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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New Twitter Account Reveals High School Hoops Treasures

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Derek Perras, who tweets as @retro_70s, has been posting some great high school basketball photos lately, including this fantastic photo of the 1967-68 Sacred Heart team from Syracuse, N.Y. Love those heart-trimmed jerseys!

You say you want to see that uni in color? Here you go:

Note that the opposing team is wearing stirrups, but without the usual white crew socks over them!

One of Sacred Heart’s main rivals was St. Patrick’s, who wore this fantastic uniform in 1942 (click to enlarge):

Here’s another St. Patrick’s uni, this time from the 1960s (click to enlarge):

Now here’s the payoff: In 2015, two Syracuse schools — Christian Brothers Academy and Bishop Ludden — played each other while wearing Sacred Heart and St. Patrick’s throwbacks (click to enlarge):

Shifting gears, here’s a really interesting uniform worn by the 1942 Luverne High School squad in Minnesota:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like those shoulder straps. It looks like they have neckties draped over their shoulders! Also: All of the uni numbers are in the 40s.

You want more? Sure you do! Here’s a great shot of the 1968 George Washington High School Continentals, from Indianapolis. That’s future NBAer George McGinnis wearing No. 45:

Derek has also been posting even older stuff, like this (dig the suit-clad ref!):

As you’d expect from an account called @retro_70s, there’s also a lot of 1970s stuff (and ’80s, too), but it’s the old photos I’ve really been going to school on. I encourage you to follow Derek’s Twitter account, and I’m sure we’ll be featuring more of his finds here on Uni Watch.

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Glass ceiling about to be shattered: As you may be aware, an American woman is about to make history by reaching an exalted position that no other woman has previously attained. She won’t be quite at the tip-top position, but she’ll be close — and that will have to do, at least for now (although a woman’s ascension to the top spot is long overdue and will hopefully happen soon).

I am referring to, of course, yesterday’s news that NFL official Sarah Thomas will be part of the officiating crew for next month’s Super Bowl, where she’ll serve as the down judge. And thanks to a cap change that she made this season, that also means she’ll be the first Super Bowl official to be sporting a ponytail:

Congrats to her, and here’s hoping she serves as an inspiration to lots of girls and women.

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Addition by subtraction: Over the past year or so, lots of people have asked me if a seam ripper can be used to remove the maker’s mark from an MLB jersey, just like on an MLB cap. And for a year I’ve been saying, “It should work, but I haven’t seen anyone who’s actually done it, so I can’t say for sure.”

But now, thanks to reader Tom Pope (see above), I can finally say, “Yes, it works!” Nice job, buddy.

I asked Tom if he had any pointers or advice to offer, and he said he simply followed the procedure spelled out in this Reddit post from four months ago (which I hadn’t been aware of, or else I would’ve mentioned it here sooner!).

Okay, people — you know what to do.

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Too good for the Ticker: When you think of Lawrence Taylor playing for the Giants, you think of him wearing No. 56. But did you know he wore No. 98 — his college number — for preseason games of his rookie year, 1981? It’s true! And you can see a rare example of it in the video embedded above.

(Big thanks to Robert Gaudelli for this one.)

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Reader Ryan Keberly found this koozie logo mistake between the Tigers’ and Detroit Lions’ logos at a Detroit-area Kroger. … New uniforms for Virginia (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Motocross racer Chase Sexton wore an Astros tequila sunrise-inspired uniform for a race in Houston last night (from John Flory).

Football News: The Lions now have ads on birthday announcements. Gross (from multiple readers). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Reader Ryan Keberly found this koozie logo mistake between the Lions’ and the Detroit Tigers’ logos at a Detroit-area Kroger. … We know about the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” program, where players pick a charity that’s important to them and represent that organization on their cleats. Did you know that the Cowboys’ cheerleaders do something similar with their boots? (From Chris Cruz.) … Here’s a uniform history for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL (from Wade Heidt).

