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The USFL Returns: Are You Ready For Some Football?

By Phil Hecken

Greetings and Good Sunday Morning. Chag Sameach to those observing Passover, and a Happy Easter to all those celebrating. What better way to celebrate a holiday weekend than to (re)introduce professional Spring football, better known as the USFL (Part Deux).

Last evening, the new league played its first game, with the New Jersey Generals “visiting” the Birmingham Stallions — I put that in scare quotes because every game for this USFL regular season will be played in Birmingham, Alabama. In fact, there will be three games today, if you so desire, and each will be played on a different network. (Last night’s game was played on both NBC and FOX, the marking the first time since Super Bowl I that two different networks have broadcast the same football game.)

I’ll try to keep this short. While there is a lot to get to in terms of the league, its innovations, and how its rules differ from those of the NFL, I’ll try to keep those to mostly links for now. I’ll also take a quick look at the unis worn by the Generals and Stallions last night, but I plan on doing a full review (with opinions/hot takes) next weekend of all week one games with perhaps the USFL’s biggest fan, Jimmer Vilk. I’m not sure of the format, but it should be pretty entertaining. We’ll mostly focus on the unis, but I’m sure other things will crop up too.

Before we get to the unis, the league (especially with major networks carrying games) seems intent on surviving more than a season. In order to make their product more entertaining (I’d say the quality of last night’s game was somewhere between college and pro, with teams using — at least for now — mostly college-style offenses), the USFL has introduced some rule changes unique to the league, and a couple of (IMO) hit-or-miss “innovations” which may end up as trial balloons for either college or pro (or both) games going forward. These include the helmet cam and numerous (sometimes great, sometimes almost nauseating) drone footage of plays.

But onto the unis. I’ve reserved judgment (and will continue to do so for today) on the USFL unis until seeing them on the field. But first impressions were good. The Stallions wore tan/gold helmets, red jerseys and tan/gold pants, while the Generals countered with red hats, and white jerseys and britches.

Interestingly, neither team featured any visible makers marks on their uniforms, including on the helmet bumpers. Both teams jerseys had the red/white/blue “USFL” logo located beneath their collars…

…a black gold “USFL Inaugural Season” patch on the right shoulder…

Embed from Getty Images

…and the “USFL” logo on the nose bumper:

Neck bumpers contained each teams’ name:

As far as the unis — they pretty much looked just like the press photos.

New Jersey Generals:

The Generals have red helmets, with side logo showing two wreaths and five stars, with a white facemask…

Here’s another look; the original USFL Generals’ helmet was similar in style.

Being the designated road team, the Generals wore their white jerseys. Those have five gold stars arranged circularly on the shoulders, with red front and TV numbers, outlined in navy. Sleeves have thin red stripes at the hem. The collar has a white front and red stripe around the back and sides, reminiscent of Nike’s “flywire” design from the early-mid 2010s in the NFL.

Jersey backs have solid red NOB, and red numbers outlined in navy.

The pants are white, with a solid thick red stripe bordered by two thin blue stripes. Most players wore red undersocks with low whites. Like the NFL, lower leg stylings varied widely by player.

Overall a very solid look, not unlike their original USFL uniforms.

__________

Birmingham Stallions:

The Stallions wore a tan/gold helmet, with white/red stallion logo on the sides, and a red stripe that started thick at the nose bumper, eventually tapering off as it reached the neck bumper.

Like the Generals, the Stallions have updated their helmet from their USFL original. Like the originals, the facemasks were painted red.

The Stallions home jersey is red, with white/tan/white Northwestern-style striping on the shoulders. White TV numbers are located on top of the shoulders:

Front numbers are white with gold/tan outlines, rendered in a custom blocky font:

The back of the jersey has solid white NOB, with rear numbers rendered in the same style as the front:

Pants are tan/gold, with a solid, wide red stripe down the sides.

Like the Generals, most players wore red undersocks with white lows, and lower leg stylings were just as varied:

__________

While both teams’ primary color is red, the game did not have an “overly” red feel (since neither team wore red pants, and the Stallions helmet color is tan/gold).

