Monday Morning Uni Watch, Divisional Playoff Edition

Click to enlarge

Good morning! Greetings again from Florida, where the Tugboat Captain and I are spending a few days visiting her parents.

An annual postseason ritual came into play yesterday in Kansas City, where the Chiefs wore captaincy patches — something they don’t do during the regular season but add for the playoffs — for their game against the Texans. (The Packers used to have this same protocol, but this season they wore captaincy patches for regular season games.)

Interestingly, the Chiefs even added the captaincy patches to their pregame warmup gear. I don’t recall seeing any team do this before, although I admittedly don’t keep close tabs on pregame attire (click to enlarge):

The Chiefs also went old-school by changing their midfield logo from their primary team logo to a helmet with a grey two-bar facemask — a particularly odd move considering the team has worn white masks since 1974:

The Chiefs ended up scoring so many touchdowns that the stadium crew ran out of fireworks — and apologized for it on the scoreboard:

As for yesterday’s NFC game — Seahawks vs. Packers — there was one uni-notable moment, when Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith recorded a sack and then exposed the bottom of his undershirt, which featured a protest about his omission from the NFC Pro Bowl roster:

Looking ahead, next Sunday’s NFC championship game should be a beauty — Niners in red vs. Packers in white on grass. The AFC game won’t be quite as attractive, since the Titans’ uniforms are several notches below the Chiefs’, but it won’t be a disaster. And unless the Titans win next Sunday, we should have a very good-looking Super Bowl.

(My thanks to Adam Good and Mike Chamernik for their contributions to this section.)

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A little story: Aside from underwear and socks, my clothing purchases are almost exclusively vintage items, not new. But I was recently at a party where my friend Garth was wearing a really nice green check flannel shirt. After I complimented him on it, his wife said she got it for him at the Gap. I was surprised, and also intrigued, so the next day I looked up the shirt on the Gap’s website, found that it was on sale for $31, and ordered it.

It arrived with one button missing. Hey, it happens. No problem, I thought — shirts always come with a couple of extra buttons sewn into the inner front shirttail. But this one didn’t. (Maybe that stopped being the norm at some point during the many years since I last purchased a new shirt..?)

No problem, I thought — they probably keep extra buttons on hand for this type of situation, so I’ll call their customer service number and have them send me a new button.

But when I called, they said they didn’t have extra buttons, so instead they sent me an entire new shirt, along with a mailing label to return the first one.

This is, frankly, easier for me, because now I don’t have to sew a new button onto the first shirt. But it still seems ridiculous, sort of like the toast scene in Five Easy Pieces. I mean, geez, why not just keep including the extra buttons on the shirttail? Has that really gone out of vogue?

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Assorted reminders: In case you missed it on Wednesday, I’ve partnered with the great Todd Radom to create the Uni Watch Pin Club, which will feature a new limited-edition enamel pin design for each month of 2020. The January pin (shown above) — a numbered edition of 350, well over 100 of which have been sold so far — is now available, and you can get the full scoop on all the Pin Club particulars here.

In addition:

• On Friday I announced the launch of some new Naming Wrongs shirts for the Summit in Houston. It’s available in red, white, and grey:

• And on Saturday I announced the launch of an additional pair of Naming Wrongs shirts, this time for the Madhouse on McDowell in Phoenix. This one’s available in purple and grey:

Okay, end of sales pitch!

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Membership update: Some new designs have been added to the membership card gallery, including Todd Arnesen’s 1997 Newcastle United treatment. (Card designer Scott M.X. Turner did a bang-up job on that one, no?)

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop and our Naming Wrongs shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.) As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,400 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

’Skins Watch: On Friday we had an item about an Idaho state legislator who planned to introduce a bill that would prohibit school districts from changing their mascots or team names, which was in response to an Idaho school that decided last summer to stop calling its teams the Redskins. That legislator now says he has changed his mind (from Brad Iverson-Long). … The NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, have unveiled indiginous-themed logos created by a graphic designer from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation. The Jets will wear jerseys featuring the new logo for their pregame skate on Jan. 17, and the Moose will wear theirs for their game on Jan. 18 (from Andrew Forbes).

Baseball News: Reader Andy Shain tells us that the Single-A Columbia Fireflies retired three numbers of pioneering black baseball players over the summer: No. 14 for Larry Doby, who was from the area; No. 20 for Frank Robinson, who played for a different Columbia minor league team; and No. 42 for Jackie Robinson. … We’ve previously mentioned the 1988 Dodgers writing “JH” on their sleeves during the playoffs in support of suspended P Jay Howell. Michael Miller sent us a New York Times article from then about the tribute. … Remember the Uni Watch design contest to create a “futuristic” jersey for the summer collegiate team the Portland Pickles? Brad Meadows bought one of those jerseys from the team but has now decided to sell it on eBay — a genuine piece of Uni Watch history, if you’re so inclined.

Football News: In the run-up to tonight’s national championship game, helmet historian Blaise D’Sylva is counting down his top 17 “coolest” college helmets, and yesterday had No. 5 through No. 2. … Daniel Smith notes that tonight’s title game is the first one — and this seems to include both the playoff and the BCS and its predecessors — not to feature a team that wears red (or a shade thereof) or blue. … Here are some good screen shots of the WFL’s experiment with position-specific pants (from Jerry Wolper).

