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With XFL 3.0 now in full swing, a recent ticker mention of the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks got me thinking about all the defunct spring/summer (offseason) leagues that have been in existence since the WFL first broke on the scene in the early-mid 1970s. It’s been a pretty good number. But that ticker item got me thinking specifically about the WLAF (World League of American Football), which debuted in 1991. It was the first transatlantic football league, and despite growing pains, actually lasted for a number of seasons (either as the WLAF or in a later incarnation as “NFL Europe”).
While the uniforms weren’t spectacular by any means — and many considered some of the league’s logos to be clip-art — I was always fascinated by the logo and unis of the Skyhawks.
You don’t remember the Skyhawks? They were a one-year wonder, debuting during the WLAF’s inaugural season. The team was by all accounts pretty terrible, and they amassed a perfect 0-10 record that one season before folding. They might qualify as the worst team to wear a really good uniform, and they had one of the best logos ever.
Let’s start with the unis.
The team had a home and road kit, one helmet, and one pair of pants. Interestingly, the team used the pretty rare combination of red and green (with some black and white) as their primary colors and for the time, looked quite good.
The team featured a red helmet with a black/green/black center stripe, and a triangular-shaped logo rendered in green/black/white.
Jerseys were either red, with white numbers outlined in green, and a green/black stripe on the sleeve hem…
… or white, with red numbers outlined in green, and a green/red stripe on the sleeve hem. The white jerseys also featured color-block red sleeves. Jersey sleeves carried the same logo as seen on the helmet (reversed depending upon which side it was seen on).
Unlike a lot of more modern uniforms, there was actually a tremendous amount of thought (not storytelling) in them. Being basically the first professional team for the Raleigh-Durham area, the team was named “Skyhawks,” which was supposedly inspired by the Wright Brothers first flight in the nearby Outer Banks of North Carolina.
But what really gets my juices flowing is the beauty of the logo. Here’s a closeup:
There’s a lot going on here. First off, there’s the obvious: the logo features three triangular “jets” (with contrails). I always thought this was somewhat odd for a team that was supposedly honoring the Wright Brothers’ first flight. But I can overlook that for the other details it featured.
The design itself is a triangle, which was not chosen at random. That represents the three points of the Research Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). And if you look at it just right, you can also imagine the left side and top of the triangle forming a lower-case “r” and of course the triangle itself could be seen as forming a “D”. Or at least that’s the way I always saw it.
Another uni-itch this uniform scratched was the red/green color scheme. It’s not unique to sports, but it’s rare. I can’t think of a single pro football team which uses (or used) those colors. Sure, the NJ Devils once (and for throwbacks) used the colorset, it’s used in soccer, and until this past Friday, the Red Sox busted out a red/green uni for St. Paddy’s day. We have also seen Mexico wear those colors for the WBC. There are other teams to wear red/green, but not very many. It’s a totally underused combination in sport.
Unfortunately, as noted above, the team was winless and folded after the 1991 season. You can see some game action here:
About the only thing I didn’t love about the team was the cringeworthy name of their cheerleaders — the “Kittyhawks” — but that was as much a product of its time as anything.
The R-D Skyhawks may not have been a success…but they did prove football could find a home in the state of North Carolina, and less than two years later, the NFL awarded a franchise to Carolina (the Panthers), who began play in 1995 in Charlotte. Sometimes really bad teams have really good uniforms and logos. The 1991 one-year wonder Skyhawks definitely fall into this category.
Looks Like Atlanta's City Connect Leak is Confirmed
In case you missed it, yesterday afternoon the Atlanta City Connect (CC) jersey was leaked at a Nike shop (!) down in Hotlanta, and images were posted on Twitter.
Paul, who’s been on top of all the CC leaks for the past three years, did a write-up on the jersey, which you can check out here.
Obviously, it’s tough to tell what the full jersey will look like (as in, what’s on the sleeve, if anything?) from those, but we get a pretty good idea. As many on here have opined, the 1973-74 Atlanta uni, with its raglan sleeve design and sublimated “feather” graphic on the sleeve, was one of the best the team has worn (I considered it as my “signature” look for the team), even with the Native iconography. The fact that the immortal Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all-time Home Run record wearing it made it iconic.
