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The Real *Final Four*

Final Four

By Phil Hecken, with Jim “The Weatherman” Vilk

Sure, college hoops may have its big weekend, and they may have even patented the name, “Final Four,” but for most sports fans, we all know that today is the greatest day in pro sports — better than the Super Bowl, bigger than any single game in any other sport, more life-and-death than a seven game series. Today is Championship Sunday, folks, and for football fans (at least in the league where they play for pay), it doesn’t get any better than this.

Four great teams will play back to back games today for over six straight hours for the right to claim their Conference Championship. Three of these teams, the Bears, Packers and Steelers, have basically been around since the league was founded, and the fourth, the New York Jets, were there at the start of the AFL. All four teams have a legitimate shot at reaching the Super Bowl, and all four have really great unis. Even if you only count the Super Bowl era, the four combatants have won 11 of the 44 Super Bowls (25%), and all teams involved have won at least one. Throw in the Green Bay Packers (11 pre-Super Bowl titles) and Chicago Bears (8 pre-Super Bowl titles) early championship histories, and you have 30 NFL titles between the four teams. Of course, the “new kids on the block” Jets only have one of those, but Super Bowl III, in which Broadway Joe made the most famous guarantee in all of sports, cemented the Super Bowl as the preeminent sporting event in all of sports. But, to get back to the promised land, we have the greatest day in sports — Championship Weekend — the real Final Four.


As most of you are probably aware, there’s a new Super Bowl logo this year (a standardized one which will keep this look for the foreseeable future), but also new Conference Trophies. The “Halas Trophy,” given to the NFC champion, used to look like this, but now looks like this. At first, many of us thought the trophy was crystal, but it is in fact a four piece metal job, one assumes to symbolize the four divisions. Upon doing a bit of digging, the “new trophies are made by Tiffany & Co., and feature a silver base with a hollowed out silver football on top.”

Over in the AFC, they too have a new trophy — the “Hunt Trophy,” named for Lamar Hunt, which looked like this forever, but it’s been “modernized” as well, and it’s pretty much identical to the Halas version. Again, this is in keeping with the new NFL’s “everything new” theme (this year the logos were changed for both conferences as well, with the NFC going from this to this and the AFC going from this to this).


Of course, two weeks from today, the winners of today’s games will be traveling to the beautiful Jerry Dome, the retractable roofed gem where the conditions will be perfect and the players will be warm. But today — today the four remaining teams, all from cold-weather climes, will be playing outdoors, in the elements, the way football was meant to be played (if, perhaps, not watched). The first game, with a kickoff of approximately 3:30 eastern/2:30 central, will be in beautiful, historic Soldier Field in Chicago. And it will certainly be “football weather.” The National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 19 degrees with a 30% chance of snow. It will likely be colder than that at kickoff time, and the wind chill will be around 0F. Certainly not the coldest game (by a longshot) in NFL playoff history, but plenty cold. There is nothing finer than two old-school teams from the NFC North facing off for a trip to the Super Bowl on a natural grass field with a chance of snow.

The Jets and Steelers will face their own share of weather worries. The NWS is forecasting a high of 16 degrees, and also a 30% chance for snow, but unfortunately, that is for the morning hours. Wind chill values will hover around -1F. The AFC combatants will be playing in Pittsburgh at gorgeous Heinz Field, notorious for its swirling winds and (usually) uneven playing surface. Another natural grass field, this one gets a lot of play during the college and high school seasons, but it should be in pretty good shape for this game.

I’ll be back to discuss the games in a bit more detail, but now, I want to turn this portion of the post over to the one and only Jim “Mothersunbowlker” Vilk, who will take you on a quick trip down memory lane for some of the greatest NFL games played under some of the harshest conditions of all time. In other words, football weather:


Football Weather
by Jim Vilk

In more ways than one, this could be the best-looking Sunday in the history of the NFL’s conference championships. Sure, the final four teams all have great uniforms, but there have been other years where that was the case. What could separate today’s games is the weather. Add in two natural-grass fields in northern wintry conditions, slap a little mud on those great unis, and that’s the stuff of legends, my friends. You can call it “bad weather” or “foul weather,” just not around me. In fact, I’m calling it “football weather.”

There have been championship games played in similar conditions, or in other types of challenging weather. There was the Freezer Bowl between the Chargers and Bengals, but that was paired up with the classic-yet-played-in-fair-weather Cowboys vs. 49ers game. There were the Oilers and Steelers in the rain, but that was paired with the Cowboys and Rams out in sunny Los Angeles. Not to be forgotten are the Jets and Dolphins in the mud, but that was paired with the Cowboys and Redskins in cold but mild conditions. There are other examples, but basically for every championship game played in mud, snow, ice or rain, the other matchup is played in more “ideal” conditions, or even indoors. This could be the first time where both games are played in memorable “football” weather.

As I said at the beginning, both games will look great regardless of the elements. Going by just the uniforms, I’d rank them up there with my 2nd favorite conference doubleheader, the ’89/’90 Browns vs. Broncos and Rams vs. 49ers. My best-looking championship day was the ’79/’80 matchups between the Oilers and Steelers and the Rams and Buccaneers, but if snow falls on both of today’s games, that could change.


So with that set up, lets hope for two epic battles. We already know the unis will be great and the weather will hopefully be awful (and I mean that in a good way). Time to do the breakdowns. I’ve done (surprisingly) well picking the games (6-2 so far) by “better” uniform, but today, it’s going to be very difficult, since we have four teams with easily the top 10 uniforms in the game. Here we go:

packers bears

Green Bay Packers (-4) at Chicago Bears (over/under 42.5): These two teams, from the same division, couldn’t have gotten here any differently. The Pack, seeded sixth, first had to win in Philadelphia, taking down the Eagles in the Wild Card game. They next traveled to Atlanta, where they summarily dismissed the #1 seeded Falcons. I told you (if you didn’t already know) that Aaron Rodgers was one of the best QB’s in the game, and he’s proving it. The Pack are on an incredible roll, and will need one more road victory to reach the big game, and are (maybe not so) surprising 4 point favorites. The Bears, the #2 seed, had probably the easiest road to the Championship game, getting a first round bye and easily dismissing the Seahawks in a snowy game.

