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Uni Watch DIY Project: Turning a Raider into a Bearcat

For all photos, click to enlarge

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Brian Spiess, Senior Assistant General Counsel at the University of Cincinnati, who’s going to tell us about a DIY project involving his beloved Cincinnati Bearcats. Enjoy. — PL]

By Brian Spiess

Growing up in Cincinnati in the 1980s, my favorite place to visit was Koch Sporting Goods. Koch sold MLB fitted caps years before anyone else locally (and maybe nationally), and also carried authentic stitched jerseys. I still have a vintage University of Virginia Ralph Sampson orange basketball jersey.
One year, in the early 1980s, I wanted an Oakland Raiders football helmet. As a Cincinnatian, I was a Bengals fan, but I liked the look of the silver and black helmet. When we went to order it, Koch let me customize the helmet with a black facemask because I liked the look of it, even though the Raiders have never worn a black mask (see photos above and below). That decision turned out to be fortuitous.

Years later, the helmet was collecting dust and the facemask clips had started to rot. Then, when I took a job with the University of Cincinnati (UC), I got an idea: Maybe I could repurpose the helmet as a throwback UC helmet. Although I primarily remembered the Bearcats wearing a black helmet with a red/white logo, I decided to make my throwback helmet red — again, because I thought the black facemask would stand out. In addition, when I searched online for helmet decals, I was pleasantly surprised to find a set of two block UC logo decals in a black-and-white color scheme. That confirmed the decision to make the helmet red.

I apologize to any Raiders fans out there for what happened next. I removed the Raiders decals with a razor blade, removed the remaining helmet clips, and sanded the silver paint off of the shell.

Then I placed the blank helmet shell on an upside-down table leg in the back yard and spray-painted it red.

But what about the rotted helmet clips? I returned to Koch (still in business, still in the same location), where a salesperson sold me some clear plastic clips for next to nothing and then gave me a set of wider off-white clips for free as a backup, just in case the clear ones didn’t fit. (That turned out not to be necessary.)

I then attached the facemask, applied logo decals, and the helmet was finished. It now sits in my office on campus, and I occasionally bring it to football games and set it on the ledge in front of our front-row seats.

Fast-forward to last Saturday’s American Athletic Conference championship game: UC went mono-red! Sadly, the darker color of the current red helmets didn’t match the red jerseys and pants nearly as well my DIY spray-painted version would have.


Paul here. Fun project — and timely to boot! Big thanks to Brian for sharing it with us.

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Starting off this week with this tremendous-looking Professional Football 1953 Year Book. I doubt that QB’s teeth will stay that perfect without a facemask! In any case, the talented artist here was a fellow named Lon Keller, and you can see more of his great work (including this cover) here

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Another NFL yearbook here, this one is from 1961. The artwork definitely isn’t in the same, er, league as the previous one, but still an interesting item.

• Look at this beauty — a team-issued 1970s Minnesota Vikings jersey from Sand-Knit. You can almost picture Mary Richards washing her car in this one.

• Cleveland Cavaliers fans in the 1970s could show their devotion with this “I Am One of Cleveland’s CAValry” bumper sticker.

• This vintage Loyal Products New York Football Giants helmet is also a bottle opener!

• This 1970s Atlanta Falcons watch has small footballs at the 6, 9, and 12 positions on the dial.

• Royal Crown Cola brought you this can commemorating the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1987 NBA title.

• This Mr. Met pin has been sealed in his bag since the 1960s. Maybe Paul could let him out?

• “World Premier Major League Hockey, October 11, 1972” is printed on this WHA Cleveland Crusaders (or is it “Crusaders Cleveland”?) mug.

• This 1970s “Super 8mm viewer” (no batteries needed) comes with Pro Hockey Tips (“Conseils des pros du hockey”) color cartridges on “Centre Ice Play” and “Defense,” narrated by NHL stars Brad Park and Phil Esposito.

• The Cincinnati Reds’ “Running Man” logo is shown on this 1970s Big Red Machine-era trash can from P&K Products. 

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Swinging Santa reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, our “Swinging Santa” design, originally created for our December pin (which is now sold out), is now available on T-shirts.

