EXCLUSIVE: The Story Behind Last Sunday’s NFL Cold-Weather Gear

As part of yesterday’s entry, I mentioned that NFL quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Aaron Rodgers all appeared to have the same ribbed mock-turtleneck collar peeking out from under their pads during Sunday’s playoff games. I was able to determine that this garment was made by a Minnesota company called WSI Sports, but I wasn’t sure if it was a full-length undershirt or a dickey, nor could I locate the item on WSI’s website, so I sent a few communiqués to WSI and asked if they could tell me more.

After yesterday’s post went up, I heard back from WSI marketing guy Evan Wise, who explained that the item being worn by the NFL quarterbacks on Sunday was a custom sleeveless top with a ribbed collar (click to enlarge):

Sure enough, you can clearly see that charcoal fabric below the collar in some of the photos, like these shots of Mahomes and Rodgers.

Wise put me in touch with WSI’s founder and CEO, Joel Wiens, so I made arrangements to speak with him yesterday afternoon. Here’s a transcript of our phone conversation, edited for length and clarity:

Uni Watch: I have to admit, I had not heard of you guys until now, which I’m sure says more about me than it does about you. So please tell me, what does “WSI” stand for, and what do you folks do?

Joel Wiens [shown at right]: “WSI” stands for Wiens Sports International. I’ve been at this for 30 years — started out of my basement. Had $3,000, mom and grandma started sewing, and here we are today.

We’ve become known as cold-weather experts, but I really started more in the protective realm. My first introduction to the NFL was with the Green Bay Packers 20 years ago, when one of their kick returners had a rib injury and didn’t want to wear any of the rib protection that was out there. The flak jackets, all that stuff, it was just too thick. So I developed a super-thin protective undershirt that he loved. Over the years, we’ve done different types of protective products for rib injuries, shoulder injuries, things like that. We just keep it thinner, lighter, faster, stronger, and so we got our name dialed in around that.

UW: Any other good stories about specific players, like that Green Bay situation?

JW: Years ago, Kobe Bryant had a shoulder injury. The trainer called me and said, “Hey, I heard you’re really well-known for making thin, protective underwear.” So I met up with Kobe and we made a special protective undershirt for him. And he said, “I got back playing quicker because of the Underwear Doctor,” so now that’s my nickname — the Underwear Doctor.

I also make Tom Brady’s custom cold-weather clothing. And we were part of the third-coldest game NFL history — that Vikings/Seahawks game a few years ago — and we had everybody on the field wearing our product. Today, we deal with over 75% of the NFL, Major League Baseball, college teams. A lot of it’s the cold-weather application, and we also do a lot of custom things.

UW: Speaking of which, the product that the NFL quarterbacks were wearing on Sunday, that was a custom item, right?

JW: Yeah, we developed a really super-thin film that’s used in that shirt to help keep it warm. So it’s a thermal shirt with a wind-stop waterproof application, so it’s almost like a scuba — very thin and light. And then we got a special ribbed collar material that we use to keep the neck warm.

UW: I saw the tweet where one of your employees was delivering the shirts to Lambeau Field on Sunday. What’s the backstory for how that came about? Like, the Packers obviously play in cold weather all the time, and it sounds like you already have a longstanding relationship with them, so wouldn’t they already have a lot of winter gear on hand?

JW: Well, a lot of teams do wait until the last minute, because they get extra money for playoffs. So that’s part of it — “Hey, we got some extra money here, we’d like to beef up.” So that comes into play. And part of it, you know, is that we love a challenge. So it’s like, “Okay, yeah, we’ll get it done overnight.” And [Packers equipment manager] Red Batty, he’s always coming up with stuff, like, “Hey, Joel, can we tweak this a little bit? I think we could take this material and do this with it and change up this design a little bit. And Joel, can I have it tomorrow?”

In this case, one of my guys happened to be going to the game, so we hand-delivered it to both teams. We actually shipped more stuff to the 49ers for that game than we did for the Packers, so I’m maybe gonna take a little credit there [for their win].

UW: How many of those shirts did you supply for each team?

JW: For this game? It was probably a lot. I know the 49ers’ bill was over 10 grand.

UW: What’s the price for one of those?

JW: Close to 100 bucks.

UW: So lots of players were wearing them, even though it was more apparent on the quarterbacks because the camera zooms in on them more than on other players.

JW: Yep, exactly.

UW: We all know Nike has the NFL apparel deal. Do you guys need to get special permission or anything like that, or is it okay as long as you don’t put your logo in a visible spot? How does all of that work?

JW: Yeah, it’s fine as long as we don’t have any visible logos. In fact, we don’t put any logos on there, just so we don’t get ourselves or the equipment guys in trouble. And that’s fine with us.

UW: The ribbed collars look so old-school, like something from the days of wool and cotton. Is that intentional for them to look that way, or is it just the best design for cold weather?

JW: Yeah, I agree, it’s got that old-school feel. It actually has such an amazing stretch, that type of knit, so it really forms nice. It doesn’t feel constrictive on the neck, but it just gives you that nice cozy feel.

UW: One of this Sunday’s games will be in Los Angeles, so they presumably won’t need to stay warm there, and the other game is in Kansas City, where it looks like the temperature is going to be in the 40s. And then the Super Bowl, obviously, is in Los Angeles as well. Does that mean we’ve seen the last of WSI on the field for this season?

JW: I know we just did a rush order for the Bengals, and they’ve been wearing our stuff throughout the playoffs. So I think some guys are kind of getting accustomed to wearing this stuff. You know, some of my really extreme cold-weather stuff was worn by Brady and [Bucs coach] Bruce Arians this past weekend. I mean, I know it was a little chilly down there, but I was laughing. But you know, these guys are like, “Hey, I wore it last time and we won, so I’m gonna wear that thing again.” So I think you’ll see some guys still wearing it this weekend.

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And there you have it. Wiens also talked a lot about how proud he is that all WSI products are made in the USA. You can learn more about him and WSI here, and on the WSI website.

