I never noticed before: In the famous 1994 “fake spike” game, when the Jets thought Dan Marino was going to spike the ball and he instead threw a game-winning touchdown pass, Marino wasn’t wearing the league’s 75th-anniversary patch like everyone else (as noted by Rudy Gutierrez). … Steelers WR Antonio Brown was fined for wearing blue shoes last week (from Jerry Wolper). … If you’ve been dying to know what my ESPN colleague Darren Rovell looks like in a Color Rash jersey, today’s your lucky day. … Broncos coach Gary Kubiak wore a Super Bowl 50 visor at a presser yesterday. … Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams says Sunday’s game against the Bengals will be “a two-chinstrap game.” Always nice to see people expressing things in uni-related terms. … The NFL has banned Kanye West’s Yeezy cleats.
College and High School Football News: Here are this week’s uni combos for UNC, Eastern Washington, Illinois, and Oregon State (note the white facemasks, instead of the usual black). … One of Phil Knight’s big regrets is that Nebraska signed with Adidas instead of Nike (from Brett Baker). … Many high school football players are joining the movement to protest during the national anthem.
Hockey News: Looks like Mario Lemieux was wearing a Canadiens wristband during the 1987 Canada Cup (good spot by Brian Rowland). … The Predators have two twins in rookie camp — Tyler Spinks and Tyson Spinks — which has led to some interesting NOBs (from Lee Wilds).
Pro Basketball News: Thunder G Victor Oladipo says he thinks the current trend of national anthem protests in the NFL will likely spread to the NBA. Not mentioned in that piece is the fact that the NBA reportedly has a rule requiring players to stand during the anthem, although that wouldn’t necessarily prevent players from engaging in other forms of protest, such as raising their fists. … The ABA’s newest team, the Springfield Sting, unveiled their logo. … Chris Andersen is apparently wearing No. 00 for the Cavs. With Kevin Love wearing No. 0, that means the Cavs have a zero and a double-zero on the roster. First time we’ve seen that since — last season. … Here’s a gallery of Sacramento Kings sneakers over the years (thanks, Mike).
College Hoops News: Gorgeous new green uniforms for North Dakota State. … New uniforms for Southeastern Louisiana. “First time the ‘SLU’ mark has been prominent on the jersey,” says Chris Mycoskie. … NC State’s arena, which has been renovated, will reopen today (from J. Huckel). … New home and road uniforms for Charleston Southern (from Harrison Huntley and Daren Stoltzfus, respectively).
Soccer News: MLS jerseys redesigned for Hispanic Heritage Month? Sure, why not (from Kenn Tomasch). … Buried within this item is the following: “Sun Belt Conference women’s soccer programs will wear specially designed warm-up jerseys [starting yesterday and continuing through this weekend] in support of Texas State head coach Kat Conner, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year.” … New Oktoberfest kit for 1860 Munich (from Peter Pereira). … USWNT member Megan Rapinoe once again did not stand for the national anthem last night. She had previously done that while playing for the Seattle Reign; this was the first time she protested the anthem prior to a USWNT match. … New third kit for AS Roma (from Mario Cuttone).
Grab Bag: World peace can finally be restored now that “Harambe” has been restored as an acceptable retail jersey NOB for MLB and the NFL. Phew. … Faaascinating article about how Nike’s contracts with universities — and, to a lesser extent, Under Armour’s and Adidas’s contracts as well — include clauses that allow the company to harvest activity-based data on the student-athletes, which is raising a red flag for privacy advocates. Further info here and here (from David Arnott). … Police officers in Nigeria have to pay for their own uniforms. … Interesting piece about the Statue of Liberty’s shade of green (from Jason Hilyer). … New logo for the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup. … The University of Detroit Mercy spent three years and $1 million on a new logo, and I think it’s fair to say they didn’t get their money’s worth. … NASCAR drivers competing in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup will have their Twitter handles on their car windshields (from Josh Pete).
