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Friday Flashback: The Forgotten Era of Patriots Uniforms

When people think of Patriots uniforms, they usually think of two primary eras: the old Pat Patriot look and the team’s current set. But people often forget that there was a seven-season transitional period between those two eras, and that period featured some unusual elements, like color-mismatched TV numbers and vertical tone-on-tone striping. I’ve taken a closer look at that forgotten era for today’s installment of my weekly Friday Flashback feature over on ESPN. Check it out here. ”” Paul

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Click to enlarge

Pinktober + G.I. Joke = holy moly: I think we can safely say that Pinnacle High School in Phoenix has lived up to its name, at least in terms of reaching the pinnacle (or, really, the nadir) of unwatchable uniform design. And wait, it gets better (read: worse) — here’s the front view:

Now if they can just work some stars and stripes into the concept, then they’ll really have something!

(My thanks to Andrew Nordmeier for letting me know about this one.)

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Mike’s Question of the Week
By Mike Chamernik

Do you root for any college sports teams that you have no personal connection to?

Here’s why I ask: I attended DePaul University in Chicago. I like the basketball team, but we don’t have a football team, so I’m kind of a nomad with no real attachment to any one program. Sometimes I think of just choosing a team, like maybe Nebraska, but then I imagine how weird that would be. The majority of Cornhuskers fans went to the university and have a real connection to it. They have memories of classes, social events, and campus life. They probably attended a few football games, or at least watched them with fellow students at some type of gathering. They may even have family members who also went there, creating a multigenerational bond with the school. The school shaped who they are; I’d be just some shmoe rooting for the football team.

Or at least that’s how I feel about it. What about you? Do you root for any schools that you have no connection to? Do you wear any T-shirts or other apparel from those schools?

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Someone in KC apparently didn’t get the memo that the Yankees lost the Wild Card game. … Here’s a good video segment on the Rangers’ stitcher. Most interesting revelation is that Mike Napoli doesn’t like dealing with buttons, so his jersey placket is sewn shut and he puts it on like a pullover (from @ZestyTacoSauce). … Two new home uniforms for Northwestern State. I can dig both, except for the Adidas logos. ”¦ The Canadian Parliament passed a resolution calling upon members to wear Blue Jays jerseys and/or caps while in session (from Chris Flinn).

NFL News: The Browns will wear white-brown-orange this Sunday (from Phil). … Last night, the NFL Network flashed a weird-looking Falcons jersey during its promo of next week’s Falcons/Saints Thursday Night game (from Andres Galdames). ”¦ Here’s why Colts P Pat McAfee wears No. 1 (from Chris Flinn).

College Football News: Virginia Tech will wear white-maroon-white against NC State tonight (from Andrew Cosentino). … Toledo will wear gold facemasks with blue jerseys and gold pants this Saturday against Kent State. … Here’s a color-ish video of the 1935 Army-Navy game. Keith Aksel sends that in, and he has a YouTube channel with other old goodies. … Forrest Page is not a fan of Grand Valley State’s new white uniforms. The team will wear them next Saturday.

Hockey News: The ECHL is going with blue goalposts with corporate advertising (from Alan Kreit). … Jeff Israel says that the Bruins announced on their Jumbotron during last night’s game that they’ll be unveiling their Winter Classic jersey on Oct. 24. … Canada’s Russell Brewing Co. reused Team Canada’s logo from the Canada Cup (from Rob Yasinsac). ”¦ New uniforms for the Orlando Solar Bears.

Pro Basketball News: Here’s a deeper look at the NBA’s new socks deal with Stance (from Mike Murphy). … The Knicks have ditched the orange key and went back to an all-blue court design. I like it! According to my man Kodrinsky, a NBA court artist whom I profiled last summer, the Knicks haven’t had a predominantly blue court since 1995. … The Canberra Capitals of Australia’s WNBL will promote gay equality and inclusiveness by wearing rainbow-trimmed uniforms this season.

College Hoops News: New green unis for Tulane. I like the dark green-light green combo. … New blue unis for South Dakota State (from Will Bordewyk). … Loyola Maryland revealed its new home and road sets. … New shoes for Marshall (from Brice Wallace). … Washington University in St. Louis dedicated its court to its two longtime men’s and women’s basketball coaches. … New throwbacks for Central Washington. “To what year, they did not say,” says Paul Stave. “And why the throwback has the new Wildcat logo is beyond me. Back when I attended in the early ’80s we didn’t even have a logo.” ”¦ New practice gear for Mississippi.

Grab Bag: Boston police are getting into Pinktober with pink handcuffs (from @so_it_gohs). … Google is also going pink. Graham Block saw that at his log-in screen. … To continue the theme, Charlotte Motor Speedway painted its pit road wall pink. The track also increased the length of its restart zone, and painted lines across the track and added signage to the outside wall to improve visibility of the area (from ChrisH). … David Firestone examined a few old Chicago street signs. Cool stuff! I learned that there is a Highway Gothic font, which is now in my top five of favorite fonts. [As an aside, the lettering for the logo of my 1990s zine, Beer Frame, was based on old Chicago street signs! ”” PL] … At this weekend’s Presidents Cup, each player’s bag has patches that indicate how many times they’ve played in the tournament (from Brian Mazmanian). … Also for the Presidents Cup, Bubba Watson wore American flag-themed shoes (from Jeffrey Holtz). … World road race cycling champion Peter Sagan is trying to get around the UCI requirement that he wear white shorts with his new rainbow-striped champion’s jersey (from Sean Clancy). … How huge is Oklahoma City? So huge that you could fit all these other cities inside of it! I did not know it was also three times larger than Chicago (from Paul Deaver, an OKC firefighter who has to help protect that behemoth).

