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As I watched last night’s Cowboys/Vikings game, a thought occurred to me: Players in monochromatic look smaller, at least to me. Smaller and narrower. I’m not sure why this is — maybe because the solid-colored uni looks sleeker and more streamlined? — but it’s something I’ve instinctively thought for many years but have never fully articulated, even to myself, until now. It doesn’t matter if the uniform is mono-white, mono-purple (ewww), or mono-anything else — the players just look smaller, like they’re little video game figures.
Does anyone else experience the same visual effect?
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Do-gooder footwear bonanza: As you’re no doubt aware by now, hundreds of NFL players will be wearing custom-designed cleats to support various nonprofit foundations and other charitable causes this Sunday. I had hoped to have an ESPN column today about some of the people who actually designed and painted some of those cleats, but some very annoying circumstances conspired to make that impossible. So instead I’ll have a piece in which I showcase some of the more notable designs (which is, you know, what pretty much every other sports media outlet is doing, which is why I wanted to do the other piece about the people who created the designs, but that didn’t work out, grrrrr). Check it out here.
Actually, there is a story I can tell you — or at least link to — about someone who designed some of the cleats: The participating players on the Raiders had their custom footwear designed and painted by the team’s longtime equipment manager, Bobby Romanski, who’s also an artist. There’s a really good article and video about him here. Highly recommended.
Romanski has been the Raiders’ equipment guy for over 20 years, but I confess that I’ve never been aware of his name. He comes off as a really interesting guy — thoughtful, soft-spoken, humble. And an artist to boot! Good for him.
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Pack straps, continued: In response to yesterday’s entry about Packers quarterbacks Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Brett Hundley all wearing the same old-school two-point chinstrap, Twitter user @Kodison12 informed me that the trend goes beyond those three players. At least three additional Packers signal-callers — Graham Harrell, Craig Nall, and Joe Callahan (all shown above, from left to right) — have worn the same antiquated strap in recent years. And then reader/commenter Randy pointed out that yet another recent Green Bay quarterback has worn that strap: B.J. Coleman. So that makes at least seven Packers wearing this strap, during a period in which almost nobody else in the league has worn it.
It’s worth noting that a few other recent Green Bay quarterbacks have used the more conventional four-point strap, including Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, and Seneca Wallace, so the old-school two-pointer hasn’t been a universal Packers thing. But it’s still definitely a Packers thing.
Unfortunately, my request to discuss all of this with equipment manager Red Batty was turned down (the team doesn’t make its support staff available to the media). But I’ve asked the PR to see if they can get some info from Batty to pass along to me. Still waiting on that. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s entirely possible that there are punters and kickers out there who wear the old two-point rig — I haven’t done a close inventory on them. And readers wasted no time in finding just such a player in last night’s game: Vikings kicker Kai Forbath.
Footage from the vaults: Reader John McMunn recently came across the video shown above, which features game highlights from Weeks 1 and 6 of the 1954 NFL season. I’ll let John take it from here:
Of note is that in Week 1, the Bears/Lions and 49ers/Redskins games were color on color. So was the 49ers/Bears game in Week 6. That same week, the Eagles and Packers played a night game that was color on color. One of the neat features was the use of a white football for the night game.
Also: Despite warm weather in Week 1, the players’ jerseys had long sleeves.
One other note is that all the officials are wearing white caps, unlike today when only the referee wears white and the rest of the crew wears black.
T-Shirt Club reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s final design of 2016 is now available for ordering. The design is a mash-up of uniform elements from all of our previous 2016 shirts (click to enlarge):
The only new element is the baseball cap (which didn’t appear on our baseball-themed shirt because the player was wearing a batting helmet). It’s comes in four color options — our usual grey, black, green, plus a new “military green” (that’s what the manufacturer calls it, although I’d just call it light olive) — and is also available with either short or long sleeves.
One note: Yesterday a few people said they thought the guy in the photo was wearing a left sneaker on his right foot, and maybe a right cleat on his left foot. There’s a story behind that (not worth explaining, trust me), but I could see what people meant, so we’ve adjust the footwear like so — old version on the left, new on the right:
The shirt will be available through next Friday, Dec. 9. The shirts are due to ship right after Christmas, so they should arrive in time for you to wear them on New Year’s Eve. (I had hoped to have them delivered in time for Christmas, but it just wasn’t possible to get things finalized in time for that. Sorry.)
If you’ve ordered all five of this year’s previous shirts and also get this one, you’ll be eligible for our year-end “Collect ’Em All” prize, which will be a patch based on the jock tag design used on this year’s shirts. To qualify, please send me proof that you’ve bought all six shirts. The proof can either be (a) a photo showing all the shirts or (b) screen shots of the “Thank you for your order” emails you received from Teespring and Represent.
