Time for the NFL Season Preview

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Happy post-Laborious Day! The NFL season kicks off on Thursday night, which means it’s time for my annual Uni Watch NFL season preview, which runs down all the uniform and logo changes for the new season (including the Titans’ new look, shown above). Check it out here.

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Another long one: Meet Christian Scotland-Williamson, a newly signed member of the Steelers’ practice squad. His surname has 18 letters, plus the hyphen. Nice that the Steelers used a compressed typeface for his NOB.

If Scotland-Williamson ever makes it onto the 53-man roster, I believe he would set the mark for the longest surname in NFL history. I think the current record is a comparatively paltry 14 letters, shared by Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, Ryan Christopherson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Ben Roethlisberger. Am I overlooking anyone? (Update: Yes, as reader/commenter Pete points out, I was overlooking Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and his 16-letter surname. Thanks, Pete!)

(My thanks to Rick Porter and Ryan Ripperton for this one.)

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Now you C it, now you don’t: On the left is a shot of Cubs infielder Addison Russell wearing the familiar C-Flap attachment. And on the right is a more recent photo of Russell wearing — well, what exactly is he wearing? As you can see, it doesn’t appear to be attached via screws or bolts has a slightly different profile.

That’s a new Rawlings product that quietly debuted last month, while I was on my break from the blog. I asked Rawlings exec Mike Thompson about it, and he responded as follows:

This is a Rawlings flap on a Rawlings helmet. Two separate pieces with a clean-looking, hard-to-detect cover that prevents the hardware from showing. More of a seamless, one-piece look — much nicer than looking at the hardware bolting the two together.

The helmet is called the Mach; the jaw piece is called Ext (as in extension). When sold as one unit, it is the Mach-Ext.

Lots of MLBers are still wearing the original C-Flap, but the Ext is being phased in (reader Steven Dodell spotted Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez wearing it the other day), and you’ll likely see more and more of it this year and next.

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For all photos in this section, click to enlarge

Hidden treasures: Got a note the other day from reader Tim Shriver, who works as a retail merch vendor at Wrigley Field. I’ll had the mic over to him:

Level B1 is a lower basement level, adjacent to the clubhouse, that was added to Wrigley for the 2017 season. I use this level every day, as I stop by the vault room before and after each event, but it most fans don’t get to see this area.

The walls of this level have been adorned with lots of very beautiful signs. What I like so much about them is that they aren’t manufactured signs mounted on the walls — they’re hand-painted directly on to the cinderblock. I like them a lot and I hope you’ll enjoy them too.

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Help Wanted: Would you like to work long hours for low pay? Have you always fantasized about having one of the internet’s most persnickety readerships pointing out your every misspelling and coding error? Does typing three consecutive periods, many times per day, sound like your idea of fun?

If this sounds like you, then I may have just what you’re looking for. Kris Gross, who’s been producing the Tickers that appear on Fridays for the past year, will soon be leaving us, so I’m currently in the market for a new Ticker intern. Here are the basics:

1. The job will require you to be on Ticker duty roughly from 8am local time to 9:30pm Eastern each Thursday. Being “on Ticker duty” means (a) monitoring all the email sent to the Uni Watch email account and all the mentions on the Uni Watch Twitter account; (b) compiling all of that content into a draft of the Ticker that will run on Friday, and having that draft ready and waiting for me when I wake up on Friday morning; and (c) evaluating which emails and/or tweets, if any, need to be forwarded to me (which is arguably the most important part of the job). You don’t have to be glued to your computer all day long, but you do need to check those email and Twitter accounts at least every 90 minutes or so, just in case there’s breaking news or something that needs immediate attention.

2. Once you get settled into Tickering, there will also be the opportunity (and occasionally the need) for you to write non-Ticker content.

3. The gig comes with a small stipend that is completely insufficient to cover the work involved, which should be an excellent introduction to the financial realities that await you in the larger world of journalism.

