By Phil Hecken
As many of you know, I looooooove the work of the guys who run the Gridiron Uniform Database (GUD, for short), which was the brainchild of Timmy Brulia and Bill Schaefer, and was quickly joined by Rob Holecko (who also runs the UWFFL, which appears on Uni Watch most Saturdays). The GUD expanded into other areas (baseball, basketball), but it is THE go-to reference point for the history of NFL uniforms, and I’m pleased that Uni Watch was able to help those guys along on their venture. They even recently celebrated their third anniversary!
But the GUD guys are about more than just the NFL, and today, I’m joined by Rob Holecko who is going to bring you up to date on the progress of the USFLUD, which details the uniforms worn by the (now-defunct, thank you very much Mr. Trump) United States Football League, which many of us can still fondly remember. It only was in existence for three seasons (1983-85), competing not against the NFL in the fall, but the spring and summer. There are numerous sites on the USFL, but if you want a pretty solid history of the league, from its rise to demise, Wiki is pretty solid.
Anyhoo, Rob’s here to tell you about the USFLUD, so I’ll just hand the reins of today’s lede to him right now.
The USFL Uniform Database
By Rob Holecko
As you know, the Gridiron Uniform Database recently added a sister site devoted to the USFL, The USFL Uniform Database. This week we are happy to announce that we have mostly completed researching what teams wore week-by-week during the three years of this league and have completed adding it to our site.
Tim, Bill and I would like to thank a contributor who did much of the legwork on this research, a gentleman who chooses to only be identified here as ‘smith03’. From newspaper articles and YouTube clips we were able to determine which uniform combos were worn in all but four of the 414 games the USFL played, which includes 396 regular season games, 14 playoff games, 3 USFL Championships and one postseason exhibition game in London.
To find our weekly tracking, just click on the main links to the seasons on the front page, and there you will find links to each week, similar to the navigation of the NFL pages at the Gridiron Uniform Database. About five years ago, Phil and Jim Vilk dissected the USFL in two parts for Uni Watch, but now we would like to share a lot of the minor uniform details of the USFL uniforms that we’ve uncovered in tracking the week-to-week uniforms.
Some of these details you probably were aware of, while others you may not have known.
White At Home. Just like in the NFL, although some franchises preferred to wear white at home, the majority of the teams wore their color uniforms in front of their own fans. Some teams like New Jersey, Houston and Denver never wore white at home, and some teams, like Tampa Bay and Arizona, senisibly chose to wear white for later in the season daytime games in the heat, but stuck with colors for primetime games and when it wasn’t as hot.
During the 1985 season, the Birmingham Stallions (pictured above) exclusively wore white at home on the hot Astroturf of Legion Field, while the 1983 Washington Federals wore white at home in the first half of the year (presumably the cooler part of the season), yet for the later part of the season they went with their green color jerseys.
Color Vs. Color. So far in our research we were able to determine only once that it happened. On Saturday June 2, 1984, the Chicago Blitz, wearing red, faced the Oklahoma Outlaws, who were wearing black. It was a primetime game on ESPN, we don’t know if the plan was to go color-vs-color, or if there was some sort of miscommunication. Chicago themselves had worn white at home the previous week against New Jersey, so maybe they assumed Oklahoma was planning on wearing white at home in Tulsa?
Helmet Issues. The Michigan Panthers chose team colors of “royal plum” and “champagne”, but did you know that when their first helmets came in they must have had a hard time matching champagne, because they actually wore silver helmets for their first four games in 1983. They had the color of the helmets corrected in time for their Week 5 game. Similarly the 1984 expansion Memphis Showboats played only their first game without a helmet stripe.
Uniform Patches. Aside from the Tampa Bay Bandits donning a Union Jack flag patch in an exhibition game in London, the only patch worn during three years of play in the USFL was the Championship Game patch wore by teams playing in the three Championship Games. There were no memorial patches for anyone who died, and of course no commemorative anniversary patches for the young league. And no one wore pink to fight breast cancer or camoflauge to support the military, either.
Sock Issues. Some teams, like the 1985 Jacksonville Bulls and the 1985 Oakland Invaders wore both solid socks and striped socks during a season, but did you know the Los Angeles Express actually wore two different sock stripe patterns during the 1984 season? After wearing thick blue stripes in 1983, for the first six weeks of the season they had a narrow red and blue stripe pattern, but beginning in Week 7, they had two thick blue stripes. In 1985, they switched to yet another stripe pattern.
Oakland Invaders 1985 Uniform Combinations. While the ’85 Invaders wore two different sock patterns, during a segment of the season they also wore a different uniform font style (pictured above). Mixing different jersey combos with different sock stripe patterns, and add in an additional combo when they made it to the championship game and added the Championship Game Patch, the Invaders wound up wearing seven different uniform combos!
