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EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With the Color Rush Leaker

Back in April, a photo that was purported to show the colors for this year’s NFL Thursday-night mono-color games began circulating. In case you don’t recall, it looked like this (click to enlarge):

At the time, I cautioned everyone not to get too excited. For one thing, we didn’t know whether the information was legitimate. Moreover, even if it was legit, it said, “Subject to change” right there on the sheet. Naturally, that made no difference to anyone. For a week or so, everybody more or less lost their mind, all sorts of speculative articles and concepts were posted, and so on. Then people got distracted by other shiny objects and the uni-verse moved on to other things.

Fast-forward to last Friday, when another color guide, purported to be a “final” update of the previous one, appeared (click to slightly enlarge):

Once again, the sheet said, “Subject to change.” Once again, everyone went bonkers anyway, more articles were written, blah-blah-blah.

Both of the color guides were posted by a Twitter account called NFL Leaks, which is just what it sounds like: an account devoted to leaks of NFL-related information. It’s impossible to assess the veracity of the color guides, because we haven’t seen those uniforms yet. But the person behind the account — let’s call him the Leaker — also posted details of the NFL schedule prior to its official release. That info turned out to be accurate, so the Leaker gets some credibility points there.

The Daily Dot was intrigued enough by the Leaker to do a story on him two months ago. That story included some quotes from him, which to my knowledge constitute the only time he’s been quoted outside of his own Twitter account.

Until now. After last Friday’s leak of the updated color guide, I decided it was time to go to the source, so I contacted the Leaker via his Twitter account and asked if he’d consent to an interview if I promised to preserve his anonymity. He agreed, on two conditions: (1) He would not reveal his identity to me, either on or off the record, and (2) the interview would have to take place via Twitter’s direct-messaging function. I agreed to those terms.

The Leaker told me that he is a male living in the Mountain Time Zone. As you’ll see, he also said something indicating that he is a student, although it’s not clear at what level. Aside from that, I know nothing about the particulars of who he is.

One other detail, for what it’s worth: The Leaker said he’s a Uni Watch fan and reader.

Here’s how our discussion went (typos have been cleaned up):

Uni Watch: Let’s start with the basics: What is your connection to the NFL and/or Nike that allows you to have access to this sensitive information? And is the info that you post first-hand (i.e., you’re sitting in the meeting where things are discussed, the emails are sent directly to you, etc.), or is it second-hand (i.e., someone who was at the meeting describes it to you, or forwards the email to you, etc.)?

Leaker: My connection is second-hand — I know someone who works with Nike directly. I am provided with the information and (sometimes) documents.

UW: You sometimes post photos, like the photo of the Color Rush guide. Do you take those photos yourself, or are they provided to you by another source?

Leaker: The photos are taken by me. But today’s leak [of the updated Color Rush guide] actually didn’t come from my outside source. The original Color Rush sheet that I posted in April was sent to me via a PDF file from a URL that ended in “NFLCR_16-2.pdf,” so I copied and pasted that same URL and changed “16-2.pdf” to “16-3.pdf” — just to see if the file had been updated — and that’s how I found the new Color Rush guide. Then I contacted the guy I know who works with Nike and asked him if this was indeed the final version of the guide, and he confirmed that it was going to be the finalized sheet.

UW: Lots of people post phony info or hoaxes on the internet, and it’s natural for people to be suspicious and skeptical when you won’t reveal your identity. Why should people believe that the information you post is legitimate?

Leaker: If there’s a way we could come up with for me to prove it to you, I would love that. But the best way is probably to look back at my track record. The credibility of my account stretches back a few months. You can go back to the beginning and see that most of the tweets ended up 100% true and correct.

UW: Have you ever intentionally posted false information to your account, just to, you know, mess with people and see how they would react? (I’m not asking you to tell me what the false info was; I’m just asking if you’ve ever done that.)

Leaker: I have never intentionally posted misleading information, no. However, I have posted info that I thought didn’t add up, or where I had conflicting info from other sources. When this happens I always make sure to classify the info as a rumor. When I feel like something could be false, I make sure to let my audience know that. I would never post something that I knew was false — not only would that lose my credibility, but it would also completely defeat the purpose of what I made this account for.

UW: Regarding your Nike connection, is that person aware that you’re posting this information on Twitter? If so, does that person approve of you doing so?

Leaker: He knows about this, yes. In fact, he originally (jokingly) suggested it. We were talking about NFL jerseys and how he worked with Color Rush and I jokingly said, “We could leak a lot of stuff out there anonymously and people would love us!” So that’s how it got started.

UW: Regarding the secrecy of your identity: Are you worried about consequences for yourself, or is it more about protecting your friend? In other words, if your identity were compromised, would anything bad happen to you, or would it be more about your friend losing his job, etc.?

Leaker: If my exact identity was compromised, I could definitely be found liable for possibly copyright infringement and distributing copyrighted and sensitive information. However, the friend wouldn’t be in trouble, as we aren’t directly related.

UW: Since your connection is to Nike (not to the NFL), do you have access to other Nike information regarding college football, college basketball, the NBA, etc.?

Leaker: My focus is usually on the NFL, as that is my favorite sport and has the largest following. But if necessary, I could definitely get Nike info regarding other sports.

UW: When you posted the latest Color Rush guide, you said it was final “AFAIK,” meaning as far as you know. But given that they’ve already updated the specs from the April sheet, couldn’t they do so again? Or do you have any additional info that would indicate that this version is truly final?

Leaker: I used “AFAIK” because I am not directly involved with Nike 24/7, so I don’t always know exactly what’s going on. I knew from the start that the April sheet wasn’t final, for many reasons. The NFL schedule hadn’t even been released yet, for example, and it said right on the sheet that some teams hadn’t been contacted yet and that these were “suggested” colors. But all of that has now been changed on the updated sheet. All teams have been contacted, the schedule is out — I think this sheet is probably final.

