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Do Not Cross: Arkansas State Memorial to Be Modified

If you read the Ticker closely and have a good memory, you may recall that about two weeks ago Arkansas State added a new memorial helmet decal for player Markel Owens and equipment manager Barry Weyer, both of whom recently died. At the time, I wrote, “I wonder if there are any non-Christians on the team, and how they feel about wearing that.”

Now it turns out that the team is changing the decal design. In a statement released yesterday, Athletic Director Terry Mohajir said:

I am 100 percent in support of our coaches’ and players’ expression of faith, as well as their choice to honor the two individuals associated with our team who passed away by voluntarily wearing a cross decal on the back of their helmets. Unfortunately, we have received a complaint that use of the cross violates the Constitutional prohibition against separation of church and state.

After consulting with University counsel, we have been advised to either modify the decal or remove it completely. Thus, in order to ensure that we are in full compliance with Constitutional law, we will be modifying the decal to still honor the two individuals who are no longer with us.

Left unsaid but implicit in Mohajir’s statement is the fact that Arkansas State is a public university that receives public funds. I’m assuming that there would be no church/state issues with the decal for a private school.

According to USA Today, the complaint came from an Arkansas-based attorney who had noticed the cross decals during the team’s game last Saturday. He sent an email to the university’s counsel later that day, saying, “That is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause [of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution] as a state endorsement of the Christian religion. Please advise whether you agree and whether ASU will continue this practice.”

The counsel looked into the matter and then advised the athletics department as follows:

While we could argue that the cross with the initials of the fallen student and trainer merely memorialize their passing, the symbol we have authorized to convey that message is a Christian cross. Persons viewing the helmets will, and have, seen the symbol as a cross and interpreted that symbol as an endorsement of the Christian religion. This violates the legal prohibition of endorsing religion.

As you might expect, there’s been some negative reaction to the move, including from the father of the deceased equipment manager. According to that last link, the vertical stroke of the cross will be eliminated, leaving only the horizontal stroke with the two men’s initials.

The Constitutional issues here seem fairly straightforward. But even for a private school, adding a religious symbol to a uniform, whether it’s a cross, a Star of David, a star and crescent, or whatever, seems inappropriate to me, because I don’t think any athlete should be forced or coerced to wear religious imagery. The only exception might be for religious schools.

I’m sure there have been other examples of teams (pro, college, whatever) incorporating religious symbols into their uniforms, but I’m drawing a blank. Little help..?

I’m better at recalling examples of individual athletes and other uniformed personnel wearing religious symbols, including Barry Bonds, Troy Polamalu, Billy Martin, Bucky Dent, Mike Rossman, and lots of others. Also worth mentioning are athletes who compete while wearing religious garments, such as Aaron Liberman, Ruqaya Al Ghasara, and Yossi Lipskier. And then there are teams that don’t wear religious clothing per se but wear specialized uniforms to conform with religious notions of modesty, such as Beth Chana Academy and Gate City Christian High School. (If you have additional examples that fit into any of these categories, send them my way and/or post them in the comments. Thanks.)

But none of those situations is the same as the Arkansas State case. I’m sure many of you have strong feelings about this one, but let’s keep the discussion civil, yes? Yes. And let’s also please refrain from invoking the term “politically correct,” which, in addition to being a nonsense term, has nothing to do with Constitutional law or the First Amendment. Thanks.

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NFL Superhero project: Reader Thomas Correia has come up with a new project, which I’ll let him describe to you:

After seeing the recent creativity of redesigned NFL logos and the increased popularity of superhero films, I decided to use my knowledge of both and challenge myself to combine a comic book character with each NFL team, like this [click to enlarge]:


Hopefully you can figure out the superheroes I’m referencing there. Why am I using the Underoos template? Because Underoos are fun, nostalgic, and made every kid in the late ’70s feel like a superhero.

As you can see, the teams shown are the same ones who’ll be playing in tonight’s Thursday Night Football game. What do you think? If the response is good, Paul and I will post a new NFL/superhero image each Thursday for that night’s TNF match-up.

So there you have it. What say ye, folks? Wanna see this as a recurring feature each Thursday?

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Baseball News: All MLB players will wear American flag cap patches today — you know, because Sept. 11 is a national holiday. … If you skip ahead to the 3:15 mark of this podcast, you’ll hear Mariners SS Brad Miller talking about why he doesn’t wear batting gloves and does wear stirrups (from Gil Neumann). ”¦ This is pretty great: With the Toledo Mud Hens’ season now over, a mini-golf course has been set up in the outfield (from Tom Konecny). ”¦ Yesterday I mentioned that the Orioles retired Frank Robinson’s number after they traded him away, but while he was still active. Now Thomas White has come up a photo of Robby being honored by the O’s. ”¦ Great story from Terence Kearns, who writes: “When Austin Kearns made his debut for the Cincinnati Reds and I heard his name on SportsCenter, I vowed to collect his jerseys as long as they had the ‘Kearns’ NOB. Worked out great, because I’m a Mets fan, so I didn’t have to compromise my integrity, or the collection’s, when he played for the Yankees in 2010 — NNOB!”

