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A Look Back at Mike McCarthy’s Odd Cap/Sharpie Habit

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With former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy heading back to the NFL coaching sidelines after a one-season absence, it’s worth remembering the he had a very odd uni-related quirk: For at least a decade, he was in the habit of wearing a Sharpie tucked into his cap. (You can see lots of additional examples here.)

As you can see, it was easy enough for McCarthy to stick the pen in his headwear when he was wearing a strapback or snapback. But what if he was wearing a fitted or flex-fit cap? No problemo — he had a little pen-holder loop of fabric added to his caps:

There are also photos showing what appears to be a little pocket added to his cap, although I’ve never seen him actually wearing the pen in that slot:

Now that’s some serious cap customization right there. (And to think that people give me shit just for encouraging folks to remove the New Era logo!)

McCarthy used at least three different Sharpie colors — blue, red, and green. I never did crack the code regarding which color got used in which situation.

Whatever the color, reaching to the back of your cap seems like an awkward way to access a writing implement, but McCarthy made it seem natural. Well, mostly natural:

Still, there were occasional problems. In Super Bowl XLV, for example, McCarthy forgot to put the cap back on his red Sharpie, which resulted him getting red ink on the back of his neck:

It’s not clear exactly when McCarthy started doing this, but it definitely predates his time with the Packers. Here he is during his 2005 stint as offensive coordinator of the 49ers:

And here he is with the Saints, also as offensive coordinator, in 2001:

That’s the earliest photo of a cap-clad McCarthy I could find. So he was wearing the pen in his cap at least as far back as 2001. He continued doing it up through 2011 and then appears to have stopped in 2012. (Maybe someone told him about this exciting new innovation called pockets.) I guess it’s unlikely that he’d suddenly revive the practice in Dallas, but I’m hoping he does, if only because it’s such a fun eccentricity.

In any case, welcome back, Mike — may your Sharpie never run dry.

(Big thanks to Wes Muniz for the Super Bowl XLV image.)

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Miracle redux: With the 40th anniversary of Team USA’s “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics coming next month, two Minnesota high schools — St. Paul Johnson (where 1980 Team USA coach Herb Brooks went to high school and won a state championship in 1955) and Highland Park — commemorated the anniversary last night by wearing USA and USSR throwbacks. The helmet colors weren’t accurate, but that seems forgivable for a high school game. Here’s another look:

As you can see in the first photo, the kid in the Team USA jersey had a “Christian” NOB. Did he just happen to have the same name and number as 1980 Team USA defenseman Dave Christian, or were the high schools putting the 1980 players’ names on the throwback jerseys? The latter, as it turns out:

I couldn’t find a good rear-view photo of the Soviet NOBs, but here’s a shot that shows a Highland Park player wearing what appears to be the NOB of Soviet right wing Boris Mikhailov:

Update: Reader/commenter Natron attended this game and provided this photo of the Highland Park player with the “Mikhailov” NOB, plus an additional player wearing the NOB of Soviet center Viktor Zhluktov:

Further update: Here’s an even better shot of the Soviet NOBs:

History repeated itself, as St. Paul Johnson — the school dressed as Team USA — won the game.

(Big thanks to Will Marshall for this one.)

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Now you “C” me: Louisiana-Lafayette jerseys normally have a fleur de lis above the nameplate, but quarterback Levi Lewis (and maybe other captains..?) wore a rather huge captaincy designation in that spot during last night’s Yet Another Unnecessary Bowl. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a football player wear the “C” in that spot.

Some quick photo/video research indicates that Lewis didn’t wear the “C” above his nameplate (or anywhere else) during the regular season, so this is apparently something that was added just for last night.

(My thanks to Joe Blevins for this one.)

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

And here we are, back with the first Collector’s Corner of the new decade. Starting off with this Mickey Mantle Holiday Inn cocktail napkin. The Mick’s Holiday Inn was located in Joplin, Mo. Don’t know if you get that neat little stand to go with it, though!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• In the 1940s, Atlantic gas stations gave away this tin Philadelphia A’s baseball bank as a promo item. It says “Compliments of your Atlantic Dealer” and “Connie Mack” on it.

• In 1970 I played sixth grade football in Louisville for the local YMCA (that’s me in the front row, third from the left). We were known as the Oilers, and we all had this sticker on our helmets.