4. All of the following are required:

• A detail-oriented mindset.
• A knack for critical thinking.
• Excellent writing and grammar skills.
• Excellent organizational and multi-tasking skills.
• Excellent communication skills.
• A strong working knowledge of Uni Watch.
• A strong working knowledge of pro and college sports.
• A strong sense of responsibility and dependability.
• Some experience with HTML.

5. Any of the following, while not necessarily required, would be a big plus:

• Some experience and/or education in journalism.
• A decent working knowledge of AP style.
• Some knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, graphic design.
• Some experience with WordPress.
• A dry sense of humor.
• A college major that is not sports marketing.

6. Although most of the people who’ve filled this position in the recent past have been young people looking to jump-start their media careers, I’d also be happy to work with someone older. There’s no minimum or maximum age.

7. You may have noticed, or at least intuited, that the Uni Watch team is currently comprised exclusively of straight white males. In a perfect world, I would prefer to have a more diverse roster. That’s not to say I’ll pick a less-qualified candidate just for the sake of diversity, but if you think you have the chops and you fall outside of our current narrow demographic range, I’m definitely encouraging you to apply.

Still interested? If so, drop me a line. Your email should include (a) a few paragraphs explaining who you are and why you’re the right person for the job; (b) some suggestions for how Uni Watch could be improved (other than by hiring you); (c) links to two pieces of published writing you’ve done (it would be good if at least one of those pieces is not sports-related); and (d) something else — surprise me.

I apologize in advance for not being able to respond to each applicant personally. Please don’t follow up with additional emails asking if I received your first note — if you’re in the running, you’ll definitely be hearing from me. Thanks!

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Journalism in crisis, continued: Over the past few months, I’ve written several times about the various challenges facing the industry in which I ply my trade — the journalism industry. I was very disappointed to see that the final two days of my August break brought two more pieces of bad news on that front.

First, on Aug. 30, a man was arrested and charged with making over a dozen threatening phone calls to The Boston Globe, repeatedly referring to reporters there as “the enemy of the people” — the same ill-advised, incredibly toxic phrase that has been repeatedly used by the president. According to the Globe’s own coverage of the story:

In one of the calls, on Aug. 13, the caller threatened, “We are going to shoot you [expletives] in the head . . . shoot every [expletive] one of you,” court papers said.

On Aug. 16, the day the Globe and hundreds of newspapers published editorials in support of the free press, the caller again threatened, “You’re the enemy of the people, and we’re going to kill every [expletive] one of you.”

The caller made a reference to Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is leading an independent investigation into the Trump political campaign team’s connections to Russian authorities, and threatened that he was “going to shoot you in the [expletive] head later today, at 4 o’clock.”

Maybe these were empty threats — or maybe not. The caller had over 20 firearms in his home, including a semiautomatic rifle, when he was arrested.

I’ll repeat what I said two months ago, when a gunman shot up the Capitol Gazette newsroom in Maryland: Whatever else one thinks of the president, I hope his fans and foes alike can agree that referring to journalists as “enemies of the people” is a tremendously irresponsible thing to say — in part because a free and open press is essential for the workings of a functional democracy, and in part because of the signal it sends to vigilante lunatics like the one who was threatening the Globe. The most powerful man on the planet should be more careful about the effect that his words can potentially have.

The following day, Aug. 31, brought news that I’d pretty much expected for a while now, but it still hurt: The Village Voice went belly-up due to what its owner referred to as “basically, business realities.” The Voice thus became the latest casualty of our industry’s broken business model, and another 20 journalists — including a good friend of mine — are now out of work.

As most of you know, the Voice was Uni Watch’s first home, from 1999 through 2003. It’s not such a reach to say that I might not be writing these words today, and you might not be reading them, if the Voice hadn’t taken a chance on the then-absurd idea of a uniform column nearly 20 years ago.