Hockey News: The NHL is pausing its use of tracking pucks due to performance issues. … Here is the Capitals’ Reverse Retro uniform schedule (from multiple readers). … Although the Avalanche changed their road uniform’s black pants and gloves to blue, they kept the black numbers and NOBs, which now stand out as mismatched from the rest of the uniform (from several readers).

Basketball News: Here’s a look at the Jazz’s yellow-jersey curse. … Purdue and Ohio State men’s went grey vs. black last night.
 

Soccer News: The NWSL’s Racing Louisville is hosting a new four-team tournament, the International Women’s Cup, in August. It already has its own logo (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … FC Lviv is asking fans to vote on its new crest.

Grab Bag: Cross-listed from the baseball section: Motocross racer Chase Sexton wore an Astros tequila sunrise-inspired uniform for a race in Houston last night (from John Flory). … A Washington sports fan collects memorabilia from the city’s worst sports moments (from Chris Wautel and Nate Rathjen).

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A Deep Dive on NFL Rear-Helmet Numbers

If you look at the photos above, you can see that the Browns’ 2020 uniform makeover included an unheralded change that I don’t think we’ve discussed before: Prior to the redesign, they put all of their rear helmet uni numbers, whether single-digit or double-digit, to the left of the stripe; after the redesign, they put single-digit numbers to the right of the stripe and had double-digit numbers centered on both sides.

Helmet numbers tend not to be shown in official style guides and are often handled via unofficial protocols established by a team’s equipment staff. They’re also the latest detail to come under the gaze of Uni Watch reader Omar Jalife. A little over a year ago, he provided a comprehensive breakdown of front and rear helmet bumper styles. Now he’s done the same for helmet numbers.

Before we get to Omar’s data, here are a few shorthand terms to keep in mind: He’s used “SD” and “DD” to refer to single- and double-digit numbers, respectively, and then he’s used simple directional terms to describe where a team positions its SD and DD numbers. Using the Browns photos shown above as an example, in 2019 they were SD Left and DD Left (i.e., they put all of their numbers to the left side of the helmet), but now they’re SD Right and DD Centered.

With that in mind, Omar’s survey of the NFL’s rear-helmet numbers breaks down like so (note that this is only for primary helmets, not throwback or Color Rash helmets):

SD Right, DD Centered* (12 teams): Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Colts, Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Ravens, and Saints.

SD Centered, DD Centered* (5): Falcons, Giants,** Jets, Lions, and Steelers.**

SD Left, DD Left (1): Packers.***

SD Right, DD Right (1): Broncos.

No rear numbers (13): Bears, Bills, Buccaneers, Chargers, Cowboys, 49ers, Kansas City, Rams, Seahawks, Texans, Titans, Vikings, and Washington.

*Omar says: “For teams whose helmets include center striping, the DD Centered numbers are usually positioned outside the stripes [like the current Browns format]. But some teams, like the Saints, put the numbers on the outer stripes, and the Lions use a small decal in the middle of the center stripe.”

**It’s worth noting that the Giants and Steelers also have numbers on the front of their helmets. They use the same format on the front as on the back, with SD and DD both being centered.

***The Packers’ rear number decals also include the players’ surnames:

Although the Chargers and Washington don’t have rear helmet numbers, they do have large TV numbers on the sides of their helmets, so rear numbers would be redundant.

Although the Cowboys don’t have helmet numbers, they famously keep track of their helmets via the use of Dymo tape labels:

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Those numbers are summarized in this handy table, which includes SD and DD photo links for each team:

NFL Rear-Helmet Number Positions

Team One Digit Two Digits
Arizona Cardinals Right Centered
Atlanta Falcons Centered Centered
Baltimore Ravens Right Centered
Buffalo Bills None None
Carolina Panthers Right Centered
Chicago Bears None None
Cincinnati Bengals Right Centered
Cleveland Browns Right Centered
Dallas Cowboys None None
Denver Broncos Right Right
Detroit Lions Centered Centered
Green Bay Packers Left Left
Houston Texans None None
Indianapolis Colts Right Centered
Jacksonville Jaguars Right Centered
Kansas City None None
Las Vegas Raiders Right Centered
Los Angeles Chargers None None
Los Angeles Rams None None
Miami Dolphins Right Centered
Minnesota Vikings None None
New England Patriots Right Centered
New Orleans Saints Right Centered
New York Giants Centered Centered
New York Jets Centered Centered
Philadelphia Eagles Right Centered
Pittsburgh Steelers Centered Centered
San Francisco 49ers None None
Seattle Seahawks None None
Tampa Bay Buccaneers None None
Tennessee Titans None None
Washington Football Team None None

A few quick thoughts:

• I’m surprised to learn that there are so many NFL teams that don’t use rear helmet numbers. Seems like it would be hard for everyone to know whose helmet is whose!

