And Then There Were Four: NFL Conference Championships

By Phil Hecken

Good Sunday Morning, everyone — hope everyone had a good Saturday, and you’re still staying safe.

While the Supe gets all the headlines (and rightfully so, as it determines the NFL Champion), my favorite pro football weekend is always the NFC and AFC Championship games. It’s largely free of the hype, the pomp and circumstance — even in a COVID world, there will still be SB pomp — and all about the final step to reaching the big game. Two huge games on one Sunday afternoon. And this year we should have two great looking Conference Championships, and, if the Packers and Chiefs (today’s home teams and favorites) win, a rematch of Super Bowl I, with those teams wearing almost identical uniforms to the ones they wore 55 years ago. To wit:

Yes, I made that graphic a couple weeks ago, hoping we’d get to see a Pack/Chiefs rematch (and I still do). We’re still a ways away from that (last year both the Pack and Chiefs played in the NFC and AFC championships, but only the Chiefs made it to the Supe), but that was then. The Packers were also not the home team or favorites. This year, they are the favorites and NFC #1 seed, as are the Chiefs over in the AFC.

For those of you who are weekend readers, you know I tried to predict the playoff winners by “better uni” — and after a dreadful Wild Card weekend where I went 1-4-1, I correctly picked every game last weekend (4-0). Let’s do this one more time, for all the marbles…

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NFC CHAMPIONSHIP

Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3:05 pm; FOX
Packers are 3.5 point favorites

As I said last weekend, the Packers’ home green and gold uniforms are my favorite in the NFL, so no matter who they are playing or what they wear, I’d take the Pack. And against the Bucs — who are going pewter/white/pewter again this week — it’s no contest. Now, earlier this season, the Packers played the Bucs (in Tampa) and both teams wore the the same uniform combos they’ll wear today. The “better uni” was not triumphant back then, with the Bucs trouncing the Pack 38-10. I’m hoping the uni gods get it correct today.

Both games (Pack/Bucs and Chiefs/Bills) will feature uni-symmetry, of a sort: in the first game, both teams’ helmets match their pants, while in the second game, both teams will feature same color helmets and jerseys. With very few exceptions, I like it when team uniforms match either pants or jerseys with helmets. When both teams match either pants (Pack/Bucs) or jerseys (Bills/Chiefs) in the same matchup, I like it even more.

I’m taking the Pack, in what could be a cold, windy and possibly inclement (snow/sleet) weather game.

The Pick: Packers -3.5

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AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills
6:40 pm; CBS
Chiefs are a 2.5 point favorite

Unlike the first game, this is a much tougher call. “Better uni” is obviously mostly one’s opinion, and while the Chiefs red/red/white is an all time classic, that doesn’t mean it has always resonated with me. If it were the Chiefs in road unis (red/white/red), I’d be much more inclined to pick them. Conversely, I much prefer the Bills in their home (white/blue/white) unis to their white/white/blue roads. The one saving grace for the Bills is they are choosing to wear white socks, which looks a bazillion times better than when they wear blue socks, giving them the leotard effect. Don’t get me wrong — both uniforms we’ll see today are still great — it just could look even better. It’s not quite a coin flip, but I’m giving the slight uni-edge to the Chiefs.

The Pick: Chiefs -2.5

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Historically, these teams have played each other a number of times (in fact, until realignment moved the Bucs to the NFC South, we would see the “Battle of the Bays” twice a season for a few decades), and the Chiefs and Bills entered the AFL together in 1960. Thanks to the fantastic Gridiron Uniform Database, we can see all the uni matchups over the years between the Packers & Buccaneers and Chiefs & Bills. There have been some good looking and some not-so-good looking games between the teams. Here’s (IMO) the best and worst of each:

WORST PACK/BUCS MATCHUP

Fortunately, the Bucs only once wore their red/pewter alarm clock uniforms against the Pack, and that was without doubt, the worst looking matchup between the two teams. As far as best…

BEST PACK/BUCS MATCHUP

There are any number of games you could select, back when the Bucs wore their creamsicle uniforms. I picked one where the Bucs wore their orange home jerseys (many times at home they wore white jerseys), as it is a great color palate special. Even though I prefer the Pack in green jerseys, their gold/white/gold vs. the white/orange/white of the Bucs was dee-vine! Here’s hoping the “one shell rule” is abolished so we can see the Bucs back in those colors again.

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WORST CHIEFS/BILLS MATCHUP

Ugh. The Bills actually wore that wretched uniform set from 2002 through 2010. And while their mono-blue combo was probably their worst, when they went white/blue (with a red helmet), it was pretty awful. People forget how bad those old Bills uniforms were, with their red/navy yokes, royal numbers and giant red side panels, but they were pretty awful. Once they came to their senses in 2011, wearing their current fauxbacks, they instantly became a top 10 uniform team again.

BEST CHIEFS/BILLS MATCHUP

There are probably a number to choose from, but any time the Bills go white/blue/white against the Chiefs in red/white/red, we have a fantastic looking matchup.

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So there you have it: two games today (the best pro football Sunday there is), and both will be good looking games, which from a Uni Watching perspective, is really all that matters. And if the uni gods have their say, we’ll see the Pack & Chiefs emerge victorious, setting up a Supe rematch 55 years in the making.


Uni Concepts & Tweaks

Time for more Uni Tweaks from the UW readership.

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

• • •

Today’s set of concepts come from Adam Ross, who has a Detroit Pistons rebrand. This was originally sent to Paul, who offered it to me for the “Tweaks” section.

He writes,

HI hope you and your family have stayed safe and sound during this crazy year. It’s been awhile since I wrote you (via different email), but one thing hasn’t changed: my desire to rebrand the Detroit Pistons. I started this project the 3rd of January [of 2020] after I got laid off on NYE morning in a text (smh)…many, many hours later, it’s finished.

Collaborated with @eastthirdstudio; he forged the logo/colors, I focused on the jerseys. Would love your thoughts and criticisms.