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Puppy Bowl update: Great time at yesterday’s Puppy Bowl taping. It was the day for the kitten halftime show, so it was pretty much cutegasm city, what with all the little mewlers. Don’t tell Uni Watch mascots Tucker and Caitlin, but I kinda lost my heart to a few of the little scamps. I expect more of the same today, as I’ll be back at the studio for the puppy segment of the taping.

I have a big weekend planned — hiking in the Ramapo Valley, a North Jersey beefsteak, and of course the Mets’ first postseason action in nearly a decade. Whatever your weekend has in store, hope it’s a good one. Enjoy Phil’s weekend content, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

Comments (122)

    I think I’d hate the Patriots a lot less if they had never changed from the 1993 uniform. The red numbers and logo-mimicking pant stripes looked awesome.

    They fixed the gray mask thing in 1994. Of course, they also switched the numbers from red to white and changed the pant stripes…and basically ruined the whole uniform.

    Or at least refrained from adding that bright red facemask…I HATE THAT BRIGHT RED FACE MASK. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

    NO “THE JEFF” they DID NOT fix it… Why does everyone think you need an alternate colored facemask???? IT’S UNIFORM CLICHE!!!

    QotW: I’ve long rooted for Georgia Tech with but the flimsiest of connections. My first sports uniform was for a school football team. It was a cheap school, so we used a gold jersey that could be dark vs. a white jersey or light vs. a dark jersey. It had the classic GT striping like link.


    I cheer for Notre Dame. I grew up on the south side of Chicago as a Roman Catholic and my dad cheered for them. It seemed natural. I didn’t go to a big college because I wanted to play football and ended up at a Catholic university as well(I didn’t choose the school for that reason but it didn’t sway me). Including college, I attended a Catholic school for all 18 years of schooling. I’ll got ahead and keep cheering on Notre Dame.

    That being said, I just really enjoy college football more than any other sport and I own shirts from many different universities.

    I’ve never really understood Mike’s QotW when I’ve seen it come up elsewhere. “Requiring a connection” would mean no kids from families w/no college grads or non-college grads themselves would root for or become a fan of a college team. That seems kind of silly. Who really cares if you’re “some shmoe rooting for the football team.” It’s entertainment. Do what you want.

    Agreed. I live near Boise, and most of the diehard BSU fans have zero connection at all to the school. If you eliminated those fans, you’d kill the sport. I do give points for people who cheer for their alma mater, but it’s not a requirement. It’s not that different than cheering for a pro team.

    I think the general assumption is that fanhood is determined by going to a school, or being geographically close to the school.

    I agree Mike. I went to a tiny college in Westerville, a suburb of Columbus, but almost everyone rooted for Ohio State while we attended. Once my friends and I graduated, we simply kept following OSU. My wife’s parents are Michigan grads, and she loves to point out that our support of OSU makes no sense, since no one in my family actually attended the school. I’ve pointed out several times that although that’s true, we essentially went to school and lived in the surrounding “Columbus” area, and since there’s no pro team there, OSU football is how you support the local team. Falls on deaf ears I’m afraid.

    “Requiring a connection” is just sports fan snobbery at its worst. I went to high school in Ohio with a guy who was the world’s biggest Seattle Mariners and Seahawks fan. He’d never been to Seattle or even west of the Mississippi. Just saw the early Mariner trident logo and liked it.

    Who wants to tell him he’s not a fan? He knew everything there was to know about every single player on the rosters of both teams. Followed every result as best as he could in the pre-internet era.

    Or for a more recent example that nice Korean guy who is basically the biggest Royals fan on the planet. Good little 30/30 doc on Grantland about him now.

    I mean, I realize the question was about college sports but the point remains. Root for who you want to. If you stay loyal to the team no one should talk junk at you for not having a proper reason to do so.


    The only school I have any sort of a connection with is the University of Toledo (took a writing class on their campus while in high school), but being in the MAC they’re pretty much irrelevant. So I tend to root for Michigan – they’re basically the same colors, and it annoys everyone around me here in Columbus.


    I don’t often watch U.S. college sports but when I do I will root for the UMD Bulldogs. Only connections is they are the only close city to mine and are of a similar size. Second choice is the Minnesota Gophers. Have a jacket a pair of caps that I got second hand. Logo for the Bulldogs is pretty good and I like the colour scheme for both.

    That Solar Bears roundel looks weird with “Solar” being on top with “Orlando”.

    QOTW: As is fairly common around these parts, those in my family that care about such things have long rooted for Michigan, even though none of us have ever attended the school. Some folks around here have taken to a derogatory term for people like that – “Walmart Wolverines” – which I don’t care for; although alliterative enough, I don’t care for being associated with that particular retailer.

    QOTW: I too attended a university with no real sports happening at the time I attended. I never developed an attachment for any other university, pretty much for Mike’s reasons. I follow the the March madness and the Frozen Four tournament, but more for the sport than any one team.

    If you like highway signs and Highway Gothic, you’ll probably enjoy the font Clearview. Here’s a link to a Texas A&M report “Clearview Font on Negative Contrast Signs,” about legibility of highway signage (a pdf): link

    They describe the importance of contrast between the typography and its background… a little detail that is ignored with many uniform designs we’ve seen lately.

    I think paul like the charm in the gothic forms of the old highway signs. Clearview lacks that, as it’s a very engineered typeface specifically to aid legibility and cut back the effects of night glare and halos around the reflective lettering.

    Interstate is the best version of Highway Gothic. It’s a little more refined but doesn’t sacrifice the spirit of the letterforms.

    I can’t take any “study” on fonts seriously when they use comic sans throughout the report.