UW: Have you seen any of the actual uniform designs, or just the color guide?

Leaker: I have not seen any actual jerseys, only the color guide. However, I have heard what a bunch of the jerseys are going to based off of.

UW: As you probably know, it appears that no NFL teams are getting uniform makeovers for the 2016 season, which is unusual. To your knowledge, is the lack of uni makeovers this season connected to the full-season Color Rush rollout?

Leaker: I’m not sure why there are no teams making uniform changes for 2016. I have not asked or even thought about whether it might be due to Color Rush, but that is definitely a very interesting question that I think I might have to ask next time I get the chance.

UW: Do you know when the Color Rush designs will be revealed? Do you know if they’ll all be revealed at once, or if the teams will unveil their respective designs according to their own internal schedules?

Leaker: Last I heard was that they would be revealed before the NFL regular season started. I am unsure how the unveiling process is going to work, but I do know that it most likely will not be week-by-week like it was last year.

UW: Do you have any good Color Rush anecdotes or stories that wouldn’t fit into 140 characters? For example, have you heard about a team changing its color, or about any problems with a particular team’s design, or any other behind-the-scenes developments?

Leaker: One thing I can say is that the home team for each game always got to choose which color it wanted, and the away team had to adapt to that. That’s why the Raiders are no longer gold and the Bears are no longer orange [both of which were shown in the original Color Rush guide that was leaked in April]. The Packers opted for yellow instead of green, forcing the Bears to choose navy instead of orange, because a yellow-versus-orange game would not work on TV. Same thing with Chiefs choosing yellow, forcing Oakland to change from gold to black. That’s why so much changed since April — once the schedule was released, there were so many conflicting colors.

UW: Why are you doing this? Like, what’s in it for you? Do you enjoy the attention? Do you enjoy the back-and-forth with people like me? Do you enjoy being “first” with sensitive info? (I don’t mean to suggest that there’s anything wrong with any of those reasons. On the contrary, as a journalist, I understand the appeal of having a scoop! But given the apparent risks, I’m just trying to understand your motivations.)

Leaker: For a few reasons:

1. I like being the first to report things. It’s fun to see people’s reactions to things before official announcements are given.

2. I love seeing and showing what goes on “behind the scenes” of things. Not just the NFL, but other things, too. I like showing how things are made and how things are done that people aren’t aware of. For example, people can now see what Color Rush could have been back in April and how it changed between then and now. You can see how it evolved and what changes were made behind the scenes.

3. I’ve actually always had a desire to be a journalist and have been working/studying to become one, so it just feels like instinct to get inside info and get it out to the world. I feel it’s a duty in a way to report on things — not only things that are always visible to people, but also things that are hidden. It is freedom of press after all, right?

UW: To your knowledge, are people at Nike and/or the NFL flipping out over your account? Have they tried to contact you or shut you down? Or maybe they just enjoy the added buzz you’re providing..?

Leaker: Nobody from Nike or the NFL has contacted me, and to my knowledge they haven’t tried to get my account shut down.

———

And there you have it. One follow-up, though: At the conclusion of our chat, I told the Leaker that he could help substantiate his story if he’d be willing to send me a screen shot of an email exchange with his Nike friend, with the names and email addresses blurred out. He said he could definitely do that, and then volunteered that he could also provide a screen shot of the color guide PDFs, with all but the last part of the URLs blurred out. He never followed through on that. I sent him a reminder yesterday — no response. Obviously, that’s not a good sign in terms of his credibility, although it’s possible that he just got cold feet.

So do I think he’s legit? Yeah, I do, despite his failure to follow through on the screen shots. I think the story he told me is truthful. What is my basis for thinking that? Mainly just a career’s worth of dealing with hoaxers and bullshitters. The Leaker didn’t set off any of my usual alarms. Could he still be bullshitting me? Could the whole thing be an elaborate scam? Sure. But I don’t think so.

Of course, that still doesn’t mean that the info in the color guides will turn out to be what we end up seeing on the field. Like I keep saying, all you have to do is look at the color guide to see that it’s still all “Subject to change.” So I have no particular interest in discussing the colors that are supposedly assigned to each team. The uniforms will all be revealed in due course (and most of them will be terrible). There’ll be plenty of time to discuss them then.

So why did I bother to conduct and publish this interview? Mainly because I’m interested in the psychology of leaking (a topic I’ve been addressing for nearly 10 years now), and this was a rare chance to engage with a self-professed leaker.

Also, while this particular info is still subject to change, the Leaker may end up getting more definitive info (on this matter and/or others) later on. So I’m happy to have established a dialogue with him. I’m hoping we’ll stay in touch.

• • • • •

Raffle reminder: I’m currently raffling off a pair of green Adidas baseball cleats. Details here.

• • • • •

KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a key that opens police handcuffs (the little key at lower-right in the photo shown above). Check it out here.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Trifecta for Mets Police blogger Shannon Shark, who spotted a wrong-font numeral in an old photo George Foster photo, correctly noted that high-crown caps suck, and even more correctly noted that Keith Hernandez has no clue how to grill a burger. … The Staten Island Yankees will have a new team name next season. … In a related items, the New Orleans Zephyrs have named the seven finalists for their new team name (from Ryan Doyle). … Here’s an intriguing idea: an Astros football helmet with a tequila sunrise center stripe. … Speaking of tequila sunrise, check out this vintage ’Stros jacket — va-va-voom! (From Pro Football Journal, which, speaking of vintage MLB jackets, also provided this sensational White Sox shot). … The MLB Futures Game will have Padres-themed caps, just like the Home Run Derby. … Mets 1B James Loney, who usually goes low-cuffed, went high-cuffed with stirrups yesterday (from @BigCooonz). … Sean Gilmartin, recalled by the Mets two days ago, usually wears stirrups. But prior to yesterday’s game, he was wearing solid socks. He didn’t get into the game, so it’s not clear if this was just a pregame thing or if he’s changed his hosiery protocol (from @OnNebula9). … In a vaguely related item, the stripes on Rays P Chris Archer’s stirrups, which are usually blue, appeared to be grey last night (from Cork Gaines). … Anyone else think the number outlining on Tim Lincecum’s new Angels jersey looks a little thick? (From Shawn Hamm.) … When the D-Backs wear their black jerseys on the road and the umps wear their own black jerseys, the result makes it look like there are extra infielders out there (from Chris Short).

