[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…
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.
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:
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):
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!
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.
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 Phil.Hecken@gmail.com in the format described in the article.
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).
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