NFL News: The mask that inspired the original Seahawks logo may be coming to a Seattle museum (from Kirsten Hively). ”¦ How Jerseys Make People Behave Like Idiots, Part 673: A disgruntled Giants fan burned his Eli Manning jersey after Monday night’s loss to the Lions. ”¦ Chargers are calling for a white-out this Sunday. This article quotes QB Philip Rivers thusly: “I know the rest of the guys enjoy wearing the white uniforms. Seeing the stadium full of white on a beautiful Sunday afternoon definitely will add to the intensity of the game.” … Speaking of the Chargers, Keenan Allen was wearing G.I. Joe tights in practice the other day (from Brady Phelps). ”¦ Great story from Mike Sullivan, who writes: “Since Jan. 1 I’ve been photographed once per a day in my Buffalo Bills helmet, wherever in the world I am. It’s been fun and attracted an engaged following on Twitter and Instagram (including, quietly, the team’s social media team). Anyway, on Monday the Bills Equipment tweeted that they were swapping out the helmet decals for this Sunday’s throwback game. I quickly sent them a tweet asking if they’d do the same for me. Some of my twitter follows threw their support behind it and not soon after they said they’d swap them out for this week and swap the decals back next week. Looks great!”

College Football News: BYU, much like MLB, mistakenly thinks Sept. 11 is a national holiday. ”¦ Here’s a video interview with Army’s equipment manager (thanks, Phil). ”¦ There had been rumblings about Oklahoma going with an alternate uni this weekend, but they’re sticking with the traditional look. … Army will be wearing white this weekend. … Boston College’s upcoming “red bandana” tribute to Welles Crowther was mentioned in yesterday’s Ticker, but we didn’t have photos. Now, thanks to Ilana Hardesty, we do. ”¦ USF’s new green helmet will make its on-field debut this weekend. ”¦ Here are Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series helmets being prepped for this weekend.

Hockey News: New 40th-anniversary patch for the Capitals. They’ve also set up a separate sub-site to celebrate the team’s history. How great would it be if they brought back the white pants as a throwback? (From David Raglin.)

Pro and College Basketball News: 30th-anniversary logo and patch for the Kings. … Speaking of the Kings, they now have some “partial logos,” whatever that means. … Here are some logos pertaining to next year’s All-Star Game. … New college hoops uniforms for Utah.

Soccer News: FC Barcalona will wear its secondary red/yellow striped kit on Saturday. “The reason they won’t don their usual blue and red duds is to commemorate the annual Diada Catalunya (National Day of Catalonia),” explains Ryan Maquiñana. “In response, Athletic Club Bilbao will wear their green, white, and red secondary kits that are a tribute to the Basque Country flag. Both Catalonia and the Basque Country are autonomous communities within Spain that have sizable factions that have stumped for independence, so there is a political angle to this as well.”

Grab Bag: Sad but not surprising: A man and woman in Florida are soliciting corporate sponsorships for their wedding and honeymoon (from Tom Konecny). ”¦ Four Chicago-area firefighters have been suspended for refusing to remove patriotic stickers from their helmets and lockers. ”¦ Here’s a rare sight: an early issue of Life magazine without the familiar red logo. … Back in the days of open-faced auto racing helmets, someone came up with the Turbo Visor. “A failed attempt to keep rain out of the drivers’ eyes,” says Graham Clayton. … The Westboro Baptist Church picketed a bunch of NYC media outlets yesterday. I’m a little hurt that they didn’t make it out to Uni Watch HQ, but maybe they were limiting themselves to Manhattan.

Comments (179)

    I think Univ of Tennessee had a black cross on their helmets in the 1960s to honor some assistant coaches killed in a car accident.

    You mentioned the Ark State in ticker as well as in the lede.

    The fleur-de-lis used by thew New Orleans Saints and the Quebec Nordiques is a frequent trope in religious art as a stylized lily symbolizing purity, particularly in images of St. Joseph. Then again, folks like John Madden thought it looked like a partially peeled banana.

    You blew my mind!

    As an American who fell into Quebec Nordiques fandom, and still has their pennant in a closet at home, I never thought of the symbol as religious, even though I know how Catholic much of PQ is.

    (And I’m not even a churchgoer.)

    The Nordiques used it as a symbol of being Québec’s “real team” (which pissed the Canadiens off no end). Prior to this, red was more prominent in their uniforms. After that, the only red in the uniform was in their crest; the uniform became the rich electric blue and white of the Québec flag.

    Thanks–I’d forgotten about their pre-NHL kits, especially the sky-blue colors from the earlier days.

    BYU, much like MLB, mistakenly thinks Sept. 11 is a national holiday

    I’m not arguing for or against today being a holiday, but a quick glance at my calendar at work says today is something called “Patriot Day”.

    Either way, the patriotic helmet/jersey/uniform has been done to death and just needs to stop.

    This “Patriot Day” thing is universally agreed to be bullshit… by all residents of Massachusetts at least.

    Patriot Day is a real thing and not to be confused with Patriot’s Day (the day of the Boston Marathon and a Red Sox day game). It is a “National Day of Service and Remembrance.”


    But Paul does have a point on the holiday matter:

    (from Wikipedia… I know…) “Patriot Day is not a federal holiday; schools and businesses remain open in observance of the occasion, although memorial ceremonies for the victims are often held. Volunteer and service opportunities are coordinated by the Corporation for National and Community Service.”

    So, not a holiday in the same way that Flag Day isn’t a holiday and Memorial, Labor, & Veterans Days are.