I was a Voice reader and fan for nearly two decades before I first had a byline there. The Voice’s coverage of NYC politics, movies, and especially music made a huge impact on me, and it’s no exaggeration to say that a few Voice writers changed my life in various ways. My personal connection to the paper notwithstanding, the Voice was also an important NYC institution for decades. Although it had become a shadow of its former self in recent years, it will be missed. RIP.

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Raffle results: The two winners of the Vintage Brand raffle are Jason Wood and Howard Bosworth. Congrats to them, and thanks to all who entered. More raffles coming soon.

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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about an old-fashioned key. I really like this one — check it out here.

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Merch reminders: In case you missed it last month, our latest batch of StripeRite socks (shown at right; click to enlarge), produced in conjunction with our friends at American Trench, is now available

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In addition:

• The Uni Watch flex-fit “alternate” cap is available here. And our original “classic” cap, produced by Ebbets Field Flannels, is available here (but only in a few sizes; restocked inventory of all the other sizes coming soon).

• Membership card orders always flatline during August, when I’m away from the site. Now that I’m back, please consider supporting the site by ordering your own custom-designed membership card.

• Don’t forget all of our Uni Watch shirts and mugs and our extensive collection of Naming Wrongs shirts.

My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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Sorry, no Ticker today, as every member of the Uni Watch team had the day off yesterday. We’ll get back to full Ticker-inclusive content tomorrow. And Collector’s Corner to boot! See you then. — Paul

39 comments to Time for the NFL Season Preview

  • pete | September 4, 2018 at 8:25 am |

    welcome back, Paul! congrats on the new digs.

    I think the sixteen-letter surnamed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has those 14-letter guys beat.

    • Paul Lukas | September 4, 2018 at 8:30 am |

      Ah, good call on Rodgers-Cromartie. I’ll adjust the text accordingly!

      • M.Princip | September 4, 2018 at 10:01 am |

        Also, Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

  • Mark in Shiga | September 4, 2018 at 8:43 am |

    Uni-Watchers, I think I’ve spotted a uni-related world record that nobody is acknowledging.

    The Chicago Cubs just signed Terrance Gore for the stretch run, and this speedater has played in 50 major league games, often as a pinch runner, and has stolen some bases and scored some runs but has never had a hit.

    He wore number 0 with the Royals, but the Cubs issued him number 1. So until now, he has been wearing his lifetime hit total on his back for a whopping 50 games, and when he gets his first hit, he will once again be extending this record. At least, until he gets his second hit, or convinces #2 Tommy LaStella to swap jerseys.

    Surely baseball has never seen a player play in 50 games with his lifetime hit total as his jersey number. Surely.

    (I wish the Cubs has given him number 0. Lester Strode, pitching coach, is wearing 00; is there a rule agains thavin 0 and 00 at the same time? There didn’t use to be; the Blue Jays had both in the ’80s.)

    • MotorCityJeff | September 4, 2018 at 4:20 pm |

      This is all hypothetical but it’s possible that for example a pitcher got 20 hits while playing in the NL then went to the AL and wore #20 for several years without getting another hit.

      • Mark in Shiga | September 5, 2018 at 3:42 am |

        That would be an amazing coincidence if it happened, and with today’s computerized records it should be possible to find out. There must be a way of making a computer script that goes through Baseball Reference for every player and compares his uniform number to his hit total.

    • Phil Hecken | September 4, 2018 at 9:16 am |

      Sweet;

      Editing so I don’t double post: Great writeup as always, Paul. Not sure how much concussionball I’ll watch this year, but the uni preview always gets me psyched for the season.

      • RS Rogers | September 4, 2018 at 12:05 pm |

        That was exactly my experience when reading the preview until I got to the line, “Buccaneers: No announced changes or news.” That right there might wind up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back for me on the NFL.

        • Wade Heidt | September 4, 2018 at 7:20 pm |

          What also hurts is the “No announced changes or news” for the Falcons and Cardinals. Dear Falcons and Cardinals, please fix your uniforms. You do not have to wait like the Rams or Browns.