Sure, this isn’t the same thing as the 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB) mixing and matching yellow, black and pinstripe uniforms as these are very minute details, but still it’s quite remarkable that they managed seven different version of basically a home and away uniform in twenty one games.
More Helmet Issues. The Philadelphia Stars and the Pittsburgh Maulers each did a minor tweak after Week 5 of the 1984 season, with both teams adding white to their helmet logo to presumably improve the contrast. We can only assume it is a coincidence that these two changes occured the same week.
Unapproved Wrangler Jersey. I believe this was recently mentioned in something linked to in the Uni Watch ticker, but after the Arizona Wranglers switched from their blue and gold 1983 colors to a red and copper color scheme for the 1984 season, they apparently failed to meet a deadline to get league approval to change their color jersey from blue to red. So they were not allowed to wear their red jersey at all. They wore white for both their home and away games. Counting the three postseason games after the season, they wore their white jersey twenty-one times, which has to be a record for most times a professional team has worn one jersey in a season.
But one wonders what would have happened if they had faced a team that chose to wear white at home? Would the league have relented and let them wear the red jersey, perhaps enforcing a uniform violation penalty at the opening kickoff? Or would they have required the team to wear the 1983 blue jersey in the previous scheme? Would the Wranglers have even had a supply of the previous years jerseys available to use, numbered for the current players? Or would the league have simply told an opponent they’d have to wear their color jersey, because Arizona only had their white jersey available to wear?
The Wranglers merged with the Oklahoma Outlaws before the 1985 season and changed to a completely different color scheme, so the red jersey seen here never saw game action.
Full Name On Back. This isn’t really related to week-to-week uniform tracking, but appropiate for Uni Watch none-the-less. Bart Oates and his brother Brad played on the Philadelphia Stars together, so it explains why Bart (and presumably Brad as well) was wearing ‘Full Name on Back’ during the 1984 Championship Game against Arizona, which was played in Tampa thirty years ago this week.
No Alternate Third Jerseys. While Arizona only wore one jersey in 1984, no team wore a third jersey. That certainly is to be expected in this era as merchandising and fan apparel (especially for a struggling upstart league like the USFL) were not what they are today. But with the USFL setting itself up as the anti-establishment alternative to the NFL, wouldn’t it have been neat to see a team experiment with a third jersey?
What colors would you like to have seen? A red Oklahoma Outlaws jersey? A yellow Oakland Invaders jersey? A green San Antonio Gunslingers jersey? (Wait a minute, didn’t they wear green?) But that was an idea that would have been well ahead of its time, although might have seemed just right for the USFL.
Finally, one last thing. We mentioned that we determined the uniform combos worn in 410 of 414 games, but what about the remaining four? The following four games remain unaccounted for:
Now we can certainly assume that Chicago wore white at Denver wearing black, since we have yet to see Denver wear white at home. But Chicago did go color-vs-color once against a team wearing black, so until we see proof, we’ll leave that as unaccounted for.
We’ve already mentioned that Arizona only wore white in 1984, so we’re pretty sure they wore white against Jacksonville as well, but again with no visual evidence, we’d just be assuming. Same thing for the two 1985 games, since Arizona (now the Outlaws) wore both white and black at home in 1985, we just can’t be for certain, and we assume Orlando wore blue for home night games, but if it was a hot day game, they could have worn white as well. So if you can provide any photographic evidence of either of those four games, or have any additions or corrections to what we have posted regarding any of these games, feel free to comment below and let us know!
We hope you enjoy this latest addition to our website!
Thanks, Rob — great job with the USFLUD! Readers, I know we’re still (for two more days) in futbol and not football mode, but this was a nice little reminder that both the NCAA and the league where they play…for pay… is just around the corner (and of course, the CFL, for those of you who like your points scored by sixes, threes, and ones, is in full swing).
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Nice batch today — from the usual suspects: George Chilvers and Bruce Menard. As always, they’re wonderful. Click on any photos to enlarge:
Up first is George:
Hi Phil et al
A few for you this week, as I’m getting into my folders and trying to complete some I’ve started over time, and for one reason or another never got finished.
The first is Liverpool playing a friendly at Osasuna in Spain in 1958. The Liverpool captain (in the white shirt) is Billy Liddell – such a star of his time that Liverpool were often called “Liddellpool”. I actually went to school with Billy’s twin sons (they were a year older than me). I really quite like this picture.
