By Phil Hecken
Last year it was all about the helmets, as Army broke out 17 of them, to a mere seven unique helmets for Navy. Army still lost. This year, it’s about the unis again.
As is their wont, both schools will have new uniforms for the traditional end-of-season game between the two schools, this year being the 119th iteration of the game. And this year both schools have some pretty interesting unis — with Army’s clearly being more intricate. Army is the ‘home’ team this year so they will be outfitted in “dark” uniforms, while the Navy will wear white jerseys. And if you’re a traditionalist, you won’t recognize either team.
Army was the first to unveil their new duds on Monday, so let’s eschew with the home team batting last protocol and take those first (you can click all images below to enlarge):
There’s a lot to digest here (and we haven’t even gotten to the details). First off, Army’s uniform is designed to “honor” the 82nd Airborne — according to Army Athletics, “The black and muted gray tones reflect that most of the 82nd Airborne’s combat jumps occurred at night. Netting painted onto the helmet reflects the combat helmet the paratroopers wore. And authentic World War II-era paratrooper division patches and 48-star American flag patches are included in the uniforms.”
We’ll get to the helmet (which is pretty impressive) in a second. Lets look closely at the American flag and patches.
You will likely first notice the flag patch on the right shoulder appears “backwards” (and has 48 stars). It’s not backwards, despite the military’s determination, most recently updated in 2003, which states the patch should “suggest that the flag is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.” However, the U.S. Code does not address the positioning of the flag patch. In 1948, it was worn as it is on the uniform today, and as such is historically appropriate.
The red patch in the middle of the chest is the “Red Devils” patch, which is the nickname for the 82nd Airborne. The patch on the left shoulder is a tribute to the “AA” (Airborne) patch worn by the combat jumpers.
You’ll note the unique font used on the “AA” — this looked cool and worked well on a patch. Unfortunately, the uniform designers decided to base their NUMBER fonts on this style. The result may not look so hot on the field.
You’ll also note the patches differ — and the name of the cadet is also on the uniform on the latter two models. This would follow recent protocol of placing the players’ names and unit patches on the jerseys. Expect Navy to also have unit patches as well.
Army’s helmets, as mentioned above, are meant to mimic the netting around paratrooper helmets. It’s an interesting effect — one that may not be “viewable” anywhere but up close, but is a nice treatment. The helmets will also be adorned with a skull patch on the sides.
Nice, right? I mean, if you have to have a costume. And if there are any two schools that have every right to play dress-up solider, it’s Army and Navy, since it’s possible many of these young men (and their non-football-playing counterparts) may be seeing actual deployment and possibly being asked to give the ultimate sacrifice in the not-too-distant future.
Now…let’s take a look at Navy’s unis:
These are not nearly as intricate, and actually are beautiful in their own right. According to the releases, these uniforms are meant to pay tribute to the 1963 Navy team, which was led by Roger “The Dodger” Staubach, who won the Heisman Trophy that year, and which ended the season ranked #2 — losing to #1 ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl that season. The 1963 Navy team donned a gold uniform and helmet, along with a block N with four stars on each shoulder and blue numerals, all of which will be featured today.
The graphic below gives an overview of the elements and provides a color look at the 1963 jersey, which featured the slogan, “DRIVE FOR FIVE” in the NOB location:
I’m not 100% sure why the team couldn’t go with an all gold uniform, but the team has elected to wear white shirts today. Unlike Army, these are not nearly as intricate, but the jerseys feature a navy blue yoke meant to mimic epaulettes found on the naval officer dress uniform, and the numbers are simple block. Very nice.
You’ll also note the “N” and star pattern from the 1963 jerseys are repeated inside the navy yoke:
Unfortunately, as is their wont, the uni manufacturer has added their “trademark” striping pattern on the pants.
The helmet is nice. It’s an athletic gold (we’re used to seeing Navy in metallic gold), with a bold navy center stripe containing stars. There is an anchor on the side. On the back, Navy continues with its tradition of adding “BEAT ARMY” to their uniform.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a modern-day game if the gloves didn’t also come with a message.
Well. There you have it. The costumes for the annual Army-Navy game. I’m not sure if the words “classy” or “dignified” can be applied to any college football uniforms these days, but these are pretty close. Army hasn’t beaten Navy in like 100 years, but they may have “won” the uni game. What say you?
