By Phil Hecken
Last weekend I did a mini-review of the new University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football uniforms, which prompted this E-mail from reader Shawn Kennedy (he’s the guy on the right in today’s splash):
Just wanted to give you some props on your review of the Gopher uniforms. I pretty much agree with you across the board and wrote a similar summary on our blog. Nice job and keep up the great work!
I quickly shot back a “Thanks” but didn’t take too much notice of his “hey check out my blog” comment — until I checked out his blog. Turns out it’s not just your average fan-boy blog but rather, quite a work, and it contains an incredible amount of uni-goodness. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
Anyway, we traded a few E-mails and after having checked out his blog, I knew we had to get to know Shawn a bit better.
Uni Watch: You emailed me after my review of the Gopher’s new uniforms for 2012. What do you think of those — are they better or worse than those which preceded them?
Shawn Kennedy: I really like the new uniforms. I love the basic design that goes back to the Glen Mason era and the addition of the historical features (the bricks on the numbers and the 1940s number font). I also love what they’re not: the garish, uber-modern jerseys of Maryland and Oregon. I had some concerns about that. I feel that they did a great job combining the old with the new.
(Turns out he had a lot to say about the new Gopher jerseys.)
UW: I note on your homepage you feature a minivan filled with UM helmets — what’s the story with those? Are you a collector?
SK: I’m always trying to network with fellow collectors, and ran across Tom Zimmer’s now defunct Gridrion Ghosts website and asked him if he had any Gophers helmets. He had worked with the U of M on the their throwback uniforms for the 2006 NDSU game and wound up buying 6 very large cardboard boxes full of Gophers helmets from the U. We rented a minivan and drove out to his rural Madison warehouse location in below zero weather to pick them up. We actually had to clear out some of the helmets and waded through the boxes trying to find the best examples. Tom is a great guy and was very accomodating.
UW: Lots of uniform sites exist. Why is yours different?
SK: There are maybe a few dozen college football dedicated uniform sites out there that I know of. I’m friends with a few of the other guys as we also collect Big Ten and a few other regional teams helmets to a lesser extent. I think what sets us apart is the size of our collection, the historical depth as it goes back to the 1940s, and we have a uniform history section. It’s also a football only Gophers dedicated site.
UW: Are there other blogs dedicated to Gopher football uniforms?
SK: There are other Gopher football fan sites, but we’re the only Gophers football uniform site.
UW: What the hell is “Ski-U-Mah” (and why is it pronounced SKY and not ski, like the downhill sport?)
SK: The Ski-U-Mah slogan is part of two of Minnesota’s school songs and has been around since the late 1800’s. It’s part Sioux war cry (the Ski part) and U-Mah comes from University of Minnesota.
SK: Matt and I started collecting when we were 15 years old. Matt’s dad gave him a Gopher game used jersey for Christmas that he bought at the old Steichen’s Sporting Goods in St. Paul. Matt also gave one to me that same Christmas. At that time in the early mid 80’s you were lucky to find a poor quality replica jersey. To be able to wear something that the players actually wore on the field just blew our minds. That pretty much had us hooked.
UW: What about the helmets?
SK: A few years later they offered game used helmets, something we never thought we ever be able to get. Around this time, Matt’s brother Andy joined us in our collecting addiction. Sometime later the U of M started having garage sales selling game worn gear and we’ve picked up a ton of stuff there. Through the years we’ve made a ton of connections with dealers and fellow collectors and bought as much as we could afford along the way. We also buy from all the major auction houses. We’ve also bought a number of items from former players that we’ve connected with. We stared collecting pro jerseys of former Gophers in the past few years.
UW: Which ones are your favorite?
SK: A few of our favorite items are (tough question)…Sandy Stephens Rose Bowl jersey, Tyrone Carter’s jersey and helmet, Chris Darkins’ jersey, and Laurence Maroney helmet for the Gophers stuff. For the pro items, I’d say any of the Marion Barber jerseys and the Rickey Foggie BC Lions rookie jersey.
UW: You have a pretty extensive uniform history section — but it only goes back to 1959 — do you have plans to expand it?
SK: I don’t know how we arrived at 1959. Andy did the history section and we plan to update as we go starting with the 2012 uniforms and then we’ll work back. We do realize the need for a better format and plan to change over at some point. It’s a ton of work putting a site together with a collection of around 750 jerseys, 150 odd helmets, rings, etc. … that spans three guys who live in three different states.
UW: Where did you get the colors and patterns from? All photos or did you have actual unis to look at?
SK: It took over a year to meet all all locations, take photos, crop them, upload them, research, write ups and on and on. We’ve been collecting for around 65 years combined so have a lot of experience on the research end. One day we hope to open a museum near campus and put the virtual world in the real world.
UW: You mentioned two other guys — Matt and Andy — do you all work equally on the blog? How did you guys meet?
SK: Honestly, I’ve probably done most of the work as I teach part time and run gridironheroes.net. We try to keep the blog uniform based, but will probably expland it as the season starts up. With all the uniforms combinations coming up, there should be plenty to blog about.
UW: And the other guys?
SK: Matt is a college professor and Andy works at the University of Minnesota full time so I have the most free time. Matt and Andy will do more work as time becomes available.
UW: How did you guys meet?
SK: I met Matt way back in kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary in Crystal, MN. We’ve been best friends ever since. Matt’s brother Andy came along a few years later and we’re very tight as well. We’re all University of Minnesota grads and season ticket holders.
UW: You guys have any hobbies (besides collecting)?
SK: We all share a passion for Gopher sports, travel, history, politics, and the University of Minnesota. We don’t just see ourselves as collectors, but as uniform and team historians. We are preserving University of Minnesota Gopher football history through our collection. There’s much more to us than being jersey junkies, but that’s definitely a big part of us.
