[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site (although he’s still writing his weekly Bulletin column and may pop up here on the blog occasionally). Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month.]
Greetings and a good Tuesday morning to you all.
I have another fun article today, from Zachary Wooldridge, who — like many of you, probably — is involved in a Fantasy Football league. But, unlike most of you, I am assuming, Zach takes his league seriously: so seriously he actually designed ALL the uniforms for ALL the teams, top to bottom, including home, away and alternate looks.
I’ve never been a fantasy sports player, but I totally get the appeal. One year some of the guys in my office were involved in a pool with a bunch of their friends. They asked me to join, but lost me when they informed me the “loser” had to make a sandwich board and stand on a corner in town, for an hour, with a message of their choosing. Yeah, I saw Die Hard With A Vengeance, so that was a no-go. They never asked me again. But I digress.
Anyhoo, Zach has done a pretty amazing job of creating entire uniforms for his fantasy league. They’re all below. It also gives me a chance to use our new, handy-dandy “gallery feature,” which in this case will show each team’s fantasy logo, followed by the home, road and alternate unis. Here’s Zach:
Dressing Up a Fantasy Football League
by Zachary Wooldridge
“Nobody cares about your fantasy football team.”
It’s a common refrain to hear as temperatures drop, days grow shorter, and the crisp air of fall settles upon us. All signs of football season, and with football season comes fantasy football season. And with fantasy football season comes a weekly Monday morning dance between fans bemoaning or praising a players performance and their peers who couldn’t care less.
I say this as an avid fantasy footballer, talking about fantasy football ranks just above talk of the weather on the list of unimaginative topics of conversation. Wax eloquently all you want about the entertaining melange of strategy and luck or how it helps you stay in touch with old friends, nobody cares about your fantasy football team. And if nobody cares about your fantasy football team, they certainly don’t care about your team name or logo.
But I do.
My main fantasy football league is about to kick-off its eleventh season this year, and we lean into the “fantasy” aspect of it. Within the fiction of The Rec League we treat each team as real franchises, with rebrands accompanied by press releases, official statements given over controversies, and at one point in time a weekly talk show breaking down the upcoming games. But the primary way in which we lean into the fantasy is through completely custom logo packages and uniforms styled as if each team were actually taking the field.
All the league’s design work is done by yours truly. I collaborate with each member and try to best represent their aesthetic, personality, and even try to pull in elements from their favorite NFL team. It’s part entertainment, part skill sharpening, and part insanity. Our league features twelve teams and each team is allowed up to two keepers, which I have used for the jersey name and numbers. I hope you enjoy these as much I enjoyed designing them!
Crater Lake Comets
Home Stadium: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Owner’s Favorite Team: Dallas Cowboys
Once the storied franchise The Daniel Boone Moonshiners, located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, a string of lackluster seasons saw fan attendance plummet, which lead to ownership looking to relocate. Crater Lake National Park proved to be the perfect breath of fresh air as the team finished its first seasons the Comets with a semifinal loss in the playoffs.
Heading into their second season in Crater Lake, the Comets look to build on last season’s success and win the second championship in franchise history.
When designing for the Comets, the owner wanted something bright and energetic. Pink is a unique color not just in our league, but in the entirety of American football. I paired it with black for the space theme, and a piney green to reference the natural beauty of Crater Lake.
Combining the colours with a futuristic typeface and sublimated stars in the pants striping leaves the Comets as one of my favorite designs I’ve done for the league.
Feel The Vern
Home Stadium: Patras, Greece
Owner’s Favorite Team: Tennessee Titans
Equal parts reference to the owner’s name and a meme from the 2016 presidential race, Feel The Vern has maintained a fiery aesthetic presence but has yet to make any real noise in the postseason, especially surprising due to having one of the league’s premier running backs in Derrick Henry. As Henry enters the final year of his contract with FTV, it’s do or die.
In creating FTV’s brand, I had no choice but to lean into the flame imagery. And if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it big. With the current iteration of the uniforms, I tried to maintain at least one article in a particular combination that did not have flames on it. The exception is the “Red Hot” alternate uniform, which goes all out with the flame imagery. FTV is also unique in that they are the only team whose uniforms feature a contrasting shoulder yoke.