    It’s classified under Federal law as a national observance. It is listed in Title 36, Subtitle I, Part A, Chapter 1. There are two reasons “Patriot Day” is an observance and not a holiday.

    1) If it was classified a holiday, precedence from the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (1968) and the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (1983) would suggest the holiday should be fixed to a Monday.

    2) The first two weeks of September would likely have Federal holidays. Despite the significance of the events, not many people support having a Federal holiday the first and second Monday’s of September.

    As dissapointing as it is that Arkansas State has to bow to one complaint, especially since it was the players and coaches who agreed to the design, constitutionally, the attorney is correct. What I don’t get is why they don’t appeal, especially since a cross isn’t necessarily a Christian Mark of passing, but can be used as a general mark of passing, and it was agreed upon by the team as a whole. Just a little food for thought.

    I’m not sure I buy this line of reasoning. Two things: First, the idea that a cross is just a “general” sign of passing demonstrates the ubiquity and dominance of the Christian religion in American culture. Because of this accepted “general” nature, it makes it a lot harder to oppose. So when you say “the team agreed on it,” I’m inclined to think there’s at least one person on the team who didn’t agree but didn’t want to speak up due to running the risk of being ostracized or ridiculed by teammates.

    Additionally, though the Court has left plenty of gray in this matter, crosses have generally been struck down when in use by agents of the state. For example, see Utah Highway Patrol Association v. American Atheists.

    Also, I’m glad the university has to respond to one complainant. The Constitution has beauty in its protection of minority rights, no matter how small that minority is.

    I’m sick to death about this. The line that stands out to me is this:

    “The players volunteered, it wasn’t a forced issue and it wasn’t a mandatory thing,” said Barry Weyer Sr. “The players knew Barry Don and Markel were Christian boys so they volunteered to wear crosses.”

    If you’re fucking life is so empty that you have nothing to do than file nonsense complaints, then you need to get help. If I see a religious symbol in a public place, it doesn’t affect my life in the slightest! Who are these assholes to restrict the voluntary choice of these players to honor fallen friends? I’m not religious, but I believe in freedom of religion. If I were a player on the team I’d refuse to remove or alter the cross on principle, nor would I criticize anyone who chose not to wear it.

    I’m sure an atheist at a bible belt school who refused to wear the cross wouldn’t be criticized at all.


    Even outside of the bible belt, many atheists are forced to play pretend in order to avoid being ostracized by pretty much everyone they know. I’m openly atheist online, but in the real world I only have maybe 5 friends who actually know that I’m atheist, and my lack of belief is one of the reasons I haven’t talked to either of my parents in nearly a decade.

    Another person who feels, since I’m not offended, it has to be OK. And if you are offended, not only are you wrong, you are an asshole.

    The Iron Man underoos design reminds me less of Iron Man and more of the pop punk band Masked Intruder.

    A cross being on the back of a football helmet is not even remotely close to a violation of the separation of church and state. Is there a more misunderstood or misinterpreted law in this country?

    Then you should update your mentions of it and change “national” to “federal”, if that’s really your beef with it. Since it IS a National Holiday, or at least a national day of remembrance.

    Bud, he has “national” and I think he is saying it as fact, not as sarcasm, well, ok maybe a little sarcasm. At least that is how I read it. More along the lines as these sporting leagues/colleges seemingly have to observe every damn thing on the calandar. I don’t think he is undervaluing Patriot Day, just the uniforms the leagues push on us for the occasion.

    “September 11th IS a national holiday. It’s known as Patriots’ Day.”


    Today is “Patriot Day” (singular) not “Patriot’s Day” (or “Patriots’ Day”) which is a holiday in April in Massachusetts (and I think other NE states) and celebrates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

    Patriot Day is not a federal holiday, so schools and business do not close in observance of the occasion, although memorial ceremonies for the victims are held. cit.

    Phil, Bud’s point is that on two separate instances in the Ticker Paul references Sept. 11th as not being a “national” holiday. Which is incorrect – it’s a “national” holiday, just not a “federal” holiday. Much like Pearl Harbor Day.

    Sorry, Scott — when I read (and replied to) Bud’s comment, I wasn’t thinking of PL’s ticker references, and I tend to equate “national holiday” and “federal holiday” (even though they are technically not equal). To me, a federal (national) holiday is one where schools and banks/post offices/gov’t buildings (and some businesses, though that’s a dwindling number these days) are closed. Any other “holiday” (to me) is more of a calendar notation (even if it’s a very important day in our history, like Pearl Harbor Day, 9/11, first day of the baseball season, JRR day, etc.) But those aren’t days when the business of government stops, so to me they aren’t “national” holidays, even if they technically are.

    Scott, the definition of “holiday” is “a day set aside by custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work, are suspended or reduced”.

    9/11 is not a holiday, national, federal or otherwise.

    OK, fair enough, there’s a distinction b/w “federal holiday” and “national day of remembrance.” Which pretty much was my point.

    FYI, Massachusetts, Maine (which used to be part of Massachusetts) and Wisconsin are the only states which officially celebrate Patriot(‘s/s’) Day.