The Packers certainly look like the best team in the playoffs so far, and they are intimately familiar with the Bears, playing them twice each season. The two teams split the first two (each winning at home), with the Bears prevailing 20-17 in Chicago, wearing their “1947” throwbacks, and the Pack returning the favor in Lambeau, winning 10-3, to clinch the sixth and final playoff spot. Bears coach Lovie Smith said before that game he wanted to win and “knock the Packers out of the playoffs.” Who knows if he knew he’d be meeting up with them for a trip to the big dance, but his words proved prescient.

I won (with the spread) both times picking the Packers, and also the Bears, based on the better uniform. Those were all easy choices. Today, we have two of the best unis in the game facing each other, and it’s going to be a very difficult call. I personally feel the Packers have the best home uniform in the game, but the Bears’ home uni (they’ll be wearing their standard homes today, not the throwbacks) is a close second or third. The Pack’s road unis are great, but I’m not sure they’re better than the Bears home unis. I was wrong picking against the home dog (Seattle vs. New Orleans) once. As much as I think the Pack will win, I’m going to “bet” on the Bears and take the four points. The Pick: Packers 24 – Bears 21.


jets steelers

New York Jets (+3.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (o/u 38.5): There are surprising parallels between both the Jets and Packers, and Steelers and Bears, roads to the Championship Game. Like the Packers, the Jets were the number 6 seed, needing to win 2 road games as underdogs, and having to defeat two sure-fire Hall of Fame Quarterbacks (Peyton & Tom) to reach Pittsburgh. They ousted the Colts while wearing white over white (that game looked a LOT like a a rather famous game in NFL history, and then went up to Foxboro, pulling off a huge upset of the #1 seeded New England Patriots, wearing white over green. I’m quite frankly shocked at the Jets choice of pants, and it’s far from being their best look, but it worked. I wonder if they will stick with the green pants for today’s game.

Like the Bears, the Steelers, as the #2 seed, had a first-round bye, but faced a much tougher opponent (and divisional foe), Baltimore Ravens, coming back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to emerge victorious. Like the Packers and Bears, I have picked the Jets (twice) and Steelers to win their earlier contests, based on their wearing the superior uniform. When the Jets and the Steelers met earlier in the season, the Jets won wearing white over white, and I would expect they will wear that today. Both teams have classic unis, and the Steelers have been wearing a version of this since before the merger (although now they have almost no sleeves and they allowed Nike to change their university block to “slash” font), and the Jets, while going to a more modern look (and later adding a touch of black and shiny green pants) have now returned to that classic look they wore in SB III. It’s a beautiful uniform (especially when it’s not paired with the awful green pants). Both unis are great, but I have to give an ever-so-slight edge to the Jets.

The Pick: Jets 16 – Steelers 7


And finally, if you haven’t yet seen them, there are some great Packers/Bears galleries out there on the Interwebs. It’s hard to believe that while both teams have been playing for seemingly forever, they’ve only met ONCE before in the playoffs, and that was in 1941. Check these out:

Packers vs. Bears — “A rivalry for the ages” gallery. (Green Bay Press Gazette)

Bears/Packers Through The Years (Chicago Tribune)

1941 Western Conference Playoff video (

Sit back and enjoy the games today, fellow uni watchers. While the games themselves may not be all-time classics, all the ingredients are there — the teams, the weather, the uniforms. This day may be one for the ages.


colorize this

Colorize This!

Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.

Nothing new was offered up by yours truly last weekend, as I was hoping a few of you would have taken me up on the last batch. Indeed, some of you did. The first colorizer today is Matt Williams, who had actually sent me a colorization of the “Giants vs. Steelers” photo, but I somehow missed it. Here’s his first effort:


I know I am a little behind the clock on this, but I just started doing colorizations and figured I would finally give one of the Uni Watch pictures a shot. I went for maximum contrast by only coloring the players involved in the action. I also left the white, grey, and black elements alone since greyscale does a perfectly fine job with those colors. Thank you for coordinating these. I look forward to participating in more colorizations later on.

Matt Williams

But Matt wasn’t done. You see, he is actually quite adept at this. Shortly after he sent me the first photo, I got another e-mail, with an attachment. “This is of Guy Hottel when he played for George Washinton University in 1924,” says Matt. “I was not certain as to what colors they used back then so I just went with the current school colors of blue and buff. I think it worked out decently. I decided to go with the maximum contrast again by only colorizing the player.”

Indeed it was. And Matt still wasn’t finished. Dig:

“This is of a game between Randolph-Macon and Gallaudet from 1923. I could not find any information as to which team wore which uniforms or what the colors were back then so I took the modern colors for each school and assigned them as I saw fit. Randolph-Macon currently has Lemon Gold and Black so I assigned those colors to the team with the dark jerseys with the stripes. Gallaudet has Blue and Buff which I assigned to the team with the light jerseys and the dark chest panels.”

Awesome stuff, Matt. Still not finished, he also sent along three suggestions for future colorizations, which we’ll take a look at following the colorizations of today.


Next to contact me was Adam Hill, who provided a beautiful “off the board” colorization:

Hi Phil,

Recently the Boston Bruins held “Milt Schmidt Night” to celebrate Milt’s amazing 75 years with the organization. I was lucky to attend the event, which was immediately before the Maple Leafs/Bruins game that night. The Bruins gave away a commemorative lithograph to the first 10,000 fans, and I got mine, only to have it get wrecked by beer and foot traffic under my seat. I found the lithograph online and colorized it, as it was originally painted in grayscale. Credit to the artist goes to M.S. Corley

Thanks for posting my last submission of Bob Feller. Keep up the great work with the blog. Uni Watch has become part of my daily routine.

-Adam Hill


Outstanding job by Adam. I received yet another set of e-mails from Bari Diarbekirian, who began with this:

Hey Phil. I attached 2 pictures.. One is the Steelers vs Giants

and the other one is a colorized version of one of the more famous photographs of Jackie Robinson.

