Memory Lane: My Final Day at ESPN

Nearly 15 years after my first ESPN column appeared, today is my final day with the company. They were nice enough to let me do one last column — a roundup of my favorite ESPN pieces. Some date back more than a decade, while others are just from last year, but all were really fun to work on, and it was also fun to rediscover them as I worked on this farewell piece. You can check it out here.

Starting tomorrow, my income will go way, way down (and I’ll have to buy a new laptop, ugh). This website will become my primary source of income. If you have the means and the inclination, please consider ordering a membership card or offering support in other ways. The site and I could use it. Thanks.

It’s still not clear whether the Uni Watch column will end up moving to another media outlet. For now, as I recently announced, my annual MLB Season Preview will be appearing on SI.com (probably on March 25 or 26), and I have some other irons in the fire. I’ll keep you apprised of additional news as it develops.

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NFL 100 update: For a while now we’ve been wondering how that crummy centennial logo would look on NFL jerseys this season. And now, thanks to a tweet from the Vikings, we know. It turns out that the anniversary mark will be incorporated into the league logo that already appears at the base of the collar.

That’s not a bad solution. In fact, I think it’s pretty good — it avoids patch clutter, and the logo doesn’t look as bad in miniature (sort of like how bad jersey designs make good Uni Watch membership cards). I wonder if they’ll also use the centennial mark in place of the NFL logo patch on the pants and the NFL logo decal on the helmets. Probably yes, right?

Remember, I’ve already reported that the Bears won’t be wearing the NFL 100 mark because they have their own version of the centennial logo, and now we know where they’ll presumably be wearing it.

(My thanks to Simon Tekie for bringing this photo to my attention.)

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Too good for the Ticker: Reader Alex Chermeteff is ready for Opening Day with his Philadelphia A’s sweater. “I bought the shawl collar sweater and switched out the brown buttons for white ones,” he says. “I made a cardboard template of the white elephant off the team’s 1909-12 sweater and used premium felt for the elephant.”

How nice is that? Play ball!

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Oh, for fuck’s sake: UNC tweeted a photo yesterday, showing the 2019 ACC Tournament basketball — which for some reason includes an ad for an insurance company. Sigh.

(Blame James Gilbert for this one.)

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Wafflebored reminder: In case you missed it on Wednesday, we’re auctioning off another one-of-a-kind Uni Watch jersey made by the awesome Wafflebored. Full details, including a rear-view photo, the jersey’s measurements, how to bid on it, and more, can be found here.

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Some thoughts about “we”: Tim Marchman, who writes for the Gizmodo Media Group (which includes Deadspin, Splinter, Jezebel, The Root, etc.), posted a really excellent piece yesterday about the use of the word “we” by journalists (and also “us” and “our”), and how it’s almost always bogus. The piece is long, but I reallyreallyreally recommend reading it. Sooooo much good stuff. Here’s one very good paragraph:

“We” is useful [for writers], depending on who’s using it and why, for any number of purposes. Writers use it, among other things, to attribute their own beliefs to others, whether to make them seem more widely-held than they are or to make it seem more understandable that they hold them; to closely circumscribe a group comprising the right-thinking and respectable and leave those who disagree with them outside it; to claim that their failure to do or notice something was shared by all; to construct a straw consensus for the purpose of assailing it; to deflect blame from them or their institution to Society as such; and to elevate particular concerns to the level of universal ones, obviating the distinction between the individual and the collective. When someone uses it, you can presume they’re wrong, or lying.

Referring to various media outlets’ use of “we,” Marchman continues, rather brilliantly and hilariously:

Just over the last while, I’ve learned, to my surprise, and among many other things, that I tend not to think of Aretha Franklin as an artist of bravado and nerve and daring; that I am Julia Salazar, and that if I dislike her, I also made her; that I assign greater meaning to college football than it is equipped to handle and impart skills and powers to its leaders that are greater than they deserve, and always have; and that I await Marvel movies not simply because they’re all I have left, but because I am the one I have been waiting for.