    I think the name Patriot Day is kind of ridiculous, and I think it’s tied into the GWB admin’s conflating the support of the war of terror and Iraq with patriotism, with anyone opposing military action labeled as unpatriotic. Let’s face it, the victims of 9/11 weren’t patriots, they were just normal people doing their day to day stuff. It’s a disrespect to those lost to use their deaths as political tools and sweep them into pro-Americanism. The same thing happened with Boston years later. This pro-Americanism and flag waving just takes away from what really matters, the loss of family and community members.

    A cross being on the back of a football helmet is not even remotely close to a violation of the separation of church and state.

    Not for a private school. But probably for a public school.

    Paul’s already said it, but if you need the Supreme Court to back up his (correct) interpretation, here it is: those who act as agents of the state (generally in authority granted by the state or who receive tax payer dollars) cannot endorse any singular religious view point. By adding a cross memorial decal, they’re in pretty clear violation of the precedent set forth in the Court’s refusal to overturn the ban on roadside crosses erected by the Utah State Patrol Officers Association.

    Further, it isn’t a law that is misinterpreted. It’s the Constitution, and it is the interpretation itself that you disagree with.

    Solely to be argumentative, the Supreme Court hardly “ruled” on anything in the Utah Troopers Assn. case – rather, it simply denied certiorari of the 10th Circuit’s ruling(i.e., declined to hear the case). Arkansas is in the 8th Circuit, and its judiciary might hold otherwise if faced with the issue .

    Also, if I were advocating for Arkansas State in this matter, I would contend that the Utah Troopers case is factually distinguishable – the markers at issue there were huge (12′ tall w/6′ crossbars), prominently placed on public roadways, and intended as permanent displays. In other words, the crosses were inescapable to the general public. Not only that, they honored members who had fallen in the performance of a function (the police power) that is the sole responsibility and province of the state. Their display was, in short, incapable of being perceived as not having the imprimatur of state endorsement.

    Conversely, the stickers here are small, they’re relatively inconspicuous, they’ll be worn maybe a dozen times then retired, and they can only be seen by those who choose to watch the football team play (and given their size, perhaps not even all of those people). In other words, they’re easily (if not totally) escapable. Nor is football a state function (well, I suppose in Alabama it is), so the imprimatur of state endorsement doesn’t exist.

    Whether that argument wins, I have no idea. But to dismiss the matter as settled law based on the Utah Troopers Assn. decision is hardly the case.

    “…Constitutional prohibition against separation of church and state…”

    Is this the rarely seen triple negative?

    Darn – you beat me to the punch. The AD was trying to sound like he was knowledgeable, and came off as a total buffoon. Turn his statement around, and it would be “…Constitutional mandate for integration of church and state…”

    1. “… The mask that inspired the original Seahawks logo may be coming to a Seattle museum (from Kirsten Hively). … ”
    Wow. That is one very cool mask.

    2. Mike Sullivan, the gentleman who every day publishes a photograph of himself wearing a Bills helmet, is completely bonkers, but, you know, in a good way.

    3. “… Is there a more misunderstood or misinterpreted law in this country?…”
    I nominate the Second Amendment.

    I have to disagree with 3… The first amendment is so often cited wrong. Example: “I can’t believe they fired you for saying that! Freedom of speech man!”

    Not sure whether the Second or the First is more severely misunderstood. I tend to think it’s the Second, because inter alia even the courts have failed to recognize that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is grounded in property, not liberty.

    The First Amendment is misunderstood as to how and when it applies, not so much what it actually means. But it’s invoked inappropriately so often that it’s got to be up there.

    I’m sure there have been other examples of teams (pro, college, whatever) incorporating religious symbols into their uniforms, but I’m drawing a blank. Little help..?

    This isn’t in the States, but Inter’s link, which was meant to celebrate the club’s centenary, looked too much like the Crusaders symbol to Muslims.

    Also in Italy, link.

    Finally, England has incorporate the link in its uniforms a lot, but that’s more because that’s England’s national flag.

    St. George’s Cross is also the flag of Milan, which is why Inter adopts it from time to time. That’s also why it’s part of the badge of AC Milan.

    Northern Ireland, too.

    And there is a rich tradition of teams in Jewish communities employing the Star of David.

    The original point of the separation of church and state was to make sure that the church wasn’t directly influencing government decisions or government legislation based on their own agenda, it had nothing to do with the government choosing to use religious symbolism or religious imagery on their own, or even using their own religious beliefs to guide their feelings on how to legislate.

    I think this decision to change the decal is misguided not only because of that, but because the two deceased members were Christian. I’m Catholic, but if I was on a team where one of my Jewish teammates passed, and we make a Star of David decal for them, I’d be proud to wear it. That’s just my opinion.

    The original point of the separation of church and state was to make sure that the church wasn’t directly influencing government decisions or government legislation based on their own agenda, it had nothing to do with the government choosing to use religious symbolism or religious imagery on their own, or even using their own religious beliefs to guide their feelings on how to legislate.

    I’ll leave it to others to debate the historical accuracy of this statement. Either way, though, that’s not how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Establishment Clause.

    What’s really ‘unfortunate’ is what the Judicial Branch has done with the Establishment Clause over the last 50 years.

    Saint Louis, Saint Petersburg, San Diego, San Antonio, Saint Paul, Saint John, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz

    IF the Establishment Clause means what you (and the modern court) claim it does, all of these place names violate the letter of the law.

    “The original point of the separation of church and state was to” preserve both by keeping them separate.

