By Phil Hecken
Are you ready for some football?
Honestly, I’m not. Didn’t the Supe just end like, less than a week ago? But the fine folks who brought you the XFL back in 2001 are back again, with eight teams (they’ve got uniforms and everything!) and four of them begin their
only inaugural season, version 2.0, today.
Paul already had a review of the unis, but I haven’t yet given you my take. Let’s look at the matchups for today and tomorrow, beginning with the first game. I’ll show the home and road unis (or should I say “dark” and “white”), as I don’t know for 100% sure that the home team will always wear dark, although that is a fair assumption.
Seattle Dragons vs. DC Defenders
Saturday, 2:00 pm ET (ABC TV)
Washington is the home team
I like the white uniform MUCH more than the dark one — the largely green/orange look has a bit of a Miami Hurricanes vibe. The dark uniform, with the deep navy, feels forced. The green and blue are too close in hue, which comes off as muddied — and the green only appears on the jersey. The orange “stripe” on the pants is awful (and it’s a design element that repeats on most XFL teams) but aside from a slight sliver of orange on the shoulder, and the number outlines, there is very little orange on the jersey. It feels disjointed — too much green on the jersey (including the wretched side panels) but none on the pants. Add to the mono-blue uni a white hat and it just doesn’t really work. But I think the all white kit is pretty nice, relatively speaking.
Grade: C- (dark); B (white)
DC definitely has one of the better uni sets, both dark and white. The mono-red will look pretty good on the field, so long as they don’t wear red socks (this is one uni where I hope they go red/white and white/red for jerseys/pants), but let’s assume they’ll go mono-red at home today. I actually like the lightning bolt logo, and it’s trite, but not overdone, to use as an element on the shoulders and within the pants stripe. Compared to most of the other uniforms in the league, this one stands out as top three.
Grade: A- (dark); B+ (white). If they mix/match, a solid A-
LA Wildcats vs. Houston Roughnecks
Saturday, 5:00 pm ET (FOX TV)
Houston is the home team
LOS ANGELES (unis):
As far as colors go, orange, red and black work well together here. I’m not a big fan of the number font, but it’s not a dealbreaker. I don’t hate the stripe design on the pants, but the side panels are just unnecessary. And while I don’t generally like mono (other than white) uniforms, mono-black seems to be the least noxious. Normally I’d like socks to be a different color (on the black uniform) from the pants, but I don’t see red nor orange working well here. I wish they had (or have) a set of red, orange or white socks for the white pants though. This uni has potential, and a few tweaks would turn it from meh to spot on.
Grade: B- (dark); C+ (white)
This is another uni with lots of potential: it’s also one of two that’s not pictured as a mono-uni; it’s also one that’s does not have a white (that’s a light gray) jersey. I’m wondering if the team will mix/match to go mono gray, since it almost seems designed to have that option. I like the colors — red, blue and gray work well together, and the fact that it’s not a mono-uni is a big plus. I don’t even mind the side panels on the jersey, since they work well with the pants stripe. I don’t even dislike the helmet — but I wish the helmet were of a matte finish so as to better match the gray pants. With the satin/shiny coating, it doesn’t seem to completely go with the uniform (be it the gray top or gray pants). And by being silver, it basically demands that the team wear either the gray jersey or pants — if they chose to wear the red top with the blue pants (I’d actually like to see that), then the helmet REALLY doesn’t go. But that’s a minor complaint, and I can live with this one for sure.
Grade: A- (dark); B+ (light)
Tampa Bay Vipers vs. New York Guardians
Sunday, 2:00 pm ET (FOX TV)
New York is the home team
TAMPA BAY (unis):
My complaints about this uniform are similar to those about the Dragons — the amorphous stripes, one too many colors, a disjointed look. I also think the white uniform is far superior to the dark, and again, for similar reasons. I don’t like the addition of the dark green elements to the lime green and athletic gold. Those two colors would actually be fine on their own. Or, if lime’s not your cuppa, then go with the darker green and gold. But mashing all three together doesn’t seem to work for me. There are shades within the same family which (IMO) look great together, like royal or dark blue combined with powder blue. But the lime and (let’s call it) emerald, especially when athletic gold is in the mix, doesn’t seem to work at least to me. Look at the white kit — there you’ve eliminated the lime (except for the helmet) for all intents and purposes, and it looks much better. Fix the sleeve caps, side panels and amorphous stripes, and this one definitely has potential. Now? Not so much.
