By Phil Hecken
Do you guys remember about a month and a half ago when I ran a post with Gus O’Keefe detailing the great Montana State Helmet Tournament? You’ll recall that was set up to determine the best high school helmet in the State of Montana. But it wasn’t just for Montana — the winner of that would move on to a nationwide tourney to determine the best high school helmet in the nation. I don’t know if any of you had been following the progress of the tourney, but we had whittled down to the final eight.
I had planned on again collaborating with Gus to show you the finalists, and to embed voting for the final four. Except there was a problem…
If you didn’t click on that article, I’ll summarize the important parts:
O’Keefe said 152,000 votes had been cast in the national tournament before the round of eight began late Wednesday afternoon.
By Thursday, organizers noticed discrepancies in one poll where the teams had a 50-50 split. Then, at some point the voting began skewing 85% to 15% towards one of the teams, which raised the first red flag. The tournament announced it was eliminating that stretch of votes, which in turn brought a lot of negative comments to the organizers, according to O’Keefe.
By Friday morning, O’Keefe said, there were suspicious stretches in several of the head-to-head helmet polls. Buying votes on Twitter is easy and inexpensive, and because several polls were now compromised, the results had to be invalidated (emphasis added — PH), O’Keefe said.
As a result, national tournament organizers Tweeted “we don’t believe we can continue in that spirit of fairness and fun” and decided to cancel the tournament. “We hope to return in future years once we establish a system of voting with more accountability. We hope you’ll join us then,” organizers concluded.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
So, instead of bringing you the final-final voting today, you’re going to get a chance to see the 45 finalists. I’m now going to turn the rest of this saga over to Gus, who wants to focus on the positives(!) That will be followed by a look at the 45 state reps who entered the nationwide tourney. I hope you’ll take a look at all of them and let us know who YOU would have selected (in fact, pick your top three). We can’t quite hold a substitute tournament on UW, but we can at least thank Gus for all his efforts and let him know our favorites! OK? OK!!!
Here’s Gus with the…
Best HS Helmets in the USA
By Gus O’Keefe
First, I would like to thank Phil and Uni-Watch for giving us a chance to celebrate these helmets, schools, and the communities that supported them. A few months ago, in late March, a gentleman from Pennsylvania decided to run a twitter-based tournament to determine the best high school football helmet in his state. The idea was soon picked up by a coach in Iowa, who decided to do the same and also expand it to a national tournament where as many states as possible (we ended up with 45/50) would participate. Through dogged recruitment on twitter, 45 state reps signed on to run their own state’s championships. They all went about it in their own way, but worked incredibly hard to produce a fair outcome.
After crowning our state champs, we ran “play-in” matchups of 4 helmets (state runner-up and 3 unique contenders decided by the national committee) for each state. The winner of these matchups then went head to head with another state’s at-large contender, and the winner of THOSE matchups earned a spot as an at large bid. After more than 6000 helmets entered and 2.5 million votes cast nationwide, we had 67 helmets competing to be crowned national champion. We almost achieved that goal.
Unfortunately, we started to see irregularities in vote totals during our Elite Eight. We had a schedule built to take screenshots every hour, on the hour of every poll, which meant someone awake 23 hours of the day (we thought 3 am was safe to skip). We worked hard to guarantee a fair outcome. Because we began witnessing clear vote tampering in multiple polls, even for multiple helmets in the same poll, it was decided that the tournament would be called off before advancing to the Final Four.
This entire tourney was run by volunteers, a large group of people who just wanted to provide an outlet for schools when sports were cancelled. We put in literally hundreds and hundreds of man hours. So the decision we made to call off the tournament was one that was carefully considered and weighed heavy on our hearts. With that being said, we felt it best to end when things began to turn negative, and preserve the enjoyment that had been brought to many during these odd, sports-less times.