Two people deserve special thanks for today’s entry: First, reader Evan Miller was the one who spotted the three QBs wearing the same collar — if not for him, today’s entry wouldn’t have happened. And second, our own Alex Hider was on Ticker duty when Evan sent in his observation as a Ticker submission. Alex could have just Ticked it and that probably would have been the end of it, but he had the foresight to send Evan’s email to me because he thought I might be interested in investigating further — and he was right! I’m grateful to both of these guys for laying the groundwork for today’s piece.

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Big pocket news: Reader Chris Hickey, probably the only person more obsessed with MLB pants pockets than I am, has made a major discovery: As you can see above, Yankees manager Joe McCarthy had his front pocket on the left side in 1937. That’s the first time we’ve seen the pocket on that side — a new sub-niche!

Chris also found photos of several new additions to our roster of pants-pocketed MLB skippers (all wearing the pocket on the right side): Cookie Lavagetto (Senators, 1957), Pinky Higgins (Red Sox, 1956), Paul Richards (Orioles, 1958), and Fred Haney (Braves, 1958).

“Still haven’t found a player wearing the pocket,” says Chris. “Not hopeful I’ll find one, but I’ll keep looking.” Now that’s dedication!

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ITEM! Gold Circle cap raffle: Reader Tim Bullis has a Uni Watch “Gold Circle” strapback cap that he’s never worn and is generously offering it to a lucky reader, so I’m going to raffle it off today.

This will be a one-day raffle. USA mailing addresses only. To enter, send an email with your mailing address to the raffle in-box by 8pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Big thanks to Tim for making this one possible!

Meanwhile, the five winners of the pennant raffle are John Benal, Karl Newkirk, Ed Baker, Josh Herndon, and George Peter. Congrats to them, and thanks again to the great people at Oxford Pennant for making this one possible.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: UConn received their Big East championship rings last night (from Timmy Donahue). … The Hanshin Tigers have revealed the alternate uniforms that they’ll wear against the Yomiuri Giants (July 12-14) and Chunichi Dragons (July 15-17) (from Jeremy Brahm). … New uniforms for Boston College — their first set from new outfitter New Balance (from Bradley Smart).

Football News: Tons of uni inaccuracies in this TSN graphic showing how Aaron Rodgers might look as a Bear, Bronco, or Raider (from multiple readers). … Mono-white for the Bengals this Sunday (from our own Phil Hecken). … Antonio Brown, now a free agent after being released by the Bucs a few weeks ago, posted a picture of himself in a Ravens uniform (from our own Phil Hecken). … Here’s Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel getting fitted for a Riddell Axiom helmet (from @PaytonGlen). … New helmet for the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL (from @BenOnSports).

Hockey News: The Hurricanes wore helmet decals and had green tape on their sticks last night to raise mental health awareness through the NHL’s Hockey Talks program. … Golden Knights G Robin Lehner had to change masks after taking a hard slapshot to the face on Monday night (from multiple readers). … Here’s a brief history on the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves’ goal celebration (from Andreas Papadopoulos). … The WHL’s Regina Pats wore Clark Gillies memorial decals last night. Gillies, who played junior hockey for the Pats before moving on to the NHL, died last week (from Wade Heidt).

Basketball News: Men’s college basketball coaches used to wear sneakers with their suits during a designated week to support the American Cancer Society. But since most of them stopped wearing suits during the pandemic and are therefore wearing sneakers all the time, they now wear branded pullovers for the anti-cancer initiative (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … BFBS tonight for Illinois State men’s (from Brad Gschwendtner). … The Rupp Arena logos on Kentucky’s court are annoyingly misaligned (from Tim Johnson).

Soccer News: Minnesota Women’s Soccer — the latest team in the USLW — will unveil its team name and logo on Thursday. … New kit manufacturer for the Charleston Battery of the USL Championship (from Ed Zelaski).

Olympics News: Canada’s bobsled and skeleton teams will race in sleds painted like Royal Canadian Navy ships (from Wade Heidt).
 

Grab Bag: The Scotties Tournament of Hearts, a curling tournament, starts this Friday. Here’s a look at some of the shirts being worn (from Wade Heidt). … NASCAR driver Cody Ware will have one livery for day races and another for night races (from @AVKingJames). … Here are some of the NASCAR paint schemes from Team Mobil 1 (from Shawn Hairston). … Tons of local sports team logo references in this Twitter thread of labor union logos (from @Greg1MB). … New uniforms for the Utsunomiya Blitzen cycling team (from Jeremy Brahm). … Australia’s government has bought the copyright for the Australian Aboriginal flag, making it free for display. Before it was purchased by the government, the flag couldn’t always be displayed at sports or other public events, which led to AFL men’s and women’s teams protesting by wearing “Free the Flag” warm-up shirts (from our own Jamie Rathjen).

How Can This Trash Possibly Be the NBA All-Star Jerseys?

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Last Friday we had a leak of an uninspired grey/blue design purported to be one of this year’s NBA All-Star jerseys (above left). Now the other one has leaked, and SportsLogos.net has confirmed that the leaks are legitimate, so these are indeed what the NBA All-Stars will be wearing on Feb. 20.

These aren’t just bad — they’re inexplicably bad, confoundingly bad. Consider:

1. As you may recall from last Friday, I initially speculated that the first leak might be a practice jersey, because that’s really what they look like. The diamond gradation pattern (similar to the Diamondbacks’ late, unlamented snakeskin pattern) even makes the grey jersey look a bit like mesh fabric, enhancing the “Don’t take this seriously” effect.

2. This year’s game is in Cleveland, but the jerseys are completely devoid of Cavs-related elements. I can understand that they might have preferred to avoid local design references after what happened last year (as you may recall, the game was originally scheduled for February in Indiana, then was postponed due to the pandemic, and eventually took place on March 7 in Atlanta, but with players still wearing the Pacers-themed unis that had already been designed), but why go with such a characterless design when other options were available? Which leads us to…

3. As we all know, the NBA is currently celebrating its 75th-anniversary season. This would have been the perfect opportunity for a retro/throwback-style All-Star design. Fans would eat it up, Nike could go nuts with retro-themed design details, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the game being moved to another city. Or…

4. They could even have taken a page from this season’s mash-up City designs and created an All-Star uni set that drew upon previous NBA All-Star unis. Granted, that would probably be a train wreck, but at least the idea behind it would make sense, unlike the designs they’re apparently going with.

