In Which I Am Designated for Assignment

I’ve written several times over the past year or two about how the journalism industry is going through some very rough times. I’ve been extremely fortunate to avoid those riptides, but my luck ran out a few days ago, when ESPN informed me that they will not be extending my contract for another year.

While this isn’t great news, it’s also not the end of the world. As a freelance writer, you’re never told, “You’re fired”; you’re told, “We’ve opted not to renew your contract.” This isn’t the first time I’ve heard those words, and it probably won’t be the last. I’ve always landed on my feet before, and I intend to do so again this time. In some ways the situation is more challenging this time around (have I mentioned that this is not a great time for journalism?), but I also have certain advantages that I didn’t have before, not the least of which is this website, which gives me a base of operations, a platform, and a modest base income.

I want to make it clear that I have no gripes whatsoever with ESPN. Having my work showcased on the world’s foremost sports media enterprise for more than 14 years has been a privilege and a thrill, and I think the increased interest in uniforms that we now see throughout the sports world is due in part to the platform that Uni Watch enjoyed on ESPN. I’m grateful to Kevin Jackson for taking a chance on me back in 2004, and to the many talented editors, writers, and other colleagues I’ve been able to work with, including Michael Philbrick, Jena Janovy, Thomas Neumann, David Wilson, David Schoenfield, John Banks, Kevin Stone, Royce Webb, Michael Knisley, Darren Rovell, Matt Wilansky, Jim Caple, DJ Gallo, Sean Hintz, Chris Ramsay, Cynthia Faulkner, Kevin McGuire, Paul Grant, John Hassan, Lynn Hoppes, Kevin Ota, Rob King, Patrick Stiegman, Chad Millman, and probably a bunch more I’m forgetting. Many of those people are no longer with the company, either because they moved on to other things or because, in many cases, they were caught in one of the many waves of layoffs that have hit ESPN in recent years. I’m lucky to have dodged that bullet for as long as I did. It’s been a fun ride.

You probably have many questions. Allow me to anticipate some of them:

How long have you known about this?

I’ve known it was possible for a while, but I didn’t get the official word until last Thursday.

Why didn’t you tell us right away?

I had already planned to post the annual year-end raffle on Friday and didn’t want to delay that or put a damper on it, and then came the weekend, and then I didn’t want to interrupt our usual Monday Morning Uni Watch roundup yesterday. So that brings us to today.

So you’re done writing for ESPN?

Not quite. My contract runs through March 14, but ESPN was obligated to tell me by Dec. 15 if they’d be extending it by another year. Now that they’ve said no, I’ve entered what is essentially a three-month lame duck period. So I’m still on their active roster until mid-March, although I’m also going through the process of exploring what my next moves will be. This announcement is part of that process.

Does ESPN own the name “Uni Watch”?

No, that belongs to me. Nobody else at ESPN will be able to write under that column name.

What about this blog — does ESPN own that? I’ve never understood the relationship of the blog to the ESPN column.

This blog also belongs to me. I started writing for ESPN in 2004. The blog was launched (with ESPN’s blessing) in 2006, and was intended to supplement my ESPN work by providing an outlet for smaller uniform stories that weren’t ESPN-worthy. It has also served as a good staging area for ideas that weren’t yet ready for prime time but could eventually be developed into ESPN stories.

What will you do next, and what will that mean for this website?

Excellent question! Short answer: I’m not sure yet.

Longer answer: The way I see it, there are several ways this could play out. For example:

1. I could move my larger, non-blog writing to another sports media operation, like SI.com, or The Athletic, or Bleacher Report, or The Wall Street Journal sports section, or whatever, while still doing smaller stuff here on the blog. This would probably cause the least disruption for me (and for you) — things would be more or less like they are now, except I’d periodically say, “I have a new Athletic column today,” instead of “I have a new ESPN column today.” I also have an idea for a really fun non-uni sports column that I’d like to pursue. If any editors out there would like to discuss any of this with me, feel free to be in touch.

2. I could do all of my uniform writing here on this site instead of having Uni Watch split between the column and the blog. There would be certain advantages to bringing everything under one roof, but the big disadvantage, obviously, would be a huge loss of revenue. ESPN provided about 76% of my income this year, which is another way of saying that ESPN essentially subsidized the operation of this website. I don’t necessarily need to replace all of that income (I could get by on a bit less), but I definitely need to replace a good chunk of it. So if I consolidated all of my Uni Watch operations on this site, I would need more financial support from you folks, which would have to come via a Patreon-type setup.

I talked about doing that earlier this year, as you may recall. For a variety of reasons, it hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve been lazy about making it a priority, but I no longer have that luxury. If I’m going to keep writing about uniforms, I either need to hook up with another media operation or get some support from the Uni Watch readership. Probably both. (If you want to help support the site right now, here are some ways you can do that.)

3. I could stop writing about uniforms altogether and pursue other types of writing or creative projects. Over the years, I’ve been a business columnist, a food columnist, a travel columnist, a rock critic, and more (I’ve done less and less of those types of writing as Uni Watch has grown bigger and bigger), so in theory I could go back to that. In practice, though, it would be a much trickier proposition today than it would have been, say, 10 years ago (have I mentioned that this is not a great time for journalism?). Still, it’s a possibility, and I do have some ideas. If any editors out there are interested in talking with me, you know what to do.

