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Flipping Lids

Gene Sanny Project splash photo

[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site. Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month, although Paul is still on the clock over at ESPN and may be popping up here occasionally.]

By Phil Hecken

Uni Watch has many talented readers — and smart — which is part of which makes this such an amazing community. Many readers also curate other blogs (some of which are also related to uniforms), or design uniforms (professionally or otherwise) or do DIY projects. Gene Sanny is one of those DIYers who is also a commenter and ticker contributor, and I’ve had the occasion to work with him before. You may recall this amazing WFL electric football project as a testament to his talents. I’m back with Gene today, who has another DIY project to share with us. This one certainly ranks up there with his best DIY’s. He calls it…

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Flipping Lids
By Gene Sanny


When I was around 10 or 11, I started really getting into football. I remember going to a friends birthday party and we all went out to play football in his yard. He had quite a few NFL toy helmets, and getting to see the team logos close up for the first time really blew me away. So much so, that when the JC Penney Christmas catalog came out, i tore through it looking for the helmets. I spent hours just pining away looking at them — wanting them. (Click on any images below to enlarge.)

I asked my folks for a football helmet that Christmas. I told them I didn’t care what team, I just wanted a helmet. They got me a helmet. A real one. Blank white with a 2 bar mask. While it was cool, and it turned out I was actually able to use it in junior high football (my head was apparently too big for what they had on hand), I was disappointed that I didn’t get an NFL team helmet. Just something about logos I guess. Anyway, between my buddy’s collection, and that glorious catalog that came every year, I never got over wanting some of those NFL helmets.

Over the years, I would look on ebay, and there were some, but usually they were ridiculously priced, or virtually destroyed. So, I decided to take things into my own hands. I started looking for vintage youth helmets, real ones that parents, or coaches, had laying around I guess. Usually these were priced much cheaper, I guess because they were less collectable without NFL logos on them.

Because I’m not made out of money, I tried to grab any “buy it now” reasonably priced helmets, and would get into a few bidding wars for lower priced ones. Also, over time, I would find the real catalog toy ones that people were just trying to get rid of apparently, because the prices started getting more reasonable. I also cared less about the condition, because i had a plan. I tried to stay around $25 – $30 shipping included. A few I got under $15, and one I bought for $40, and that one is a story in itself that I’ll get to.


So, I would get these bargain, battered helmets, and I would decide what team to make of them. I’m an artist at a sign/tshirt shop, so I would create the logos in vector format so our cutter could use the file, and my boss was cool enough to let me use scrap vinyl to cut the logos out of. I would spray paint the helmets in team color, and apply the decals. Some were just a matter of cleaning them up and resizing the logos to look more like the real deal.


Some needed a little tweaking, like the Vikings… the manufacturer decal had no separation between the yellow and the white on the horn, plus the purple had faded, so I repainted it.


While I got a few that were in pretty darn good condition for their age so I just left them be, others needed to be fully redone either because they were just in such bad shape, or because I bought another of a team I already had because the price was so good, or they were just blank youth helmets. The following images may be disturbing to some, because I made a few helmets out of that teams’ rival team:






The helmet I love most is the Raiders. This one cost $40 and shipping — the one time I broke my spending rule — because of the facemask. It’s a Dungard. My favorite brand of mask when I was a kid. Chuck Muncie, Jim Zorn, Morten Anderson, most of the Chiefs, wore Dungard. I tried sporting goods store after sporting goods store when I was a kid trying to find one for my “real” helmet with no luck. Online, Dungard masks go for $99.99 or more no matter where you look, and here was one for $40, with a helmet included! Holy grail baby.

The decals are thinner than official decals, which are usually screen printed on thicker clear decal material so it can contour to the helmet better, so mine have some creases, but I’m ok with it. Oh, and 2 of the teams (Bucs and Pats) had enough detail I couldn’t cut them from vinyl, so I had them digital printed, $10 total.

This all took a little over a year, and most of the money i made doing art projects for people — my fun money — but completely worth it. When I finished, and just stared at them, all aligned in their 1983 divisions.


I was like a kid on Christmas, but this time with helmets with official NFL logos and colors.

