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Following Up on the Deaths of Bill Hetrick and John Madden

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Twice in the past week, I’ve had the unpleasant task of writing about people who passed away. Today I have follow-ups on both of them.

First: If you were traveling for Christmas or otherwise busy with the holiday, you may have missed the sad news that longtime Uni Watch reader, supporter, and contributor Bill Hetrick died last week (I eulogized him in last Friday’s entry). A wake for him was held last night at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, which he co-founded.

Bill’s friend and fellow Uni Watch reader Tom Jacobsen helped with the setup for the event, including some displays of items drawn from Bill’s vast memorabilia collection:

If you click to view the full-size versions of those images, you can see that the displays included framed photos of Bill posing alongside Tommy Lasorda, Don Shula, several members of the 1986 Mets, and (I think) Magic Johnson. I love that his Boy Scouts uniform was also included, and of course I’m touched that they also displayed his pin-studded Uni Watch cap.

There were also photos and other artifacts from Bill’s life:

If, like myself, you’ve never been to the Mississippi Sports Hall, this was the setting:

I wish I could have been there, but I’m glad Tom Jacobsen was on hand to represent our comm-uni-ty (and I’m also grateful to Tom for sharing these photos with us).

I also want to follow up on yesterday’s post, which was about the death of John Madden. Some readers were upset about this paragraph:

[W]hile Madden wasn’t macho in the traditional sense of the term (he was downright cuddly compared to some of his coaching contemporaries like Tom Landry, George Allen, and Forest Gregg), he nonetheless advocated for a he-man/lunch-bucket conception of football — and of the world — that has not aged well. For years he named his picks to the “All-Madden Team,” an honor whose logo was a leatherhead helmet — fun if you care about old-timey football nostalgia, not so much fun if you care about brain injuries. I wonder what players like Jim Otto, who sacrificed their bodies and brains while playing for Madden, would think of showcasing an inferior helmet as a symbol of toughness.

Depending on when you read that paragraph yesterday, you may have missed an update that I added to it, because reader/commenter Chris Hamilton provided a bunch of key info that I totally whiffed on:

• Madden said in 2014 that kids up to nine years old shouldn’t wear helmets or tackle and should play flag football instead.

• That same article says, “In 2012, his popular Madden video game began showing concussions — and also sidelining any player who received a concussion for the remainder of the video game.” (Additional info here.)

• As early as 1993, Madden said on the air that a player who had a concussion shouldn’t return to the game:

I didn’t know or remember any of this, and that’s on me. I thought that Madden, by relentlessly advocating for an “old-fashioned blood-and-guts football” approach, was trivializing the hazards of the game. I was wrong — he clearly deserved a lot more credit in this area than I initially gave him. That 1993 video is particularly impressive — far from being retrograde, Madden was actually ahead of the curve when it came to head trauma. Good for him.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Madden’s over-reliance on his signature vocal tics (“Boom!”) could sometimes come off as shtick, so it occasionally felt like he was reducing himself to a cartoon character. But by letting the superficial aspects of his persona overshadow his depth and nuance, I myself was the one reducing him to a cartoon. Bad job on my part — like I said, I was wrong. I’ll try to learn from this and do better going forward, and I’m super-thankful to Chris Hamilton for helping to set me straight.

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Oopsie: With all the Covid-related NBA roster churn lately, I guess it was inevitable that some uni typos would start showing up. The unfortunate victim last night was Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley, whose NOB was apparently applied too, uh, quickly.

Also: It really looks like Quickley’s taking a leak in that screen shot, no?

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Too good for the Ticker: Notice anything unusual about these shirts for top-tier Argentine men’s side Aldosivi? The numerals are shaped like sharks! (The club’s nickname is “The Shark of the Port” and their badge also features a shark.)

Here’s the full number font (additional info and images here):

I suppose that might get a bit insufferable when worn for a full season by an entire team, but it’s still pretty cool — I like!

(Jamie Rathjen tells me the shark font was mentioned in the Ticker back in March, but I didn’t remember that or maybe didn’t click on the link at the time. In any case, worth revisiting!)

(Thanks to Twitter-er @j_b_2_5 for this one.)