    The guy who wrote the piece on Chicago street signs is obviously too young to remember the change from yellow to green. Chicago didn’t change the signs to green until almost the end of the 70s, and they all changed almost overnight. It had to do with losing highway funds from the feds and a deadline looming.

    He completely misses one of the cooler aspects of the old street sign system: signs along the entire boulevard system in Chicago were white on brown! The practical purpose was to keep commercial trucks off those streets. When the change to green occurred, the boulevards lost their distinctive signage. Many cities use white on blue street signs and don’t seem to be violating the MUTCD standards. I wish Chicago would re-sign the boulevards in another color. Blue would be an obvious pick, but I don’t believe brown actually violates the standards as brown signs indicate parks and such.

    Bitching about white on green not being visible is annoying. The green background is fully reflective – so it lights up as your car’s headlights shine on it. For those on foot – every street sign is under a streetlight, so… The old yellow signs weren’t reflective at all – that’s plain school bus yellow paint on that old fucker, whereas the greens are reflective sheeting, just like most license plates.

    And Chicago uses a format that is consistent throughout the city. So where’s the small “s” on the left of the sign indicating “South?” link

    I am an LSU fan, but I also root for Illinois. I was born in Illinois, and even though I only lived there for two weeks, I root for that school because it gives me a feeling of attachment to the state in which I was born. Sounds silly, I know.

    Slight correction on those pink handcuffs: Those are in Greenfield, MA, which is in the western part of the state, not Boston. The rule of thumb here in Massachusetts is: If you have never heard of the town before, 99% chance it’s in Western Mass.

    QOTW: I started rooting for the Florida Gators in the mid-90s. I grew up and still live around the Pittsburgh metro, but started rooting for the Gators mostly because I loved the offense that Steve Spurrier ran while he was there as it was very exciting to watch all the scoring. I’ve never actually been to the campus, nor known anyone that’s gone there. I own 2 hats, a few t-shirts, polo, hoodie, and (please don’t crucify me Paul) one of those one-off jerseys (link) they wore while Tebow-mania was going on there.

    QOTW: I’m similar in that my university doesn’t have a football team. My law school has a Division II team so it’s not very relvant (although Lions RB Joique Bell played there), so I root for Michigan. I’ve rooted for them for 35 years since I was 7 years old, and attended four of their bowl games through the years so I take some exception when someone says I don’t have a connection. I also pay state income taxes that help to fund the school.

    QotW: I attended Eastern Illinois, which is a FCS school. I’ll cheer them on in the OVC tournament, or whenever they get on ESPN3, but it’s not a big program so I don’t invest a lot of energy into them. I consider myself an Illinois fan. My only real connection to U of I is partying there with friends who attended. I tend to view the Illini as representing the state, so even though I didn’t go there, I still see them as representing me.

    Loved those soccer-style shadow stripes on the Patriots uniform, looking forward to the feature.

    Slideshow on Elton John’s 1975 tour, shows him in a Bob Mackie-designed sequin Dodgers uniform, e.g.:

    I’ve seen photos of that costume before, but I never knew that he link during the rehearsals.

    And this one is just amazing:

    “Elton having some fun with two costumed security guards.”

    Now THAT’s a uniform!

    QOTW: Short answer, no. Long answer, I root for WVU and whoever is playing Pitt or VaTech.


    Never really had a strong allegiance to any college team growing up in California. I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a great engineering school but no sports powerhouse.

    After moving to South Carolina six years ago I became a bandwagon Gamecocks fan and it has been lots of fun. The football and baseball teams have enjoyed some real success during that span (current football season not withstanding).

    You know I always remembered the Bledsoe pats unis. And remembered that they tweeked them a little but man they were actually a lot more changes than I remember. And I always thought they had that I call it “umbro” look on the jerseys that made them
    Look like late 80’s/early 90’s soccer jerseys.


    Grew up in Wisconsin, but for some reason I always cheer for Michigan State when they aren’t playing the Badgers. Back in the 90s, I had a Starter jacket with the five o’clock shadow cartoon spartan logo on the back. On a school field trip to watch maple sap being boiled down, I leaned in too close to the evaporator and it melted a hole in the front of the starter jacket. I still wore it, burn hole and all.

    Proofreading: “was based old Chicago street signs!”
    “each players’ bag has patches”

    QotW: My first love in college football is the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits. I have a connection there, growing up near it, having two brothers play there, and then earning a degree from there. However, as a kid in South Dakota there wasn’t a “major” program to root for. The closest were Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. I was big into wrestling so I picked Iowa as a young kid with no other connection and still follow them in both Football and Wrestling today.
    One other team that I inexplicably feel a connection to is Ole Miss. I’ve had a fascination with Oxford, MS for a while (even though I’ve never been there) and so about 7-8 years ago I started rooting for Ole Miss. I have no business doing so. I would imagine living on an acreage in South Dakota is about as far from Oxford Mississippi as you can get. I keep trying to plan a pilgrimage to “the grove” but haven’t made it there yet.

    QotW. I don’t understand why some people think you need to go to or have gone to a major university to be a fan of the sports that represent that major university. I grew up in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania. Penn State is in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania. My earliest memories are of watching Penn State games with my Dad, uncles, and grandfathers. I wanted to go to Penn State, but didn’t have the grades so I went to Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania instead. Ship plays Division II sports. I got my masters’ degree at East Carolina. I sort of pay attention to their football team, but I am and will always be a die hard Penn State fan.

    Since I am in Central Pennsylvania, I can safely attest to what you said, Gerry. Many people in Central PA are Penn State fans because Penn State is in Central Pennsylvania.

    I suppose, though, that would be considered a “connection.”

    I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University but follow Notre Dame. Being from Cincinnati, you almost have to root for ND.