4. I could get out of the freelance writing game and take an office job — something I haven’t had since 1996. I actually considered doing this two winters ago, when my last ESPN contract was up. It was shortly after the 2016 election and, like a lot of people, I felt like the world had shifted in some sort of seismic way, and I wondered if I should be doing something more important than writing about uniforms (not that writing about uniforms isn’t important in its own way, but you know what I mean). A nonprofit that I like and respect had an opening for a publications director — a job I could definitely handle. So for the first time in a quarter-century, I whipped up a résumé and applied for the gig. To my surprise, I got a call back, then a phone interview, then an in-person interview. Exciting! And then I didn’t get the job, and then ESPN offered me a new contract after all (the one that’s now expiring), so that was that.

I was very conflicted about the possibility of going back to an office and am not sure I would’ve taken the gig even if it had been offered to me, but the whole thing was a good learning experience. I’d say it’s unlikely that I’d go that route now, but it’s not out of the question. Again, if anyone is interested in discussing this with me, I’m all ears.

5. I’d like to think there’s at least one possibility, or even several, that I’m not currently aware of. My experience with work/career stuff has generally been that when one door closes, another one often opens. Maybe that will happen this time, too.

So, basically, everything is in flux. It’s a lot to think about, especially because I have some other creative projects kicking around in my head. There’s a short documentary film I’ve been wanting to make, for example. Now, I know nothing about filmmaking, but maybe this is precisely the right time to learn.

For now, though, I plan to keep publishing here every day, so it’ll be business as usual. I’ll give you plenty of warning if that’s going to change.

Doesn’t Uni Watch have some sort of notable anniversary coming up?

Yes. May 26 will be the 20th anniversary of the very first Uni Watch column being published in The Village Voice. Or to put it another way, it will be Uni Watch’s 20th birthday. I definitely plan on being around at least long enough to mark that occasion.

If you stopped doing the site, would you give it to someone else?

I would not just give Uni Watch away, no.

Would you sell the site to someone else?

For reasons not worth explaining here, I actually investigated selling the Uni Watch assets — the name, the site, the mailing list, etc. — a few years back. The problem, of course, is that there’s only a handful of people — you can probably guess who most of them are — who have the knowledge, interest, and chops to take over a project like Uni Watch. I approached all of those people, and they all declined (which, in retrospect, I’m happy about, because the last few years here have been good ones).

Even if there were any viable buyers, I’m not really looking to sell at the moment. But hey, if there’s someone out there I haven’t thought of who’s interested in Uni Watch, I’m always happy to listen.

If you sold Uni Watch, couldn’t you still do some uniform writing, just without the Uni Watch name?

If someone bought Uni Watch from me, I imagine they’d want me to agree to some sort of non-compete clause as part of the deal. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here — as I already said, I’m in no hurry to sell anything, and I doubt there’s even a viable buyer.

All this talk about selling the site or pursuing other projects — this is the beginning of the end, isn’t it? The arc of Uni Watch is clearly heading downward.

I can understand why some of this chatter might make you feel that way, but I assure you that we will still have full daily content, of the same quality you’ve come to expect, for the foreseeable future. I’m not going to mail it in or let the site run on auto-pilot; I’m just being transparent about some of the options I’m considering. The site is still very much an active and ongoing concern.

Your annual MLB Season Preview column usually runs on ESPN in late March. What will happen to that in 2019, and what about all your other season previews that usually run on ESPN?

It’s true, the MLB preview usually runs just a few days prior to Opening Day. If I end up getting hired by another media operation, that piece would make a good debut column (hint-hint). If I haven’t partnered with a new media outlet by then, we’ll just run the MLB preview here on the blog.

All of my other season previews (pro and college football, pro and college basketball, and NHL) run from late August through early November. I expect we’ll have everything sorted out by then.

I read that Darren Rovell, who sometimes writes about uniforms, is also leaving ESPN. Is that just a coincidence?

Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s just a coincidence. It’s not like ESPN had some grand plan to clear out all the uniform writers.

It really sucks that they gave you this news right around Christmas. That’s a shitty way to treat people.

The timing is unfortunate, but that’s not ESPN’s fault. As I mentioned earlier, my contract had a provision requiring them to tell me yea or nay by a certain date, which happened to be Dec. 15.

Would you consider expanding Uni Watch’s parameters, like doing a podcast?

In theory, I’d love to do a Uni Watch podcast, and I’m definitely open to it. In practice, though, I think it would be tricky, because it’s difficult to address small visual details in an audio format. The design podcast 99% Invisible is very good at this, so maybe I can learn from their approach, but it still seems like a potential mismatch of subject matter and format.

You recently mentioned something about pitching a Uni Watch TV series. Maybe now you’d have time for that..?

In 2016 and ’17 I worked with an L.A. production company that was interested in pitching a Uni Watch TV series. But we were caught in a weird Catch-22 situation, because I was connected to ESPN, so ESPN was the only network we could pitch it to. Now that they’re cutting me loose, we could go back and pitch all the other networks. So yeah, that’s possible — I’ve already talked to the production company about it. We’ll see.

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I think that’s it, at least for now. I’ll do my best to keep everyone in the loop. If you have questions, feel free to post them in today’s comments and I’ll do my best to respond. Thanks for listening.

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We’ve seen NBA players lose a sneaker before. We’ve even seen some of them pick up the sneaker and keep playing while holding the wayward footwear.

But Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson took things a step further during the opening minutes of last night’s game against the Kings. He lost his sneaker, picked up it up, kept holding it during an entire defensive possession, and contested a shot with it. You can see the whole sequence in the video shown above.

Unfortunately, the shot didn’t make contact with the sneaker, which would have made for an interesting situation.

(My thanks to Mike Chamernik and our own Alex Hider for this one.)

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Ho-ho-ho: The Devils gave hockey fans an early Christmas gift yesterday, as they announced that they’ll be wearing green-trimmed throwbacks for four upcoming games: Dec. 23 vs. the Blue Jackets, Jan. 10 vs. the Maple Leafs, Jan. 31 vs. the Rangers, and March 1 vs. the Flyers. Those are all home games, so the visiting teams will wear their colored home uniforms.

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Stripe hype: There’s nothing particularly unusual about a vintage Durene jersey with UCLA-style striping (I have several of them myself). But UCLA inserts are usually restricted to the shoulders. I’ve never seen them extending all the way down the front of the jersey like the ones in the photo shown above. It’s as though the stripes forgot to stop. The visual effect is almost like vestments.

And it gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view) — the UCLA stripes also extend down the back of the jersey:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this. The jersey was discovered on Etsy by our membership card designer, Scott Turner. Very interesting find! I wonder which sport it was for.

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

One week until Christmas! Collector’s Corner is here with some last-minute shopping items for you. Let’s begin with this San Francisco Giants “Ugly Christmas Sweater.” I must admit I’ve never embraced the ugly sweater concept, but to each his/her own!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• A couple of weeks back, we featured an early-1970s Philadelphia Flyers cartoon coloring book. Now here’s one for the Buffalo Sabres.

• This is a rather conservative-looking 1970s Bucco Bruce jacket, made by “Active Generation.”

• Another low-key look, this time for a 1970s Patriots sweater.

• Here’s a 1960s New Orleans Saints coffee mug from Chase & Sanborn. Looks like they used the ill-fated black helmet!

• This 1960s Baltimore Bullets decal (kids, that’s who the Washington Wizards used to be) looks like a bullet.

• These are called “MLB All-Star Masks.” You cut these out and, uh, put them on your face. You get The Wiz, Mark Grace, Wally Joyner and Ryne Sandberg.

• Behold the 1970 Milwaukee Brewers yearbook cover, their first year in Wisconsin. Notice you don’t see any team branding; this player could easily be a Seattle Pilot. As you can see, the first Brewers uniforms were pretty much the same as the Pilots’.

• Here’s another program cover from 1970: Nice graphics for the Phoenix Suns.

• And one more good-looking game program, a 1981 Pro! GameDay issue for the Bengals/Browns. The player on the right sure looks like Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, who was a rookie that season and in reality wore No. 78.

• Cowboys fans, keep your coffee warm in this 1970s “Airpot Thermal Coffee Dispenser.”

• The Atlanta Flames logo is featured on this red/yellow 1970s hockey skate bottle opener/paperweight.

Finally, a programming note: Look for Collector’s Corner on Thursday for the next two weeks (Dec. 27 and Jan. 3). Back to our regular Tuesday slot on Jan. 8.

Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.

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Membership update: We launched the membership card program nearly a dozen years ago. In that time we’ve produced over 1,950 cards, and according to my records, not a single one of them has been based on a wrestling singlet — until now.

The card shown at right was requested the other day by reader Solomon Duncan. It’s based on the singlets worn by USA Wrestling at the 2018 World Championships. Solomon went the extra mile by providing us with all the key design specs from the international wrestling uniform guideines:

• The shade of blue is Pantone 299.

• The font for the family name (i.e., the wrestler’s last name) is Arial Narrow, and the font for the country code (USA) is Arial. The letters for the family name and country code must be in uppercase, unless the name is more than eight letters, in which case lowercase letters shall be used following the first capital letter.

Membership card designer Scott Turner and I love it when a membership enrollee provides that kind of info — in part because it helps us design the card correctly, but also because we geek out over those types of details. Great stuff.

Remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me.) As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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Raffle reminder: In case you missed it last Friday, our annual year-end raffle, featuring dozens of cool items (including the Akron Wingfoots jersey shown above), is now underway. Full details here.

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New neighborhood, new vet: Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin, apparently under the mistaken impression that she’s actually a rooster, has developed the completely annoying habit of meowing very loudly each morning at about 5:15am. Aside from that, her behavior and demeanor seem unchanged. We’ve tried tiring her out before bedtime, feeding her before bedtime, ignoring her, etc., none of which has worked, so I figured I’d better bring her to the vet, just in case it’s something medical.

It was our first time going to the vet in our new neighborhood, and we were both impressed by the level of care from the staff (including Dr. Siara Richardson, shown above). Everyone agreed that Caitlin seems fine, but they took some blood and urine samples and sent them off to the lab, just to be sure. We should have the results back by tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, she keeps howling every morning. I have really good earplugs, but they don’t help. Ay yi yi.

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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a gun trigger. I really like this one. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsCould the Mets be bringing back the bullpen cart? This video seems to imply that it’s possible (from Jason Lefkowitz). … New O’s manager Brandon Hyde will wear No. 18 (from Andrew Cosentino). … The Reds sent fans a holiday greeting, and the video includes a stirrup-ed stocking (from Joanna Zweip). … Paul Smielewski came across this eBay listing for a 1969 A’s jersey — but without the MLB Centennial patch. Could it be from 1970? … Milwaukee’s minor league hockey team, the Admirals, will wear Brewers-inspired sweaters on March 8 and 9 (thanks to all who shared).