It’s a big day for NBA uniforms, as the Grizzlies, 76ers, Knicks, and Nets have all made uni-related news. Let’s start in Memphis, the Grizzlies have unveiled of a new alternate uniform honoring history’s greatest American, Martin Luther King Jr. (click to enlarge):
The uniform includes many visual references to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where King was assassinated in 1968. It was later converted into the National Civil Rights Museum, which is where the uniform was unveiled last night. Among the details:
• The chest lettering is based on the motel’s sign.
• The icon above the chest lettering, at the base of the collar, was inspired by the memorial wreath that was hung outside Room 306 — King’s room — after his murder.
• If you look again at the wreath photo, you can see that the motel’s railing design served as the inspiration for the trim on the shorts (which also runs up the sides of the jersey).
As you know, I generally take a pretty dim view of uniforms with “storytelling” elements. That’s because they usually seem forced, like someone in the marketing department said, “Okay, you have to include at least four storytelling elements, and so far you only have two, so come up with two more!” The reality is that most uniforms don’t have a story to tell (or, perhaps more to the point, they don’t have a story worth telling), but this one does — it’s a history lesson. The details feel well-considered and well-executed. Too bad about the sleeves. Overall, though, nice job.
The uniform will make its on-court debut on Jan. 15 and then will be worn for various games during Black History Month in February. Additional info and photos are available here.
Meanwhile, over in Philadelphia, the 76ers will announce today that they’re marking the 50th anniversary of their 1966-67 championship by wearing throwback uniforms for six Saturday home games (dates not yet finalized):
Thanks to various leaks, we’ve known about this throwback for a few months now, but this is the first time we’ve seen photos of it. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the throwback and the original uni:
The shades of blue don’t seem to match there, although that could have to do with lighting, sweat, etc. And speaking of blue, the Sixers are using Pantone 294 for the throwback, instead of their usual Pantone 293. Here’s a side-by-side of those tones — current blue on the left, throwback blue on the right:
The throwback includes a commemorative patch, which I’m pretty sure was not shown on any of the leaked mock-ups that have been circulating, so this is our first look at it:
For the six throwback games, logo shown on the patch will also be used at center court:
Although not shown in that image, the center court design will also feature the signatures of all Sixers season ticket subscribers, which according to the team will be “the first time in NBA history that fan signatures will appear within the playing surface of an NBA court.”
The team is also celebrating the 1966-67 championship team on its ticket stubs (click to enlarge):
Next up are the Nets, who’ve released a retro-themed alternate uniform (click to enlarge):
This is basically a dark version of this alternate uni, which they’ve had for the past two seasons. They’ll wear this one for the home opener on Oct. 28, and for 12 additional games — some at home, some on the road. The dates are listed here, and there are additional photos here.
That press release, incidentally, includes some first-class corporate nonsense. For starters, it says that the five stars on the jersey “dually represent the team’s fifth season in Brooklyn, and the five decades of the franchise.” Compare that to the Grizzlies’ MLK uniform and you can see the difference between real storytelling and bogus/forced “storytelling.” And then there’s this quote from team exec Brett Yormark: “By combining elements from the team’s most iconic uniforms, we’ve created a modernized look that emphasizes our heritage and defines today’s lifestyle brand.” How does anyone say (or, more likely, type) that kind of thing with a straight face?
In happier news, the Knicks have a new 70th-anniversary throwback, which they introduced yesterday via a short video clip that’s informative, entertaining, and blissfully free of corporate brandspeak:
It’s not quite as much fun as the throwback they wore last season, but it’s still pretty good. It will be worn for eight games (six at home) — the dates are spelled out midway through the video.
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And speaking of storytelling…: Shifting to college football for a sec, Arizona is hosting Hawaii this Saturday, and the Wildcats will be wearing a uniform that honors the USS Arizona, which was stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii when it was bombed and sank by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941. Arizona and Hawaii, get it?