Let me know what you think,
Bari Diarbekirian

I think those are great. But Bari also wasn’t finished. He also has a website dedicated to colorizing history. Check it out.


I also received a submission from past colorizer Joe DeAngelis, who went “off the board” with a wonderous effort in a sport that doesn’t get much UW love, boxing (in fact, I know Paul has covered it, probably more extensively than we realize it, but I don’t think I ever have):

Hello Phil,

Attached is my latest entry for consideration to be included in “Colorize This”.

To date this is my personal masterpiece in colorizations, I took on the famous Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott “Punch” photo and went to task. The consistency of flesh-tones where troublesome, and I took a gander at the color gloves based on various photos or said era 1952.

If I may add a hint to colorizers like myself, don’t leave blacks, whites and grays at the mercy of the original photograph. Adjust those colors using the slightest of tints to enhance their perspective. The above lighting has golden tones, the scaffolding to the left has a blueish hue, Marcianos hair was tweaked in brown, the canvas blue etc, etc.

In the past I only colorized singular people, this is my first landscape containing multiple persons. Uniwatch has several colorizers that master this art, and most of their better pieces have multiple people, consider this my application to “join the club” Enjoy.

Joe DeAngelis

Fantastic job with that Joe.

And finally, what Colorize This! piece would be complete without a couple from George Chilvers? Here’s what I received from him:

Hi Phil

A couple for you.

The first was as a result of the article which mentioned my son and I favouring Redskins and another contributor encouraging that. The original appears to be one of those “classic” photos that most afficionados of any sport know – Sam Baugh in 1942 against the Bears.

The second is a tribute to one of the true greats of English and World football (soccer) who died last Saturday, aged 85. He was Nat Lofthouse, nicknamed the “Lion of Vienna”, a big strong no-nonsense centre-forward. A rarity in the modern game, a one-club man, who is shown with the FA Cup in 1958 when Bolton beat the post-Munich disaster Manchester United.

The picture also shows something that provides a good quiz question: what is taken to every FA Cup Final, but never used?

The answer is the ribbons for the cup for the losing team. Two sets of ribbons are taken, one for each team, and the winners colours are tied to the handles at the final whistle. The losing team’s ribbons are thrown away.

Hope you’re keeping well


Thanks, as always George.

Fantastic stuff from everyone.

And now, onto Matt Williams’ suggestions for “next time” — let’s see if you colorizers can’t take a stab at one, two or even all three of what follows:

Here are some to offer up to the readers for colorization.

The first is of the Peoples Drug Store baseball team of Washington, D.C. in 1921. They appear to have won something. From the looks on the faces on some of the players it is hard to tell if they won something good.

The second is of a game between the Washington Nationals and a team I can not identify. This was taken some time between 1910 and 1930.

The third is of Walter Perry Johnson of the Washington Nationals. There is no date but it is probably between 1910 and 1930 as well.

All of these are from the National Photo Company Collection in the Library of Congress.

I hope they are high quality enough.

Thank you Matt. As always, if you folks would like to colorize these or send me high quality B & W photos, or even your own colorizations, please do so. You can send them directly to me. Please put “colorization” somewhere in the subject line, so even if it accidentally ends up in the spam folder, I can make sure I ‘rescue’ it.



all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks

Lots and lots of tweaks keep pouring in, so obviously this is a popular feature. A bunch new to get to today. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.

Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great a keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!

Got a big set of tweaks today…so lets get right into it:


Starting off the show is Sean F., who has 2 more “pro combat” sets:

Hey Phil,

I did up a couple more pro combat uni adaptions and creations, this time home and away. First the Steelers.

Steelers Home & Away — Just a simple adaption. Nothing changed, just made use of the sleeves for the stripes.

Titans Home & Away — This is a complete redesign. I tried to keep it similar to the current style but change it up a bit. I changed the helmet to the sky blue and added some stripes to the socks. I used the sleeves for the titans T sword logo.


Sean F.


Next up we have Jordan Katz, who was inspired enough to tweak the Seahawks:

Watching the Seahawks game last night vs. Rams inspired to me tweak. Basically swapping all the dark blue-green in the uniform with their great looking shade of green. Also, no monochrome, which a nice touch as well.



Closing down the show this week is Hyatt Werling, who is back with some “color swaps” for the NFL:

Dear Phil,

My name’s Hiatt Werling, and I had a few of my tweaks put on the website a couple of days ago. They were all uniform ideas that messed with the teams’ color schemes and changed them to something loosely relating to the team. These are more of those.

Seahawks – SuperSonics Set:
I thought maybe the Seahawks could help Seattle fill the void left by the relocation of the Sonics by adopting their colors. I used the color scheme from the Sonics’ late 90’s uniforms because I liked those unis a lot.

Cardinals – Diamondbacks Set:
This probably won’t make me any friends here, but purple’s my favorite color, and I love it when sports teams wear purple uniforms. I especially like the purple and turquoise the Diamondbacks used when they entered the league, so I wondered what it would look like if the Cardinals resurrected that Arizona color scheme.

Cowboys – New Mexico Set:
I’m from Albuquerque, and because New Mexico has no major league sports teams (a point of much grief for me), a large majority of New Mexico football fans support the relatively nearby Cowboys. I wanted to make a uniform set that the Cowboys could wear if they wanted to honor their New Mexico fan base. It uses red and yellow from our flag with accents of turquoise from our license plate.

Dolphins – Cuba Set:
A Dolphins uniform set recognizing Miami’s large Cuban population. It uses the blue and red from Cuba’s flag. I also replaced the logo on the Dolphins’ sleeves with the Cuban flag, serving as stripes.

I also feel like I messed up on the Colts’ Mayflower set from my last set of tweaks, so I modified it a little. This modification included making both the road and road alternates colored for the hell of it.

-Hiatt Werling


That’s it for this week. Thanks to all of today’s tweakers — back next week with more.