    • Tony C | September 4, 2018 at 10:59 am |

      “New Browns coach Hue Jackson…”

      he’s going on his 3rd season there… yet he has more seasons there than he does wins

  • Graf Zeppelin | September 4, 2018 at 9:51 am |

    Not sure if this has been covered: It appears that Jets WR Terrelle Pryor will be allowed to keep the number 1 that he wore in preseason, and WR Andre Roberts will keep #3, despite single-digit numbers being out of the permissible range for wide receivers.

    The Jets’ online roster has both listed as wide receivers, but pro-football-reference.com has Pryor listed as a QB.

    I know there are examples of players in the past who were allowed to wear unorthodox numbers for their positions because they were and/or could be listed at other positions (Giants’ LB Brad van Pelt wearing #10 by virtue of being a backup kicker immediately leaps to mind). I thought perhaps that would explain Pryor’s number, but then I noticed Roberts.

    Whether Pryor is/will be the Jets’ third-string/emergency QB on game days is a separate issue. Also a separate issue is that I’ve never personally been fond of WRs wearing numbers in the teens instead of the 80s, which I got used to growing up. But I’ve noticed also that as more and more WRs donned teens numbers, more and more QBs took single-digit numbers, and I’d be hard-pressed to think of any kickers or punters wearing teens numbers now. The Jets may be running out of teens numbers as both their QBs wear them and two are retired, but 16 and 19 appear to be available (as are 82, 84, 87 and 88). We’ll see if Roberts and/or Pryor take one of these before next Monday night. (As I recall, Keyshawn Johnson wore #3 in preseason his rookie year before switching to 19 for the regular season; Victor Cruz of the Giants also wore #3 in preseason before switching to 80.)

    • Daniel Tarrant | September 4, 2018 at 11:17 am |

      Good point about the decline in QB’s wearing numbers in the teens these days.

      According to one chart of probable week 1 starters, 14 have numbers in the teens. Not sure how that compares to the era before WR’s could wear them.

      • Daniel Tarrant | September 4, 2018 at 11:20 am |

        To add to that, only six QB’s listed as second on the depth charts have numbers in the teens. So that’s only 20 of 64 total.

        Source: http://www.ourlads.com/nfldepthcharts/depthchartpos/QB

        • Graf Zeppelin | September 5, 2018 at 1:37 pm |

          Yes; thanks, I missed that one.

        • Graf Zeppelin | September 5, 2018 at 1:38 pm |

          Oops; meant to reply to John H, infra.

      • Graf Zeppelin | September 4, 2018 at 12:42 pm |

        Off the top of my head, the first 14 Super Bowls (1966-79) had only one starting QB with a single-digit number; Craig Morton for the Broncos in SB XII (#7). In the next 17 (1980-96), there were 13, but never two in the same game. Starting with Superbowl XXXII (Elway v. Favre), the last 21 have had at least one in all but 5, and both four (4) times.

        • John H. | September 4, 2018 at 11:20 pm |

          Daryle Lamonica wore No. 3 for the Raiders in SB II.

    • Winter | September 4, 2018 at 11:45 am |

      Odd number that springs to mind for me was Pat McInally wearing 87 — I primarily remember him as a punter but he was also a wideout. I miss the days when they’d pull double duty — Danny White and Randall Cunningham were punters as well, though I don’t know if it was ever a regular gig for Cunningham.

      I just miss the number 00 — Ken Burroughs, Jim Otto…I see no reason why 00 or 0 shouldn’t be allowed.

      • Daniel Tarrant | September 4, 2018 at 11:56 am |

        Of course, Jim Otto’s 00 jersey was perhaps the greatest uniform pun in history.

        And as far as players doing double-duty, don’t forget Joe Theismann, who sealed his place as the worst punter in NFL history with a one-yarder in his only attempt.

        • Graf Zeppelin | September 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm |

          I think, IIRC, that Theismann returned punts for a while early in his career, although that might have been in the CFL.