Hockey News: NHL ref Kelly Sutherland, who was working yesterday’s Canucks/Wild game, appeared to put in his teeth before announcing a penalty. … A Flames fan has a collection of 40 jerseys from Calgary teams, as well as some Canada jerseys (from @omicbumz). … The AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers wore camouflage warm-ups Saturday (from Zach Pearce). … The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye wore Spiderman-themed jerseys (from Mark Monroe). … Minnesota-Duluth’s women’s team revealed city-themed jerseys for next weekend, which include curling stones as a shoulder patch (from Paul Friedmann). … We mentioned Rush drummer Neil Peart’s drum kit covered in NHL team logos, but in this video he’s also wearing a sweater with the logo of his restaurant (from Gabe Cornwall). … Wade Heidt has a bunch of junior hockey items for us: the OHL’s Ottawa 67s wore Schrute Farms Beets jerseys, a reference to a shirt worn by Dwight Schrute in an episode of The Office. … The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves dressed up as doctors and auctioned the jerseys off, with the proceeds going to a local health science center. … The OHL’s Peterborough Petes honored former NHL player and executive Colin Campbell with a banner and throwbacks from when he played for the Petes. The throwbacks have TPT on the front because the team had an advertiser, Toronto-Peterborough Transport, in its name at the time. … The OHL’s Erie Otters wore cancer-awareness jerseys. … Two WHL goalies, the Prince Albert Raiders’ Max Paddock and the Moose Jaw Warriors’ Boston Bilous, moved teams but still had pads from their previous teams. … Down a level in junior hockey, the British Columbia Hockey League’s Trail Smoke Eaters and Penticton Vees both wore throwbacks for a “world championship weekend.” Until 1963, the winner of the Allan Cup, Canada’s senior amateur championship, represented Canada at the world championship instead of a true national team. The Smoke Eaters and Vees’ throwbacks were patterened after senior teams of the same name that won the world championship in 1961 and 1955, respectively. … The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks also wore jerseys accented in orange and teal, the city’s colors.

Basketball News: Duke revealed, and wore, dark blue alternates at home on Saturday. The men’s team appears to be slated to have six uniforms this season, but it’s worth noting that so far none of the alternates have been extended to the women’s team (from multiple readers). … On the other hand, N.C. State’s women’s team wore black yesterday, which Gabe Cornwall says makes four uniforms for them this season. … Miami (Fla.) G Chris Lykes wore two different colored shoes yesterday, not for the first time this season (from Miami mop guy Rich Friedman). … New Mexico State wore throwbacks Saturday (from @NMStateFlush). … The D League’s Texas Legends wore Special Olympics-themed jerseys on Saturday (from Chris Mycoskie). … Recent color-vs.-color college games included Purdue/Michigan State yesterday, Texas Tech/West Virginia on Saturday (both from Josh Hinton), USC/UCLA on Saturday (from Matt Shevin), and Iowa and Maryland’s women’s teams on Thursday. … Spanish team CB Estudiantes wore rainbow uniforms to, as they put it, “promote diversity” (from multiple readers).

Soccer News: The English Championship’s Welsh teams, Cardiff City and Swansea City, wore black armbands in memory of former Cardiff players Alan Harrington and Chris Barker. Cardiff also wore the armbands last week in the FA Cup together with their opponents, League Two’s Carlisle United (from Josh Hinton). … The next three are also from Josh: Mexican team Querétaro got two new shirts, switching to Charly from Puma. … Mexican team Pachuca apparently prefaces single-digit numbers with a zero, and in a previous version of their font, the zero was shaped like the club crest. … Italian team Cagliari wore their 100th-anniversary shirts. … Also in Italy, Lazio revealed and wore 120th-anniversary shirts — basically, they have a real collar and black accents (from Ed Żelaski). … You can see more on Josh‘s Twitter feed. … A Serie A game between Hellas Verona and Genoa was delayed because the 18-yard box didn’t have straight lines. … New second shirt for Colombia’s Atlético Nacional. … In Australia’s W-League, both Melbourne City and Canberra United wore black armbands for the victims of the country’s bushfires. … The NWSL’s Washington Spirit released a graphic which to me implies that they’re going to switch to wearing mono-white as first choice. While the Spirit have always worn red with varying amounts of blue, they’ve recently worn mono-white at home when playing at D.C.’s Audi Field.

Grab Bag: The NLL’s Georgia Swarm wore purple cancer-awareness jerseys on Saturday (from Wade Heidt). … The Australian Football League is to hold a charity match Feb. 28 between a Victoria representative team and an all-star team in support of relief efforts for the country’s bushfires, which means AFL players are to wear Victoria’s distinctive blue jumper with a large white V for the first time since 2008. … AFL teams Adelaide and Port Adelaide are also to play a charity Twenty20 cricket match Feb. 2, which already has its own logo. … Here’s a survey seeking input from the public on a new Utah state flag design (from Jonathan Martin). … Here’s the story behind one man’s enormous golf ball collection (from Justo Gutierrez).

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A complicated life: As you’ve probably heard by now, the writer and self-obsessive Elizabeth Wurtzel, best known for her 1994 memoir Prozac Nation, died last week at the age of 52. She had major issues with depression and addiction throughout much of her life, so I’d always figured she would die by suicide, but instead it was cancer.

I never read any of Wurtzel’s books (I remember skimming through a chapter of Prozac Nation at Tower Books shortly after it came out and then putting it back on the shelf after deciding it was drivel), but I did read a fair amount of her articles over the years — she wrote a lot — and was often impressed by them. I’ve read more of those articles in the days since her death, and have also read several appreciations and remembrances of her and have listened to this 2013 podcast interview with her, all of which has gotten me thinking a lot about her and her work.

Like many people — especially male writers of my generation — I initially dismissed Wurtzel and later came to respect her. Looking back, that initial reaction was largely fueled by envy (why was everyone making such a fuss over her while I had to hustle so hard?), resentment (when I act like an asshole, people call me out; when she acts like an asshole, she gets a book contract!), sexism (the only reason she gets this much attention is that she’s good-looking!), and other forms of pettiness. In other words, I had a lot of insecurities and self-loathing. So did she — but she seemed better at making those deficiencies work for her. And that just made me feel more insecure.