Instead of focusing on the negative, we want to highlight the champions of all 45 states who qualified for the national tourney, as well as the 22 at-large helmets who went through that additional gauntlet to get in and fill out our bracket. Every single one of these schools was a pleasure to work with, had great fan bases and were incredibly humble in victory and gracious in defeat. We thank everyone who rallied behind our tournament, and we hope that in the future we can do something similar, albeit on a voting platform more secure than Twitter. With that, I present the helmets!
*All helmet mockups were done using a template by @Webpixum, and the graphic background template was done by @EHeat14
Wow! Thanks, Gus — tremendous job running the tourney and mocking up the helmets, too! I have a feeling there may be a few schools *coughohiocough* that won’t be back to defend their titles, at least with their current team names, but that was quite an assortment of team lids!
OK, readers — what say you? What are your top three? Did any really stand out as OUTstanding? Please give Gus a big round of thanks for trying to make this a go. Hopefully next year the tourney can proceed without shenanigans!
Guess The Game…
from the scoreboard
Today’s scoreboard comes from Tennessee Jed.
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.
Time for more Uni Tweaks from the UW readership.
I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).
Today’s tweak comes from Tom Roddy, who has a couple ever-so-slight tweaks for the Baylor Bears…
This is Tom Roddy, and I submitted a Patriot’s concept yesterday. I realized last night, that the template I was using was an early design concept for the Patriots, not their actual final product. As such, the sleeves were all wrong. I have fixed the sleeves and pants striping to be more consistent and have provided an updated description below.
What has bothered me the most about the Patriots new set is the red shoulder stripes on the white jersey, they seem out of place. I think it is just too much red with how little red appears in the rest of the away uniform. Originally, I thought if I inverted the stripe colors (blue outside, red inside), it would fix the problem, but it looked too much like Louisiana Tech and didn’t feel right. It also left the away uniform featuring too much navy blue. I always thought featuring too much of a dark color was a major flaw of the 2000-2019 away uniform, of which I was never a huge fan.
By leaving the new stripes as designed but making the numbers red, switching the helmet and pants to white, the away uniform becomes a modern homage to the Pat Patriot era away uniforms of 1960-1992. This was an unintended but most welcomed surprise!
With the blue set also using a white helmet and white pants, it is still a nod to the dynastic era, but has more cohesion across the entire uniform design and also leaves potential for a Pat Patriot throwback option down the line.
I also kept the new blue pants as an alternate option, with a different pair for home and away. The navy pants stripes match the home and away jersey striping. Again, not a huge fan of the navy pants, despite the Patriot’s 4-1 Super Bowl record while wearing them. I really hope the Patriots evolve to something like this in 2025 when they are next eligible to change their uniforms!
And here’s a look at Tom’s concepts:
OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.
The “BEST OF” Kreindler’s Korner
Hey guys & gals. You’ve enjoyed Kreindler’s Korner for several years now, mostly on the weekends, on Uni Watch, but with the recent coronavirus outbreak, Graig’s time is just too precious and he needs to tend to other things besides coming up with a new writeup each weekend.
So, going forward, for as long as the COVID-19 situation is bad in New York, I’m going to run a few “Best of’s” until Graig returns.
Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):
Title: “Buck O’Neil, 1942” (color study)
Subject: Buck O’Neil, 1942
Medium: Oil on linen mounted to board
Size: 5” x 7”
In 1994, Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary gave the country an extensive yet digestible look into the history of baseball. The director’s trademark visual techniques combined with interviews from historians, artists, writers and ballplayers created a tapestry unlike any that ever been successfully attempted in the television format. Of the latter category, there was one figure who seemed to shine brighter than anybody – the great John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil.
Buck had grown up in Florida in the 1910s and 20s, leaving in the mid 1930s to barnstorm semi-professionally. It was in 1937 that his skills landed him with the Memphis Red Sox in the Negro American League. However, it was the club he was sold to the following year – the Kansas City Monarchs – that he became synonymous with.
Playing solid first base for the club for the majority of his career, he played in three different East-West All-Star Games, and in two Negro World Series (winning one). After returning from joining the U.S. Navy, he started managing the club in 1948 through 1955. After the team was sold by Tom Baird, O’Neil became a scout for the Chicago Cubs, and would later sign Lou Brock to his first professional baseball contract.