The team has worn that 1973-74 uniform often recently as a throwback, and the CC uni obviously plays off that. I’m sure we’ll all be interested to see what the rest of the CC looks like, but this one could rank up there as one of the best so far.
Women's March Madness Tidbit
Got an e-mail from Sam Mostow who has some uni court-watching info from the Women’s NCAA Tourney:
I’m a student at Virginia Tech and noticed something interesting yesterday at the first round of the Women’s NCAA Tournament that I wanted to make you aware of.
In the past, I have noticed a “March Madness” logo decal on the floor at the first couple rounds of the tournament, which usually take place at the school of a high seed. I assumed, with all the signage and branded apparel the NCAA sent us in Blacksburg, floor signs would be among it. But when I got to the game yesterday, there was no sign on the floor. I attached a picture that I took of the floor, showing no decal.
But wait, there’s more! I saw a highlight later of the game, and noticed the floor decal! It must be computerized onto the floor, like in the NBA or NHL. I attached a picture of a highlight showing the decal.
Anyways, I wasn’t sure if you knew about this or not. But I found it interesting and shared it in the hopes that you might too. It’s a small, minuscule detail, but isn’t that what Uni Watch is all about?
Keep up the great work!
The Saints Came Marching In with this Ad
Got an e-mail earlier this week from UW contributor/pal Jimmy Corcoran. I’ll let him explain…
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This ad is from 1969, probably one of the great deals of the 60’s would be to get a set of these NFL glasses for only 3.95, but a bargain at that price wouldn’t last long, the offer expires on Aug. 31, 1970. The agency that was in charge of making this ad was all over the place when it came to the equipment. You have a 1969 Eagles jersey that is correct, in 1970 they removed the stripes and added black trim to the numbers. There is a Steelers helmet that doesn’t have a number on the front, so this would be considered a preseason helmet since the Steelers put the numbers on when the regular season started. But the most interesting part of this ad is the Saints helmet, they decided to go without a facemask with this one but what stands out is it is the black helmet that the Saints didn’t get to wear, it even has the Saints decal on the side. The Eagles wore two helmets in 1969, the green with white wings and the white with green wings, it’s too bad the Saints weren’t allowed to also do it that season, that black Saints helmet would have looked nice.
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Great find, Jimmy! Love the detailed explanation too!
Uni Concepts and Tweaks
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).
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Today’s concepts come from Jeffrey Kruger.
Love this feature, pleased to participate!
Goal: Six hockey teams that could go color-on-color
Theme: Defunct Las Vegas Strip Hotels
My choices, and their specific branding style dates:
It was fun to collect various samples from photos and ephemera, and whittle down the assets. Most resorts had evolving color schemes, wordmarks and secondary identifiers to select from. Making it perfect for hockey sweaters, don’t you think?
Wishing you a fine day.
Las Vegas, NV
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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.
…for the Ticker
Weekend warrior Chris Hickey often sends in fun items, usually (but not always) for the “Guess the Game” feature. In fact, what follows was actually included in one of his GTGFTU submissions, but I didn’t even realize it at the time. Here’s Chris:
(T)he MFS’ home ice, St. Paul Civic Center, had see-through dasher boards.
Speaking of which, that’s my Ticker item…at a time when ads are plastered physically and now digitally on the boards, let’s reflect and remember the beauty of that arena’s clean and clear barrier system (see non-GTGFTU attachments…also enjoy the WHA ref’s get-up and the helmet decals worn by the Golden Gophers).
Have a great day!
Thanks Chris! We can only wonder if clear dashers would have caught on. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
…that’s all for today, and for me for the Weekend. I hope everyone has a great Sunday and a better week!
Allow me to be the first to wish Paul an early HAPPY BIRTHDAY — it’s on Tuesday of this week. Unfortunately (for him), there is — at least at the writing of this sentence — a 0% chance for rain (or any precip) that day, at least where we live. If you’re not familiar with why that’s not necessarily a good thing, be sure to read on Tuesday and I’m sure all will be explained. So Happy Early Birthday, buddy!
In the WBC, the USA defeated Venezuela last night, so they will play Cuba tonight (7 pm ET) in the WBC semi-finals (the winner of that game will face the winner of Japan/Mexico, who play Monday night). The whole WBC wraps up on Tuesday evening.