    That whole Moeller HS/Gerry Faust/Bob Crable/Irish-Catholic thing.

    Do not miss this week’s Brownscast with the equipment manager, Brad Melland. Amazing stuff.
    Here’s a link, sorry if already posted :Episode 3: Brad Melland and the Hidden World of an NFL Equipment Manager. link.

    QotW: Do you root for any college sports teams that you have no personal connection to?

    As a native Nebraskan, I have been a fan of the Cornhuskers for as long as I remember. Is being a native Nebraskan a personal connection? Perhaps. However, I never attended the university. We moved from Nebraska (when I was 11-1/2 years old) to Atlanta.

    I earned my undergraduate degree from Georgia State University — long before they thought of having a football team; and I earned my graduate degrees from Auburn University. While I certainly root for Auburn, many who went there for undergrad say, “You’re not a real fan, because you were only here for grad school.” I think that sentiment comes from my unwavering support of the Cornhuskers. After all, when Auburn played Nebraska in a bowl game several years ago, there was no question I was pulling for Nebraska. It felt strange, given I pull for Auburn against every other team, to root against them; but at the same time, it felt right because my support was for “my true team.”

    Moreover, I would respectfully disagree with your sentiment that a “majority of Cornhuskers fans went to the university and have a real connection to it.” Statistics show that 60% of US citizens do not have a degree.


    Within that 40% that do have a degree, it is likely at least half (if not more) attained those degrees at another university. So, the Huskers fan makeup is likely: 20-25% UNL graduates, 15-20% graduates from other universities, and the majority of remaining fans working in assorted trades or not yet in college.

    Thus, I would submit to you that at least half (but likely much more) of any fan base never actually attended the university they support as a fan. Indeed, as an Auburn grad, I can assure you most of the people in the state did not attend Alabama or Auburn, but they definitely have chosen one or the other to support.

    Anyway, all that to say, yes — I root for Nebraska, though I have no personal connection to the university. They are my go to team.

    Perhaps a future related question could be in relation to professional sports teams. For someone like me, a native Nebraskan, my pro teams are literally all over the map, as there is no pro teams in Nebraska. It would be interesting to learn of sports team support for those who did not grow up in a city like Boston or Chicago to see why they support the teams they do.

    Thanks as always, Mike!

    I’m a two time Houston alum and follow them religiously. My kids are Nebraska, Texas State and Sarah “We don’t do football” Lawrence grads. Those are the schools I have ‘connections’ to.

    My ‘no connection’ school is Notre Dame. I grew up Catholic in New Jersey. Everyone I knew followed the Irish to some extent. I’ve had a couple of ND t-shirts and a cap in the past but not now.

    My daughter now is at University of Chicago and I have a shirt but I didn’t even realize until recently that they have a football team.

    Yes, and also alma mater of the first Heisman Trophy winner. Curiously enough, they and original SEC member Sewanee now compete in the same D-III conference.

    QotW: I don’t even root for the sports teams of colleges I do have a connection to. Though I’m planning to attend some men’s and women’s Wisconsin hockey games this winter, and I enjoy games more when I have a rooting interest, so I’ll probably wear red and cheer for the Badgers. But my wife is a UW alumna, so I suppose I actually have a sufficient connection to not qualify for QotW on that score.

    QOTW: I grew up in LA rooting for the local college teams. When I was 7 my mom’s boyfriend who was from the state of Michigan gave me a Michigan Wolverines hat. I loved wearing it and in high school it seemed so cool be the guy with the Michigan hat because of the Fab Five.

    QotW: I guess it all depends on how you define connection. I cheer for Duke basketball. I didn’t go there, but I tried to. My dad did summer classes there in the early 80s, which is when he became a fan, so that’s sort of a connection. I also grew up cheering for Tennessee even though no one in the family had ever gone there. I eventually ended up there for law school, so now I have a definite connection. I’ve worn gear for both schools long before I ever attended any school, and still wear gear for both.


    I’m a born and raised clevelander, so I adore my browns, tribe, and cavaliers. When it comes too college basketball, I root for Cleveland State. However, unless you count division 3 colleges like Baldwin Wallace, there’s no college football in the 216.

    So, I root for Boise State. I fell in love with them after that amazing 2007 season, and have been die hard about them since. I’ve never liked ohio state btw

    In the same boat here. Graduated from Cleveland State and I support all of their teams, but… there’s no football. I grew up in the Archie Griffin & Woody Hayes era, so there’s no question where my NCAA football loyalties lie.

    QotW: I hate college sports with a smoldering passion, but I’ll sometimes catch the Army-Navy game and enjoy it. It’s one of the few college games where I know that the athletes actually had any business matriculating at their schools, that they’re actually enrolled for valid reasons, and that they haven’t done anything that would merit expulsion for a non-athlete. For the same reasons, I’d probably watch the Ivies play each other if those games were ever broadcast around these parts.

    Well, knowing that the Ivy admission standards for athletes themselves are somewhat lax (albeit, relatively speaking) probably won’t make you like college sports any more than you currently (don’t) do.
    Anecdotally, my daughter was a recruited athlete at several Ivies. At one I overheard an assistant football coach flat-out tell a potential recruit that they typically over-recruit by 25% b/c that’s the percentage of incoming freshmen recruits that don’t even bother showing up to the first day of fall practice – they’re just using football as their hook for getting admitted. Then the assistant coach we met with was excited by my daughter’s grades & test scores, not one bit for her sake but b/c they would increase the squad’s cumulative numbers high enough to enable them to admit a top recruit that otherwise couldn’t get in. Just a few weeks ago my daughter met a football player who had transferred from that same Ivy, and said she’d “gotten dumber” just speaking to him.