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Thanks, Gene! Once again, an amazing DIY project, and thanks for sharing it with us. Perhaps this will inspire some of you others out there to embark on similar DIYs.


One last thing — here’s a shot of how those DIY helmets look hanging on Gene’s wall:

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And now a few words from Paul: Hi. Here’s a little story: A few summers back, Narragansett beer proclaimed itself to be the “Official Beer of the Clam.” The problem was that they used a logo on their can that showed a scallop shell, not a clam shell. When I pointed this out to the brewery president while interviewing him for an article about the clam promotion, he laughed and said, “Well, that there is what’s called a fuck-up.”

They stuck with the scallop logo for a few more years (they probably had a lot of can inventory to get through), but two nights ago I noticed that they’ve changed the logo from a scallop to a clam. Maybe they did this a while ago and I just hadn’t noticed until now..? In any case, I salute their move to show the proper mollusk. Old logo on the left, new one on the right (click to enlarge):

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In case you missed it…

I was a guest on the Wolverine 247 Podcast Tuesday evening, talking about the new Michigan football uniforms with Zach Shaw of 247 Sports. We chatted at length and my portion of the interview begins at around the 16:30 mark. If you have a few minutes, give it a listen. Love to hear what you think!

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Wolves contest logo

In Case You Missed It (II) – T-Wolves Redesign Contest Results

Paul’s Timberwolves Redesign Contest results ran on ESPN yesterday, but it was late in the afternoon due to a production glitch, so many of you may not have seen it. There were some great entries, including the “Best Use of ‘M’ (and also ‘W’)” shown in the graphic above, from designer Dom Veurink. It was really an amazing set of submissions, so if you didn’t check it out yesterday, give it a look-see now.

Timberwolves Redesign Contest Link Here.

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Grand Rapids Griffins Contest Design Reminder

I’m currently hosting a contest to redesign an alternate jersey for the Grand Rapids Griffins. All the details are here.

The deadline for all submissions is Thursday, August 11th (Midnight Eastern Time).

Remember to send all your entries to in the format described in the article.

Good Luck!

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The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Arena Football League’s postseason logo looks like the 2014 MLB Postseason logo. … Irish Night jerseys for the Syracuse Chiefs next Tuesday (from OT Sports Baseball, via Phil). … Augtoberfest, for August Oktoberfest, jerseys coming for the Lakewood BlueClaws (from Phil). … The Bowling Green Hot Rods will wear green jerseys for a night this month (from Phil). … The Staten Island Yankees will wear caps for Cannoli Appreciation Night on Monday (from Phil). … The Grand Junction Rockies will wear these jerseys on Friday for Donate Life, which supports organ and tissue donations (from John Romero). … In Australian baseball, players on Hawkesbury’s three major league teams all wore No. 69 as a tribute to a former player, Peter Whatson, who died of cancer last year and wore No. 69 when he played. Nice (from Graham Clayton). … Matt Kemp was photoshopped into a pre-2016 Braves jersey (from Matt H.). Here’s how you can tell.

NFL News: Even with the rise of Color Rash uniforms, the NFL hasn’t changed its one helmet rule (from Phil). … Brett Favre’s locker at the Pro Football Hall of Fame includes both a Packers and Vikings uniform. More info here. … The Texans released their home uniform schedule. They will go mono-blue in November and they’ll wear red jerseys over white pants in December (from Kenny Saidah).

College Football News: South Carolina has red, matte black, and white helmet options this season. White is the standard helmet color for the Gamecocks, while they wore red for one game last year. They last wore black helmets in 2004 (from Michael McLaughlin). … New uniforms for Boston College (from Steven Auclair). … Good look at Louisiana’s new uniforms. … New away uniforms for Colorado Mesa. And while we’re here, the school’s women’s hoops team also has new road unis (from Marc Gustafson, via Phil). … Yesterday we noted that Nebraska will have a memorial logo for punter Sam Foltz, who died in a car crash this summer. It will be worn as a helmet decal this season. More details and another look here (from Brett Baker, via Phil). … New helmets for Southern Illinois (from Craig Choate, via Phil). … New cleats and shoes for Missouri (from Dave Cline, via Phil). … New $2.5 million weight room for LSU (from Phil).