NFL NewsEagles defensive backs passed a ski mask around the sidelines yesterday, their way of saying they need to “steal” their way into the playoffs (from Sam McKinley ). … Bears RB Jordan Howard’s thigh pads have featured his uni number and the Bears’ logo in recent games (from Richard A.). … According to an email that Joseph Bailey received from the NFL’s research arm, more than half of fans surveyed like to see teams wear various alternate uniforms on occasion. … In a sketch cut for time from last weekend’s episode of SNL, Matt Damon donned a slick Fran Tarkenton Vikings throwback. It’s a shame that jersey didn’t make it to air.

College Football NewsYesterday, Notre Dame offered another look at the jersey the Irish will wear during the Cotton Bowl (from Aaron Muscarela). … It looks like Rice will be wearing new versions of the Oregon-inspired winged helmets in the future (from Ignacio Salazar). … Here’s an extensive interview and tour of West Point with Army’s equipment manager (from Griffin Smith).

Hockey News: The Pens wore white at home last night, and the visiting Ducks wore their Mighty Ducks fauxbacks (from Noah Kastroll). … Reports indicate that the logo for Seattle’s future expansion team could future indigenous art in its logo (from Jimmy Wong). … Another band has officially been removed from the Stanley Cup (from Alan Kreit). … At least one wrestler was wearing a Sharks sweater at a WWE event in San Jose on Sunday (from Andrew Paterson). … The Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL wore sweaters inspired by the ’90s Toronto Argonauts Sunday night to honor former Argo Pinball Clemons (from Moe Khan). … The Cleveland Monsters and the Rochester Americans are starting a college football-style rivalry, complete with a trophy, and are seeking ideas from fans about what the trophy should look like and what it should be called (from Dylan). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL will wear Milwaukee Brewers-inspired sweaters on March 8 and 9 (thanks to all who shared). … The Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League wore Christmas sweater jerseys on Saturday (from Ian White).

Basketball News: As he did in his first stint with the Wizards, Trevor Ariza will wear No. 1 now that he’s been traded back to Washington from from Phoenix. And in Suns news, Kelly Oubre Jr. will wear No. 3 and Austin Rivers has been assigned No. 99, although he’s already been waived and will likely never wear it (all this from Etienne Catalan, who’s been obsessively tracking new NBA uni number assignments from France). … An Iowa community has raised nearly $1,000 to purchase sweat-wicking sport hajibs for Muslim girls on a local junior high basketball team (from Chris Adringa).

Soccer NewsLegion FC, Birmingham’s new USL franchise, has unveiled its new away jerseys (from Simon Iles and Ed Zelaski). … Betting companies will soon be able to advertise on the jerseys of Brazilian club teams (from Josh Hinton). … New jerseys for Fortaleza of Colombia’s Categoría Primera B (from Ed Zelaski).

Grab BagAmerican slider Austin Florian had quite the helmet at the IBSF World Cup skeleton event in Winterberg, Germany. … The candy company Cadbury has been involved in a trademark dispute over a proprietary shade of purple. … North Carolina wrestling coaches wore team Christmas sweaters during a meet on Saturday (from James Gilbert). … An investigative report has found that Badger Sportswear, a North Carolina company whose products are sold in university bookstores around the country, has some of its product manufactured by forced labor in Chinese detention camps (from WB Young). … White House policy advisor Stephen Miller apparently wore spray-on hair while appearing on a Sunday-morning talk show.

81 comments to In Which I Am Designated for Assignment

  • Greg | December 18, 2018 at 8:47 am |

    Sorry to hear the bad news Paul. Though given your great skill as a writer and storyteller, specifically lifestyle type stuff you share here, I am sure you’ll land on your feet. I hope you are able to keep this site running, and hopefully some sort of pay model works. I think as has been discussed before, keeping part of the site free, but having a pay option for full content access would be best. As I understand some of us have the ability to pay for and support the site, but many on a fixed income would miss out.

    • leo | December 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm |

      Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

      People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

      One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

      The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”

      The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”
      The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”
      The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.
      After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”
      The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?
      “Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”
      “Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.
      The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.
      “You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”
      The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”
      It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.
      “You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”
      The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know.

  • Craig D | December 18, 2018 at 8:49 am |

    Paul, I started reading Uni-Watch not too long after it first appeared on ESPN. I’m guessing 2007-ish. This place has been a godsend for all of us sports uniform nerds. 14 years is a hell of a run in any business, probably more so in this one. Count me in for any patreon/subscription type situation when the time comes. I’d hate to see this go away.

  • Dumb Guy | December 18, 2018 at 8:50 am |

    A lot of people make money with cat videos.

    Step 1: Get a cat. COMPLETED

    You’re half way to a fortune.

  • Bill from po'keepsie | December 18, 2018 at 8:51 am |

    Paul,
    I am rooting for you with some luck added in for your next assignment.
    Also, It would be a big loss without my daily reading of Uniwatch.
    All the best. You will land on your feet, just like Caitlin would.

  • Jerry | December 18, 2018 at 8:52 am |

    RE: D.F.A. – one door closes, another one opens. I’m sure you’ll land on your feet and continue to produce quality, enjoyable content for us in the Uni-Verse.