Okay, so it would be better if the game were taking place closer to Dec. 7, but the uniform is a good one. Much like the Knicks (see above), Arizona has put together a really good video that explains all of the details, although you might want to mute the soundtrack (and all the info in the video is also available in this PDF):
Lots of good stuff there. But ugh, that neck bumper — a glaring apostrophe catastrophe. Punctuation illiteracy strikes again.
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Madden-ing: Reader Josh Claywell was poking around on Madden yesterday and found the new Thursday-night uniforms for all 32 teams, with colored and white versions for most of them.
Normally I’d embed a slideshow here, but Flickr’s slideshow function seems to be balky today, so instead I’ll just link to the set of Josh’s screen shots.
As you’ll see there are no colored uniforms for the Bengals, Cowboys, Giants, Packers, Saints, or Raiders. Those are the teams that are wearing new white uniforms on Thursday nights. I’m pretty sure all the other white unis shown here (whether they’re slated to be worn on Thursday nights this season or not) are just the teams’ regular white unis.
Also, the Pats, Niners, and Steelers are all shown wearing colored pants with their white jerseys. That’s because those teams don’t have white pants in their wardrobe, and new Thursday-night white pants have not been created for them (at least not for this season).
In addition, reader Brian Spiess’s son was playing Madden and got a good screen shot of what a Bears/Bengals game would look like (in reality, they’re both facing other teams in Thursday-night games). He also confirmed that the Browns’ white Thursday-night uni features their regular (i.e., awful) pants:
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Mighty Mike: When not compiling our Tuesday and Thursday Tickers, Mike Chamernik has a day job at a trade magazine and also moonlights at the sports section of The Chicago-Sun Times (plus he’s a just an all-around great guy). He recently had two articles in the Sun-Times: a preview of the Chicago Football Classic (an annual game between teams from two historically black colleges, played at Soldier Field) and coverage of the game itself.
Both articles are highly recommended. Congrats on the bylines, Mike!
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Bacon update: I appeared on the radio show Marketplace yesterday, discussing my new Businessweek article about the nuances of bacon packaging. If you missed the article, it’s available here, and the radio interview is embedded below. (I haven’t actually listened to it myself — I hate hearing myself on the radio — but I’m told it sounds pretty good.)
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Membership update: A new batch of membership cards was mailed out on Monday (including Jonathan Safron’s late-’70s Cubs throwback treatment, complete with reverse pinstripes and vertically arched NOB lettering, shown at right), so those of you who’ve been waiting for your cards should have them momentarily. We’re now fully caught up on orders.
As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed membership card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.
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By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: The Orioles’ new schedule revealed a 25th anniversary logo for Camden Yards. Paul has confirmed that it will be worn as a patch next season, complete with silver metallic thread for the ballpark’s silver anniversary (from Scott Pika). … Check out this 1924 scoreboard. It looks like it was a Playograph, a scoreboard that, as Paul explored here back in 2009, displayed real-time out-of-town game updates (from John Muir). … Lots of stirrups were featured on last night’s episode of Big Brother (from Chris Flinn). … They’re expensive, but here are some pinstriped pencils in honor of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak (from Rob Ullman). … Great story here: A Texas man filled out a nearly 60-year-old Bazooka promotion card for a new baseball glove, and the Bazooka people honored it (from Brinke). … Remember Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton’s custom faceguard with the stylized “G”? Turns out he broke it right around the time he went on the DL last month. Now that he’s back in action, he’s wearing the standard face flap (from Mike McLaughlin). … Here’s a great old Lou Brock sneaker ad (from Joel Paylor).