    Two schools: 1) Notre Dame. My Dad was quite clear when I was growing up that we’re Catholic and therefore we root for the “right arm of the Catholic Church.” 2) Navy. During my senior year of high school I seriously considered joining the Navy upon graduation until I was talked out of it. But ever since I’ve always felt an affinity for Navy.

    QOTW: My grandpa had George Mason basketball season tickets and used to take my brothers and me so I became a fan of the basketball team. At the same time, I have been a University of Virginia fan my whole life and went to UVA so they are my true school (which makes it great to be a fan for almost every sport other than football). I still pull for Mason basketball, but root for UVA if the two schools ever play – it’s only happened 3 times that I can remember.

    QOTW: I can’t really support any college I didn’t attend. Similar to the reason I’d never wear a NYPD or FDNY cap; it would be pretending a connection that isn’t actually there. Just not in my nature.

    Your examples seem to be limited to people who actually attended a school, but I know a lot of folks who had a geographical if not alumnal collection to one. Particularly a city that didn’t have significant pro sports like Eugene, Oregon or Madison, Wisconsin, the school teams take the place of a pro team in the community (I can only presume that this accounts for much of the historical passion around the SEC). And since the NFL left Los Angeles I know people who became much more interested in USC or UCLA.

    QotW: North Carolina (team colors, Michael Jordan), Wisconsin (fun teams, fun crowds), Georgia Tech (team name,colors)


    In 1996, when I was 13, I saw Rudy for the first time. That’s all it took for me to be a Notre Dame fan for life. Being from a Chicago suburb, I still root for Illinois team’s to do well. But the one team I make sure to watch every Saturday is ND. There’s something about the history of the program, the uniforms (not counting the recent one-offs), and the fact that students have to be among the best in the country academically in order to be eligible to play (and are still competitive).

    QOTW: went to a community college with club teams in two sports, not much to root for there.

    I end up rooting for a few schools because of friends that attended; RPI, UMass, and Sam Houston State. Also Williams College because it’s local and hockey games have free admission.

    QotW: I am a fan of UCLA, even though I didn’t go to school there. I was born in Southern California and grew up rooting for the Bruins before my family moved to the Midwest.

    My best friend in California was a big UCLA fan and wound up going to school there, which helped keep my rooting interest intact, even from halfway across the country. We eventually reconnected as roommates in Washington, DC, shortly after college. Because he’d been living in the area for about a year before I got there, he introduced me to his friends and I became part of their social circle. Many of them were part of the local chapter of the UCLA alumni association.

    Before long, I wound up going from just tagging along for the alumni club’s game-watch gatherings and social events to helping plan many of the activities. Then, the out-going co-presidents of the club asked my roommate and me to take over as co-presidents when they finished their terms. I was hesitant to accept, since I had no real connection to the school. But they pointed out that the alumni association was for “students, former students, parents, and friends of UCLA.” So I guess I qualified under the “friend” category.

    I stayed involved in leadership with the UCLA alumni club for a few years, and it wound up being pretty fun. Among the most notable events we organized was a dinner for UCLA’s national championship basketball team when they came to Washington to meet the President.

    I was always up front with the people I met through the club about my attenuated connection to UCLA. I don’t know if it should surprise me or not, but everyone was invariably and consistently accepting. The only time it ever created something of a conflict was when UCLA played a game against my actual alma mater in the NCAA Tournament. I skipped out on the UCLA game-watch so I could cheer for my alma mater without catching flack from the Bruins fans. I guess I discovered the outer limits of my UCLA loyalty that day.

    I forgot to address the uni-part of the question. Yes, I do own a few items of UCLA fan apparel, but not a whole lot. I have probably two or three hats and about the same number of t-shirts.

    At one point, I had all kinds of commemorative t-shirts from UCLA alumni club events. I’ve worn most of them out over the years. The few that are still left, I packed up in a trunk and put in storage.

    I got my BA from Marquette but I’ve always loved Northwestern Football. My parents signed me up for weekend science programs at the school for kids would occasionally take my brothers and I to football games in Evanston. This was back when the team was awful and hardly anyone showed up. But they still had black and purple uniforms, which was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

    In college as in life, I root for whatever team has the best uniforms. I also for Temple, Bowling Green, Case Western Reserve and U.C. Davis because I like the names. A good mascot doesn’t hurt, either.

    Also, my dad had a thing for Boise State when they were an upstart WAC school in the 1990s. They had a penchant for walloping his favorite team, University of Hawaii.

    QotW: Grew up in South Florida, went to school in South Florida (Florida Atlantic) but grew up an Iowa fan (family is all from Iowa-dad went to Drake but rooted for the Hawks). My dad and I would meet Uncles/Cousins for a game a year back in Iowa City…a tradition I recently started back up within the last few years (Maryland game this year).

    FAU had no football when I was there and they were DII in Basketball. I live in CT now…when FAU comes close I’ll go see them (saw them in Boston against Harvard in B-Ball last year and St. Francis of Brooklyn in NYC as well). Went down to Annapolis a few years ago for the FAU/Navy football game too.

    So, after all of this rambling…I still cheer for Iowa and watch and root for FAU as well. FAU has no athletic atmosphere and the biggest bowl they are going to play in is the New Orleans Bowl…or Bahamas Bowl, so it’s tough, and they seem to suck in everything but baseball!

    QOTW: As an NFL and College football (and to a lesser extent MLB, NBA and NHL) fan from the UK it’s even more tenuous connections to pick a team to root for!
    I picked my pro teams based on the fact I have spent quite a bit of time in New England for both work and pleasure.

    In College, I root for Boston College Eagles (for the same reason as the Patriots) and the Florida Gators (as I have spent a bit of time on the usual theme-park based holidays us Brits seem to like to take).