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: The logo for the Independence League — a new summer collegiate circuit set to debut next year — improperly shows the stitches on the ball all facing the same direction (good spot by Jim Anderson). … Cade Witten made himself a cornhole set based on the Cardinals’ Sunday home and Saturday road jerseys. Nice work! … Check out Hall of Famer Gary Carter in his high school football uni (from Paul Deaver). … Back in 2010, I wrote an ESPN piece about Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J., one of the last remaining Negro Leagues ballparks. Now MLB Network commentator Harold Reynolds is pushing for Hinchliffe to be the site of a Field of Dreams-style throwback game. … What happened to the Cardinals’ old satin uniforms? They donated them to a local teen team (from @cardsandcustoms).

Football News: Bills WR Stefon Diggs says he may salute John Madden on his cleats this weekend (from @mrmichael21). … Here’s a faaaascinating Twitter thread from an Under Armour employee who provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the Jan. 6 insurrection led to changes in Navy’s uniform for this year’s Army/Navy game (thanks to all who shared). … How Covid affects uniforms: Central Michigan was supposed originally supposed to be the visiting team in the Arizona Bowl, so they planned to wear their white uniforms. But that game was cancelled when Boise State withdrew due to Covid issues. Since Miami had withdrawn from the Sun Bowl due to Covid, CMU agreed to switch to the Sun Bowl, facing Washington State. But WSU was the designated visiting team in the Sun Bowl, so they had their white uniforms ready — setting up a white-vs.-white game. That’s no bueno, obviously, so CMU suddenly had to scramble to get 16 boxes of of maroon unis sent to El Paso. As of yesterday, a local embroidery shop was sewing the Sun Bowl patches on the jerseys (from Michael Carman and Lee Wilds). … Here’s a breakdown of this year’s Michigan merit decals (from @MVictors). … The “NY” logo on Virginia Tech QB Connor Blumrick’s hemet was coming loose in yesterday’s Pinstripe Bowl. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Check out Baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter in his high school football uni (from Paul Deaver).

Hockey News: Here’s the center-ice design treatment for the Winter Classic. “I’m pleased that they went minimal with the paint for the red line,” says Wade Heidt. … The AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who usually wear black helmets with their black uniforms, wore white helmets instead last night (from @Yff26). … The popularity of the Sabres’ team dog, Rick, has led to the team selling “Rick” doggie jerseys.

Soccer News: Merel van Dongen, who plays for Atlético Madrid, had a jersey made to celebrate her girlfriend accepting her marriage proposal (from Griffin Smith).

Grab Bag: A Tennessee man was arrested for breaking into a police officer’s home and putting on his uniform. … The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team is going back to a silver livery (from Lee Wilds).

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I’m happy to report that most of the year-end raffle prizes have been mailed out, and the remaining ones should go out today. — Paul

Comments (38)

    Due to some recent changes to how I consume TV I couldn’t get a screen grab. However during last night’s Alamo Bowl broadcast on ESPN, a graphic was shown comparing Caleb Williams’ stats with those of previous Sooner QB Heisman winners. Oddly, the pic of Baker Mayfield was of him in his road Texas Tech uni.

    Glad you commented on that. I saw the graphic and was trying to figure out what was going on with Mayfield, given Oklahoma rarely strays from their traditional design I couldn’t place what that uniform was.

    Just wanted to wish y’all a healthy and happy new year. Thanks for all you do for us Paul!!

    I was learning along with you more than setting you straight. I didn’t know that stuff. And it’s not like you crucified Madden for his stances.

    You are a real pro Paul – great update and have a very Happy New Year. I look forward to another year of “the obsessive study of athletics aesthetics”!

    I appreciate Paul’s reflection on yesterday’s Madden lede and his willingness to acknowledge that it was not as well thought out as it might have been. Impressive.

    Hi Paul, thanks for the content today. Bill Hetrick’s portion is pretty uni-incredible, and certainly touching.

    Thanks for the additional John Madden comments also. Like many, I also read that paragraph yesterday and kind of scratched my head thinking, “really?” For me, it was more the leather helmet logo/old-time football mentality conclusions I questioned, and you did a nice job of following up on that part. I’m sure it’s really hard as a writer to comment on folks’ passing, while including a mix of “the good and bad” so to speak, particularly when you are commenting on such a beloved figure. I will say, having been a long-time reader, that you are consistent in your mix of such things when someone passes, so it’s not like you were writing about Madden any differently.

    RIP to both.