NFL News: The Bills will retire Bruce Smith’s No. 78 tonight. Crews painted his number on the field yesterday. … The Cardinals will have “NJB” decals on their helmets in memory of Nancy Bidwill, the wife of owner Bill Bidwill. … Packers CB Damarious Randall wore long base-layer sleeves in 100°F heat in Jacksonville last weekend. He says he wears long sleeves because it improves his range of motion. It’s like the flip side of when Bengals linemen went sleeveless in -59°F windchills to intimidate the Chargers in the Freezer Bowl in 1982 (from @HawksPacMan). … The Chargers will wear their powder blue alternates on Nov. 6 and Dec. 18. … Sean Marenkovic‘s girlfriend knitted a pair of very good-looking striped Browns socks. “She had to labor through them, as she is a Steelers fan,” he says. … Also regarding the Browns, beck in 2006, Scott Bogunia put together a marketing brief (PDF) that featured a redesigned home uni. … The NFL Shop is forbidding customized jerseys with “Harambe” on the back. That was the name of the ape in the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot and killed back in May, and has since become the cause célèbre on the internet. Other leagues still offer Harambe jerseys, though (from Phil). … A Virginia couple decided to stake the fandom of their infant daughter on the outcome of Monday’s Steelers/Washington game. … Here’s a pamphlet that details uniform rules and violations for all 32 teams (from @manonwire22). … Giants WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz will not be fined for their 9/11 cleats (from Phil). … What would a blue Thursday-night uniform for the Cowboys look like? Perhaps like this.
College and High School Football News: Louisville painted a Muhammad Ali memorial behind one of the endzones. It’s a butterfly with “Ali” in it (from @DaveDoop). … Virginia Tech will wear white at home with Navy template helmets this Saturday (from Andrew Cosentino). … Here’s more on Miami’s new merit decals (from David Leiphart). … Minnesota also awards helmet stickers (from MKE_Gopher). … In reaction to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a measure seen as anti-LGBTQ, the ACC will move its title game out of Charlotte. … Marshall will wear a West Virginia-shaped helmet decal as a tribute to victims of flooding in the state this summer (from @cDubya242). … A small town in Michigan has been having an annual pink-uni game, for cancer awareness, for nine years, and it’s become a big part of the community (from Joe Hollomon). … Here’s this week’s uni combo for Florida Atlantic.
Hockey News: The Predators will now wear gold helmets for every home game, instead of only on Saturday home games (from Nick Griffin). … New uniforms for the Toledo Walleye. … New jerseys for Michigan State (from MikeTPhD). … The Sharks will give away a Warriors-colored jersey.
Basketball News: A Portland coffee shop made Trail Blazers-themed ice cream sandwiches. … The Bucks’ Mickey Johnson went double-decker FNOB for a time in the 1980s. Marques Johnson did the same (from Reinis Lācis). … Kentucky revealed a new home jersey with checkerboard-patterned side panels (from Drew O’Neal). … Tony Parker recently hosted a basketball game on top of a glacier in Switzerland.
Soccer News: Here’s a collection of all of the home, away, and third kits in the UEFA Champions League this season (from Josh Hinton). … Portland Timbers CB Steven Taylor normally wears No. 27, but for some reason he wore 72 last night.
Grab Bag: The ACC is the latest athletics organization to pull out of North Carolina due to the state’s anti-LGBT law. … The James Bond 007 logo has evolved since the early 1960s (from Brinke). … ESPN has inked a deal to televise the Drone Racing League. The uniforms appear to be black T-shirts with the team names (from Jay Wright). … Here’s how the British Army’s uniforms have changed since the redcoat days (from Mark de Socio).
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As you’ve no doubt become aware by now, yesterday the NFL and Nike unveiled a slew of new monochromatic uniforms, which will be worn for this season’s Thursday-night games. The basics of the program are in that article I just linked to, and my assessment of the uniforms can be found in this ESPN piece, which was posted yesterday afternoon. If you haven’t yet read either of those articles, I suggest that you start there.
There are lots of questions and unresolved issues regarding these uniforms, so today I want to follow up with an FAQ-style entry that addresses some of those questions. Before I get to that, though, I should say this: I spent most of yesterday working on that ESPN piece, and then most of last night working on this blog entry. In both instances, I was working pretty furiously and somewhat sealed in a bubble — I wasn’t looking at Twitter, wasn’t reading many of the other articles about the new uniforms (although I did read a few that had some inaccurate information). If you were bouncing all over the web, absorbing info from a ton of different sources, it’s possible that you may know more about these uniforms than I do, or that you may have seen the answer to some of the unresolved questions I’m about to bring up. If so, please feel free to share what you know (or what you’ve read) in the comments.