Hockey News: A fan got a peek at how hockey will be set up at Las Vegas’s new T-Mobile Arena. … No photos, but the Toledo Walleye will wear Rocky-themed jerseys in January (from Tod Hess, via Phil).

NBA News: Through some clerical errors, a pretty strong Timberwolves redesign entry from Dan Kennedy didn’t make Paul’s ESPN column and wasn’t included in the submission gallery. Don’t worry. Uni Watch’s official secretary has already been fired for that blunder.

Soccer News: Premier League champs Leicester City traded jerseys with the Clippers during a trip to L.A. (from Chris Cruz). … New kits for Fulham FC. Odd to see “Visit Florida” sponsor an English club (from John Hinton). … New uniforms for Virginia Tech’s women team (from Andrew Cosentino). … The Swedish women’s soccer team’s yellow jerseys look a bit muted after the country’s apparel switch to H&M this summer (from Phil). … New kits for Auburn’s women’s team (from Clint Richardson, via Phil). … CD Dragon’s CONCACAF Champions League patch didn’t fully cover their league championship patch (from Ian Gerig). … Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was wearing a jersey with no number on back while playing AC Milan (from Alfredo Polar).

Grab Bag: Good history here of bedazzled Olympic gymnast leotards. This year, many Team USA gymnasts will wear leotards with nearly 5,000 Swarovski crystals each on them. … New logo for the SETI Institute, a group dedicated to extraterrestrial life (from John Muir).

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And that’s going to do it for today. Thanks to Mike for preparing the ticker and of course to Gene for sharing that wonderful DIY project!

I’ll be back for one more weekday post tomorrow, with Johnny Ek taking you through the weekend. Until then…

follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.


.. … ..

“I don’t think the matte helmets look bad. The wing design originated on leather helmets which were about as glossy as a modern matte finish. I think matte finish color-matches to the jerseys better. They just hold the stigma that comes with being modern and nontraditional..”

— Eric Romain

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Comments (55)

    That is an awesome (and creative) project. Would like to see that with modern youth helmets and maybe some older-style helmets with teams from the 50s.

    Fully agree. Really well done. I took an old Steelers helmet as a kid and made it into one that matched out high school for a Halloween costume once but never came close to doing anything this ambitious or this well.

    I remember looking through that same catalog in 83 at 9 y/o. The Dolphins need to go back to that logo what were they thinking?

    Cannoli night lol only in SI.

    Holy cow!! SO cool, Gene!!!

    I see the 12 on the Steelers helmet. Did you add numbers to any other helmets (on the back)? If so, what number did you choose?

    Great work.

    Just the steelers…. that’s one of the first I did, before I realized I was going to do them all, and it just didn’t look right without a number on the forehead, so Bradshaw it was :)

    Nike is getting out of the golf equipment business:


    But will stay in the golf apparel business. So no more neon green or blue Nike golf clubs, but plenty of retina-searing golf shirts.

    Wow. Nike had become quite a “player” in the golf equipment market in a relatively short time. I know that Tiger was the driving force for Nike to get into that market but a lot of tour pros still play Nike, including Rory McIlroy. I’m sure the folks at Titleist, Taylor Made, Cobra, et al., are on the range today at the Travelers’ making a pitch to Nike equipment players.

    No doubt, and the Bloomberg story’s chart of Nike’s declining equipment sales is impressive. But all the big makers have reported declining sales lately; they’re competing for slices of a shrinking pie. Which is exactly the sort of situation where Nike’s disruptive approach is supposed to be an asset. It’s really pretty damning in my eyes that Nike is pulling out of the market rather than trying to find a way to revolutionize it. If Nike can’t win that niche market, then what is the point of Nike?

    Also, UA has been moving into the golf apparel market lately; I wonder if UA might attempt a jump into equipment.

    Swedish soccer players will return to wearing Adidas once the Olympics are over, and they resume representing the Swedish Football Federation. During the Olympics, they’re tepresenting the Swedish Olympic Committee, which has a contract with H&M.

    Been waiting for a UW DIY article since you posted the ‘wall of helmets’ on FB.