I’m guilty of having used “we” from time to time. It’s a handy (and coercive) way of stacking the deck, a way to amplify my voice and make it sound like many voices, a way to leverage additional power by changing the writer/reader equation from one-on-one to many-on-one. It’s sneaky, and I’ve definitely been aware of it on several occasions when I’ve done it.

But I think “we” can have value in certain situations. Uni Watch is a community — For People Who Get It™ and all that. “We” really are a like-minded group, at least to the extent that “we” care about uniforms, even if “we” often disagree regarding “our” specific uniform tastes.

Anyway, it’s all good food for thought. I — speaking only for myself, but hoping many of you will agree — strongly recommend Marchman’s piece.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: The last high school in Maine to call its teams the Indians is dropping the team name (from our own Anthony Emerson). … A non-binding student resolution to replace the Chief Iliniwek with an otter named Alma Otter as the U. of Illinois’s mascot was voted down earlier this week (from Mike Chamernik).

Baseball News: Today is Diamondbacks Night for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. The team will wear “peyote coyote” throwbacks during pregame warmups, with throwback D-back design touches (from Ted Jones). … The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are set to unveil a big new scoreboard. … The Reading Fightin Phils will become the Reading Pretzels for one game this season. … Here’s another article about the Rochester Red Wings’ Deaf Culture Day promotion, complete with their American Sign Language jersey (from @benk). … Speaking of the Red Wings, they’ll have hockey-themed jerseys later this year. … Mets P Noah Syndergaard had some bun/ponytail action going on during yesterday’s Grapefruit League start. He often wears it that way during workouts or off the field but usually lets his hair fly free when he’s on the mound. … Here’s a rare sight: Cardinals 1B Keith Hernandez wearing an earflapped helmet. He went flapless for most of his career (good spot by Scott Unes). … Always an interesting look when the U. of Florida softball team wears white stirrups over white sannies (from @904craftbeerdad). … I mentioned the other day that Dick Armstrong, who I interviewed back in January, had died. Here’s his obituary.

NFL News: Media outlets are Photoshopping newly acquired Jets RB Le’Veon Bell into a Jets uni, but of course he’ll never wear that design because the Jets are unveiling their new set on April 4 (from many readers). … NBC and CBS are swapping Super Bowls. … Looks like WR Odell Beckham Jr. will wear No. 13 with the Browns.

Hockey News: The Ducks are issuing a Ryan Getzlaf bobblehead with a mash-up jersey that’s half original home whites and half current alternate jersey — “which itself is essentially a mash-up of all the Ducks prior jerseys,” notes Chris Cruz. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Today is Arizona Diamondbacks Night for the Coyotes. They’ll wear “peyote coyote” throwbacks during pregame warmups, with throwback D-back design touches (from Ted Jones). … The Pixies played Madison Square Garden earlier this week, and MSG’s management gave them personalized Rangers jerseys. But they misspelled Black Francis’s NOB, and all of the NOBs should have been vertically arched, not radially (from Denis Costello). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: MiLB’s Rochester Red Wings will wear hockey-themed unis later this year. … Autism-awareness jerseys later this month for the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers.

NBA News: The design for James Harden’s latest signature sneaker is supposedly inspired by the Rockets’ throwback uniforms. … The D League’s Texas Legends use the logo of their NBA affiliate, the Mavericks, as the circle at the top of the key. “Never seen a logo in that spot before,” says Mike Chamernik. … Here’s how Wish is capitalizing on their jersey sponsorship advertising deal with the Lakers. … Here’s rare footage of Michael Jordan and the rest of the Bulls wearing a pinstripe-sleeved warmup top, which was apparently worn only during the preseason. … Pistons G Langston Galloway wore “Grand Theft Auto: Motor City”-themed sneakers last night (from @SpartanSwagga).

College Hoops News: Attention sneakerheads: Michigan State players explained their footwear choices (from Colin Dilworth). … Here’s our first look at Kansas’s postseason uniform (from Sam Wescott). … Colgate has some really big uni numbers (from Eric Kohli). … For reasons that aren’t clear, at least to me, Missouri G Ronnie Suggs switched from his regular No. 3 to a NNOB No. 21 jersey yesterday (from Kate Sutter). … Northwestern and Illinois went purple vs. orange last night (from Dustin Long). … Virginia Tech and Miami went grey vs. black yesterday (screen shot by @5th_Factor). … Speaking of VaTech, their student-managers put a court in tape on the carpet floor of their hotel (from Andrew Cosentino).