    If you accept that the original settlers came here at least in part to escape religious persecution, it follows that the separation of church and state exists to prevent the state from imposing religion, or any particular faith/sect, on citizens, whether by law or by endorsement.

    While I might agree with the general tone of your comment Bud, I can’t agree with your initial premise. The idea of the separation of church and state has more to do with making sure the government doesn’t create and mandate a state religion, much like happened with the Church of England, rather than keeping religious influence out of government. The vast majority of the Founding Fathers were Christian and often wrote how their Christian values influenced their policy decision making. All legislators and politicians make decisions based on some sort of moral code, to prohibit decision-making based on my religious beliefs seems patently un-American to me.

    I like the superheroes/NFL underoos concept. After all, the NFL seems to want to dress its players like superheroes anyway. I think both of today’s concepts are pretty brilliant. Robin’s logo is almost too perfect for Baltimore. I like the way the Iron Man masks were made into the Steelers logo. Nicely done.

    Thanks for the comments. I have the whole league ready to be unveiled 2 teams each week. It’s been a fun project for me and I’m glad to finally share it.

    It is hard to believe that anyone (anyone not trying to that is) could ever construe the cross on the back of the Arkansas State helmet as Arkansas State trying to proselytize and endorse the Christian religion. No matter what you believe about if it is a separation of church and state issue or not, can we please return to basic common sense?

    “It is hard to believe that anyone”

    Yeah, except maybe atheists, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Catholics…

    Mostly misinformed bigotry (KKK was an anti-Catholic organization back in the day, and there was a strong association with immigrant groups), but some (though not the majority of) Baptists, born agains and various fundamentalist Protestants see Catholicism as a cult.

    I consider Catholicism to be it’s own semi-Christianity related religion. Sort of like Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    By hard to construe I mean that I can’t imagine someone seeing that memorial and thinking that Arkansas State University is trying to get them to become Christian. Unless that is, you are trying to pick a fight or just going out of your way to find something wrong.

    I for one, even as a Christian, am glad that there are these protections. I never want the way I worship (or don’t) to be dictated to me by the government or whomever is in charge at the time. Its fine and good now if the government wants to put up the 10 commandments, but what if they want to put up satanic figures or a Quran in all schools? How would the Christian majority feel then?

    I would have loved to see the reaction if those that passed were Muslim and it was a crescent moon and star. I think there would be plenty of people saying that church and state should be separate.

    It wouldn’t bother me if it was a Star of David or a Crescent and Star on my team’s helmets, but that doesn’t matter. These protections aren’t for the majority, they are and always have been for the minority.

    Its pretty cut and dry. The team doesn’t only represent those 50 or so men and women that are part of the program, but the thousands of students, and more thousands of alumni, and they represent their fans and locals. The fact that that helmet is paid for by the taxpayers (directly or indirectly from donations that allow taxpayer dollars to be spent elsewhere) there shouldn’t be an endorsement of any religion on the helmet.

    “I would have loved to see the reaction if those that passed were Muslim and it was a crescent moon and star.”

    Fox News would have imploded.

    “All MLB players will wear American flag cap patches today – you know, because Sept. 11 is a national holiday.”

    It’s not a holiday, but a recognition of the day that our country was attacked and about 3,000 of us were killed. I think a flag patch is a subtle and appropriate way to reflect this, along with the moment of silence that each ballpark is planning.

    I get the criticism of the increasing popularity of camo unis to celebrate the armed forces, and for the most part I agree that it’s gone way overboard. But I just can’t see how using the colors of our flag to honor the innocents who fell 13 years ago is in any way offensive. Maybe it’s a little “America, FUCK YEAH” – but on this particular day, I’m okay with a sense of national solidarity and pride.

    FYI, The link to the Washington Caps white pants doesn’t seem to be working.

    I wonder if the deceased had been Islamic and a Crescent Moon was added to the helmets how those defending the cross would feel. Not that they have the same meaning, but both act as broad symbolic religious representations. I’d hope the reaction (pro and against) would be the same. Somehow though I doubt it. Which is exactly the reason it needed to change.

    What I liked most of the Brad Miller interview was the other radio co-host who mostly added a laugh. Sort of how Ed McMahon would always throw in a ‘ho-ho-ho! Yes!’ to whatever Carson said.

    The black cross from the UT helmet looked like this:


    According to a notation on The Helmet Project, “A black cross was added to the logo for the last few games of the 1965 season as a tribute to three assistant coaches (Charlie Rash, Bill Majors, and Bob Jones) who lost their lives as a result of a train/automobile collision which occurred in West Knoxville on October 18”

    UT is about a big a public university there is. Different times/interpretations of the law I guess.

    And here is a highlight video from UT, that while talks about the cross, never actually shows it. You can sort of make it out on the 1965 film, but the resolutions is so low, it’s not certain.


    “Separation of church and state” has become so absolute in some people’s minds it has become untenable. A list of things that should also be banned along the lines of the ASU helmets:
    -“One nation under God” in the pledge of allegiance
    -“In God we trust” on money
    -Any religious symbols or artifacts in the Smithsonian
    -Removal of any religious items in other history museums, including any about colonial history, pilgrims, etc.
    -Religious teachers like Roger Williams should not be honored in any publicly funded way, like Roger Williams National Memorial
    -Scratch out “creator” from Declaration of Independence
    -Complete abandonment of the National Cathedral for any state functions
    -Removal of any crosses from Arlington National Cemetery
    -No more Christmas Trees or Menorahs at the White House or any other government property
    -Removal of references to “God” from memorials such as the Lincoln Memorial
    -Impeachment of any President uttering “God bless America.”