Okay, then — here we go:
Did you know what the uniforms would look like prior to yesterday?
No. I got a slight sneak peek about an hour before everything went live, but aside from that I was in the dark, just like you.
I’ve seen lots of photos of the Jets wearing green, the Texans wearing navy, the Browns wearing brown, and so on. But your ESPN piece says all of those teams will actually be wearing white. What gives?
My hunch is that some of those colored uniforms were designed — and that the photos may have been taken — before this year’s NFL schedule was finalized. They couldn’t keep the Texans in navy, because they ended up being scheduled to play a Thursday-night game against the Pats, who were slated to wear blue. And they couldn’t keep the Jets in green, because they were scheduled to play tomorrow night against the Bills, and it would have created another red/green colorblindness fiasco. So some teams had to wear white instead.
Then why did they release the photos of the colored versions?
For starters, the colored versions are available for sale, even though they’re not being worn this season. Also, they may end up being worn next season.
With so many teams wearing white, doesn’t that take the color out of the equation, which kinda defeats the point of this program?
Arguably, yeah. I’m fairly certain Nike didn’t want or expect it to play out this way. But they didn’t realize there’d be colorblindness issues, they didn’t realize that the NFL schedule would present unworkable color-vs.-color matchups, and so on. In short: It all turned out to be a bit trickier than they’d envisioned, and one result is that there are more teams wearing white.
As an aside, this is also a good reality check for those of us who like color-vs.-color games played in “normal” uniforms (like the recent UGA/UNC game, for example). It’s great when it works, but it doesn’t always work. Which means teams will always need to keep white uniforms in their wardrobe, just in case.
Will the Browns’ white design include the big, honking wordmark on the pants, or will they get new pants?
Good question. The solid-brown design they had created (the one that won’t be worn because it turns out that they’re wearing white, not brown) had a new pant design, but I haven’t seen any full-body photos of the white uniform — just this torso shot. The same goes for some (but not all) of the other teams that will be wearing white — no full-body pics yet.
Update, 9:25am: The Browns have said that they’ll be wearing their normal whites, not a new white design.
Does that mean that they haven’t finalized those uniforms yet?
That seems possible. If you look again at that Browns torso photo (and also at the torso shots for the Falcons, Texans, and a few others), it looks like the player is just wearing his regular white jersey — not a newly designed white jersey. (By contrast, the white jerseys being worn by the Saints, Bengals, and a few others are clearly new.) So that, combined with the lack of full-body photos, makes me wonder if the torso photos are essentially just placeholders. Like, “Okay, the new white uni isn’t ready yet, so just put a regular white jersey on him and don’t show anything below the waist.” I don’t know for sure that that’s the case, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Why aren’t the Colts, Lions, and ’Skins wearing the new uniforms?
Because they’re playing on Thanksgiving, and the league has decided to go with standard uniforms on that day.
But teams wore the new monochromatic uniforms on Thanksgiving last year, didn’t they?
So why did they change that this year?
I don’t know.
If the Colts, Lions, and ’Skins aren’t wearing the new uniforms, why have I seen photos of their new jerseys?
For starters, they’re selling them at retail. Also, those designs may be worn next season.
How did the Giants and Broncos get away with having new helmet designs? I thought the NFL had a one-helmet rule.
The NFL’s anti-concussion program limits teams to having one helmet shell, which basically means you can’t change helmet colors. But you’re free to change your striping or side logos or facemask color — several teams do that for their throwback helmets, and that’s what the Giants and Broncos have done for these new uniforms.
That rule is so stupid! College teams have, like, 17 helmet designs apiece, so why can’t the NFL join the modern world?