Soccer News: New kits for Vlora City FC (from Ed Zelaski). … The next three items are from Josh Hinton: Here’s why Atlético Madrid wore socks that didn’t match the rest of their kit against Juventus. … Here’s the breakdown of kit manufacturers for all 32 teams in the 2019 Copa Libertadores. … Here’s a look back at the 1986 World Cup home kits. … Cercle Brugge is changing outfitters, from Erima to Kappa (Ed Zelaski again). … Remember when FC Dallas recently pranked their players by pretending to release a new taco-themed jersey? The team is now offering a ticket deal that includes a T-shirt of a taco design (from John Florry). … New diversity-themed jersey for VfL Wolfsburg (Ed Zelaski yet again). … “Both of Tuesday’s Scottish Cup quarterfinal replays were uni-notable,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. “Heart of Midlothian and Partick Thistle both changed to avoid a clash, to white (from maroon) and dark blue (from yellow/red/black), respectively. And Rangers wore black armbands in memory of former defender Eric Caldow, who passed away recently.” … New uniforms for the Portland Thorns (from George Rafael). … Bayern Munich MF Leon Goretzka wore the wrong jersey in a Champions League match against Liverpool yesterday (from Anthony Genna and @mpcross).

Grab Bag: It was bound to happen eventually: Budweiser-branded meat. Yes, really. … The e-commerce firm Alibaba has won a trademark dispute with the cryptocurrency Alibabacoin. … Dick’s Sporting Goods is no longer selling Reebok apparel (thanks, Brinke). … New gold-trimmed shoes for the Players Championship for golfer Rory McElroy (from David Sperino). … Reader Tony Bruno’s been traveling in Costa Rica, where he spotted ads on the airport X-ray bins. “You would have been proud, I grabbed the only one I saw that was blank,” he says. … A new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York documents the history of bicycling in NYC. Additional info here. … Check out out: a car with bumper stickers from failed presidential campaigns (from Tony Lombardo). … The Richmond Tigers Aussie football club has released a team-centric version of Monopoly, in which players can purchase players and stadiums connected with the club (from Graham Clayton). … Really interesting article about how boxing ring corners and dressing rooms are assigned (from Jason Hillyer). … New helmet design for F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo.

63 comments to Memory Lane: My Final Day at ESPN

  • DenverGregg | March 14, 2019 at 8:06 am |

    Link to your Gothamist piece isn’t working

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 8:09 am |

      Ugh — I meant to remove that and run it tomorrow. Fixed!

  • John | March 14, 2019 at 8:17 am |

    Thanks Paul

  • Silver Creek Dawg | March 14, 2019 at 8:19 am |

    RE: Ronnie Suggs switching numbers from 3 to 21.

    The announcers bandied about a couple of theories during last night’s telecast. One was that he or the managers simply forgot to pack his uniform for the tournament. The other was the fact that the school recently retired the number 3 in honor of Derrick Chievous and he/the school decided to immediately take it out of circulation rather than wait.

  • SilvaWil | March 14, 2019 at 8:22 am |

    Went back and read that first column. I miss polls like that, and links that last forever. Was really looking forward to the 12 year old growing up… no earflaps for us!

  • Noah | March 14, 2019 at 8:25 am |

    Those ACC Tournament balls aren’t UNC-specific. Those are the official balls for the tournament that everybody uses. UNC always uses a Nike ball for their home games, but the home team always provides the game ball except for the tournaments where there is always an official ball. Apparently, they slapped a logo and ad on it this year.

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 8:29 am |

      Thanks. Will update text.

  • Dumb Guy | March 14, 2019 at 8:41 am |

    We love you, Paul!

    PS: SO many swooshes in the UF softball pic!

  • Joe | March 14, 2019 at 8:52 am |

    Also, in the ACC tournament last night, Pitt wore gold and Syracuse wore their whites, making it a light on light game.