• I hadn’t been aware of that itsy-bitsy Lions number decal. So teeny-tiny!

• Personally, I prefer it when the SD numbers are centered, not off to the right. But I can see arguments for both approaches. (Thank god the Giants and Steelers both center their SD numbers, because their front numbers get so much close-up TV exposure. If Ben Roethlisberger’s front No. 7 had been off to the side for all these years, instead of being centered, it would’ve driven me nuts!)

• I’ve never liked the Broncos’ and Packers’ format of putting all numbers off to one side. That’s definitely my least favorite approach to helmet numbers.

How do you folks feel about all of this? Any other helmet-numerical issues we’re overlooking?

(Big thanks to Omar Jalife, who deserves all the credit for today’s entry, and thanks also to webmaster John Ekdahl for table-formatting assistance.)

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie
    

I distinctly remember when I first Got It™. It was a confluence of factors in the early 1970s: my Viking Sears pajamas and Chiefs pennant, inspired by Super Bowl IV; the Chiquita Banana NFL stickers I collected; the NFL Action ’72 album from Sunoco; the hours playing NFL Strategy and reading the Punt, Pass and Kick books; and all the Gatorade I guzzled just for the NFL caps.

And then there was This Week in Pro Football.

As I recall, it ran on Saturdays with all sorts of NFL highlights and “insider” info. But what grabbed me was the set, with those glossy helmets hanging behind hosts Tom Brookshier and Pat Summerall. So naturally, I got all geeked up to find this This Week In Pro Football 14-DVD set from the 1970 season. Now let’s take a trip back to 1970 and Week One of the NFL’s 50th season with Tommy and Pat as your genial hosts;

Those were the days. Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• NHL star Phil Esposito endorsed this Protecteur de Bouche (mouthguard), even though he isn’t wearing one in the photo.

• If you were at the game when Hammerin’ Hank hit his 700th home run on July 21, 1973, you got this certificate. (Suitable for framing!)

• Some really good likenesses of Mets pitchers Jerry Koosman and the late Tom Seaver on these 1976 promo cups from Amoco, although they’re wearing the Dreaded Blank Caps.

• Dan Marino had the Danny Bar chocolate bar as part of his endorsement portfolio. Here’s one of the wrappers sporting some fine artwork. Normally things like this might not have team logos and such, but Marino snagged an NFL license.

• Here’s a 1969 Topps Montreal Expos stamp album. No team logos or colors, so this must have been created on the fly: “We gotta get this out the door fast, and all we got is their name!”

• This 1960s San Francisco Giants appetizer serving set was a “VIP gift” to team employees.

• Proof they’ll put a logo on anything: “Collector’s Edition” Yankee Hankies from the late 1990s.

• Logos for all then-current NFL teams adorn this late-1970s clear glass pitcher.

• Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente died in a plane accident on New Year’s Eve 1972 while delivering earthquake relief supplies. This memorial record album was released the following year.

• Look at all of the MLB team logos in this lot of 47 different 1970s team pocket schedules. The seller is also including a book on the Tokyo Giants.

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Too good for the Ticker: Oh man, I really love these uniforms for the 1939 Oakdale Antelopes high school team from Nebraska. Not sure I’ve ever seen uni numbers off to the side quite like that! Too bad the guy in the center didn’t have a matching jersey.

(Big thanks to @SuitUpVarsity for tweeting the photo, and to Joel Ferebee for bringing it to my attention.)