And with that, lets put this one into the books. Everyone enjoy your Sunday and the (hopefully) fantastic football we all have in store. I want to thank each and everyone who posted in yesterday’s comment section of What kind of fan are you?. I really appreciated the great stories and tales of what makes you the kind of fan you are today. I really felt I got to know many of you a lot better, and I appreciate the honest, forthright and civil dialog we all engaged in. You folks pepped me up when I was feeling down. Uni Watchers really are the best.

I also want to wish Spanks a safe flight out to Arizona — enjoy the fantasy baseball you lucky bastard, you have no idea how jealous I am buddy! And of course, a safe trip back to New York to Paul, who will be busting his hump on that Ada, Ohio, NFL football story.

***ONE LAST THING: Since Paul will be very busy today with his project, can you folks please POST IN THE COMMENTS or e-mail to me any MMUW (Monday Morning Uni Watch) screen grabs and news. Also, if you send Paul something for the ticker, if you want to cc: me (same addy as the link above), we can make sure (or try) to get it in Monday’s post. Thanks!


My dad (Yanks fan) always threatens to accidentally set my Mets apparel on fire, and trust me sometimes after the season I may be the one holding the match. — “ROACH77”

Comments (153)

    The January ’93 NFC Championship was epic. The Cowboys whites and the 49ers scarlet always looked good, especially on a patchwork grass/mud field. Had the two teams been wearing black shoes (and the 49ers wearing stripes on their socks) it might have been the best looking football game ever.

    I wasn’t really watching football yet and from what I have seen the field in the ’93 game was much worse and therefore better. Both looked good though.

    Generally speaking I’m not a fan of the green trou, but honestly I don’t mind the white-over-green combination. White-over-white is good too. Green-over-white is their best look, and I’m still annoyed that we only saw it four times this year, two of which were losses.

    I’d look for white-over-white today as well. I doubt we’ll have to speculate beyond that…

    I wish the Jets would go back to the old shade of green. What they’re using now is just too dark.


    And as I told Phil last night, there was only one thing wrong with the Gastineau-era unis: Gastineau was wearing one.

    I don’t really get the dislike for the 90’s Jets uniform. It was just a little bit of black trim. I thought they used the black rather well. It wasn’t like they were wearing black jerseys or looking like someone added electrical tape to the jersey like the Lions first attempt at BFBS.

    The problem was I found it highly unnecessary. Unlike Marshall, I loved the white face masks (same with the Broncos). Agreed, it was a lot better than the Lions, but I liked the simple green and white color scheme better.

    Not a bad looking uni. Just bad for the Jets in the sense that, for me, anyway, it’s about the rarity and uniqueness of pro teams sticking with one-color-and-white.

    Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Colts, Jets (now again), Celtics until recently…

    Hated to see the list get even shorter when Jets added black (same for Colts and their silver seasons), that’s all.


    With the Colts in Indy, they should have kept the silver trim. But then I liked the blue pants, so what do I know?

    Dunno, only four teams in the Big Four (five teams if we count the Yankees), and none in the NBA, wearing one-color-and-white…

    Seems to me that if I were one of them, that’d be a design distinction worth holding onto.


    The Jeff would call them a 3-color team…blue and white with gray face masks. ;)

    I don’t mind either look. Only thing that bugs me about the Colts is this: Why can’t they turn the horseshoe on its side? Make it a C for Colts.

    i never said i hated white facemasks, i said i hated playing with a white facemsk. the broncos looked great, but i also thought haven moses, and others, were cool for ditching the white so he could see better. and i don’t have any universal rules on this tuff either, for instance the jets white helmet would look bad with a white facemask, but the colts look just fine in white, and bad in blue. yada yada. all that being said, the topic… the gasteneau jets uniform is nowhere near as nice as the namath/today. i’ll give you the green is too dark, but there is no contest in uniforms.


    Not saying the 80s uni was better than the Namath/today version, or even equally as good. But I don’t think they’re too far apart from each other.

    I think the current (hunter) green sometimes looks darker than it is in photos; so did the previous (kelly) green. I like both shades.

    What I’d like to see is the logo go back to being football-shaped instead of oval, and the shoulder stripes moved down a bit, particularly on the jerseys that still have sleeves (like, e.g., Brunell’s). Other than that, and the awful green-over-green Hefty-bag look, I love the Jets uniform.

    Agree that the Super Bowl III green was better than today’s “hunter” green. But that 1968-69 green was by no means “Kelly.” Kelly Green is a rock’em-sock’em right green, with even a hint of yellow. Jets 68-69 green (which was perfect imo) is to the darker side of Kelly.


    That is the NFL’s Western Division playoff. Divisions 1933-1950.

    Conferences 1950-1967( American & National 1950-53). Divisions within conferences 1967- Present day.

    Thanks to the Chicago Bears for the highlight film it was great seeing the Packers Offense shift into the box formation before the snap.


    I have to agree that the NFC & AFC championships are much better than the Super Bowl. It’s more about the game than the stupid Super Bowl commercials, party atmosphere, music acts & world wide hype & 2-week farce that is way beyond obscene. The conference match-ups are almost always better given that one conference can be weaker.

    The Super Bowl tends to be boring and way, waaaaaaaaay too drawn out. My breaking point came after XXXVII Bucs/Raiders, tho I had to watch XLI due to interests and even that one was absolutely crummy in the 2nd half.

    Have a theory about that, one that’s been building for over 40 years.
    All season long we hear, over and over and over again, “We want to get to the Super Bowl.”

    Not WIN the Super Bowl, just GET to it.

    The mind is a funny thing. When you think like that all season, reaching the Super Bowl almost seems to be “goal achieved.” The NFC and AFC title games, though, are still part of the struggle.

    I really do think that’s part of why those games almost always are better games than the Super Bowl.

    In an odd sort of way, acutally going ahead a playing the final game gets to be a kind of afterthought.

    Know what I mean?


    I recall that several years ago the SB was played the week after the Championship games, the NFL recognizing that the 2 week hype-fest was just too much. That only lasted a year, I think.

    Also…the SB’s bland field neutrality/weather extracts so much tension and glory from the game. It’ll never happen, but they ought to play the SB on the field of the team with the best record. If they’re identical records, then figure out some system comparing head-to-head, opponents records, et al. Just dreaming.