NFL News: Here’s a slideshow of players who’ve worn No. 58 for the Steelers (from Matthew Toy). … David Stephens notes that the Vikings’ new stadium might make a good venue for next year’s Purp Walk.

College Football News: New white helmets for Troy. … Here are helmet-themed 2016 schedules for the major conferences. … New uniforms for Charleston (from Brett Benes). … A professor and some of his students at Samford University have completed a study designed to measure, among other things, top recruits’ interest in whether modern college football uniforms affect game outcomes. They also conducted a Twitter-based “study” to gauge top recruits’ interest in alternate uniforms (from Wade Ford). … NC State will wear throwbacks on Oct. 8. There’s a video clip here (from @0nly9OsKIDZ and @interst8forty4).

Hockey News: New details about the Maple Leafs’ new uniforms are emerging. The unveiling is slated for tomorrow evening, and Phil will have full coverage here on Saturday. … Here’s more on those 1940s Dallas Texans throwbacks that the Stars may be planning. … Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton was wearing a Red Wings jersey the other day. … Some absolutely killer WHA program covers here (big thanks to Chris Mizzoni). … Key passage in this story about the NHL’s new Las Vegas franchise: “[Franchise owner Bill] Foley said he hopes to have a [team] name by the time the NHL season starts in the fall so the franchise can begin to sell jerseys and other merchandise.” Well, it’s good to know he has his priorities straight. … Meanwhile, the new Vegas outpost will give the NHL 31 teams. When’s the last time one of the Big Four leagues had a prime number of teams?

NBA News: Check out this T-shirt depicting a Cavs leg lamp. Apparently referencing this (from Barry Brite). … The NBA is opening its first retail shops in the Middle East. … Derrick Rose’s Knicks uniform has leaked (from Barry Rubinstein). … Did changing to the BFBS sleeves help the Cavs win the title? Shmaybe (thanks, Phil).

College Hoops News: Big arena renovation for Northwestern (from Ken Traisman). … New uni number assignments for Florida from @DaveDoop).

Soccer News: Mix and match: Some Nabisco packaging shows the old US Soccer kit with the new crest. … These next three are from Josh Hinton: Mats Hummels (Germany) and Will Grigg (Northern Ireland) swapped jerseys after their match on Tuesday. … New away kit for Sao Paulo FC. … Hertha BSC’s new home kit has leaked. … Iceland and Austria went color vs. color yesterday. … Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal, which has an interesting kit-related story (from Yellow Away Kit). … Windbreaker: A Swedish player received a yellow card for ripping a fart on the field. No word on whether Beano will now take over as the team’s jersey sponsor advertiser. … A youth soccer tournament in Wisconsin this weekend will feature a lot of pink.

Grab Bag: The U. of North Dakota finally unveiled its new Fighting Hawks logo yesterday. Additional info here. … Good story on Las Vegas’s future as a pro sports city. … New logo for the Japanese restaurant chain Yoshinoya (from Taylor Nicolaisen). … New track and field uniforms for Defiance College (from Adam Trausch). … Rapper Snoop Dogg is trying to trademark a line of pot products (from Ted Arnold). … Here are the Indycar liveries for Road America (from Tim Dunn). … Several Nike-outfitted female tennis players are having their dresses for Wimbledon altered because the dresses are too skimpy and show too much skin (from Chris Flinn).

98 comments to EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With the Color Rush Leaker

  • Adam H. | June 23, 2016 at 8:04 am |

    Last time there was a Big 4 league with a prime number of teams was the 2001 NFL. Pre-Texans they had 31 franchises.

    • Jack | June 23, 2016 at 8:12 am |

      The NBA had 29 until 2004 when the Bobcats entered the league.

    • Hodges14 | June 23, 2016 at 8:24 am |

      Actually it was 2003-04, when the NBA had 29 teams.

  • Alex Dewitt | June 23, 2016 at 8:24 am |

    That was a fun interview! Also, I love the helmet schedules!

  • Rob S | June 23, 2016 at 8:29 am |

    Those Futures Game caps… wow. Upper-case letters in that font just don’t look right.

    And it would’ve been nice if the ‘Stros had taken that football helmet pic without the giant wall of windows in the background, as the light coming through there diminishes the quality of the shot, and makes the center stripes on the helmet look less distinct.

  • Andrew Harrington | June 23, 2016 at 8:38 am |

    If I was this guy’s Nike contact, I’d be shitting myself. There can’t be that many people working on NFL uniforming, let alone a program as specific as Color Rush. I also think there are probably enough people lined up wanting to work there that they could just let the whole crew go and not be in much of a bind.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 8:54 am |

      1) Has it occurred to you that maybe he checked with his friend and that the friend OK’d it?

      2) If you go back and re-read the pertinent part of the interview, you’ll find that he didn’t say his friend works FOR Nike; he said his friend works WITH Nike. Big difference.

