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Some Quick Thoughts on NFL Draft Caps

The 2021 NFL draft begins tonight. Personally, I’m not into the draft as a live event — I’m happy reading the post-draft analysis of which teams did well, which did poorly, and so on.

But of course I realize that lots of people, including many of you who are reading this, are into the draft as a live event. And that has spurred its own little industry and economy, the chief component of which is the NFL draft cap.

Since I’m not that into the draft, I’ve also never cared about draft caps. But I’m sort of fascinated by them as a phenomenon, because I never would have guessed that they would become a thing (one of countless things whose popularity I never would have anticipated, like bottled water, sports bars, and a lot more). So earlier this week I invited readers who buy and wear draft caps to tell me why they like them so much. I got a wide variety of responses, but the two things that came up most frequently were these:

1. Draft caps tend to emphasize the team’s city/state/region more than other NFL caps.

2. As reader Thomas Gaines put it (and several others said something similar), “What I like about them is that they’re the first team-issued part of the uniform given to the player. It’s always the hat followed by the jersey when they walk up to the stage.”

Interesting! I didn’t know either of those things. Enjoy your caps, and enjoy the draft tonight if you’ll be watching.

(My thanks to everyone who responded to my cap inquiry — much appreciated.)

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New podcast episode: With the NFL Draft taking place this week, Chris and I have an (almost) all-NFL episode, including discussions of why Tom Brady doesn’t like the league’s new uni-numbering rules, the 49ers’ new 75th-anniversary patch, and the role of jerseys and caps at the draft. Plus the Question of the Week and more.

As always, you can listen to us on Apple, Google, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Spotify (as of this morning, it hadn’t yet populated on a couple of those services, but it will do so shortly), or just use the player below:

The show notes for this episode, which include photos of many of the things we discussed, are here. Those photos (and some additional ones) also appear in the video version of the episode, which you can see here:

Please consider supporting this episode’s advertisers, Streaker Sports (get 20% off any order with checkout code UNIFIED), Homefield Apparel (15% off with checkout code UNIFIED), and AcedOut (20% off with checkout code UNIFIED).

Enjoy the episode, and thanks for listening.

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Click to enlarge

The long and the short of it: Lots of readers have noticed that some MLB umpires have begun wearing helmets, instead of soft caps, while working the plate. But last night I noticed that ump Jerry Layne had made an adjustment to his headgear. Earlier in the season (above left), he wore a standard-brimmed helmet, similar to what the base coaches wear. But last night he had a helmet with a truncated brim to better accommodate his mask (above right), much like the short-brimmed caps that many plate umps wear.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Indigenous Appropriation News: In response to many requests and inquiries, this section has a new name and icon. Thanks for all the feedback. … Good article on how the town of Piqua, Ohio, is clinging to its “Indians” high school team name and associated imagery (from Jason Reed). … In a non-binding ballot question, residents of Wakefield, Mass., have voted to keep the local high school’s controversial Native American iconography. A school committee had previously voted to eliminate the Native logo but keep the school’s “Warriors” team name. … With public schools in the state of Washington no longer permitted to use Native-based team names, the Spokane school board is inviting the public to weigh in on a new identity for North Central High School, which is retiring “Indians” (from Kary Klismet). … The school board in Bellefonte, Pa., has voted to change the local high school’s team name from “Red Raiders” to “Raiders” (from Jonathan Judeich).

Baseball News: In an apparent first, 15 Boston high schools will have their 2021 graduation ceremonies at Fenway Park. … Man, the Mariners really need to do something about that NOB font (from John Scukenac).

NFL News: A mannequin being prepped for tonight’s draft appears to be dressed in the now-obsolete Bengals uniform (from @DawgsThai). … Projected top draft pick Trevor Lawrence has inked an endorsement deal with Adidas. … The Panthers are changing their field surface from grass to synthetic turf (from James Gilbert). … NFL teams reimagined as album covers? Sure, why not (from Andrew Cosentino). … Check it out: a Chargers-themed surfboard! (Thanks, Brinke.) … Expected draftees who didn’t attend last night’s event in person were sent all 32 teams’ draft caps, just to have all their potential bases covered.

College Football News: It was reported earlier this month that all Boston College sports teams except football would be moving from Under Armour to New Balance. It was expected that the football team would go with Adidas, and that deal is now official. Interestingly, the NB deal for the other sports is for 10 years, but the football/Adidas deal is for three years.