• City Edition
• Icon
• Association
• Statement (red)
• Statement II (navy)
• Earned

Cheers, and a Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Adam Ross

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LOGO:

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ICON:

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ASSOCIATION:

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CITY:

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EARNED:

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STATEMENT (red):

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STATEMENT (blue):

• • •

Thanks Adam!

OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Not Scott Norwood.

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.

Click to enlarge

Magnets back in stock: Paul here. I’ve procured another small supply of winged stirrup magnets (but not the round ones, sorry). They measure about 3″ x 3″, and they’re thin and flexible, so they’ll conform to curved surfaces as well as flat ones.

I have a very limited supply of these. They’re available here.

Too Good For The Ticker

Got the following note and pics from Scott Wilkinson, and it’s simply too good for the ticker:

Hey fellas,

I’m not sure if you’re interested but I came across this awesome (in my opinion) baseball find. My dad passed away and left some great sports items for me. This is the 1979 “Official Baseball Rules” book.

A couple of things that struck me:

1) I see the MLB official logo in the ASG logo. I’ve never seen that “baseball” logo, though. I’m sure you guys as aficionados are familiar with this logo but some backstory would be cool.

2) I love the way they placed the Mariners “M” in the star of the 50th all star game logo. The early days of creativity like this?

I’ve also included some pics from the inside. I like the Kuhn commissioner pic but my favorite is the recommended dimensions of the dirt for the pitchers mound!

Maybe you can use this.

Thanks for all you do and I love reading Uni Watch every day!!

Scott Wilkinson

Thanks Scott. And those photos? Check these out:

OK, now on to the ticker!

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: The Atlanta Braves have resisted a name change for many years, but Henry Aaron’s death has renewed calls for a change to ‘the Hammers’ (Washington Post link). From David Goodfriend. … The Cleveland baseball team has been granted an extension of time to file an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board for applications for Cleveland Guardians, Cleveland Warriors, Cleveland Natives, and Cleveland Foresters.

Football News: For the NFC Championship game today, Leonard Fournette of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the name “Jordan Davis” written on the back of his helmet to bring awareness to Jordan’s story. … Anyone ever hear of the Tonawanda Kardex? They were a real team and are currently a real Retro Bowl team in the RBA, managed by one of the true OGs of the community, SKOL! (from OC Ospreys). … Could royal blue helmets be in BYU’s future?

Hockey News: “A couple of pieces of information I found from Goalie Gear Nerd which I would like to pass along for the Ticker,” writes Wade Heidt. “Canadiens G Carey Price has a second new mask. He has been wearing it here at practice in Vancouver as the Canadiens have been in town for a series.” Also, The Devils just acquired Aaron Dell from the Maple Leafs. Check out his new Devils pads. … Also from Wade, the Dallas Stars raise 2020 Western Conference Championship banner. “There was a delayed start to the season for the Stars due to COVID issues but they have now hit the ice. Here is the 2020 Western Conference Championship banner they raised to the rafters on Friday night.” … It’s not quite approaching NBA ridiculousness, but this season the St. Louis Blues will have five different uniforms at their disposal. … I loves me some color vs. color in hockey, but this green vs sky blue in the NWHL last night wasn’t necessarily the best combo (from L.J. Sparvero). … Last night Corey Perry made his Montreal Canadiens debut. He wore 94, as the number 10 he wore in Anaheim & Dallas is retired in Montreal for Guy Lafleur. Perry also briefly wore 61 in Anaheim to begin his career (from James Beattie).

NBA/College/Basketball News: The Ole Miss men’s basketball program celebrated the 20th anniversary of their run to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001 by wearing throwback uniforms during Saturday’s game against Texas A&M. … Check out this big dunk in a high school game (presumably), which brings down the entire basket support, which was suspended from the ceiling (from Mike Chamernik). … Also from Mike, here’s a new one (to me anyway): Glare from the sun delayed an afternoon game between Providence and Villanova. … One more from Mike: 76ers C Dwight Howard suffered a major tear to his shorts while jostling with Pistons F Josh Jackson for a rebound during last night’s game. … The Score has deemed the Toronto Raptors throwback uni the “NBA’s Finest”. … Security “hilariously” stopped Bam Adebayo from swapping jerseys with Kyrie Irving after last night’s Heat vs. Nets game.

Soccer News: The backlash against the rebranding of Montreal’s Major League Soccer franchise continues. And now, it seems, the club has caused a rift with one of its most-devoted base of supporters (from Wade Heidt. … Yan Dhanda of Swansea City was wearing a mask in an FA Cup match vs. Nottingham Forest. Here’s a bit more on that (From Terry Mark). … Looks like a new shirt for Kawasaki Frontale (from Ed Żelaski). … Here’s the Yokohama F.Marinos 2021 look (from Jeremy Brahm). … There’s a new centennial badge for Raków Częstochowa (from Ed Żelaski). … More from Ed: a closer look at the Tokyo Verdy 2021 kit, and the Oita Trinita 2021 shirts.

Grab Bag: The Bryan (TX) Police Department has designed new badges to honor its 150th year of service to community. The commemorative badges display the seal of the State of Texas w/ an eagle & American Flag (from Timmy Donahue). … Here’s how Tokyo Verdy will look across all of its teams in 2021 (from Jeremy Brahm). … An official at University of Sioux Falls says Sen. Marco Rubio got ahold of their hat/T-shirt due to a laundry mixup at the Senate gym. Rubio has appeared publicly several times wearing USF Cougars gear (from our own Alex Hider). … “I was making dinner for my family this evening and noticed the packing for Trader Joe’s garlic naan had an aesthetically pleasure Uni Watch colored stripe pattern,” writes Edwin (aka “Squatchee on Top”). “I had to pass it along to UWHQ.”

And finally… that’s it for me this weekend. Everyone enjoy the conference championships today (Go Pack & Chiefs!), or whatever other sports or non-sports you may wish to watch or partake in (if you partake, make sure to be safe!).

Catch you guys back here next weekend. Everyone have a good week!

