By Phil Hecken
The Pro Bowl is today. You won’t watch. Nobody cares anyway.
I could probably end this portion of today’s post with that and be done with it. I don’t know about you (and I think much of it may depend upon how old you are), but I used to love the Pro Bowl. No more though. And that’s too bad because while it was always a post-season exhibition (and played after the Super Bowl), it seemed that the uniforms were cooler, all the players showed up. Some even seemed to care. This year marks the end of Reebok’s NFL contract (mercifully) and the uniforms for this game will be identical to last year. Do you even remember what they looked like?
Last year, the NFC wore white over blue to the AFC’s red over white. Both jerseys featured raglan sleeves (with yokes for the NFC) and four stars around the collar. It wasn’t a bad uniform (all things considered) — and considering what they have worn in recent years. We’ll get to those in a second. In fact, about the most memorable thing about last year’s Pro Bowl was the extra long pants (really, more like full-length tights) that some of the players were sporting. Yecch.
This was one Reebok experiment that thankfully never translated to the pros. Apparently, those long pants won’t be making a return appearance during Reebok’s NFL swansong.
What you must know, unless you’ve been living under a rock, is that Nike has won the NFL contract and will be outfitting all 32 teams next season. We’ll begin to see what the new uniforms look like starting on April Fool’s day (coincidence?). But that doesn’t mean the swooshkateers haven’t been gearing up for the Pro Bowl to make a splash — in fact, much like the do for NCAA Bowl Games (and just about any other game they deem to be ‘important’), they are outfitting their contracted players with special gloves — check it out.
Now, normally, I’d say “big whoop, this is just some Pro Bowl one off/gimmick” but since they are making gloves for all 32 teams (and since there will obviously be no Patriots or Giants represented), I wondered if this wasn’t just a “one time thing” … so, gotta go to the Nike hype-machine that passes for public relations to find out (although this quote actually comes from “Soul Collector”):
This April, Nike will take over as the official outfitter of the NFL, hoping to build on the success that they’ve established in the collegiate ranks. In tomorrow’s 2012 Pro Bowl, we’ll get a preview of some of the products Nike will have to offer when they make their highly-anticipated move, starting with these new NFL Vapor Jet Receiver Gloves.
One of the popular items from their yearly NCAA Pro Combat system of dress, the Vapor Jet Receiver Gloves come together to form a high-contrast team logo at the palms. Tech features include Magnigrip CL technology for lightweight, tacky grip with enhanced flexibility and adjustable wrist strap for secure, customized fit.
So — does this now mean that every player under Nike contract will be wearing these things on the field next year? Probably not, but I’m sure more than a few will. Good lord — I was looking forward to Nike taking over the unis since Reebok has (in my opinion) done such a crummy job — but I’m not sure this bodes particularly well. We’ll see. I still don’t think they’ll mess up the uniforms, but, where are the cleats, arm sleeves, sweatbands and gloves (the equipment, not the uniform) going? I guess we’ll know soon enough.
Anyway, back to the Pro Bowl. A couple years back, I spent a lot of time and energy researching (and borrowing liberally from the great mmbolding site for photos) the history of the Pro Bowl. Much of what is below will be also borrowed liberally from that article — but since we’ve gotten many new readers since then, and many more of you may not have seen it, I’ll reproduce some of that below. It’s a pretty comprehensive look-back at where the Pro Bowl uniforms came from…and how they got to be where they are today (a few of these suffer from ‘link-rot’ [if you need an explanation of link rot, visit our FAQ], mostly at the end — but by then you won’t want to see anymore). OK, please enjoy (or not) this look back at the Pro Bowl uniforms from yesteryear until 2010.
Although it has now become the least consequential and likely least watched “all star game” of the major sports (and maybe even hockey, too), the Pro Bowl has actually been played, in one form or another, for decades — beginning with “all star games” first staged in 1939, between the NFL champion and a team of all-stars compiled from the other teams. From 1939 through 1942 (when WW II took it’s toll on the players and the game), the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears (twice) and the Washington Redskins all took turns scrammaging against the best of the rest.
