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Gronk Wears Leatherhead Uni for New Year’s Eve Appearance

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Happy 2020! There were some uni-related shenanigans during last night’s New Year’s Eve festivities, as former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski appeared on Fox’s midnight countdown show in an old-timey football uniform with a leatherhead helmet (and also spiked a Lego representation of host Steve Harvey, much to Harvey’s displeasure, although all of that seemed more like a scripted shtick). Not a bad outfit for ringing out the old year and ringing in the new.

Here’s a better view of the uniform, including the excellent socks (click to enlarge):

As you may recall, NBC celebrated Thanksgiving by creating side dish football uniforms, so we’re definitely seeing more of a uni presence for various holidays. I heartily approve!

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A Jan. 1 tradition: New Year’s Day is always a big day in the uni-verse because of the retro-themed NHL Winter Classic, now in its 13th year. This season’s installment features the Predators and Stars facing off at the Cotton Bowl in Texas, with the game scheduled to begin at 2pm Eastern.

Uni Watch reader Chris Mycoskie will be attending the game with his three-year-old son, so we may have a first-hand report from them tomorrow — stay tuned.

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Free car wash with oil change: Nevada coach Jay Norvell became college football’s latest Working Class Wannabe™ yesterday, as he dressed up as an auto mechanic to show his team’s “blue collar” values.

As you may recall, Eastern Michigan’s entire coaching staff pulled this same stunt last week. At this rate, blue collar dress-up is going to replace military dress-up as the sports world’s favored form of cosplay. (For more thoughts on the sports world’s fetishizing of the working class, look here.)

Norvell, incidentally, makes half a million dollars per year. I wonder what his mechanic thinks of that costume. Or the custodian who cleans his office. Or the people who had to sew that shirt together for him.

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Tiger tribute: In a more laudable development, Auburn will honor 1971 Heisman winner Pat Sullivan, who died on Dec. 1, by wearing his No. 7 on the left side of their helmets in today’s Outback Bowl. As you can see above, they’re also going with a throwback grey facemask. Classy move — nicely done.

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That’s it for today, as the entire Uni Watch team had yesterday off. Hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve and that you have fun activities planned for today. Speaking of which, the Tugboat Captain and I are having a few dozen friends over for a New Year’s gathering, so I have to get crackin’ on party preparations. See you back here tomorrow! — Paul

Comments (47)

    Just FYI on the start time of the Winter Classic. Game starts at 2pm ET, 1pm CT. NBC coverage begins at 1ET with an hour pregame show. Always a fun game to watch.
    Happy New Year to all!

    “Working class cosplay” is the only explanation I have for the current trend of massive pickup trucks with luxury car interiors. Anyone remember when the Tacoma and Ranger were like, small?

    We live in a world where Tesla believes they have a market for the Cyber Truck.

    Happy New Year to all! Hopeful 2020 will be a better looking year collectively for the NFL. Can’t wait to see the improved new looks from the Browns and Rams. The new looks have to be better because they can’t be worse right?

    Learned that though they will officially become the Las Vegas Raiders soon, they will still be based in Northern California until after their training camp. Bags not packed for the move to Nevada until after camp.


    Forgive me if this is a bit off-topic, but since Paul brought the issue up…

    I don’t really see much offensive with the whole “blue-collar/working class” thing we’re seeing a couple of college coaches adopt as a motivational tactic. For one, the intent is clearly to shine a positive light on “blue collar” folks; the idea is that there is something noble and admirable about people who do the often difficult jobs that society sees as unglamerous and often are not well-paying, but need to be done for society to function.

    Second, I tend to think that anybody who gets out of bed every morning and works a job could be deemed “working class”…just because Jay Novell makes a nice six-figure salary doesn’t mean that being a college football coach isn’t a high-stress job that often requires a ton of hard work and long hours.

    Bottom line for me is that if a coach wants to honor “blue collar” values and instill those in his team, I don’t see the problem.

    But it’s not “shining a positive light” on anything. It’s not a tribute or an honor, like camo cosplay supposedly is (i.e., there’s no “Salute to Blue Collar Workers Night”). It’s just donning the mantle of blue collar workers and sponging off their salt-of-the-earth cred by claiming to be like them, which is bullshit. A coach making $500K per year plus perks is not blue collar and faces none of the challenges that real blue collar people do. Ditto for privileged athletes who, no matter how hard they work (and I agree that many of them work very hard indeed), have access to first-class medical/training care, a massive support staff, etc. Calling yourself blue collar when you live a life of elite privilege is claiming all of the glory with none of the guts.

    You really want to support working people? Support unions, support OSHA enforcement, support a living wage, support access to decent health insurance, support treating permalancers as employees, etc., etc. Don’t just piggyback on the totems of hard work — actually support hard work.

    Oh, and if you’re in college football, maybe pay your players.

    The coach of the public university’s football team is the highest paid public employee in the state in a majority of states in the United States. The second most common job is the coach of a public university’s basketball team. This is not working joe stuff.