5. In case you’ve forgotten from last Friday, the grey jersey has white typography on the back (we don’t yet know what the back of the red jersey looks like):

Like I said, this all seems so inexplicable. There are lots of bad uniforms where I can at least understand the underlying approach, even if I don’t agree with it. Usually I think they’re trying too hard. But in this case, it’s like they didn’t bother to try at all. Very strange.

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Neck-alikes: Reader Evan Miller noticed something interesting on Sunday: Three of the quarterbacks in that day’s NFL playoff games — KC’s Patrick Mahomes, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers — were all wearing the same mock-turtleneck collar.

Is this a full base-layer undershirt, or just a dickey? Either way, the off-white ribbed collar has an endearingly old-school look. As Evan put it in his email to me:

It’s such a traditional-looking piece of apparel. When everything else in sports is “VaporMax SuperDry Wick Wick Wick,” this looks like something an Austrian skier would’ve worn at the 1948 Winter Games. If it’s produced by Nike or another big company, it just looks much more old-school than what those companies typically put on the market. And if it isn’t made by a big brand, then it’s interesting that all of these NFL QBs would insist on wearing some lesser-known company’s gear because they’re just that good.

Well put. Since there’s no visible maker’s mark (refreshing!), I asked on Twitter to see if anyone knew who makes this accessory. Several people informed me that it’s from a Minnesota-based company called WSI, which specializes in cold-weather gear. And sure enough, they were bragging about their TV exposure on Sunday:

I looked on the WSI website but couldn’t find the exact item that the quarterbacks were wearing, so I’ve contacted the company to see if they can tell me more. Stay tuned.

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie
    

Great googly-moogly! As you might expect, this one caught my eye. A great visual, no? Not one, but eight — count ’em, eight — complete sets of the 1970 Chiquita Banana NFL stickers. Continues to be my eBay Holy Grail!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Love the artwork on this Coca-Cola promo set of 1960s NFL gumball helmets. It helpfully points out you get only one sticker for the Steelers.

• This Kansas City Royals pin features the Grateful Dead “Stealie” logo.

• Here we have a late-1960s Detroit Red Wings pin that says “© 1968 NHL Service.”

• How about some glorious tequila sunrise action on this 1982 Houston Astros season ticket ordering booklet! It includes a flexi-disc recording from Nolan Ryan’s fifth no-no.

• I’d say late 1960s or early 1970s for this “Luv Ya Braves” promo seat cushion from Eastern (“The Wings of Man”) Airlines, which folded in 1991.

• In the 1990s, Russell Athletic was one of the suppliers of NFL team uniforms. Here’s one of their print ads, featuring the Atlanta Falcons. Always liked Russell’s “NFL Pro Line” stuff, which was top-quality. 

• Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick didn’t always sport his current disheveled look. Here he is, “pre-hoodie,” for an NFL Pro Set card from 1992, when he was with the Browns.

• Terrific artwork on this 1974 San Diego Chargers poster.

• Here’s a 1970s Louisville Slugger baseball bat pen set featuring the Cincinnati Reds’ “running man” logo, minus some of the finer detailing.

• This sticker is for a 1970s publication called  Basketball Pro-Style Magazine

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Photo by Evan Procaccini; click to enlarge

Too good for the Ticker: How awesome is this shot from last weekend’s Hockey Day Minnesota outdoor game between St. Thomas and Minnesota State? So awesome that I don’t even mind that it was a purple-vs.-purple matchup!

You can see more photos here and in this very nice Twitter thread.

(Big thanks to Scott Fasano for this one.)

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Raffle reminder: Today’s the final day to enter the raffle for the last five Uni Watch pennants. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good!

To enter, send an email with your mailing address to the raffle in-box by 8pm Eastern tonight. USA mailing addresses only. One entry per person. I’ll announce the five winners tomorrow. Big, big props to the great Oxford Pennant for collaborating with Uni Watch on this product and for shipping out the five pennant prizes!

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LAST CALL for the baseball bobble pin: We are now down to the last remaining July 2020 pin — that’s the baseball bobblehead design, with a head that really bobbles! Once this last one sells, they’re gone for good. Update: The bobble pin is now sold out.

This pin, like the rest of our remaining pin inventory, is available here, with big discounts for multi-pin bundles. We’re running low on a few of the other designs (June 2020, November 2020, December 2020, November 2021, a few others), so get ’em while you can.

Also: In case you missed it on Monday, I’m trying to gauge how much interest there is in a new round of Uni Watch caps. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: No surprises from the Guardians’ official cap reveal yesterday (thanks to all who shared).
 
 

Football News: Has anyone else noticed that the red palm trees in the Super Bowl LVI logo look like dripping blood spatter? … Speaking of Super Bowl logos: Michael Rittenhouse spotted this commemorative Super Bowl champions poster at his local Hobby Lobby and noticed that while it features modern Dolphins and Giants helmets, it uses older designs for Washington and the Jets. … The University of Minnesota has a cool wall display devoted to the team’s recent helmet designs (from @KevinZintheTC).

Hockey News: The Rangers wore Pride pregame sweaters last night (from @uniformnerd). … The Hurricanes will wear their Whalers throwbacks for the only time this season on Saturday. Here’s a video showing the team practicing in their throwback helmets and breezers but with their usual black/red practice sweaters (from Wade Heidt). … Kraken G Philipp Grubauer was using several different equipment brands Sunday: CCM pads, a True blocker and glove, and a Bauer stick and helmet (from Ted Taylor). … A Ducks trainer was wearing team-colored Vans sneakers on the ice during last night’s game (from Adam Femino). … The Coachella Valley Firebirds, who will begin playing in the AHL next season, unveiled their inaugural uniform set yesterday (from Rich Franklin). … Gotta love this vintage Penguins pennant, probably from the late 1960s. The skating penguin looks different at that angle, right? (From Trevor Williams.) … Henrik Lundqvist played for Team Sweden as well as for the Rangers. In this Sweden photo, he appears to be wearing his Rangers pants with a blue Sweden shell over them (from @SDubs35).