The second brings together Billy Liddell again (next in line for the handshake from Clementine Spencer-Churchill, Winston Churchill’s wife) with team captain and later Man United manager Matt Busby, and Bill Shankly (just had his hand shaken) who of course became Liverpool’s iconic manager. The game is a 1942 wartime international between England and Scotland at Wembley, and for any colonials who aren’t sure this is the Scottish team :)
Finally, I know Paul does not fully participate in my passion for football (insisting that it is “soccer”), but I know he likes striped socks. And here both teams from Hungary display the best of the art. The game is undated (but I’ll suggest early 60s) between a well-known Ferencvaros (in the green and white) and Videoton.
Next is Bruce, who actually sent this in on July 3rd (but since I was on vacation last weekend, it’s running now):
Here’s a colorization I posted today of a great B&W pic of the Polo Grounds (NYC) from 100 years ago – July 3, 1914.
(original pic found here)
I included a color/b&w comparison…perhaps for the weekend edition.
Hope ya’s have a great 4th!
And after all that, George sent me one more. So here is Mr. Chilvers with the wrap:
I sent you a trio of colourisations last week, and thought that would be enough in one batch.
However this week football has lost a legendary figure, Alfredo Di Stefano, and so I have produced this colourisation in honour of him.
Alfredo was a footballer extraordinaire – he played international football for three countries (Colombia, Argentina and Spain) and led the attack of one of the greatest club sides the world has known – Real Madrid in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The team won 5 successive European Cups in the inaugural years of the competition. Their all white kit became synonymous with success, to such an extent that Leeds United adopted the kit in the 1960s, and coincidentally had their most successful era too.
This picture shows Alfredo (on the right) with another big-name star of the time, Frenchman Raymond Kopa who played for Stade Reims in the 1956 final (this picture is from that game) and later played alongside Di Stefano at Real.
RIP Alfredo Di Stefano
Thanks George and Bruce. Tremendous stuff, as always. Please keep them coming!
U.W.F.F.L. Spring League
UWFFL Developmental League – Week 17
by Rob Holecko
We are back for the next to last week of competition for the UWFFL’s 2014 Spring Developmental League. There are 54 teams competing in six groups and the teams that finish in the top three places in each group will advance to Division II in the Fall, while the teams that finish in 4th through 6th places will advance to Division III.
Last week our games did not appear in Uni Watch to vote on, however the games went on as scheduled. Cheyenne defeated Pontiac in a crucial game, while Dayton demolished Wichita 8-1 and St. John’s and Providence played to a 5-5 tie. Hopefully this week vote totals will increase a little with this column appearing in Uni Watch. This week there are a lot of key games throughout the league: Teams such as Shreveport, Baltimore, Buffalo, just to name a few really need to get a win this week as they battle for the final spots to advance.
Our focus right now, however, turns to Group F where six teams will be playing their final game this week. While the bottom five teams are fighting to finish in the top six with Boise facing North Dakota and Whitehorse taking on Spokane in crucial games, our spotlight game this week is the Yellowknife Lumberjacks (7-0) hosting the Calgary Alpines (6-1).
While both teams are assured of advancing to Division II, Yellowknife is looking to clinch the Group title and finish undefeated. If Calgary wins, both teams will finish tied at 7-1, and they will share the group title. The six group winners and two wild cards will compete for the Developmental League championship, so if 7-1 isn’t good enough to grab a Wild Card outright, a Calgary win means these two teams will face each other again in a tiebreaker game in two weeks to decide who advances to the playoffs.
Be sure to head over to uwfantasyfootballleague.com to vote on all the games, and we’ll see you next week with the final week of action.
Today’s ticker was mostly complied by Paul — thanks, buddy
Baseball News: Check this out — someone in the National League dugout at the 1937 All-Star Game was wearing a “National All-Star” jersey. A bat boy, perhaps? (Great find by Tom Shieber). ”¦ Joanna Zwiep notes that Cubs rookie Arismendy Alcantara’s NOB on his blue jersey appears to be riding a bit low. … Last night, the Brewers wore their retro BP caps & jerseys for their game against the Cardinals. More photos here. … We’ve seen this before (several times, in fact), but with the All Star Game coming up next week, it’s apropos: the 1976 NL All Star team photo (from Patrick O’Neill). Patrick notes, “all the NL All-Stars are wearing a pillbox style NL hat whose genesis must have come from the Pirates.” (Actually, in 1976, several teams went with the pillbox style caps, and Paul has covered that extensively). … Adam Walter writes, “So I am wearing an officially licensed expensive polyester Cincinnati reds shirt and noticed something ‘off.’ Don’t know if just my expensive shirt or indicative of the reds logo, but the ends of the wishbone c are different. The top comes to a point, where the bottom comes to a bevel or serif (don’t know the correct term).” … Longtime reader/follower Ed Westfield watched The Battered Bastards of Baseball on Netflix (It’s also showing locally at the Village East). Ed notes, “This baseball doc is worth checking out. Bing Russell’s Portland Mavericks were the real life Bad-News-Bears-meets-the-Bronx-Zoo. The film doesn’t focus on their uni’s but definitely shows them off, which were classic double-knit era kits.” … The San Antonio Missions will be doing a pinkout at the park thing on Sunday (via Andrew Domingo). More information here. … Looks like the Reds Visitors clubhouse is a little out of date on the Marlins logo (thanks to Andy Garigliano). … Michael Morse of the
Astros Giants has joined the Hunter Pence biker shorts club (photo from Cork Gaines).