    Regarding some of your comments over the past few years – You seem to be a bit ahead of the curve regarding the industry changes, which should be an advantage.

    Keep up the great stuff.

  • Heisenberg's Hat | December 18, 2018 at 8:53 am |

    Paul, sorry to hear about the ESPN gig. Having survived a huge reduction two years ago at my company, which is involved in a dying industry, only to continue to live with the fear today might be the day the ax finally drops, I can relate a bit to what you’ve been going thru. Ready or not it’s never easy. You’re a talented writer with an interesting voice. I have no doubt you’ll land on your feet quickly.The readers of this here site are happy to be references :-)

    Maybe your cat is just finally getting around to reacting to her new home? Have you changed litter or food? Maybe she’s jealous of the Tugboat Captain? I have a cat and two dogs and the cat by far is the moodiest, most talkative and weird of the bunch.

  • Ben I | December 18, 2018 at 8:55 am |

    This is disappointing news, Paul. As a fellow journalist it’s something I see far too often. You’d be a great fit for The Athletic and they seem to be expanding into all sorts of interesting areas. There’s a general pattern at ESPN right now and it’s sad to see but at least some other outlets are springing up. All the best.

    • Cody K | December 18, 2018 at 11:37 am |

      I would like to second Ben Is request that you go to The Athletic. I have been considering picking up a membership there because they seem to be the top of the sports journalism nowadays, and you going there would put me over the top into getting one. Either way, I am sorry that you are having to go through this transition, but your quality is top-notch, and I will keep following your work regardless. Thank you Paul!

      • Jerry | December 18, 2018 at 3:23 pm |

        ditto

        • Dave Mac | December 18, 2018 at 6:26 pm |

          Just got The Athletic. It’s great. I’d love to see you there.

          I’ve been following you since at least 2006. Thanks for everything and best of luck in the future.

      • Ben I | December 19, 2018 at 5:58 am |

        I think you should subscribe to The Athletic anyway. I think they have a Christmas deal on and it’s a fantastic site. Plus, you can join then pester them to hire Paul!

    • Dan Pfeifer | December 19, 2018 at 9:46 am |

      I will only say that I am in this chorus.

  • Justo | December 18, 2018 at 8:59 am |

    Like Craig D, I started reading Uni-Watch right around the same time it first appeared on ESPN. ESPN has generally been my primary sports site, and it proved to be a gateway drug for Uni-Watch. I’ve read it fairly regularly (like my daily paper the Washington Post) ever since. Only last year did I finally become a full card-carrying member due to laziness/procrastination.

    That all said, I hope that Uni-Watch continues to be part of my daily reading. I really appreciate your transparency. I know this is a labor of love for you. We have been able to enjoy the fruits of that labor for many years. Big thanks to all that you do.

    Best wishes

  • Mark Graban | December 18, 2018 at 9:06 am |

    Paul, I’m really sorry to hear that… not sure what else to say other than thanks for all of your writing, for sharing your varied passions with us… and I look forward to following you wherever you end up.

  • ThePonchat | December 18, 2018 at 9:06 am |

    Best wishes Paul.

    I’ll echo what’s been said in that, I’ve been a long-time reader since Uni-Watch debuted on ESPN. It’s been my morning paper ritual too. Hope you land a gig in a timely manner.

  • Mike Wissman | December 18, 2018 at 9:10 am |

    Sorry to hear, Paul. Did ESPN give a reason? If not, any thoughts on why they chose not to renew?

  • Iain | December 18, 2018 at 9:19 am |

    Sorry to hear about your ESPN gig. All the best as you figure out what comes next. I subscribe to The Athletic so I would love to see you end up there. I think you could do a lot of interesting things with a podcast. A YouTube channel might be another option.

    Count me as someone who always loved your non Uni writing so I wouldn’t be disappointed if you choose to go in a different direction (hopefully maintaining the blog in some form as well)

  • DenverGregg | December 18, 2018 at 9:21 am |

    been reading you since Uni-Watch was an occasional Slate feature in ought-three. sorry your stuck with the hassle of finding a new arrangement. fortunately you’ve got a great portfolio in terms of quality, quantity and breadth so while this is the darkest age for journalism in US history, you’re in much better shape than Bill Kristol et al

  • Iain | December 18, 2018 at 9:23 am |

    Really good Key Ring Chronicles today. Made me think of my own summer jobs and the Johnny Cash song “One Piece at a Time”

  • Rich | December 18, 2018 at 9:24 am |

    The Tarkenton throwback in the SNL bit was a poor fauxback. The top and bottom sleeve stripes were yellow, but on the actual jerseys those stripes were white with yellow trim.

  • James | December 18, 2018 at 9:32 am |

    Talent finds a way, Paul, and you got tons of it. It sucks and it can anxiety inducing trying to figure out what’s next. But hope comes in the most difficult times, and there are a lot of reasons to believe that you will find a way.

    I mean this most sincerely: thoughts and .prayers are with you–and when there is something concrete I can do to help, I’ll be sure to do that, too. Keep us updated.

  • Dave Truman | December 18, 2018 at 9:38 am |

    Allow me to add my voice to the chorus of those expressing their disappointment in this development and their good wishes for your future. As is the case for many commenters, Uni Watch has become part of my morning routine. I don’t always agree with your positions (*cough* purple *cough*) but I do often enough, and regardless of my personal opinions you always give me something to think about. I am hopeful that the blog will find a way to carry on, and I’m certain that your voice will continue to be heard somewhere regardless of what else the future brings.

