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Kicking Off a New Era of Weekend Uni Watch

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[Deputy Editor’s Note: Today we have the first-ever entry from Jim Vilk, who will be taking over the weekends from me beginning this June. It’s ALSO Jim’s birthday today, so please be sure to wish him a HAPPY HAPPY down in the comments below. I’ll be back at the end with some quick words. Enjoy! — Phil]

You probably weren’t expecting me yet, so…SURPRISE!

My original plan was to hit the ground running on June 1st with a Blue Jays’ City Connect debut review (here’s one person’s guess as to what that *may* include). Phil, on the other hand, thought it would be a good idea to warn…er, prepare… you for what to look for in the weekends to come. So, let’s use Paul’s question-and-answer format where I ask myself some anticipated questions. We’ll begin with…

What makes you think you’re qualified to become Weekend Editor? Weren’t you the old JimV19 who used to submit uniform concepts in colored pencils?

Indeed, I was JimV19 in the comments all those years ago. I didn’t consider myself a design expert then, nor do I consider myself one now. I look at uniforms from the perspective of a fan, pure and simple. Of course, some design concepts are so obvious that you don’t need to be an expert. If you can’t tell what team is playing and/or you can’t tell who the players are, then that uniform has failed its most basic function. I always will point out those things. Mostly, though, I’ll give you my opinion and hope that you’ll understand why I like or dislike something. And I’ll try to see where you’re coming from if you don’t agree. As for other credentials, I have a Mass Media – News degree and I’ve worked for a few newspapers, covering everything from county politics and murder trials to high school sports. I also called play-by-play and color commentary for Akron Zips sports, as well as for local high school football and basketball. I’ve been with Akron’s Seeing Eye Radio, a reading service for the sight-impaired, for almost as long as Paul’s been doing Uni Watch. We started a sports podcast recently, which has been great fun. And yes, I do sneak in some Uni Watching during those shows. But to answer the initial question, it’s not that I think I’m qualified. Phil does, so let’s humor him and see where this goes.

You’re not just going to show off your DIY projects all the time, are you? I’m going to miss Paul’s journalistic excellence.

  1. Phil will give you lots of journalism to go with his other features.
  2. I can do journalism when I need to, and I will dole out my projects sparingly. I would like to share others’ DIY projects even more than mine. I also plan to do more think pieces and tell some stories.

What will the weekend format be like? Lots of little posts throughout the day, or one big post as it was in the past?

I intend to bring back the big (but not huge) morning post. Paul and Phil understand I don’t have the same amount of time they have, so they told me to set it up however I want. Some days I’ll have more time than others, but I can’t guarantee the constant flurry of posting that they’ve been giving you lately. Once college football season comes, though, Sunday Morning Uni Watch should be the same as it has been.

Next, I pulled some questions from the Ask Phil Anything article.

1) Do you have anything against the color purple?
2) If you are fine with purple, is there another generally used uniform color that you dislike greatly?

As you can see from the featured photo, I have ABSOLUTELY no problem with the glorious color purple. That’s Yours Truly doing one of my favorite things in the world: kicking field goals in the snow while wearing my DIY Fred Cox early-1970s jersey. As for colors I could do without, I’d go to both extremes of the spectrum. I just can’t wrap my head around the obsession with Whiteout and Blackout uniforms. Very few teams (the Colts, Auburn, and the Namath-era Jets, off the top of my head) can pull off an all-white uniform. And aside from the Baltimore Ravens, I can’t think of anyone else who should be wearing head-to-toe black. There are a lot of colors in between. Use them!

Paul every now and then threw in a post on a different type of minutiae — not uniforms but something within the phylum as it were. Do you have plans to do that as well?

I’d love to go off-topic every now and then with some off-the-wall obsessions…IF the Uni-verse will allow it. Things have been ramped up so much lately that I’m afraid the news won’t let me stray too far.

In general, you and Paul seem to have similar takes concerning uniforms, but are there some big areas that you differ from Paul? An example might be something like Paul prefers stirrups, and you don’t…and I believe Paul is against wearing team merchandise.