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: The Tri-Cities Chili Peppers, a team in the new collegiate wood-bat Coastal Plain League, have unveiled their uniforms (from Kary Klismet and Jeff Milby). … Ryan Keberly’s dad saved this awesome 1960 paper placemat that commemorates the Pirates’ World Series win from that year. … Águilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican League wore a black/grey two-toned jersey in Game Seven of the championship series last night — and Sunday’s matchup against Gigantes del Cibao was black-on-black (from Jorge Cruz). … This article about rapper/activist Chuck D includes a bunch of his excellent baseball illustrations (from our own Scott M.X. Turner).

NFL News: Yesterday, a Boston-area TV station used an old photo of Bucs coach Bruce Arians in a Cardinals shirt (from Mike Wice). … Keith Weidemoyer notes that this shot from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective shows the Eagles wearing two different uniforms in what is supposed to be the same game. One monitor shows them in the then-modern 1992 uniforms, but other monitors show them in early-1980s uniforms.

College Football News: New uniforms for the Southern Illinois Salukis. They and the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference will play an eight-game slate beginning in February (from Kary Klismet and Dave Sikula). … Brad Eenhuis sends along this great late-1930s photo of the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Hockey News: The Islanders played their final home opener at Nassau Coliseum last night and commemorated their farewell season in the arena with their center ice logo but referred to it as “Nassau Live Center” — even though the name of the building has not changed. Nassau Live Center is the name of the building’s new leaseholder, and a rep for the group said the wording will soon be changed to read “Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum” (from @John Muir). … University of Nebraska Omaha G Isaiah Saville has been wearing a Martin Luther King Jr. mask this season (from @kingsfan231). … Panthers LW Anthony Duclair is wearing custom skates with social justice messaging (from Tim Shriver). … One of the best NOB mash-ups I’ve seen in a while popped on on the bench for the SPHL’s Knoxville Ice Bears recently. Now I’m hungry. Mmmm (from Ryan Cooper). … The Stars have released their uniform schedule for this season (from Mike Klug).

NBA News: Hawks PG Trae Young was wearing what appears to be a wrist brace last night (from @TyOrtega). … Pistons F Jerami Grant wore a retro Grant Hill jersey prior to the team’s road game against the Heat last night (from @_jacobmjones). … “It’s not just us in the uni-verse who are annoyed by the NBA’s constantly changing aesthetics,” says Mike Chamernik . As proof, he notes that a thread asking why NBA jerseys have gotten “uglier” was topping r/NBA on Reddit yesterday. … The only way to make the Magic’s 1990s pinstriped unis better is when Shaq wore them with matching pinstriped knee pads (from George O’Dea). … When the Nets wore their tie-dye New Jersey throwbacks the other day, a ref got in the throwback spirit — or maybe just forgot that the game was taking place in Brooklyn — by announcing a foul charged to “New Jersey” (from Stephen Santangelo).

College and High School Hoops News: Florida State wore their home whites on the road last night in a matchup with Louisville, which wore black at home (from @VictoryCB). … Citadel F Hayden Brown rolled his shorts up so high last night that it exposed his thigh pads. This is apparently a routine thing for him, as you can see in the slideshow at the top of this page (from Jason Collins). … The Wapello school board in Iowa has voted to update the district’s uniform policy after the high school purchased basketball uniforms that did not match the school’s royal blue and gold color scheme. The district will now allow teams to wear other colors as long as team colors are incorporated in the numbers and lettering (from Kary Klismet).

Soccer News: Sunday’s match between Liverpool and Manchester United caused problems for hundreds of colorblind fans (from Sam Herbison and Wayne Krantz). … The new third kits for Mexican club team Club America have reportedly leaked. The rest of these are from Kary Klismet: Inter Milan’s new logo may come with a potential name change. … The Colorado Rapids of MLS will reportedly wear green on the road this season. … New stadium in the works for Indy Eleven of the USL Championship. … New uniforms for Vietnam’s national teams.