Grade: C- (dark); B- (white)
NEW YORK (unis):
Another mono-black dark uniform. It’s one of three in an eight-team league. I’m guessing market research shows black jerseys are more popular in retail than any other color. But as far as the unis in this league go, it’s close to the best, and almost by default, and it’s because it’s one of the most traditional: nice shoulder stripes, with the pattern repeated on the pants, and no side panels on the jersey. The colors of black, red and gray work well together too. My biggest complaint is the crappy custom font, but it’s not so egregious as to ruin the overall look. I’m not quite sure how a big cat (is it a lion? a panther? a jaguar?) relates to “Guardians” but it’s not a bad logo. This is one uni I actually prefer as mono, in either all black or all gray, as it works that way. The light kit is even better than the all black one.
Grade: B+/A- (dark); A (light)
St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Dallas Renegades
Sunday, 5:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Dallas is the home team
ST. LOUIS (unis):
I have to say this is the best uniform in the league, and it’s (mostly) for the same reasons as the New York team — it’s traditional, and it looks really good. It’s not monochrome, and actually goes blue/gray for the dark, and white/blue for the light (which makes me wonder if they’ll go mono-blue at some point). The number font isn’t great, but it’s not terrible. About my only complaint is the dark blue/royal blue mix — you can see it on the shoulder caps of the white jersey and the stripes of the gray pants. Remember how I said navy (dark) blue or royal blue work well with powder? Well, dark blue and royal blue don’t work well next to each other, and that’s about the only thing I dislike about this kit. On the royal blue pants, the navy stripe gets lost. Still, a nice effort all things considered.
Grade: A (dark); A- (white)
The third (of eight) team to sport a mono-black uni. Unfortunately, this one is the least good looking of them all — and I think a lot of it has to do with the choice of a powder blue helmet. Think about how good that uni would look if the team wore a full powder blue jersey! Instead, they forced the blue onto the shoulder yoke and then created triangular shaped side panels and pants “stripes” — with the extra added red element. As much as I loved the Houston Oilers unis, I never really liked the red and powder together, and I like it less here. I get they needed to pull the red in from the black/red/black helmet stripe, but it feels unnecessary. It’s almost as if they designed the helmet in isolation and then created a uni around it. Also, I’m not sure what’s going on with the number font — will the second digits take on a similar effect as the “sail” font on the Vikings numbers? Look at how the “0” in the “20” kinda wraps onto the “2”. I hope the rest of the second digits don’t do that — it’s tough to tell but if you look at the “12” and “13” in the helmet photo above, it seems like they do. Guess we’ll find out Sunday.
Grade: D (dark); C+ (white)
So there you have it. Of course, I should really reserve full judgment until I see the unis on the field, but who knows how long this league will actually last? Based on the track records of every league (since the AFL) to come into existence since the NFL/AFL merger, it won’t last long. I was honestly expecting a lot more “forward looking” (modern) uniforms from the XFL, and even though none of them are great, they’re not an embarrassment either. Some of the clubs have some real potential with a few tweaks, and it will be interesting to see if any teams mix/match their tops and bottoms.
If you didn’t comment on the unis when they came out (or even if you did and want to reiterate/rethink), let’s hear what you have to say. I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
from the scoreboard
Today’s scoreboard comes from Althea & Jim. Hit sign. Win suit. Pretty simple eh?
The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).
Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):
Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.
And now a few words from Paul
Hi there. A few reminders of some ongoing projects:
• In case you missed it on Thursday, my latest Uni Watch design challenge, which I’m doing in conjunction with InsideHook, is to redesign the New England Patriots. With the Brady/Belichick era nearing its conclusion, this seems like the right time for it. Full details here.
• The February design for the Uni Watch Pin Club is now available. As you can see, we’re going with a Presidents Day-themed design. Note Honest Abe’s stovepipe squatchee! Just like in January, we’re doing a numbered edition of 350, with the number and month laser-etched on the back of each pin. (If you need to get caught up, the January pinand our basic winged stirrup pin are also still available.)
Okay, handing the baton back to Phil!
