Good morning, and happy winter solstice! I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely looking forward to the days getting longer again.
Now then: Eagle-eyed reader Derek Linn spotted something interesting the other day. He was looking at pics from a recent Steelers/Bengals game and noticed that referee Brad Rogers had his position (“R” for referee) and uni number (126) printed or embroidered on his beanbag. I’d never seen anything like that before!
You probably know this already, but just in case: All NFL officials carry a blue beanbag. The bag is usually used to indicate a change of possession, although it can occasionally be used in other circumstances. The bags are a familiar sight on zebras’ waistbands, but I’d never seen a personalized one until now.
Or at least I didn’t think I’d ever seen one before. Had the beanbags been typography-clad all this time and I just never noticed? Maybe it’s a new thing for this season? In an attempt to answer those questions, I spent more time than I’d like to admit poring over photos of NFL officials’ midriffs yesterday. Here’s what I found:
- Brad Rogers has been wearing the personalized beanbags for several years, but he doesn’t always show the full “R 126.” Usually just part of the number is exposed, like this:
- Another NFL ref, Brad Allen (yes, there are two refs named Brad), usually has an “R,” but no sign of a number:
- Field judge Terry Brown has worn “FJ” on his beanbag, and I also found a photo where you can just barely see his uni number, 43, peeking out:
- While there may be other examples of visibly personalized beanbags, they appear to be few and far between. Most officials just have plain blue (although they might be wearing them with the personalized typography facing inward, so it’s not visible):
- As you may have noticed in the photos I’ve presented here, there’s no consistency regarding where the officials wear their beanbags. Left, right, center — it’s all over the place. Some officials even wear it on the back:
I have to say, this is peak Uni Watch. Big thanks to Derek Linn for making it all possible!
Meanwhile, I know some of you have officiated at the high school or even college level. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about all this.