Stirrups…sorry, I really don’t need them. I prefer solid-colored socks or the ’70s white socks with colored stripes. Team merchandise? If it’s affordable, I’d wear that. And I do. Also, while Paul and Phil think unretiring the number 42 once a year is Bud Selig’s best idea, I think it’s his absolute worst…especially since EVERYONE wears it.

• What are your favorite/least favorite big four uniforms?
• Do you love green and yellow uniforms as much as Paul?
• Do you believe the worst uniform without an ad is still better than the best uniform with an ad?

*By the “big four,” I assume you’re talking football, ski jumping, cricket and volleyball, right? Yeah, yeah…I know what you mean. As for *your* big four:

Football: Kansas City & Indianapolis (NFL), Michigan & St. Louis (UFL), LSU & Nebraska (NCAA). My all-time favorite without a doubt is the 1972-74 Houston Oilers.

Least favorite: Philadelphia or Washington (NFL) and Louisville (NCAA).

Basketball: Timberwolves, Bulls and Spurs (regular unis only). My all-time favorite is either the 1981 Kings or Rockets, or the Stepien-era “Richfield” Cavaliers. For college, it has to be classic Villanova double blue. Least favorite: the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers Game 7 uniforms…I’ve never been so angry watching a team that I was rooting for as in that game.

Hockey: Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild (current), and Quebec Nordiques (all-time). Least favorite: any Flyers uni…especially their Stadium Series ones. Go Pens!

Baseball: Early-70s Pirates (even though they didn’t wear V-neck jerseys). Least favorite: the Chicago “White Sox.”

*Green and yellow? Love it. Not my favorite combo, but it’s up there.

*If you’re asking would I rather watch a whiteout vs. blackout MACtion game versus a CFL contest, I’d have to say I’ll take the ad-strewn CFL game. I’d prefer a third option, though.

We see a fair amount of community-submitted content on the site now…Is the plan to have that continue moving forward? In general would you prefer we send in stuff like that as it is created, or will there be occasional “calls for content”? Additionally, any chance you are looking for more volunteers to help with the site in various roles? As strong as the comm-uni-ty is, I’m sure there are plenty that would be willing to help on a consistent basis, but I wanted to throw my hat into the ring as well.

A lot of the stuff that Phil featured will follow Phil to the weekdays. As I mentioned above, I’m definitely looking for anyone’s DIY submissions, since that’s an area that’s near and dear to my heart. No matter what the sport is, if you have something interesting I’m open to your input!

Are you a cat person or a dog person? (Or both or neither, and any plans to share pet pics?)

I’m a bird watcher. If I had to have a pet, it would be a cat. My youngest child does have a stuffed cat named Snowball, which I tend to photograph in different poses.

She could be part of a new Mascot Watch…

I feel I know almost everything about Paul’s life…parents…how he grew up…job history…residences…pets…favorite color…love life…trips. It is almost funny. I feel I know very little relatively about you. Will you reveal yourself like a band-aid, gradually, or not much at all?

We’ll see. Basically, I work four nights a week, so I’m kind of out of it until the weekends. Then I spend time with The Wife and our three kids, catch up on work around the house, and I try to visit Dad whenever I can. What little free time I have is spent kicking field goals and tweeting about it.

What’s your Favorite band and taste in music…and cans?

I can’t narrow myself to one favorite band, but for the last five years I have been obsessed with the Jackie Gleason Orchestra. My other favorites are Level 42, Duran Duran, and most Yacht Rock bands. My general taste in music is, the smoother the better, although I’ll listen to a lot of stuff, including country and polkas. And if the Weeknd, Ed Sheeran or Travis Kelce’s fiancée are on the radio, I don’t turn the station.

Cans? Give me a ’70s or early-’80s beer can. And until Spuds McKenzie came along, I was a huge fan of ’70s and ’80s beer commercials. Very classy.

Any favorite NCAA or NFL teams? Along that same line, what athletes were you a fan of growing up?