Over the years, though, as I read more and more of Wurtzel’s articles, I became a fan. I was impressed by the fact that she didn’t just become a professional celebrity or marry some rich guy, which seemed like the predictable trajectory. Instead, she kept writing, went to law school at Yale (“on a lark,” she said), wrote some more, and generally seemed to remain true to herself, for better and worse. She also seemed to be pretty self-aware about her personal flaws and was able to laugh about them. Good for her.

I never met Wurtzel (although a few of my friends knew her). She was famously self-absorbed, logorrheic, and dramatic — all things I have a hard time dealing with — so I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the patience for her theatrics. I tend to process information in a very linear way, and I tend to surround myself with people who do likewise, but Wurtzel clearly processed the world in non-linear ways, more steam-of-consciousness ways. People like that make me itchy, probably because they seem to have tapped into some inner part of themselves that I can’t tap into or just don’t have (more insecurity), so I usually steer clear of them. That’s often my loss, and it certainly would have been my loss in Wurtzel’s case, because the things that made her so hard to deal with were clearly the same things that made her so interesting.

Wurtzel wrote primarily about herself and was probably the premier confessional artist of the last generation. I’m a bit of a confessionalist, too — nowhere near as much as she was, but I do tend to share a fair amount of my life in my work. As I do that, I’m always thinking about the line between public and private, between an interesting anecdote and an overshare, between being relatable and just enjoying the attention (hell, I’m doing it right now with this essay, this paragraph, this sentence). Those can be hard lines to draw. Wurtzel didn’t blur those lines so much as she simply ignored them. As a result, she was routinely described as being self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing, masturbatory. She didn’t care. As she once wrote, “I believe everyone is entitled to my opinion.”

Why do some of us have that need to express ourselves so personally, whether through essays, blogging, songwriting, art, or whatever? In Wurtzel’s case, a lot of it clearly had to do with depression. As she once wrote, “I was born with a mind that is compromised by preternatural unhappiness, and I might have died very young or done very little. Instead, I made a career out of my emotions.” That appeared to be the best anti-depressant for someone who was clearly in a lot of pain, of various sorts. I’ll miss her work, but I’m glad her pain is finally gone. R.I.P.

Sunday Morning Uni Watch

Good morning! Paul here, filling in for Phil, who’s dealing with a family situation. Greetings from Florida, where the Tugboat Captain and I are spending a few days visiting her parents. It feels very weird to be wearing shorts in January!

Yesterday was a very, very good day in the NFL, at least from my perspective. Consider:

• My favorite team, the 49ers, won their playoff game against the Vikings and will host the NFC Championship Game next Sunday.

• The team widely considered to be the biggest roadblock to a Niners championship, the Ravens, lost their playoff game and are no longer a factor.

• With the Vikings and Ravens both losing, we’re now assured of a purple-free Super Bowl.

It’s a win-win-win!

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A whale of a game: The Carolina Hurricanes wore their Hartford Whalers throwbacks for last night’s game agains the Kings (additional photos here). I realize this sticks in the craw of some Connecticut fans, and I sympathize with those fans, but I love this move — not just because it’s great to see that Whalers uni again, but also because throwback uniforms are history lessons, and the Hurricanes’ previous franchise incarnation as the Whalers is part of NHL history.

That’s why I also love it when the L.A. Clippers wear Buffalo Braves throwbacks, or when the Oakland A’s wear Philadelphia A’s throwbacks — it teaches fans about the history of the team and the sport.

But hey, that’s just me. If you disagree, feel free to do so in today’s comments.

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Sorry, but that’s it for today. Enjoy your Sunday, and I’ll be back with a full slate of content tomorrow. — Paul

Meet Gus O'Keefe: Uni Designer

By Phil Hecken

A couple weeks ago, down in the “Tweaks” section, I featured several concepts from Gus O’Keefe, and I mentioned Gus had many college uniform concepts. We had hoped to run those last week, but alas, that didn’t happen, but I’m happy to say I am back with him today. As you can see from today’s splash, Gus has uni tweaks for several college teams. Before we get to those, I was able to interview Gus earlier this week and we did a Q&A sesh. So, without further ado, let’s meet him!

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Uni Watch: First question I ask of everyone: how and when did you “discover” Uni Watch, and how long have you been a reader?

Gus O’Keefe: I can’t remember the exact moment I discovered Uni Watch, I just know it has been ever-present in my life for the past 10 years or so. It’s the same story that most of us probably have: Somehow I stumbled upon the site and thought “Wow! I thought I was the only one!”

UW: How old are you and where do you live?

GO: I am 31 years old, and live in Bozeman, Montana.

UW: As readers know, I’ve always loved uniform concepts, and feature them often. When did you first begin designing unis?

GO: Not until fairly recently. Three years ago, I had a helmet concept for Montana State University (go Cats!) that I wanted to see actualized. I didn’t want to pay an artist to create it for me, so I decided to teach myself how to do it. The initial attempts were expectedly terrible, but it sparked a passion.

UW: Did you do “refrigerator art” (as we call them) — basically drawings of unis — as a kid?

GO: Not of modern sports uniforms, no. But I did have a keen interest in heraldry. In a way, I guess knights and their shining armor were the oldest-school sports uniforms. I recently tried merging the two, editing medieval paintings of knights so that their heraldry represented different NFL teams. Not my most successful artistic venture!

UW: When did you start designing unis on a computer?

GO: From the start, three years ago. Initially I used some free photoshop-like programs online, and quickly realized I needed to invest in the real thing. Not a slam against mockup artists who do more artistic work, I love what they do, but for some reason I feel a really strong desire to make things as realistic as possible when I’m working. For the pieces below I used a template that is pretty solid and lets me work fairly quickly and easily, but my true passion is trying to get things as close to photo-realistic as possible. The only way I have found to do that is with a computer.