The first true Pro Bowl took place on January 14, 1951, when stars from the NFL’s National and American Conferences faced off against each other. Accounts of what the players wore during the game are sketchy, however, it was likely blue (for the Nationals) and red (for the Americans). It was certain that during this game the tradition of having the National Conference wear blue (helmets), while the American Conference wore red. Both teams wore dark uniforms (or, I should say, the game was “color vs. color”). Another game would be held in 1952, and according to the game program, it was color on color again, with the National Conference wearing blue and the American Conference wearing Red. The third Pro Bowl game was played in 1953, this time with the American Conference donning white jerseys. Although the program covers for 1952 and 1953 depict white helmets, each team appears to have worn the color of their respective conference (blue for National, red for American).
Beginning in 1954, and continuing until 1970, the NFL would divide the teams up into the “Eastern” and “Western” conferences (this followed NFL procol, which had changed the names from American and National after the 1953 season). For the most part, the NFL kept the teams in their red and blue color designations (including the helmets), although several years had the players donning gold helmets (which occurred from 1967 through 1970) and wearing the NFL decal on the sides — the East wore a red-white-red tri-stripe and the Western a similar blue-white-blue tri-stripe. Players brought their own game helmets to the game, which were then spray-painted and decorated for the contest. (For the 1970 game the helmets featured the 50 NFL logo, which celebrated the first 50 years of NFL football.)
When the AFL came into being in 1960, that league began playing All Star Games as well, beginning in 1962 and up until 1970. Following the merger of the two leagues for the 1971 season, one Pro Bowl for the entire league was once again played. We’ll take a look at the uniforms from 1971-2009 (and also, for today’s game) in a moment.
Wikipedia, the always trustworthy source, sums up the uniform designations thusly: “The teams are made of players from different NFL teams, so using their own uniforms would be too confusing. The players each wear the helmet of their team, but the home jerseys and pants are either a solid blue for the NFC or solid red for the AFC, while white jerseys with blue or red accents, respectively, for the away team. While it has been speculated that the color of Pro Bowl jerseys is determined by the winner of the Super Bowl, this is untrue.
“The design of Pro Bowl uniforms is changed every two years, and the color and white jerseys are rotated along with the design change. This has been Pro Bowl tradition since the switch to team specific helmets, which started with the January 1979 game. The two-year switch was originally created as a marketing ploy by Nike, and has been continued by Reebok, who won the merchandising contract in 2002.
“In the earliest years of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, the players did not wear their unique helmets, as they do now. The AFC All-Stars wore a solid red helmet with a white A on it, while the NFC players wore a solid white helmet with a blue N on it. The AFC’s red helmets were paired with white jerseys and red pants, while the NFC’s white helmets were paired with blue jerseys and white pants. Two players with the same number who are elected to the Pro Bowl can wear the same number for that game. [In the games early years], all players were required to wear different numbers, regardless of what jersey number they wore on their regular team. This changed … when players wore the jersey number on their regular team jersey, thus initially resulting in virtually every wide receiver on the field being numbered 80 or 81, a situation that, predictably, created significant confusion. Thus, it is recommended — although not required — that players use different jersey numbers, and generally when two players share a number, the less experienced one will wear a different number for the game.”
So anyway, back to the uniforms, throughout the 1971-2009 history. Back in the first several years, as mentioned, the teams simply wore “N” or “A” helmets, with the NFC wearing blue jerseys and white pants. This continued until 1979, when players began wearing individual team helmets on top of their respective teams’ uniforms. No matter what the year, the uniforms remained a constant: AFC in team specific helmets with white jerseys and red pants with white-blue-white stripes, NFC in team helmets with blue jerseys and white pants with blue-red-blue stripes.
This set pattern persisted until 1989, when the NFL kept the same basic color schemes for both conferences, but added stars down the pants stripes (plus an “N” or an “A”) and contrasting colored outlines around the teams’ jersey numbers. This particular style lasted until 1994.
Here’s where it all went to hell. Beginning in 1995, when the AFC was outfitted in garish costumes, and the NFC followed suit, uniform design has been, shall we say, lacking. The 1995 game featured the NFC in a “half blue/white” jersey blue pants (with the leotard look to boot), but for 1996 and 1997, they would switch to white pants. The AFC would stick with red pants throughtout the there year run, but in 1995 they wore red undersocks (for the dreaded leotard look), while in 1996 and 1997 they stuck with high white socks. One can only assume the jersey style was influenced by the CFL’s American contingent, since they sported small off-center numbers on the front of the jerseys. Mercifully, the three year run of that jersey design ended after, surprisingly, three years. Those uniforms were manufactured by Wilson.