        • Wade Heidt | September 4, 2018 at 7:49 pm |

          Joe Theismann stats show that he did return 15 punts in his first season with Washington in 1974.

          Besides his 1 disastrous punt in 1985, stats show that he punted 3 times for the Toronto Argonauts in his rookie season in 1971. For an average of about 60 yards! With 3 in a season, he must have been filling in for an injured punter. Though don’t know if any of these were quick kicks.

          https://cflapedia.com/footballstatsindex.php?player_id=theisjoe001&passsort=7

  • Jamie Burditt | September 4, 2018 at 10:21 am |

    Paul, you forgot about the Steelers throwback in the NFL Season preview.

    • Jamie Burditt | September 4, 2018 at 10:25 am |

      Disregard

  • Daniel Tarrant | September 4, 2018 at 10:50 am |

    I don’t know if I’m the only one, but those new Titans uniforms have grown on me quite a bit since we first saw them. My only real complaint is that the mostly navy logo kind of gets lost on the navy helmets.

    Also, it’s pretty interesting how some very minor tweaks have improved the Dolphins’ look tremendously.

  • Greg | September 4, 2018 at 10:50 am |

    Paul, a few people noted in the comments over the weekend that ESPN did a uniform segment in (I believe) their college pregame shows. Per the comments it was pure marketing speak. Is this something you have any input on? Considering you are their uniform guy it would make sense for it to be your segment. That it is not yours makes me assume it is basically product placement paid content.

    • Paul Lukas | September 4, 2018 at 10:55 am |

      I didn’t see any of the pregame shows over the weekend, but didn’t ESPN already do this on their pregame shows last year? Or is this something similar but different?

      In any case: I have no input or influence on the TV side of ESPN, and there’s no rule that says I’m the only ESPN contributor who can cover uniforms. (I am the only one who can use the term “Uni Watch,” however.)

  • Indy Fan | September 4, 2018 at 11:00 am |

    Colts have a “35 Seasons” in Indianapolis patch on their uniform – Which is 4 more seasons than they played in Baltimore. It’s not mentioned in the article, yet other patches are. Of course no major changes to one of the best uniforms in all of sports.

    • Paul Lukas | September 4, 2018 at 11:30 am |

      Yup, my bad — now fixed!

  • Jamie Burditt | September 4, 2018 at 11:42 am |

    Giants released there Uniform schedule today. They’re going to be wearing white pants on the road, interesting.

    https://www.facebook.com/newyorkgiants/videos/712031175799735/

    • Michael Romero | September 4, 2018 at 12:12 pm |

      I don’t think I’m the only Giants fan who would love to see them switch to their Color Rush whites as the primary road uni going forward. At least it has blue in it!

  • Brent Nelson | September 4, 2018 at 12:10 pm |

    Uniwatch is great! Keep going!

  • Michael Romero | September 4, 2018 at 12:11 pm |

    In the ESPN piece, your item about the Giants shows the Twitter post for the Colts for a second time.

    • Paul Lukas | September 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm |

      Thanks — will get my editor to fix.

  • Chuck | September 4, 2018 at 3:57 pm |

    The Browns season ticket’s have the classic uniforms on them. Hoping this is a sign that they are coming back in 2020!

    • Tony C | September 4, 2018 at 9:14 pm |

      so does the vinyl record that came with it mean that’s what music is going back to too?

  • Kek | September 4, 2018 at 7:53 pm |

    Thought of you when I heard the news about The Village Voice, sad day indeed.

  • Rob Z. | September 4, 2018 at 9:45 pm |

    After seeing the new Titan unis on live TV, I find them just awful. More suitable for a division II college team than an NFL franchise. They’ve even made their number font worse than it was before.

  • Mijo | September 6, 2018 at 10:00 am |

    Hey Paul,
    Love the NFL & college football uniform previesw you do every year. Just wanted to point out that the Panthers also wore the blue jersey with white pants instead of the usual silver for the first time in their preseason game against Miami.