Hockey News: Notable blue and red striping on the top and bottom of the boards at the World Under-18 Hockey Championships in Texas. “Gives the boards a red, white, and blue look,” says Wade Heidt. … Blue Jackets C Alexandre Texier has had a bunch of unusual tape jobs on his stick lately (from Andreas Papadopoulos). … The Rangers sent some personalized jerseys to players on the NBA’s New York Knicks. The two teams have the same owner and arena (from Alan Kreit). … The Athletic has a (paywalled) story on the Lightning’s Stanley Cup rings, described as the “most elaborate, expensive and unique” championship rings ever made (from Kary Klismet). … The Austin Ice Bats — a team name originally used for a minor league team from 1996-2008 — are returning as a Tier III junior team (from Ignacio Salazar). … Looks like a Wild player — not sure who — had a helmet with a different shade of green last night (from Casey Levene). … The Canadiens’ used their pregame jerseys last night to promote their annual radio-thon, which benefits youth charities (from Moe Khan).

NBA News: Cross-posted from the hockey section: Knicks players received personalized jerseys from the NHL’s New York Rangers. The two teams have the same owner and arena (from Alan Kreit). … Heat C Dewayne Dedmon’s NOB was misspelled as “Dedman” last night (thanks to all who shared). … Meanwhile, Dedmon’s teammate Jimmy Butler had some issues with one of the numerals of his uni number.

Soccer News: If you look closely, you can see that Notts County women’s player Nya Chambers — shown scoring a goal in this video — is wearing regular eyeglasses on the pitch (from Graham Clayton). … New stadium in the works for Queensboro FC, an expansion team based in NYC and set to debut in the USL Championship in 2022 (from Kary Klismet). … Real Salt Lake has repainted some of its stadium seats from white to blue so it can project virtual ads on them. In a particularly gross move, fans wearing white shirts will be given a blue T-shirt and told to wear it. No word on whether the shirts will say, “Real Salt Lake made a pile of money for turning me into a virtual billboard and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” (thanks, Jamie).

Grab Bag: Apple fans are unhappy about some tweaks that the company has made to its classic rainbow logo. … Walmart thinks a new logo from Kanye West looks too similar to the Walmart logo. … Microsoft Office is getting a new default font (from Jon Vieira and Jason Hillyer). … New mascot and logo for North Central Michigan College (from Brandon Weir). … New logo and slogan for Bismarck, N.D. (from Timmy Donahue). … The rest of these are from Kary Klismet: Saddleback College in California is inviting the public to vote on the three team names it’s chosen as finalists to replace “Gauchos,” which it retired earlier this year. … The University of Missouri-Kansas City has installed a kangaroo mascot sculpture on campus. … The school district in Killeen, Texas, has revealed new team names and logos for its four elementary schools. … English rugby union club Wasps has a new kit deal with Hummel for all its teams, including its Netball Superleague team, Wasps Netball. “Previously, the men’s team had Under Armour, the women’s team had a company called Samurai, and the netball team had Mizuno,” says Jamie.

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Our latest raffle winners are Phil Fleckenstein and Dan Netser, each of whom has won a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to them, and thanks to the anonymous donor who sponsored this one. — Paul

Comments (69)

    Damn. I’m at the hospital all day while my wife is in surgery and I was really hoping and expecting the Browns and Niners throwbacks to drop this morning… Searching has been a pleasant distraction.

    Oh, the sad irony of the Panthers switching to artificial turf *because* they are adding a soccer team, when just about any soccer player would much prefer natural grass. Players for Charlotte FC are not going to be happy.

    I’m sure this has been in the works for a while and the Charlotte FC owners probably knew about it, but just didn’t care.

    I can understand the issue of overuse, but the MLS season runs mostly through the NFL offseason. And they could certainly re-sod the playing surface at the end of MLS, a month or so into the NFL season, so the Panthers would have a fresh playing surface for remainder of the season. Likewise I am sure for scheduling considerations they could backload the Panthers home games such that they play a minimum of amount of home games during the month of the MLS and NFL seasons that overlap.
    That said apparently they are looking to replace the stadium soon with something similar to what the Falcons have, so they might as well get used to turf now.

    Get a soccer-specific stadium in Charlotte, and both can play on grass. MLS is not going to like the optics of a massive stadium being at 25% capacity with tarps on the upper decks. Pandemic aside, that’s the look they desperately fought to get away from.