Grab Bag: This video reviews some of the new pro cycling team uniforms for the 2021 season (from David Barndollar). … This Golf Magazine column — which coincidentally has a section titled “Uni Watch” —addresses the sponsorship fallout for Justin Thomas, who was dropped by Ralph Lauren after he was caught uttering a homophobic slur on a hot mic during a round last week (from Geoff Poole). … Warner Bros. studios has updated its logo to a more modern, flat design (from Kary Klismet). … Vice President-elect Kamala Harris discussed her love for Chuck Taylors during an appearance on CBS on Sunday morning. The relevant passage occurs near the end of the article. (from Chris Ashworth). … England’s men’s rugby union team will debut a 150th-anniversary shirt next month (from our own Jamie Rathjen).

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Monday Morning Uni Watch, Divisional Playoffs Edition

For most photos, click to enlarge

Good morning, and greetings from Uni Watch HQ, where all three inhabitants continue to be safe and well. Hope the same is true at your home.

Gorgeous playoff game yesterday between KC and the Browns. I was rooting for the Browns for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that a Bills/Browns AFC championship game would essentially have been the Lake Erie Bowl (or, if we were lucky, the Lake Effect Bowl), which would’ve been fun. Too bad.

A few other notes from yesterday’s games:

• Browns kicker Cody Parkey was showcasing some serious biker shorts action:

• The wordmark on Browns tight end Austin Hooper’s nose bumper was crooked:

• Because the Bucs and Saints are both in the NFC South, they played each other twice during this regular season, making yesterday their third time facing each other in a little over four months. The Bucs wore three different uni combos for those three games:

• Multiple reports indicate that yesterday may have been Saints quarterback Drew Brees’s last game. If he does indeed retire, that would remove one of the rare Walter Payton Man of the Year jersey patches from circulation.

Looking ahead: If the two home teams win next week — Green Bay and KC — we’d have a rematch of Super Bowl I. And their uniforms have barely changed since 1967:

The NFC is the designated home team this year, so we’d once again have the Packers in green and KC in white. The big difference, of course, is that KC’s red pants, which they typically wear with their white jerseys these days, didn’t yet exist in 1967 — they were introduced two seasons later.

KC rarely goes mono-white anymore. According to the Gridiron Uniform Database, the last time they did so was Week 9 of 2018, and the time before that was Week 6 of 2016. But if we do get a KC/Packers matchup, wouldn’t it be cool if KC went with the white pants to recreate that Super Bowl I vibe?

Then again, they lost that game, so maybe that’s the last thing they’d want to do. Still, a fella can hope.

(My thanks to Moe Khan, @NFL_Journal, and @keginaring for their contributions to this section.)

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MLK Day: Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the day when we honor the life of history’s greatest American. The Hawks, who play in King’s native city of Atlanta, will mark the holiday by debuting their “MLK” alternate uniforms (one of which was recently blessed by Pope Francis), along with their matching court, for this afternoon’s game against the Timberwolves. Additional info on the designs is available here.

The Hawks are not the first NBA team to wear a King-themed uniform (although they’re the first to wear his initials). The Grizzlies collaborated with the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis to create a King-centric alternate uni for the 2016-17 season, and they had another King-based uni in 2017-18.

King would have turned 92 this year. It’s incredible to think he was only 39 when he was assassinated in 1968 (or to put it another way, paraphrasing the great Tom Lehrer, when King was my age, he’d been dead for 17 years). Think how much more he could have accomplished, and how different the world might be. What a waste. R.I.P.

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Cavs correction/update: Many of you told me how much you enjoyed last Wednesday’s interview with Spencer Heffernan, who told the story of how how his now-deceased father, Cavaliers game-day entertainment director Mark Heffernan, designed the Cavs’ 1999-2003 uniforms. It now turns out that some of the information in that piece needs to be updated.

First, while Mark Heffernan does appear to have had a role in creating the Cavs’ 1999-2003 uni set, he was not the sole creator. Correspondence between the league and the team indicates that there were likely several Cavs people involved (including Heffernan), and that the final design was executed by NBA Properties.