    I think it was the Bills-Giants Super Bowl (XXV). The first non-blowout in many a year. Of course, the following year, they went back to the 2-week break and it was back to blowout city.

    Not WIN the Super Bowl, just GET to it.


    it’s funny, ya know, how some people view that

    if you’re a SB winning coach, you’re total gold — just look at how people are absolutely falling all over gruden to pay him 8 mil per season, when he won ONE SB with essentially tony dungy’s team

    bill callahan, the guy he beat and who was essentially coaching gruden’s team, can barely find work as an OC

    people will always remember the SB winners AND losers … that’s why making it is a big deal — no one remembers who lost the conference championships

    but the SB winning coaches are treated extra special

    “no one remembers who lost the conference championships”

    Except for the 18 people who watch the Pro Bowl…

    This conversation reminds me of the famous Duane Thomas quote:
    “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

    Almost make one want to channel one’s inner Robert Marshall and say, “Can we just win our conference and be satisfied with that?”

    At least it’s in the same place.
    Can’t say that for Comiskey.
    Or Yankee Stadium.
    Or the Cotton Bowl (the game, that is).

    No White Sox shortstop is playing where Luke Appling or Luis Aparicio played. No Yankee centerfielder is playing where Joe Dimaggio or Mickey Mantle played. And, to those teams’ credit, no one is claiming that.

    But Soldier Field IS where Sweetness and Butkus played.


    I miss seeing the Roman columns on TV….sailboats on the lake behind them during early-season hot weather games….

    TV-wise it looks like EveryOtherStadiumTM now…

    Well, yeah, but it’s sort of like Washington’s sword. Of course, the handle’s been replaced a couple of times, and there have been new blades installed now and then. But it occupies the same SPACE

    I’ve been a Packers fan for as long as I can possibly remember. Now that may only be my 27 years on this planet, but I am more excited for todays matchup against Chicago than any game I can remember, other than that whole Super Bowl thing in ’96. Great players, great weather, and most importantly here, amazing uni’s! GO PACK GO!

    Okay PACKER FANS (and shoes freaks)…

    Haven’t seen a lot of photos from this game (this is the only color one I’ve found). Packers at Eagles on a Monday night in the early ’70s, the Pack’s one and only experiment with ATHLETIC GOLD CLEATHS. Most of the Packers wore gold (with forest trim) adidas or puma turf shoes for this game…


    I want to say it was in 1974 and I want to say John Hadl was the Pack’s QB at the time.

    Something of a painful memory as a Packers fan because the Vikings were in the middle of their Super Bowl run and it was still early in Green Bay’s period of wandering in the playoff-less wilderness. says the Eagles won 36 – 14 on 12/1/1974.

    i was watching ESPN this morning and saw that colorado state had ram horns on their court… is this a new thing?


    No, they’ve done that for at least seven years, maybe more. I’m pretty confident of the date because I changed jobs in ’04 and I remember a conversation about that at my previous job.

    “…and you have 30 NFL titles between the four teams.”

    Glad you brought that up, Phil, because the pre-Super Bowl titles DO count.

    The real Final Four is still the best, though.

    it’s also a reminder to yinzers and other steeler fans who like to trumpet six rings and are on this “stairway to seven” kick — yes, you have more super bowls (and that’s no small feat, so im certainly not diminishing it) — but you have exactly ZERO pre-super bowl nfl titles — so they still trail a number of teams (pack, bears, giants [7 combined – 4 NFL & 3 SBs], even Clevo [8 combined — 4 AAFL & 4 NFL]) in terms of championships

    people (myself included, sometimes) tend to forget that there was “life before the super bowl”

    “Stairway to Seven”? Gotta say I hadn’t heard that one before you said it.

    Hated the Zeppelin song, so if anyone did a Stillers version of it, I may just have to root for the Jets.

    Winning the championship in an 8-12 team league is a bit less impressive than winning it in a 26-32 team league. The Browns may have 8 championships but they also haven’t done a damn thing in over 45 years. It’s kinda hard to gloat about that.

    /and Led Zeppelin are the 2nd most overrated band in history

    Everything needs to be appreciated in the context of its time, and credit given where credit is due.

    By your rationale, the Ruth Yankees, the Richard Montreal Canadians or the Mikan Lakers weren’t shit because there were fewer teams and fewer post-season games enroute to the title back then.

    In any year, if you beat everyone in the field, you’re the best. And those titles all count.

    Just because something happened before our lifetime doesn’t automatically diminish it. It smacks of, “Well, we’re better because we’re here now, and because it’s OUR time.”

    No doubt each succeeding generation’s participants are better athletes, that’s a given. An outright Duh.

    But a championship’s a championship.


    Many Steeler fans think football was not invented until 1967 with the Super Bowl.

    When I liked the Steelers as a young kid they have never ever won even their division in 30-40 years.

    And if winning the NFL Championships were any less impressive with 16 teams why were the Steelers never able to do it?

    I think true, knowledgeable, Steeler fans would have to admit football existed prior to the super bowl, and teams like the Browns should celebrate their four NFL titles. The pre super bowl teams should not be penalized for there titles, because they played under the conditions used to determine the champion. And prior to 1933, there wasn’t even a title game to determine a champion. Using the title game/super bowl formula, Green Bay has 9 titles, Bears 7, and Giants 6.

    And yes, the Steelers were usually bad during their first 40 years of existence, the last roughly 40 years has been outstanding. Even during the 80s, the club made four playoff appearances, including the AFC title game in ’84. In terms of hall of famers and achievements, the Steelers have definitely closed the gap that existed between them and other teams before the 70s. They currently have a 28 year old QB putting together a strong HOF resume regardless of what happens today.

    When you look at the data, it’s accurate to say winning super bowls ARE a little more valuable than basic NFL titles. Three reasons come into play, two of which are unique to the NFL:

    1. From 1933-65, the NFL champion only had to play one game to decide the winner. The only exceptions were 1950,1952, and 1957, when the champion had to play two games. Compare that to more than 40 years of playing at least three games to win it all.

