Click to enlarge
It’s all very meta, right? It’s also the latest and most explicit example of a trend that has been percolating in the football uni-verse for a while now: the fetishizing of the working class. Here are some other recent examples:
• When the Browns unveiled their current uniforms in 2015, we were told that the contrast-colored stitching on the jerseys was “to exemplify the City of Cleveland’s hard-working, blue-collar demeanor.”
And so on. We all get the underlying point: Football is basically a form of rough physical labor, so a football player is closer in spirit to, say, a construction worker or a factory grunt than he is to some pencil-pusher who “works” by sitting on his ass all day (like, say, me). Fair enough, although there are all sorts of ironies involved there, like the high salaries, the high ticket prices, and so on. One can only imagine what must be going through the minds of the Nike factory employees — real blue collar workers — as they stitch the words “Blue Collar” onto jerseys that will be worn by highly privileged athletes (or purchased by highly privileged consumers).
The incessant repetition of the term “blue collar” also reflects a conveniently selective approach to class consciousness. Or to put it another way, I’m not expecting to see “Join a Union” or “Workers of the World, Unite” on a jersey’s inner collar anytime soon. Sticking with “blue collar,” either as a literal inscription or as an implied ethos, provides the comforting fantasy of honest workaday toil without any strings attached, which basically turns it into a patronizing caricature. This in turn reflects one of the great shifts in American discourse over the past two generations: The terms of class struggle are now largely perceived to be cultural, not economic. So “blue collar” is now less of a socioeconomic term and more of an attitude, a lifestyle, a canvas onto which you can project whichever values you choose. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that you can now stitch “Blue Collar” onto a football jersey and people will think it makes sense, even though it doesn’t.
As an aside: My introduction to “collar”-based terminology came when I was about eight years old and read this comic strip (click to enlarge):
I had no idea what that meant and had to ask a grown-up to explain the joke to me.
Update: Our own Mike Chamernik points out that the “blue collar” design trope extends beyond football. Here are two recent examples from the NBA:
• The explainer page for the Pistons’ new logo, which was unveiled earlier this month, refers to the logo’s blue outline as a “blue collar” and says it’s “representative of the blue-collar work ethic of the city of Detroit.”
• The Bucks’ current uniforms, which were unveiled in 2015, include a blue stripe on the inner collar, which is supposedly “representative of the blue collar work ethic of not only the Bucks, but also of the city and state that the team proudly represents.”
Finally: I pinched today’s headline from the great aristocracy-rock band the Upper Crust. I hereby surrender the floor to them.
(Major thanks to Jason Hillyer for locating the Peanuts strip for me.)
By Brinke Guthrie
This would look perfect at Uni Watch HQ: a 1970s Mets light switchplate. I had a pair of these, for the Bengals and Reds, and you see the NFL ones on a regular basis on eBay. For some reason you don’t see quite as many of them for baseball, but I did find a Cubs version right here, so there you go. [Note that the plate has a version of the Mets’ skyline logo that hasn’t been used in decades. Details here. ”” PL]
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• There are certain items that really hit home for me as far as vintage NFL items go. Anything Dave Boss, of course. Those helmet goalpost kits, too. Sears stuff, naturally. And of course the Chiquita stickers. I remember going up to the local Winn-Dixie, peering through the banana pile, looking for a particular team. Here’s a full set (and I rue the day I passed up one of these sets that was actually framed and matted).
• Did I say Sears? Well, then check out the team logos on this 1970s NFL twin size blanket. Those same graphics were used on many a product in the 1970s.
• Well, at least give ’em points for trying to decorate this LA Rams gumball helmet properly.
• This 1970s San Diego Chargers ski cap is in pretty good shape.
• Got one more ski cap for you, this time featuring Bucco Bruce on the patch.
• Here’s a box of hockey tape made by Tuck Tape brand. I guess this is the tape you use to wind around the stick blade.
• I provide this 1970s football trading card of Patriots placekicker John Smith to illustrate just how silly cards looked back then when the maker of said card line didn’t have a license to use team logos.
• Unusual look to this 1980s MLB Icee cup. Rather than just show the team logo, they picture the team’s jacket.
• Fairly large facemask on this 1970s Seattle Seahawks helmet plaque.
• What’s curious about this 1960s pennant is the use of the word “the,” as in The Philadelphia Eagles. Can you think of any other teams that did that?
• Another helmet plaque for you, this time for the Browns, and it includes the phantom “CB” logo on the side.
By Alex Hider
Baseball News: On to the next one: The MLB is already hawking its Independence Day merch (from Phil). … The Brewers will give away Packers-colored “mb” caps on June 21. … Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox usually wears New Balance cleats, but was spotted wearing Adidas yesterday. Supporting or disdaining the New Balance brand has become something of a Trump-related political issue in recent months, although it’s unclear whether that has anything to do with Bogaerts’s move (from Red Sox News). … Paul’s ESPN column last week was a review of the captain’s “C” on MLB jerseys. According to Derek Ryan, Paul Konerko of the White Sox was offered the chance to wear the “C” when he was made captain in 2006 but declined. … The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan will wear “Be Ambitious” jerseys nine times throughout the 2017 season (from Graveyard Baseball). … The Giants had their annual “Until There’s a Cure” promotion, with players wearing red ribbons, back on May 21, but P Jeff Samardzija still had a ribbon on his jersey for the first inning of last night’s game (from Brian Dwyer). … It’s common to bring a baseball glove to the ballpark, but how about a hockey goalie’s trapper? (From Mike Powers.)
NFL News: Reader Brendan Gargano was flipping through a book called “American Trademark Designs” and came across this Bears logo, which was labeled as a “proposed new mark,” designed in 1973. Lots of stuff there: The bear, the font, the inclusion of “THE.” Anyone know anything else about this logo? … Some good non-NFL stuff from @PhillyPartTwo: Remember the USFL? Made for some great buttons. He also has a football from an XFL launch party in 2001.
Hockey News: According to a local Buffalo radio station, the Sabres’ uniform changes next season involve lightening the shade of blue, removing silver from the palate, and removing the piping on the jersey ”” which would all be very good things (from Drew Celestino). … NHL analyst and former goalie Kevin Weekes donned Penguins G Matt Murray’s pads while shooting a Stanley Cup Final promo yesterday (from The Goal Net). … Check out these classic hockey stamps and rub-ons from the 1970s (from Chris Mizzoni). … These horse racing silks are inspired by the uniforms of the old Hartford Whalers (from Brian Short).
Basketball News: Minnesota’s D-League G-League team is changing its name from the Iowa Energy to the Iowa Wolves. The new visual identity is based on the Timberwolves’ recently updated logo.
Soccer News: Valencia of La Liga in Spain will have a new home kit for next season (from Ed Zelaski). … Southampton of the EPL will also have a new home kit next season as well (also from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: New camouflage third shirt for St. Pauli. … For all the Real Madrid superfans out there, this is the casket for you (from Ted Arnold). … New home kit for Manchester City.
Grab Bag: Nike will keep Tiger Woods as a spokesman in the wake of his DUI arrest. Denver Gregg notes the headline on that story reads, “Nike says it will continue to endorse Tiger Woods” ”” who is sponsoring whom? … Here’s a story about an old photo of Steve Prefontaine wearing an early Nike sweatshirt with a backwards swoosh (from Jeremy Butcher). … Googly eyes make everything better (from David Sonny). … China has ordered that Emirates flight attendants from Taiwan must stop wearing Taiwanese flag pins (from Nolan Reagan).