    I see a lot of people working hard and doing the valuable work that makes these people money during these football games. They happen to be the unpaid players, though- the majority of who will never make a living playing football.

    No argument that college players should be compensated. But it’s not the coaches’ faults that they’re not. And again, it doesn’t matter how well they are paid, if you don’t think top college football coaches work absurdly long hours under tremendous stress then you’re not really paying attention. They get paid what they do because the people who sign their checks believe they’re worth it.

    Everyone I know who’s worked warehouse work or as a service worker (the real kings of being treated like trash by society) also works absurdly long hours under tremendous stress. What they don’t get is a half million per year.

    A few other differences between hard-working blue collar employees and hard-working FBS football coaches:

    – The coach never has to worry about making his rent or mortgage or car payment.

    – The coach never has to worry about access to first-rate medical care.

    – The coach never has to worry about whether his kids are in a good school.

    – The coach never has to worry about the price of gas or car repairs.

    – The coach never has to worry about whether he’s saving enough for a comfortable retirement.

    – The coach never has to worry about what his hours will be from week to week.

    – If the coach misses work due to a medical appointment or a family emergency or any of the other unpredictable hurdles that life can present, he won’t have his pay docked.

    – The coach never has to worry about whether he’ll have to declare bankruptcy if he loses his job.

    And so on. Seriously, comparing an elite football coach (or anyone making half a million dollars per year) to a real blue collar worker, simply because they both “work hard,” is beyond ignorant and beyond insulting. It’s vulgar.

    They get paid what they do because the people who sign their checks believe they’re worth it.

    This is a classic Dan Tarrant argument. Everything can be reduced to the self-justifying world of market forces. There’s no right, no wrong, no need to apply critical thinking, no point in asking if there might be a better way of doing things — there’s just the invisible hand.

    If only, Dan.

    I certainly have never said or implied that “everything” can be reduced to market forces or that right and wrong is not something to ever be considered.

    But the bottom line is that some jobs are worth more in compensation than others. A car mechanic doesn’t make $500,000 a year because his skills simply aren’t worth that much. Because no matter how much we may wish that “blue collar” guys got paid more, none of us would patronize a garage where a $500 repair at the place down the street costs $10,000 because the owner wants to pay his mechanics a lot.

    And if my comments about this topic are “vulgar”, then I’ll respond that a bunch of sports fans complaining about how much coaches and players make is hypocritical beyond belief. WE are the ones who drive those salaries up by watching the games, buying merchandise, etc.

    Dan has now reached the point where he knows he has lost the argument on the merits so, like so many people in similar circumstances, he has abandoned the message and decided to insult the messengers (in this case by calling them “hypocritical”).

    Even if someone is a hypocrite (which I’m saying only for the sake of argument, not as a way of conceding the point), that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

    The message, not the messenger.

    Well, I guess saying that “our” priorities are out of whack is totally subjective anyway. And I’d challenge anybody to tell us how much exactly medical researchers should be paid versus athletes and coaches and where that money is going to come from.

    I will add that I feel like it is okay to go after “the messenger” in this case because Phil’s entire argument went after “us”, and therefore I think it’s fair to point out that somebody who displays the same priorities that he considers to be misplaced in general isn’t in a good position to judge others.

    Ultimately, I don’t think there is much else to argue here…the main reason a tiny number of top coaches and athletes get paid very large amounts is because they generate large amounts of revenue. It has nothing to do with “priorities”…if a single researcher had to skills to eliminate cancer I’m guessing he’d be able to demand a huge salary as well.

    Agreed it is ridiculously imbalanced that Coaches get huge money while scholarship players get almost nothing for literally thousands of hours of practice, work, exercise, meetings, games, etc.

    The UNSOLVABLE PROBLEM here is, once you pay the players on the 30-40-5- NCAA Football Programs turning a big profit, bringing in big gates and big TV money, what do you do about the other 100-150 NCAA Football programs and their players? Do you pay one set of players, but not pay the other? Many of these programs play to very small crowds, little to no TV, and many operate at a fiscal loss. How do we reconcile those realities with the School/Coach/Player rip-off of the players on those Top 30-40-50 Programs.

    I’m all for paying NCAA players from this very big fiscal pie – how do you do it fairly?

    Yeah, I agree with the latter half of your statement for sure. But that doesn’t mean that simply pointing out that blue-collar work is admirable is an insult, after all a lot of society looks down on those types of jobs and workers.

    Not sure I agree that a pro athlete, many of whom came from very disadvantaged backgrounds, is “privileged”, since privilege is by definition unearned.

    I guess actually “blue collar” work describes the type of job (usually hands-on, gritty, manual labor as opposed to sitting at a desk), but certainly a lot of blue-collar folks make very good paychecks, especially those who own their own businesses.

    that doesn’t mean that simply pointing out that blue-collar work is admirable is an insult

    I didn’t say it was. You’re talking about when they give lip service; I’m talking about when they engage in cosplay. Do you really want to defend that costume that the Nevada coach wore yesterday? That’s the topic at hand.

