The Untold Story of the NFL Game Face

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Back in January I retweeted a photo of a ski mask designed to look like an NFL helmet. Those ski masks, called Game Faces, were sold back in the early 1990s, but I had completely forgotten about them until I saw that tweet. I soon got a note from one of my Twitter followers, a guy named Kyle Siegel, who said his father had actually invented the Game Face.

That sounded intriguing, so I asked Kyle to put me in touch with his dad. After a few false starts and missed connections, last month I finally interviewed Drew Siegel (that’s him shown above), who’s an attorney in Dallas.

I initially thought this would make for a fun blog post, but Drew turned out to be such an entertaining guy that I decided to shop the story around. I began with Sports Illustrated, and they snapped it up, so the story is up now on their website. Enjoy.

I should add that there were a few tidbits from my interview with Drew that didn’t make it into the SI piece. If I have time, I’ll include those tidbits here on the blog tomorrow.

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Photo by Eliot Kamentiz. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Fill up the bucket with whatever you got / Make sure it’s something that the bucket likes a lot: Football players sometimes refer to their helmets as “buckets.” But back in 1981, Saints veterans hazed rookies (like running back George Rogers, shown above) by making them wear an actual bucket helmet, complete with a Dungard facemask! Never seen that before. Additional info here.

(My thanks to @unavion for this one.)

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Cups of style: I love uniform style guides (or, really, any kind of style guide, sports-related or otherwise). You may recall that I got all excited about a year and a half ago when I discovered some old trading stickers based on uniform style guides, and I’m even more geeked out now that I’ve seen these old NHL beverage cups with style guide graphics! The photo above shows the colored road uniforms, and here are the home white uniforms (click to enlarge):

Isn’t that great? I’d never seen these before. Love it!

(My thanks to John Hageny for posting these photos, and to @jeffreybigmoney for bringing the pics to my attention.)

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Follow-up to yesterday’s lede: The Reds wore their road greys for a second consecutive game yesterday in Oakland, thereby ending OF Nick Senzel’s streak of wearing a different uni for each game at the start of his MLB career at five. … The Phillies will add a memorial patch for chairman David Montgomery on Monday (from many readers). … The Traverse City Pit Spitters have unveiled their inaugural uniforms. Note that the shades of grey on the road jerseys and pants don’t match (from many readers). … WWI-era throwbacks for the U.S. Naval War College (from UWNWC alum Martin Kindl). … A team from Yakima, Wash., won the American Legion national championship in 1978 — and apparently did so while wearing shorts! From Marc Viquez.) … Orioles INF Hanser Alberto suffered a torn pant leg last night (from @ohhhsourry and @JPardoe18). … We already knew that MLB was going G.I. Joke for Armed Forces Day Weekend, and now it turns out that MiLB is doing likewise (from @Zanerzas). … There’s logo creep, and then there’s really logo creep (from Eric Keskeys). … Interesting note from Gaylon White, who writes: “Felipe Alou says in his autobiography (p. 34) that he had ‘F. Alou’ on the back of his uniform while playing for the Giants’ Class C farm team in Lake Charles, La., in 1956. I find it hard to believe they were putting names on back of unis before the White Sox did it in 1960.” Hmmmmm. … Check out this old shot of Mariners OF Richie Zisk with an upside-down helmet logo. … The Inland Empire 66ers will become the California Burritos on May 25.

Football News: The wheels are apparently turning already for the corporate-advertised name of the Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas (from Tom Roddy). … The CFL is teasing its new New Era uniforms, which will be unveiled next week (from many readers). … Jerseys worn by several Steelers greats are going up for auction. … Speaking of the Steelers: You knew about the Terrible Towel, but did you know there were home and road versions of it?

Hockey News: A recent episode of The Simpsons showed a rug with a Quebec Nordiques-esque design pattern (good spot by Pat Horbac).
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Basketball News: Knicks star Walt Frazier’s jersey from Game Seven of the 1970 NBA Finals is up for auction. … ESPN tweeted a photo of Kyrie Irving guarding Kyrie Irving (rare non-Baltimore and non-VaTech item from Andrew Cosentino). … A former Adidas consultant and another man were found guilty of bribery and conspiracy in the latest college basketball corruption trial.

Soccer News: Brentford FC is now being outfitted by Umbro (from Ed Zelaski). … The rest of these items are from Josh Hinton: New sleeve badges for the Premier League. … The new Derbystar Bundesliga ball design has leaked. … Another leak: Man U’s new keeper kit. … Liverpool has a new training kit sponsor advertiser.