Frankfort Fat Cats
Home Stadium: Frankfort, KY
Owner’s Favorite Team: Minnesota Vikings
Coming into their third year in the league, The Fat Cats have yet to win their division or make the playoffs. They’re hoping to change that with a partial brand refresh. While all the logos remain the same design, the teams colors have been updated. Before they were primarily a purple team with accents of Columbia blue, lime green, and silver. Now they will be taking on the 2022 season donned in a simple green, grey, and white scheme.
When updating the Fat Cats colors for this season, I wanted to lean into the money theme behind the name. Green for bills and grey for coins. The thin striping on the sleeves and socks is meant to evoke the lines used for shading on US bills. They’re also the only team with tapered striping on the pants.
Home Stadium: The Thunderdome in Parts Unknown
Owner’s Favorite Team: Indianapolis Colts
One of the oldest, consistent, and most storied franchises in league history. The Green Bastards were charter members and have been playing under this name since 2014. They’re also one of only two teams to win multiple championships, having won the 2012 and 2018 championships.
Fitting their status as one of the preeminent teams of The Rec League, the Green Bastards have straightforward, old-school uniforms. Simple striping is repeated across the shoulders, pants, and socks. The gold in their palette reflects the championship winning history, while the “asphalt” color roots them to their heritage. This is one of those teams that I often think the away uniform looks
better than their home uniform.
Home Stadium: The Lily Pad in Okefenokee Swamp, GA
Owner’s Favorite Team: New England Patriots
Kermit’s Killers name originated as an autocorrect of the team owner’s name, but a winning tradition and meme magic caused it to stick. The Killers joined the league in 2016 as an expansion team, and since that time they have never missed the playoffs. However, it took them until the 2020 season to finally win a playoff game, which ultimately led to the trophy landing in the Lily Pad.
The Killer’s uniforms lean into their namesake with a two-toned green color scheme. To balance the high energy brought by the dual greens, the rest of the uniform is simple and straightforward. The stripes are repeated across the helmet, sleeves, pants, and socks to add visual cohesion. All in all, a classic look for one of the league’s most successful teams. I can never decide whether I like the bright green jerseys or the dark green jerseys more.
Kingston Rum Runners
Home Stadium: The Dunder Pit in Kingston, Jamaica
Owner’s Favorite Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Right as the 2020 season was set to commence, long-tenured franchise Massive Destroyers folded their organization and ceased operations. In the scramble to replace the Destroyers, the Kingston Rum Runners sailed in to save the day. Inheriting the assets of the Destroyers but none of the history, the Rum Runners posted a middling 6-7 record in their first season. But the next season the Rum Runners cleaned house and brought their own guys in to the organization.
In what is possibly the greatest turn around ever, the Rum Runners, on the back of Ja’Marr Chase, brought home gold in just their second season. This year they look to become the first ever back-to-back champions in league history. The colors of the Rum Runners are meant to evoke their tropical home, with bright orange and blue featuring prominently like a beautiful sunrise on the beach. Black anchors it all and evokes the Jolly Roger flown by rum-loving pirates. I think their “bone whites” uniform is one of my favorites.
Lake Cumberland Bass Holes
Home Stadium: Lake Cumberland, KY
Owner’s Favorite Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Another charter member, the Bass Holes have a championship under their belt (2013) but have not won a playoff game in seven seasons. The Bass Holes will once again attempt to make a splash this season, this time on the backs of a strong WR corp of Cooper Kupp and AJ Brown.
While good news has been trickling out of camp, only time will tell if the Bass Holes can hook another championship. The current Bass Holes brand was developed some years back when 90s nostalgia was hitting
its peak. As such, they sport a teal and purple color scheme. However, the colors also lend themselves well to a lake-like, fishy theme. Over the years the uniforms have featured various patterns on the sleeves: simple stripes, watercolor blots, and wave patterns. This season the Bass Holes have adopted a simple, subtle fishscale pattern. I’ve variously toyed with changing and updating their logo, but the leaping fish has cemented itself as an unchangeable classic in the league by this point.