    These look great, Gene!

    Gene, fantastic stuff. And I agree with Leo- I would love to see more helmet DIY on uniwatch! Gene- I’d like to reproduce some of this at my twitter feed, @wthelmets. Please let me know if that’s ok with you. Feel free to check us out!

    That Timberwolves “W” logo concept looks really familiar, but I can’t place it. It looks like something from the WWE.

    You’d think there would be no beer downside moving from Virginia to Wisconsin, but there is one: No ‘Gansett here. By being open about their adjunct ingredients, Narragansett seems to embrace the corn, so rather than trying to hide the adjunct ingredients like Yuengling (which until recently actively lied about the presence of corn in the malt), ‘Gansett uses the corn as an out-front part of the flavor profile. Gives it a hint of crisp sweetness instead of the usual adjunct lager mealiness, and a bit of buttery mouthfeel. Plenty of great beer here, especially the only-in-Wisconsin New Glarus, but I do miss the occasional tall Narragansett.

    One reason Visit Florida might be sponsoring Fulham is because the owners of Fulham are the Khan Family, the same people who own the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    But does Kahn have an investment/partnership with Visit Florida? I know Pure Michigan is state operated with major donations from DeVos/Meijer/Ford’s

    Awesome work, Gene! Great idea and great execution. As a kid in the ’70s, I too drooled over the Penney’s and Sears’ catalogs and was inspired to DIY a couple helmets with either El Marko markers or spray paint. So-so results (I was 11), but a lot of fun.

    Gene, love those helmets reminds me of my childhood. I spent hours looking at those Sears catalogs. I received a Rams helmet for Xmas gift probably 1980 or so. Nothing like a brand new helmet out of a box!! Just curious as to why the Bucs facemask is the only colored one? Colored facemasks became an obsession of mine.,…

    I just happened to have an orange mask on hand, and the Bucs helmet was a newer green helmet with a white mask, so spray painted it white and attached the orange mask :)

    Yeah, I know…. I have a yellow mask chargers too, it’s just not a 2 bar like in the catalogs, and I was trying really hard to go for that look whenever I could :)

    Also wanted to let Gene know that is some fantastic work. I applaud all the DIYers for sharing their talents with us.

    Great DIY, Gene….I remember seeing this Dungard type face guard on ebay a little while ago,….

    ….and thought it was the strangest thing, since, it’s obviously not a real Dungard. What exactly is the flat material, plastic then bent to form over a helmet?

    That’s kind of what I think…. it’s aluminum, but there’s no rubber coating like usual. I thought maybe it decayed and peeled off, or something. Either way, I loved those masks, and this was the closest I would ever come to one, because I wasn’t shelling out 100 bucks, rubber coating or not :)

    Re Hazard wearing a jersey with no number on the back: A ball hit him in the face and his nose started bleeding so they had to get him a new shirt. They may not have had any numbered jerseys as Chelsea were playing the last match of the US portion of their pre-season tour.

    DIYers like Gene Sanny and Wafflebored are geniuses. I have never and likely will never do anything creative in my life which makes beautiful creations like these helmets all the more impressive.

    Fantastic work by Gene Sanny! As an old Baltimore Colts fan I appreciate the Colts helmet represents their last year in Baltimore in 1983. The Colts helmet you restored looks kind of off-white. I thought the Colts had a “pure” white helmet. Is that because of the condition of that helmet? Great job!

    Yeah, it yellowed. I figured it was close, and if I didn’t have to spray it I wouldnt. I had a grey mask on hand, albeit from the 90s, but would have loved it to be a 2 bar like most of the rest.

    I begged, and begged for a helmet too. In 82 or 83 my older sisters pitched in and got me one for Christmas. They ordered it out of the Penny’s catalogue and I got it… in February and it was too big! Also, for whatever reason, our catalogue did not have every team available (only “regional” teams) so instead of getting my favorite team (then it was the Raiders) I had to settle for the Oilers because I liked their oil rig logo and colors… Later, in 7th grade football, they didn’t have enough helmets and they asked if anyone had their own with a NOCSAE stampped in it to help by wearing them. I told the coach I did but it was an Oilers helmet (it now fit) and he was like “Take the stickers off” — I wouldn’t so I quit 7th grade football. LOL

    Great work on the helmets! Just want to point on 1 minor detail. On the Falcons helmet stripe, there are actually 2 gold stripes outside the white. This was done because the owner chose Georgia colors for the uniforms, so he put a small bit of gold in the helmet to appease GA Tech fans.