My favorite college basketball team is Villanova. Partly because of the uniforms, and partly because of John Pinone and Ed Pinckney. The moment I saw Pinckney in December of 1982, I told my brother (the basketball expert in the family, who laughed at me) that the Wildcats would win the NCAA championship in his senior year. Two and a half years later, The Greatest Prediction in Sports History came true! As for football, I may be an Akron Zip but usually I root for unis. So Nebraska and LSU are at the top of my list. I’ve been an on again-off again Steelers fan, and I also root for Indianapolis, Kansas City and Green Bay. My favorite athletes were Willie Stargell, Julius Erving, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, and most straight-on kickers of the 70s and 80s.

Anyway, that’s probably more than enough about me for now. Hopefully we’ll have some fun together in the weekends to come. If you have any ideas or suggestions you can reach me on I’m Still Calling It Twitter at @JimVilk. See you next month!


• • • • •
Phil here. Thanks Jim and (officially) Welcome Aboard (and Happy Birthday!)

The Ticker will follow this article, so be sure to check back shortly for that. And if there is any breaking uni news today, I’ll try to get a new article up as soon as possible. Everyone have a great Sunday!

Comments (80)

    happy birthday Jim, I appreciate the write up and your humor as it gave me a morning laugh.


    And thanks to everyone for the great comments. I’m in the middle of a massively busy Sunday, but when I get home from work I’ll try to respond to more people.

    Welcome aboard Vilker and great first post. I have always wondered how you and Phil got to be such friends. The Odd Couple had two openings…one said they had been childhood friends and after an episode where they first met on a trial, it was just friend. What is the real story of how you and Phil became friends?

    It’s weird that we’re such good friends…because we’ve never met.
    15 years ago, when I had WAY more time on my hands, I became a frequent commenter in the UW comments. Apparently Phil saw something in my writing even then, because he reached out to me and asked if I’d like to contribute some articles to the site. That turned into the SMUW 5&1, and the rest is history.

    Happy Birthday Jimmer! As a DIYer myself I hope you *do* feature more (your stuff and others) once the Vilk era begins. :)

    Happy birthday, Jim! Glad to get to know you a little better, and looking forward to your weekend content in the near future!

    Great post Jim & Happy B-day. We agree on black-out and white-out unis. We also agree on green/yellow color combo. Looking forward to future content.

    You hit a resounding double off the centerfield advertisement! We all win! Happy Birthday and play 519 the next time your down at the corner store.

    Some ideas from a long-time reader and newspaper/newsletter writer/designer/editor:

    While it doesn’t sound like you disdain BFBS and whiteouts as much as Paul hates purple, and clearly you don’t mind the use of the colors in general as you pick the spurs as a favorite uni, perhaps a yearly event inspired by, but much more off-beat and informal than a black and white ball could replace the purp walk. Perhaps the “black and white crawl” (a pub crawl format where all attendees must wear head-to-toe black or head-to-toe-white or simply dress in or inspired by a BFBS or WFWS uni look.

    Also I’d welcome the return of design contests.

    I would also like to see uni reveals (as appropriate) include either a local’s perspective in addition to uni-watch’s official response, or have pro v con 2-person format regarding unis that spark that “you hate anything new/you hate anything old” response in people.

    Just some thoughts. I’ve got plenty of them.

    “I’d welcome the return of design contests”

    Oh, I fully intend to start reinstating these! In fact, we should have a really great one beginning this coming June. Stay tuned!

    I’d love to hear more of your thoughts!
    And I like the idea of a Point/Counterpoint article for a new uni reveal.
    Keep in touch!

    Happy Birthday! I am excited for your weekend content. It is an exciting new chapter of an old favourite.

    HBD, JV… nice debut, even though I will vehemently disagree about that hockey team from the wrong side of the Keystone State.

    Before I hit the road to head to Minneapolis for the Paul Lukas meet-up, here’s a happy birthday from a fellow May 19th birthday Uni Watcher! Looking forward to the weekend content going forward!