Hockey News: Is Adidas making NHL gear now? Sure looks like it, judging by the logo on Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s polo shirt sleeve. Maybe this has been going on all along and I just never noticed..? (Good spot by Ethan Sheets). … “Sometimes I like to read about random hockey leagues around the world, and I was looking at the wikipedia page for the Southern Stampede of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League,” writes Charles Fisher. “Their logo looks like a pretty blatant ripoff of the Houston Texans.”
NBA News: Very interesting story on the decline of the NBA sneaker deal (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ The Fort Myers Miracle — that’s a minor league baseball team — will accept donations of LeBron James Miami Heat jerseys at Monday’s game. The jerseys will be donated to Goodwill. … That’s great, but here’s one that’s even better: The St. Lucie Mets will trade a season ticket for LeBron James’ Heat jersey (thanks, Paul). … The Westchester Knicks released a partial logo, alternate primary logo & uniform wordmarks (thanks to Conrad Burry). … Speaking of LeBron jerseys, it looks like James will wear #6 in Cleveland.
Soccer News: Reader Anthony Giaccone notes that the current Pope is Argentinian and the previous one is German and they both have a history of supporting their respective national soccer teams. “I can see one helluva shouting match taking place in the Vatican man cave after church this Sunday,” he says. … Good analysis of how Nike wasn’t rich enough for Man U. ”¦ New kit for West Bromwich Albion (from Neal Hanson). ”¦ Peru’s soccer kit is being called the best of all time. ”¦ Adidas has extended its deal with the Mexican national team. … Uni Watch stalwart Chance Michaels writes, “The Premier League club West Ham in London has been polling its fans on a proposed new badge. Good of them to do it in advance rather than apologize afterwards, as Everton had to.”
Grab Bag: Here’s a really interesting article about the film studio logos that appear at the beginning of movies. ”¦ Okay, I think we can all agree that the pink/cancer thing has now officially gotten way out of hand (from Dustin Kalis). ”¦ Kyle Speicher spotted this guy wearing a generic “Name #” T-shirt. “It just said ‘Sports’ on the front,” he says. … Neversoft — that’s a video game company — has merged with another studio and marked the occasion by burning an effigy of its logo. ”¦ New logo in the works for Cincinnati’s streetcar system. ”¦ Smartphones and tablets all have the FCC logo etched into the case, but new legislation could ease that requirement. ”¦ “Uni Watch inspired me to paint some Northwestern stripes on the walls of my new office,” says Alex Allen. “The lines aren’t smooth, but it looks good from a distance.” … Murray State has a new logo and font on their new court (h/t Kyle Rogers). … Here’s a pretty brutal Texans frankenjersey spotted by Clint Richardson, who seemed to be stalking the wearer on an Amtrak train yesterday. … Here’s what Tiger Woods is wearing at The Open. And here is what Rory, Paul, and other in the Nike stable will be putting on.
And that will do it for today, folks. Big (huge) thanks to Rob for the lede (and the usual UWFFL), the colorizers (George & Bruce), and Paul, for handling the ticker for most of the day. Not that anyone cares, but I was actually playing in a tennis tournament for most of yesterday, and actually ended up “winning”* the “b” flight (there were two sections, if you will, called “flights” — an “a” and a “b”). As a result, I was off the grid for most of the day, and Paul offered to help out with the ticker (and Rob also provided the USFL lede on short notice). So, thanks guys — you helped me out in a pinch.
*I actually didn’t “win” the “b” flight — my partner and I tied for first and because we’d already played for about 5 hours in the hot sun, we flipped a coin — the “winner” got to play the winner of the “a” flight, the “loser” didn’t have to play anymore. I “won” by not having to play anymore — the team we tied with went on to knock off the other finalist, and ended up giving us the trophy. Nice guys. Anyhoo, there was no way I wanted to play in that final after a full day, so that was mint.
You guys have a wonderful Saturday, and I’ll be back with a very special post tomorrow, as we wrap up the Futbol season. OK? OK!
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I’m just curious exactly how you define ‘culturally inappropriate’. If the team is going to wear it’s ‘Gigantes’ jersey, does a white fan showing up wearing an oversized sombrero get kicked out too, or are we just banning blackface and Indians/Braves fans wearing feathers?”
–“THE” Jeff Provo.