  • Matty B | December 18, 2018 at 9:42 am |

    I’ve been a reader (I’m not sure I’ve ever commented) probably since 2005. Your site has been in my daily routine basically since I was in college. I hope you can continue! Thanks for everything, cheers to you my friend!

  • Alan T | December 18, 2018 at 9:49 am |

    Paul,

    I am sad you’ve been forced into this situation, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I am confident you will find something that deserves your talent and knowledge, and that something will be much better off having you as part of it. Keep your chin up, and please know that all of us who are fortunate enough to be regular readers here, are all with you!

  • Matt L | December 18, 2018 at 9:56 am |

    Never knew until now that I shared a birthday with the esteemed Uni Watch. Best of luck, Paul.

  • Shaftman | December 18, 2018 at 10:03 am |

    Hey Paul – plain and simple, the situation sucks and I feel awful for the situation being forced.

    Uni-Watch has been a part of my daily morning routine since at 2007 (Don’t think I’ve missed a M-F post – sorry Phil) and would absolutely contribute to the site if the model was changed.

    The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.

    • Phil Hecken | December 18, 2018 at 11:23 am |

      No apologies needed, Jay. But if you haven’t been reading all the weekend posts, you may have heard I’ve met a similar fate as Paul (scroll down a bit), albeit under different circumstances.

      2018: Not a good year for UW editors :P

      • Shaftman | December 19, 2018 at 8:18 am |

        Hey Phil!

        Yeah – heard about that a week or two later and felt awful for you. Never good to be in that kind of position.

        Didn’t mean to say I ‘never’ read the weekend updates, but for some reason life interferes more on Saturday and Sunday (silly children wanting their pancakes and bacon :) ).

        The good part about a rough 2018 is it gives an opportunity for 2019 to be amazing. The best times I’ve ever had came out of forced circumstances that required me to make changes. Changes I probably would not have made at any other time and those have always worked out for the best.

  • Bryan | December 18, 2018 at 10:08 am |

    Sorry to hear about the ESPN sunset, Paul.

    Maybe we’ll see you on Deadspin?

  • AJ Kane | December 18, 2018 at 10:11 am |

    Paul, I’m so sorry to hear that ESPN is letting you go, and I do hope you continue to write about uniforms somewhere. Sports Illustrated, the Athletic, etc… would be lucky to have you. Onward!

    Frankly, you were one of the reasons I still ever visited ESPN these days. The marriage of sports journalism and relationships with the leagues they cover hasn’t sat well with me for a while.

    • Greg | December 18, 2018 at 10:39 am |

      It is interesting you mention the direction of ESPN, especially as a result of the nature of their relationships with various leagues they have content rights to. I got thinking about how Paul managed to survive so long as ESPN became less about excellent coverage of sporting events and more about hyping up the content on their channel (nature of the beast perhaps?). I hate to by cynical, but I wonder if ESPN, as a proxy for the leagues they cover, saw the value in uni-watch as a plug for selling merchandise (as teams seem to view uniforms these days) rather than great reporting on a niche in sports that so many of us really love.

  • Drew | December 18, 2018 at 10:22 am |

    I’ve been reading for over a decade now, Paul. If Uni-Watch as a free entity is not long for this world, I’ll happily pay for it. Likewise, I’ll follow Uni-Watch wherever it lands. Best of luck. I know you will land a new and better gig.

  • Max | December 18, 2018 at 10:23 am |

    Could just be my eyes, or the lighting, but I don’t see any green on those Devils jerseys. I see it on the gloves in the locker though…

  • Bernie | December 18, 2018 at 10:28 am |

    Sorry to hear the news. Given how much talent ESPN has been jettisoning, it really speaks to your value that you lasted this long. I can’t wait to see where you land. If a paid service like The Athletic picked you up, that would probably convince me to finally subscribe.

  • Teebz | December 18, 2018 at 10:32 am |

    Hey Paul!

    You know, there’s probably room for you on talk sports radio somewhere. That might be an option, and you can still post visual stuff here where you can direct listeners to check if they want to see the visual examples. We do that for The Hockey Show and it seems to work.

    Mind you, I don’t get paid for that radio gig, but if you’re a sports guy (you are) and you have opinions (you do) while be an expert in something (you are), radio might be a good fit.

    Whatever happens, you have my support. If you have to go Patreon or join The Athletic where people have to pay for your work, so be it. Keep on writing, and I’ll keep reading.

  • Rich P | December 18, 2018 at 10:33 am |

    Sorry to hear about ESPN. That’s how I “found you” about 13 years ago, and I was able to go to a site daily that had the same passion I had for uniforms / logos / etc.

    Wherever you wind up, I’ll be there, and if you have to make this site a pay site, I’ll still be here.

  • Bobby | December 18, 2018 at 10:37 am |

    My best to you and yours, Paul. Been a fan for a long time. Would be down with some sort of Patreon or Drip thing.

  • Oakville Celery Root | December 18, 2018 at 10:40 am |

    Unfortunate news – I haven’t come across any writer that combines knowledge of uniforms/design with some panache and humor – as well as you. Which bodes well to whatever direction you choose next.