    Happy Birthday!
    Today I found out we share our special day with Archie Manning and the Pittsburgh Steelers (on this date the NFL approved Art Rooney’s purchase to get into the league.

    Is Snowball named for the Simpsons’ pet? If she’s ever lost, will there be a Snowball II?

    There will never be another Snowball.

    Actually, my youngest has three identical cats. Snowball was given to her on the day of her birth from a classmate of my wife, who has since passed from this world. They’ve been inseparable ever since…except for a brief time in Santa Cruz when Snowball fell out of the stroller and we went on a massive cathunt for her. Luckily someone saw her on the floor of an arcade and turned her in to someone who reunited us. The other two cats were bought as backups just in case something like this happened, but they have names of their own and can never truly replace her. Besides, they’re much cleaner and brighter than Snowball, who I sometimes call Slushball because of her now-gray-ish appearance.

    As someone who is very familiar with Santa Cruz, I’m so glad you found your fur baby! Assuming the arcade you’re referring to is at the boardwalk, I’m getting anxiety just thinking about trying to find a car in that madness! She’s a brave little explorer for not finding an out of the way crevice and hiding!

    Yep, we were at the boardwalk. I spent the whole time looking thinking to myself, this is going to be a looong flight back home. That’s what kept me from giving up quickly… that and I was done with rides for the day because the Tilt-o-Whirl had left me feeling queasy.

    Oh, and to answer the original question, I don’t think my daughter ever saw The Simpsons, so she must have come up with the name on her own.

    “What little free time I have is spent kicking field goals and tweeting about it.”

    I love this so much.

    Happy Birthday, Jim! It will be fun reading your posts and hopefully collaborating on some new designs.

    Happy birthday Jim. Looking forward to your content. Great taste with the 72-74 Oilers; sus on your take on stirrups. Gas no cap

    Wait a minute, when referencing a “band-aid”, it’s “ripping off the bandaid”, meaning to do something painful or unpleasant quickly so it’s over faster.

    I wonder…are you turning a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ number this go-’round the sun?
    Either way – Happy Birthday, Jim…Cheers!
    I’m looking forward to this next era at Uni Watch…best of luck you and Phil.
    Your love for the Tita,…err, Oilers early 70’s look is well documented (I share your affection for those, though the gray masks and blue pants make them less-than-perfect), but I had no idea that you dislike the Flyers uniforms top-to-bottom. Interesting.
    With Fathers’ Day just a few Sunday’s away, I hoping you’ll keep the Dads In Uniform tradition alive – that is my favorite day on the site…YMMV.

    “the gray masks and blue pants make them less-than-perfect”

    Fixed it for you.

    And not to speak for Jimmer, but I do believe he’s planning on continuing the “Dad’s in Uniform” series.

    This is a fast-numbered year. It’s my Heinz year, if that will help.

    I thought it was implied that I continued the Dads in Uniform. Even if it wasn’t, I most definitely plan on continuing that.

    Send your photos and brief descriptions to jamesgvilk @ gmail . com (the g does not stand for greatness, by the way).

    Jimmer, you put the work in on that Fred Cox jersey but don’t cheat yourself. How about sewing on an NFL 50th anniversary patch and turn that into a 1969 game jersey. I did that to an Eagles jersey as a kid and was the envy of my block.

    I have several kicker hoodies or shirts planned, and at least one of them will have an NFL50 logo. You and I are thinking alike!

    I see you are a straight on kicker, my father was the emergency kicker for the 1971 Norfolk Neptunes, they gave him a flat toed George Blanda style cleat. One day he asked me to hold for him, we went to Walter Johnson high school to kick. He missed more than half and kicked the top of my hand on most of the kicks, he was pretty bad. After, we went to Roy Rogers so he could have a rare roast beef, he thought he kicked well and asked me how he did? I said good but you’re no Curt Knight, he said OK, I’ll take that Jimbo, but the King will get better. They won the 71 ACFL Championship and I don’t think he ever had to kick.

    you’re no Curt Knight.
    I love that reply!
    I have a soft spot for Curt. George Allen almost drove him bonkers.
    In fact, I mimic some of Curt’s hand placements when I kick. I watched the ’71 Houston/Washington highlights many times and studied both his and Mark Moseley’s approaches.