    If #1 was the only difference, that alone wouldn’t be enough to say super bowls are superior to basic NFL titles. After all, other major sports have more playoff games today. But these next two points clearly push the value of the super bowl ahead.

    2. From 1933-65, with the exception of 1936, the NFL title game wasn’t played at neutral sites. The game was rotated on a conference basis, and it wasn’t based on merit. As expected, the home field team won most of these games, at a 69% clip. The neutral sites of the super bowl, played at southern/western sites, are a disadvantage to northern teams who would have hosted prior to the super bowl era. I think the Bills would have enjoyed hosting one of those super bowls.

    3. Lastly, the super bowl came to be because of the AFL, which was the best of all the rival sports leagues. Clearly, the NFL was slow to expand and recognize the talent pool as football was exploding in popularity in the 1960s. While the early rosters of AFL teams had plenty of NFL castoffs, the talent began to improve by the mid 1960s, and by the late 60s, the quality of play in the AFL was very close to the established NFL.
    The evidence was on display in the last two super bowls. The Colts and Vikings were dominant teams in 1968 and 1969, cruising through NFL competition with ease. But that all ended in the super bowl. The Jets handled the Colts a stunning defeat, leading that game 16-0, before a late Baltimore TD. The next year, Kansas City, a wildcard team, crushed the powerful Vikings.
    The power of the AFL isn’t just reflected in hall of
    players, but coaches and schemes which changed the face of pro football. Absorbing the AFL greatly strengthened the NFL and set the stage for the popularity of America’s number one sport.

    I can understand the reluctance of fans of other teams who haven’t been as successful in the super bowl era to acknowledge the superiority over basic NFL titles. At the end of the day, basic NFL titles are valuable, but not quite as much as super bowls.

    It’s all relative, so they’re equal to me.

    Today’s millionaire athletes devote 24/7/365 to football, so they should be able to endure a “tougher” road to the title. Back then, football was a part-time job. Guys had to make a living outside of the game, so they wouldn’t have the time or conditioning that today’s players do.

    As Ricko said, “Everything needs to be appreciated in the context of its time, and credit given where credit is due.”

    We gonna do that same kind of analysis, and come to a similar conclusion, for the NBA or NHL? I mean, with only six teams in hockey those Canadiens Stanley Cups simply COULDN’T be considered in the same light as title today, right?

    Or do different standards apply to the NFL?

    My real question is, why does it matter? Times were different; that’s not news. Bing Crosby probably couldn’t crack the Billboard Top 40 today, either. I mean, he got famous only on the radio.

    Doesn’t mean he was less a star than Katy Perry.


    I was careful to explain that other leagues do have multiple layers of playoffs as opposed to yesteryear, but only the NFL had the AFL influence along with neutral sites for the championship game. That’s a unique, significant difference from NBA or NHL. I was also careful to credit those old NFL titles, obviously, no one could have predicted the growth of pro football in those days. There are no areas of gray here.

    The Bing Crosby versus Katy Perry argument doesn’t apply here, I’m not individual players here, only the degree of difficulty. It’s a structural issue, not minor aspects of the game. Again, the Packers/Bears/Giants should also be proud of their basic NFL titles. But no one can deny the impact of neutral site title games or the influence of the AFL. I’m not claiming super bowls are vastly superior, just a little better. This isn’t a time issue, but the AFL just happened to debut at a time of incredible growth of pro football in this country. I strongly suggest anyone who disputes the power of the AFL research the league, and how it helped shape the modern NFL.

    Speaking of the NHL, there have been enough changes to make the argument about Cups being more valuable now than in the Original Six era. In the 06 era losing teams won it all a few times, and that would never happen today. Perhaps the NHL discussion could be saved for the Cup finals.

    is it “tougher” to win a super bowl than it was to win a league title “before” there was such a beast?

    maybe…maybe not

    but comparing the eras is apples to oranges…

    i’d like to make the argument (and i could argue either side convincingly) that the more teams there are, the EASIER it is to win…why?

    more playoff spots

    a fantastic run by the packers has them in the big dance, and for all i know, they’ll be favored (and may win — i know i’ll be rooting for them)

    however — without six playoff spots (for each conference), they’d never even BE in the playoffs

    now — does that mean it’s easier to win the game? hell no, you’ve got to win three (if a #1 or #2 seed) or four games (if in the wild card round) — but it IS easier to make the playoffs to actually have that chance

    with less teams, you have to have a better regular season…sure, you may have to win less playoff games to get there, but you have to make sure you actually do GET THERE

    teams now don’t even need a winning record to make the playoffs (im looking at you, seattle) — all they needed was to get hot — or a team like the pack — they got hot at the right time…if they don’t make the playoffs, it doesn’t matter one lick if they’re the best team at the end of the season

    it’s a completely different animal nowadays…back “then” you had to be good enough all season to even get a shot at the prize…now you just have to be “good enough”

    is it “harder” to win it all? probably it’s harder to get thru the playoffs — but it’s easier to make the playoffs, giving each team a better chance to get hot in the end, when it matters

    You’re absolutely right about more teams in the playoffs as opposed to the pre super bowl era. But that actually enhances my argument about the super bowl titles being slightly more valuable than regular NFL titles.

    Yes, a very few wildcard teams like the Packers have advanced to the super bowl, but it’s still extremely difficult statistically. A team like Seattle can get hot, and pull one upset, maybe two, but reality sets in very quickly in the NFL. Also, both the ’05 Steelers and ’10 Packers were actually better than six seeds, but had significant injuries which hurt their seeding.

    So at the end of the day, the super bowl champ still is proven on a neutral field(big advantage in the pre super bowl era), regardless of seeding. The cream always rises to the top, the ’07 Giants richly earned their title by taking down a team some thought was the best ever.

    When you combine the neutral field with the influence of the AFL, those unique factors do make a super bowl win slightly more valuable than the pre super bowl era basic NFL titles. That’s completely difficult than the NBA, NHL, or MLB.