Peace,

PH

What's Your Sign(ature) — Baltimore Ravens

By Phil Hecken

Greetings everyone! Hope you and yours are staying safe.

For those who have been reading Uni Watch for some time, you are aware I’ve run a series of “What’s Your Sign(ature)” articles where I look at a club’s uniform history and attempt to establish what I call a “signature” look. Now, the signature look is not one the team has worn the longest, or the team’s “best” uniform set (although either could qualify). Nay, the team’s “signature” look is one that when you see it, you KNOW the team wearing it. It could be a unique look (usually the case) or even a classic one. But it’s the uniform that most stands out as being the look for that team.

Today we’ll look at the Baltimore Ravens, who’ve remained remarkably consistent in their uniforms over the years, and have established a look that they definitely “own.”

As most of you know, the Ravens were “born” in 1996, but only in the legal sense: the Ravens were born as the result of their transplantation to Baltimore from Cleveland, when the Browns owner Art Modell moved the team. Famously, Modell reached deals with Baltimore and Cleveland allowing Cleveland to keep the Browns’ name, history, and colors for a future replacement team, so the newly renamed Ravens (whose name comes from the famous poem “The Raven” by Baltimorean Edgar Allan Poe) were technically an expansion team.

Let’s take a look at some of the various uni machinations the team has had over its history, and determine their “signature” look:

1996

The Ravens burst on the scene dressed remarkably like ravens, which are mostly black and purple. Their inaugural uniforms, particularly the homes, would reflect this, as the team wore black helmets and pants, with a purple home and white road jersey. They were one of the first teams to use a custom number font, and the Ravens’ used a pointy, sometimes-oddly-kerned set. The numbers were double-outlined, with gold/black outlines on the purple jerseys and black/white outlines on the white jerseys. The helmet featured a stylized B on a shield, with white, purple and black feathers. The pants featured a single, solid wide stripe, a feature the team still uses on certain pants to this day.

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1997

After one season the Ravens changed uni suppliers and uniforms as well. For the home uniforms, the numbers were given a gold outline with black blockshadowing, which gave them depth; the team also seemed to fix any kerning issues. For the purple jerseys, the team added white pants with a black/purple/black striping pattern. The white jerseys also changed up the look of the numbers, adding the gold outline and black dropshadow as well. The team would continue wearing black pants with the white jerseys, but the black pants now had a white/black/purple/black/white pattern. Both jerseys featured black collars and sleeve hems.

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1998

Not much would change in 1998, but the team ditched the black road pants. They would wear black/white/white uniforms for the first time — a look they have featured almost ever since.

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1999

There would be no changes to the uniforms in 1999, but the team was basically forced to change their helmet logo, after a court case ruled the team used the original logo without permission (there’s a lot to this story — the link gives not only the details of the original suit, but subsequent filings). The new helmet logo, informally known as the “purple bird head,” remains their helmet logo to this day.

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2004

The Ravens would make no changes to their uniforms from 1999 through 2003. That would change in 2004, when the team added an alternate black jersey and solid, stripeless black pants. The black jersey was identical to the purple, with the exceptions of swapping the black neck/arm striping to purple, and replacing the black blockshadow on the numbers with purple. The mono-black look would prove popular with fans and team alike, and it was rumored to have been introduced at the behest of Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis. One small change also occurred this year. The Ravens began wearing high black socks with all their uniform combinations.

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2008

Two slight changes occurred in 2008: the team stopped wearing white pants on the road, so their black/white/black look (new for 2008) would be a feature from that year forward. It would be the only year the team didn’t wear white over white since their early days. The white over white would return in 2009. The team also did not wear their alternate black jerseys with the black pants, instead wearing them over white pants. It’s somewhat surprising the team never combined the black and white uniform elements before this. The purple over white remained their main home look, as it had been since 1997.

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2010

2010 saw the Ravens wear six different combinations, five of which they had previously worn: purple/white, black/white, black/black, white/black and white/white. This year saw them “return” to their original home uniform of purple over black. While there are significant differences between the 1996 and 2010 versions, it definitely harkens back to the original. And it strikes me as their “signature” look.

The team would continue to wear all six combinations through the 2013 season. In 2014, the team “retired” the black jersey/white pants look (but this would not be permanent).

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2015

In 2015, for one game only (and without any prior announcement), the Ravens broke out a pair of gold pants, with a wide purple/black/purple stripe, against the Kansas City Chiefs. The surprising look was met with mostly scorn and the team lost convincingly, 34-14, at home. The would never wear gold pants again.

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2016

In 2016, the Ravens would join the rest of the NFL in adding a “color rush” uniform to their stable, and this one featured an all-purple look. The numbers on the purple jersey changed from white to gold, and had a white outline and black dropshadow. The pants were new, and contained a white/gold/white stripe. They would wear the “color rush” uniform from 2016 through 2019.

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2018

The Ravens would make one final addition to their uniform set in 2018, adding a pair of non “color rush” purple pants. These would be similar, except the striping would be black/white/black. The team wore these with both their purple and white jerseys. But they weren’t done mixing and matching — they also paired the new purple pants with the black jerseys.

The three new combos added to the teams already prolific number of choices, including color rush, allowed the Ravens to wear an incredible 10 different uniform combinations in 2018! In 2019 they would drop the black over purple, and in 2020, dropped the color rush combinations.

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So there you have it. A pretty remarkable (and mostly consistent) uniform history since “entering” the league in 1996. But what is their signature look? While it’s not my personal favorite, I have to say the black helmet/purple jersey/black pants is easily the choice. Why? No other team has ever worn such a combination (and lets hope it stays that way), it was their “first” look as well as a current one. Even though I detest the stripeless pants (especially when worn leotard-style with black socks), it still screams “Ravens” in a way no other look does.

What say you?

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Hammer Time.

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.

The King is Dead…Long Live the King

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, the great Henry Aaron passed away yesterday. The Hammer was 86. I won’t go into much of his on or off-field heroics here, or his importance not just to baseball and social and civil rights. I know Paul will have more about the man on Monday, and he’s far better than I at tackling that sort of thing. But I do want to offer a few words.