    The list could go on and on. And yes, it is ridiculous. If we were sensible, the establishment clause forbids the church from creating policy for the government and forbids the government from making policy for the church. It should not require complete and total separation in all ways. If that were so priests would have diplomatic immunity, police would have no jurisdiction over crimes on church property, and it would be illegal to have American flags on church property. Such separation is impossible and unnecessary.

    Other countries have similar values, but more reasonably enforce them. I know in New Zealand they allow for religious faith to be taught in public schools, as long as students have the right to not attend and all faiths have equal opportunity to offer religious education classes. Thus the government is not an endorser of any religion, but it is not required to cleanse all state programs of any presence of it either.

    -“One nation under God” in the pledge of allegiance
    -“In God we trust” on money

    Call me whatever you want to, but those 2 *should* go away.

    “[U]nder God” wasn’t in the original version of the PoA, rather it was added during the Eisenhower Administration. One argument made for adding it was that the PoA as then worded was so generic that it could apply to any country, and that adding “under God” would make it distinctively American. Which in my book renders it unconstitutional on its face, though it bears noting that the change was made in the midst of the Cold War being waged against the godless atheist communists.

    Again: If you’re familiar with the Supreme Court’s three-pronged test for the Establishment Clause, then you know that most of your examples don’t apply.

    If you’re not familiar with it, you might want to learn about it.

    First of all I don’t think ASU’s helmets fail the three pronged test. They have a civic purpose (the memorial of recently deceased), it does not advance Christianity (will anyone convert because of a helmet decal?), and there is minimal entanglement.

    Second, I think the Arlington Cemetery example is the most important. When a solider dies, if they desire, the government buys them a cross then displays it on public land. The general logic is that the fallen individual has a right to be memorialized in a way fitting to themselves. I fail to see how this is different.

    “Be that as it may, the university’s own counsel disagreed.”

    Or they knew that the ensuing legal battle with the ACLU would be a waste of university resources so they allowed themselves to be bullied into cowing to the most sensitive guy in the stadium.

    Speculation and insults on your part. Let’s stick to the facts we know: The university’s counsel advised the athletics dept. that the decal was unconstitutional.

    Is it weird that when I first read this, “I don’t think ASU’s helmets fail the three pronged test”, that I thought to myself, How could that be, they are the Sun Devils – and this is their helmet (sometimes):


    Wrong ASU, like a dummy.

    I was unaware that “sensitive” is an insult. Let me rephrase.

    I highly doubt that if the university’s counsel disagreed that they could in good conscience set ASU up for a potential media firestorm, costly litigation, and a culture war. Removing the image to appease those with a high level of concern for very strict enforcement of a broad definition of the Establishment Clause is the course in the best interests of ASU.

    Paul, as an attorney, I can guarantee you that ASU’s counsel did not advise the university that the decals were unconstitutional. They most certainly advised the school that there was a possibility that the decals were unconstitutional.

    It is an interesting case study. Personally, I doubt it’d fail the Lemon Test (like, really, highly doubt), but it definitely fails the cost-benefit test!

    There are Muslim, Hebrew, atheist, and even Satanist symbols on headstones in Arlington Cemetery, ppl forget that.

    As there should be, because memorializing someone who died is not a violation of the Establishment Clause.

    But apprently memorializing them on the back of a football helmet for a public university’s football program is.

    Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t think a headstone and a football helmet, or a team’s football helmets, are equivalent.

    If a headstone contains a religious symbol, it is to denote the faith/sect of the decedent whose grave it marks. A football helmet or a team’s football helmets does not/do not mark a person’s grave.

    If the decal was meant to denote the faith/sect of the decedents, that’s one thing, but I highly doubt it; “memorializing” someone and denoting their faith/sect are two different things. A person can be memorialized without denoting his/her faith/sect.

    That, of course, is also true of a headstone. The point though, is that the sole function of a religious symbol on a headstone is to denote the faith/sect of the decedent, typically at the decedent’s (or his/her family’s) request. It is not reasonably understood to be an endorsement of religion, or of that particular religion, by the administrator of the cemetery. A religious symbol on a team’s football helmets can be reasonably understood to be an endorsement of religion by that team.

    Moreover, in the aggregate, all faiths/sects are represented at Arlington, none are excluded, and religious symbols are not required on Arlington graves. If all Arlington headstones bore the same religious symbol, or if only one was allowed, there might be a valid argument that the presence of religious symbols on Arlington graves constitutes an endorsement of religion, or of that particular faith/sect, by the Department of the Army or the U.S. Government.

    Here’s another way of looking at it:

    Assuming uniform regulations allowed it, if each individual player on a team at a public university wanted to wear and display his own religious medal or tattoo, or put a religious symbol on his own helmet, jersey, socks, shoes, &c. for the purpose of denoting his own faith/sect, that would probably not be considered an impermissible endorsement of religion by the team, school or state.