      • Tony Crespo | June 23, 2016 at 9:09 am |

        i have a feeling this guy is the same guy that went by trash432a on reddit. prior to the Browns jersey release he claimed he had say the new jersey. were going to have gun metal grey in them, also an UCLA like stripe, no brown uniform, all orange helmet and number that would resemble a smoke stack.. he claimed that like NFL Leaks he lived in the Denver area and had access to a friend that worked for hydro(something) that helps design the helmets graphics.. but he later dropped that saying he was payed by nike to leak info

        reddity link about him https://www.reddit.com/r/Browns/comments/22b649/so_who_wants_browns_uni_details/

        • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 9:16 am |

          he claimed that like NFL Leaks he lived in the Denver area…

          You may be right about him being the same person, but the Leaker did not say he lives in the Denver area. He said he lives in the Mountain Time Zone.

          Yes, Denver is in the Mountain Time Zone, but so are lots of other places.

        • Tony Crespo | June 23, 2016 at 9:22 am |

          i know that there are plenty of places in the MTZ

          for me this guy seems to come off just like the person i linked. to me he’s just throwing shit up against the wall hoping something sticks.

        • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 9:29 am |

          That’s fine if you think that. And you might be right!

          But in your initial comment, you specifically stated that the Reddit guy and the Leaker both claimed to be from Denver, when the reality is that the Leaker did NOT claim to be from Denver.

          When you stretch the facts, you weaken your own argument. Your argument is plausible enough with the facts at hand.

  • Thom D. | June 23, 2016 at 8:38 am |

    When the Browns came back from the dead in ’99, the NFL had 31 teams.

  • Greg | June 23, 2016 at 8:40 am |

    “Iceland and Austria went color vs. color yesterday”

    Colour vs. Colour in football (soccer) is so common it’s really not worth mentioning

    • Yellow Away Kit | June 23, 2016 at 10:35 am |

      But in a tournament setting, color vs color is a rarity and only happens if the alternative kit also causes a clash. So far, we’ve had:
      * Italy in white vs Belgium’s red/black
      * Ireland in white vs Italy’s blue and Belgium’s red/black
      * France in white vs Switzerland’s red
      * Albania in white vs France’s blue
      * Czech Republic in white vs Croatia’s blue

      Slovakia was blue vs red because Slovakia’s white clashed with Wales’ white shorts, and Croatia was forced to wear blue against Turkey because the regular white/red kit is a clash.

      • Lee | June 23, 2016 at 11:20 am |

        Maybe less common in a tournament setting, but certainly not a “rarity” for teams to go color v color, by any means.

        Lee

  • Geoff K | June 23, 2016 at 8:48 am |

    Do I really see red next to the Lions? Seems wrong!

    • Rob S | June 23, 2016 at 9:14 am |

      It’s been reported that the Lions may be borrowing from their 1948 team, which went red and black for a season.

  • Todd | June 23, 2016 at 8:51 am |

    I am happy to see the Ravens aren’t doing the Maryland flag. I am getting so tired of seeing that damn flag everywhere these days.

    • Steve B. | June 23, 2016 at 3:47 pm |

      Agreed….too much of a good thing.

  • Todd Shepard | June 23, 2016 at 8:58 am |

    The Lincecum jersey shows the letters and numbers as they are presented in the style guide, which are quite different (as you can see in the photo) from what is actually used on the jerseys. I have a feeling a lettering shop created the cut file from the style guide directly instead of having a stock of letters and numbers from the team or a supplier like Liebe.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 9:00 am |

      Excellent point — the style guide shows the thicker-outlined numerals. But the team generally doesn’t use those!

    • Eriq Jaffe | June 23, 2016 at 9:39 am |

      I also noticed that he arching of Lincecum’s NOB seems more pronounced. It’s not like “Lincecum” is any longer than “Bedrosian,” so it didn’t need to be arched more to fit on the jersey.

      • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 9:41 am |

        Arching can vary a lot, because some jerseys are lettered by Majestic and others by a team’s local sticher.

        • Rob S | June 23, 2016 at 9:50 am |

          Isn’t Lincecum a pretty skinny dude? It may be arched a little more so that the ends of his name don’t get lost under his armpits.

  • Marko | June 23, 2016 at 9:00 am |

    Thank you Shannon Shark! High-crown caps suck, suck real bad.

  • Adam | June 23, 2016 at 9:04 am |

    Oh man! I have a handcuff key on my key ring as well. I did one of those ‘Breakout’ games a few months ago, and we started out handcuffed. Somehow, the person who set up the game had slipped the key into my pocket, and I guess I put it back in there once we all got out of the cuffs. I found it on the floor of my apartment a few days later, and it’s been on my key ring ever since.

  • KC | June 23, 2016 at 9:31 am |

    The yellow Chiefs is just wrong. Yellow is such a minor part of their color scheme.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 9:32 am |

      Subject to change … Subject to change … Subject to change … Subject to change … Subject to change.

      • KC | June 23, 2016 at 9:38 am |

        One can hope.

  • Winter | June 23, 2016 at 9:36 am |

    …what was wrong with Zephyrs?

    • Eriq Jaffe | June 23, 2016 at 9:40 am |

      Probably just wasn’t generating enough revenue. But all of the proposed nicknames are just terrible – I hope “Baby Cakes” wins in a landslide just so they’re stuck with it.

      • Eriq Jaffe | June 23, 2016 at 9:41 am |

        To amend my blanket statement there, Crawfish isn’t that bad. But I still hope “Baby Cakes” wins.

        • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 11:36 am |

          The owner probably wants Crawfish. It seems a common way to get the name you like without appearing dictatorial is to offer it up next to several lame suggestions and “let the people decide.” It’s the only name I’d consider out of that bunch.