Grab Bag: Check this out: an Illlinois-shaped pothole! (From Chance Plett.) … NASCAR Cup driver Kevin Harvick lost a bet and will be driving a “millennial-inspired” paint scheme for the Charlotte All-Star race (from Chris Hickey). … The Norwegian curling team that popularized garish pants throughout the sports is disbanding (from Jenifer Hayden). … As marijuana becomes increasingly legal and socially acceptable, home decor designers are coming up with cannibis-themed designs (NYT link). … New logo for Sears, not that it’ll help any. … It’s a little hard to see, but here’s a screen shot of Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker using a guitar pick with a South Carolina Gamecocks logo. “The band was founded at South Carolina,” notes Andy Shain. … Have I mentioned lately how completely awesome Hamilton Nolan is? … A new rule regarding uniforms for Air Force reservists is causing controversy at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. … A new company is selling country music-themed patches (from @SheWolfRadio). … Did you know that motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievil had “home” and “road” versions of his famous star-spangled costume?

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Our latest raffle winner is Matthew Jean, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks again to John Flaherty for sponsoring this raffle.

48 comments to The Untold Story of the NFL Game Face

  • Oakville Celery Root | May 9, 2019 at 8:11 am |

    Re: Simpson’s picture

    The light in the background is designed after the Stanley Cup. A few of the writers on the Simpsons are Canadian.

    • Oakville Fennel | May 9, 2019 at 8:13 am |

      One more reference, although more debatable, the picture hanging in the background, looks a lot like the CN Tower in Toronto.

      • AlMaFi | May 9, 2019 at 9:24 am |

        That episode was set in Canada and I think you’re right about the tower picture.

    • sandy | May 9, 2019 at 11:33 am |

      Definitely the Cup & the CN Tower in that Simpsons screen grab. I would say those are ‘easter eggs’ put there for Uni-Versers who watch the show..

      So cool that someone who animates the Simpsons “gets-it” !!

    • ThresherK | May 9, 2019 at 12:12 pm |

      Okay, I missed this one. As the last Nordiques fan in Connecticut, I’ll have to catch it.

    • Wade Heidt | May 9, 2019 at 12:23 pm |

      Lisa was assigned her own hockey team in that episode. She was not happy that it was the Ottawa Senators.

      That house would have been in Windsor. They were just across the river from Detroit.

      • Oakville Fennel | May 9, 2019 at 3:51 pm |

        I think Lisa is meant to be wearing a red/black lumberjack shirt (very Canadian) but I guess there’s some reluctance with animation using black? The winter boots on a mat is I guess also meant to represent the Canadian look.

        • mike 2 | May 9, 2019 at 5:22 pm |

          The technical term is Kenora Dinner Jacket.

      • Mike Zweiback | May 9, 2019 at 9:29 pm |

        The bannister has a puck on it

  • BurghFan | May 9, 2019 at 8:31 am |

    “You knew about the Terrible Towel, but did you know there were home and road versions of it?”

    Uh, no.

    When Myron Cope and the people at WTAE Radio first advanced the idea, it was that fans would bring their own gold or black towels to the 1975 playoff games. So when Cope licensed the Towel, both colors were available, but there’s a preference for gold because it’s more visible. I doubt anyone could conceive of the Towel being waved on the road in those days.

    • Memal | May 9, 2019 at 9:08 am |

      I second this. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh nearly all my life and the Terrible Towels have never been referred to as home and away, you have the Terrible Towel and you have a black one version I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen in someone’s possession and not just sitting for sale somewhere.

      • Cope Myron | May 9, 2019 at 10:27 am |

        Yoi! And double-yoi!

  • Rick Porter | May 9, 2019 at 8:34 am |

    The Pens only wore gold socks after the 1980 changeover. Went to black in 1980-81

    • Chance Michaels | May 9, 2019 at 9:55 am |

      Glad to see you’re continuing to write for SI!

      • Paul Lukas | May 9, 2019 at 10:17 am |

        Still just a one-article-at-a-time thing. No steady gig, unfortunately.

        • Chance Michaels | May 9, 2019 at 10:56 am |

          We’ll keep giving you clicks, see if we can’t do something about that.

        • Paul Lukas | May 9, 2019 at 10:58 am |

          Thanks! It actually has more to do with their current ownership status (SI is up for sale, and there’s a hiring freeze until they have a new owner). But clicks don’t hurt!

    • Eric | May 9, 2019 at 3:44 pm |

      I think it could be a good thing you spelled my name wrong under the picture of me with the Seahawks zubaz pants! Haha

  • Rick | May 9, 2019 at 9:03 am |

    Richie Zisk wearing the upside down Mariner logo was in response to the argument that the downward pointing trident was bad luck and that’s why the team played poorly. Afterwards, it was discovered the team wasn’t any good.

    • MJ | May 9, 2019 at 11:35 am |

      I am fairly certain that there were other Mariners of that era with upside-down logos. Somewhere in my basement, in my baseball card collection, is a Ron Roenicke from 1982 that has the logo upside-down during a game. Not sure if it was in honor of the Greek superstition or just a player/team trying to get out of a slump, but that always caught my eye.

  • Graf Zeppelin | May 9, 2019 at 9:05 am |

    “Buckets on!!” That brings back some [sweaty, painful] memories….