    I know you say it isn’t about ESPN moving away from uniforms, but I know myself – with a league like the NBA – who are truly going at a break neck speed to cheapen the importance and relevancy of a team’s uniforms (i.e. they are becoming clothes) – whether there is some uniform fatigue starting to develop

  • RICKAZ | December 18, 2018 at 11:05 am |

    Sorry to hear about this Paul. I’m thinking The Athletic would be a great fit. Outside of a blog related to my school’s sports, The Athletic is the only sports pay site I have. It would be great if things stayed similar to now, but I wonder if you wrapped your entire site into The Athletic if that could make sense? Yes it would make your readers subscribe to The Athletic, but it would also give them great content to everything else they have.

    • Matt B | December 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm |

      My thoughts exactly. The Athletic is a great place for the Uni Watch type of coverage. They already have an media coverage article (very meta).

      I really hope that’s where you end up, Paul! I’ve been reading Uni Watch for over a decade. I don’t want it to stop.

  • Richard Craig | December 18, 2018 at 11:21 am |

    Obviously, I’m sorry to hear this, as we all are. ESPN is continuing to implode, and it’s a shame that you’re the next casualty. But I’ll be there wherever you land, and if you need to go to a subscription model for this site, count me in.

  • Jim Vilk | December 18, 2018 at 11:37 am |

    Of course I would miss it if Uni Watch came to an end, but if it does you know how much I’d love a full-time Paul Lukas travel blog.

    Man, first Phil and now you…hope the ticker folks don’t get a pink slip at their day jobs! I don’t think you two need any luck, but I hope you both will be in good spirits until the next job comes.

    Now I’m off to figure out what design I want for my next membership card.

    • Phil Hecken | December 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm |

      Man, first Phil and now you…hope the ticker folks don’t get a pink slip at their day jobs! I don’t think you two need any luck, but I hope you both will be in good spirits until the next job comes.

      Thanks Jimmer. I’m still pretty damn down in the dumps (though Paul is doing his best to cheer me up). I keep waiting for another shoe to drop instead of being positive. Kinda tough these days…

      • James | December 18, 2018 at 5:29 pm |

        Not sure if you are a religious man, but this was the sermon at my church at the first Sunday in advent, I think you’d like it:

        http://stjohnsstpaul.org/sermon/jered-weber-johnson/2018/12/02/hope-at-the-end-of-the-world/

        I don’t know much about your work, except what you posted above (and sorry, I completely missed that post)… but it seems you are in politics. The demand for your work will always be there, even if you are on the outside looking in.

  • Peter | December 18, 2018 at 11:41 am |

    “They took his job!”

    (Please tell me there are South Park fans here…)

    • RICKAZ | December 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm |

      As a South Park fan I have to correct you. It’s…”They took our jerbs”

    • Ryan M | December 18, 2018 at 3:59 pm |

      Everyone back in the pile!

  • John English | December 18, 2018 at 11:43 am |

    Paul, truly wishing you all the best, and hoping your new landing spot covers all the bases.

  • Wafflebored | December 18, 2018 at 11:52 am |

    Sorry to hear the news about your gig, but definitely looking forward to whatever you do next.

    On a jersey note, last week you retweeted a picture I posted of a Uni Watch-coloured football jersey with the same infinite UCLA stripes!

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2018 at 11:58 am |

      I did? Can you find that tweet?

  • Smitty | December 18, 2018 at 12:03 pm |

    Good luck to Caitlin the cat!

  • Solomon Duncan | December 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm |

    A very bittersweet day to see my card featured. In retrospect, I’m glad that I could at least provide something back, however small one membership is. I’m hoping everything turns out how you want it.

  • John H. | December 18, 2018 at 12:12 pm |

    Paul, sorry to hear your news. Having a pretty good idea of the type of person you are, though, I’m confident that you will come out the other side in great shape. Having the Tugboat Captain at your side to provide support will certainly help.

  • Brian | December 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm |

    Sorry to hear about ESPN not renewing your contract Paul. As someone whose in journalism, I completely relate to everything you’be written about the bussiness in recent years. Where ever your writing goes, I’ll be sure to follow.

  • robert brashear | December 18, 2018 at 12:34 pm |

    Good thoughts your way Paul. Uniwatch is the first stop of my day every morning. I’ve been with you since the Village Voice days so I hav every confidence you will find the appropriate next platform. It’s your uninhibited inclusion of your other interests that truly make it a don’t miss for me. Thanks for the creative you took to explaining the situation and the possibilities…blessings of the season too you…

  • Pat | December 18, 2018 at 12:34 pm |

    Paul,

    Like so many others on here, I’ve enjoyed your site and unique voice over all of these years that you’ve been writing. It’s helped my sports fixation and the season previews for the major and college sports have been must-reads for me! I have no doubt that you’ll land in your feet and will have a great 2019 once you do so. For all of us writers and sports nuts out here, keep up the good work and let us know what’s next as the doors in your life open up!

  • Gibby | December 18, 2018 at 12:36 pm |

    Paul, back in the day I thought I was the only uni nerd out there! Thanks to your ESPN column and then your blog it is now “cool” to be a uni guy!

  • Lee | December 18, 2018 at 1:03 pm |

    I just checked, and see that I requested to be added to the “uniwatch mailing list” on Tue, Apr 4, 2006, 3:58 PM.

    It’s been a great ride, and am interested in how it turns out. Hopefully all for the good!

    Lee

  • ChrisH | December 18, 2018 at 1:13 pm |

    “I want to make it clear that I have no gripes whatsoever with ESPN.”