    Happy birthday, Jim! Now that I know you are a color commentator your focus on numbers makes more sense.

    Yes. I feel the pain of those who have to call a game without knowing who’s who out there.

    I auditioned to be a play-by-play announcer for an indoor soccer team. The game they had me record was an exhibition…and neither team wore their regular unis. They had numberless warmups on, and although I thought about walking out of there, I soldiered on and did what was asked of me. It wasn’t pretty, but I literally had no idea who had the ball at any given moment. It was a very generic call of a very generic looking game. I wouldn’t wish that on any announcer or scorekeeper.

    “My favorite athletes were…most straight-on kickers of the 70s and 80s.”

    Why am I not surprised that your homage/collage includes a pic of Mark Moseley wearing red (ok, burgundy) pants? ; )

    My homage collage used to include Jim Turner in orange Broncos pants. I need to make room for that photo again!

    Funny you should mention Jim Turner, my father was friends with him during his brief time with the Jets. Once in a while he would get a call out of the blue from Turner and we would say what did he want? And my father would say he was just calling to see how life in the minor leagues was going!

    Your 5&1 has been one of my favourite parts if Uni-Watch the last few years. Looking forward to what you and Phil have in store for the blog.

    … article, nice to know more about you. Best of luck and looking forward to more.
    (Sorry my screen shifted and my thumb hit the post button by accident.)

    Happy Birthday, Jim, from a fellow MAC alum (CMU ’95). I actually lived in the Kent/Stow area in the late 90s/early 00s and spent some time working with U. of Akron students. Welcome to the weekend beat!

    I called the Akron/CMU game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium back in ’91! Nice place.

    The stands were packed…until halftime, when most of the crowd left so they could see Rocket Ishmael and Notre Dame take on Michigan. My producer and I listened to that game on the drive back to Akron.

    Welcome to full-time weekends! Excited to read more of your thoughts, this was a fun get-to-know-you.
    And I’ve really come to enjoy 5&1, and I would love to see more iterations of that for other sports (when it makes sense). It’s a fun format.

    I used to do a lot of 5&1s for other sports but pared it down to college football only.
    Maybe next year I’ll rethink it. This year it’s reserved for the FBS (are they still calling it that?).

    How can you call yourself a uniform person and hate the eagles and flyers uniforms??????

    Favorite Unis:
    NFL – Bears, 49’ers, Chargers, Pittsburgh.
    MLB – Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Padres
    NHL – Flyers, Red Wings, Bruins, Blackhawks
    NBA – Bulls, Celtics, Lakers, Heat

    I’m a Bears fan, but have a little place in my heart for the 49ers. Roger Craig’s mother worked at Caterpillar in Bettendorf, IA. My Dad was her supervisor. He said she used to wear Roger’s old jerseys to work.

    Bears unis are awesome. I don’t like the orange helmets but everything else is great.

    I should have included the Yankees, since they won’t participate in the City Connect madness. If only they had abstained from the 2019 Players Weekend insanity!

    Always loved the Padres unis until they switched to blue/white. Something just didn’t look right. Glad to see they are back with one of the best looks in the league.

    Either way, I win.
    If it does, I get more free time.
    If it doesn’t, I get to go “HA!”

    Happy belated, MoVi…

    I had a pretty busy day yesterday and didn’t get a chance to check in. I look forward to your post on Sunday, January 19th, 2025 (simply entitled “HA!”).

    You had me up until ‘Go Pens!’

    But seriously, glad you’re the “next man up” at Uni Watch; look forward to your weekend content!

    Oh no, you think the Wild have great jerseys? Guess we will have to take your sweater opinions with a grain a salt if you place one of the worst jerseys as your favorites.

    I too love the Wild’s uniforms, Adam. So I guess you’ve been taking Uni Watch opinions with a grain of salt all along!

    Very belated happy birthday and glad to have you as the weekend warrior, Jim!

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