UW: Two weeks ago, I teased several of your concepts, including a couple “Uni Watch” unis (you know the baseball player needs stirrups!). What attracted you to uniform design? Do you do all the major sports, and soccer?

GO: Uniform design was just a lightbulb moment. As a young kid I was passionate about art. As I grew up, that passion transitioned into sports, and my artistic impulses laid dormant for about 15 years. When I realized I could combine the two, it was a no-brainer.

I have tried my hand at all the major sports. My first big project was actually featured here on Uni Watch, which was a “NFL teams as premier league soccer kits” concept. After that I got to help Paul with a hydrodipped batting helmet project.

For the most part I stick to football, that is the sport whose design language I am most fluent in I think. When I venture into other sports, it is often for a UW contest or project. I just don’t feel I know enough about the uniform aesthetics of, say, the NBA to really dive in.

UW: Is this a hobby or do you do any of this professionally? If not professionally, would you like to try to turn it into a money making venture?

GO: This is entirely a self-taught hobby. I get to use some of the tricks I’ve learned at my day job as a Content Editor for an online journal, doing simple graphics and photo editing, but it isn’t related to sports in any way. I am not sure uniform mockups would ever be a true money-maker, but I have certainly been tempted to go back to school and take some graphic design courses, if only to improve my abilities. Maybe some day I could make content creation at least a part-time gig.

UW: How long does an “average” design set take? What took you the longest?

GO: It really depends on if the concept is there in my head. When I saw the old Arizona logo, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had the entire uniform mocked up in less than half an hour and then probably spent another hour adding detail work to it. On some of the other stuff I have worked on, particularly when I am not using a template and going for maximum realism, I can spend hours on a single helmet. Recently someone asked me to do a jersey swap, putting Justin Herbert in a full Bucs uni. That was probably 6+ hours.

UW: Looking at the designs we’re about to see below, I note you’re pretty “traditional” in your designs, but with a “modern” touch. Have you ever done anything really crazy, or do you prefer to go with the “classics”?

GO: I think that is just my aesthetic. Uni Watch and their affection for traditional design is partly to blame, I’m sure! I think it is also indicative of the trends in sports in general, particularly college football. It seems we are seeing more and more schools look towards their history when designing uniforms, and I really hope that trend continues. It probably helps that arguably 22 out of the 24 teams that have made the CFB playoffs have had fairly traditional uniforms. I think the idea that you need to be crazy with your uniforms to recruit young athletes is looking more and more like a myth.

That being said, it wouldn’t be creative on my end to just go “here is a straight throwback, here is a straight throwback, here is a…” The challenge of trying to create something new forces me to implement that modern touch, and I think that balancing act is fun to play with. I have certainly gotten way out over my skis with some designs in terms of their craziness, but I usually manage to dial them back in towards something that at least has a touch of familiarity to it.

UW: Where can we see more of your work? Do you have a website or blog? We can obviously follow you on twitter @sportsPSD but do you have any other social media presence(s)?

GO: No sir, just Twitter!

UW: Great! Thanks, Gus — let’s take a look at some of your work and your descriptions! (You can click on the images below to enlarge.)

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This one started the retro/80’s feel of a lot of these concepts. I saw that terrific Arizona logo, and putting the uniform together took me about 20 minutes. It was in my head immediately before I could even put it down in photoshop. Went with the old school Nike logo to fit the era of the logo. Once I was done with this one, I started searching for more logos from that era.

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This was a collaboration with Ray Haener (@rayhaener). He reached out asking what I could do for an Oregon Rose Bowl concept, and this is what we came up with after a bit of back and forth. He really liked the throwbacks Oregon wore a few years ago, so I took that as my basic inspiration for the color scheme. I created a new interlocking UO logo based off of their current jersey number font (the only logo I actually created for this project) and stuck to their current uni design for the body. Threw a subtle rose pattern on the sleeve caps, and called it a day.

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Another that was inspired from the logo. They used this W with a husky on top from 79-94. I started out with an LSU-type color scheme, Green Bay gold helmet and pants, purple jersey, but looking back at that time frame realized they have never really worn GB Gold in football. Instead I decided to give them a classic stripe pattern and gold numbers with white outline mirroring the W from the logo. I think the heavy metallic sheen of the gold accents throughout help it pop. Sticking with the retro logo theme, I went with the old-school Adidas logo.

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A design based off their severely underutilized 1979-1984 UF logo. Initially this was a much wilder design, with orange numbers, blue pants and an orange facemask. Talking with @GatorsUnis on twitter, he helped walk me back a bit into color schemes that the Gators have traditionally worn, but with a modern twist. The helmet logo was an easy transition into shoulder caps, and other than that, kept it pretty clean. Old-school Jordan wing logo to throw it back to the correct era.

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[You can see the helmets in action here — PH]

I can’t decide if I love or hate this design. @Chiefsums asked me on Twitter what I would do for a fauxback utilizing the Tigers’ 1988-1989 helmet decal, which connected in the back a la the Seahawks, on a matte gray helmet. Those two stripes formed the basis of the entire design. The unique shoulder striping came out of a lot of failed efforts to get an M design from the stripes. If you look at the bottom of the stripes, you can see there is a slight M effect, which I think is a kind of cool subtle touch. It ended up having kind of an 80’s blocky graphic vibe, which fits what I was going for as well. The jersey number font is what Memphis currently utilizes now, I thought it was a simple way to maintain a connection to present day. Throwback Nike to top it off.

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This was actually the first college fauxback I created. It came about from a simple request on Twitter from @grnbaybadger, asking for a Wisconsin alternate, design entirely up to me. I went through and found a beautiful old script logo and used that as my inspiration. In addition, I used the center cross from the flag of Madison, Wisconsin as an accent motif. I went cream instead of white, as a tribute to Wisconsin being “America’s Dairyland”.