    That being said I don’t think I could root for either if they had woeful Unis, happily I think they both have pretty solid sets and decent logos (Florida’s mono-orange aside).

    Oh! And addressing the clothing question, yes I have a BC T-shirt and cap and a couple of UF Ts and a cap. I wear them all regularly but I wear my Patriots stuff more often.

    “Sometimes I think of just choosing a team, like maybe Nebraska, but then I imagine how weird that would be. The majority of Cornhuskers fans went to the university and have a real connection to it/”

    As a former fairly short-term resident of Nebraska, I’m pretty sure that the majority of Cornhuskers fans didn’t actually go to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. To be sure, UNL is probably the most common school of choice among Nebraska residents. But there are plenty of other campuses of the University of Nebraska, along with lots of other colleges around the state. A significant portion of the state’s population also did not attend college.

    The one thing the state’s residents seem to have in common, in my experience, is that they almost all cheer for the Cornhuskers, no matter where or if they went to college. For many, it’s just as much a matter of pride in where you’re from as a connection to a university.

    But I’m pretty sure, Mike, that if you chose to become a Husker fan, they’d welcome you with open arms. And you might help make link slightly more aptly named as opposed to the more factually accurate “Nebraska Transplants for Nebraska (Chicago Division).”

    I was one of the (probably) thousands who E-mailed a suggestion to cover the Patriots mid 90’s uniforms for Flashback Friday.

    At the risk of being too NFLcentric, could i suggest Flashback Friday coverage of the 1994 NFL 75th anniversary season’s throwback games?

    It was a long time ago so my memory is spotty, but i reember it as being the first foray into the whole throwback craze that covers all sports nowadays.

    Specifically i remember the Jets attempt that year, where they had a Uniform that was close to the Namath Era Jets, but the Helmet was green and just didnt look right.

    Most of the attempts at retro uniforms that season had errors, such as wrong number fonts.

    Also, I havent seen it covered in depth anywhere, so bonus points for a unique article?

    I don’t know about other sports, but it wasn’t actually the first for the NFL – the Jets did a similar throwback in 1993, celebrating the 25th anniversary of their SBIII win. Also had a green helmet, but no stripes. So it was even worse than their 1994 version.

    QOTW: I was born in Syracuse and lived in upstate NY until I was 7, when we moved to Lincoln, NE. I had no clue about football until we moved here in ’75 and became an instant Huskers fan, so much so that I can’t seem to get it out of my stem.

    That said, like an above commenter, due to my connection with Syracuse I find myself rooting for them in basketball, sometimes despite my dislike for things that go on there. Not a huge rooting interest, but I pay attention and cheer them on depending on who they are playing.

    And having been born in NY, I became a Yankees fan once I began to understand baseball, even though my best friend in grade school was a huge Royals fan (big in Lincoln). Additionally, I root for the Jets as sort of a third team NFL option, again due to my NY connection. Growing up in Nebraska, pro teams don’t pull us as much, especially in the NFL, so I picked teams based on how similar to college the fans were, so I cheer for the Packers first, Broncos second, then Jets, but only because of that link to NY. :)

    QOTW: I grew up near an SEC school, but didn’t go there, and don’t really root for their teams. I’ve got degrees from four other schools, all of which have Division I programs, and I only follow their teams in a cursory way, and I currently work at a major university, but not one where sports is more than an afterthought, so I don’t really bother following the sports here.

    I do actively root AGAINST certain teams, namely Oregon, Alabama, Florida and Kentucky basketball. Does that count?

    Tulane basketball: As a New Orleanian, I think of Tulane as dark green and light blue, but I like their double green look and I love that anybody is doing double green, or for that matter, double anything other than blue. They can keep it.
    QotW: SO MANY people root for LSU down in New Orleans, regardless of any “connections” that may or may not be there. Let’s face it, for many years, that was a better football team than the Saints. Also not for nothing, LSU matriculation used to be a taxpayer right just like your local community college would be. My dad was a podiatrist down there and he met many patients who were LSU fans while attending Tulane. It really only has a risk of colliding in baseball (Tulane beat LSU once in a Super Regional–that’s the last stop before Omaha–when I was a kid, and Zephyr Field was never so full), but yes it does happen.
    But me personally? No, I could not possibly care less. I have no NCAA allegiance anywhere. It’s laundry with a shelf life guaranteed not to last longer than four years per person, and none of it is mine. Never took to a team. If Cornell or Georgia Tech are on tv, I’ll root as a tribute to my mom even though I know she doesn’t care. Her undergrad and grad, respectively. Dad went to NYU and a podiatry school that got acquired by Temple much later, so nothing there. Though if the UNO Privateers ever get to a big tournament, I’d be excited as Paul Lukas, Suffolk Long Islander and SUNY alumnus, was for Stony Brook.

    I actually bought a membership to Crystal Palace (even though I am a Chelsea fan) so I could see Palace face Man City last spring. It all worked out as Palace pulled off the upset, effectively ending City’s chance at the Premier League title.

    Think how improved the Pats’ uniforms would be if they bagged the navy blue oblong down the side, and replaced the pants’ stripe with the pennant design from the 1993 pants.

    Negative points for comparing the late 90’s Patriots to a “USFL uniform”. The league you should have referred to is MLS. They looked like soccer jerseys.

    Also, every single team in the USFL had a fairly standard block number font. C’mon Paul, you’re better than that. Compare it to the CFL’s weird 90’s jerseys with the front logos, or the Arena Football League, not the USFL.

    Just because Trump ruined the league is no reason to use the term “USFL” as a pejorative. Especially when it comes to uniforms. In fact, when ranking uniforms, you’d be more accurate in saying something like, “The Chiefs, Bears, Colts and Raiders are USFL-like in their brilliance.”