    I think it’s noteworthy at least that, according to the press release, the Panthers mentioned the aesthetic consideration of not having the dreaded faded field markings that you often see on grass fields when used for a different game or sport.

    This is especially relevant at BoA stadium which already hosts the ACC title game, a bowl game, and a early-season college game.

    Honestly, and this is a minority take amongst Panthers fans, I kind of like the artificial turf. It’s clean, and BOA Stadium’s field would usually look pretty bad by early November, at least in my opinion. Plus the end zones, and field generally, always looked bad in December with the faded logos for either the ACC title game or the latest Panther game during the ACC title game.

    They need the rolling trays that they use in London, Munich, and Glendale to exchange pitches.

    London, Munich, and Glendale

    This may be the only time these three municipalities are mentioned in the same breath….

    Speaking of UM-KC, a Kangaroo squad was in Evanston, IL a couple of years ago to play the Northwestern Wildcats. I saw part of the visitors’ bus and did a double take: “Kansas City Athletics.” Was I in some time warp and Charlie Finley’s old baseball team was in town? Upon further review, of course, the bus had “University of Missouri-Kansas City Athletics” painted on its side.

    “English rugby union club Wasps has a new kit deal with Hummel for all its teams”

    Hummel (pronounced HOOmel) is German for bumblebee. Thus the bee in this Hummel logo, as well as the porcelain company Hummel’s logo.

    Ah, the things you learn at Epcot!! °o°

    For the draft caps given to potential draftees – Interesting they went with “Bucs” instead of the full team name. Can’t be a space issue as they were able to fit “Football team”

    Not trying to play ‘gotcha’, but UW has stated in the past that American Indian imagery (which includes feathers rendered as above) can’t be included in uniform concepts that get submitted from time to time and should not be used as logos. Maybe there’s something else the section could be called (Rebranding News?)or maybe it should be logo-less if it’s going to be singularly focused?

    Potential Edit: in NAN section “In a non-biding ballot question”, I think that may need to be changed to ‘non-binding’.

    Never been a draft hat person, though, and correct me if I am wrong, I think before there weren’t so much draft hats, but more the new season hats (sideline hats?) that just premiered at the draft? Can anyone confirm or refute this? Curious at what point draft hats officially became a thing.
    As far as the draft itself, I was a big draft junkie when it was a Saturday and Sunday exclusive thing, and would always hope for a rainy weekend to justifying being inside watching all day. It always felt like a great way to get good info on what was going on with all the teams and players. Since they’ve switched to the current format it has become more of an afterthought that I’ll check in on my phone for the picks from time to time.

    Yes, I definitely remember the draft was previously used to debut the next season’s sideline caps. I want to say draft caps became a specific thing when New Era took over in 2012, but Reebok might have had them towards the end of their deal.

    Noticed on the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp’s Armed Forces Hat that on the military tag for the league it says “Southern League” for the AA league they were in pre-2021.

    Guess we can say these armed forces cap designs are from last year.


    Watching NFL network yesterday, when talking to one of the reporters at the draft,saw the flags of the teams flying in Cleveland. The bengals flag was upside down-mistake -i don’t think so

    Not a mistake at all. We all know the Bengals franchise is constantly in distress.

    Regarding the new name of the “Native American News” section, the new name is a bit misleading — it’s not news about Native Americans.

    I like the words used in the logo, “Not a Mascot.” Feels much more on target and also gives more flexibility for related topics (think Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, etc.).

    Regardless of the name, thank you for keeping up this part of the ticker for all these years. It’s definitely uni-relevant and important.

    Replying to myself here to clarify what I meant. This section is largely about non-Native Americans appropriating wording or imagery, or blatantly using racist imagery. There are sometimes items about Native Americans (protesting, negotiating, etc.), but in most cases it’s about teams run by non-indigenous people and the opinions of their non-indigenous fans and non-indigenous local governments.

    Actually, it *is* news about Native Americans — about how they’re depicted in the uni/sports world.

    Just like the “Baseball News” section is about baseball-related uni items, the “Hockey News” section is about hockey-related uni items, etc.

    Many of the Native Americans you write about aren’t Americans but Canadians, but I still very much appreciate the change.

    Its amazing what a difference it makes when you intentionally pick a less-accurate negative-connotation word.

    The Real Salt Lake blurb has “will be told”, like its being forced instead of “are being asked”, which is accurate. The team even used “please” and will give away a free shirt as part of the request.

    Thats a powerful exaggeration in the ticker, even if you didn’t also call it gross.