Remaining in baseball until his final years, Buck helped establish the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City in 1990, in the hopes of preserving the legacy of the Negro Leagues. But it was through the documentary that O’Neil’s impact was and will forever be most felt, introducing a younger America to what life was like in the world of baseball during segregation, and doing so via the millions of television sets across the country.
Here’s Buck with the Monarchs in 1942.
Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Andy Chalifour was “Reading an ESPN article on how great John Olerud was in college they posted a picture of him pitching with his famous fielding helmet.” I heartily approve of (more) pitchers wearing flapless helmets! … One of the best things (if you can call it that) about the pandemic is the fact that MLB won’t have those god awful “Players Weekend” unis. Everyone, it seems, but Rob Manfred hated them. Including Dodgers coach Dave Roberts, who had some choice words for them. … Tweeter Squatchee on Top tweets, “Looks like @dicks “Gets It”! Finally found baseball stirrups in kid sizes for my boys.” … Mike Malnicof writes, “From time to time I feel nostalgic & buy a couple packs of baseball cards, especially the Topps Heritage series where they are old school look and feel cardboard cards, & I was so excited to see the Padres back in brown & yellow!” … Check out Nolan Ryan’s logo for his new butcher shop in Round Rock, TX. (from Ignacio Salazar). … We’ll just ignore the misspelling from MiLB Promos here: “It appears the theme for the YardGoats 2020 Steamed Burgers Night was to be Would you like fries with that? And now this hat exists.” Ugent or not, that’s awesome! … MLB has produced a list of the 15 Craziest Baseball Uniforms ever worn (from Tom Turner). Lots of UWers unwittingly contributed with old tweets to this one! … Logan Allen may officially be a member of the Cleveland baseball team, but as Ryan points out, he’s “Wearing an out-of-date (and out-of-touch) Indians hat!” … Whoa! Check out these NPB Pillbox caps from 1979 (from Jeremy Brahm).
NFL News: This article (I don’t think the site is associated with the Browns) has ranked the best Brown to wear each jersey number (from Jason Hillyer and Kary Klismet). … Remember how we said we want to see the new Rams uniforms “on a player” (as opposed to a photoshopped image) before making a judgment? Well, here you go. I’ll still need to see them on the field before rendering my final judgment. … Dan Kennedy noticed that Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has a personal logo/symbol of his initials as a backdrop. … This SI writer expresses a sentiment with which we probably agree regarding the 49ers black uniforms.
College Football News: How bad is the financial shape Under Armour is in? Well, they’re trying to break their 15 year, 280 million dollar deal with UCLA (from Tom Turner). … Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Because UA is extending its apparel deal with Texas Tech, “despite the fact that UA is experiencing some serious financial woes.” … Missouri Football wore M on helmet exclusively from ’71-’11. First 3 designs were white (’71-’77). 2 yellow versions ’83 & ’84 followed by repeat white version. ’90 celebrated 100th anniversary of FB. Gold M ’96-’11 (from Blaise D’Sylva).
Hockey News: Everything today needs a logo, right? Ron Ruelle says, “Of course the NHL Draft Lottery needed its own special logo. At least some otherwise out of work graphic designer got a paycheck.” … Here’s a terrific illustration of Paul Kariya from the great artist Bowen Hobbs. … “Talk about giving a 110% full team effort in a game,” says Wade Heidt. “OHL’s Windsor Spitfires push the Windsor Arena Zamboni between periods in 1982.” I think Wade buried the lede here: It should say “COOPERALL-wearing Windsor Spitfires…”
NBA News: Heh. I’m surprised this wasn’t a weekend article on Uni Watch: One fan recently revealed he wanted to make concept city uniforms for every team in the league while the NBA returned.