    Yea; I’ve never understood the compunction to use “USFL” to mean “minor-league” or “bush-league” or in some other way less-than-professional-grade. The USFL uniforms were all very professional-looking, in their own time and perhaps even more so today.

    Now, that said, the USFL did use logos on the sleeves, which the NFL hadn’t really started doing by then; the Seahawks had them by 1983, and I think the Packers still had them then, but I don’t think anyone else did. In the late ’80s – early ’90s we started to see sleeve logos on teams like the Dolphins, Bengals, Cardinals, &c., some of whom moved their TV numerals from sleeve to shoulder and put the logo on the sleeve.

    Great piece Paul. Being from New England, I actually really liked the Flying Elvis on the shoulder pads and vertical striped jerseys. One question about those 1995 jerseys though. This is the first instance that I can recall of an NFL team having their wordmark right below the neckline, a practice that is now pretty commonplace. Am I correct?

    This isn’t a dig at Paul, but at ESPN and the host of this segment.

    “Today we’re flashing waaay back… to the early ’90s”. LOL!

    Grew up in South Suburban Chicagoland part of a strong Catholic family so… you guessed it, Notre Dame fan. Had a great Uncle go there and my aunt used his alumni status for tickets. I went to a smaller university in Indiana that did not have a football team, so I remained a big fan of the Irish. I’ll always cheer for ND, but now i’m probably part of a small minority of atheist ND fans. I can give up the church but not the school. ha.

    I grew up in Western PA, and in fourth grade one of my friends got me interested in Penn State football (oddly enough, I don’t think anyone in his family had any connections either). That turned out to be the year of their last national championship (1986), and I have been a fan ever since. I ended up going to college at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a DIII school with no football team. So I maintained my rooting interest in Penn State football, and also became a big fan of my own school’s hockey team. Ironically enough, by the time Penn State added varsity hockey, RIT had taken their program DI, and we have played each other a couple of times.

    I’m from Buffalo, but I happen to be a die hard Miami Hurricanes fan. I try to go to as many games as possible and I watch every game on TV. I also have tons of Canes merchandise and clothing. I don’t actually remember why I started liking them. I think my mom bought me a Hurricanes sweatshirt back in the late 80s and I’ve liked them ever since. I was too poor to go to the school, but I am as big of a fan or bigger Miami fan than my two hometown teams, the Bills and the Sabres. Which has confused people in my neighborhood when I fly a Hurricanes flag that they assume is a Dolphins flag.

    Akron grad here, but don’t tell me I *have* to root for my alma mater. I do, when it comes to basketball and soccer. My all-time favorite basketball team, however, is Villanova. They captured my attention during the ’82-’83 season. Loved the double blue uniforms, and something about sophomore forward Ed Pinckney led me to exclaim to my brother, “This team’s going to win the championship when he’s a senior.” Since then I’ve had a number of ‘Nova shirts and caps.

    I like a handful of other college hoops programs, including Duquesne and most of the West Coast Conference. I may be Catholic, but don’t tell me I *have* to root for Notre Dame. I also have a UT-San Antonio RoadRunners basketball t-shirt, but that’s just because I found it at Goodwill and it looked nice.

    Back when I followed concussionball, my loyalty was split between Pitt & Penn State. And once a year, Michigan. I may live in the Buckeye State but don’t tell me I *have* to root for Ohio State.

    QOTW: I attended George Mason University, so I’m a fan of their basketball program, but since there is no football program, I’ve found myself gravitating toward LSU football. I have no particular reason to choose LSU. Perhaps it’s simply because they are on TV a lot and their games are usually pretty entertaining?

    I much prefer the 90s Pats unis to the current ones which do not remotely befit a dynastic team. The Pat Patriot unis are by far their best.

    QOTD: I went to Saint Louis University and still live in the area, so like Mike I have no football team. So many friends, family, and other locals are Mizzou alumni/fans that I choose to root for them

    Question in re: facemasks.

    It used to be that you’d seen running backs and inevitably linemen with facemasks that had a center vertical bar running the length of the facemask, as seen here on Earl Campbell and Art Shell



    Now, you see rarely see it.


    What’s behind this trend?

    Oooooohhhhh…… Paul, you lost me with this:

    The cumulative effect of the [vertical fabric] stripes, the [ginormous] shoulder logos, and a rather cartoonlike number font was unmistakably USFL-ish

    The USFL never used anything like vertical fabric stripes, ginormous shoulder logos, or cartoonlike number fonts. In fact, every USFL team used standard block numerals on its jerseys, and no USFL team ever had its logo on the shoulders, let alone a ginormous one.

    Here, link….

    The link didn’t do that either; in fact, the WFL used a common, generic jersey template for all teams. They all had block numerals, stripes on the sleeves, TV numerals on the sleeves above the stripes, and nothing on the shoulders. The only difference from one to the next was the colors, although a couple of teams modified the sleeve striping a bit.

    I wouldn’t have called the present Pats’ uniforms more classic. They still incorporate that most late ’90s/early 2000s of designs: side panels.

    Great job on all the photos in the ESPN Flashback Friday piece, they successfully revived my memory of those days.

    Starter made thise Jerseys, and i remember them being everywhere whenever i visited upstate NY.

    They didnt look so bad on retail versions, but back in those days NFL Players used to wear bigger shoulderpads than they do today, and that Jersey looked like a giant joke when Curtis Martin was a Patriot, as he ptobably wore the biggest shoulderpads in NFL History.

    Back then NFL Teams were outfitted by different companies. The Patriots were outfitted by Starter, and i think it was partly a factor in the NFL later moving on to have the whole league outfitted by one company.