Henry Aaron had already had a tremendous career by the time I started really following baseball in 1972 as a six year old. I knew he was a great player, and as the 1973 season played out (when I really started getting into the game), I knew he was approaching one of those records that many thought untouchable: passing Babe Ruth’s MLB record of 714 home runs. My interest that season was much more devoted to my beloved New York Mets (the team hadn’t begun to break my heart multiple times at that point in time), and I followed their every game as they rose from near the cellar of the NL East to clinching the division on October 1 in Chicago; they’d eventually beat the Reds three games to two in the NLCS and damn near knocked off the reigning World Series Champion Oakland A’s later that month. After the season ended, I remembered reading Aaron had finished 1973 with 713 home runs. My pop, who was a big a baseball fan as I’d become, told me “if Aaron plays next season, he’ll have the greatest record in (baseball) history.” It never occurred to me as a seven year old that players didn’t play forever, so I kind of dismissed the comment, and turned my thoughts to 1974 and a return to the World Series for my Mets. Did I mention I was seven?

As the 1974 season began, Willie Mays was no longer playing. “He retired” my dad told me. What? I thought these guys played forever. Anyway, Aaron was still playing and I watched the news to see he had hit number 714 in Cincinnati. I didn’t know the Braves had wanted him to sit so he could break the record in Atlanta. He did sit the second game, and I believe went hitless in the third. Then came April 8, and fortuitously, the Braves/Dodgers game was nationally broadcast — and I watched it with my dad. You guys all know what happened in Aaron’s second at-bat. The immortal Vin Scully beautifully captured the moment:

One ball and no strikes. Aaron waiting. The outfield deep and straight away. Fastball. It’s a high drive into deep left centerfield. Buckner goes back to the fence. It is gone.

True professional he was, he was silent for about a half minute, allowing the moment to fully sink in. Then, he spoke:

What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us and for particularly for Henry Aaron, who was met at home plate, not only by every member of the Braves but by his father and mother. He threw his arms around his father and as he left the home plate area, his mother came running across the grass, threw her arms around his neck, kissed him for all she was worth.

You can see it all here:

Truly amazing — and it was really one of the first EVER “greatest” moments I ever watched live. I’ll never forget where I was (at home), watching with my pop.

None of it seemed as historic to me as it was. Even the two guys who raced out to shake Aaron’s hand and pat his back didn’t seem out of the ordinary to me. It would only be later that I would understand everything that Aaron had faced leading up to that point. And it was truly amazing. It was one of those things that only got better and better as I learned Aaron’s history, story, and the guts, determination and will to get to that point. The racism, the death threats, the adversity — none of that I knew or understood at the time. I was just happy for the guy.

One last thought — Aaron was a five-tool player before they paid you eight figures per year to be one. But what has always amazed me is this one simple baseball fact: even if Henry Aaron had never hit a single home run, he’d still have over 3,000 hits. That’s how good he was (and that doesn’t count his batting titles and gold gloves). And yet, he never once hit 50 or more home runs in a season.

We lost one of the greatest baseball players (easily top 3) yesterday, but we also lost an amazing human being. I’m glad I got to see him play, even if it wasn’t in his prime, and I’ll never forget that April night with my pop, watching history unfold.

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Henry Aaron wore many a uniform throughout his professional career, but surprisingly, with only two professional teams (Braves, Brewers), didn’t wear that many different ones. Sadly, the Braves unis had rather problematic imagery associated with them. Here’s a look at some of the unis he wore:

Rookie issue

Most people think of Aaron and immediately the number “44” which he wore for the majority of his career comes to mind. But that wasn’t the first number he was issued.

1954-1962

1963-65

Aaron’s Milwaukee years were basically all in the same uniform (which is quite similar to the uniforms worn by the Braves today). The Braves changed shoulder patches to the one seen above in 1957, but kept the black tomahawk. In 1963 they removed the tomahawk but kept the patch.

1966-67

When the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta, they wore the same uniforms for the first two years as they had in Milwaukee, changing only the “M” on the cap to a cursive “A.”

1968-71

The Braves changed their uniforms slightly in 1968, adding pinstripes and eliminating most of the red. The road unis were similarly plain.

1972-73

Most people think the 1972-73 and 1974-75 uniforms are identical, but there were subtle differences (and uni makers), with the earlier uniforms having a slightly different script and wavier numbers than the 74/75 jerseys.

1974

That’s Aaron in Cincy tying the Babe’s HR record.

1975-76

Like Mays before him (returning to New York from San Francisco), Aaron returned “home” to Milwaukee and played his final two seasons with the Brewers. He’s seen above wearing one of my favorite uniforms of all time. I love the gold sanis!

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RIP Henry Aaron. The world has lost one of the greatest humans ever to walk the planet.

Feel free to post your thoughts (especially if they’re uni related) on Hammerin’ Hank in the comments below.

The “BEST OF” Kreindler’s Korner

Hey guys & gals. You’ve enjoyed Kreindler’s Korner for several years now, mostly on the weekends, on Uni Watch, but with the recent coronavirus outbreak, Graig’s time is just too precious and he needs to tend to other things besides coming up with a new writeup each weekend.

So, going forward, for as long as the COVID-19 situation is bad in New York, I’m going to run a few “Best of’s” until Graig returns.

Here’s today’s offering:

• • •

Title: “Henry”
Subject: Hank Aaron, 1956
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 16″ x 24″

This painting has always been a favorite of mine. Something about the combination of an amazing jersey, the low vantage point, Hank’s arms and him gazing to the heavens just really tugs on my heart strings. He was a truly great man, both on the field and off. We will not see his like again.

There are few jerseys that look cooler than the old Milwaukee Braves togs from the 1950s. When you mix that with beautiful light, an engaging composition, and one of the greatest ballplayers of all time, you get a special piece.

• • •

Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

Click to enlarge

Magnets back in stock: Paul here. I’ve procured another small supply of winged stirrup magnets (but not the round ones, sorry). They measure about 3″ x 3″, and they’re thin and flexible, so they’ll conform to curved surfaces as well as flat ones.

