Does anyone still get excited by the words “new Oregon uniform”? For me it’s more like, “Oh, another one — yeah, whatever.” That’s the problem with (a) constantly changing and (b) constantly trying to outdo yourself — at some point everyone’s eyes kinda glaze over because it all becomes routine. If you keep selling the message that everything you do is remarkable, at some point none of it is remarkable, because there’s no baseline of “normal” to compare it to.
That said, sometimes the Ducks still manage to get my attention, and they got it yesterday with their latest uni, which will be worn this weekend against Washington State. The design salutes various aspects of Oregon history (the state, not the school or the team), and I’m a history buff, so I’m intrigued by what they’ve attempted here.
I should acknowledge from the outset that I’m particularly interested in the Oregon Trail. One of the most powerful moments of my life came in 1997, when I saw wagon wheel ruts along the Trail carved into the sandstone near Guernsey, Wyoming. It made a huge impression on me — it’s one thing to read about the Oregon Trail, but it’s another (or at least it was for me) to see physical evidence of the Trail’s travelers.
I’m also very interested in Lewis and Clark, whose Corps of Discovery expedition finally found the Pacific Ocean in what is now Oregon (although I tend to associate L&C more with Missouri [their starting point] and North Dakota [where Sacagawea joined their group, and also the present-day state in which they spent the most time]).
L&C and the Trail are both represented on the Ducks’ new uniforms. Here are some details:
1. Each jersey features a topographic map of the Oregon Trail (for all of these, you click to enlarge):
I like the idea, although I don’t think most of us would even recognize that as a map unless we’d told beforehand that that’s what it is.
According to Nike, “Each uniform is unique and showcases a different area of the map, ensuring each player’s uniform features a different pattern, maximizing the fabric and producing less cutting-floor waste.” But it’s not clear what was the motivating factor there — did they want to minimize waste (in which case good for them), or did they want to make sure each player had a unique jersey and just happened to be able to say, “Look, less waste!” as a result? Hmmmmm.
2. The helmet logos show three figures pointing westward — Lewis, Clark, and ”¦ wait for it ”¦ Puddles the Duck:
This isn’t just absurd, it’s absurdist, which is why I’m tempted to love it. In its way, it displays more wit and playfulness than almost anything Nike and Oregon have ever done together. Ultimately, though, it just looks ridiculous, and it cheapens the history. Think what a great gesture it would’ve been if they’d incorporated Sacagawea into the design instead of Puddles.
3. If you look again at the helmet photo above, you’ll see that it includes an American flag patch. What you can’t see is that the flag has only 33 stars. That was the flag that was used after Oregon’s admission to the union in 1859. (It was superceded two years later after Kansas gained statehood, leading to a 34th star.) Edumacational!
4. Another thing that’s hard to see — the nose bumper depicts a handshake:
That’s taken from the Peace Medals that President Jefferson gave to L&C upon their return from their mission.
There’s more, but those are the biggies. Here’s some additional info and a photo gallery. Oh, and let’s give them some points for not calling it a “pride” uni. (They’re calling it something else that’s almost as silly, but still.)
At this point many of you are probably thinking, “Okay, so that’s all interesting — but the uniform still looks like shite.” And yeah, it does. Too grey, too dreary, too disjointed, no team colors. You can load your design with as many “stories” as you want, but it doesn’t mean jack if those story elements don’t harmonize visually, or if the overall effect is of a steady drizzle. That’s the difference between an interesting idea and a good design. Too bad.
Want to see what our own Ducktracker, Dennis Bolt, had to say about this uniform? Look here.
One final thought: Let’s please see if we can discuss this uniform without invoking a certain phrase about leaping over a ferocious fish. Because if there’s anything that captures the spirit of that phrase, it’s the phrase itself. Thanks.
Click to enlarge
By Brinke Guthrie
Notice the unique helmet treatment on this sheet music for the Brian’s Song theme song. True Story: I checked out a paperback copy of Brian’s Song at the local branch of the Dallas Public Library in like the fall of 1971, never returned it, and discovered it many years later. Guess my mug shot is probably on a “Wanted” photo throughout the Dallas library system now.
Here are the rest of this week’s picks:
• Here’s a children’s Houston Oilers bathrobe from the 1970s. Does anyone wear bathrobes anymore?
• Get your 1970s game-worn Pittsburgh Penguins socks right here.
• To celebrate the Cubbies making the playoffs, how about this great-looking 1960s bobblehead?
• Seems only natural that the Buffalo Sabres would give away sabres at their home games, right? This foam sabre brought to you by the fine folks at Frito Lay.
• Never seen this one before: a Wilson/NFL football radio from the 1970s. And you get a kicking tee, too!
• Never seen this one either: a St. Louis (football) Cardinals poster from the 1960s.
