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Gone But Not Forgotten: The 2009 United Football League

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A good Tuesday morning, Uni Watchers. I hope everyone made it through their Monday.

Back in 2023, I began a series called “Gone But Not Forgotten,” which focused on one specific team that usually lasted a season or two, and from a now-defunct professional football league. The series began with the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, and continued with the Southern California Sun and Orlando Thunder, and ending with the Portland Storm.

Today I’ll take a look at the debut season for a new football league which began play in 2009: the “United Football League.” This had to be one of the more destined-to-fail ventures, although the league would actually survive their first season, eventually making it to 2012 before finally folding. But the 2009 season was not only the league’s debut, it also had what may be the absolute weakest set of football uniforms to ever grace a gridiron.

If you want to read more about the league, click here. Most upstart football leagues at least have the commmon sense to play in the springtime, capitalizing on those with football withdrawal AND not directly competing with the NFL. But for some reason, the UFL decided to play a fall schedule. There were only four teams in 2009 (the plan had been for eight), and instead of having uniforms and colors that were unique to each team, the geniuses in charge either didn’t plan properly or were just lazy (or maybe some combination of the two), and decided the four teams would all follow the same template, and all would use two of the colors from the UFL’s logo, which were green, blue, silver-gray and black. Each team would get a color and a white jersey, a single helmet, and a single pair of pants. The results were about what you might expect.

Let’s take a look at the four teams who played in that league.

LAS VEGAS LOCOMOTIVES

Perhaps the weakest of the weak, uniform wise, the “Locos” had a color jersey that was silver-gray, with silver helmets and blue pants. The silver-gray jerseys, which served as the “dark” jersey, were so light as to be confused with their opponents’ white jerseys. The template for the jersey was the same for all four teams. Each jersey featured an angluar set of thin stripes above the numbers, thin piping around the shoulder caps, sleeves with the jersey color at the top, bisected by thin color lines, with a third color towards the sleeve ends. Front and rear numbers were a solid italic font, with a contrasting color outline, and finally a third color forming the block shadow beneath. There was a contrasting color collar, and team names were in a small italic font above the jersey chest stripe. All jerseys featured contrasting color side panels. You can see most of this here, on the Locos’ dark jersey:

As you can see from the above, the white numbers on the silver-gray jersey weren’t the easiest to read. By the time the team played in the 2009 Championship game, the numbers were rendered in black.

The team’s white jerseys were basically identical to the silver-gray, except the numbers on the white jerseys were blue with white outlines, and the silver-gray and white colors were inverted on the jerseys.

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FLORIDA TUSKERS

The Florida Tuskers at least had an interesting dark uniform, with blue jerseys and helmets, and paired with black pants. The template, of course, was the same league-wide, and the numbers on both the blue AND the white jersey were white, with green outline and black block shadow.

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NEW YORK SENTINELS

The New York Sentinels were given black jerseys for their dark color, and both the black and white jerseys were paired with white pants and black helmets. Green was the accent stripe/side panel color for the jerseys and pants.

Here are the road (white) jerseys:

Although the template was brutal, the black helmets and jerseys, with white pants and black socks, didn’t look that terrible. I’ll give the league credit for one thing: not a single team had same color jerseys/pants for that dreaded mono look.

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CALIFORNIA REDWOODS

The fourth and final team in the 2009 UFL were the California Redwoods, and they were given green (dark) jerseys, which were paired with white pants and helmets, and green socks. Blue was the accent stripe/side panel color. For some reason, the green jersey had white numbers with blue outline and black blockshadow, but thankfully the white jersey had black numbers, white outlines and blue block shadow.

I know some of you like greens and blues on the same uniform, but I’m not a fan. The two colors seem to be fighting each other rather than complimenting each other. I didn’t mind as much on the white jersey combo.

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And there you have it — the UFL uniforms for the 2009 season. Without a doubt, one of the worst uniform sets in all of professional football. The UFL may be gone, but their inaugural season uniforms will never be forgotten. Although, maybe they should be.

Your thoughts? Of all the “upstart” leagues to form, have there ever been a full league worth of teams with worse uniforms?

 

 
  
 

Reminder: Big Uni Design Competition -- Deadline Approaching

In case you missed it, the University of Hawai’i and Uni Watch are partnering on a Women’s Basketball uniform design competition.

All the details are here.

Submissions will be accepted through Wednesday, July 17.