_________

You can see hundreds more photos here. As mentioned above, I’ll have plenty more to say about all the USFL uniforms next weekend, along with Jimmer Vilk, but if all the games are as solid looking as last evening’s tilt, we will be in for a very aesthetically (if not athletically) pleasing USFL season!

Your thoughts?

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Kate Carson.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.

Happy Easter

The gentleman you see pictured above is Luscious “Luke” Easter, a prodigious slugging first baseman/outfielder who played in both the Major and Negro Leagues. He is also the only professional baseball player with the surname “Easter.”

He was an excellent player with a ton of pop, and his home runs were colloquially known as “Easter Eggs.” If you’ve never heard of him (or only have a passing knowledge), you should check out his SABR biography. Both on and off the field, Easter’s career was filled with ups and downs, highs and lows. A very interesting man with quite the life story (including his life ending in murder). If you have a few minutes, give his bio a read — you’ll enjoy it, I promise!

Anyway…Happy Easter!

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: The American Association’s Chicago Dogs are rolling out new jerseys on Opening Day and giving fans in attendance replica t-shirts of said jerseys. Submitter Matt Lindner adds, “The new duds, and I’ve only seen the black ones on their website so I don’t know if there will be other colorways, are a huge upgrade over what they’ve worn the previous four seasons of their existence.” … Definitely not new old stock: “Spotted this at Wegmans in the Rochester, NY area. Perrys is western NY ice cream company,” says Joseph Bailey. “This was the same package.” … The University of Iowa has quietly rolled out new alternate home whites featuring script lettering across the chest along with a new white cap (from Kary Klismet). Here’s what they’ve worn the last few years for comparison. … Did you know that the precise location of home plate at the Washington Senators’ old Griffith Stadium is commemorated inside Howard University Hospital, which now sits on the site? Here’s a slideshow that shows it (also from Kary). … The Boston Red Sox wore their City Connect unis yesterday and will wear them again today. Monday they’ll wear their home white “Boston” unis. … Speaking of City Connect, the Houston Astros will wear their new alternate uniforms on Wednesday. … The Red Sox Tanner Houck wore a City Connect version of the prophylactic logo yesterday (from Molls). … At yesterday’s Guardians home opener, actor Tom Hanks was reunited with Castaway co-star Wilson (from Paul). … Speaking of the Guardians, The Onion had a great piece poking fun at their previous name and iconography (from Andrew Wagner). … We’ve seen the “First Name Last Name” goof before, but the Toronto Blue Jays took it to a new level, even adding new letters and diacritical marks (from Andrew Welch). … Looks like home plate umps are sporting a new type of cage on their masks this year (from Paul). … Triple-A teams get championship bling too (from Durham Bulls). … Kev O’Content, Jr. noticed some seriously weird logo creep going on here. … The Arizona Diamondbacks have not worn their black on black caps yet this season. These were their primary caps at home and on the road the last couple seasons (from Dbacks Stats & Info). … Topher Davis noticed LA Dodger Gavin Lux was using the glove of former Duluth Huskies infielder, Andy Burns, on Friday night. … Tweeter Ryan Swift is “dying to know the story behind @Starlingmart’s Mickey Mouse necklace.” … Reader Zach Gibson noticed last night in the bottom of the 9th inning that Nathaniel Lowe’s (of the Texas Rangers) helmet decal is almost completely gone.
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Football News: The Tennessee Titans have released a rendering of what their proposed new stadium could look like (from Kary Klismet). … The Houston Texans social media team may want to rethink making religious jokes that some don’t find humorous. Or not. … THE Ohio State Buckeyes paid special tribute to its fallen former quarterback during Saturday’s spring game with a special decal on the back of the team’s helmets and Haskins’ initials painted on the 7 yard line — an homage to Haskins’ number Ohio State. In that same game, QB CJ Stroud wore Haskins’ jersey as a tribute.

Hockey News: The Belleville Senators played last evening at the Utica Comets — with a Roaring 20’s jersey for Utica (from John Scagliotti). … Lucasfilm executive and producer Dave Filoni has designed Star Wars night uniforms for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (timecode: 3 minutes 40 seconds). From Texas Trev.