Basketball News: The South Carolina women debuted new pinstriped uniforms last night (from @Starkman55).

 a.

Soccer News: Comoros was forced to play LB Chaker Alhadhur in goal yesterday during an Africa Cup of Nations match after all their other keepers contracted Covid. Because he was playing in goal, Alhadhur opted to wear No. 3 and made a makeshift shirt number out of tape, which he pasted over his typical No. 16 (from Germán Cabrejo and Jeremy Brahm). … Yesterday marked an anniversary that most readers probably don’t celebrate — the 46th anniversary of English club Kettering Town FC becoming the first British club to wear an shirt ad.

Grab Bag: The top Twenty20 cricket league in India, the Indian Premier League, has two new teams, one of which will be the Lucknow Super Giants (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Timmy Donahue sends along the story of the 1st Samoan BN, a unit that fought in World War II with a unique uniform of a khaki cover, a white shirt, and no shoes.

Did a 49er Really Wear No. 02 in Saturday Night’s Playoff Game?

If you watch this video of the final play of Saturday’s 49ers/Packers playoff game, in which Niners kicker Robbie Gould kicked a game-winning field goal to send the team to the NFC Championship Game, you’ll see something very strange: 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley, who’s celebrating the win along with his teammates, appears to have No. 02, instead of his usual No. 82, on the back of his jersey. Here’s a screen shot from the video:

This wasn’t the first time that Dwelley’s unusual-seeming number appeared onscreen during the game, but it’s the one that most people noticed. I received approximately eleventeen bizillion inquiries about it on Saturday night and Sunday, some of them postulating various grassy knoll theories. Let’s handle this one in FAQ mode:

Is 02 even a legal number in the NFL?

No.

But the 49ers assigned him that number anyway? Won’t they be fined?

They did not assign him that number. His roster number is 82. If you look again at that screen shot, you can clearly the 8 on his right-shoulder TV number.

Oh, so the horizontal line at the center of the 8 must have fallen off or gotten torn or something.

Nope. The 8 has two little crimps on the sides as you can see from this photo from an earlier game (for this and most of the rest of the photos in this section, you can click to enlarge):

So even if the horizontal stroke somehow fell off, the crimps would still be there. But they’re not. So that’s not what happened.

That leaves only one explanation: His jersey was misprinted with a zero instead of an 8. Someone at Nike is gonna lose their job over this!

No, that’s not what happened either.

So what’s your explanation, smart guy?

The fabric of his jersey was folded in, which swallowed part of the 8 (and also part of the 2).

I keep staring at that screen shot, but I don’t see any fold. It just looks like a zero.

True enough — for that particular screen shot. But let’s look at a few others, taken from the same video:

In those shots, it’s evident that something funky is going on with Dwelley’s jersey — you can definitely see a fold there.

Yeah, but how could the fold make the entire center of the 8 disappear and make it look like a zero? It would have to be the most perfect fold ever!

I agree that it seems pretty miraculous. But this has actually happened to Dwelley before. On Nov. 17, 2019, he had a very similar jersey fold, with similar visual effect, during a game against the Cardinals. You can see the fold much more clearly in these photos:

Okay, that was definitely a jersey fold. But the one on Saturday night was different — it stayed that way all game long and didn’t change when he ran or moved. It must have been a misprint!

Let’s compare one of those 2019 photos with another screen shot from Saturday night:

When you look at them side by side, the similarities in the folds become pretty obvious. Even the 2s got distorted in nearly identical ways. You can also see that in both cases, the fold runs along Dwelley’s back plate. The jersey may even be adhered to his pads with double-sided tape (as is pretty standard these days).

Conclusion: Ross Dwelley had a highly unusual but not unprecedented jersey fold on Saturday night. He is apparently the king of this particular uni phenomenon!

You’re no fun! Why do you have to ruin everything?

Believe me, I wish he’d been wearing No. 02 — it would be an amazing story! Unfortunately, though, that’s not what happened.

In other news from Saturday’s and Sunday’s NFL playoff games:

• 49ers defensive lineman Nick Bosa, who sustained a concussion during the Wild Card game against the Cowboys, returned to action this week with a new helmet — the Vicis Zero2 Trench. Here’s a comparison:

• Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis wore one green shoe and one yellow shoe:

• Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow wore a purple “LSU Football” wristband:

It turns out that this is not a new thing for him, but I hadn’t been aware of it until now.

• The Bucs once again wore white at home.

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Now that we’re down to four teams, let’s look at the potential Super Bowl uni matchups:

• Bengals vs. 49ers: The AFC is the home team this year, so the Bengals would presumably wear black, creating an approximate visual reprise of Super Bowl XVI. If Cincy opted to wear white for some reason, we’d see a modern update of Super Bowl XXIII. Either way, it would be fun 1980s nostalgia but not such a great visual pairing because the Bengals still look pretty bad.

• Bengals vs. Rams: Ugh — Cincy vs. dishwater. Probably best to find something else to do on Super Bowl Sunday, because this would be a visual train wreck, and one of the worst-looking Supes ever.

• KC vs. 49ers: We just saw this matchup two Supes ago. Sadly, it’s probably the best remaining option from a visual standpoint.

• KC vs. Rams: An ugly team vs. a Native American-themed team — not ideal.

Personally, I was hoping for Bills vs. Niners, or even Bills vs. Packers, either of which would’ve qualified as eye candy. Dang.

(My thanks to all contributors, including Brandon Smith, John Turney, and the Tugboat Captain.)

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Pocketed proceedings: This 1962 spring training photo of Yanks manager Ralph Houk and Mets skipper Casey Stengel is uni-notable for two reasons. For starters, it’s our first look at Houk wearing the front pants pocket, so we can add him to our roster of pocketed MLBers. And second, I believe this is our first photo showing two opposing skippers who are both wearing the pocket — a special meeting of the managerial minds!