• More stickers: I have always loved this old 1960s Buffalo Bills sticker design. Do we know why they chose No. 31?

• Check out this vintage Wheaties “Breakfast of Champions” cereal bowl. The seller says the silhouetted figures include Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Lawson Little, Ellsworth Vines Jr,, Kit Klein, Jack Armstrong, Babe Didrikson, Jane Fauntz, and Red Grange. Gotta be 1930s-1940s here?

• As a Niners fan, (PL will take note of this one as well), I must say this next item is way cool: a seat back from Candlestick Park with a diagram of “The Catch,” signed by Joe Cool Montana and the late Dwight Clark (R.I.P., 87).

• Take a look at this signed glossy photo of the late Rayduh Ben Davidson. Now is that a facemask or what! And the mustache! Cue John Facenda, please. (As someone on YouTube commented: “John Facenda could narrate Frosted Flakes getting soggy and it would be amazing.”)

• Take a guess as to which players are shown on the box for this Sears Super Video Arcade game from the 1970s. (For Color TV Viewing Only! Yes, kids — this is how computer games started.) I’m gonna say Len Dawson on the left and .. Walter Payton on the right?

• How about this 1970s New Orleans Saints sideline jacket? Sir Saint is embroidered right on the front, and the seller indicates this came from a team employee in the “Archie Manning era.”

• Here’s a nice collection of 1950s and ’60s Chicago White Sox logo items: a pennant, patches, and a bumper sticker. I like that vertically stacked SOX design.

• This Minnesota Vikings youth jacket from Stahl-Urban has sleeve striping on just one sleeve. Why would they do that? Love that old time font on the patch, though.

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Membership update: A new batch of designs has been added to the membership card gallery (including Dillon Shain’s Miami Vice-themed Heat card, shown at right). I hope to have the printed/laminated versions of these new cards shipped out by the end of this week.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop and our Naming Wrongs shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.) As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,400 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, we’re running another raffle from our longtime advertiser Vintage Brand. The winner will be able to choose anything from their website (including the 49ers cutting board shown above).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tomorrow, Jan. 8. One email per person. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsThe Professional Bull Riders tour is using a Royals-inspired logo for an upcoming event in Kansas City (from Ryan Atkinson). … New all-black uniforms — including pullover jerseys — for Laney College in California (from Donovan Frazer).

NFL News“Big Truss,” a term coined by RB Mark Ingram, has become an unofficial team motto for the Ravens this season. A Ravens fan from Las Vegas has filed a trademark for the phrase and is selling merch including the phrase (from Andrew Cosentino). … Someone spotted a Detroit Red Wings fan in Chicago Sunday wearing a Packers jersey with Wings Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman’s NOB and number (from Jerry Nitzh). … Here’s a good review of all the retro-styled program covers the Bears produced this season (from Ryan Andrew).

College Football NewsDuring last night’s Lending Tree Bowl, Miami (OH) QB Brett Gabbert lost the silver outline on his sleeve logo — something that’s happened multiple times this season (from Timmy Donahue). … Timmy also notes that Miami WR James Maye would have scored a touchdown if not for his long, stretchy undershirt. … LSU has confirmed it will wear white at home in the National Championship, meaning Clemson will pair its “championship” orange pants with an orange jersey (thanks to all who shared). … Spotted in Nebraska: a Huskers logo made out of bowling pins and tongue-in-cheek airport artwork explaining how the city of Lincoln got its name (from Kary Klismet). … Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rogue, La., is dressing newborns in LSU onesies this week (from Chris Mycoskie). … These are the uniforms that will be worn in the Tropical Bowl, a college football all-star game, on Jan. 12 (from Josh Hinton). … Tennessee was Blaise D’Sylva’s mini-helmet team of the day yesterday.