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Montana State:

This one is the closest to home for me. I live in Bozeman, Montana and am a massive Bobcats fan. I originally came up with this concept a couple years ago, but dusted it off for this Uni Watch submission. With the exception of West Point and Annapolis, no football team incurred more casualties than Montana State during WWII, despite our relatively small size. Fourteen players lost their lives, the Bobcats’ “Golden Ghosts”. Thought I would try a throwback/tribute uni recognizing them.

Went as close as I could to a true throwback. Each position group would wear the WWII patch of a fallen player.

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This was by request of Kevin Bomberger (@bombschnizzle). We tried countless tweaks to this uniform, and in the end, realized that we shouldn’t mess with what works. Therefore, it leans heavily on the Saints’ color rush/throwback uniforms. The white top is nearly identical to the Saints color rush, but we went with old gold pants and entirely black shoulder numbers. Kevin and I disagreed with our favorite away uniform pants/socks combo, he preferred keeping the pants and black socks identical to the home set. I thought the white balanced it out a bit better. The home uni is essentially the away uni, stripped of white, except the shoulder numbers, which I think would really make them pop on an actual uniform. The helmet logo is an old school seal that Kevin passed along to me.

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Wow! Great stuff, Gus, and thanks not only for sharing the concepts but also the interview. I’ll say this: the Saints need to use your Boilermaker designs IMMEDIATELY. How great would that look both on Purdue AND New Orleans????

OK, readers, what say you?

The Natty

Earlier in the week, a guy by the name of Austin Pendergist (@apthirteen) tweeted at me several awesome info-graphics on the Twitter concerning Monday night’s National Championship game between the Tigers (LSU Tigers vs. Clemson Tigers). It’s great stuff, so I’m going to repost his tweets here in order. Dig:

Pretty great stuff, right? Thanks, Austin!

Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017, and more recently, in August of 2018.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

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Title: “El Matty Negro”
Subject: José Méndez, 1910
Medium: Oil on linen mounted to board
Size: 9″ x 12″

This painting of the great José Méndez is based off of his 1910 Punch Cigarro baseball card, which is quite a rare treasure. I believe only two examples are known to have survived the last 100 years, which is a miracle considering how condition sensitive it is. Being a Cuban-only issue only complicates matters, as the weather and tiny creatures are both known to wreak havoc on things made out of paper. The set as a whole is an absolute beauty with its photography, and interestingly enough, relatively unknown to most baseball card collectors. To learn more about it, my buddy Al made a video showcasing some of the top cards from the set (all of which he owns), as well as giving an explanation as to its genesis.

The image of the Méndez is without a doubt my favorite, both of the set and of him. There’s something in his eyes here – something intangible – that just has a presence. If you’ve ever heard the notion that good portraits will look at you from every angle of the room they’re in, this particular image is a prime example. I’ve heard the same said about da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and call me a heretic, but I’d put this one in her company.

I had already painted it once, as a small color study for the show at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (opening February 13, 2020), but late last year I felt it was time to do a fully realized version. With that, I was able to get into the expression on his face so much more than I had in the study. The texture of his jersey, too – all stuff I could do now that I was working on a canvas twice the size as the prior piece. And it was no easy feat to pull all of the visual information out of the image on the card, as it only measure about 1.5″ x 2″ or so.

But in the end, I think I was pretty successful in creating something that has a soul to it. And I really don’t often say stuff like this, but I think this painting just works.

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Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from tweeter Jason Axel Bowman.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.

And now a few words from Paul: Hi there. Here are a few reminders and announcements:

• In case you missed it on Wednesday, I’ve partnered with the great Todd Radom to create the Uni Watch Pin Club, which will feature a new limited-edition enamel pin design for each month of 2020. The January pin — a numbered edition of 350, about 115 of which have been sold so far — is now available, and you can get the full scoop on all the Pin Club particulars here.

• On Friday I announced the launch of some new Naming Wrongs shirts for the Summit in Houston. It’s available in red, white, and grey:

• In addition, today I’m happy to announce the launch of an additional pair of Naming Wrongs shirts, this time for the Madhouse on McDowell in Phoenix. This one’s available in purple and grey:

That’s it. Now back to Phil!

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

NFL News: You think the owner of this trailer spotted in Linden, N.J., is a big 49ers fan? (spotted by Greg Winson). … Speaking of the Niners, San Francisco’s Boudin Bakery made a delicious-looking, edible 49ers logo. … You’ve probably never seen the Texans’ helmet rendered with an old two-bar, but that’s what the Chiefs’ social media team did ahead of their Divisional Round game (from Andrew Julian).

College Football News: The Washington Post has a nice article about why both Clemson and LSU have “Tiger” mascots (from Tom Turner). … Baylor Watts notes that LSU and Clemson use the exact same Pantone shade of purple — Pantone 268 C. According to Baylor, this is the first time the National Championship Game featured two teams with an identical shade of a color since 2005, when USC and Oklahoma each had Pantone 201 C.

Hockey News: Charles Noerenberg remembered more blue collar bullshit (BCBS?), this Blackhawks pregame hype video from a few years ago. “I remember finding it laughable at the time,” he says. … Yesterday, Rush drummer Neil Peart died at 67. Reader Andy Zare sent along this blog post about one of Peart’s drum kits, covered in NHL team logos (also from Kurt Blumenau). … The Sabres honored their “expansion sib” the Canucks with a beautiful program cover featuring many of each team’s sweaters (from Steve May). … Speaking of the Canucks: they’re raffling off a gorgeous Year of the Rat sweater to celebrate the Lunar New Year. It even features the Cancuks’ famous skate logo, with the skate transformed into a rat! (from @Wafflebored). … Still more Canucks: the team still has fan mail slots for D Alex Biega and D Ben Hutton — both Biega and Hutton departed in the offseason (from James E. Siddall). … Denver wore throwbacks against St. Cloud State last night (from Oleg Kvasha). … Also from Oleg: Snoop Dogg got a Golden Knights sweater, and instead of a captain’s C on the upper chest, he got a gangsta’s G. Perfect. … The FPHL Columbus RiverDragons have unveiled their “Hometown Heroes” sweaters (from John Cerone).