(My thanks to Matthew Houk — no relation to Ralph — for this one.)

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Pin reminder: In case you missed it last week, all of our remaining Uni Watch pin inventory is now available at a discounted price, with bigger discounts for multi-pin bundles. Full details here.

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ITEM! Pennant raffle: We produced these awesome pennants in conjunction with the great folks at Oxford Pennant in 2019. There are exactly five of these beauties left, and we’re going to raffle them off this week. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good!

This will be a two-day raffle. USA mailing addresses only. To enter, send an email with your mailing address to the raffle in-box by 8pm Eastern tomorrow, Jan. 24. One entry per person. I’ll announce the five winners on Wednesday. Big, big props to Oxford Pennant for collaborating with Uni Watch on this product and for shipping out the five pennant prizes!

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ITEM! Your input needed: Our Uni Watch Classic Cap and Alternate Cap are both now sold out, and I’m considering whether to put them back into production. Ebbets Field Flannels no longer has access to the darker green fabric that was used to make the Classic Cap, so here are my options:

• I could just order more of the Alternate Cap.

• I could do the Classic Cap in the lighter green fabric. Here’s a Photoshop that gives you an idea of how that would look (click to enlarge):

• Or I could do both.

The route I take here will largely depend on you folks, because the caps require large advance orders that will put me close to a thousand bucks in the hole, so I’ll only go ahead with them if I’m sure there’s enough demand. If you’re interested in either cap, please email me and let me know (a) which cap(s) you’re interested in, and (b) your preferred fitted size, or adjustable/strapback.

This is not a formal pre-order commitment — that will come later. For now, I’m just trying to gauge the rough level of demand. Thanks!

(Special thanks to Scott M.X. Turner for the Photoshoppery.)

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Very satisfying: The Tugboat Captain recently sprained her wrist, so her doctor recommended a pain-relieving cream that’s usually used for arthritis. The cream came with this “dosing card” — basically a little gauge to measure the proper amount of the cream to squeeze out of the tube.

When she saw that, she said, “Oh, Paul’s gonna love this!” She was right. It seems to fit into the world of uniforms, catalogs, and so on, wouldn’t you agree?

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Latest vintage score: I found this vintage sweater on eBay. It’s not exactly a uniform, but the design definitely feels uni-inspired, at least to me. After I tweeted a photo of it, Jordan Owen pointed out that it’s similar to an old America’s Cup jersey, so there you go.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball and Softball News: The Guardians posted several cap-related teasers on social media yesterday implying something will be happening today (from multiple readers). … West Texas A&M softball revealed championship rings for their 2021 Division II championship (from Kary Klismet).

Football News: A Canadian sports website ranked the nine CFL stadiums (from Wade Heidt).
 

Hockey News: Sabres players arrived to Saturday’s game wearing jerseys of local youth teams (from Stephen Langdon). … The Devils wore pride warm-up jerseys on Saturday (from Wade Heidt). … The PHF’s Buffalo Beauts also wore pride jerseys on Saturday, and the Connecticut Whale were supposed to do likewise before their game was postponed. … Huntington Crescent Club on Long Island, a golf club that was a favorite of former Islanders captain Clark Gillies, is flying an Islanders flag and a No. 9 flag in Gilles’s memory (from John Muir).

Basketball News: Some really interesting NBA history lessons and uni photos in this WaPo column about the league’s 75th anniversary (from Tom Turner). … The jerseys for the new Athletes Unlimited basketball league were revealed on Friday. Unlike other AU sports, the four colors are also all different designs (also from Antonio Losada). … Saturday’s Iowa/Penn State men’s game was color vs. color. A live hawk mascot also appeared, thanks to Iowa’s Raptor Ambassador Program (from Kary Klismet). … “Ran across this jersey in an antique store in Jacksonville, Fla., today,” says Raymond Neal. “The seller thinks it’s from the ’20s but I’m not so sure. That looks more like a ’50s tag to my uneducated eye.” … Utah men’s retired Wat Misaka’s No. 20 on Saturday night. Misaka, who was Japanese-American, was the first non-White player in the NBA (from Trent Lowe). … Texas’s arena has some major orange-inconsistency issues (from @sultan_of_snark).

Soccer News: Germany’s Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga annually commemorate the Jan. 27 anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945, collectively given the slogan “Nie wieder” (“never again”), though not all of it is uni-related. Greuther Fürth wore a message saying “Vielfalt gewinnt” (“diversity wins”) and Freiburg wore warm-up shirts for the occasion. … Inter Milan wore Chinese-script NOBs in their Serie A game on Saturday, one of several clubs that usually does so around Lunar New Year (also from Kary Klismet). … Another from Kary: Mexico’s Monterrey have a new shirt for the upcoming Club World Cup. … The new USL W League team run by USL League One’s South Georgia Tormenta said they’ll keep the Tormenta name after considering a different one. They’ll be distinguished by adding which league each plays in. … New Bob Marley-themed away shirt for Irish side Bohemians (from Ed Zelaski).

Grab Bag: Besides the AFL Women’s pride designs that we’ve covered, teams still wore rainbow-trimmed socks, which is what many of them did before introducing their own designs. Melbourne, but nobody else, also wore rainbow numbers. … “Cool find by the excellent College Sports Logos Twitter page, which uncovered basketball- and football-specific versions of Wichita State’s WuShock mascot from the mid-1960s,” says Kary Klismet.

Goaltender Mask Design Biometrics

By Phil Hecken

Good Sunday Morning Uni Watchers! Sorry about yesterday — it’s a very long story, but let’s just suffice it to say that I spent most of Friday either in or near the Emergency Room of a local hospital with my mom, who had a medical emergency. She seems to be OK now, but it was scary for a while. As such, I just wasn’t able to put together a post. As Paul noted, sometimes Real Life gets in the way. And although her emergency wasn’t COVID-related, I’m quite frankly amazed that we’ve been able to keep the UW blog going throughout (*knocks wood*).