  • Mike Wissman | May 9, 2019 at 9:06 am |

    Paul, really enjoyed the Game Faces article. Really interesting to see how ideas like that come together. Just wish the darn things had been a little more comfortable to wear…

  • DarenL | May 9, 2019 at 9:14 am |

    The Winnipeg Jets beverage cups are incorrect as far as what they actually wore on the ice. The Jets never wore their ‘Ranger’-influenced jerseys (1979/80 to 1989/90) with that logo (1990/91 to 1995/96).

    • Wade Heidt | May 9, 2019 at 3:09 pm |

      Good eye on that one! Also, the Penguins did not wear yellow socks with the jersey that featured the numbers on the sleeves rather than the shoulders. Penguins had yellow socks worn in early 1980s and not when these cups came out.

  • Wade Heidt | May 9, 2019 at 9:16 am |

    The CFL regular season starts in June, but the full reveal of the jerseys will be on May 15.

    About the New Era CFL jerseys, there were more reveals during the day. A very revealing tease. More detail can be seen on CFL twitter:

    https://twitter.com/CFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

    Does appear that the BC Lions leak from a few months back (which I thought was likely fake) may actually be the real deal:

    http://www.riderfans.com/forum/filedata/fetch?id=407207&d=1550096906

    It was indicated that there would not be much change to the designs for 8 of the teams in the first year of the New Era uniforms. It appears we are getting some minor changes to the designs. More than I expected.

    What I am not pleased about is the jerseys with the different colour shoulder yokes compared to the torso. Never liked them to begin with, but the New Era ones now have the shoulder colour running across the back and encompassing the nameplate. This did not happen on the adidas jerseys. It will affect BC, Calgary roads and Winnipeg roads.

    For example, here are the Winnipeg roads, which unfortunately now feature side panels:

    https://twitter.com/Wpg_BlueBombers/status/1126145548468334598

    Compared to last year which was better:

    https://assets2.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/blue_bombers_defence_celebrates_a_sack-1040×572.jpg

    Though I think we can all agree when the Blue Bombers went back to retro style, the white jersey should have looked like this:

    https://d3ham790trbkqy.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2016/05/MattDunigan.jpg

    • ThresherK | May 9, 2019 at 12:16 pm |

      Thanks for the digging into this. I have a very limited taste for shoulder yokes contrasting to the torso, and I also don’t need more of it. (Montreal can stay that way, thought, for my money.)

      I’m a bit worried for whatever glop they’ll put on the Roughriders’ kit this year.

  • AlMaFi | May 9, 2019 at 9:30 am |

    Those NHL cups are awesome. They came out around 1990, in the short s timeframe of silver/black Kings but no Sharks.

  • DenverGregg | May 9, 2019 at 10:47 am |

    going to a game, even more going to a tailgate, usually involves eating and drinking. the “game face” isn’t conducive. that’s my guess as to why it wasn’t more popular. article should be popular though

    • Q | May 9, 2019 at 12:07 pm |

      I (and thousands of other people) wear ski masks at games all the time in the northeast..literally just pull the face cover down when needed. With their design you would have to pull it up/back but I dont think thats gonna be the reason they didnt sell. Weather and advertising probably played a bigger role in not selling.

  • Niel | May 9, 2019 at 11:37 am |

    Any more info on the cups? I can spot a Coca-Cola logo, but were they from 7-11? Or something similar? Also, I noticed that just the Canucks jersey features a number on the arms, and props to the photographer for arranging them in the old Smythe, Norris, Adams and Patrick divisions :)

    • Paul Lukas | May 9, 2019 at 11:47 am |

      Yes, a Coke promotion. From 1990 or ’91, I believe. That’s all I know.

    • DenverGregg | May 9, 2019 at 11:49 am |

      and coke’s “can’t beat the feeling” slogan from around the turn of the nineties. such a mockable slogan.

  • Niel Scobie | May 9, 2019 at 11:39 am |

    Just spotted a #14 on the Pens as well.

  • Q | May 9, 2019 at 11:56 am |

    Currently looking for an Eagles ski mask in good condition.. those are fire.

  • Block "O Canada" | May 9, 2019 at 1:10 pm |

    “ESPN tweeted a photo of Kyrie Irving guarding Kyrie Irving (rare non-Baltimore and non-VaTech item from Andrew Cosentino)”

    – Even rarer is the sight of Kyrie Irving guarding anyone.

  • Lloyd Alaban | May 9, 2019 at 2:07 pm |

    Never liked the old PL logo when they partnered with Barclays because it had that huge honking BARCLAYS right in your face. But their new logo and now their new, new logo look too corporate-ish IMO. Sports league names need to be rendered in ALL CAPS, not mixed like Walmart or something lol

  • Ted | May 9, 2019 at 2:48 pm |

    Does that Rangers cup have the same font as the NY Post??

    • Brad | May 9, 2019 at 9:14 pm |

      And the jets cups have the 90’s logo on the 80’s uniform.