    Great follow up Paul, always appreciate when journalists correct mistakes when they come upon new information (and really when anyone is willing to do that in this day and age).

    Regarding Bill, very sad to hear of his passing. Do you know if he was a member of the Knights of Columbus or just happened to have their formal regalia in his collection?
    And on that note, not sure if you covered it before but the Knights have recently changed their formal uniforms from the recognizable plume to a less formal beret. If you haven’t covered it might be an interesting piece to do, as the move seemed to be part of a push to modernize the uniform, while many members are upset because their love the uniform stems from the fact that was so old fashioned.

    You are a good man, Paul Lukas.

    Here’s to the end of another great year of Uni-Watch content. Always my first stop of the day! Looking forward to 2022!

    So much to unpack here:
    (1) Seems that UA’s first issue with the new Navy uniforms was to create a new storyline;
    (2) Big issue with the CMU uniforms was to make sure the Tony the Tiger patches were sewn on;
    (3) Team dog??????

    I think there’s real value in thinking about John Madden’s approach to/evolution on the concussion issue. Here’s a guy who clearly valued the old-school/lunch-bucket/de-cleating approach to football (I mean, he employed Jack Tatum and Lester Hayes), but was willing to consider new information and how it impacted player safety, and was willing to make recommendations and admit that something he truly loved (football) wasn’t perfect and needed to make some changes. The world would be better if prominent people in all of our institutions were willing to do the same.

    Great follow up on both men, Paul. I learned a lot about John Madden following along to this, a big thank you to all.

    Paul, I just wanted to say that I appreciate how you not only updated yesterday’s post about John Madden, but also added an additional comment about it today. It feels like so many stories, especially now that everything is digital, will be updated, but if you’ve already read it there is little likelihood that you’ll ever re-read it. Good on you for calling extra attention to the update. Those were things I never knew about Mr. Madden either. As always, you run a fantastic operation here!

    Sad to hear the passing of any of the Uni-Watch community. Bill had a VERY impressive collection. Was great to see that he was so well honored to the HOF. Would be interesting to know how many of the autographed items he had signed in person.

    I live in Mississippi and had no idea we had a Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. I live in the northeast corner (5 miles from Tennessee/20 miles from Alabama). So Jackson is a stretch. But, if I’m ever in the area, I will definitely make it a destination!!!

    Great post today, Paul. I’m curious, do you know the significance of the Santa Claus costume shown in the section about Bill? It seems like an odd inclusion among his memorabilia so I’m hoping there’s a good story behind it!

    I found the Madden post yesterday to be repugnant. How quick we are to label things “problematic.” Good on you for correcting the record. Next time, let’s not rush to attack a person’s character, especially a beloved figure like Madden, who did so much for the game of football and the lives he’s touched over the decades.

    “Repugnant” seems way too harsh. Paul wrote mostly very positive things about Madden and and in an attempt to make it a more rounded profile of the man, pointed out that the style of smash-mouth football that Madden promoted came with some pretty serious consequences. Nothing came close to attacking Madden’s character.

    Hey Paul, if nobody mentioned this yet, thought you would be interested that the Dymo label maker made an appearance in the final episode of Hawkeye (the Marvel series on Disney+) last week

    Not sure how widespread this practice was at the time, but I remember that Ohio State under Woody Hayes had a hard and fast rule at least as far back as the late 60s that if a player sustained a concussion he automatically missed the rest of that game AND the next game.

    Thank you for your words about Madden today. So many people today are afraid to admit when they have made a mistake. Your professional and human approach to your work shows a great deal of integrity and sets a wonderful example for others.

    Wouldn’t it have been something if Bill Hetrick had crossed paths with John Madden?

    I noticed that Cardinals satin jersey is actually a pullover. That is, the zipper doesn’t go fully to the bottom.

    Paul—your concise, direct Madden adjustment on this post is brilliant. One of the reasons this site has been a daily read for years for me. Take an opinion. Have the courage to adjust slightly when new information comes to light. Great stuff. Much Respect!

    Sorry you didn’t get to see the owl. I’ve only seen one in my life, but it was as big and impressive and white as you’d imagine.

    As far as I can tell, the bird was last seen about 3:00 pm at Breezy Point, across the inlet from Coney Island. Several people went after it later this afternoon/evening with no luck, so obviously the bird is moving around a lot.

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