On a completely unrelated note, my Aunt, who had knee surgery a couple weeks ago and is currently rehabbing in a nursing home (in New York State, post-op surgery patients are placed in assisted living/nursing home facilities), contracted COVID this past week (she’s triple vaxxed!). So please, folks, I beg you, even if you’re fully vaccinated, PLEASE WEAR A MASK when we’re in one of these “surges,” you can easily get COVID! Vaccination is NOT a “get out of jail free” card. The good news is, because she’s been triple vaccinated, her symptoms are relatively mild. That’s what the vaccine does — it lessens the chance you’ll develop acute symptoms, and get really sick and die. I don’t want to sound preachy — I myself *HATE* to wear a mask — but it’s not for my own good or protection/prevention…it’s for everyone else. We can get through this together but we still need to exercise common sense and good disease prevention. OK? OK. (Gets out of saddle on particularly large equine beast.)

Now then. I’m joined today by one of Uni Watch’s oldest and most stalwart member/readers, Michael Princip. You may remember Michael was the original “Duck Tracker” and has also been designing safer football helmets over the years. His work was featured on ESPN back in 2011, and again in 2017 (and I’m sure other times I’m forgetting). A couple weeks ago, Michael let me know he was working on a new project involving hockey goaltender helmets. I asked if he could further elaborate and let me share his work with you all. He e-mailed me back almost immediately (I’d asked him for an intro/description), and the rest of his work can be seen below. A portion of that e-mail is included, and then the rest of the project.

• • • • ‹

Hi Phil,

Having a flashback here of sorts from the days of us doing the Ducktracker. I must say, I look back fondly at those times.

So, this latest project is one that I’ve been working on from time to time, or when I get the time. It’s actually the culmination of a few projects. One of which goes back to when I visited Paul and you at the Brooklyn party. I was there to attend the party as well as show Paul a new helmet padding system and unique faceguard clips that I developed.

It’s that padding system and clips that I’ve adapted to this goaltender mask. I really wanted to do something different and just around the time Covid hit I was getting into motion graphics and creating these animations which revolved around 70s goaltender fiberglass type mask designs. Then, I got the idea to design my own modern day goaltender mask.

The innovative attributes of my mask are the wire cage design (great sightlines and protection), as well as, the padding system. Excellent impact attenuation and the way the liner pads are laid out, which are designed to keep the player ventilated cool and protected.

A lot of people are not even aware there are only two types of goaltender wire cage designs out on the market for pros and juniors, and that’s the “cat-eye” style and the square grid. I found this very interesting and I challenged myself to design another viable option.

The graphics really came about from these amazing insect markings that I noticed. Since I took a more organic approach to modeling the mask shell and faceguard, I felt that it was only natural to apply a more animal/insect graphic scheme to the shell. One of my favorite books was also an influence, Bio-mimmicry:Innovation inspired by nature. There’s an example where I used a tweening algorithm to predict the next wire routing in the cage design, and how it relates to the pattern on the Raja Brooke’s Butterfly, using the same algorithm.

Thanks again for your interest, Phil.

And here’s Michael with the rest of the project!

• • • • •

Goaltender Mask Design
by Michael Princip

When I need to develop quick organic shapes, my go-to is SubD modeling. I can create planar surfaces from 2D line segments and vertex points which I can then manipulate 3 dimensionally to digitally sculpt the forms I’m looking for.

I can toggle between the faceted shape above to the smoother form below.

I sculpted three distinct sections at the top to strengthen the shell in these areas.

After I get the base form that I like, I can then convert it to NURBS and do some more detailed surfacing for cut out vents and ear holes. Then, I’ll create a surface just offset around the face cutout in order to project some lines that create the face guard wire pattern.

The faceguard design was inspired by a Mempo style Samurai mask. I wanted a scowl right at the nose and mouth area, then open it up just around the eyes, but not enough to allow a puck through. I’m using the Activ elbow clip which essentially create 4 rounded corners that the clips securely fasten around.

Nature As Mentor:

A tweening algorithm that I use on occasion can be useful in developing logical natural patterns. It works by creating as many shapes needed, which transition between the starting shape and the end shape. Below, the algorithm generates the 5 shapes in between.

If I were to design a faceguard that offers more protection from a hockey stick entering any of the sections, I’ll put in my starting curve then the end curve which generates the wire curve shapes I need to closeout the section. Below, I created one vertical curve shape using the same tweening algorithm.

Graphics

I love most of the designs on vintage fiberglass full shell cover masks. They were bold and made a big impression even from afar. I wanted to do something similar for my teams so I divided the mask into 4 segments. Then, I found quadrant patterns off my favorite insect markings which influenced the team colors.

Quadrants

Graphics: Insect Markings Inspired Designs

Brink Citadel (left) — Ruby Beets (right)

Rajah Brookes — Kindred Cross

Star City Cupolas — Bannermen Guild

Guyana Burrows — Canopy Fliers

The Hardware:

The liner system w/DIADs, that I developed for the football helmet, have been tested at NTS Labs in Belcamp,MD. Results exceeded NOCSAE standards and align more with NFL approved criteria. The same system has been adapted for the mask padding and liner here.

Impact protective soft face pads with optimal ventilation channels.

VISION

_________

References:

Broad, G. Huertas, B. Kirk-Spriggs, A. Telnov, D. (2020) Smithsonian Handbook of Interesting Insects. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books

Rothery, B. (2021) Sensational Butterflies. Thomaston, Maine: Tilbury House Publishers

Benyus, J. (1997) Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature: NY, NY: William Morrow & Co.

• • • • •

Thanks, Michael! Terrific stuff — as the readers may know, I’m not nearly as into helmets as I am uniforms, but this still fascinates me. Tremendous job, and thanks for sharing.

