The NFL yesterday announced this year’s 32 nominees for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an annual award recognizing philanthropy and community impact. And the league also announced two new uni-related protocols pertaining to the award.
For starters, all active players who’ve won the Payton award will now wear a jersey patch for the rest of their careers. The first such player to do so was Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who wore the patch for last night’s game against the Falcons (see above). Other active players who’ll be wearing the patch, beginning this weekend, are Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.
Here’s a close-up of the patch, followed by a glimpse at how it will look on Fitzgerald’s and Davis’s jerseys (click to enlarge):
In addition, this year’s 32 Payton Award nominees — one from each team — will wear a helmet decal for the rest of this season and postseason. This year’s winner will be announced on Feb. 3, the night before the Super Bowl.
If you’re thinking that the patch doesn’t look much like Payton, you’re right. The patch is based on the Payton trophy (shown at right; click to enlarge), which was originally created back in 1969 (NYT link), six years before Payton’s first NFL season. The trophy model was a journeyman NFL tackle named Steve Wright. Back then, the honor was simply called the Man of the Year Award. It was named after Payton following his death in 1999, but the trophy has remained the same.
Payton appears to have been a great guy, and it’s nice to see the NFL recognizing something other than the military and cancer, but the feeling here is that a patch is too much. Manning, for example, already wears a captaincy patch and the Joan Tisch memorial patch (plus the NFL patch and the “ny” chest mark), which means the Payton patch will just add more needless clutter. A helmet decal would be the better way to go.
Also, having a player wear an honorific patch for the balance of his career seems like a bit much, especially for this type of award. The whole point of philanthropy, volunteerism, and other do-gooder enterprises is that you do them out of sincerity and commitment, not to bring attention to yourself. It’s one thing to be recognized for one night at an awards ceremony; it’s another to trumpet your do-gooder status on the chest of your jersey every week for years on end.
Just to be clear, I don’t blame the players — I’m sure it wasn’t their idea. But the whole enterprise feels a bit tone-deaf and overdone.
One final thought: I saw a few conspiracy theorists on Twitter last night claiming that this patch is designed to get people accustomed to the sight of extra patches and thereby soften us up for the inevitable move toward jersey ads. I suppose that could be true, but a logical counter-argument is that this actually works against the possibility of jersey ads because it creates a visual distraction on some of the league’s most high-visibility players. What advertiser would want that competing with his ad? Either way, I’ve heard exactly zero credible chatter about the NFL moving toward jersey ads, so let’s skip the conspiracy theories and stick to reality.
Vikings follow-up: Remember my recent ESPN piece about how cartoonist Karl Hubenthal designed the Vikings’ uniforms, and how he used purple and gold because those were the colors of GM Bert Rose’s alma mater, the University of Washington?
Several Vikings fans responded to that piece with counter-narratives — stories that contradicted the one I reported. So I went back and did a bunch of additional reporting (including an interview with former Vikings coach Bud Grant, who’s now 90 years old), in an attempt to sort which stories were accurate and which ones weren’t.
The result is a new ESPN follow-up column, which I think you’ll find very interesting. Check it out here.
Sticker update!: When I recently announced that StickerYou had created a little Uni Watch shop on their website, several of you got in touch to say, “Stickers are great — but what I really want are magnets.”
I’m happy to report that your requests have been heard. If you go to StickerYou’s Uni Watch shop, you’ll see that they’re now offering three separate options: sheets of stickers, individual singles, and magnets. According to the StickerYou folks, this is the first time they’ve set up a shop like this for one of their partners. Nice!
Click to enlarge
Cookie monster: An annual highlight of my holiday season is always the arrival of a package from longtime reader/baker Elena Elms, who always sends me a batch of homemade baseball uni-themed cookies.
Her theme this year is MLB franchises that moved and changed their name, their colors, or just their city. On the top row we have, from left, the 1945 St. Louis Browns; the 1970 Washington Senators; the 1917 Philadelphia A’s; and the 1969 Seattle Pilots.
The bottom row features the 1932 New York Giants; the 1945 Brooklyn Dodgers; the 1969 Montreal Expos; and the 1940 Boston Braves.
My thanks, as always, to Elena for her talent and generosity — a winning (and delicious) combination.