Basketball News: With the NBA Playoffs (full series) officially starting yesterday, here’s one of those awesome progressive timelines showing accumulated playoff wins since 2003, when all 30 current franchises were active (great graphic from Greg Harvey). … A little chyron trouble last night on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Sixers postgame. Tweeter Michael MPH wants us to “Also please note Doc Rivers’ comments are sponsored by Rivers Casino.”

Soccer News: Brazil’s Atlético Mineiro is holding its annual contest to allow a fan to design a shirt for the team (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: San Francisco City FC of USL League Two has unveiled its new shirts for the 2022 season. … The amazing Kevin Cearfoss has done it again with this Chelsea FC wall art. … Here’s a nice look at the Borussia Dortmund crest over the past 100-plus years (from Lucas Stoller).

Grab Bag: Goshen College, an NAIA school in Indiana whose teams are known as the Maple Leafs, is unveiling a black squirrel as its first-ever sideline mascot. More info here (from Kary Klismet). … The sports teams for the new West Field High School in Utah will be known the Longhorns, and they’ll wear burnt orange and white as their main colors. Here’s their proposed logo (also from Kary). … New athletics logos for Simpson College in Iowa (from Kary again). … One more from Kary: This story explains why Jean-Luc Picard’s father wears a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine-style uniform in Star Trek: Picard. … Check out this AAU boxing robe with advertiser name (newspaper) on back (from James Gilbert).

And finally… that’s it for today — a Happy Passover and Easter to all those celebrating. Everyone have a great week and I’ll catch you back here next Saturday. Till then…

Peace,

PH

Comments (26)

    I can’t even tell what sport is being played in “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” but I’m guessing that it’s Australian football being played on a cricket ground.

    And I’m not familiar enough with Australian rules to even know how many points things are worth, so it’s bringing back memories of high school algebra, solving two-variable equations:

    14x + 10y = 94
    12x + 12y = 84

    I suppose a goal is worth 6 and a behind is worth 1… Is a ‘behind’ some kind of extra point? Wait, this is just like American football!

    I can’t even tell what sport is being played in “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” but I’m guessing that it’s Australian football being played on a cricket ground.

    That’s what Australian cricket grounds become during their winter: the venues for Australian Rules Football matches.

    As someone who has played Aussie Rules football, you are correct in how scoring is done… I like to classify the game as a hybrid of soccer, basketball, hockey, and kill the man with the ball without the padding. There’s many videos on YouTube about the game and the aesthetics and tradition is still intact 150 years later… minus the advertisements. (many teams still have striped knee high socks like Collingwood, Hawthorn, and the team i support: Essendon)

    If I ever go to Australia, I am definitely going to an Aussie rules football game (along with cricket). Every Australian I know raves about the Aussie rules game and how fun it is.

    GTGFTS: Is it from last year’s Easter weekend? Adelaide/Gold Coast, AFL round 3, April 2, 2021.

    That’s the Adelaide Oval’s scoreboard, which is designed for cricket. link for a cricket match.

    What a beautiful scoreboard that is. I even like how most of the letters and numbers are hand-designed, Fenway Park-style, but there are a few that look like they were cut from computer fonts (as Wrigley Field now does). But the hand-painted digits just look amazing.

    Now someone tell me why there are only nine batsmen and bowlers? I thought cricket was an 11-man lineup.

    Due to space limitations the scoreboards only list 9 players, usually the Batters that are batting are listed separately with a running score. I have never been to a game where more than 9 players have bowled as bowlers are specialist, but some batters will bowl.

    The last game of the Patriots 16-0 season in 2007 was shown on both CBS and NBC as well as the NFL Network

    Absolutely link. But perhaps I should have been more specific. That Giants/Pats game was carried on both CBS and NBC, but they were both simply rebroadcasting the NFLN feed. According to link, “NBC and Fox will simulcast the return of the USFL on April 16, the first time since the first Super Bowl in 1967 that two rival broadcast TV networks will both air the same live, scheduled sporting event.”

    An interesting story about the AFL-NFL World Championship Game broadcast. NBC had to use CBS’s feed and there was a LOT of bitching and complaining in the NBC booth about the choices CBS was making, to the point that some of the guys in the NBC booth marched over and got into a tussle with some guys from CBS.