    It’s actually just Ricko’s observation about how for most people, history starts when they start paying attention. For people who don’t remember the pre-1972 NFL, the Steelers are (deservedly) one of the top organizations in football, while for those who remember the ’60s, the Steelers as a joke has some resonance.

    Let’s see, this week the Packers and Bears play for the Halas Trophy, and the winner plays for the Lombardi Trophy.

    (That’s for those who still don’t seem to get how storied these two NFL franchises really are).

    Not slighting the Rooneys, mind you; would never do that. Just, y’know, sayin’.


    No doubt, Green Bay, Chicago, and Pittsburgh are three storied old school NFL franchises. The majority of Green Bay’s and Chicago’s success happened before the 70s, while the Steelers have been strong since the 70s.

    It’s a minor point, but I find the Chicago Bears end zones look a little odd. They’ve clearly painted the end zone grass green, so it doesn’t match the rest of the dull shade that grass takes on at this time of the year – so if one was to look at the end zones in isolation – it would almost appear the Bears colors are Green and Orange.

    I’m not a huge Jet’s uniform fan, to me it’s very middle of the pack in ranking the NFL uniforms, and by the far the weakest uni left in a strong remaining field.

    Great colorizations from all this week, especially George Chilvers’ “Sammy Baugh in 1942” and Matt Williams’ “Guy Hottel”. WOW, you guys just raised the bar for my next effort.

    Really really appreciate the colorizations of photos where color isn’t plentiful, or virtually non-existent. The ones where we can readily find color photos, no so much.

    Appreciate the effort and skill level, of course, but it seems to be more fun when it’s something we probably haven’t seen before.

    Same goes for throwback unis that predate color TV and/or quality color photography.

    I mean, it isn’t like the all-gold Padres or bumblebee Pirates are a big visual unknown (speaking of throwbacks here).



    Agreed. Great work by all of you.

    One observation from Bari’s colorization:
    Looks fantastic, but judging from the texture of the field (and from seeing lots of old films/photos of the 50s Giants), I’m guessing it was a lot more brown than green. Don’t think they used the paint the field green the way the Browns did in the final days of Municipal Stadium. Again, great job, though.

    No disrespect to nobody, but George Chilvers’ work on Slingin’ Sammy Baugh et alia may be the most damn wonderful colorization I’ve seen on these pages. Wow.

    Thank you, Joe. Colorization has become my new addiction. I have also been doing ones for historical non-sports figures to appease the history dork inside of me.
    Your work is great as well, I really liked the Marciano picture. Excellent original picture and excellent work colorizing it.

    If only he tweaked the number font as well.
    I did like that one, though.

    Hmm, wonder which tweak was my favorite today…

    And Hiatt, you had me excited with the concept of a Seahawks/Sonics swap…until I saw that it was the Kemp/Payton-era colors.
    They never should have gone away from the Jack Sikma look:

    Good job by everyone!

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned here or not, but here is the patch the Tigers are going to wear for Sparky: link

    This week’s uni matchups would be perfect, if the Steelers had not inexplicably, and unnecessarily, changed their numerals.

    Best conference-championship uni matchup I’ve seen in recent years: Giants-Packers.

    That one looked great, and the weather was memorable, too. Unfortunately it was paired with the Chargers/Pats championship.


    Quite a night for the Wizards last night, a big win over the Celtics and a wacky jersey for the new player Mustafa Shakur.

    i about 99.99% positive paul will be covering that (despite his hectic sked) tomorrow — stay tuned

    Jan 1982 Chargers @ Bengals. -59 WC. Epic cold. I wuz there. Still haven’t thawed from that one.

    Remember that one like it was yesterday, I was twelve. I was visiting grandparents just outside Cincy at the time. Man o man riverfront looked cold.

    the sun had a very bright, hazy glare. lot of salt road dust and flurries just sorta suspended in the air. VERY still atmosphere- like a vacuum.

    don’t know if anyone caught this earlier, but sportSCenter had their top 10 conference championships’ moments…

    #3, #2 & #1 shouldn’t come as any surprises:

    “THE drive,” “THE fumble” and “THE catch”


    “THE interception(s)” (both by favre — in 08 against the giants and in 10 vs. the saints)


    Yeah, it’s not like The Catch marked the beginning of one of those NFL dynasties or anything.


    Interesting that half of the top four (more than half cuz Favre’s in there twice) were when teams went out there and found a way to lose.

    Scewing up ties with making yourself a winner when it comes to memorability. Guess that’s the way we look at things these days.

    (Cue tape of Howard Dean’s, um, inspirational speech here)


    I meant no way on the INTs being #4. The Catch does belongs at #1.

    Wonder if ESPN just put #4 at #4 to be clever.


    Just swooped in and nabbed a 1970 iHOP NFL Thermal cup on eBay. 8 bucks.

    I bought one of each (blue and orange) from the Sal thrift store last year for 99 cents. Barnum was right.

    about to leave to go to a wisconsin ex-pats house to watch the game with a 1/2 barrel of new glarus, and chicken wings, but real quick before i go…
    great job LI & mothervilver on today’s post.

    phil, just heard jets will be in white over green today. green pants make their second straight appearance.

    As a Packer fan, I wish you were correct by saying we won 11 pre-super bowl titles, but we only won 9. Add in our 3 Super Bowl wins and we do have 12 total championships

    12 is the correct overall total, three of those titles were declared before there was a championship game in the pre 1933 era.

    I’ve noticed that too, since the 6 is thicker on the lower left side. But apparently it is correct like the 8’s, which to me also look upsidedown.

    really? I thought it looked a little bare to be a SB logo. But, now that I look at the logo, it seems like a possibility… Too bad I don’t have a screenshot of the pin.

    not a super bowl logo… its the logo for st judes childrens hospital:


    Fox has been raising money for SJCH all season long and I’m pretty sure the lapel pins have been there the whole time as well

    Thanks, I figured it was a charity thing. Glad to see it’s such a great one. Thanks again for the help!

    The other day it was brought up about the possible Green Bay switch to metallic gold. Was there every any picture of the proposed helmet or unis?

    I do not recall seeing any.