Army & Navy Since 2008
As we prepare for the 2016 edition of the Army/Navy game, it’s good to remember that this is the game we can “blame” to a certain extent for the beginning of the “special” event uniforms. It’s difficult to really “complain” about the kids playing dress up in this game…but one can argue that the 2008 game opened the floodgates to all the uni shenanigans that followed. Prior to 2008, the teams definitely had altered their uniforms, and you may remember this tremendous article co-authored by Rick Pearson, Larry Bodnovich, Jimmer Vilk and myself — if you have a few minutes give that a read. Beginning in 2008, and in every game thereafter, both teams (with the sole exception of Army in 2009) had a special, new uniform for the game. Prior to 2008, both teams usually just wore their regular season unis (and because both wore metallic gold helmets and pants…looked very much alike).
It started out subtly and classily, and some of the costumes that have been introduced have been awful and downright garish. Much like Oregon started the “different uni for each game,” the 2008 A/N hookup started the ‘special event’ uniform carousel. It’s been ratcheted up by the uni makers ever since.
Still, it’s fun when Army and Navy do it. Especially since all eyes are on this longtime rivalry, and since they’re traditionally the only two teams to play this end-of-season gig, it’s the only game in town.
Let’s take a (loving) look back at each of the matchups since the 2008 “historic” game:
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it on Friday, this year’s NFL throwbacks — like all throwbacks that have been worn since 2013 — have had one thing in common: The teams used their existing helmet shells and either swapped out or removed their usual helmet logos, striping tape and face masks. That’s due to the NFL’s “one-shell rule,” which aims to decrease the risk of concussions by preventing teams from switching to new sets of helmets in the middle of the season. So teams can still wear throwbacks if they use their existing shells, but throwbacks that would require a different-colored helmet — like New England’s “Pat Patriot” design or Tampa Bay’s “Creamsicle” set — are now off-limits. Paul’s latest Friday Flashback column on ESPN takes a look back at NFL throwbacks that have been worn in the past but are currently off-limit.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Midnight blue jerseys for the YANKEES“? Dave “Saw this in the 2017 Majestic catalog under Authentic Collection. Can’t be, right?” If you read the comments to that, Paul notes “No such addition to the Yankees’ wardrobe that I’m aware of.” Also, it’s quite possible these are Spring Training tops. … A team known as “The Lefties” are selling a throwback before they’ve thrown their first pitch (from Mike Carman). They are a WCL team. … Tweeter Christiantime asks if this is a new design for the Natinals. “Doesn’t appear to be the July 4th fill pattern in the curly W” he adds. … And yes, it does appear that we do have a new Nats’ jersey (from JWerth’s Beard).
NFL News: Houston Texans JJ Watt must have lost a bet, because here is a photo of him donning Penn State gear (h/t John Turney). He attended both Central Michigan and Wisconsin, so he (undoubtedly) lost a LeBron James’ type bet to wear PSU stuff after Penn State beat Wisconsin in the B1G championship. Anyone know more? According to Justin Rocke, he lost a bet to Devon Still. … This Sunday, the Bills will be going blue over white and the Tampa Bay Bucs will be red over pewter with red socks (from Kenny Saidah). … Speaking of uni combos, the Philadelphia Eagles will Midnight green over white. … R. Scott Rogers notes that this pigskin sausage is actually beef, not pork, but a fun package on this Wisconsin summer sausage.
College Football News: More teams are revealing their Bowl uniforms ahead of the actual games: yesterday, the Tennessee Volunteers confirmed they will be wearing their “smokey grey” uniforms to honor wildfire victims, in the *ahem* Music City Bowl. (more here and here). According to UT, they’re “wearing their hearts on their sleeves”. … We know Navy will be using a football with colored laces for today’s game, but will the CFB Playoff be using a ball with colored laces as well? (good spot by James Gilbert). … WillChitty2 does note that some Wilson footballs have colored laces, so that is possibly what the CFB Playoff was depicting. … Several cities have expressed interest in holding the Army/Navy game and according to reports Pittsburgh is one of them. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Pittsburgh is one of 10 cities who would like to host the game (from Jimmer Vilk). … Looks like JMU Football is using about 4 different fonts for their uniforms, observes clenz. “Chest, helmet and collar all different”. Add to that one more element – the “tail bone logo” (which is I suppose a slightly more elegant name for tramp stamp).