1998 would usher in a new set of uniforms for the Conferences, with the AFC being outfitted in a solid red jersey for the first time. If one doesn’t count the 1995-97 jerseys as “white,” the NFC wore white jerseys for the first time. These two jersey sets weren’t all that bad (aesthetically), although they did feature rounded, drop-shadow numbers for both teams. Those uniforms lasted for three years as well, from 1998-2000. This was Nike’s uniform set.
The NFL would begin it’s “two and done” run of uniforms in 2001-02, and these were lackluster at best. The AFC was outfitted in red fading to white jerseys (in a gradient pattern) with white pants. The NFC, on the other hand, wore white fading to blue jerseys (in the opposite gardient pattern) atop blue pants. These uniforms were so bad that very few photos exist on the Interwebs of them. Perhaps that’s for the best. Reebok manufactured these uniforms, and would continue to do so through today.
2003-2004 didn’t get much better. Returning to a somewhat more traditional look, the AFC wore white over white, with garish side panels and football shaped designs on the pants. For its part, the NFC was outfitted in monochrome blue, in the reverse pattern of the AFC, also featuring the side panels and amorphous pants design.
A new uniform design would begin in 2005-06, with Reebok contining to trend towards the modern look. The AFC returned to wearing red jerseys, with same color side panels and a “Broncos-esque” pants swoosh atop white pants. While the AFC would have red top socks for a more balanced look, the NFC would sport a reciprocal white over blue uniform, complete with blue socks, for that special dancer look. Both jerseys would feature rounded numerals, and six stars would adorn the jersey and pants side panels, three each on the top and bottom. In a typical “mirror” image, the AFC’s white numbers had a white-blue outline, while the NFC would feature a solid blue outlined in white and red. As far as recent uniforms go, these weren’t too bad.
2007-08 would usher in new uniforms again, with the AFC returning to white over red and the NFC donning blue over white. Continuing the “modern” look and feel, this uniform set would include bumper sticker paneling under the arms and down the side panels, and the pants stripes would also include white and blue panels within the stripes for both teams. But the most interesting feature of these uniforms was undoubtedly the jersey design, which included similarly colored darker stars superimposed on the solid jersey, gradually moving from fully filled-in stars to outlined stars from top to bottom. Whether these new jerseys were following the jersey patterns of the moment or driving them is still up for debate.
We conclude our tour of the Pro Bowl uniforms with last year’s gems, which will be worn again this year. In the final game (at least for the next few years) in Aloha Stadium, the NFC sported a predominantly blue getup, while the went with mostly white over white. However, the uniforms were not without little quirks: while the front side of both unis were solid blue or white (providing a splendid monochromatic appearance for the NFC), the back of the NFC uniform was white (leading to an odd white vs. white appearance from certain angles). The AFC, in mirror-like fashion, had mostly red backs. Both sets of jerseys were textured with stars and had an odd number font. Fortunately, we’ll be graced with these lovelies again in 2010.
That’s about it for the Pro Bowl (more, I’m sure, than you ever wanted to know). But, if past is precursor, can you imagine what the uniforms are going to look like next year when Nike makes them?
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Last week I had a busy personal day on Saturday, so I was unable to bring you the normal Colorize This! segment. But it’s back today.
As usual, our two stars (the G&G Boys) are the focal point, but we have one additional colorizer who is joining them.
Let’s get started:
Our first colorizer is John Turney, who is short of words, but long on color — featuring Chuck Bednarik and Frank Gifford (you know the one):
classic shot with colorization, used Kodachome filter for brightness of color
Up next we have Gary Chanko. I don’t need to tell you any more than that, other than to say these are very timely:
The Super Bowl is just a few weeks away so colorizing something related to the event seems appropriate.
There is a theme, yes:
This is another Super Bowl mystery man to puzzle over. He played in the NFL for more than two decades and was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams. His All American college resume includes two Rose Bowls and the College Baseball World Series.
He’s depicted in this photo during his college playing years, but don’t be misled by the uniform oddity. Astute Uni-Watch readers might recognize the change that hasn’t been seen for almost 60 years.
If you need help with the identification, try here.
Great stuff. But, Gary wasn’t done. He found a little something for those who colorize, and those who enjoy colorizations. I believe this may have been posted in the Ticker (definitely in the comments) before, and I also believe some copyright issues cropped up after it was first posted:
Colorized This fans might enjoy this.