        • arrScott | June 23, 2016 at 1:03 pm |

          I assume that’s the strategy, but if so it’s a foolish one. Nobody ever lost money underestimating the taste and judgment of the American people. Except maybe the XFL. Letting the general public submit ideas is all well and good, but team owners should never leave the final choice up to the popular will. I hope there is some mechanism in place for the team to declare Crawfish the winner no matter what the actual votes cast amount to.

    • Eriq Jaffe | June 23, 2016 at 11:57 am |

      Yeah, but I kind of hope the internet pulls another “Boaty McBoatface”.

    • Mike Engle on iPhone | June 23, 2016 at 12:04 pm |

      Man, I grew up in New Orleans with the Zephyrs! Loved seeing John Halama pitch and Daryle Ward hit homers, which was rare at Zephyr Field because it was a big park in a humid area. There goes a piece of my childhood, that’s really too bad.

    • dave | June 23, 2016 at 12:43 pm |

      Brandiose’s shtick is wearing terribly thin. They did a lot to reinvigorate minor league branding, but their branding efforts have become formulaic, and not particularly “classic.” It’s simply novelty in most cases.
      The Zephyrs, B-Mets, and SI Yanks are going for a “more locally flavored” rebrand this year, but the campaigns smack of marketing novelty (at this point, I’m expecting the SI options to include the “Ferry Riders” and the “Bridge and Tunnel Crew”). We shall see what names SI settles on, but Binghampton and NOLA have slim to no options if they don’t want their teams to become a joke.
      College football teams try to make cool jerseys to attract good players. The same basic logic holds true with anything: make it cool, and you attract more (and better) options for your brand (face it, everything is just a brand now). So why put your parent organization in the unfortunate position of trying to recruit talent by coaxing them into a system where they’d be a “Rumble Pony” or a “Baby Cake”?
      I’m not a curmudgeon by any means. I love unique, clever, local names, and wacky branding, but have some respect for the players and the fans. The Mud Hens is a classic example of a goofy name that doesn’t make the team look like a pee-wee soccer team that got to pick their own name.

      • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm |

        The problem is right there in Brandiose’s name (and throughout your comment): the incessant emphasis on brand, branding, rebranding, brand-brand-brand.

        It’s not storytelling, it’s not corporate messaging — it’s minor league baseball. Jeez.

        • Judy A | June 23, 2016 at 1:27 pm |

          This emphasis on “storytelling” – man, I hate it. I’m addicted to cooking competitions (Top Chef, Masterchef, Food Network Star, etc), and every time the contestants are told to tell a story, I cringe inside. I don’t want a freaking story. Cook a recipe that looks appetizing and looks like something I could make at home, and try not to be a loud, obnoxious jackass while you’re doing it. That’s all the story I need.

          I don’t need my financial planning service or my office supplies or my local baseball team and any other Brandy McMarketingtool to “tell me a story.” When I want to hear a story, I’ll read a book.

        • dave | June 23, 2016 at 1:59 pm |

          I think the “storytelling” (and typically, that term is used very loosely when it comes to branding a team identity) is such a painful way to explain away bad, or unusual design choices.
          I, too, hate teams as brands. I think it destroys opportunities for locals to embrace something unique to them, which is quite the opposite of the stated intention (as stated by the branding houses, typically).
          However, branding is a harsh reality of our times. I just wish these design houses and marketing firms would realize that the strongest brands are typically the ones that refuse to play along with the BS. The NY Yankees are one of America’s strongest sports brands, regardless of how good or bad the team is, and they’ve made extensive efforts to minimize the influence of marketing gimmicks on their team identity.
          Give your team a name and a visual identity that won’t sound laughable in 5 years, and then focus on baseball. The fans, the opponents, the announcers, the journalists, and the general culture surrounding the team will do the rest. Design firms aren’t the only people in the world who can think up clever puns and such.
          The Oakland A’s are another great example. Their white elephant mascot is rooted in team history, it’s punny and clever (if you know the story), and totally unique, and guess what? It came about pretty organically. That’s a strong identity that the fans can get behind.

        • Charles | June 23, 2016 at 2:11 pm |

          The thing about branding and storytelling that is so stupid to me is that you don’t ever see new teams not named after something having to do with local lore. The Chicago Bears, the Oakland Raiders, the Boston Bruins—time was you could just give your team a strong, non-specific name and that was that; you didn’t need to justify it. That doesn’t fly anymore, though, because now it would just look like you didn’t do your homework.

        • 716 Scott | June 23, 2016 at 7:34 pm |

          The “storytelling” is such bs. Who has ever considered “tailgating” to be synonymous with baseball.

        • Deano | June 24, 2016 at 7:22 am |

          I agree with Paul’s comment, and all of the subsequent responses. That being said, I think Night Owls is a really cool name for a minor league baseball team from New Orleans.

          I confess, being from Denver, that I have kind of an irrational grudge against the Zephyrs name. That was the name foisted on the beleaguered fans of the longtime Denver Bears franchise in the old American Association back in the 1980s by the then-owners, the Dikeou brothers. They hoped to parlay the marketing potential into some kind of major league cachet in the event they were awarded an MLB expansion team.

          When another ownership group got the eventual nod in 1992 for a Denver NL expansion team, the Zephyrs were shipped off to the Big Easy. And of course, that ownership group also tossed tradition to the wind, ignoring the desires of the local populace for a revival of the Bears name, and went with the Colorado Rockies tag. The rationale was that the name was instantly marketable to a wider region. They also chose the fashionable colors of black, silver, and purple. Even though the Bears had a long and storied uniform tradition. But don’t get me started.

          I think one of the principals of that original Rockies ownership group ended up serving time in a federal prison. So at least that.