UW: Anything else we should know?
SK: We do have some very important pieces of football history from a number of All-Americans including Leo Nomellini’s jersey, Sandy Stephens, Tyrone Carter, Ben Hamilton, etc. We have a near complete line of Gopher football helmets dating back the first design of hard plastic shell helmet. Along with uniforms Matt has near complete collection of homecoming buttons, programs since 1980, etc. Our Big Ten game used helmet collection is probably the largest and most complete in the nation as well.
UW: What made you want to start this site, and do you think you’ll continue to expand it?
SK: We started gopherjerseys.com to educate and interest collectors and Gopher football fans in general. We’ve been contacted by a number of former players about our site who’ve seen their jerseys or helmets with compliments or offers. We hope to continue to expand and improve as we get gain experience and buy more items, also one of the aims of our site.
UW: Awesome. Just two last questions. How did you find UW — do you post in the comments (and if so, who do you post as)? … And how long have you been a reader?
SK: I’ve been a reader for around 2 years but I’ve never posted on Uni Watch. I’m not a registered user or anything.
UW: Well, I bet that’s about to change. Thanks, Shawn
So, how great a site/collection is that? I hope you guys enjoyed “meeting” Shawn and do spend some time poking around that site — it’s got a ton of amazing jerseys and other memorabilia. And, if you look closely, Shawn and his buddies also have done a fair amount of uni tracking — always a welcome addition to the historical record.
by Rick Pearson
For some this would be REALLY horrifying…
And of course, the full size.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
And so, lets begin:
We start with Justin Kline, who has eight NFL concepts:
Phil, Here are a bunch of NFL tweaks I’ve been working on lately. I only tweaked unis that (in my opinion) need an overhaul, so I excluded current unis that I like (Bills, Chiefs, etc.) and teams that should switch to their throwbacks with no tweaks (Atlanta, Jax, etc.).
The Cards and Falcons look like they were separated at birth, and I felt that the Cards needed an overhaul even if they planned on going fauxback. Cincinnati Bengals I can’t stand to look at them anymore, so I figured I would faux back to the Boomer Esiason days with a few modern touches
When I heard that they plan on using the orange jerseys as their primaries again, all I could think of were the classic Elway unis. The bucking bronco in the “D” looks a little dated, so I attempted to revamp it by splicing together two of the newer bronco logos. I also wanted to see if drop shadow would look good on the numbers, and I’m not disappointed.
One thing I could never figure out: if the dolphin wears a helmet with an “M” on it, why don’t the Fins have that “M” on their helmets? If the dolphin has an “M” on its helmet, and humans have a dolphin wearing an “M” on our helmets, then who’s wearing a helmet with a human wearing a dolphin wearing an “M” on it?
Speaking of helmets, the fact that the Vikes’ mascot wears a gold helmet has always kind of bugged me. Shouldn’t he wear the same purple helmet that the Vikes wear? I had to change the hair color to avoid some hair-to-helmet confusion, and now he looks a lot like Jared Allen. That has to be a good thing.
New England Patriots
Those Boston Patriots fauxbacks can’t get much better than they already are, so most of this was just fixing the road uni and adding an alternate. Until now, I didn’t notice how similar the alternate is to the blue Ole Miss jerseys.
I watch a lot of Sunny, so Charlie Kelly’s Greenman suit had to be incorporated into this uni set. After all, Greenman is the unofficial sports mascot of Philadelphia.
One thing that the Titans and Predators had always had in common was the fact that both teams have had the distinction of wearing the ugliest uniforms in their respective leagues. The Preds don’t look as bad now as they did previously, but the Titans still look stupid. Perhaps they could try using the Preds’ new colors. Hope y’all enjoyed this set of tweaks. -Justin Kline
Up next is Nicholas Flees, who has a new Maryland Terrapin football concept:
Hey Phil, I have had this concept for a Maryland football revision for a couple of years now. It’s pretty simple, especially relative to this year’s redesign, but I’m pretty traditional in my uniform preferences. I’m bringing back an awesome vintage Maryland logo for the helmet and a Maryland state flag patch on the jersey. The state has such a great flag, I couldn’t resist. I hope you like it. Nick
And finally, we have Ryan Allison, who believes it’s time to give the Mustangs the Pro Combat treatment (when he sent me this tweak, in an E-mail dated 12/14/11, the Nike rumor hadn’t yet been confirmed). Enjoy:
Phil, There are rumors that SMU is switching to Nike next season. I decided to create a SMU Nike Pro Combat uniform using the Pro Combat template by Rezland. I decided to create the uniform from a more traditional stand point. The lettering, numbering, and striping are similar to the 1982 SMU uniforms worn by the Pony Express. Instead of the sleeve striping, like on the current SMU Adidas uniforms, I went back to the number on the sleeve. Also the helmet striping is similar to the 1982 uniforms. The undershirt is a dark gray/black. This is where the more “Pro Combat” look comes in. On the left sleeve is the state of Texas with a white star over the city of Dallas. On the right sleeve, is just a stripe which is consistent to the helmet and pant stripe that goes around the circumference of the arm. I believe this uniform gives a classy, traditional look, while also giving an edgy, modern appeal. Thanks, Ryan Allison
Thanks folks. Back with more
tweaks concepts tomorrow.
That will do it for today. Everyone have a great Saturday.
“I also think it is refreshing to see states think outside the box to raise capital in these tough economic times. I would gladly drive down the Nike Pro Combat highway daily if it allowed for road improvements or reduced tolls.” — Joe Mangano