In addition to the basic tees shown above, we also have long-sleeved T-shirts and hoodies (click to enlarge):

Here’s where you can order these in green, red, and grey.

Meanwhile, with the December pin now sold out, I’ll soon be placing the order for this year’s bonus pin, which will be given to everyone who collected all 12 of this year’s designs. I need to know how many of the bonus pins to make, so if you’ve collected ’em all, please email me ASAP with (a) your name and address, and (b) proof that you’ve collected all of this year’s pins. The proof can include photos of the pins themselves and/or order-confirmation emails from Teespring.

The bonus pins will ship out early next year. Thanks for your support of the pin project!

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsAntiques Roadshow featured a 1917 Red Sox calendar on a recent episode (from James Gilbert). … The Round Rock Classic, a college tournament that will take place in Texas in February, has sold its naming rights and unveiled a new logo (from Ignacio Salazar). 

NFL News: The NFL published an illustrated promotional graphic for Sunday’s Broncos/KC game featuring a Broncos uniform combination that’s never been worn (from Ben Danner). … Yesterday’s Ticker included a note about a Browns schedule graphic depicting the Ravens’ helmet in a two-bar format. Joe Werner points out that the full schedule also includes two-bar designs for several other modern helmets, including those for the Broncos, Chargers, Patriots, and Texans. They also depict the Browns helmet with a gray facemask, even though their current primary design features a brown facemask.

College Football News: This year’s college football playoff features a lot of red. In fact, Michigan is the only CFP school that does not feature red in its color scheme (from @emptyrambler). … The ACC Tracker has added a page to show the uni matchups of every conference championship game dating back to 2012. … San Diego State made the naming rights deal for its new football stadium official yesterday (from Scott Dean). … Literally erasing history: Miami yesterday announced the hiring of Mario Cristobal as head coach. Cristobal previously played and coached for the ’Canes, but they scrubbed the Nike swooshes from the old photos included in their announcement. Miami, of course, is now an Adidas school (from Moe Khan).

Hockey News: The Flyers have banned road teams from the common pregame ritual of juggling a soccer ball (from John Muir). … Speaking of the Flyers, a Philly police dog had an, um, unfortunate accident right on top of the center ice logo at their home arena yesterday (from Andreas Papadopoulos). … The Sens wore a memorial helmet decal to honor Devils RW Jimmy Hayes when they played in New Jersey last night (from Wade Heidt). … Check out this photo of Rangers coach Gerard Gallant wearing a full football facemask during his playing days with the Red Wings in 1985.

NBA Hoops: The Pistons added a yellow memorial band for the Oxford High School mass shooting victims last night. It’s not yet clear if it will be retained for the rest of the season. … An old Warriors/Bullets game, highlights of which were shown during last night’s Warriors game, appeared to be blue vs. blue. How could that have happened?

College Hoops News: Illinois and Iowa men’s played a color-on-color matchup last night (from Nick Souza). … The Virginia Tech women debuted a white “retro” uniform set on Sunday (from Andrew Cosentino). … Speaking of women’s hoops, James Madison has unveiled a new logo to commemorate the 100th season of its women’s basketball team (from Ted Bloss). … North Carolina Central’s Ashlyn Lockard has a creative way to wear her long hair while on the court. She tucks her hair into the back of her jersey and lets the excess hair flow out the bottom of her shirt (from Brian Weingartz). … It’s common knowledge that football great Jim Brown also played lacrosse while in college at Syracuse. However, he also spent two seasons playing on the Syracuse basketball team, where he wore this awesome script jersey (from Max Weintraub).

Soccer News: MLS has unveiled the design of the 2022 game ball — a design that current Sounders G Stefan Frei says could pose a problem for goalkeepers (from John Muir). … Speaking of MLS, they announced the launch of a new developmental league yesterday, MLS Next Pro, and unveiled the league’s new logo (from Trevor Williams). … ERGO, a German insurance company, expanded its advertising agreement with the German national team. Not only did the company get its own jersey, like a player signing a contract, but the company also managed to draw the famous 1990 West Germany shirt using the lights in their headquarters in Düsseldorf (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … The “pre-match” shirts that Manchester United will wear for the second half of this season have reportedly leaked (from our own Anthony Emerson).