  • Rob S | June 23, 2016 at 9:42 am |

    It’s not surprising at all that the Leafs would be debuting their new uniforms at the draft, since it’s been done a number of times in the past. I’m hoping they won’t be the only team to do so, although due to the NHL only having the first round on Friday night (which just seems stupid to me), unless the Penguins trade back into the first round, we’ll likely have to wait until Saturday to see if they unveil a new uni here.

    As for the report on the Leafs uni, if that mock-up is accurate, than I’m very disappointed. The single wide waistline stripe being mixed with the traditional double sleeve stripes just looks wrong – an unholy marriage of the Conn Smythe and Harold Ballard eras on one jersey.

  • Wade Heidt | June 23, 2016 at 9:45 am |

    Thanks for the update on the 7 finalists for the new name for the New Orleans baseball team. If those are the choices, I still like Zephyrs way better than any of the finalists. My opinion is no need to change what is not broken.

    • Ryan Feuerstein | June 23, 2016 at 11:30 am |

      We’ll have you seen the 6 finalists to replace the Binghamton Mets’ name? Among them, Stud Muffins took an immediate social media liking…

      • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm |

        Social media is full of trolls.

  • Adam | June 23, 2016 at 10:04 am |

    What is the black bar above Cam Newton’s jock tag on the front of his Red Wings jersey?

    • Rob S | June 23, 2016 at 10:29 am |

      It may be a tag identifying whoever customized that jersey with the silver accents on the logo. That’s about the only thing I can think of.

  • Joe Rodgers | June 23, 2016 at 10:20 am |

    I dunno, this interview seems reckless. He didn’t really provide proof of his credentials, he’s gotten stuff wrong before (I think he “reported” the Rams were doing something) and the “subject to change” is a nice cover for if and when these sheets are wrong.

    I figured that after the Jesse Alkire hoax you’d be more careful. Hoped so, anyway.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 10:29 am |

      I provided all sorts of disclaimers and caveats, and I provided full transparency about my process and my thoughts.

      If you still think it’s “reckless,” that’s your prerogative. I still think it’s an interesting story. If it turns out to be a hoax, that’s interesting too.

      And yes, I’ve been much more careful since last year’s ASG cap hoax. You have no idea how many supposed leaks come my way that I end up not saying anything about, because they don’t pass the smell test (a lot). And I’m not interested in discussing the particulars of the info that’s been leaked — it’s unconfirmed, it’s subject to change, etc. In this case, as I explained, I’m more interested in the purported leaker than in the leak itself. That’s the story I’m presenting here. “Reckless”? I respectfully disagree.

      Oh, and about the Rams: The Leaker and I discussed that separately/privately. Not a disqualifying issue.

      • Joe Rodgers | June 23, 2016 at 10:54 am |

        So, if I’m gathering you correctly, you acknowledge it’s completely possible you posted an interview with a guy that might be tweeting 100 percent bogus information because you find him interesting? In that case, anybody who creates a Twitter account, gives it a nice name and is good at Photoshop can get an interview.

        This is a site held to high standards (by me and a lot of people) that breaks news and should be practicing real reporting skills, partly since you do get plenty of scoops and credentials to actual events. When he didn’t send the proof of his credentials you should have killed this piece.

        Hope this guy’s legit and it turns out I’m wrong, mostly because I like this site. But this wasn’t worth risking your credibility.

        • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 11:45 am |

          if I’m gathering you correctly, you acknowledge it’s completely possible you posted an interview with a guy that might be tweeting 100 percent bogus information because you find him interesting?

          Yes. It’s not as though “gathering [me] correctly” is so difficult here, Joe. It’s right there in the text of today’s entry: “Could he still be bullshitting me? Could the whole thing be an elaborate scam? Sure.”

          In that case, anybody who creates a Twitter account, gives it a nice name and is good at Photoshop can get an interview.

          No, that is a faulty conclusion based on the premise you provided. Your conclusion assumes that I will find “anybody who creates a Twitter account, gives it a nice name and is good at Photoshop” interesting. That is not the case. In this case, this guy has a bit of a track record (regarding the NFL schedule, e.g.). Moreover, lots of people are talking about the info he provided. I’m not interested in the info, because it’s unconfirmed, subject to change, etc., so I chose to address the issue by interviewing the *source* of the info. Most importantly, I don’t think he’s a hoaxer. Could I be wrong? Sure. But I don’t think I’m wrong. And even if I *am* wrong, I think it’s all still interesting. Maybe you think that’s “reckless.” I disagree.

          This is a site held to high standards (by me and a lot of people)…

          Actually, there is only one person who holds this site to any standard, and that person is me. The rest of you are welcome to come along for the ride or not, as you see fit. If you feel today’s entry compromised the standards I have set in the past, that’s a pity (for both of us), but I disagree.

          One more time: I’m more interested in the Leaker than in the info. We didn’t discuss one single team’s color choice, because I don’t give a shit about unconfirmed info that’s subject to change. What we discussed were his methods, his motivations, etc. — which, yes, might all be a scam, although I don’t think so. Maybe you don’t care about that (just like some readers don’t care about Culinary Corner, Key Ring Chronicles, etc.), but I do. So I ran the story. The end.

  • MJ | June 23, 2016 at 11:07 am |

    CFL has 9 teams. What? Don’t look at me like that. No, I’m not Canadian, why do you ask?

    • Todd | June 23, 2016 at 11:22 am |

      Prime number, not just odd number.

      • Scott Nuzum | June 23, 2016 at 7:37 pm |

        But during the last year of the American experiment, the CFL had 13 teams. That was in 1994-95, so the NFL being at 31 was more recent.

        • Wade Heidt | June 23, 2016 at 9:21 pm |

          During ugly U.S. CFL expansion:

          13 teams in league was 1995.
          There were 12 teams in 1994.