  • Maynard | March 14, 2019 at 9:08 am |

    I like the NFL 100 logo. Glad they will plaster it everywhere.

    • Nestor Chylak | March 14, 2019 at 10:24 am |

      I like it too.

      Wondering why the football is missing from the Bears’ version, though.

  • Joe Rodgers | March 14, 2019 at 9:10 am |

    Ugh. ESPN’s editors know how early you update your site, but they cannot even make the effort to publish your final column in time for the link to be active. So indicative of so many things.

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 9:14 am |

      Easy, Joe — it’s not their job to tailor their website to my schedule. Lots of factors go into a pub-time decision. I appreciate you having my back, but they’re OK on this one.

  • Iain | March 14, 2019 at 9:14 am |

    Looking forward to the Gothamist article. Any idea how much traffic is generated to your freelance pieces from Uni Watch links? Do you use your Uni Watch audience as part of your pitch?

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 9:18 am |

      Gothamist tease was supposed to run tomorrow, not today! Has been removed from today’s post.

      UW-generated traffic: It varies. I don’t generally use UW as part of my freelance pitches, but I do mention that I have 126K twitter followers, which usually gets an editor’s attention.

  • Wade Heidt | March 14, 2019 at 9:14 am |

    Some more hockey stuff.

    Vancouver Canucks wearing special jerseys during warmup last night prior to the game against the Rangers. Part of Hockey Is For Everyone Night.

    http://1.cdn.nhle.com/canucks/images/upload/gallery/2019/03/1130331665_slide.jpg

    http://1.cdn.nhle.com/canucks/images/upload/gallery/2019/03/1130331670_slide.jpg

  • RS Rogers | March 14, 2019 at 9:24 am |

    The TSA security-scanner bins at National Airport in Washington, DC, have ads.

  • Heisenberg's Hat | March 14, 2019 at 9:34 am |

    Even though he won’t allow me to have a Cleveland Indians membership card, I stand by my offer to subscribe to any media outlet that gives Paul employment. Hope you get good news on the job front soon Mr. Lukas. If we don’t say it enough, thanks for running this little uni sandbox.

  • Liam | March 14, 2019 at 9:51 am |

    Great run with ESPN, Paul. We wish you continued success!

  • Mike | March 14, 2019 at 10:05 am |

    Is the reporter in the Kansas tournament uni photo wearing 6 layer soles on her shoes? I’m guessing it’s for interviewing taller players but never saw that before.

  • Adam | March 14, 2019 at 10:08 am |

    No “love” or an explanation for Jaguars Savior, Nick Foles wearing # 7 in Jax? Seriously I would love to know why they gave him such a cursed #

    • ChrisH | March 14, 2019 at 10:18 am |

      Because #9 was taken already?

  • LT | March 14, 2019 at 10:18 am |

    In the MSU shoe piece, Henry is wearing his socks inside out. In other sock news, it looks like the KU kid is wearing two different colored socks.

    Love the site, Paul! WE will always support the site and you.

  • Shane | March 14, 2019 at 10:20 am |

    Have you ever considered setting up a Patreon? I use it to contribute to the Effectively Wild podcast on a monthly basis, and could be a nice alternative to the membership.

    Apologies if you’ve mentioned this before, and I missed it.

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 10:29 am |

      Patreon is coming – hopefully next month.

      Podcast coming too.

      • Shane | March 14, 2019 at 2:54 pm |

        Awesome. I look forward to being able to contribute!

  • Jim Vilk | March 14, 2019 at 10:22 am |

    Colgate has some really bigbeautiful properly-sized uni numbers

    There you go…

    Nice wrapup on ESPN. Looking forward to what door will open now that this one has closed.

  • Jim Vilk | March 14, 2019 at 10:31 am |

    The D League’s Texas Legends use the logo of their NBA affiliate, the Mavericks, as the circle at the top of the key.

    I like.

    It was bound to happen eventually: Budweiser-branded meat.

    Surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. Now you can pour some Yeungling barbecue sauce (which has been around for a few years) on it.