    There is no Super Bowl I.

    What people mistakenly refer to as Super Bowl I was officially called The AFL-NFL World Championship Game. That’s what it said on all the merchandise, on the programs and the tickets and how it was referred to in the press.

    For a website that is unbearably nitpicky and pedantic about uniforms, that this error continues to be used is not a great look.

    And yes I am well away that I’m being even more nitpicky and pedantic and I don’t give a damn if “everyone else,” calls it Super Bowl I including the NFL. They are all wrong and Goddell can pound sand.

    On a hopefully lighter note, the Stallions unis to me, are similar to Boston College. Yes I know “Blah blah blah, the stripes are different, there’s a logo on the helmet, they aren’t the same at all!” I didn’t say they were the same, I said they were similar.

    Finally I cannot WAIT for the NFL Draft, only so the damn thing will be over and I don’t have to turn on ESPN and see: “BREAKING NEWS!! MEL KIPER’S MOCK DRAFT 16.0 RELEASED!!! ESPN WILL HAVE A THREE HOUR SPECIAL DISSECTING IT WHICH WE WILL REPEAT UNTIL MEL RELEASES HIS MOCK DRAFT 17.0!!!” and oh God just stab me in the forearm with a meat fork already.

    Anyway, Happy Easter and if you’re having an easter egg hunt using actual eggs inside the house write down where you hid them or you’ll be getting a nasty surprise in a month or so.

    “There is no Super Bowl I.

    What people mistakenly refer to as Super Bowl I was officially called The AFL-NFL World Championship Game. That’s what it said on all the merchandise, on the programs and the tickets and how it was referred to in the press.

    For a website that is unbearably nitpicky and pedantic about uniforms, that this error continues to be used is not a great look.”

    I’m well aware the term “Super Bowl” wasn’t first used until 1969, but regardless, I’m going to refer to the first two “NFL/AFL Championship Games” by “Super Bowl” (or my preferred “Supe”).

    Also, it’s Goodell, not Goddell, but I don’t feel like being nitpicky or pedantic, so I’ll just leave it at that.

    You can see “Super Bowl” in headlines (and stories) leading up to the 1967 game. It was even in ads that CBS put in newspapers. So whether or not it was official, it was certainly in popular use at the time.

    The story “explaining” why Maurice Picard wears that uniform makes no sense at all, much like most of the Picard show.

    The odd thing about the uniform is that it had the plain shoulder design of the early DS9/Voyager unis, but the sleeves had the department stripes of the First Contact unis.

    And the shoulders looked gray to me, but that could’ve just been the odd lighting. Then again, given the continuity issues of the whole thing…

    Wait, I was right – the shoulders are definitely gray, the undershirt and sleeve stripes are sciences blue, as shown in this shot: link

    So it is a weird hybrid of the two styles.

    USFL uniforms in general look good but I do not like the number font for the Stallions. It has been trendy recently but I wish we could just lose that number font. I don’t want to see numbers the are shaped like rectangles.

    One of the best things about the USFL: Not one team had a proprietary numeral font. They also predated the trend of having the team name at the base of the collar.

    I’ve always hated that trend (plus the one where they put some kind of logo above the NOB/number on the back) — anything that shoves numbers downward makes it look worse.

    It’ll bother me if I don’t say anything–

    “Chag Pesach” just means “Holiday of Pesach.”

    You could say, “Chag Sameach,” happy holiday, “Chag Pesach Sameach,” “Pesach Sameach,” or the most common, “Pesach Kasher v’Sameach,” for a happy and kosher Passover.

    Not sure what’s to be happy about, but I hate matza, so…

    #29 and #33 from the Stallions were in dreadful need of a tailor but instead, took matters into their own hands. #29 “pony-tailed” the back of his jersey, while #33 cut his to waist-length – you can tell because the Ripon Athletics jock tag is not visible.

    I was at a Columbus Clippers (AAA affiliate of the Guardians) game today and I was surprised to see that they advertised Perry’s ice cream. Then when I got up to the counter I saw that it was actually Graeters. It was weird!

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