The rule is what it is, and we all have to live with it, at least for now. For what it’s worth, I’m sure there’s nobody who’d love to have the one-shell rule changed more than Nike, because then they’d be free to experiment with all sorts of alternate helmet designs. So while you may not like the rule, at least it shows that the NFL hasn’t completely given Nike the keys to the uniform car, so to speak.
What’s the deal with these jerseys being rendered in Nike’s Vapor Untouchable template?
According to this press release, “Participating teams will take the field wearing a special Color Rush edition of Nike’s Vapor Untouchable uniform exclusively on Thursday Night Football in 2016.”
I initially took this to mean, “All teams participating in Thursday-night games will wear the VU template.” But I’m now starting to realize that it actually means “All teams who wear VU will be wearing VU” — which is kind of lame.
If you look at the promo photos, many of them are clearly in the standard Elite 51 template, complete with the annoying collar, and the Packers photos appear to show the old Reebok tailoring, while others appear to have the VU-style collar.
But then look at the Bengals — some of the promo photos show a white collar with what appears to be the VU template, while others show a black collar:
That’s pretty messed up right there. I get the feeling that there was a lot of last-minute scrambling on this project.
One detail worth mentioning: The NFL logo on the VU uniforms is apparently an updated Chromaflex chip, while the logo on the Elite 51 uniforms is the same chip they’ve been using since 2012.
In any case, just having to type corporate nonsense like “Vapor Untouchable” and “Elite 51” makes my head hurt. Let’s move on.
What’s this about the NFL donating their merch proceeds?
According to that same press release:
One hundred percent of the NFL’s proceeds from the sale of Color Rush jerseys will go directly to the NFL Foundation to fund health, safety, and wellness programs for youth around the country. The NFL Foundation is the league’s non-profit organization, representing all 32 clubs, and funds grants to support athletes, youth football, and the communities that support the game. The first $500,000 raised from this initiative will be earmarked to replace youth and high school football equipment and fields lost in last month’s devastating floods in Louisiana.
Is Nike also donating its proceeds?
Not that I’m aware of. It’s worth noting, of course, that Majestic and New Era don’t donate anything (or at least they haven’t said they do) from the sale of Memorial Day or Independence Day merch, even though MLB does. In general, it seems like the leagues tend to undertake these charitable initiatives, not the manufacturers or retailers.
What about all those leaks from the guy on Reddit, and from the @NFL_Leaks guy. Did they turn out to be accurate?
No idea, and I don’t have the energy to go back and see how good their info turned out to be. If you’d like to do that, be my guest.
Some of the opinions in your ESPN piece were surprising. Do you really like the Ravens’ purple uniform?
Surprisingly enough, I do! Or at least I think I do — as always, it’s tough to tell until we see everything on the field. But I really like the gold numerals with the white outlining. (On the other hand, I really dislike the Vikings’ design, even though it’s fairly similar. Yes, I realize that may seem contradictory.)
And do you really like the Seahawks’ green design?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like it, but it seems like the purest expression of what this uniform program is supposed to be, and I’m curious to see how it’ll look on the field.
Anything else to add?
Yeah, here are a few late-breaking thoughts and some additional details I picked up from Phil’s Twitter feed: The Giants’ helmet has a new back number font. … Seems odd that the Giants would go with “ny” on the chest and while using the old “Giants” wordmark on the helmet. Maybe the jersey was already in production when they decided to swap out the helmet logo. … The Jets’ helmet will have a white facemask, instead of their usual green. … The NFL consulted with colorblindness experts to avoid any repetition of last year’s problems. … A Seattle Mariners blog, of all places, has come with the most entertaining response to yesterday’s unveiling. … Spotter’s nightmare: Hadn’t initially noticed that the Pats’ new uni doesn’t have TV numbers. That runs counter to current NFL jersey regulations, so they must have received some sort of waiver.
Why haven’t you used the official name of this uniform program — or even the bastardized version of the name that you often use — anywhere in this blog entry?
Because I’m sick to death of both of those terms and decided I didn’t want them appearing in today’s entry. Simple as that.