  • Nelson Warwick | March 14, 2019 at 10:33 am |

    Alex Chermeteff, your Philadelphia Athletics sweater is beautiful! Matching pillbox style cap too!! I would love that sweater in my wardrobe! As a teen, I read “Glory of Their Times” and remember seeing so many photos of Athletics players and noting the odd pillbox cap and particularly the cross lines along the top of the cap. Always wanted one, but alas, the era of “Throwback/Retro” gear had not yet arrived. Always thought if I could start a youth baseball team, and had full creative control, I would outfit them in something similar to the early 1910s Athletics uniforms. Great job and you wear it very well!!

    • Matthew Radican | March 14, 2019 at 12:21 pm |

      I agree. Very well done!

    • Wade Heidt | March 14, 2019 at 12:24 pm |

      Would be cool if sweaters like that made a comeback to be used during the playoffs and World Series. Would give a retro vibe. For in the dugout when it is cold.

  • McGiveittome | March 14, 2019 at 10:36 am |

    Paul- Have you thought about starting a Patreon page? You have such a unique and loyal following its perfect for Patreon’s platform.

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 10:45 am |

      Patreon is coming – hopefully next month.

  • Dustin Smith | March 14, 2019 at 10:47 am |

    Spelling check – Ironic that the piece on MSG spelling the member of the Pixies’ name wrong has the “Pixies” spelled as Pixes.

    Love your columns and will follow you anywhere!

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 10:51 am |

      Ha! Fixed.

  • James | March 14, 2019 at 10:52 am |

    That Page 2 yellow background instantly took me back to the early 2000s. I wasted a lot of time on there at my first job out of college.

  • ChrisH | March 14, 2019 at 10:52 am |

    Paul’s ESPN piece may very well be the last thing I read at that site.
    Great work, Paul…greater opportunities surely await!

  • Bryan Stroud | March 14, 2019 at 11:13 am |
    • Scott | March 14, 2019 at 9:45 pm |

      Doesn’t much look like a turn-back-the-clock jersey. The name, maybe, but the uniform seems like it might need some work to be truly retro.

  • Matt | March 14, 2019 at 11:16 am |

    Thank you Paul! Your site and metspolice are the first two places I go every morning.

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 11:30 am |

      Those are the first two sites *I* visit each day too!

  • BvK1126 | March 14, 2019 at 12:51 pm |

    Thanks, Paul, for providing 15 years’ worth of exceptional content on ESPN’s website. I’ll always be grateful that ESPN gave you that platform. It’s how I discovered that there was not only a sportswriter who shared my keen interest and enthusiasm for the nuances of uniform design and the aesthetics of sports, but also an entire community of like-minded sports fans.

    Reading your first column and today’s final column was a wistful and bittersweet (mostly sweet) trip down memory lane. Lots of milestones of the uni-verse are encapsulated there!

    One question: In your first column, you link to a photo of the Astros’ Tequila Sunrise uniform and identify it (essentially) as a “retro kitsch eyesore.” 15 years later, do you still feel that way, or have you come around on that uniform?

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 12:54 pm |

      It’s become a category unto itself, and a classic of a sort. I probably went too far in describing it as an eyesore, but let’s put it this way: Would you want them to wear that design every day?

      Thanks for the kind words.

      • Rainbow Guts | March 15, 2019 at 9:30 am |

        As someone who has nearly 50 Tequila Sunrise uniforms (not necessarily from Sand-Knit), I resemble that remark!

  • jacket18 | March 14, 2019 at 1:07 pm |

    That ticker entry about presidential bumper stickers immediately reminded me of Jake Tapper’s office.

    https://video.gq.com/watch/jake-tapper-s-office-is-full-of-presidential-losers

  • diggerjohn111 | March 14, 2019 at 1:21 pm |

    Paul,
    If it means anything, thank you so much for this website, in a way it kind has become part of my life. The site was there when my mother passed away and was there when I moved back north and finished my doctorate (I read it while waiting for my doctoral defence board to calm my nerves). I am sorry that your contract at ESPN hasn’t been extended and things are going to be a bit tight, I know that feeling quite well working in historical research. Your work here and on ESPN has made my mornings that much better and I am glad I became a member, I carry my membership card in my wallet (Mets current away jersey). I am proud to be amoung those who get it. Thanks, man!