NBA News: The All-Star Game jerseys may have leaked yesterday. I do love the six-pointed Chicago star as the primary mark if these are legit. … The Timberwolves shot T-shirts with this logo into the stands during Thursday night’s game. Anyone ever seen that before? (from @_hoot).

College/High School Hoops News: Colorado has revealed their throwbacks, based on their 1967 designs (from Kary Klismet). … Derek Linn has a couple of Indiana high school basketball updates: new center court logo for Kokomo High and Roncali High has built a new gym, and the local broadcasters wore vintage blazers for the last game in the old one.

Soccer News: Boca Juniors long-leaked new kits have finally been officially unveiled (from Ed Żelaski). … Also from Ed: Cagliari Calcio have a new centenary kit. … Everton are dumping Umbro as their kit supplier for Hummel (from Josh Hinton). … The rest of Josh’s daily download can be found on his Twitter feed. … The University of Maryland is getting a new soccer stadium (from Kary Klismet).

Grab Bag: The Atlantic has an article about a trend I noticed when I was in school — why some kids wear shorts all winter (from Jason Hillyer). … Walker Valley High School in Tennessee will unveil its new logo on Monday (after previously teasing a partial version) to replace current logo sets that closely resemble those of college teams (from Kary Klismet). … New logos for The Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Center. … Golfer Michelle Wie announced she was pregnant by posting a Nike onesie to social media. Sigh (from Chris Perrentot).

And Finally…

Earlier this week, my mom, who is almost eighty-six years young, fell in her home and broke her hip (this comes just three months after she had [scheduled] knee surgery), so I’ve spent much of the past three days at the hospital. The good news is the surgery to put a rod in her hip was successful, and her surgically repaired knee was unaffected by the fall. The bad news, of course, is that she is 85 and she fell and broke her hip. After three days in the hospital, she’s scheduled to be moved to a rehabilitation facility later today. So I ask you guys to say a little prayer for her if you can.

Paul has been great and offered to let me take the weekend off, but I’d already had this post pretty much planned out, so I crammed as much as I could into it — I will be taking tomorrow (Sunday) off, however — I’m not sure if Paul, who’s down in Florida with the Tugboat Captain, will be able to pinch hit for me or if we’ll just end up with a “snow day.” Hopefully there was enough content today to hold you over till the Natty on Monday ;).

Sorry about this.

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ON ANOTHER NOTE: Jimmer Vilk — who once again offered up some sweet swag during this past Very Merry Vilkmas – 2019, informed me that all of the prizes were mailed out yesterday, so the lucky winners should watch their mailboxes next week! Thanks again, Jim.

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That’s all for this weekend for me, folks. Everyone have a good weekend — enjoy the NFL games today and tomorrow and of course, the National Championship game Monday night — I GUARANTEE A WIN BY THE TIGERS. Take it to the bank. Catch you guys next weekend.



Uni Watch DIY Project: Resurrecting an Old Football Helmet

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Brian Gunter, who’s going to fill us in on his fascinating hobby of transforming old football helmets into new ones. Enjoy. — PL]

By Brian Gunter

I have an unusual hobby: I find old football helmets and recondition them to look like a new helmet of a particular team. It’s fun to do, and they make great gifts (I once had a groom ask me to make UGA helmets for all five groomsmen). All in all, I’ve done over 60 of them over the past seven years.

The first step, obviously, is to acquire the helmet. I start by buying used, scratched, beat-up helmets on eBay. I stick to adult large sizes, because that’s what most of the available logo decals are sized for. Early on, I could get a relatively nice helmet for about $20; now it costs more. I try to stick to the Schutt XP line, because most other helmet models have so many cavities, vent holes, and so on. that I can’t sand them as thoroughly as I’d like and therefore can’t get the spit-shined look I’m after.

Once I have the helmet, I need the proper paint color for the team whose look I’m re-creating. I have almost always used rattle spray cans from Home Depot or Walmart. There are enough flavors that I can do many different teams. However, there are some teams that have custom-mixed colors, including LSU, North Carolina, Green Bay, and Clemson. Home Depot at one time had a program called Team Colors, which had all of the NFL and the major college conferences’ correct colors. But they could only mix it in latex (the rattle cans are enamel, which cures harder than latex). So to deal with the latex, I bought a power-sprayer. The latex cures much faster and sands more easily, but it doesn’t form as strong a bond on the primed shells. Also, you need to be careful about decal placement, because if you peel it back a bit to adjust the positioning, the latex paint may give way.

Then I’ll need the proper logo decals. These are all over eBay (there are tons of people doing this kind of thing). Once I have the helmet, the proper paint color, and the logo decals, it’s time to begin the reconditioning process.

First, I remove the facemask, the interior padding, and all of the hardware used for the mask and the chin straps. Then I use a heat gun, some Goof-Off, and some razor blades to remove all of the decals, warning stickers, award stickers, and so on.

Next, I’ll sand the entire shell. I’ll use mostly medium grit, 100-120. If there are some pretty deep gouges, then I may spot-use 80 grit. But the entire shell gets the 120 grit, if for no other reason than to lightly scratch the glossy surface so the primer will adhere better.

After rinsing the helmet to remove any debris, I’ll apply the first coat of primer, most often Rust-Oleum Filler Primer. I’ll let this first coat dry completelym, and this will reveal all of the scratches, pit holes, etc. I then use a liquid resin from Turtle Wax (made for automotive painting) to fill in every single scratch, gouge or pit hole.