I have a very limited supply of these. They’re available here.

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: MLB.com has published an article on the history of the Brewers’ ball-in-glove logo (from Kary Klismet). … The Somerset Patriots, who have joined the Eastern League as the Yankees’ Double-A affiliates, will get new uniforms to go along with their new league (from John Cerone). … Western Kentucky unveiled new uniforms yesterday, and that “W” looks a little bit too close to the Nationals’ “W” (from Erick Kriewaldt). … A Maine-based bat manufacturer, Dove Tail Bats, is distancing itself from a man who purchased a bat from them and had it customized with “Trump Won Period” before taking it to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Facebook posts indicate that the purchaser intended to use it to assault “communists.” Dove Tail says they’re now introducing “additional safeguards” to ensure “incendiary language” is not used on their bats. … An actor on a recent episode of Law & Order: SVU was wearing about the closest thing possible to a Mets logo without the producers having to actually pay for the rights to use the Mets’ actual logo (from @artofscorebug).

NFL News: All year the Pats had trouble keeping their NOB font consistent. It appears the Pro Shop at Gillette Stadium is also having the same issue.
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Hockey News: According to reader Tom Roddy, Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said in a televised interview that he hopes the team’s gold jerseys become the primary home look if “the powers that be” allow it. Don’t know if he means the NHL or the hockey operations side of his team. … New Devils G Eric Comrie has a new mask (from Wade Heidt). … The NWHL is wearing an “End Racism” sleeve patch this season (thanks, Jamie). … It appears the yoke on UMaine’s jerseys this year is too large, and makes the NOB and uni number cluttered and small (from @Long_Tall_Foxy).

Pro Hoops News: New Rockets G Dante Exum will wear No. 5 (from Etienne Catalan). … Yesterday, we ticker-linked to a package of Cookies brand marijuana, featuring Gary Payton. Today, reader Daniel Klempner sends along this Lakers jersey-themed package for a pre-roll. … Here’s an article about the evolution of WNBA jerseys in the 24 years since the league’s founding (from Kevin Brown). … Sixers mascot Franklin dressed as Meme Bernie Sanders during last nights Celtics/Sixers game.

College/High School Hoops News: Ohio State unveiled new black alternates which will make their on-court debut in today’s game against Wisconsin.
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Soccer News: Belarus has unveiled plans for a new national stadium to be completed by 2023 (from Kary Klismet).
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Grab Bag: The Cleveland Clinic has unveiled a centennial anniversary logo (from John Cerone). … Also from John: Pfizer has a new logo. … Valparaiso University is looking into retiring its “Crusader” mascot (from Kary Klismet). … NBC will shut down NBC Sports Network at the end of the year. Regional sports networks like NBC Sports Boston and NBC Sports Bay Area will remain. … One of President Biden’s granddaughters, Maisy, wore a pair of Air Jordan Mid 1 “Sisterhood” sneakers to the inauguration, leading to a spike of more than 200% on StockX. Vice President Harris’ niece’s husband, Nikolas Ajagu, wore Air Jordan 1 OG Diors to the inauguration, leading to a similar spike. More details here (from Jason Hillyer).

And finally… that will do it for today. Lots of good stuff on tap for tomorrow, so be sure to check back then. Everyone stay safe!

Peace,

PH

Here’s What We Know About the Bengals’ New Uniforms

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In a long-overdue move that practically qualifies as a public service, the Bengals yesterday announced that they’ll have new uniforms for the 2021 season — their first new set since 2004.

Here’s the announcement, which provides a decent overview of the team’s uniform history:

Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

Have you seen the new designs?

No, I haven’t. So everything I’m writing here today is based on what’s been reported elsewhere and on my own analysis of the situation, not on any inside knowledge.

Are they changing the helmet?

Apparently not. Multiple reports have indicated that the helmet will be remaining the same. Personally, I’m disappointed, because I’m in the camp that has never liked the striped design, but I know it’s popular with many fans, so they should be happy that the design is being retained.

Aside from the helmet, will it be a major makeover?

Again, apparently not. Bengals beat writer Joe Goodberry says he’s been told that the changes will be “mostly minor.”

What might that entail?

The most obvious candidates for revision are the white side panels on the black and orange jerseys, which have never made sense and have always looked awful:

I am reasonably certain that the side panels will be scrapped.

Anything else?

I haven’t heard anyone talk about this, but I’m reallyreallyreally hoping that they scale back the striping on the pants. That element has looked particularly clownish since 2012, because the “tail” of the striping wraps around more to the front of the pant leg on the Nike pants than it did on the Reebok pants:

Anything else?

Two other items that seem ripe for reconsideration are the contrasting yoke on the white jerseys and the number font. Personally, I’m fine with both of those elements, but they seem like the kind of things that would probably be targeted for change, especially considering the apparent popularity of the white alternate uniform, which has block numbers and no contrasting yoke:

When will the new designs be unveiled?

The Bengals are saying “in the spring.” We all know the drill by now — they want to have the new set available for the first round of the draft, which is currently slated to take place on April 29, so we’ll definitely see it by then.

But it’ll leak before then, right?

That’s certainly a possibility, but far from a certainty. Of the six NFL teams that released significant redesigns last season (I’m not including the Colts, since their changes were so minor, or Washington, since their changes took place on the fly), three of them had significant leaks: the Bucs, Browns, and Falcons (I broke two of those leaks myself). But there were no uni leaks for the Chargers, Pats, or Rams. So we’ll see.

Does the end of the one-shell rule mean they’ll be able to have an alternate helmet?

First, it’s important to note here that there has been no official confirmation that the league is ending the one-shell rule. Several coaches and other sources have hinted about it, and the league has said that the rule is under review, but we don’t yet know for sure that it’s a done deal.

If they do scrap the rule, it would be interesting to see if that’s announced prior to the draft, in order to provide more unveiling options for the Bengals and any other teams that are getting new uniforms this season.

Speaking of which: Which other NFL teams are getting new uniforms this season?