      • Jerry | June 23, 2016 at 10:05 pm |

        Nine is not a prime number: 3 x 3

  • Boots Day | June 23, 2016 at 11:13 am |

    A better question about that George Foster photo is: Why is he in a left-handed batting stance? Just for symmetry with Kingman?

  • Ryan Feuerstein | June 23, 2016 at 11:29 am |

    Sean Gilmartin only wears his stirrups in games. During BP or pitcher warmups pre-game he only goes high-cuffed with blue socks. I can look through my photos to confirm

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 11:50 am |

      Ah, excellent info — thank you!

  • Alex Dewitt | June 23, 2016 at 11:38 am |

    “In a vaguely related item, the stripes on Rays P Chris Archer’s stirrups, which are usually blue, appeared to be grey last night” The link took me to a broken twitter link

  • NickV | June 23, 2016 at 11:40 am |

    Saints,wearing White for “Color Rush”? That’s no golor at all. However, in 2975 the Saints wore White jerseys with White pants for a vast majority of their games upon moving into the Superdome. It wasn’t until 1976 and Hank Stram that Black pants came in. White over White would be OK, for a game or two ….

  • Marc-Louis Paprzyca | June 23, 2016 at 11:42 am |

    A Christmas Story house is in Cleveland is the connection to the Cavs leg lamp shirt. I don’t know if there is anymore of a story.

  • NickV | June 23, 2016 at 11:44 am |

    The minor league New Orleans Zephyrs have announced the seven finslist choices gorvtheir gratuitous, voluntary n as me change. All seven options are horrible, the least horrible oerhaps being a perjorative term as locally “to crawfish” means to bsck off or out of a previous commitment or promise. The rest are simply horrid. Good heavens. Thundechickens and Banana Slugs weren’t available?

  • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 11:55 am |

    Any time I see “leak” or “subject to change” or anything else that’s unofficial, I ignore it and move on.

    And no, the black sleeves did NOT help the Cavs win the title. There may have been a drought, but there was no “Cleveland Curse” and there is no lucky jersey. I fear the Cavs are going to become the Patriots of the NBA: a consistent champion in a hideous uniform that makes superstitious fans scoff at the great look of a previous less-successful era.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 12:02 pm |

      Any time I see “leak” or “subject to change” or anything else that’s unofficial, I ignore it and move on.

      So when I reported on the leak of the NBA’s Xmas uniforms, you ignored it?

      • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:07 pm |

        Pretty much.

        • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:09 pm |

          Now I have to go back and see if I commented that day. If I did I know I didn’t get worked up about them

        • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 12:23 pm |

          That’s up to you, obviously. But in that case you’re missing out on 100% legit info. The guy who leaked it to me is the real deal, and so is the Adidas catalog he provided me with. Third straight year he’s given me the Xmas designs.

          When I did that story for ESPN, we didn’t include any caveats or disclaimers — we reported it as fact. Because that’s what it is.

        • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm |

          I figured you had accurate info, Paul, so it’s not that. Maybe “ignore” was too harsh. “Glance at with a reserved opinion” was too wordy, though.

      • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:18 pm |

        This year, yes. Last year I did make a comment on how I thought they looked nice.

    • Tony Crespo | June 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm |

      jim.. i know you’re from ohio or live in ohio.. did you go to the parade? if so how was the experience. how many make shift/wonky jerseys did you see?

      • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:29 pm |

        Didn’t go. Not much of a parade/pep rally person. I only saw a few minutes on TV and heard a few minutes on the radio.

        The wonkiest jersey I saw this week was at the grocery store. Some guy had the ’95 black jersey with LeBron’s name and number on the back.

        • Tony Crespo | June 23, 2016 at 12:37 pm |

          NBA shop had those recently

        • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:53 pm |

          I’d rather have a Stepien-era jersey.

    • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:34 pm |

      To clarify, my total ignoring of leaks is a recent thing. I know journalists are supposed to investigate and confirm things, but the more people get worked up about unofficial releases, the less interested I’ve become in them.

      • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm |

        the more people get worked up about unofficial releases, the less interested I’ve become in them.

        Welcome to my world. Frankly, I wish there were *no* leaks — my life would be much simpler. But to the extent that leaks exist, I do think it’s an interesting cultural phenomenon. Hoaxes are an interesting phenomenon, too.

        • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 12:48 pm |

          Hoaxes/conspiracies interest me. Someone tweeted the other day that there should be an Art Bell-like overnight radio show on sports conspiracies. I normally avoid sports talk radio but I would so listen to that.

        • arrScott | June 23, 2016 at 6:09 pm |

          As a recovering journalist, I understand why reporters and editors tend to embrace reporting leaks. But I wish some kind of professional standard could develop around the idea that a reporter’s job is to report on things that have actually happened, not things that have not actually happened. I find few things more boring than “news” reports about stuff that hasn’t happened or doesn’t exist. Such reports are really just a badly written sub-genre of sci-fi.

          I know this is partly (mostly?) a reaction against my own personal obsession with finding out stuff as soon as possible. I mean, I habitually stay up late and maniacally press the “reload” button on state websites just so that I can find out who won the most minor local elections before I go to be on voting day. Tell me that a team I like will be unveiling a new logo or uniforms or whatever, and I’ll scour the interwebs between now and whenever the announcement comes looking for hints and leaks. So really, I’m the bad guy here. But still, there’s never anything satisfying about actually finding the leak. And my anti-pre-reporting stance is stronger the more important the thing being pre-reported is. Doesn’t matter whether I generally approve of the current president or disapprove, it irks me to no end to have the morning radio news say something like, “In a speech to pork industry leaders in Des Moines today, the president will announce …” Stuff that, tell me another ten seconds’ worth of stuff that has actually already happened in the world, and then after the president has really said whatever it is your sources tell you he’s going to say, then tell me what he said.