    Actually, Neil, it’s not an exaggeration at all. If you read the discussion thread on that tweet, you’ll see that the team is prohibiting white shirts in that seating section.

    Re: the Mariners NOB font – the font is fine. The kerning is the issue, which falls on whoever is sewing the letters on.
    Re: the album covers – beautiful, brilliant and creative. It would be nice to see what the inspirations were for each one.

    ripping of Wallyworld is a good reflection of Kanye’s creative abilities…

    generic, bland, boring.

    Anyone else non-plussed by the announcement of nicknames for elementary schools? I grew up in a small town in Mississippi, and our elementary schools didn’t even have teams, much less mascots or focus-grouped logos.

    I mean, you can probably find accounts in vintage newspapers about elementary-school sports back in the 40s or something, but youth sports today aren’t school-based, but club-based (Pop Warner football, youth soccer, Little League, AAU basketball, etc.)

    I’m not fazed by it. The elementary school I went to about (mumble, mumble)… 40 years ago had “Eagles” as a mascot or a team name (whatever you prefer to call it). We had some intramural sports teams (which, interestingly enough, all had their own team names; I was on a basketball team called the “Muskies”), but no external teams.

    Nonetheless, the “Eagles” name was significant in building school and community spirit and making students, family, and faculty feel like we were all on the same “team.” I’m quite certain that was intentional back then and why it’s still a common practice now. My son’s elementary school use the team name “the Crew,” and it is very prominent in how they build school pride. Not saying it’s the coolest thing ever or anything, but the practice has a certain utility to it.

    Not only did my elementary schools not have teams, but they were both shut by budget cuts before I reached the age of twenty. Dadburn it!

    It was all the costs associated with those team names that broke the schools’ budgets, wasn’t it? ;-)

    One of my elementary schools even poached the Vikings logo, but it looks like it doesn’t anymore. It was a similar thing — no sports teams but the point was to build a sense of pride or team spirit.

    In Green Bay, the elementary schools all have mascots/nicknames, and the schools do have some inter-school sports competitions. But they also use the mascot on general school apparel, etc,

    Back in the 60s in New York City almost all of the Catholic elementary schools had
    baseball and/or basketball teams and my school had football teams but that was rare. I do not remember any elementary having mascots.


    All kidding aside, Paul, I appreciate that your strongly-held opinions (which you always defend thoughtfully and eloquently) are not immune from reexamination and adjustment based on the feedback of well-reasoned voices around you. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a good change. Especially version 3.0, which very quickly replaced version 2.0 this morning.

    the Spokane school board is inviting the public to weigh in on a new identity for North Central High School, which is retiring “Indians” (from Kary Klismet).

    If the local tribe were horsemen, I would recommend calling them the “Riders”. If skilled with bow and arrow, maybe “Archers”. Don’t overlook animals who served them, like “Buffalos”, “Bison”, “Mustangs” and “Colts”. Were they “Hunters”? Maybe they pursued “Mountain Lions”. Just stay away from “Redhawks”.

    Yeah….but we all know it’s going to be “Redhawks” or at the very least “(fill in the blank)hawks”.

    Just stay away from “Redhawks”.?

    I laughed out loud at this! Good one!

    Sadly, I share Pedro’s pessimism. I don’t know why schools don’t have the creativity to come up with something better.

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but “RedHawks” and a variety of similar names – all those compound words starting with “Red” or ending with “hawks” – feel to me like they have lingering roots in institutional unconscious bias.

    It’s as if the schools are trying to cling to something that feels vaguely, distantly connected to Native culture but isn’t too blatant – while at the same time seems edgy and new. “Hey! We just crated a new word by combining two words together!”

    Thoughts on using the indigenous word for “bison” or “archer”? Is that appropriation or a respectful nod to the history/ culture? I think it would be the latter, but also understand it’s not up to me to decide how indigenous people should feel about it

    I like that idea! Of course, the best way to find out how the indigenous people might feel about it is to ask them…

    The Wild helmet shade discrepancy has bothered me for a while. It seems to differ with each manufacturer. By the looks of this picture, CCM has the correct shade but Bauer does not.

    It sure looked good when Robert Thomas netted the game winner with 23 seconds remaining in the third.

    The “Not A Mascot” logo designer has excellent taste; he’s using the Art Deco font from the antecedent of the WFT.