Home Stadium: The Lazer Dome in Lexington, KY
Owner’s Favorite Team: Denver Broncos
Another charter member, the Lazerbeams are arguably the most successful franchise in Rec League history. The only team to win the championship 3 times, and spread across different eras of league history, the Lazerbeams are a force past, present, and future. They are also the team of yours truly, so while there may be bias in this entry I stand by all of it.
The franchise has had a few identities throughout its history, but is entering its sixth season under the Lazerbeams identity. The Lazerbeams visual identity is inspired by the Outrun aesthetic, and with a name like “Lazerbeams” minimalism was not an option. The original mascot was a cartoon dragon, which is what the current Lazer Dragon logo evolved from.
Previously the Lazerbeams sported a purple alternate jersey, but with the inclusion of an orange helmet this season I opted to give them a cyan alternate. It may be that I put in more effort because it’s my team, but I think the Lazerbeams have one of the best logos in the league.
Home Stadium: The Mine at Mullins, KY
Owner’s Favorite Team: New England Patriots
If there is one team in The Rec League that embodies an All-American “football team” identity, it’s The Mullinators. They’re the only active team in league history to have never changed their name or general identity. They have a no-frills aesthetic and they’re here for business. Hit the field (or the world wide web, I guess), do your job, and win games. A charter member of the league, the Mullinators have one championship and three runner-ups to their name. There are few franchises in league history that have more respect across the board than the Mullinators.
The Mullinators colors come from their owners favorite team, the New England Patriots, with black added in for some variation. All in all their aesthetic is inspired by football heritage, so it’s a straightforward look. This season sees the introduction of a blue alternate helmet, which might be the most dramatic aesthetic development in the team’s history. It’s a simple, clean look across the board, but it might be one of my favorite designs I’ve made.
Home Stadium: Nancy, KY
Owner’s Favorite Team: Philadelphia Eagles
The Goldhounds have a complicated history in the Rec League. Their owner previously operated a team years ago, but they only lasted one season before folding. However, a chance to rejoin opened up last season and the Goldhounds were born. They’ve quickly become infamous after unique decision making on during the draft, but the Goldhounds remain active and competitive.
Another team with a no frills approach, the Goldhounds look is built around, well, the color gold. It’s a bold color so I wanted to make sure the rest of the uniform was toned down. They’re also one of two teams that doesn’t wear pure white for their away uniforms, instead wearing cream. While they primarily stick to the gold of their namesake, on occasion they will bust out the brown alternates.
Panama City Penguins
Home Stadium: Panama City, FL
Owner’s Favorite Team: Carolina Panthers
The Panama City Penguins are the newest team to join The Rec League, with the upcoming season being their first. They’re unique in that they are the only team whose primary color is black. The penguin-esque black & white color scheme is accented by an icy blue.
I like the overall simple look of the Penguins home and away uniforms, but I wanted to add a little but of fun to the alternate. The alternate is meant to evoke both the icy habitat of a penguin and the foam of the surf rolling into Panama City’s beaches. I’m usually not a fan of gradients on sports uniforms, but I think it’s subtle enough here and anchored by an otherwise straightforward look that it works.
The Young Bloods
Home Stadium: The Whomp in Whomp County, NC
Owner’s Favorite Team: Carolina Panthers
Another charter member, the Young Bloods have undergone various identity changes through the years. The current name began as a nickname when the team’s owner intentionally only rostered players who were under the age of 25, but the name became permanent when they won the championship that same season. The crown on the logo was added as part of the celebration of that same championship and it has stuck round ever since as well.
The Young Bloods have a high energy, bombastic aesthetic. Once the franchise finally secured a championship, they went all in on becoming an over-the-top heel to the rest of the league and that is reflected in their identity. While I usually bemoan black alternate unis, there really was no other option for the YBs.
Creating these logos and designing these uniforms is such a fun exercise in keeping my skills sharp, as well as bring another layer of entertainment to our league and its members. I also upload our league’s designs to a Teepublic store for league members to rep their teams, so feel free to check that out as well! Thank you all for reading and indulging me. And remember, nobody cares about your fantasy football team!
Wow, Zach…that’s some pretty impressive designing. Hopefully the punishment for coming in last in your league is just that you get to redesign the loser’s unis, and you just make them really, really awful. Good stuff, and thanks for sharing!