The Rams have indicated that they plan to add a new alternate design for 2021. Aside from that, I’m not aware of any team that has officially announced plans for new uniforms, although history tells us that another couple of teams will probably make such announcements shortly.

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And there you have it. As long as we’re talking about the Bengals, it’s always fun to revisit their 1981 unveiling, when the striped helmet was bestowed upon an unsuspecting world:

One of the two players who modeled that new uni — linebacker Reggie Williams — gave a first-hand account of the unveiling to our own Brinke Guthrie a few years ago. You can check that out here.

Also worth revisiting: I did a Bengals-redesign contest in 2019. You can see that here.

Okay, Cardinals: You’re on the clock now.

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Something up his sleeve: Fun fact: Back in the early 1900s, baseball jerseys sometimes had detachable button-on sleeve extensions, in case a game was played in cold weather. You can see an example in the photo on the left above, and there’s an additional example here.

I occasionally see jerseys like this on eBay, but yesterday I spotted something I don’t think I’ve seen before: Someone is selling a pair of detachable sleeve extensions all by themselves — without the accompanying jersey! — as seen in the photo on the right.

It’s definitely an unusual piece (or pair of pieces) of uniform history. If you’re interested, the eBay auction can be found here.

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Too good for the Ticker: Reader Wade Heidt found a photo showing something neither he nor I had ever seen before: a hockey team wearing white Cooperalls! Finally, a uniform that earns the term “icy whites”!

That’s the Victoria Cougars, who were playing against the WHL All-Stars in 1981. If you can tear your eyeballs away from the white Coops, you can see that the Cougars were also wearing very odd jerseys, with some sort of curved striping wrapping around the upper part of the rear uni numbers. Bizarre!

(Big thanks to Wade for this great find.)

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I beg your pardon: In case you missed it, yesterday’s post included a section about how an old friend of mine received a presidential pardon, and the complicated feelings I have about the whole thing.

That missive prompted a lot of interesting and thoughtful responses, which I very much appreciated. If you haven’t already read it, you can check it out here.

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ITEM! Magnets back in stock: I’ve procured another small supply of winged stirrup magnets (but not the round ones, sorry). They measure about 3″ x 3″, and they’re thin and flexible, so they’ll conform to curved surfaces as well as flat ones.

I have only 50 of these. If you’re interested, here’s the deal:

1. Price: $3 plus $1 for shipping. Limit two per person. (Shipping price is the same whether you buy one magnet or two.)

2. Send me the proper amount via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Google Pay (plukas64@gmail.com). If you’d rather use Apple Pay or a paper check, contact me and I’ll give you the info you need. Sorry, no PayPal.

3. After sending payment, email me with your mailing address.

4. If you’re outside of the USA, contact me so I can calculate the shipping charge and arrange an alternate form of payment for you.

5. If you want to combine your purchase with an order for a Uni Watch trading card, a seam ripper, a koozie, or a chain-stitched patch, please email me and I’ll give you a price that includes a combined shipping fee for the whole shebang. (Sorry, these are the only Uni Watch items I can combine into one shipment, because our other items ship from separate locations, not from Uni Watch HQ.)

That’s it. Thanks!

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Almost gone: In case you missed it on Thursday, our Uni Watch Cufflinks, which were originally priced at $26.99 and then reduced to $16.99, are now available at a bargain basement price of $9.99. Granted, you probably don’t have many formal events on your socially distanced calendar, but we’ll all be vaccinated soon enough, right? As of this morning, there are only eight seven six five four three pairs of cufflinks remaining, so move fast! Update: The cufflinks are now sold out. Thanks for the great response to the clearance sale!

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ITEM! Pin Club update: Oh man, check out these awesome displays created by reader Michael Rich for his Uni Watch Pin Club pins. As you can see, 2020 is filled up (including his All-Star pin for collecting ’em all), and 2021 is ready to go. Nicely done, Michael!

Speaking of the Pin Club: We have about 45 January 2021 pins remaining, and all of our remaining 2020 pins have been reduced to $9.99 — you can find those in the Uni Watch Shop.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: The American Association’s Kansas City T-Bones will now be known as the Kansas City Monarchs, paying homage to the old Negro Leagues team (from multiple readers). … Did you know Johnny Bench had a restaurant in Cincinnati in the ’70s? It’s true, and here’s the gorgeous menu to prove it (from Griffin T. Smith). … The town of Richmond, Ind., has installed a monument at the site where the stadium for the Richmond Giants, a Negro Leagues team, stood (from Kary Klismet).

NFL News: Once upon a time, The Buffalo News included rally signs for Bills games. … A Twitter user linked the monochromatic inaugural outfits of First Lady Jill Biden, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, and Vice President Kamala Harris to NFL Color Rush unis (from Glenn Riley). … After previously coming under scrutiny for their Oilers-knockoff helmet logo, the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks are now at odds with the Patriots, with New England alleging that the Roughnecks’ oil worker profile logo looks too similar to Flying Elvis (from Kary Klismet).

Hockey News: Reader Jakob Fox has spotted a small adjustment to the Kings’ uniforms that Paul didn’t catch for his NHL Season Preview. … Someone on eBay is selling a baseball cap designed to look like Ed Belfour’s eagle mask from the ’90s. This begs several questions — was this part of a line of caps designed to look like goalies’ masks, or just a Belfour thing? Was it officially licensed by the NHLPA or NHL? And who is the “Greg Harrison” from the seller’s listing? (From Michael Pisano Jr..) … Former NFL player Marshawn Lynch donned a grey Avalanche practice jersey while skating around with former NHL player Akim Aliu. Aliu never played for the Avalanche, so maybe Lynch is just an Avs fan? (from Kary Klismet). … A Michigan man has been arrested for beating a police officer with a hockey stick during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

NBA News: A baggie of marijuana from the Seattle growers Cookies depicts former SuperSonics player Gary Payton in a classic Sonics-style uni. The strain is named after Payton.