Big thanks, as always, to my creative partner, Bryan Molloy, who executed this design and then patiently endured my dozens of picky fine-tuning requests.
This is our final shirt of the year. Will we do the T-Shirt Club again next year? I’m not sure. I’d definitely like to do some more shirts, but maybe in a more random, less programmatic way. We’ll see.
Once again, the new shirt can be ordered here.
Baseball News: Best thing to emerge so far from MLB’s new labor deal: Home-field advantage in the World Series will no longer be tied to the All-Star Game. Helle-freakin’-lujah. … Also: The new deal bans smokeless tobacco for new players. … Speaking of smokeless tobacco, the list of cities that have banned its use in their ballparks now includes Milwaukee. … New logo for the short-season Single-A Northwest League. … Here’s an MLB nickNOB I don’t think we’ve seen before: Ruppert Jones of the 1979 Mariners with a “Rupe” nickNOB (from Mickel Yantz, via @ChrisRichardsPD).
NFL News: Here’s a place where I’ve never seen the Jags’ original phantom logo before: on a tree ornament. … Dallas QB Dak Prescott suffered a torn jersey last night. Then it got worse, and they stitch it up later (screen shots by Joey Breeland and Zak Meyer). … Cowboys DE David Irving wore the wrong (i.e., right) socks last night. And if you look in the background of that photo, you can see that someone in the secondary was doing likewise (from Jonathan Dodd). … Former Vikes coach Bud Grant was at the game last night and was wearing an NFL helmet necktie (from Chris Rabalais).
College Football News: Here’s Clemson’s jersey patch for the ACC championship game (from Mark Johnson). … In that same game, Virginia Tech will go mono-maroon (from Andrew Cosentino). … Looks like Ohio will be wearing matte black helmets for the MAC championship. … According to a note roughly midway through this story, Purdue players warmed up in black jerseys before the 1986 Old Oaken Bucket Game against Indiana and then returned to the locker room to find gold jerseys waiting for them, which apparently got the team all excited. “We’ve heard similar stories before, but it goes to show the influence of retail jerseys,” says Aaron Parish. “Could you imagine any surprise switch like that today? It would be announced way in advance and have a big ‘story’ behind it.”
Hockey News: A low-level junior team has poached the Niagara Ice Dogs’ logo. I’m always amazed by how brazen people are aout this kind of thing. Also amazed that they’d settle for using someone else’s logo instead of wanting one of their own. … New ugly sweater jerseys for the Springfield Jr. Blues.
NBA News: LeBron James, having lost a bet on the World Series, will be wearing a Cubs uniform when the Cavs arrive to play the Bulls in Chicago today (thanks, Mike). … Brook Lopez of the Nets wore a Craig Sager tribute warm-up top prior to last night’s game against the Bucks (from Mike Horowitz). … This is pretty amazing: World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen was wearing NBA socks during his recent match against challenger Sergey Karjakin the other day. Wonder if he’s actually an NBA fan or if someone paid him to wear the hose (from Jay Bracken).
College Hoops News: Here’s a time-lapse video showing the creation of Louisiana-Lafayette’s new floor design. … The NCAA has revealed the logo for the 2018 Final Four (from Ed Kendrick). … Pretty cool skyline alternate design for Missouri-Kansas City (from @powerandfinesse, who was the first of many readers to send that one in). … Bizarro shorts this season for Warner University. … Arkansas’s home court has a mark where the first slam dunk was launched (from Matt Snyder).
Soccer News: Looks like Paxton Pomykal, who plays for the MLS team FC Dallas, was wearing his shorts backwards the other day (from Mark Dancer).
Grab Bag: MLB destroyed the Indians’ championship merch, but Hillary Clinton victory merch is still being sold, albeit at a discount. “I guess it’d be weird to send something like that to needy countries,” says ”@callmew1lly. … The federal Dept. of Transportation says hundreds of signs promoting tourism on highways throughout New York State are illegal, because they’re so big and info-packed that they pose a distraction hazard. … Nike is trying to bypass retailers by selling more items directly to consumers. … The son of a Texas police officer who was killed in the line of duty was given teddy bears made from his father’s uniforms. … Jared Law notes that all-star game logos for assorted sports and leagues usually have one thing in common: they use a star in place of the hyphen in “All-Star.” Has this become such an established trope that it’s essentially an imperative? If an all-star logo used a conventional hyphen instead of a star, would that be a design sin? Discuss. … Monster recently signed an endorsement deal with Tiger Woods, but don’t expect them to do similar deals with other golfers (thanks, Brinke). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: If we ever add more states to the union, how will we add stars to the American flag? Here’s a good exploration of that topic, including this amazing flag-builder app (with big thanks to R. Scott Rogers):