  • Thomas J | March 14, 2019 at 1:27 pm |

    Does this mean the Bears will not have the NFL shield on their jerseys this year?

  • ESPN's Loss | March 14, 2019 at 1:43 pm |

    Feel better knowing we still have our Uni-Watch! Thank you, Paul!

  • Pete | March 14, 2019 at 2:28 pm |

    One door closes, another opens. I’m looking forward to seeing UniWatch in other media. Still think The Athletic is the perfect home for it.

    • Paul Lukas | March 14, 2019 at 2:30 pm |

      I’d love to work for The Athletic. But after going on a hiring spree over the past year or so, they’re no longer hiring. They did offer me a freelance deal, but only on a trial basis, and for very little money. I didn’t like the idea of you folks having to buy subscriptions to read my stuff if there was no guarantee I’d even stick around there very long. Too bad.

  • Steve Fidrych | March 14, 2019 at 2:57 pm |

    A press conference for new Carolina Panther free agent signee, Matt Paradis, shows him holding up the current jersey for the Panthers. If the Panthers are announcing new uniforms, I am guessing they will be revealed sometime in April, before the draft.

  • jacket18 | March 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm |

    Paul, I was reading that first ESPN column you linked to today, and the NBA item jumped out at me. You say “Uni Watch hereby advises the NBA to let the players wear their warmup pants during the game, or else just get it over with and have them play naked.” It’s funny that since then, we’ve gotten sleeves, over-sized logos, and other jersey designs that looked more like warmups. The shorts got bigger (the “System of Dress” seems sooooooo long ago now), but that trend seems to have reversed itself.

    I think the rest of the items in that article could have been written yesterday, but basketball uniforms seem to have taken a quite a long journey over the past decade and a half (especially as compared to other major sports).

    Thanks for sharing that link. There’s a certain nostalgia to that “Page 2 Yellow” for me. That’s where I discovered Uni Watch, and have been a loyal reader ever since. I’d imagine quite a few more people “Get It(TM)” today because of what you were able to do with that ESPN column for so many years. Best of luck as you continue to search for new adventures.

    • Kevin Zdancewicz | March 14, 2019 at 4:22 pm |

      They showed clips from that 6OT Big East tournament game from 10 years ago, and the huge System of Dress shorts looked so ridiculous.

  • Shut Up Lutz! | March 14, 2019 at 5:25 pm |

    So is the NFL 100 logo going to be on all the footballs this coming season?

  • Steve McMasters | March 14, 2019 at 7:48 pm |

    Love the columns and website Paul. Good luck with future endeavors, I’ll look to support you however I can. Thanks!

  • Patrick | March 14, 2019 at 8:31 pm |

    Alzheimer awareness night, not autism. Last item in the hockey section.

  • Ben D. | March 14, 2019 at 9:30 pm |

    Am I the only one that thinks the NFL 100 logo looks like a space shuttle mission patch?

  • Mark in Shiga | March 14, 2019 at 10:36 pm |

    That piece on the use of “we” was pretty interesting. Coming from a science background, I unconsciously accepted the standard use of “we” to mean the writer and the readers, solving a problem or arriving at a conclusion, together. “Taking the limit as the time-difference approaches zero, we obtain the following equation…”. I had never processed the more insidious ascribing-one’s-own-opinions-to-others “we” before.

    When doing my own academic writing — research about an obscure orthography known to almost no one — I used “we” all throughout everything. “As I showed you in Chapter 4” sounds far more off-putting and narcissistic than “as we saw in Chapter 4”, and a passive construction like “as was demonstrated…” doesn’t improve things much either. “We have explored…” and “we have seen…” appear over and over in my theses.

    I’m a big fan of the “we” as “writer and readers on a journey together, discovering things together”. I think I’ll keep using it unless there is some reason to find it wrong.

  • Steve Volkman | March 15, 2019 at 12:01 am |

    Sorry to point it out so late, but the Tulsa Oilers will be wearing jerseys to support Alzheimer’s Awareness, not Autism.