Soccer News: Fresno Fuego FC, a USL League One team that will begin play in 2022, have unveiled their logo (from Aaron Wiens).

 

Grab Bag: Forty years ago, the PGA was looking at adopting a new logo. Here are the ones that didn’t make the cut. … UNLV is dropping its “Hey Reb” mascot, but keeping the “Rebels” team name (from Mike Chamernik and Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Indiana State University has updated the university’s logo, but not the athletics logo. … Topps is selling a nine-card Presidential inauguration card set for a cool $55. Worth it just for the Bernie card! (From @bryanwdc.)

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What Paul did last night: Yesterday was the first day of the year for which the official sunset time was 5pm — a sign that the days are getting longer, bit by bit. Mary and I are both looking forward to porch o’clock routinely taking place in sunlight again — in part because we feel more connected to our neighborhood when we’re out there during daylight, and in part because I hate taking photos in the dark. (Of course, what we’re really looking forward to is not having to convene on the porch every day, but we’re committed to doing that until we can safely and comfortably sit at the bar at one of our local watering holes, an eventuality that is still several months away.)

Meanwhile: I suppose it was just a matter of time before someone did this, and the someone turned out to be Uni Watch reader Michael Davie (click to enlarge):

Thanks, Michael — you made both of us laugh out loud (and probably lots of other people, too).

As always, you can see the full set of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos — now more than 310 of them — here.

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That’s a wrap for this week. I don’t mind saying that I was really happy with all of this week’s content — hope you liked reading it as much as I liked producing it. Stay safe, enjoy Phil’s weekend posts, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. Peace. — Paul

A1 Steak Sauce’s 1994 NFL Trading Cards

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Longtime Uni Watch reader/supporter Robert Brashear recently got in touch to let me know he’d found something interesting buried in a drawer: a set of 28 A1 Steak Sauce “Masters of the Grill” recipe cards from 1994, each with a different NFL player on the front. Much like the late-1980s Diet Coke/NFL ads that we recently explored, these A1 cards offer an interesting overlap between advertising and the uni-verse.

I’d never been aware of these cards before, so I looked on eBay and found a full set for myself ($10, including shipping). They’re shown above, arranged in alphabetical order of the teams’ cities. After studying them at length, here are some observations:

• The overwhelming majority of the players are offensive or defensive linemen, presumably because the ad agency thought big, rough-tough guys were a good fit for grilling meat.

• One of the few non-linemen is Jerome Bettis, who was then with the Rams. He’s so strongly associated with the Steelers (at least in my mind) that it’s almost startling to see him in a Rams jersey.

• Another one of the non-linemen, Browns fullback Tommy Vardell, is wearing a jersey that looks more black than brown.

• Since this promotional campaign ran in 1994, the NFL’s diamond anniversary patch is evident on most of the jerseys. It’s missing from a few of them, however.

• The Giants’ representative — center Bart Oates — didn’t actually play for the Giants in 1994. He was acquired by the 49ers prior to the start of that season. So his A1 photo shoot was probably the only time he wore a Giants jersey with the anniversary patch.

• Patriots offensive lineman Eugene Chung appears to be wearing the team’s 1993 jersey — the one with the red chest numbers and white TV numbers. And yet he does have the 1994 anniversary patch. Strange!

• 1994 was also when the NFL rolled out its first throwback program, but there are no throwback jerseys featured on any of the cards.

• The various jerseys include maker’s marks for four different uniform manufacturers — Champion, Russell Athletic, Wilson, and Apex — plus there are several without any visible logo creep. (According to the Gridiron Uniform Database, several teams were outfitted by Starter that season.)

• One player — Vikings offensive lineman Chris Hinton — appears to be wearing a blank, unofficial jersey. In addition to having no visible uni numbers and no anniversary patch, it also does not have the NFL logo at the collar.

• Seventeen of the players are wearing A1 chef’s toques, while the other 11 have A1 ballcaps. One of those 11 — Dolphins tight end Keith Jackson — somehow got away with wearing his ballcap backwards, hiding the A1 logo. Another cap-clad player — Packers offensive lineman Ken Ruettgers — achieved a similar brand-quashing effect by wearing his cap tilted back on his head.

• All 28 of the the players are wearing aprons. Four of them — Oilers defensive lineman Ray Childress, Chargers offensive lineman Courtney Hall, 49ers offensive lineman Harris Barton, and the aforementioned Ruettgers — wore their aprons at the waist, exposing more of their jerseys. The other 24 players have their aprons over their torsos. Those aprons have the A1 logo on the chest, but most of the players have their arms folded and/or are holding props in a way that obscures much or all of the logo.

• Fifteen of the players are either holding or standing alongside two bottles of A1. There are also six players with one bottle, six more with no bottles (surprising!), and one player — Cardinals defensive lineman Eric Swann — who held four bottles.

• Although this campaign was all about grilling, a grill is visible in only four of the photos. Three of those shots just show a lonely-looking kettle grill in the background, but one player — Raiders defensive lineman Howie Long — got to pose in front of a big grill of assorted meats.

There are more things I could compare (which grilling tools each player is holding, the photo backdrops, etc.), but I think that’s enough for now.

Meanwhile, the back of each card has a recipe featuring A1 as a key ingredient. Most of them are about what you’d expect, and there doesn’t appear to have been any attempt to match regionally themed recipes to the players’ team locations (i.e., the card for the Saints player does not feature a Creole or Cajun recipe). Here’s a representative sampling:

I should probably mention here that I’ve never much cared for A1. To me it’s just runny ketchup with a bit of added spices and a lot of added sugar. But it’s interesting to see that their basic package design has barely changed since 1994. Here’s a comparison — 1994 trading card version on the left, current version on the right (note that “Steak” is no longer part of the official product name):

Also, trading cards feature a brand extension called A1 Bold, which had a black label. That product was apparently introduced in 1994 — the same year the trading cards were issued — but is no longer in production, at least not under that name. There is, however, a current a product called A1 Bold & Spicy. It’s not clear to me if that’s essentially the same product (anyone..?), but here’s another design comparison:

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And there you have it. If you want your own set of these cards, there are lots of them available on eBay.