    Looks like the Pack are headed to Arlington. Uni wise, the better matchup would be the Jets (sorry Steelers, but the slash font just ruins it).

    Add me to the chorus who believes the championship games are WAY better than the giant bloated hypefest that follows. The Super Bowl is so bland and corporate that it’s completely jarring to juxtapose it with the rest of the playoffs. I’d love to see the game played at one of the home fields, but that will never happen.

    Yep, I agree. I think between the neutral site, and the two week lay-off, the two week lay-off has the bigger negative impact on the game. It’s like all the great play-off momentum, is just thrown aside for corporate reasons.

    I actually think if Green Bay wins, either match up from a uni perspective is going to be less than the sum of the parts. With the Steelers – it will be that both teams will be wearing yellow pants, with the Jets – too much green.

    Agreed, but the Jets in all white against the Packers in green would be a nice looking game. Unfortunately I’d say there is zero chance the Jets would wear that combo in the Super Bowl, assuming they were to beat Pittsburgh (which for the record, I don’t think they will).

    Mathews chipped the sticker hitting Greg Olsen in the 2nd, I think. I saw the sticker flying in a slow-mo replay and thought, “I’m sure some uni-watcher got a screen grab of that!”

    So I just saw Mark Sanchez pick a booger and wipe it on Mark Brunell’s jacket on the sideline. Haha, now that would be an eBay item worth buying. So funny.

    Let me ask a question – what’s wrong with the Steeler’s number font?

    Its rounded, its italic. Futura condensed, if I’m not mistaken?

    Is there a bigger issue than the fact that they don’t use Varsity Block like most of the rest of the league? Is futura condensed not manly enough?

    I like the uniqueness of the font. I liked the old font, too, but the new one is fine by me.

    I wish the Jets could go back to their link. If the Knicks and Rangers can wear it, why can’t the Jets?

    The Steelers number font is an example of fixing something that wasn’t broken. Varsity block fit those uniforms perfectly for many years, then Nike came along and wanted to put their stamp on the team and changed the font…because they could. And frankly, it’s gimmicky and would look like shit on any team, but it’s especially bad on Pittsburgh’s uniforms because they were absolutely beautiful in the first place.

    I agree. I have always liked the jersey layout with the block numerals. Changing the font just for the sake of change is just silly. The only Steelers jersey I own right now is the “throwback” style they have been wearing over the past couple of years. Any others I buy will either be the same style or classic ones for Lambert and the rest of the original Steel Curtain.

    Well, you can get the fork out for the Jets.

    Packers/Steelers Feb 6 @ JerryWorld.

    Memo to Cutler: Sanchez got hurt- hecame back in.

    i half expected the jets to come out in white trou after half

    i can’t imagine they can come back…but that was a good way to start

    Pru, the eBay comment was intended for comedic value. I was in no way insinuating someone should actually buy a booger jacket. Unless of course you had a man crush on Sanchez.

    To expand on what LakerPride said, the left side of Ben Roethlisberger’s nameplate came loose late in the 3rd quarter. No screencap, sorry.

    The Jets will be back, with Sanchez, they should be a strong title contender for many years. That was a valiant comeback, I had a feeling the Jets would not lie down trailing 24-0. With Manning aging, and Brady is only 5-5 in the postseason since the 2004, New York is in great shape for the future.

    For the Steelers, winning the AFC after the horrible offseason is a remarkable achievement. They traded Santonio Holmes for a late round draft pick, then see Big Ben violate the personal conduct policy. To lose one of the league’s elite QBs for a quarter of the season could have been devastating. Three of those four games were against playoff-quality teams, so the Steelers could have easily been 1-3, and it would have been a struggle just to earn a wildcard.

    Congrats to the Pack who overcame a spate of injuries and adversity to win the NFC, becoming only the third team to win three straight playoff games on the road.

    It’ll be a fantastic super bowl, playing in Dallas is a little ironic, considering the history with the Steelers and Packers versus the Cowboys.

    the nfc has the choice of jersey

    i would expect, despite this incredible run in white, that the pack will wear the “home” green

    of course, the precedent (stillers vs. seahawks in 06) has been set of a sixth-seeded road team wearing white in the SB, despite being designated the “home” team

    i just can’t see the packers doing that, but you never know


    Any idea if/when the Packers need to make an announcement about what they will wear or is it entirely possible we could wait until media day to find out? Personally I think the Packers White v. the Steelers Blacks would be about as good of a match up as you could get, but I doubt the Packers will consider the aesthetics when making their pick.

    I am guessing that Pittsburgh will have the choice of colors since GB is a wild card team. The Pack will most likely wear white.


    i do not know *when* they choose, but they will definitely have to give plenty of advance announcement — i remember pittsburgh in 06 announced almost immediately after they made the dance

    gotta give the uni manufacturers plenty of time to sew those patches on and print up all those replicas…


    its a rotation between the conferences as to who is the home team, it has nothing to do with seeding or record. Last year the AFC was the home team, this year the NFC is, so the Packers get the choice.

    Was it me, or maybe this has been touched on and I missed it, but did the Packers helmets seem to have a glittery finish to them today?

    Almost every team (if not every team) in the league has that “sparkle” finish to them. You can see it a lot better on the Packer helmets because they are yellow, and the game finished in the evening when the lights were shining on them.

    When did the Packers switch to that finish though? I don’t remember seeing it prior to this year, of course there’s a chance I’ve been overlooking it for awhile and finally started noticing it this year

    Please back away from the crack pipe, Phil. There’s only ONE Final Four … and Sunday’s lineup of games wasn’t it.

    In no way, shape, or form does the conference championship in pro football even come close to the hype, energy and tradition surrounding college basketball’s run to the finals.

    lol for even suggesting so.

    Late to this thread but in case no one’s noted it, Matt’s photo of Walter Johnson for colorization dates from 1912-15. Those were the only seasons in which the Nats wore the navy caps with the white band around the base of the crown and the edge of the bill.

    Not sure who the opponents are in that Griffith Stadium phot were but I’m guessing the Browns. I’ll try to do some sleuthing on point.

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