Hockey News: This morning at 8 a.m., the Philadelphia Flyers will unveil the fresh new look they’ll wear at the 2017 Stadium Series game against the Penguins in February. But it looks like the new jersey has already leaked, via Amazon. … Barry Melrose of ESPN has revealed his top five logos of all time (thanks, Brinke). … Here are the Star Wars Jerseys the Utah Grizzlies will wear for this evening’s Star Wars Night (h/t Landry E. Heaton). … The Grand Rapids Griffins did a 80’s fauxback sweater last night (h/t Trevor Toczydlowski). … The Alaska Nanooks are rocking throwback jerseys from the 1936 season vs. UAA this weekend (from Patrick Thomas). … UMass-Lowell wore fauxbacks last night. According to Dan Droper there used to be a chief where the number is. … Dustin Burns noticed, “Ol’ Bobs (Columbus Blue Jackets’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky) had a mask issue and apparently couldn’t get it fixed quick enough so he had to use another.” … Whoa. Now THIS is a Star Wars sweater I can get into (from Jeff Tasca).
NBA News: What’s in a name? China’s highest court decided that Michael Jordan owns the legal rights to the Chinese Characters of the equivalent of his name. It’s a rare legal victory in a country that’s notorious for copyright infringement and outright theft (thanks to Mike Chamernik). … In a move that could only be said to bring a tear to Jimmer Vilk’s eye, the Cleveland Cavs broke out the orange classic throwbacks (from Robert Hayes). The NBA bills these as “Hardwood Classics.” Here’s how they looked in action. … This photo not only features two of the smallest players ever to play in the NBA, but also the
Wizards Bullets lowercase NOB (from Mark Johnson). — BTW, that NOB is the same font as their wordmark (from VP).
College Hoops News: Interesting look inside of William Arena in beautiful Minneapolis last night, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers, clad in gold, had four of five players wearing white leggings, with a fifth having white compression shorts visible (from Tony Tengwall).
Soccer News: Atletico Madrid has unveiled a new crest. The La Liga team will eliminate that dot of green from their badge, and The blue in Atleti’s crest is navy, and the red stripes are wider. There are still seven stars, a bear, and a strawberry tree (from Matt Kellam). In related news, “Spanish soccer club Atletico de Madrid, the White Sox to Real Madrid’s Cubs (ironically, considering the color schemes) has unveiled their new stadium name – The Wanda Metropolitano,” says Saurel Jean. “The unusual name, which one twitter commenter ‘a name you give to a character in a fictional or sci-fi movie’, is combination of it Chinese investors/advertiser’s name Wanda and the old stadium before the old stadium The Metropolitano.” … Here’s a look at the Week 15 Premier League matchups (h/t Frederick E. Vaughn). … Chapecoense will acknowledge its Copa Sudamericana championship as well as the many who were injured or died en route to the final on its club badge (from Matt Pontoriero). … The Dayton Dynamo, an new NPSL club, have unveiled their uniforms for the 2017 season (from Ed Å»elaski).
Grab Bag: More than a dozen Georgetown students took over the university president’s office Thursday, demanding the school cut its ties with Nike over unfair labor practices in Vietnam. The students, who call themselves the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, said they are staging the sit-in to protest working conditions at a factory where Georgetown University apparel is manufactured. … Here’s some Super Rugby news from Eric Bangeman: “South African Super Rugby franchises are unveiling their 2017 kit this week. First the Lions and now the Sharks, who play in Durban.” He continues, “It’s (not at all) gratifying to see designspeak has made it to the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal: The design of the jerseys embodies the heritage and traditions of the Sharks and embraces the culture of KwaZulu-Natal. Not quite as busy as the 2016 edition, so probably an upgrade.” … Did you know there was a “Boston Marathon” Jacket? Me either, but adidas has introduced one (from Brad Tatum). … The UAB Marching Band have revealed their new unis (from Clint Richardson).
And that’s it for today.
Last weekend I had hoped to solicit nominations for the worst uniform in several sports for the 2010s (details in that post). Although I initially received several submissions, there didn’t seem to be much interest in pursuing this, so maybe I’ll just shelve the idea. But if you guys think it might be fun, let me know and we’ll see if we can’t whip something up at the beginning of next year.
Back tomorrow, but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“If you’re on the internet at all, it’s probably a ‘first world problem’ so”¦ whatever.”
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