Once the resin dries, I’ll do a second application to make sure everything will be “flat” when I sand again. Then I do another major sand job, using mostly 120 grit to level out the surface, and then a once over with 220 grit.

Another rinse and then the final primer coat, which should be relatively smooth. If so, I’ll then mask off any interior Velcro (used to adhere the padding) and the snaps for the jaw pads, and then I’ll prime and paint the helmet’s interior. Then I’ll wet-sand the exterior primer coat with 400 grit so I can start with a very smooth surface for the paint.

For the painting, I built a very rudimentary paint booth in my workshop. Very rinky-dink, but mostly effective.

I’ll apply a full can of spray color, which usually ends up being about a dozen coats — very light coats at first, then gradually building. The reason for so many coats is that when I wet sand the cured shell, I do not want to sand through the color.

The paint must then be allowed to cure. If the paint is not fully cured when you start to sand, the layers will start to roll up and you’ll have to start all over again, which means using a paint scraper to remove a dozen coats of paint down to the prime layer. The curing can take up to two weeks, maybe longer for Rust-Oleum enamel. To help shorten the process, I built a little warming box with an air filter on one end and a computer cooling fan on the other to move the air through the box. I lined the interior of the box with heavy duty aluminum foil and installed two light bulb ceramics — one 100-watt incandescent and one 150-watt incandescent — to provide heat to the moving air.

This can cut down the cure time about in half, so I usually keep the shell in the curing box for perhaps a week.

After the paint has cured, the goal is to make the surface as flat as possible, like glass, so the reflections will be sharp. A dimpled surface yields diffused reflections. I’ll start the wet sanding with 400 grit, then 600, 1000, 1500, 2000, and then 3000. I should end up with a very smooth surface, but it will be dull, so then I polish it with 3M Finishing Compound, using a foam bonnet on a radial buffer.

There will always be some very small areas that aren’t perfectly flat so the reflections aren’t exactly pin-sharp, so I’ll then apply about a dozen or more layers of clear coat — Rust-Oleum Gloss Clear enamel. After three more days in the curing box, another round of wet sanding all the way to 3000 grit, and another polish, I should have the finish that I want.

Now it’s time to apply the decals. First are the stripes, if the team uses them. I use the vent holes as a guide to make sure the stripes are centered.

I’ll then install the facemask, so I can align the other decals to the mask. I’ll download several photographs of the team’s helmet in actual use and use them as a guide for positioning the decals relative to the facemask, the ear holes, and so on. I make an actual-sized print of the decals on heavy duty printing paper, cut the copy to match the decal outline, and use this as a template to place the decal. Using blue painter’s tape (so it will not leave any residue), I’ll apply the template and adjust it to where it needs to be. I’ll then mark the corners or any other noticeable place on the template and transfer these marks to the helmet using little arrows I’ve cut from the painter’s tape. Then off with the template and, placing the marked corners of the actual decal to the arrows on the helmet, I’ll apply the decals, making sure that I squeegee all of the air out from under the decals with my fingers.

I’ll then apply the remaining decals — the warning label, the flag, the conference shield, any numbers, any award decals, the front and rear bumper decals, and so on.

The last step is to reassemble the interior padding. Done!


Paul here. Man — that is a seriously intense amount of work! Big thanks to Brian for his devotion to his craft, and for sharing it with us!

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Click to enlarge

New MLS font: Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that MLS would have a new NOB/number font to commemorate the league’s 25th season. It was supposed to be revealed in February, but we ended up getting our first look at it yesterday, thanks to FC Cincinnati’s announcement that they’d acquired forward Yuya Kubo.

Obviously, I’m a total dummy when it comes to soccer, but I really like this font — especially the letters, and especially-especially the “O.” Nicely done! (Now all of you soccer fans can tell me why I’m wrong and how I obviously don’t know jackshit about this sport — which is true! Go for it.)

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Blue collar bullshit, continued: The Giants yesterday introduced new head coach Joe Judge, who quickly established himself as the sports world’s latest Working Class Wannabe™ by declaring, “I want this team to reflect this area. That is blue collar. It’s hard work. It’s in your face. We’re not gonna back down from anybody. We’re gonna come to work every day and grind it out the way they do in their jobs every day.”

As I’ve written several times now — beginning in 2017 and as recently as last week — this is part of the sports world’s ongoing fetishizing of the working class, which lately seems to be eclipsing the military fetish as the sports world’s favorite role model.

When I’ve written about this before, some readers have pushed back, saying that there’s nothing wrong with honoring the work ethic of blue collar workers. I agree with that, at least to a degree. (I add the qualifier because there are lots of hard-working people — and also lots of very lazy people, for that matter — at every level of employment.) The problem, though, is that the sports world isn’t “honoring” anything here. Are they throwing a “Living Wage Night” promotion? No. Are they offering discounted tickets to union members? No. I mean, think about it: When Judge talked about “blue collar” workers, he wasn’t honoring those workers — he was honoring himself. He was essentially saying, “You know all those hard-working auto mechanics and construction workers and truck drivers and factory workers? I’m just like them. And our team is going to be just like them.”

But that’s somewhere between a fantasy and a patronizing caricature. Judge and his team may work every bit as hard as the hardest-working day laborer, but they have advantages that the day laborer doesn’t have (and will likely never have). When Judge and his players finish their hard day of toil, for example, they can soak in the Jacuzzi and be tended to by a staff of professional trainers, masseuses, and therapists; they have 24/7 access to first-rate medical care; they never have to worry about making rent or paying their mortgage; they don’t have to worry about the cost of day care or whether their kids are in a good school; they don’t have to worry about the price of gas or car repairs; they don’t have to worry that their pay will be docked if they miss work due to a doctor’s appointment or a family emergency; they don’t have to wonder what their work hours will be from week to week; they don’t have to worry about going bankrupt if they lose their job; and they don’t have worry that they might have to work until they drop because they’ll never save enough for a comfortable retirement.