Second, toward the end of the piece there were several concept designs for other NBA teams — the Hawks, Bucks, Suns, Knicks, etc. — that Spencer Heffernan told me were created by his father. It turns out that those designs were actually created by longtime uniform designer Tom O’Grady, who at the time was the NBA’s creative director. Those designs were sent out to various teams, which is apparently how they ended up in Mark Heffernan’s files. When Spencer found them after Mark’s death, he mistakenly thought Mark had created them.

I’m happy to set the record straight, and I’ve added a correction to the end of the original entry.

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Chatty catty: Uni Watch girl mascot President Caitlin was test-driving the new fancy-shmancy microphone that I’ll be using for an upcoming podcast project (more on that soon). She usually has at least as much to say around here as I do, but she doesn’t need a mic — trust me on that.

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Pin Club update: Reader Blake Pass, who designed the display template for our 2020 pins, has now created one for 2021 (shown above). You can download it here.

While we’re at it: If you somehow haven’t yet seen the January 2021 pin, it features a curling theme. As of this writing, there are about 50 of them remaining. You can get yours here while supplies last.

Also: All of our remaining 2020 pins have now been marked down from $13.99 to $9.99 (plus card-carrying Uni Watch members can save even more by using their 15% membership discount). Those are all available in the Uni Watch Shop.

As always, my thanks for your support and consideration.

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Way to represent: Who was that going full-Uni Watch the other day (including our first sighting of a Uni Watch Pin Club All-Star pin in the wild)? None other than reader Mike Wilson. Looking sharp, Mike!

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: The Mets have a few uni number updates (from Sam Maxwell). … Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League’s Uni-Lions have an alternate logo for this season (from Jeremy Brahm).
 

Football News: Buccaneers QB Tom Brady sent Washington DL Chase Young his jersey from last week’s playoff game after Young asked for it.

Hockey News: The WNBA’s Seattle Storm are one of the latest teams sending cardboard cutouts of players in uniform to the NWHL bubble — to support every team, apparently. Others to join them include the Storm’s WNBA league-mates the Las Vegas Aces, along with the NHL’s Islanders and Bruins. … Cross-posted from the soccer section: The DEL’s Kölner Haie participated in 1. FC Köln’s annual diversity day and wore rainbow numbers yesterday. … Blackhawks broadcaster Pat Foley had some very amusing commentary about Panthers G Chris Driedger’s The Mandalorian-themed mask (from @The_Big_GB).

Basketball News: Northwestern’s men’s team wore grey at home against Iowa. … A boys’ high school team in Oklahoma has been wearing masks during games (from Dan Bewley).

Soccer News: Germany’s 1. FC Köln continued an annual tradition of holding a diversity day and wearing a rainbow captain’s armband and accents this weekend. Ice hockey’s Kölner Haie participated yesterday as well. … In Italy, Inter Milan will apparently have a new logo in a few months (from Trevor Williams). … New kits for Japan’s Tokushima Vortis (from Jeremy Brahm). … Some of the teams at the African Nations Championship debuted new kits, including Burkina Faso and Cameroon. The tournament only allows teams to use players from their country’s own league, as those players rarely make full-strength top-level African men’s national teams (Burkina Faso from Trevor Williams). … MLS’s website picked the league’s best 11 mascots (from Wade Heidt). … Premier League side Southampton has ended its kit deal with Under Armour two years early and is switching to Hummel (from Ed Zelaski and Germán Cabrejo).

Grab Bag: Great Britain’s field hockey teams in the recent past temporarily did not wear ads, but only the women’s team now has a new one, as do the two FIH Pro Leagues for the first time. … Bangladesh’s cricket teams have a new shirt shirt commemorating 50 years of independence — I would guess it’s for the One Day International and/or Twenty20 teams as it’s not white (from Jerry Pemberton). … NASCAR Cup Series driver Davey Allison had the same primary advertiser for most of his career, but the agreement was finished so close to the start of the 1987 season that he went to Daytona without the advertiser’s decals (from Trevor Williams). … A recreational marijuana shop in Maine is facing a fine because the state has ruled that the shop’s mermaid-based logo could encourage underage cannabis use. … Here’s an interesting analysis of how Burger King’s new logo is an example of the “flat design” trend.

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