          I wish journalists would use leaks – at least, anonymously sourced leaks – to make their reporting of whatever it is better when it actually happens, not as a peg to report the leak itself. But the professional incentives being what they are – people like me clicking on leak stories like our lives depend on it – whaddaya gonna do.

        • Jim Vilk | June 23, 2016 at 7:51 pm |

          “Recovering journalist.” I’m going to start using that term.

        • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 8:07 pm |

          I wish some kind of professional standard could develop around the idea that a reporter’s job is to report on things that have actually happened, not things that have not actually happened.

          And that is exactly what occurred here today. I didn’t report on what hasn’t happened (unconfirmed info that’s subject to change); I reported on what has actually happened (a guy doing something on Twitter, which you may or may not find interesting).

          More importantly: Just because something hasn’t officially been released/unveiled/announced/etc., that doesn’t mean it “hasn’t happened,” and it sure as shit doesn’t mean it isn’t newsworthy. It just means the powers that be haven’t seen fit to share it with us yet. Sometimes the powers that be have done this for perfectly good reasons, and sometimes for nefarious reasons. I mean, hello, the Pentagon Papers? Deep Throat? Etc.

  • Jim Howicz | June 23, 2016 at 12:25 pm |

    This is a fascinating article on many levels beyond uniforms. I’m glad you touched on the “why do this aspect” of leaking. Thanks Paul

  • Jon Rose | June 23, 2016 at 12:26 pm |

    I’m gonna stick up for the high crowned caps. Some of us have very roundish shaped heads. A low crown cap makes my head look like a frakking pumpkin. Most Authentic caps are available in high or low crown. People can buy whichever they prefer.

  • RobYaz | June 23, 2016 at 1:40 pm |

    The low-crown hats look better, but having tried them on I find they are uncomfortable – too tight on the top of the head. The problem with modern baseball caps is not entirely that they look like cardboard boxes but moreso that they they feel like cardboard boxes. I prefer soft-crown caps and less-stiff brims, such as the vintage reproductions made formerly by Cooperstown Ballcap Co. and still by Ebbets Field Flannels, which are so much more comfortable to wear.

  • Steve D | June 23, 2016 at 1:42 pm |

    The Foster photo is from early in the season in 1983, based on racing stripes at home and Kingman in the picture. Foster is wearing a batting practice jersey. The Mets began wearing BP jerseys in 1981. They were not mesh and used block numbers with serifs from 1981-1983. The font is very close to the font the Mets have used on home jerseys for all 55 seasons (standard block), except for the serifs on the 1, 2, 4 and 7. In 1984-1986, the Mets changed to a mesh BP with their usual block font with no serifs. So the Foster font is not “wrong,” just the font they used on BP jerseys in 1981-1983.

    An interesting note…the one exception to this rule was The Franchise, Tom Seaver…when he played for the Mets in 1983, his BP had the font with no serifs.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/66054817@N04/shares/v48Vgm

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 1:45 pm |

      Great info, Steve. Thanks!

      • Steve D | June 23, 2016 at 2:34 pm |

        No problem…love Mets uniform history and minutia.

        I thought Kingman had been released or waived around the time the Mets traded for Keith Hernandez in June 1983, but I looked it up and he was there for all of 1983. This picture could have been any time during 1983, but after Keith arrived, Kingman was persona no grata, making it unlikely they would pose for such a photo.

  • Wade Heidt | June 23, 2016 at 3:37 pm |

    A leak that would make me happy would be one advising that Color Rash is ending!

    Mono-colour football uniforms are not my favourite (some teams can pull is off like Seahawks). Dark jersey should normally be different colour than the pants to make an appealing football uniform.

    The way I feel, the purpose of Color Rash is to have every NFL team wear an unattractive version of their uniform at least one time for no apparent good reason.

    I will give a thumbs up to one Color Rash uniform though. I liked the New York Jets wearing the kelly green that we saw on the Color Rash unis, compared to the usual darker shade of green that they wear.

  • Chris | June 23, 2016 at 4:15 pm |

    I would have loved to hear the Leaker comment on the proposed color rush unis for Cincinnati and Baltimore. Stripes and the flag don’t really fit into the theme of how the NFL is, apparently, defining color rush.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 8:04 pm |

      As I’ve already explained several times, I wasn’t interested in discussing the individual designs or color themes, because it’s all unconfirmed and subject to change.

      The point of today’s entry was the Leaker himself, not the information that he leaks.

  • Gary | June 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm |

    So, the Leaker is “working/ studying” to become a journalist. Really.
    I guess he hasn’t taken the Ethics or Business Law courses as yet.

  • mike 2 | June 23, 2016 at 5:28 pm |

    Call me cynical but when I see NFL uniform leaks on Twitter, or on Reddit, or anywhere else, my first thought is that either the NFL or Nike is doing it intentionally to keep the NFL in the front of everyone’s minds during the off-season.

    I’ve just seen too many intentional leaks from politicians, too many fake viral marketing campaigns, etc. to believe that everybody is just leaking this stuff for internet points.

    • Paul Lukas | June 23, 2016 at 8:05 pm |

      What’s even better than a hoax? A conspiracy theory!

  • adam__cain | June 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm |

    The thing that I struggle with on the color rush sheet, which I know it subject to change, is that Dallas and Minnesota would have 2 sets of Color Rush. That just seems off to me.

  • Jerg | June 23, 2016 at 6:59 pm |

    Regarding yesterday’s Bruce discussion, I remembered this cartoon from Mad Magazine (look about halfway down the page):

    http://forum.rottentomatoes.com/topic/show/1980737

    It addresses both the Hulk and Jenner.