I’m not saying pro athletes and coaches don’t deserve any of those perks. They’re elite professionals who are literally the very best in the world at what they do. But you can’t live that kind of life and then try to invoke the term “blue collar.” That’s just piggybacking on the perceived “values” of the working class without having to confront any of the real-world challenges of actually being working class. It’s a class-based version of stolen valor. (At least Judge didn’t engage in class-based cosplay by dressing up like an auto mechanic.)

Radical idea: Just say you’re gonna be a rough, tough, physical football team and skip the blue collar bullshit — especially since real blue collar workers can’t even afford NFL ticket prices.

Update: Just as I finished writing this section, reader Griffin Smith informed me that the Alabama basketball team routinely uses #BlueCollarBasketball as a social media hashtag and awards a construction hardhat to a player after each win (I guess lunch pails were unavailable):

Seriously? Twitter-er @Turtleman12347 then informed me that this is nothing new for Alabama coach Nate Oats, who previously coached at Buffalo. And sure enough, Oats’s Wikipedia entry includes the following:

Since taking over as Buffalo head coach, Oats added what the story called “a blue-collar element to his program that reflects Buffalo itself” — the coaching staff charts what it calls “blue-collar points,” defined as any play that contributes to a win but is not recorded in a traditional box score, with examples including but not limited to pass deflections and taking charges. The player with the most such points in a given game receives a construction helmet.

I guess the blue collar thing now “reflects Alabama itself,” eh?

Look, I totally get that selflessness and hard work are worthwhile values. But surely there must be way to teach those values without turning the realities of blue collar life into an oversimplified cartoon.

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Naming Wrongs update: We had a few requests for Naming Wrongs shirts for the Summit in Houston, and designer Scott Turner absolutely knocked this one out of the park (yes, I’m mixing my sports metaphors there). It’s available in red, white, and grey.

You can see the full range of Naming Wrongs shirts here.

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Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, I’ve partnered with the great Todd Radom to create the Uni Watch Pin Club, which will feature a new limited-edition enamel pin design for each month of 2020. It’s a really fun project, and I’m super-excited to be collaborating with Todd on it.

The January pin — a numbered edition of 350, over 100 of which have been sold in the first two days — is now available, and you can get the full scoop on all the Pin Club particulars here.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

’Skins Watch: An Idaho state legislator plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit school districts from changing their mascots or team names. The legislation is in response to an Idaho school that decided last summer to stop calling its teams the Redskins (from Brad Iverson-Long).

Baseball News: These Royals St. Paddy’s Day caps are now on sale at the Royals’ team store. All MLB teams will probably have a similar template (from @rich59fifty). … Paul, avert your eyes: The Orioles lit up the Eutaw Street warehouse in purple to support the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens in this weekend’s playoff game against the Titans (from Josh Lake). … New unis for UW-Green Bay softball (from @The_Real_Kub).

NFL News: Cross-listed from the baseball section: MLB’s Baltimore Orioles lit up the Eutaw Street warehouse in purple to support the Ravens in their upcoming playoff game against the Titans (from Josh Lake).

Hockey News: Back in December, the NHLPA conducted an interview with Devils D PK Subban, in which Subban revealed that he wears No. 76 because he was drafted in the sixth round in 2007 (from Mike Engle). … The Predators will be making some sort of announcement — maybe uni-related? — today, and it looks like it may be that they’ll be wearing their Winter Classic uni on the 18th (from @Kgun716). … During last night’s Jeopardy! game, James Holzhauer, who lives in Las Vegas, wrote his name a with Golden Knights theme (from Griffin T. Smith). … The ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies will wear these sweaters for their “Guns n’ Hoses” night, honoring first responders (from Mike Lucia). … The Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL have some stunning throwbacks coming down the pike (from Jim Wooley).

Hoops News: Last night the Thunder debuted their black alternate uniforms, which were designed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing (from @ratmfoo). … Western Kentucky men unveiled new alternate uniforms yesterday (from Zach Greenwell and Jonathan Hart). … UNC and NC State women went color vs. color in Chapel Hill last night (from Mike Miller). … With more and more college players rolling the legs of their shorts, ESPN had a graphic showing the evolution of college basketball shorts length (from Timmy Donahue). … BYU and St. Mary’s went blue vs. red last night.

Soccer News: An LAFC fan who works for UPS made his own brown version of the team’s cap so he could wear it with his UPS uniform (from Greg Phillips and John Flory). … The following are all from Josh Hinton: Louisville City is retaining its old badge for 2020 after their new one was scrapped after three days due to fan backlash. The team still wants a new badge for 2021. … Mexican side Morelia have unveiled their new third kit. Make sure you’re wearing sunglasses. … Barcelona and Atlético Madrid played in the Supercopa de España yesterday, and both clubs wore the competition’s logo in the center of their chests. Barcelona, as the holders of the cup, wore it in gold.

Grab Bag: The 2020 Continental Cup of Curling started yesterday. Here are the unis for Team Canada and Team Europe (from Wade Heidt). … NASCAR’s Chip Ganassi Racing revealed two new liveries on one car (from @waynetm41). … The Sydney Thunder cricket team will wear indigenous-themed kits against Hobart Hurricanes. This is the first time that I know of that a cricket team has adopted an indigenous kit, which is a trend that’s common in Aussie rugby union, rugby league, and AFL (from E. P. Conrad).

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Raffle results: The winner of yesterday’s raffle is Joal Kjarsgaard, who’s won himself a complimentary Uni Watch membership. Congrats to him, and thanks to reader Tyler Haney for sponsoring this one.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Florida, where the Tugboat Captain and I will spend a few days visiting her parents. I’ll check in from there on Monday. Have a great weekend, and go Niners! — Paul