Perfectly Colored Famous Photos Are So Much More Powerful Than the B&W Originals
And finally — what follows isn’t a colorization, but an idea Gary has — with a kicker. I told Gary I’d post his original E-mail and then there is a follow-up that maybe you fine readers can assist with.
I believe it was your comment in last week’s Colorize This! suggesting colorizers should find some way to get compensated for their work. Great idea and one I’ve been marinating in my head for months.
One idea I plan to explore further is publishing my work as a book. I’ve already completed several photo books so creating a book with colorized images is a short leap. The problem is the cost. The cost of a hard cover book with 75-100 pages (printed on demand) is near $100. At this price it’s not very accessible for most potential buyers.
But hooray, today Apple announced the release of e-book publishing software, iBooks Author. It’s targeted at educators for text book publishing but really can be used for any content. This will allow me to create and publish a book that can purchased through the Apple iTunes store. This means the price can be set considerably less the $100, perhaps $5 or less.
So I plan to explore this option for publishing my work as an e-book alternative to the traditional hard copy. I’ve already started work on the publication so I can begin importing content into the new e-book format. A working copy of the cover and one of the pages is attached. With the new software I’ll be able to include a variety of interactive features, like audio, video, animation and so on.
Any thoughts about this?
That’s a terrific idea Gary — but after the legal issues we saw with the colorizations on that Gizmodo board, we had some questions neither of us can conclusively answer. They revolve around fair use and copyright. If any of you fine readers can help out with some basic copyright concerns and can answer some questions Gary might have, please drop me a line. There is such an uncertain area dealing with fair use that more understanding is needed. It would also be helpful if any of you can give us all a basic understanding of such things as expired copyrights and fair use, please post them in the comments. Thanks!
Moving along, we now turn to the other half of the G&G boys, George Chilvers, another gent who needs no introduction:
Back to a much neglected sport on UW, although the variations are endless.
This is a famous British nag from the 1930s called “Golden Miller”.
Here’s the original.
Ah, the sport of kings. What could be next? Well, like Gary, George has a bit of a query for you readers. See if you can’t help us out:
A query for you.
I’ve come across this on Shorpy and it looks as though it would make a good colourisation, but Georgetown’s colours are blue and grey while GWU are blue and buff.
In 1923 would one team have had differentiating colours (if so home or away), or would the fact that as in general terms American football was “close work” more than now (rushes seem the norm) the differing styles and differing colours (grey/buff) would be sufficient to differentiate on the field?
Can anyone help George out with this query?
Next…I’m not even sure when the B&W of this colorization ran, but George has completed it:
This picture I think was originally posted on UW around Halloween, for obvious reasons. I’ve just got round to it – it was actually a good one to do and I’m pleased with the result.
So there we have it folks — some great colorizations (as always) this week, and a few assignments for you guys. Hopefully you can help us out — either with the fair use/copyright questions posed by Gary, or the color questions asked by George.
Have a photo you think would make for a great colorization or have you colorized one you want to show off? You know what to do. That’s all for now. Back with more next time.
2011 Duck Tracker
Back at the beginning of the college football season, Jake Hurley stepped up to the plate and took over the “Duck Tracker” for 2011 from long-time Duck Tracker Mike Princip, who has taken on other projects for the season. What is the Duck Tracker? Quite simply, it tracks each and every uniform combination the Ducks have worn for the 2011 season.
Jake created a new template and has given the Duck Tracker a new feel. Now that the NCAA season has concluded, Jake is back with his final 2011 Tracking, and a few words about the project.
Jake here, I wanted to thank Michael Princip for letting me follow in his footsteps, Phil Hecken for emailing me right away with the Duck’s weekly combos, and most importantly you, the Uni Watch readers for staying interested each week (even though I didn’t quite make the deadline several different times).
I had a great time tracker those wacky Ducks this year, every second I put into the project was worth it. Jim Vilk already did a special 5 & none for Oregon, oddly enough though my favorite combo was not in his rundown, there’s just something about that yellow in the daylight that I love. I was also, like the rest of you, angered when the Ducks almost constantly refused to wear their beautiful school colors. Can someone please explain to me, in 3 seasons of this jersey set, why they have never worn this? I think that would look stunning.