(Big thanks to Robert Brashear, who deserves all the credit for this entry, and to Joel Keller for the Bart Oates note.)

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Uni-auguration: With Oakland native Kamala Harris ascending to the office of U.S. Vice President yesterday, the Warriors sent her one of their Oakland alternate jerseys (additional info here). Note that while Joe Biden is America’s 46th president — a number we’ll presumably be seeing a lot of in the months and years to come — Harris is the 49th veep, which explains the number on her jersey.

In other developments related to yesterday’s inauguration:

• Speaking of the 46th prexy, when President Biden left the inauguration and went to Arlington National Cemetery, he traveled in a car with a “46” license plate:

• In a related item, here’s a list of the best players in various sports to wear No. 46.

• Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas was on hand at the inauguration and wore a Chiefs hat:

• Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar wore U. of Minnesota colors:

• Lots of women at the inauguration wore purple. Some may have done so as a gesture of bipartisanship (blue + red = purple), while others did it in honor of Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 was the first Black female presidential candidate:

• In addition, lots of women around America wore black Chucks and pearls as a shout-out to Vice President Harris.

• Finally, I was struck by how this photo of the Bidens and Harrises was like the 1990s uniform scene all over again — purple, teal, and black:

(My thanks to Brinke Guthrie, Craig Kind, Rob Krosley, and Ron Ruelle for their contributions to this section.)

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ITEM! Clearance sale: Uni Watch Cufflinks, which were originally priced at $26.99 and then reduced to $16.99, are now available at a bargain basement price of $9.99. Granted, you probably don’t have many formal events on your socially distanced calendar, but we’ll all be vaccinated soon enough, and there are only 27 pairs of cufflinks remaining, so move fast!

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“Life Sure Is Weird” Department: I woke up yesterday to learn that someone I’ve known for over 30 years had received a presidential pardon. (Spoiler alert: Not Lil Wayne.)

We met in 1987, when I was a big fan of a band he played in, and quickly became friends. We also had a lot of friends in common in the worlds of indie-rock, zines, and so on. Later, in the early 2000s, he ascended to much more high-powered strata of media and influence — like, very high-powered — but we stayed in touch.

Over time, though, our values diverged, he became less and less recognizable to me, and I found that it required an increasingly complex level of emotional gymnastics to justify my friendship with him. In 2018, by which time he had been credibly accused of sexual harassment by someone who worked for him, I decided I could no longer perform those gymnastics and that our fundamental values had become irreconcilably incompatible. So we met up one last time, talked about our friendship, and then I “broke up” with him. It was hard, and sad, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

I thought that would be a clean break, but he turned out to be further under my skin than I realized. Each time a certain kind of news was reported — news that I knew would matter to him or affect him in one way or another — I’d think of him and wonder if this latest news might make him rethink his positions. On some level, it embarrassed me, and still does, that I continued thinking about him in this way. But people and relationships are complicated, and it’s hard to just toggle them on and off like a light switch.

Last fall, federal charges were brought against him, alleging some really loathsome behavior that, unfortunately, seemed consistent with certain things I knew about him (and also consistent with the earlier sexual harassment accusation). His attorney issued a statement that didn’t even deny the allegations — he just said the allegations didn’t merit a criminal prosecution. At first it seemed like an odd thing for an attorney to say — the usual statement would be “My client categorically denies all the charges, and we look forward to rebutting them in court” or something like that, right? — but then I thought of my ex-friend’s high-powered connections and realized what was going to happen: He was going to get a pardon.

And sure enough, that’s what happened. But even though I expected it, it’s still sick-making. And by accepting the pardon, he’s admitted his guilt.

I should say here that when we were friends, he was a good friend. There were generous favors, valuable advice, invitations to gatherings at his home, and a general spirit of generosity, right up to the end. I know the person I initially liked is still in there somewhere, and I imagine he’ll probably remain under my skin to a certain extent, maybe forever.

Crazy world.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: It would be fair to say that Lewistown High School in Illinois has not gotten the memo regarding the use of Native imagery. “I knew their teams were called the Indians but never knew how much they really leaned into the Native American imagery instead of distancing themselves from it,” says Stile Smith.

Baseball News: Here are some great photos of the ushers and other staffers at Colt Stadium, where the Colt .45s played before becoming the Astros and moving to the Astrodome (thanks to all who shared). … What would MLB team logos look like as minor league logos? Maybe something like this (from @SacKings_Unis). … Looks like the Nats may have a new alternate logo (from R. Scott Rogers).

NFL News: The Cleveland City Council saluted the Browns for their season but used the team’s outdated uniforms when doing so (rare non-soccer contribution from Ed Zelaski). … Several Ravens players gave signed jerseys to RB Mark Ingram, who was released by the team on Tuesday.

College Football News: This is weird: It’s really hard to see, but back when Maryland had white helmet shells, they also used white rear-helmet numbers. Additonal examples here and here. Why would any team use white on white? (From Steve Hoyle.)

Hockey News: New pads for Golden Knights G Robin Lehner.
 
 
 

NBA News: The Warriors are embracing their “Oakland” alternate uniforms, which debuted last night (from Mike Chamernik). … Those uniforms also come with some pretty wild warm-up jackets. Here’s a closer look (from Antonio C.). … The NBA is adding on-court security to prevent handshakes, hugs, and other physical contact among players (from Mike Chamernik). … The Mavs have begun giving a championship-style belt to their defensive player of the game (from Timmy Donahue).

Soccer News: Chattanooga FC has extended its kit deal with Hummel (from Ed Zelaski). … French side RC Strasbourg plans to use airplane fuselages to renovate its stadium in a sustainable manner (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Dutch club Feyenoord has released its new stadium plans.

Grab Bag: Good article about a New York uniform shop that provides unis to Postal Service employees. … Here’s how the rock band Korn’s frontman, Jonanthan Davis, created the band’s logo. … Here’s an article on the current state of pro golf sponsorships and endorsements (NYT link).

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