• The Braves marketing department must have gotten stuck for a slogan, so they just put “BUMPER STICKER” on this bumper sticker.
• This is an interesting Miami Dolphins poster from the 1960s. Note that the opponent is all-white, no trim or logos.
• I like the design of this Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club patch.
• Here’s former Broncos great Tom Jackson on a can of Orange Crush. True story: In high school I was a Bengals and Cowboys fan. Boy, did I ever take abuse the Monday after a Cowboys loss. Just endless. So the Monday after the Cowboys beat the Broncos in the 1978 Super Bowl, I casually walked into my Senior Accounting class with a case of Orange Crush, and nonchalantly passed the cans around to everyone. It was an all-guy class for some reason, so we usually just sat around talking about football anyway, the teacher included.
Follow Brinke on Twitter: @brinkeguthrie
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: Astros P Dallas Keuchel, who hails from Oklahoma, has “Okie Doke” stitched into his glove (from Houston sports fan Correa Harden Watt). ”¦ Speaking of Keuchel, his lengthy beard came about as the result of a dare. ”¦ The Onion wrote a good piece that satirizes the MLB logo and Jerry West, complete with a mention of the graphic designer Jerry Dior (from Jay Roddy). … Adidas’s new line of baseball cleats features artsy depections of ferocious bulldogs, cheetahs, eagles, lions and other animals. … The Dodgers have a tradition where a veteran player serves as the manager for the last game of the season. Jimmy Rollins skippered the team on Sunday, and he dressed up as Tommy Lasorda for the occasion (from Chris Cruz). … Good infographics on the several teams that had three or more players wearing the same jersey number this season. ”¦ MLB is selling postseason team gear that shows the skylines of the teams’ cities. The one for the Rangers showed the Dallas skyline, but then people got all bent out of shape because the Rangers play in Arlington, not Dallas, so now the Rangers merch has been pulled. Of course, this problem could have been avoided if MLB hadn’t been so lazy about imposing the same skyline template on every team. ”¦ The statues of Cubs greats outside of Wrigley Field have been decked out in new Cubs jerseys ahead of tomorrow’s play-in game (thanks, Phil).
NFL News: Lions coach Jim Caldwell wore two wristwatches for last night’s game against the Seahawks. Some quick photo research shows that he typically wears one watch — anyone know why he doubled up last night? (From Scott B.) … Aaron Richards spotted a Colin Kaepernick camo jersey at the Mall of America. He saw a Russell Wilson one, too, but no photos. “I was going to take more pictures but a store associate told me I couldn’t photograph the merchandise,” he says. ”¦ Tyler Lockett of the Seahawks suffered a torn glove last night.
College & High School Football News: Tennessee will wear grey uniforms on Saturday (from Phil). … Navy and Notre Dame will wear the same base-layer gear when they face off on Saturday (from Phil). … As for cleats, Notre Dame will wear these (from Warren Junium). … Troy wore black-over-black with chrome helmets over the weekend. Full gallery here (from Ryan Bohannon). … San Diego State now wears Aztec-patterned helmets, but the old red helmets are still painted on the field (from Clint Glaze). … Those weird patch/pockets on the sleeves of the coaches’ windbreakers are meant for cell phones. Problem is, many phones don’t fit into the pocket (from Alex Hider). … “Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) wore all-white at home against Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) on Saturday afternoon,” says Ethan Kassel. “Mitty wore white in tribute to Loukas Angelo, a freshman who passed away last month after being hit by a car.” … A mouthguard that has sensors in it which tracks athletes’ vital signs is in its prototype stages (from Tommy Turner).
Hockey News: Panthers RW Jaromir Jagr, still playing at the age of 43, is growing out a mullet again. He wore the hairstyle back in the early 1990s when with the Penguins (from Alan Kreit). … The WHA’s San Diego Mariners and Phoenix Roadrunners played a color-versus-color preseason game on this date in 1975. San Diego wore orange, Phoenix wore dark blue (from Dane Drutis).
Basketball News: The Trail Blazers wore Umpqua Community College tribute shirts during warm-ups for last night’s preseason game. … It’s a shame that Starbury, the affordable sneaker and clothing brand from former NBAer Stephon Marbury, never caught on. Marbury recently defended his line, saying his products were made in the same factory as Jordans (from Phil). … The Nets will have cool subway station-inspired lettering on their baseline this season. … New unis for BYU. … New blue uniforms for Duke, and here’s a glimpse at the team’s black set.
Grab Bag: Here are what the USA and international golf teams will wear for this weekend’s Presidents Cup (from Phil). … For its Windows icon, Apple made a plain gray window (from Brinke). … North Queensland Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston wore a mouthguard in the Aboriginal colors of red, yellow, and black during the 2015 National Rugby League Grand Final this past weekend (from Graham Clayton). … Adidas now makes MMA and jiu-jitsu apparel (from Rick Friedel).