    Well, I sure do!

    Paul and Phil:
    The Uni Community you’ve brought together here appreciates your talents. May this period of uncertainty for both of you be brief. Hopefully, whatever direction/form Uni Watch takes in the future will be supported by many of us. Best of luck!

  • bbb | December 18, 2018 at 1:33 pm |

    Austin Riveres should be “Rivers”

  • StrangeMorris | December 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm |

    I really wish the Devils would go back to wearing green in both their color and white jerseys all the time. Not only is it visually more appealing, but I like to think the green represents the Pine Barrens, home of the Jersey Devil.

  • Jim Howicz | December 18, 2018 at 1:44 pm |

    I think you could monetize “Paul’s Culinary Corner.” It’s better than a lot of food blogs.

  • Warren Shapiro | December 18, 2018 at 2:32 pm |

    Paul Sorry to see your articles will not be on the ESPN site. But

    I know you will land on your feet and write someplace else.

    Believe me us the loyal readers will follow you and continue to

    read your great columns. All the best of luck in your future

    path. Keep in touch and tell us where we can find you.

  • Chance Michaels | December 18, 2018 at 2:57 pm |

    Paul, sorry to hear about your ESPN gig.

    Your writing brings me so much joy, not just the design stuff but everything from the travel to food to the human stories of Permanent Record.

    I look forward to your next chapter, whatever it may be.

  • Isaac Perlich | December 18, 2018 at 3:25 pm |

    Just trust in God through this. It’s his plan, we just need to trust.

  • Chris | December 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm |

    Sorry to hear about both Paul and Phil’s recent news. I’m hoping you both find a good landing spot.

  • Dave | December 18, 2018 at 3:32 pm |

    Best wishes to you in what comes next.

  • Michael Emody | December 18, 2018 at 3:59 pm |

    I’ll bet someone scoops you up before the day is over.

  • GM | December 18, 2018 at 5:03 pm |

    “It was shortly after the 2016 election and, like a lot of people, I felt like the world had shifted in some sort of seismic way, and I wondered if I should be doing something more important than writing about uniforms (not that writing about uniforms isn’t important in its own way, but you know what I mean).”

    What you do here cheers many of us up, which is a whole lot more than most jobs. You do good work — I’m sure you’ll find your next gig soon. In the meantime, enjoy your free time, we don’t get enough of it in life.

  • Kevin Zdancewicz | December 18, 2018 at 7:49 pm |

    Sorry to hear the ESPN news Paul.

  • Todd | December 18, 2018 at 8:07 pm |

    Sorry to hear about the ESPN gig. I would love to see you writing for The Athletic. I have enjoyed that site and think your columns will be a good fit there!

    Good luck and Merry Christmas!

  • Scott C. | December 18, 2018 at 8:12 pm |

    Paul,

    Let me speak for the thousands upon thousands that read you every day, but never comment. Today was a day needed for a comment…your writing is too good for you not to find a job profiling the uni-watch scene. I’ve had a few items in the ticker over the years, but don’t usually comment. I was so happy to stumble upon this site years ago and see that some other people “get it”. I don’t need to explain it anymore than that. Positive thoughts and vibes your way…know that many of us feel this is “appointment reading”. You’re too good not to get hired somewhere.

  • Marc P. | December 18, 2018 at 9:50 pm |

    Paul,

    I know I’m only a small voice of many but I would be remiss if I didn’t extend a thank you and truly wish you the best.

    Seeing the caliber of our work, of bet you are going to score a tremendous gig.

    All of us readers have and truly will have your back.

    Keep crushing it!!!

  • Kurt | December 18, 2018 at 10:54 pm |

    Paul working on getting that Mr. Yuk over Pacers Motorola ad – it’s circular, easy job!

  • Greg Mays | December 18, 2018 at 11:31 pm |

    Rooting for you to find just the right thing or combination of things. This site and your writing is a testament to class, talent, and great judgment. Excited to see what’s next for you.

    Greg

    PS- You worked with Jena Janovy?!? I’m a huge fan of her father and his writing. Have you ever read his book about her athletic career? Fields of Friendly Strife. https://www.amazon.com/Fields-Friendly-Strife-John-Janovy/dp/0140093737
    Best book about sport (not sports) I have ever read.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2018 at 11:36 pm |

      I was just emailing with Jena literally three minutes ago! She’s my boss’s boss. Embarrassed to say I had no idea about the book — will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

  • pete | December 19, 2018 at 5:40 am |

    Hey Paul, a day late getting to the site, but sorry to hear about your contract. Been reading you since you started at ESPN, and have been here almost every day since it started, and I’m also happy to share a May 26 bday with Uni Watch! Anyways, look forward to reading and supporting your next project, whatever it may be.

    Just a question – any reason you don’t get paid for travel writing? The travelogues are possibly my favorite part of UW, especially the past few years (credit to Tugboat Capt’s photos, perhaps?). Your journeys and pitstops are the types I’d love to take as well, and I’d love to read these more often – are there other writers/sites already doing this type of travel writing?

  • Greg | December 19, 2018 at 2:18 pm |

    The red jersey with the long UCLA stripes reminds me of vintage roller derby shirts of the 1970s.

  • Sam | December 19, 2018 at 2:30 pm |

    I just discovered Uni-Watch, hope doesn’t end soon! Hope you can find a new gig soon, best of luck