And there we are. If you want still more, I’ll be discussing these uniforms today at 12:15pm Eastern, when I’ll be appearing on this Albany radio station. Feel free to tune in and see if I can keep avoiding saying you-know-what.
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Bacon reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, I’ve written a new article for Businessweek about the standard package design format for bacon. It was really fun to work on, and I think you’ll have fun reading it. Check it out here.
Incidentally, in yesterday’s blog post I said I’d be discussing the bacon article on yesterday evening’s installment of the radio show Marketplace. If you tuned in and didn’t hear me, sorry about that — we taped the interview, but it got bumped by something “more important” (as if there could something more important than bacon packaging!). They tell me it’ll be running today.
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Before we get to the Ticker, a quick caveat: A lot of Ticker contributions these days come from people who tweet things at me. But I didn’t look at my Twitter mentions yesterday, because I got literally over 1,000 tweets about you-know-what, and it was just too much to keep up with, so I decided to not even look at my mentions (although I did look at Phil’s feed — always a good source of info). If you tweeted a good Ticker item at me yesterday and don’t see it listed below, that’s why. Apologies in advance. — PL
Baseball News: Really interesting collar here. That’s a player from an old Studebaker factory team. The photo is in the archives of the Studebaker National Museum in Indiana, and originally appeared in the Studebaker-themed magazine Turning Wheels (big thanks to Andrew Beckman). … Still more new caps for Youngstown State (from Robert Hayes). … The Majestic logo on Nats 1B Ryan Zimmerman’s jersey was yellow-ish last night. It’s usually red (from @NikeMetsPlus, via Phil).
NFL News: Good article on how the growing NFL protests regarding the national anthem are part of a larger trend of today’s brand-conscious athletes weighing in on divisive social issues. … New form of DIY-ing: A Broncos fan wanted to burn a Brandon Marshall jersey — a response to Marshall kneeling during the national anthem last Thursday — but apparently didn’t want to spend the money on the real thing, so he bought an orange T-shirt, inscribed Marshall’s number on it, and buned that instead — which Marshall himself found quite amusing (thanks, Mike). … Bills coach Rex Ryan gained 30 pounds after having his lap band removed. He had the band removed as a show of support for his brother Rob, whose band almost killed him (thanks, Phil). … My Friday Flashback last week was about the various uses of the NFL logo on team uniforms. But Earl Blow points out an instance that I overlooked: From 1965 through 1969, the league logo was prominently featured on helmets in the Pro Bowl. … The NFL has announced a new $100 million anti-concussion initiative.
College Football News: It appears that Miami will be unveiling new uniforms next Monday (from Jackson Copeland). … Very nice uni combo this week for Arizona State (thanks, Mike). … Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says he won’t discipline his players if they want to protest during the national anthem, although he thinks it’s a divisive gesture. … Here are this weekend uni combos for Vanderbilt, Texas State, and Tulane. … New tunnel graphics for UNC (thanks, Phil). … Also from Phil: New chrome helmet for Louisville.
Hockey News: NHL goalies will have to wear narrower pants this season (thanks, Mike). … Blackhawks G Scott Darling has a Wayne’s World-themed mask (from Ken Traisman). … KHL refs wore black armbands for a fallen colleague last night (thanks, Phil). … New pads for Devils goalie Keith Kincaid (from @HawksPacMan). … New uniforms for the Springfield Thunderbirds (from Joe Condon).
Basketball News: With the 2017 NBA All-Star Game having been relocated from Charlotte to New Orleans due to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, the Pelicans have added an All-Star Game patch. … This is pretty awesome: A bunch of old high school basketball uniforms, some dating back to the 1940s, were found in an old North Carolina school that was slated for demolition (big thanks to Gerry Dincher).
Grab Bag: New away soccer kit for Adelaide United (from @BluesBrother95). … Pro golfer Jason Day is switching from Adidas to Nike (thanks, Brinke). … I have to admit that for sheer weirdness value, I kinda like these caps that feature logo mashups across different sports and cities (from Andy Pohlman).