On a side note, if you’re anything like me and wish you had the privilege of dressing the ducks every week, well now you can. That’s the Oregon Duck Uniform Picker that was built by my friend JT Cattelan over on Chris Creamer’s board. He also built one for Wyoming.
On yet another side note, while I was doing research I stumbled upon something interesting, which I’m sure was mentioned here when it occurred and I either missed it or forgot about it. In 2010 Oregon switched the number color on their green uniform from carbon to yellow, interesting.
It’s too bad that this is the last time this season the Duck Tracker will run because I finally have it looking the way I intended it to all season long.
Here’s the Final 2011 Duck Tracker.
by Rick Pearson
The secret is you just gotta find the rhythm…
And, as always, 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 David Firestone, who has a neat idea for a World Series logo:
I bought a Boston Braves throwback cap with a 1914 World Series Patch on it, and I thought it would make a great logo for the upcoming World Series.The modifications were simple, I just changed the 1914 to “2012” in a slightly more subtle text, took the Boston Braves name out, one can add the names of the teams playing, one on each side, and added the MLB logo. The result was this. Simple, elegant and timeless, and while the it is slightly more modern, it is still very attractive.
Next up is Bowen Hobbs, who is a frequent concepter, but we haven’t heard from him in a while:
It’s been a while since I sent some uni concepts your way, but here are a few.
For the Avs, I wanted to eliminate the superfluous black and silver. I replaced those colors with and icy powder blue. The primary logo keeps the mountain theme, while I used a yeti head instead of the foot for the secondary. The uniforms are modernized but keep the mountain theme, while the alternate uses the yeti and a chest stripe.
Logos // Home // Away // Alternate
I’m glad the team incorporated orange into the color scheme, but there isn’t enough of it. I paired the orange with two greens. I worked with a version of the webfoot D and created a new duck and custom type. The uniforms feature a round collar to mimic the ring on a mallard’s neck.
Logos // Home // Away // Alternate
I wanted to update the C logo and make it more dynamic. The flames on it currently attache awkwardly in the lower left corner. Starting with the C I developed a custom type treatment and I also developed a version of the horse logo that doesn’t look like a dragon. Naturally, the uniforms pay homage to the Heritage Classic uniforms from last year except the chest stripe has moved to the hem for a cleaner presentation.
Logos // Home // Away // Alternate
The Flyers logo has always look like a sideways ghost from Pacman to me, I modernized it to add motion and more of a wing-like appearance. I created a secondary logo of a winged Liberty Bell. The uniforms reference the Lindros era.
Logos // Home // Away // Alternate
That’s it for today. If you’d like to see more, here is the link to my NHL series.
And closing out the show today is Derek Reese, who has a new look for the Dolfish in 2012, once swooshie has the NFL contract:
Got an idea for a retro Dolphins set for when Nike takes over the NFL next season. I was born in ’85, so most of my Dolphins memories are of the current uniform/logo set, but the vast majority of what Dolfans are proud of happened in the old logo era. Only 2 division titles and they have not even made it past the second round in the playoffs since the logo change took place, I think it’s time to go back to the old look. Slightly tweaked the 80s/90s version of the original logo, and used a modified version of the current script. Oh and for the love of god, no white monochrome unis.
And that will conclude this weekend’s concepts. Check back next weekend for more.
Whew. That will do it for today. While in a way, today is kind of one of the crappiest days in sports (the week between the NFL Conference Championships and Super Bowl is always tough), it’s actually a pretty big day — the Men’s Australian Open Final, pitting Novak Djokovac and Raffa Nadal took place early this morning (and will be replayed again on ESPN2)…the Pro Bowl (of course) will be played on NBC (!) at 7:00 ET, and, if you’re into that sort of thing, the NFL has annouced that players will be allowed to tweet from the sidelines…Finally, you also have the NHL’s All Star Game, actually the “Tim Horton’s NHL All Star Game,” and which will
also be carried on the Peacock air on NBC Sports, beginning at 4:00 ET. So, at least you’ve got that going for you. The NHL won’t be wearing any new uniforms either, so that’s why I didn’t bother covering the preview today.
Photos from the Pro Bowl, including this one of Warren Sapp surfing, can be found here. All you need to know about today’s NHL ASG and highlights from last night’s skills and other competitions can be found here.
Everyone have a fantastic Sunday.
“Midnight green is fine. But midnight green and black is vomitously vile.” — R. Scott Rogers