Picking The Divisional Playoffs…by better uni

Last weekend, I tried my hand (as I am wont to do) at picking the NFL Wild Card winners by (IMO) the “better uniform.” I went 4-2, and was a Derek Carr interception away from going 5-1, so this weekend I’m back to pick your Divisional Round playoff winners. (UPDATE: I originally wrote this to appear on Saturday, but as there was no post yesterday, I’m running it today. You can see my picks for yesterday’s games based on the writeups, and see how I did. Today’s games are still “valid.”)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 22, 2022

Tennessee Titans v. Cincinnati Bengals
Time: 4:30 pm (EST)
Channel: CBS
Spread: Tennessee -3.5

This will undoubtedly be the worst looking game of the weekend — but the pick isn’t that difficult. The Titans (in mono blue) is one of the worst looking uniform sets out there (all of their unis are bad, but this one is atrocious). Now, the Bengals have some bad possible combos, but mono-white with black socks isn’t one of them. In fact, I’d argue it’s their best look overall! (And it will look even better next fall if they add the alternate white bengal helmet). I love this look and it’s gonna pull off the upset.

The pick: Bengals getting three and the hook

_________

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Time: 8:15 pm
Channel: FOX
Spread: Packers -5.5

And THIS will be the best looking game of the weekend. I’m a big fan of the 49ers regular uniforms, but unfortunately for them, they’re going up against the best uniform (home, anyway) in the NFL in the Packers. There’s just something so good, so classic about the green and gold, nothing opposing them could compare. The 49ers would win many many other uni-matchups, but not this one. (Sorry Paul) I’m taking the Pack and giving the points.

The Pick: Packers minus five point five

__________

SUNDAY, JANUARY 23, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Time: 3:00 pm
Channel: NBC
Spread: Buccaneers -2.5

The Bucs are sticking with their “lucky” 2021 Super Bowl winning pewter/white/pewter look, which worked for them again last week. Meanwhile, the Rams are countering with what is arguably the best of their less-than-stellar uniform sets, going royal over “sol” — which they wore last weekend while defeating the Arizona Cardinals. One of these two teams’ luck will run out, and while I wouldn’t bet actual money on this one, it will be the Rams’. Tampa’s uniform is better looking, and Brady’s gonna Brady. Sorry Rams fans.

The Pick: Gimme the Bucs, and you get the two point five points

__________

Kansas City v. Buffalo Bills
Time: 6:30 pm
Channel: CBS
Spread: KC -2

This will be another great looking game, with the Bills in their beautiful mono-whites (unfortunately, they’re wearing white socks, rather than the even-better blue highs) vs. KC in their standard home uni. As good as that KC uni looks, you know how I feel about the helmet imagery and the nickname, so I gotta take the Bills here. Honestly I don’t think Buffalo could be stopped anyway, but they have the better overall uni/look for this one. As an aside, the Bills beat KC earlier this season going mono-white (KC went mono-red), so maybe that’s why they’re choosing to break out the all-white look again.

The Pick: I’ll circle the wagons and take Buffalo and the deuce

__________

And there you have it. Hoping to build on my 4-2 start to the post season. I’d love to nail three of four games this weekend.

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Stanley Hudson.

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.

Olympics Correspondent(s) Wanted!

It’s hard to believe (well, maybe it’s not), but the Beijing Winter Olympics are less than two weeks away!

I’m hoping there are a couple of you out there who’d like to do some previews (or reviews) of some of the uniforms worn by teams in the games. Well, everything but Curling, that is — I’m gonna cover that. But if anyone out there would like to do either a preview (to be run the first weekend of the games) or a review (second or final weekend) — sports like Men’s and Women’s hockey, especially, but not limited to that — please let me know and we can go over some of the parameters. You can e-mail me at Phil.Hecken@gmail.com; let me know which discipline(s) you’re interested in, and I hope we can set something up. OK? OK!

And now a few words from Paul: Hi there. It’s been a busy week here on Uni Watch. Here are some things you might have missed:

• Last week on Bulletin, I assigned letter grades to teams that changed their names while remaining in the same city. This week I looked at the inverse of that situation — teams that kept their names even when moving to a new city, like the ones shown above. Which ones should have changed their names? You can check my assessments over on Bulletin.

• Speaking of Bulletin, there are some major changes coming over there, including the arrival of my annual season preview columns and the start of a modest paywall. Full details here.

• The remaining Uni Watch Pin Club inventory is now available at lower pricing, with big discounts for multi-pin bundles. Full details here, or just click on this graphic:

• Our Uni Watch Chain-Stitched Patch (shown at left; click to see it in its full-size highly textured glory) is now sold out. I’m willing to restock them, but my cost on these is nearly $30 a pop, so I’ll only order more if there’s enough demand for them. The patches are roughly 6″ by 6″, and the retail price will be $35 plus $2 for shipping. If you’re interested, let me know. Thanks!

• Prices have been cut on lots of other Uni Watch products, including koozies, trading cards, seam rippers, magnets, and memberships.

That’s it. Now back to Phil!

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson and Phil

Baseball News: Check out how low Joe Torre’s front number is in this photo, especially compared to Tom Seaver’s. Were the Mets always this inconsistent with front number placement? (from Brice Wallace). … UCLA has new home and away uniforms. Note the lack of buttons on the front, but the existence of a pleat (from multiple readers). … On Friday, MLB denied the Rays’ “sister city” proposal, which would’ve seen them play around half their home games at Stade Olympique in Montreal (from multiple readers). … Reader Linda Iacovo asks of Tony Perez’ Cons: “Can you tell me what year this (sic) worn shoes may have come from? I have a Letter of Authenticity for the autograph on each shoe.” … Here’s a sneak peek at the new North Dakota State College of Science softball uniforms (from Paul).

NFL/College Football News: The Lions are once again eligible for new unis (thanks, Phil). … SMU has unveiled renderings of its planned expansion of Ford Stadium (from Kary Klismet). … Did 49ers Dwelley #82 become #02? The back numbers on San Francisco’s Ross Dwelley got scrunched up in an odd way at the end of the game (from L.J. Sparvero). … The Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill fined was $12,875 for celebrating a touchdown with pompoms last weekend (from Paul). … Bengals QB Joe Burrow never forgets where he won his Heisman and NC title (from John Turney).