Threads Of Our Game
Occasionally I receive an e-mail update from Craig Brown, the designer and proprietor of the website, Threads of our Game. As the header explains, the website is a databuse of 1800s base ball uniforms. If you haven’t checked it out before, you’re welcome.
Anyway, got an e-mail yesterday with the subject line: “Can a baseball uniform be black-balled?”. The body was as follows…
Hello baseball historians,
The answer to the question is yes.
With their uniforms, Boston was the most inventive team of the 19th century. They were first to put their city name on the shirt in 1871, first to have a true road uniform in 1886, first to reject the pillbox cap in 1891, and first to sew a letter onto their cap in 1894.
But then, there was the Boston road uniform of 1897, described by some writers as “a marvel of ugliness.” Frank Selee designed it with a big, black baseball on the shirt, and after a 1-6-2 start in April, the superstitious Boston players voted to black-ball the black ball. There are no known photos of this unique uniform, so its Threads to the rescue.
Or go to this story via the Threads News Feed here.
Thanks for your time,
How great is that? Very! Thanks, Craig!
By Anthony Emerson
Baseball News: Nike is selling these jackets as “dugout jackets” on their website. Hopefully they won’t be seen very often in the dugouts (from Gary Hunter). … Angels OF Mike Trout’s high school number hasn’t been retired, because he returns every year to award it to the team’s new captain (from Mike Chamernik). … The Phillies Spring Training truck had a custom design (from Kurt Esposito).
Pro & College/High School Football News: Here’s another ranking of the XFL’s uniforms (from Timmy Donahue). … New Ottawa Redblacks QB Nick Arbuckle wore a “daddy to be” ribbon during his introductory press conference. He and his wife are expecting a child in May (from Wade Heidt). … Nobelesville (Ind.) High has unveiled plans to build a new stadium (from Kary Klismet).
Hockey News: Yesterday, we told you about new Leafs G Jack Campbell new number. Now, here’s his new Maple Leafs mask (from Will Leslie). … The AHL’s Binghamton Devils are having “Miracle Night” on Feb. 22, and are wearing uniforms designed to look like the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team’s unis (from Joe MacQuarrie).
NBA News: NBA uni number guru Etienne Catalan had a big day yesterday, and you can catch all the new numbers on his Twitter account. … The shade of purple used in the key of the Staples Center has definitely become more, ahem, purple over the decades (from @thesteelersnat).
College/High School Hoops News: Xavier and Providence are throwing it back tonight (from Matthew Weber). … Utah State is also wearing throwbacks tonight (from @akaggie). … Yesterday, someone posted a Twitter thread detailed all of UNC’s alternate uniforms from the past decade. Some I had forgotten, some I wish I could forget (from James Gilbert and @TaReefKnockOut). … Speaking of UNC, UNC women’s team are wearing pink unis on Sunday (from James Gilbert). … Oregon women also debuted their pink night unis last evening (from Jakob Fox). … Syracuse women have introduced a GFGS uni (from Matt Rashford). … George Washington High in San Francisco boys’ team wear pink uniforms all February for breast cancer awareness (from Jolinko Lassiter).
Soccer News: The Athletic has an article about the design process going into the MLS kits. A bit down it mentions that major MLS teams will get third kits this year (thanks, Jamie). … Also from Jamie: Nike is no longer using templates for national team kits. “[T]he designers can mix cuffs, collars, sleeves, the placement of the badge, etc.” (also from Jason Galloway). … Kappa will produce Italian side Fiorentina’s kits next year (from Bryan Justman). … Here’s a YouTube video talking about the soccer stadiums opening this year (from Kary Klismet). … Birmingham City are wearing a patch for the mental health initiative Heads Up. Bristol City wore the same patch on the sleeve, instead of the EFL Championship patch. Jude Bellingham of Birmingham City was missing all sleeve patches (from Josh Hinton). … Here’s a good piece on the history of uni numbers in soccer, and their associations with specific positions (from Jeremy Brahm). … Polish side Śląsk Wrocław wore Korean NOBs last night to celebrate South Korean-Polish relations (from Ed Żelaski).
Grab Bag: More working class bullshit, this time from Vanderbilt (from Dave Gadd). … Colorado College has unveiled its new logo set. … The US Army’s new fabric may destroy nerve agents (from multiple readers).