Soccer News: “Arjen Robben, world famous winger for the dutch national football (soccer) team, retired last year but has announced a surprise return to playing for his first professional club, FC Groningen,” writes Callum Newton. “In the press photo for his signing, I noticed that the team have the player names nicely nestled under their logo and thought that was a nice touch. Its the first example I’ve seen but i wouldn’t be surprised if its been done elsewhere before.” … The National Women’s Soccer League began play this weekend in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, and our SportsLogos writer Marc Viquez has the rundown on the kits. … The 2020/21 Celtic home, away, and third kits have leaked. This image confirms previous leaks of the home and third kit, and gives us the first look at their new away strip (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh, In the FA Cup Quarterfinal yesterday, both Manchester United and Norwich City wore their #BlackLivesMatter patch underneath the shirt number instead of the sleeve. … Still more from Josh: Spotted the unreleased 2020 Germany away kit at Soccer Village in Louisville, KY. … The 2020/21 Schalke home, away, and third kits have leaked (Josh again). … German club Wolfsburg released their 2020/21 home and away kits yesterday (Josh once more). … German club Bayer Leverkusen released their black 2020/21 home kit; they will carry over their 2019/20 red home kit as the upcoming season’s away strip. (Josh). … Trent Lowe thinks “Norwich easily has the worst ad patch for a pro sports team trying to be taken seriously at the bottom of the Premier League table.” … At least they’re not Trump 2020 or Buffalo Bills Super Bowl Champs shirts — Here’s a story about how the women’s soccer team from Lethbridge College in Alberta, Canada, donated its old uniforms to a school in Ghana (from Kary Klismet).
Grab Bag: A reader (or group?) who goes by the monicker Power Line notes there is a petition afoot to change the name of the Savannah Schools to change their mascot (and name). Despite the current political climate, this should have happened decades ago. The offensive name/image? SAVAGES: “The Savannah Savage, complete with the graphic of either the older Chief-in-Headdress or the newer Brave-with-Feather logo. Tomahawk chops at all the sports games. Students in face and body paint, wearing feathers and other native-inspired regalia as costumes.” … Milton Glaser, designer of the iconic “I ♥ NY” logo and Bob Dylan poster, has passed away at 91 (from Jason Hillyer). … Officiating with a deep breath and a burst of air no longer seems wise in the coronavirus era. Is a hand-held, electronic whistle the answer? (NYT Link). From Tom Turner. … A tennis player showed his allegiance to Liverpool FC during a charity tennis tournament on Friday. A day after Liverpool was crowned champion of England for the first time in 30 years, Kyle Edmund was not shy about his love for the Reds. During a Battle of the Brits match against Liam Broady, Edmund filled his bench with Liverpool jerseys to celebrate the Premier League title. … The call for Dan Snyder to change the name of the Washington football team is growing stronger and stronger (h/t Timmy Donahue). This leader is encouraging the players to sit and “rip down that name like it was a statue of a Confederate general in their locker room.” … The MTA is honoring the 50th anniversary of the first New York City Pride March with special logos on their trains (also from Timmy). … Looks like the state of Mississippi will be changing its State flag (from our own Anthony Emerson). … San Antonio College may be changing its Texas Rangers nickname (from Kary Klismet). … Jeremy Brahm writes “in 1985 Formula 1 drivers who won the pole position in qualifying would be awarded a Vespa scooter. Yes drive a fast car and get a scooter.”
And finally… Big thanks to Gus for the lede article and for creating all those State Champion helmets! Don’t forget, please pick your favorite or even Top Three in the comments below.
It’s hard to believe but it’s almost the 4th of July (in fact, that’s next Saturday). With the holiday falling on a Saturday, Paul will be gracing us with his traditional Happy Fourth post — and with the year we’ve had so far, I actually am really looking forward to it. And, Paul is also kind enough to give me the following day off, so the next time I’ll catch you guys is two weeks from now.
Everyone please stay safe (every day of course, but especially on Independence Day)! Usually our biggest fear is blowing off a finger or two through
moronic stupidity non-safe handling of fireworks, but this year we’ve got the COVID-19 and everything else to deal with. Everyone try to have a great and safe Fourth of July!