    My issue with the inclusion of god in the pledge and on our money is simply that it is exclusive. We have a wide range of people and beliefs in this country. I am an atheist, I’m also Straight Edge, and would have just as big an issue if our money read “In beer we trust” or “In sobriety we trust”. There was (and is) nothing wrong we “E Pluribus Unum” “Out of many, One”.

    The Establishment Clause prohibits the government (or any state actor in his/its official capacity) from establishing, endorsing, promoting, approving, recommending, or in any other way steering any citizen toward (or away from), religion or any particular faith/sect.

    Great story from Terence Kearns…

    Terence has good taste. Those are all excellent-looking jerseys! I’d be proud to have them in my collection.

    Great idea for the NFL / super hero logos! Good sense of humor and well done graphically. Let’s see more of this.

    Agree on the points of humor and graphic quality. While the “NFL/MLB/NBA logos reimagined as _____” shtick has seemingly been overextended, Tom has good skills.

    Thanks for the compliments guys… I know the redesigned NFL logo thing has been done “Star Wars, Hipster, etc.” and they’re usually shown as “here’s all the logos on white or on a helmet”. The Underoos concept is just a fun and different way of presenting it. Also by doing it weekly, I hope to extend the exposure/interest to this all season.

    Elements of the University of Maryland’s uniforms are borrowed from the state flag, which contains a “cross bottony” – a cross with three rounded knobs or buttons at the end of each arm. These ends are interpreted by some as a symbol of the holy trinity.

    More to the point, it would be much more helpful to refer to the “Establishment cause” of the Constitution, rather than to a “separation of church and state”, which is not in the document. The meaning of the clause is to prohibit the establishment of an official religion, not to require that the mention of religion is “separated” from any state action.

    The Maryland flag is a heraldic banner. The black and gold quarters are the arms of the Calvert family (George Calvert was the First Baron of Baltimore). The red and white quarters are the arms of the Crossland family (those of Calvert’s mother). As an heiress in her own right, Calvert was entitled to use both coats of arms going forward.

    “The meaning of the clause is to prohibit the establishment of an official religion, not to require that the mention of religion is “separated” from any state action.”

    That’s not how it has been interpreted judically.

    “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial [branch] to say what the law is.”

    Marbury v. Madison (1803).

    “[T]he establishment of religion” includes the endorsement, promotion or approval of religion. The phrase is not so definitionally limited.

    The Baltimore Ravens’ “shield” alternate logo also includes the cross borrowed from the state flag. Look for it tonight at midfield on national television.

    Oh yeah, the Orioles wear a sleeve patch featuring that aspect of the state flag as well. We sure do love our flag.

    that Barca-Athletic Bilbao match will be beautiful. I’d love to watch it, or at least get a nice helping of in-game pictures.

    RE: Superhero underoos – Friggin’ awesome!

    My only gripe is that my Packers played last Thursday, so I won’t be able to see their design until October 2nd. Any chance you have a Packers/Seahawks mock up?

    Sorry I do not. You will have to wait until Week 5 vs Vikings (coming up soon)… Just for the record, Packers was a tough one to pull off, so I look forward to your comment on it. Thanks.

    Very cool. I love that, having decided to continue this project, you’ve given a lot of thought to how the teams in the coming weeks will look. I know if I were doing something like this, I’d start thinking about who’s playing in the next game about a week out, which would probably lead to some pretty mediocre ideas.

    Thanks TBone. This project has been in the works for me since April. I have 23 teams complete and I already know the heroes (or villians) in mind for the other 9 teams. As of now, I’m good until Week 9. I have time to really do my best on each team and hope to not let you or any other readers down on their favorite teams.

    Question about that throwback helmet in the Bills equipment tweet. I see a lot of NFL players wearing this configuration of face mask. The mask itself has two additional vertical bars to close the viewing window – there is basically a smaller rectangular area to look through. I assume this is to reduce the chances of fingers etc. getting through. So far so good. But then a number of players add the visor as well, as shown in this photo. If you are going to use the visor, couldn’t you go with a face mask without the additional vertical bars? Seems the added protection is redundant with the visor, and you would gain addition peripheral vision/ field of view.

    Focusing on the religious aspect of the memorial decal missed the point. Why do we need this sort of symbol, at all?

    When I was a kid, it seemed like the Celtics were honoring some dead member of their tribe every other season. The memorial was always the same: not a clever patch, not a cross or a crescent or a Star of David, but a simple black bar on the right shoulder strap of the jersey.

    It was simple, it was powerful, and it conveyed the proper spirit of respect and remembrance.

    What more do you need?

    I love those NFL Superhero Underoos and if they were ever sold in stores I would buy them for my five year-old son. Nice work!

    Thanks Al. I WISH that would happen, but unfortunately I think licensing between NFL/Marvel/DC might be an issue… Funny thing – I have a 6 year old son myself. He is into all things NFL & Superheroes and has actually been very helpful with me creating these. He even tells me honestly if it’s not looking right or missing something.

    I’m torn. While I know that Joan would have loved the fact that the idiots at the WBC were using her image in their protests, I can’t help but be really pissed at them. What’s even more troubling is that I’m more pissed about them using Joan than the President! (please no political/smartass replies about the Prez…..thx)

    So why do we still have “In God We Trust” on 100% of American currency?