Hockey NewsNew Canadiens LW Ilya Kovalchuk got his new teammate D Brett Kulak, a Rolex so he could wear No. 17 (from Mike Chamernik). … A kid in Canada wanted a Maple Leafs birthday cake. Instead, he got a cake with the Maple Leaf Foods logo — that’s a packaged meats company in Canada (thanks to all who shared). … Cross-listed from the NFL section: Someone spotted an NFL fan wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey with Red Wings Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman’s NOB and number (from Jerry Nitzh). … The Ottawa 67s of the OHL wore jerseys commemorating their teddy bear toss game on Sunday (from Wade Heidt). … More from Wade: QMJHL G Francesco Lapenna was traded from the Val-d’Or Foreurs to the Drummondville Voltigeurs back on Dec. 14 but was still wearing his Foreurs mask as of a few days ago. … Trevor Williams changes the pennants in his third-grade classroom throughout the year. Now that it’s winter, he’s put up hockey pennants from the cities where he’s lived. … Check out the mask worn by Pete Backor of the Pittsburgh Hornets after breaking his cheekbone in an AHL game in 1950 (from Jerry Wolper). … The Wild are giving out Mike Modano North Stars T-shirts on Sunday. … Pretty cool new jerseys for the U. of Texas club team (from Sean Arnold).

Basketball News: The ad patch on Hornets G Terry Rozier’s teal jersey reappeared last night. As you may recall, it was missing for Charlotte’s previous two games wearing that uniform (from @Ace_Fuller). … New numbers for Hawks F Paul Watson (No. 2), Rockets SF William Howard (No. 52), and Nets SG/SF Justin Anderson (No. 10) (all from Etienne Catalan). … Unusual warmup tops — and a poached UConn logo — for North Marion High School in West Virginia (from Chris Grosse).

Soccer News: MLS has published a piece on its website about the 11 best kits of the decade (from John Flory). … New jersey for V-Varen Nagasaki, a club in J2, a second-division league in Japan. In the same league, JEF United also unveiled new uniforms (from Ed Żelaski). … This Twitter thread explores bizarre uniform numbers throughout soccer history (from @LKM_juve). … Liverpool confirmed their rumored kit deal with Nike. “Remember, Liverpool and Nike were sued by New Balance, who were desperate to remain Liverpool’s suppliers,” says Josh Hinton.

Grab BagSports Illustrated’s remaining staff is looking to form a union. … Eastern Airlines is making a comeback, and it’s unveiled its plane liveries and employee uniforms (from @PhillyPartTwo). … Up for auction on eBay: A pair of antique 1950s leather kicker cleats (from Michael Princip).

Comments (44)

    Regarding the Sharpie-color code for McCarthy, Gus Malzahn was asked about his Sharpie habits at the beginning of the season. Didn’t really amount to much, but some insight into his method.


    The captain’s patch is probably on the back because there simply wasn’t any space on the front of the jersey for it. The LT Bowl patch was very large last night.


    A correction needed on one of the Hockey Ticker items I sent. The game between Val-d’Or Foreurs and Drummondville Voltigeurs was this weekend. Francesco Lapenna was traded from Val-d’or to Drummondville on Dec 14, not this past weekend.

    Not his first game with the Voltigeurs, but he is still wearing his Val-d’Or mask and pads when the game vs. Val-d’Or happened this weekend.

    In response to the Yzerman/Packers jersey.

    I’m sure he has to explain this atrocity all the time at which point the joke is rendered not funny. Wouldn’t he rather spend his money to support his own team? (I know. I know. It’s a waste of money to buy any overpriced polyester shirt)

    One other small – mostly local – note in the St. Paul Johnson vs. Highland Park “Miracle on Ice” game: Herb Brooks wore #5 when he played for Johnson in the 1950’s. Johnson retired that number several years ago (I believe it may have been around his passing in 2003, but don’t hold me to that), so
    link was worn by a Johnson player for the first time in several years last night.

    The entire ticker is bold and in a headline font, for me. Both on Chrome and Firefox.

    Thanks for the s/o, Paul.

    The Texas Hockey sweaters were worn in the Texas/Texas A&M “Winter Classic” in the Cotton Bowl following the NHL Winter Classic. It’s rare that the university supports the use of the growling Bevo (1966-1976) anymore, so these are pretty unique in that regard.

    I was listening to sports radio talking heads talk about possible landing spots for Tom Brady and had this idea for a post:

    Which possible Brady landing spot (Dolphins, Raiders, Broncos, Chargers, etc.) has the uniform that would suit him the best?

    In the past, we’ve seen great QBs end their careers with different teams than the ones they were long associated with: Namath with the Rams (yuck), Manning with the Broncos (not bad), Favre with Jets (oof).

    From a strictly uni perspective, what would be the best landing spot for TB12?

    I don’t really understand the notion of which uniform would “suit him the best.” Isn’t that just another way of asking which NFL team has the best uniform, which has nothing to do with Brady per se?