    Per Darren Rovell, the University of Wisconsin officially has an Under Armour deal for 10 years, and $96 million.

    QOTW: As a Canadian I have no natural connection to any US team and have never picked up any affinity for any team.

    I follow my own two alma maters (Manitoba and Queen’s) passionately. I’ve been lucky enough to see three championships, and that they’ve never played each other.

    PLEASE!!! Put Washington on the worst uniforms on Sunday. That black/purple/white combo was awful.

    In other Nebraska-related news, a company owned by Ndamukong Suh won a contract to redevelop a university-owned building in downtown Lincoln; he’s going to open…a Niketown.


    In the article, University officials noted that this has no impact on their relationship with Adidas, but that didn’t stop comments coming in to speculate that Nebraska would switch to Nike the next time the contact comes up (in 2018).

    QOTW: Not so much the rooting interest, but the wearing of other school gear. I remember in high school just loving college gear, so I wore from all sorts of schools, regardless of teams. The more obscure the better. Not many kids in central Jersey were wearing U of Illinois hoops sweatshirts.

    Now, even today as I take my own son on college visits to schools I know he’s not going to, it gives me a reason to pick up a new tshirt.

    I’ve had people remark at my Harvard baseball t-shirt and ask if I went to Harvard. It’s just a shirt. Next week it’ll be UCLA or UNC Chapel Hill. No rhyme or reason. Going to a meeting at Yale in a few weeks… maybe I should complete a full Ivy league set.

    I am a UNC grad but I do like the idea of wearing obscure sports t-shirts. I focus more on defunct pro leagues – my prize shirts being “Portland Thunder” and “Charlotte Hornets) WFL shirts.

    The Hornets one has the old helmet on it with the profile of the “bee”. It’s amazing how when I wear it around Charlotte, so far nobody who has asked me about it had any idea that there was a pro football team here in the early 70’s.

    I also sport a XFL Chicago Enforcers hat that was kind of given to me as a gag gift but I like it anyway.

    I like finding and wearing obscure college shirts as well. Or shirts for less-than-big-time sports from major colleges. I found a Villanova Swimming shirt at Goodwill that’s one of my go-to sleeping shirts.

    I always thought chuck klosterman said it best:

    When people ask me who my favorite NFL team is, I always say, “The 1978
    Dallas Cowboys.” I still have some interest in that particular
    franchise, but I don’t feel any loyalty to the organization; I mean,
    it’s not like I’m a stockholder. Nobody asked me about firing Tom
    Landry. Nobody consulted with me about the acquisition of Drew Bledsoe.
    I have always liked the Packers (especially during that brief James
    Lofton-J.J. Jefferson era), but mostly because I grew up surrounded by
    hordes of Viking fans, virtually all of whom I despise. No Packer
    victory has ever made me as happy as the Vikings’ loss to the Falcons in
    the 1999 NFC championship game; that was among the greatest days of my
    life. I generally have a modicum of interest in the Broncos, which (I
    think) was spawned by my affinity for a 1979 Rick Upchurch football card
    that recognized him as the NFL’s all-time leading punt returner. The
    photo was of Upchurch adjusting his face mask; it was relentlessly cool.
    But I was also 7.
    Certainly, I was a Celtic fan during the 1980s. I had a lot of interest
    in the pre-Jordan Bulls (I really liked Artis Gilmore, for some reason),
    but that waned when they became dominant. I liked the Bucks from the
    ’80s and the ’90s Pacers, particularly when Bird coached them. I have
    always been interested in the Minnesota Twins, as they have consistently
    been the most likable franchise in baseball. My favorite college
    football team varies, but it’s usually somebody who still runs the
    option (Nebraska used to be my default university, but now they suddenly
    think fullbacks are supposed to run pass patterns). In NCAA basketball,
    I support all the schools coached by the former players and assistants
    of Bobby Knight, although I have very mixed feelings about Texas Tech.
    Basically, I am an intense fan of sports, but I am able to detach from
    the insane tendency of just rooting for any given team out of habit. And
    I’ll never understand why so many smart people refuse to think
    critically about sports.

    I like that. Well, not the Cowboys, Celtics or Bobby Knight parts. I get the overall reasoning.

    Re Mike’s Question of the Week: I have always been a USC fan, although neither I nor anyone in my family attended. My stepdad starting following them because they were one of the first to play a black quarterback in the 60s. But I followed them because he followed them, and before long I was enthralled with the colors and the songs, and of course the fact that they were at or near the top year after year (during the 70s). By now my fandom has simply been etched into my consciousness; I can’t help it.

    My suggestion is to pick a team from your hometown area, that way you have an excuse to root for them (they’re my homeboys!). Alternatively, pick a school that a relative or friend goes to, or just adopt whatever team is most popular among your circle of friends or family. They may not mean anything to you at first, but once you have followed them for a few years they will grow on you because you will start getting to know the players, coaches, etc. Then when people ask why you follow that team, just say “I don’t know, I’ve been following them for years and I’ve built up a sentimental attachment.”

    QotW: I’ve rooted for the Oklahoma Sooners since 2007 (Sam Bradford’s freshman year). I’ve been a huge wrestling fan since 2004 (I did take 2009-2014 off, but now I’m back) and commentator Jim Ross says “Boomer Sooner” a lot and his intro music is the University of Oklahoma fight song. That made me start watching them and they were really good.

    But since that, I got my master’s degree at the University of Oregon and have started to become more attached to Duck athletics since. This is probably because in my time at Eugene I attended a sporting event for every team. I’ve never watched any Sonners athletics live. I HAVE met the wrestling team at OU, including coach Mark Cody.

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