Grab Bag: A USA/Japan curling match could not be streamed on as originally planned because of a sex toy shop ad on the ice. … Reader Adam Herbst recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit on 20th-century British print art and sent some photos of the sports-related pieces. … The Georgia Swarm of the National Lacrosse League recently unveiled new uniforms (from Dave Buchanan). … Here’s what the medals and trophies looked like for the 2021 Women’s World Team Handball Championship (from Jeremy Brahm).

Comments (19)

    I’ve long been a proponent of a black mask on the Raiders, and thought their move to Vegas a few years ago was the perfect time to pull the trigger on it. It’s barely a uniform change so the folks who lionize the silver and black uniform wouldn’t put up too much of a fuss, and it’d be just the most subtle signal that a new chapter in the team’s history in a new state was beginning.

    Counterpoint: I think a black mask would detract from the black helmet logo, which is currently so striking.

    I remember in one of the old Madden games (probably around 2002 or so), I played with the Raiders and moved them to Mexico City, which seemed like a natural progression given their history. When moving a team, the game made you create new uniforms, and for some reason, it wouldn’t let you re-create the Raiders helmet with a silver facemask, only black. The black looked so much worse that I ended up quitting the game.

    Always loved these helmet DIY projects. I tried a couple as a kid with mixed results. Tried to update an old Padres souvenir helmet – lighter shade of brown, paint over the gold triangle, updated SD monogram. It didn’t go well, even for a 10-year old, and in hindsight, I ruined what would be a more valuable collectible. By high school, I got better and converted an old Steelers helmet into the design my high school wore – think Lawrence Taylor Giants-era, black instead of blue, “DAWGS” spelled out instead of “GIANTS”. My mom and I were the same height at the time and she taught at a rival high school, who we were playing Halloween week. She went to school in full pads. It was a hit, then they beat us that weekend.

    Nobody knew it was an ad for sex toys until someone told them. Silly! Reminds me of a local company, now known as American Plastic Toys, who were formerly named after the family that started it. The Gay family. Gay Toys. They changed their name during the AIDS hysteria of the early 1980s.

    RE: pistons memorial band, it looks like it was actually a blue and yellow band, but Oxford’s blue is so close to Pistons blue it appears as just a yellow band. but you can see where the red piping cuts off. if the band is retained for the rest of the year, then it’ll be blue and yellow on the white jerseys

    I’m sure you are correct that the Broncos uni combo has never been worn, but it almost seems impossible to me that they’ve never done so. The uni may be outdated overall, but that combo looks really good. I’m astonished it’s never been worn.

    As long as it’s not heavy, that football mask on Gerard Gallant’s helmet is actually a great idea. How many times do players catch an errant stick or puck in the mouth? I’ve played beer league hockey for 20 years and have seen countless injuries because players refuse to protect their faces. Dumb.

    Brian is right about one thing; Koch’s is THE sporting goods spot. I spent many an hour in that store on 4th street, and many a dollar, too. I remember them being decorated on the inside with all of the NFL team posters from the late 60s and early 70s.

    This morning the Durham Bulls unveiled their new home and road uniforms for 2022, throwing back to the look most associated with the uniforms worn in Bull Durham: link

    The new Alternate will be released tomorrow.

    a Philly police dog had an, um, unfortunate accident right on top of the center ice logo

    Accidentally on purpose, maybe? That looked deliberate to me.

    With apologies to Frank Zappa-

    Watch out where the huskies go,
    And don’t you eat that yellow (brown?) snow

    “Pro Hockey Tips” uses American spelling in Brad Park’s piece (“defense”) but Canadian spelling in Phil Esposito’s (“centre”.) Park’s also appears to use “checking” which is acceptable on both sides of the border, hockey wise.

    And, of course, Park and Esposito would go on to be traded for each other (with other players involved).

    Miami can scrub the Nike ad patch from the Mario Cristobal images in its hype video, yet few of the artists who post concepts on here and elsewhere refrain from including the ad patches in their work.

    That’s really neither here nor there, since a fictitious concept design is, you know, a fictitious concept design, while scrubbing actual history is, you know, scrubbing actual history.

Comments are closed.