    Fair point, Paul. Proven by the fact that Brady would look best in the Raiders uni because, well, ANYBODY would look cool in a Raiders uni…

    You missed one potential landing spot for TB12 that has the uniform that would suit him best. The one he has worn for the last 20 years.

    Why wouldn’t McCarthy use the *click* type of Sharpie? that would be a one-handed thing. No cap to worry about.

    Just sayin’.

    Interesting about the 1960s Buffalo Bills sticker and #31. According to this Bills fansite (linked below) the first Bills player to wear #31 was Ray Jackson in 1996. So maybe it was used as a generic player number for a period. Or maybe the fansite is missing something.


    I had a possible answer for this a while back:


    “Since the earliest days of the team, the number 31 was not supposed to be issued to any other player. The Bills had stationery and various other team merchandise showing a running player wearing that number, and it was not supposed to represent any specific person, but the ‘spirit of the team.”


    Also, before owning the Bills, Ralph Wilson was part owner of the Detroit Lions, and they used a similar jersey-clad running man logs in the 1950’s (with a variety of numbers, including #31)…The Bills originally wore silver and blue much like the Lions, so Wilson may have simply borrowed the branding from his former team.

    How long until the first report of Eastern Airlines’ uniforms making the crew sick?

    (Just kidding, I hope)

    I was fascinated to read about that American high school hockey game where they wore the USA and Soviet uniforms. Mostly because I kept thinking: how did they decide who would “be” the Soviet team? Like when I was a little kid playing road hockey, we would pretend that we were the stars of the NHL. (Darryl Sittler was my favorite, so that was my own alter-ego as a child). Back to this game, I would have thought both teams would have wanted to wear the USA colors of their heroes. Did they flip a coin to decide? Anyway, what a cool looking game.

    The coach of Johnson (Team USA) is also the general manager of the hockey shop that had the uniforms for both teams made, so that may have played a role in who wore which sweaters as well… Just a guess. Also, they played both the USA and USSR national anthems before the game, although there was no USSR flag present… That was probably a little overkill.

    The reference to the “Yet Another Unnecessary Bowl” made me chuckle, but then it got me to thinking. Aren’t all sports unnecessary? If the purpose of sports is simply to provide entertainment, then any game that does so is just as necessary as any other, whether it is a championship game, an exhibition game, or anything in between.

    Hey, isn’t life unnecessary? I mean, we’re all just chemicals at the end of the day, yes? Pleasure or pain, interest or boredom, happiness or despair — we all end up in the ground eventually, right?

    If you think there’s no hierarchy of relevance between, say, the Fiesta Bowl and the Lending Tree Bowl, or between a spring training game and the World Series, and that all entertainments by definition provide the same measure of entertainment simply by virtue of being entertainment, be my guest. I happen to feel differently, because entertainment is a function of many different factors, including perceived stakes/drama/etc. (which is higher in the Fiesta Bowl), the quality of entertainers (which is higher in the Fiesta Bowl), and so on.

    But hey, that’s just me!

    I don’t know y’all, the wild giving away a Modano jersey seems weird. It would be like the Texans giving out an Eddie George or Steve McNair jersey.

    I have to say this. Warning bad joke/pun coming up….

    Does having that red sharpie mark on Mike McCarthy’s neck, make him a redneck?

    I’ll show myself out now…

    I hope that the Vegas-based Ravens fan’s trademark filing fails. How could he make money off “Big Truss” instead of Ingram, who placed the term in the lexicon?

    While not in the same style as McCarthy, UCF baseball coach Greg Lovelady regularly rocks a pen in his cap; he was even doing this in high school.


    To a lesser extent, Matt Patricia and his ubiquitous pencil over the right ear. I used to be a pen over my ear type so much so that I had a driver’s license photo taken that way. Alas, time has thinned my hair enough that I now have to resort to my shirt pocket.

    Have you considered the possibility that, by pointing out the missing ad patch on the teal uniform, you may have inadvertently contributed to its return sooner as opposed to later? Your reach and influence is quite possibly significant enough that someone in/near/remotely associated with the organization may have picked up on the fact that you noted that it was missing and then passed that Information on to them.

    By extension, have you ever experimented by noticing something but not pointing it out to see just how long it would go unnoticed before someone corrected it (for better or for worse)?

    C on the back of the jersey?? Hold on a sec, I’m still looking at all of the stickers on the helmet.

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