    It’s not so much that I care to defend it as much as I don’t think it is anything that needs to be defended.

    That might be our “agree to disagree” point; it seems pretty harmless to me.

    When the guy who coaches the football team gets paid more (like 10x more) than the guy in the research department who may some day find the cure for cancer, something is wrong with our priorities.

    Bread and circuses.

    The old argument was that the TV money, alumni donations, publicity, prestige, etc. that comes from a successful sports program helps support the educational and research side of the house. The argument might have some merit. I also agree that our priorities are way out of whack and it goes well beyond sports.

    Again, that’s a bit of an odd opinion from a guy who follows and writes about sports. Do you really want to not have any sort of entertainment and instead spend all your discretionary income donating to cancer research?

    That’s a false choice, Dan, and you know it. Phil never implied that it was an either/or binary choice; he said our priorities are out of whack.

    Disagreeing with someone is fine; arguing in bad faith is not. You’re smart enough to know the difference. Please stick to the former and avoid the latter. Thanks.

    Well, Phil’s “bread and circuses” comment very strongly implied that he considers sports (and presumably the arts as well) as being unimportant and simply a tool to distract the masses from what’s really important.

    Perhaps I overreacted, but the hackneyed argument that we should pay athletes, coaches, and entertainers less than their market value because their jobs are “unimportant” bugs me. Especially coming from sports fans…again, it is WE who create the lucrative market for top professionals in sports.

    I think the costumes are a bit silly, but I believe their heart is in the right place. The coaches are making a statement that blue-collar work is admirable and they’d like their disciples to admire blue color workers too.

    I’m disappointed that intelligent people here want their subjective opinions (not market forces) to determine how much people should be paid. Doing that advocates for a ruling class of decision makers, leading to a ruined economy with lower salaries for most professions. I don’t wish lower salaries on any profession.

    I find it being similar to when wealthy politicians try to identify with “blue collar” (or “middle class” or whichever term you prefer) voters by talking about how they grew up in that type of household. While that may be true, and while they may have worked very hard for their money, once you’re no longer in that world, you can no longer claim it as your own. I know that coaches work very hard, and yes, the “market value” for that type of job is very high, but wearing that kind of shirt when you may be the highest paid state employee is disrespectful in my opinion considering that your players are making (if we count tuition for scholarship athletes) at best a tenth of what you make.

    Happy New Year to Paul, Phil and all of the great team that put together the blog everyday! I really appreciate your work. Thank you.

    Eastern Michigan’s football program was one of the first to full-on embrace the “blue collar” mentality. Their coaches wear auto repair-esque shirts on the sidelines, they knock down bricks before running on the field, etc.

    The Eagles has two major prime time games this season. In the first, they injured Kentucky’s starting QB in garbage time on a dirty play. In the second — a bowl game, mind you — they had players ejected for spitting on an opponent and punching an opponent/referee.

    There’s nothing “blue collar” about beating up opponents. Rather, this newly popular “blue collar mentality” seems to be an excuse to run a dirty, cheap program.

    Dallas Stars look awful with the mis-matched shorts. They should have worn all white or gone with the vintage color as well on the unifor.

    I don’t mind the different colored jersey and pants, but the grey doesn’t work with the white in the jersey nor the tan gloves. I’d say white, green, or tan shorts would have been better.

    The 7 on the Auburn helmet is drastically bolder (and larger) in the picture above than the final product. Doesn’t look as good on the field as it was presented yesterday with the slimmer typeface. Also, Sal Canella is wearing a hoodie under his pads with the hood hanging over his nameplate.

    As white, or in this case near white, pants go, the Dallas Stars version works better than most I’ve seen. Great looking game

    Is there a new address for collectors corner? I just got a bounce back stating email account does not exist. Uniwatchcollectorscorner at Gmail dot com?

    That email was eliminated later 2019 (due to being rarely used).

    New system was set up for submissions to Collector’s Corner:
    “Got an item to include on Collector’s Corner? DM your submissions to us on the Uni Watch Facebook page.|

    You could also submit something to uniwatching@gmail, it will find the Brinke man

    Former NBA commissioner, David Stern, passed away this afternoon – link

    Back in 2005, Stern implemented an off court dress code for NBA players, the first pro league to do so – link

    Here’s my two cents on the “blue collar” debate.

    My father worked 3rd shift in a factory my whole life, as well as coached many of my sports teams. Very often he’d have to leave for work right after the game, with no time to change, so he’d have his uniform on. I’ve worn work shirts on the daily as an homage to my dad, as well as a reminder of my roots. I actually had embroidered work shirts made for myself to coach my son’s football team this year.

    I agree these college coaches are paid well, but some may have come from a place like myself. I’m not the kind of person that gets offended by things, so I really don’t see much of a difference between a work shirt, polo or a camp-style shirt.

    Half a million dollars per year is pretty much blue collar in the world of college football coaching.

    In other words, it’s a low salary for his field. But it’s not a low salary, and it’s certainly not a blue collar salary.

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