    Gene that is a great idea and collection and work you did. Thanks for sharing. So are you happy there or ever consider doing AFL or college or throwbacks? You could really get carried away doing those.
    Anyhow nice job.

    I have a couple USFL ones I’ve made, but space is really becoming an issue in the man cave :)

    Man I hear you, I’m running out of space for my stuff too, and jerseys pack flat. I have a game worn football helmet, plus a few hockey makes and helmets from my playing days and there just isn’t room for everything. But helmets are the worst, just a big container of air.

    Complete diversion post… but reading on the Creamer Forum and this came up???

    Since it’s August in hockeyland and news is hard to come by, I thought I would just chime in with this random bit of Brian Burke Aesthetics Strikes Again.

    I was watching a feature on Tkachuk’s son (Matthew?) being drafted by the Flames. A camera crew followed him around on draft day to capture what that whirlwind of a day is like for 18-year-old kids.

    It became a running joke throughout the 5-minute clip they showed on the NHL Network how Tkachuk would show off his new Flames duds (Dad loved the sweater ;) ) but comment that he was not wearing a Flames hat on purpose. And the reason:

    Brian Burke does not like draft hats !!!

    Burke: “Hats are for baseball son…” and was struck by the jarring clarity of the comment?


    Is this just a neanderthal Burke being Burke?

    Or are we just so pre-disposed to seeing hats (baseball caps) on anything and everything that we’ve lost that fact that in truth…



    Push it to 70, thanks to Capt. McGrillout and the soldier behind him in this WWII photo from the Pacific Theater:


    Question for Gene, if I may: how did you make the Eagles wing decal metallic silver? IIRC, that would have been the only helmet decal that would have had any metallic paint on it from those days.

    That was one of the very few that was in good enough shape to leave alone…. just shined it up a bit. 2 of the others were eagle helmets that were in terrible condition, so they got redone, but I was thrilled to get that eagles one that was still so nice.

    That’s an amazing job on the NFL helmets. Wow. I still own my Miami Dolphins youth helmet and jersey I received on Christmas in 1975. I wore it when my friends and I played backyard football. I could never part with it, the sentimental value is priceless.

    I haven’t seen any of the other Timberwolves redesigns but I can’t imagine any could top what Dan Kennedy has made. That is a seriously awesome T-Wolves redesign! Love the colors and the wolf howing on the mountaint top is spectacular.

    It’s Louisiana-Lafayette. Don’t let them get you on their “Louisiana” bullshit.

    Okay the owner of the Las Vegas NHL team wants his new team to “attack” but let’s not go and name your team Las Vegas Attack! Yawn

    My name suggestions for the Vegas NHL team: Rounders, Drifters, Ice Hounds (gotta love Elvis), Rollers, Acers, Black Jacks (or Blackjacks), and possibly the most self-deprecating of the bunch, Sinners.

    Gene – what did you do to get rid of the scrapes and deep scratches on the helmets? they look really smooth. Great job!

    A lot of the scrapes are still there, but I did sand some of them down a bit before painting.

    My family got the Sears and JCPenney catalogs too, and I always wanted the helmet and football sets. In 1971 or 72, my mom bought me and my brother helmets. My brother had a yellow helmet that looked like the Packers’ without the G on it, with a two-bar facemask with another bar coming down from the top to the main facemask. Mine was white with a facemask like Gale Sayers once wore. My Mom still has them at the house, I think.

    Gene, what an awesome project, and thanks for sharing with us! I have a suggestion, though, for your display. Because you’ve hung them by their masks, all you really see from the front is the top of the helmet. Did you see the UW piece on the CA winery w/ hundreds of helmets on his walls? If not, it’s here: link Try hooks in the earholes like he used, so the side profiles of the helmets are visible. See pic here:

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