    Paul, you continue to amaze me. I don’t know if I was the first one who brought up the odd juxtaposition of you wanting the WFT to retire its name and logo and still using it in the ticker a week ago or if I was just one in a long line. Your initial response was that you’d keep using it to show what the section was about.

    But then I see this today. Shocked. I did not expect that. Way to go, Paul. Great upgrade.

    There were a fair number of people who raised the issue besides yourself. Honestly, I still think it was fine the way it was, but it wasn’t worth digging in over it if people found it troublesome. So I changed it!

    One of my Indian friends is into sports, but is not interested in uniforms or aware of Uni-Watch. With today’s name change in the ‘Skins Watch section, I finally remembered to show it to him and ask his thoughts. He rolled his eyes and was particularly amused when I told him that the feature has been on Uni-Watch for years. I paraphrase, but the gist of his response was that white people spend inordinate amounts of time on pet racial issues that they deem important, while doing nothing else to inform themselves of the problems facing the Indian population or try to help. He would rather see people work to stop the horrible conditions, substance abuse and child abuse that are rampant in many areas and stop worrying about whether some guy in the outfield at an Indians game is wearing a Chief Wahoo had or beating a drum.

    This is obviously just one guy, but this always comes to mind when I see the amount of time and space devoted to Indian-related team names. For my part, I stopped reading ‘Skins Watch long ago because it grew tedious and repetitive. “Hey, the middle school in Smalltown, Idaho is no longer calling its students Warriors. Great.”

    I did mention to my friend that Uni-Watch has actually contributed to Indian causes, giving it more credibility than 99.99% of the folks who concern themselves with the Redskins, Indians and other similarly named teams.

    (This friend and others that I have known over the years call themselves Indians, not Native Americans. They have told me that the Native American term is something created by people who want to fix something that is not broken, while making themselves feel better and superior about what they think is a sensitive racial issue. Again, anecdotal perhaps and these are people living in the Midwest and not the more enlightened coasts, but I find it interesting.)

    To avoid the sloth of slacktivism, enlightened folks from the coasts might want to put their money where their mouth is, and give a charitable donation to the Indian Reservation of their choice. Heck, you might even score a t-shirt!

    I liked the NFL teams as album cover art. I really miss seeing all those great rock album covers.

    If I’m honest, I find it a little bothersome that the Skins former logo is being used as the base of the “Not a Mascot” logo. It was certainly a long time coming, but the Washington Football Team dropped that name and the logo more than 6 months ago. Given the number of professional sports teams that are still using Native American/Indigenous names and logos, I feel like maybe it’s time to direct attention away from Washington.

    Wait, apologies if this has been discussed before, but why did you think sports bars would never be a thing? Seems like the food + drinks + friends + sports + tv combo is an amalgamation of some pretty beloved vices.

    I remember when sports bars started appearing. I thought to myself, “Who needs a special bar just to watch sports? You go down to your local bar, they have the ballgame on the TV — boom, there’s your sports bar!”

    Well, we all know how that turned out.

    In the late 60s/early 70s, movie theaters, fearing competition, had huge signs in the lobby that read “Stop Pay TV.” As a kid, I had no idea what they meant but thought, who the hell would pay to watch television.

    Detroit had America’s first sports bar. Lots of great stories here: “ : Detroit’s Lindell AC – The Nation’s First Sports Bar” link

    To bring yesterday’s topic and this thread together…if I ever get the chance to own a bar, I’m going to call it The Single Bar.

    It won’t be a *singles* bar. The sign outside will look like a single-bar helmet. It will be a sports bar which may occasionally show live sports. On the walls there will be photos of players (mostly straight-on kickers, but other players are welcome) who wore the single-bar helmet.

    Brought this up in the YouTube comments (another great podcast, by the way), but I’ll bring up two points here as well:

    1) Perhaps the Rockies’ square patches are actually Colorado-shaped patches?

    2) In the Streaker Sports ad, you guys say Continental Basketball League when it should be Continental Basketball Association.

    The Wild player with the off-shade helmet is Marcus Foligno. You can make out his number on his helmet. Further confirmation: the other two players in the photo are defenseman (Ian Cole and Matt Dumba) which would have to make the player in question a forward. Cole is the taller dman at 6’1. There are two forwards who’s numbers end in 7 on the Wild taller than 6’1, Foligno of course and another who is 6’6, Nick Bjugstad. The mystery player in the photo isn’t towering over the dmen so therefore that rules out Bjugstad and leaves us solely with Foligno. I’m bored and can’t sleep lol

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