By Kris Gross
Baseball News: Orioles P Kevin Gausman is changing his number to 34 in honor of Roy Halladay. … Thanks to @TigersHistory on Twitter for creating a video showing the evolution of the Tigers’ Old English D. … Reader AJ Wilhelmi just bought a new Royals hat, thinking he was getting a 50th-season patch. To his surprise, it was actually a 25th-season patch from 1993. “Why would this be on a new New Era cap I have no idea,” he says. … The NHL’s San Jose Sharks wore Giants-themed warmups last night (thanks Phil). … Thanks to BSmile, who passed along this 1948 Satchel Paige Pennant. … The Birmingham Barons, Double-A affiliate of the White Sox, have unveiled new alternates (from Scott Stantis). … Kentucky players got their new gloves in, and Rawlings misspelled pitcher Austin Keen’s name (from Tyler Crum). … Here’s the Hanshin Tigers’ logo rendered as a subway map (from Jeremy Brahm). … When you think of Jim Thome, you probably see him wearing his familiar No. 25. Yesterday the Indians tweeted a photo showing that he wore No. 6 when making his MLB debut. But according to baseball-reference.com, he actually wore No. 59 prior to wearing No. 6 (from 216 Sports History). … If you take a closer look at that No. 6 photo, it appears that Thome also had American and Canadian flag decals on his batting helmet. Anyone know what that’s about? According to Thome’s 1991 game log, his MLB debut came on Sept. 4 in Minnesota, but his next several games were home games against the Blue Jays. Is there some reason the Indians would have added flag decals for those game?
NFL News: Here is your Color Rash matchup from last night between the Saints and Falcons. Reader Martin D. White says the white-vs.-red pairing made him think of God vs. the Devil. ” Not sure how I feel about this since I live in Atlanta,” he adds. … Also from last night, we had a runaway captaincy patch for one of the Saints players (from Stephen Kean and Dustin Hart).
College Football News: ForTheWin ranked the 12 most stunning alternate uniforms from this past season (thanks Phil). … Here is a cool story on the making of the Heisman Trophy (NYT link). “No two are exactly the same,” says the director of the company that creates them (thanks, Paul). … Former UCF head coach and current Nebraska head coach Scott Frost wore lapel pins for both schools at last night’s award show (from Hardy Wallbanger). … The Nike logo appeared on the rock at Tennessee to welcome the Vols’ new head coach (from Mike Stevens).
Hockey News: In a recent podcast about the Lightning, former player Dave Andreychuk talks about winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 and missing out on some of the cool things champions normally get to do because of the lockout the following season. Andreychuk, who now works for the Lightning, has the personalized George W. Bush jersey they would have given to the president if they’d had the chance to go the White House. Here’s the jersey, and you can listen to the conversation here. Skip to the 28:11 mark (from Joe Delach). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The Sharks wore San Francisco Giants-themed warmups last night. … The Cleveland Monsters, AHL affiliate of the Blue Jackets, will wear Captain America jerseys on their superhero night (from Ben Adams). … This goalie mask for Roseau High School in Minnesota honors the high school’s wall of fame members (from Greg Enkers). … There’s a new hockey helmet on the market that has received a five-star safety rating from the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, the first time they’ve ever given that rating to a hockey bucket (from Clark Ruhland). … The Penguins created a custom jersey for Anthony Daniels, the actor who plays C-3PO in the Star Wars movies. Custom tagging, too (from @j_canales87 and Jerry Wolper). … Senators C Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who wears No. 44, wore teammate Gabriel Dumont’s No. 40 helmet last night (from Brian Rowland).
NBA News: The 76ers and Lakers went color-on-color last night (from Daniel Spevak). … In a follow-up to yesterday’s sub-lede about the drop-down NOBs on the Grizzlies’ alternate jerseys, Kristopher Kolob notes that the drop-down NOB was shown at the Nike unveiling event in September, but the team posted a picture with a radially arched NOB on its website. “Not sure it was a last-minute change or just sloppy design edit,” he says. … It sounds like the Hornets may be getting white throwbacks. … 76ers guard JJ Redick said in his podcast he didn’t know who the Sixers’ jersey advertiser is, although he knew the Celtics’. Head to the 51-minute mark (from Joel Mathwig).
College Hoops News: Throwback unis for Old Dominion (from Jason Rhodes). … Texas Tech is hosting a throwback night at the Lubbock Coliseum. Here’s a look at the center court design (from Everett Corder). … The logo for the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis will be revealed later this morning (from James Gilbert). … All of the Howard players appeared to change jerseys right before last night’s tip-off. Anyone know what that was about? (From Andy Moeschberger).
Soccer News: Here’s an article about the 1990 German World Cup kit, which the 2018 kit is based upon (from Andy Riley). … DC United tweeted graphics of the kits they wore during their MLS Cup appearances (from @OlegKvasha). … New 110th-anniversary throwbacks, complete with a lace-up collar, for SPAL (from Matthew Klimberg). … Here’s a piece on a 1972 game between France and the USSR. “It was possibly the first instance of front numbers and the Adidas trefoil being worn in an international game,” says Denis Hurley.
Grab Bag: Check out this slideshow showing three different stitching designs of the Brooklyn Bridge as shown on Brooklyn Gum cycling jerseys. … Tris Wykes had dinner last night with a Los Angeles-based friend and noticed something interesting: “His house’s emergency curb ID number features the college logos of his and his wife’s alma maters, the Universities of Washington and Minnesota.”