The Grand Prize winner will receive a cash prize of $1,500, roundtrip airfare for one to Honolulu, and accommodations, for the basketball game slated for January 25, where the winning design will be worn and showcased to hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.

 

 

Guess the Game from the Uniform


Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Austin Gates.

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.

 

 

Uni Tweet of the Day

Poetry in motion, indeed.

 

And finally...

…that’s gonna do it for the early lede. I will have at least a couple more articles today, including the ever-popular Mike Chamernik’s Question of the Week, so make sure to keep checking back.

Everyone have a good Tuesday and I’ll see you back here tomorrow morning!

Peace,

PH

Comments (16)

    I went to one UFL game. I had bought tickets because seeing a football game at Citi Field seemed interesting – then they cancelled that, refunded me, and gave me free tickets to see a game at Hofstra. I have no earthly clue why I went, other than I was in my 20s and had time to wander.

    I’m incredibly inexperienced in any form of legitimate design theory but my goodness, 4 teams using variations of the same color scheme? There’s no way you could differentiate anybody. What were they thinking?

    Easily the worst alt-league uniform lineup ever. The cookie-cutter nature of the uni designs was the worst part. That said, the Sentinels and Redwoods had interesting color combos, particularly the Redwoods (although a team named “Redwoods” with no red is odd).

    I feel the same way about Bowling Green University having an orange & brown color scheme.

    I did like the team names and logos. The UFL logo reminded me of a clam eating a starfish. The helmets were cool. Each had a unique center stripe. The Tuskers had a snout stripe. Very cool.

    Not sure why they put every team in the same uniforms but when the commissioner of the league walked through the door and saw Las Vegas Locomotives written on the white board, he should have started voiding checks, and changing the locks right then and there.

    GTGFTU. Feb. 25, 2021. Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Edmonton OIlers at Vancouver Canucks. One of the few Reverse Retro vs. Reverse Retro NHL games.

    Can’t think of anything else special about the game. This Vancouver Canucks Reverse Retro saw the Canucks bring back navy blue uniforms for the first time since 2007. First time wearing navy blue with green trim. Known as the “Sprite Can” jersey.

    link

    Also notable for the Canucks, this is a jersey they never wore in front of live fans in an arena due to COVID restrictions.

    As a fan of alternative sports and leagues, I actually enjoyed the original UFL and was a fan of the Locomotives. They went head-to-head with the NFL because there was a thought that the NFL could have a lockout in 2011 and if it lasted long enough, they could poach NFL players to their league. The lockout did happen, but ended before the start of the NFL season, which effectively put a fork in the UFL. Also, they launched with similar uniforms that mirrored the league colors because it was a rushed launch. They corrected this by having very unique team specific colors and uniforms before the 2010 season.

    Someone once described the UFL logo as “a clam deep throating a star,” and that’s all I remember about them.

    I remember reading somewhere the if the UFL couldn’t find locations for their 4 teams, that they were going to name them North, South, East, and West – which given their lack of imagination for uniforms for Season 1, might of worked better LOL

    LOL, comments evolved from “UFL logo is a claim eating a starfish” to “a clam deep throating a star…” People just crack me up.

    Of all these horrible UFL designs, I had the highest hopes for the California Redwoods design because I had mocked up uniforms for a similarly named team for my imaginary football league in my teens (link). Unfortunately, the California Redwoods botched it with that incongruent color scheme.

    The tree design on the front/top of the helmet (link) was clever, but rendered mainly in silver and black with neon green trim, it didn’t look as much like a redwood tree as it did a toilet brush, or a spaceship blasting off, or something vaguely and disturbingly phallic (link). Even to this day, I’d take the design I did as a kid every time over that unsightly pile of rags the UFL foisted upon us.

    I’m always shocked at these penny-pinching new leagues insisting on having two jerseys for every team. Especially when you only have four teams, just give each team one jersey that stands out from the rest. One Black, One White, One Red, One Blue. Boom

    That’s a great point, but I’m pretty sure that even in 2009, there were still more analog than digital TVs in the US, so the leagues (all leagues) stuck to their white/dark protocols so as to provide maximum contrast between teams. But for a four team league, they probably could have gotten away from that.

    I never comment on here, but I was audibly wincing at those UFL uniforms.

    Why are the front numbers slanted AND italicized?! Why do the numbers on these already busy uniforms have 2 outlines and a drop shadow?! Why did they choose a lettering font that looks like it’s stuck on CAPS LOCK?!

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