    I’m not arguing for or against it, it’s just something I’ve always wondered about. If we are going to make a fuss about a Christian symbol on a public university sports team helmet, why no fuss about all the money being printed/minted with a religious phrase on it? Even if the argument is that “God” is a term used by several religions, therefore it doesn’t necessarily reflect a singular religion, it still is a religious phrase, where not all people in the USA are religious.


    So from what I can tell…

    These acts of “ceremonial deism” are “protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”

    So because it’s been around for so long, “In God We Trust” no longer has any religious content? Nobody tell Dan Snyder… He’ll take up US currency as case law for why he shouldn’t change his team name.

    “The Redskins team name is no longer considered offensive chiefly because it has lost through rote repetition any significant racist content.”

    ‘These acts of “ceremonial deism” are “protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”’

    Yeah, so congrats to religious folks defending keeping the motto: you won the battle, but lost “any significant religious content”.

    In short, because we put in on there in the ’50s to distinguish ourselves from godless commies, and are afraid to take it off.

    The St. Louis Browns used to have a patch depicting the Apotheosis of St. Louis. King Louis IX is holding a cross. Does that count?

    I vote “no” since degrees of separation come into play. The depiction on the insignia is not literally Saint Louis, the person, but a famous statue in St. Louis, MO. The Kansas City Scouts, had they flourished, could have avoided the anti-Indian-mascot issue for the same reason. Helpful to know and use, if you plan on giving your team a potentially touchy nickname.

    The U.S. Soccer Federation and its Women’s National Team provided us a perfect image on why the hoops kits should be our primary kit.

    Not uni-related but it’s unfortunate 9/11 has become link.

    Like the blurb says, “how else will Americans remember to never forget about one of the worst days in our country’s history unless a fast-food joint tells us to on Twitter?” I might be in the minority here, but “Never forget” feels awfully patronizing.

    For some reason, I find it absolutely hilarious that they included the offical fleshlight twitter feed in that article. I guess you know something has gone overboard when even the porn industry is embracing it.

    Quoting from the ad:

    “Freedom isn’t free” (Right. Apparently, Freedom costs the lives of roughly 3,000 innocent individuals, mostly civilians, going about their days and minding their own business. So be prepared when Freedom comes collecting from you when you’re minding your own business at your office or on a domestic flight. Or something like that.)

    “And we intend to honor those patriots who died for our country…” (Who exactly are we honoring here? Isn’t this about commemorating the victims of the terrorist attacks on 9/11? I guess when you die at the hands of a terrorist while going about your day, minding your own business, that’s for your country. Regardless, nothing honors them better than 20% OFF!)

    “…and morn the loss of freedom of speech and other rights that died that day.” (Wait, what? Is this some sort of commentary on the PATRIOT Act or something? Maybe it’s their way of saying, “Truthers also eliglble for discount.”)

    This has probably been mentioned before, but Tony Banks of Genesis (am I allowed to say Genesis, or am I forcing Judeo-Christian ideas on non-believers?) is wearing an old jersey for the Vancouver hockey team (sorry, I’m not comfortable calling them Canucks, even though a large majority of the Canadian population is okay with it) in this video.


    Teebz has been collecting pics/vids of musicians wearing hockey jerseys for his blog for some time now.


    As an atheist raised in a secular Jewish home (who had a Bat Mitzvah, went to Hebrew School, etc), I would be totally OK with wearing a cross on my helmet if it honored my fallen teammate or coach or what-have-you. Especially if faith was a big part of the deceased person’s life, I would want to honor him or her.

    That being said, the first time I saw a pic of that cross, I thought “wow, I can’t believe a public school’s team is allowed to wear that on its helmets. But it’s Arkansas, so I’d imagine that very few, if any, people would complain about it.”

    I too, am an atheist, and my biggest question in all this is how big was religion in the lives of those who passed. I have a lot of religious iconography on my body, because it immortalizes family members for whom religion was a big part of their lives.
    I do think the decal could have been done in a way to draw more attention to those it was memorializing. The original design just seemed more to me like adding the initials was an afterthought.

    Wow. That looks silly. And probably confirms that all the teams’ flags are glued on. No time to do it right and cleanly with a sewing machine–we have to stick these doo-dads on these old hats NOW and get them marked up more expensive for the gift shop NOW!!! *sigh*

    Hey, check out this game-worn Roller Derby jersey from the 70’s — there’s a number on the front and back but they’re in different fonts!!!!



    that looks almost like a modern day quarter zip fleece that they sewed the numbers and trim on. Sweet find!

    The NFL Superhero project is great. I’m looking forward to seeing more designs. I’d buy those for myself if they were available. Nice work Thomas.

    Glad to get all the positive responses. Hoping to keep this going at least another week if not all season.

    Eddie Lacy has been wearing the new Riddell SpeedFlex for the pre-season, and the opener against Seattle. Well, he suffered a concussion in that game, and will more than likely go back to his old helmet:

    Thanks Marc… Good news. You will get to see all 32 teams shown every Thursday (see my comment below).

    Just got the news that due to all the positive comments posted here, my NFL SUPERHERO PROJECT will indeed be a weekly feature every Thursday at Uni-Watch! Thanks to everyone that commented and thanks especially to Paul for giving it a chance… Any guesses on the heroes I’ll be using for Week 3: Bucs vs Falcons?

    Did Jim Nantz really call this Ray Rice “the darkest week in league history?”

    Have we forgotten about a recent issue with a certain Patriot?

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