Hockey News: Have the Maple Leafs’ Heritage Classic unis leaked? (thanks, Phil). … Wade Heidt sends along this blog post about 10 old NHL unis that need to make full-time comebacks. … The Pens celebrated 1,000 games with equipment manager Jon Taglianetti by working up a No. 1000 jersey for him (from Jerry Wolper). … On Friday night, Canucks players wore Rick Rypien tribute warmup sweaters to raise awareness for mental health. Rypien was a Canucks player who committed suicide in the summer of 2011 shortly after leaving the team (from Wade Heidt). … The Kings have evidently become the first NHL team to drop the nameplate and sew NOBs directly onto sweaters (from Moe Khan). … New York Islanders Hall of Famer Clark Gillies died on Friday night. He was the second captain in team history, but didn’t always have the Captain’s C when he made a jerseyed appearance for the team or the NHL. Denis Potvin, the Captain during the dynasty years, is with the C for essentially every jerseyed team event (from John Muir). Since the news of his passing was confirmed and announced immediately after Friday’s game, and the Islanders hosted the Maple Leafs tonight (Saturday, January 22), it was unclear if the team had time to get a tribute together. here’s how the Isles honored Gillies, with a right chest #9 patch that will be worn the rest of the season. The entire Islanders coaching staff is wearing Gillies banner lapel pins. Here is head coach Barry Trotz. … Check out this cool video feature about a homemade hockey rink shared by a group of families in a residential neighborhood in Winnipeg – complete with trees in the middle of the ice! (from Kary Klismet). … The next five(!) items are also from Kary: Here’s a great in-depth piece about the Seattle Kraken’s Climate Pledge Arena and how its historic roof was preserved while the arena underneath it was completely reconstructed. … A leaked photo suggests that the Buffalo Sabres will be bringing back the “goat head” uniforms they were from 1996-2006 as an alternate. … Are you ready for another blogger you’ve never heard of to weigh in on the best jerseys uniforms in NHL history? Of course you are! … The City of Cambridge in Ontario, Canada, has an excellent website (with plenty of old photos) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Galt Gardens Arena, believed to be the world’s oldest arena in continuous operation. More info (and a great image of what the arena looks like today) here. … Since we’re talking about great old hockey barns, this story contains some nice images of Memorial Arena in Pentiction, B.C., a relative youngster at only 71 years old. (THANKS KARY!). … Here’s the Pride Night uniform for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades last night, which included rainbow socks. … That’s A LOT of purple for Mankato State, who played an outdoor game yesterday (from David Fleming).

NBA News: Woah, what a jaw-protector for Oscar Robertson in this shot. Scary (from Chris Adams). … Brandon Goodwin of the Cavaliers switched from 26 to 00 for the remainder of the season before tonight’s game vs. the Thunder, but at the arena it still showed him as 26 on the scoreboard (from Josh Levy).

College/High School Hoops News: Cincinnati men to wear 1970s throwbacks next month (from multiple readers). … The Cincinnati Bearcats are set to wear 1970s throwbacks next month (from Kary Klismet). … Iowa State wore its gold alternates on Saturday against TCU, creating a color-versus-color matchup (Kary, again). … An historic rec center court in New Orleans is being refurbished by an NCAA initiative to upgrade community basketball venues in Final Four host cities (thanks, Kary). … Louisville retired former All-American guard Russ Smith’s jersey last night. … Take a look at the Fly Navy uniforms Navy’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs will wear against Army on January 22nd. … IU basketball to wear 1987 retro uniforms Sunday against Michigan. … I’m not sure if this is “time outs” or fouls, but whatever it is, there sure a LOT of them (from David Gabaldón).

Soccer News: On Thursday, Mexican side Tapatío FC wore mariachi-themed training gear ahead for the International Mariachi Day, which was Friday (from Germán Cabrejo). … The 90s were a wonderful time for keeper kits, as the technology allowed for crazier designs and advertisements were not yet on every team’s kits. So that’s how you get Boca Juniors’ keeper Carlos Navarro Montoya wearing a keeper’s kit that depicted himself driving a truck (from Jeremy Brahm). … New stadiums have been proposed for Greenville Triumph SC and Lexington of the third-level USL League One (from Kary Klismet).

Grab Bag: The plane the University of Oregon uses to transport coaches and other higher-ups has the Oregon “O” in the registration number, despite the registration number containing the number zero and not the letter O (from @VictoryCB). … Plans are underway for a new Major League Cricket team and Stadium in San Jose, Calif. (from Kary Klismet). … Lillooet High School in​British Columbia, Canada, is retiring its “Wildfire” team name and logo in deference to nearby communities affected by recent wildfires (Kary again). … Cool gesture by wrestling enthusiasts in Colorado, who are collecting autographs of the state’s 24 four-time high school state wrestling champions on two wrestling singlets, which will then be auctioned off to raise funds for those affected by the brushfires in Boulder County just before the new year (also from Kary). … And ONE last one from Kary: The Universit​y of Nebraska-Lincoln’s community service officers have changed their uniforms in an effort to appear less intimidating to students. … There are wrestling singlets, and then there are wrestling singlets (via Paul).

Uni Tweet of the Day

OMG. This sweater is fucking drop-dead gorgeous.

And finally… that’s all for today. Big thanks to Michael Princip for sharing his goalie mask development — great stuff! Thanks to the few of you who reached out to me to see if I was OK after yesterday’s aborted UW — really appreciate the thoughts and well-wishes. You guys are all aces, and as I said in the intro, I’m fine, and it was ticky-tack for several hours for my mom on Friday, but she looks to be fine too! Once again, apologies I couldn’t put together something for yesterday. Hopefully today made up for it at least a bit!

If you made it this far, you know I’m now 1-1 for the weekend (and 5-3 overall) in picking NFL Playoff Games by “better uniform.” I fully expect to go 2-0 hope to keep the .500+ record up today! Enjoy the games today — at least one of them will look great, and with the Rams in their best look, maybe both will.

Peace,

PH