Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Donald Driver, Then and Now in Nike

Reader Ben H sends in this interesting tidbit:
I think it’s worth noting that Donald Driver is the only packer player to don both Nike versions of the packer uniform.

That was a long period in between 2000-2012 before switching back to Nike.
It's a great catch, and he's right. Driver's long career is bookended by the two Nike uniform contracts, one with the Packers alone (1997-2000, Driver started playing in 1999) and now with the NFL as a whole (2012).

Here he is an early season:

And earlier this year:

Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver catches a touchdown pass in front of Chicago Bears' Chris Conte (47) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Thanks, Ben!

Friday, October 26, 2012

NBA: No Ads. For Now.

We now have multiple reports that the NBA has shelved its plan to sell ad space on team jerseys, a plan that many of us rightly see as the tip of the camel's nose under the tent.

Paul Lukas explains it in this Q&A at Uni Watch:
Does this mean the uni advertising initiative is officially dead?
No. According to Darren Rovell’s story, linked in the first graf, the owners "put off" or "tabled" the program because "they needed more time to study it." So the whole thing could be revived later on.

When will that be?
There’s no indication of that so far.

The plan was originally supposed to go into effect next season — a year from now. Could that still happen?
I doubt it. The final vote to approve the plan was originally supposed to take place in September. We’re now about to enter November, and the additional time to “study” the plan will likely push things into the new year. Even if they worked out the kinks by early 2013, I don’t think they’d have enough time to implement the plan by the start of the 2013-14 season. For one thing, it was widely reported a few months ago that the ad patches would go where the NBA logo is now positioned, which would force them to move the NBA logo to the rear neckline (like on MLB jerseys). That may seem like a small change, but it actually has implications that ripple throughout the uni-supply pipeline, from manufacturing to retail. And as you know, uniform changes, even small ones, need to be set up well in advance. I just don’t see them getting their shit together in time to launch this initiative next season.

What about the season after that?
That makes more sense. Stern, who opposes uniform advertising (but said he wouldn’t "stand in the way of it"), will officially step down in February of 2014. His replacement, Adam Silver, is the guy who was directing the uni advertising program, so that should tell you the scent in the wind. If they choose to go ahead with this plan, it would seem plausible for them to get started at the outset of the 2014-15 season — Silver’s first full season as commissioner. It would be a strong way for him to put his personal stamp on the league, to show that he’s not Stern.

But again, that’s if the owners resolve their differences and concerns and decide they want to go ahead with it. As Rovell and I have both reported, they’ve hit some speed bumps, and it’s not yet clear how, or if, they’ll deal with them.

Rovell’s article says they were worried about endorsement conflicts, but last week you said the big problem was that the owners couldn’t agree on how to divvy up the cash. Who’s right?

I suspect we’re both right. The two claims certainly aren’t mutually exclusive.
Regardless of the "why", this is a victory. Let's just hope it's not a temporary one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Home Sweet Home Away from Home

Oct 21, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Alex Green (20) carries the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-US PRESSWIRE
Yes, you read that correctly. Those are our Packers.

In St. Louis.

Wearing their green home jerseys.

As the home team, the Rams had their choice of jerseys. Some southern teams like to wear white at home early in the season, and of course the Cowboys wear white at home for every game. But the Rams, being neither in Dallas or an outdoor team, traditionally wear navy blue for home games. This time, however, they notified the Packers that they'd need to pack the greens. Which led to this scene in the visitors' tunnel:

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers runs out of the tunnel before the start of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
So what happened?

St. Louis is playing the Patriots in London next week as part of the NFL's "International Series". The Rams are the designated home team, so they will be wearing blue, and have reportedly already shipped their uniforms to Wembley.

Paul Lukas reports that the Packers brought their white jerseys along with the green, "just in case there was some sort of snafu".

Green Bay Packers fans watch from the stands during the first quarter of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
And if you watched the game, you probably noticed the large contingent of Packer fans that took over the dome. The shouts of "KUUUUUUUUUHN!" were deafening.

From the crowd noise to the uniforms, St. Louis was Lambeau Field South this past Sunday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The NFL's Pink-out is a Total Scam

I've tried to give the NFL the benefit of the doubt with its annual month-long pink promotion. Sure, I said, it needlessly sells out the uniforms' aesthetic integrity. Sure, it's a large exercise in look-at-me altruism. But at least the money goes to a good place, right?


According to a Business Insider article, the NFL actually pockets almost all of the money raised by selling pink merchandise. Ninety-five percent, to be precise.
"If the pink products have a typical 100% mark-up at retail, that means the NFL is keeping 90% of the profit from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness gear," author Cork Gaines wrote. "And then consider that only 70.8% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs. So, for every $100 in sales of pink gear, only $3.54 is going towards research while the NFL is keeping approximately $45 (based on 100% mark-up)."
And there are plenty of those pink products. Nearly a thousand available on the NFL's online shop, as I write this.

Yes, it's a good thing that the NFL, as it likes to tell us, has raised $3 million for the American Cancer Society since 2009. But just think of how much money it could have donated if they weren't so busy lining its own pockets with all those pink dollars.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

1950s Clear Shell Packer Helmet, Cont'd.

Reader Jeff Fedenko chimes in to help solve our clear-shell helmet mystery.

Jeff writes:
The early Riddell plastic was called 'Tenite' which not only yellowed with time as you stated but it was also quite flexible and in fact Riddell sold a "shoe tree-like" object to help them keep their shape when not in use. Riddell soon switched to a stronger/firmer plastic called Kralite but it was no longer a clear shell instead it was an impregnated (colored) plastic.

Marietta and MacGregor did not use tenite plastic. Mac used a plastic called Merlon for their 100MH model clear shell and I believe Marietta used a plastic called Lexan for their clear shell. Your are also correct in that Bill Kelley and his partners bought out rights to the MacGregor helmets but it was around 1974/5 and relauched in about 1975/76. BTW, part of the reason Mac sold out to Kelley was because they had a terrible time filling the orders and maintaining the warranties on their 100MH model as it often cracked. Bill Kelley strengthened the edges of the shell on the 100MH and had less cracking problems but did not eliminate them completely.

Marietta, which as you said was a much thicker shell and didn't have the same fragility to them as the Mac/Kelley but they were extremely heavy (especially compared to canvas suspension helmets).

Finally, in regards to Riddell's purchase of MaxPro I believe that the Riddell XL shell used for their (now outdated) VSR 4 helmets, which is still worn most famously by Tom Brady, is in fact a MaxPro/Kelley shell.

BTW, in response to your initial question about the Packers helmet I would agree that the time line is accurate (Riddell introduced the Kralite plastic in 1954 and stopped making the Tenite in 1953) so it is definitely possible but I have no hard evidence. Although that evidence should be relatively easy to find as the clear shells appear to have what I call an 'effervescence' to them, (especially compared to impregnated or painted helmets) in the photos for both B&W and color.

Hope that helps.
Boy, does it ever. Thanks, Jeff!

I know less about this period than most in the Packers' history, so help is especially welcome with this one.

I'll see what photographic evidence I can find from the period, 'effervescent' or otherwise. And if there's anyone else here who can help, you know what to do.

Monday, October 1, 2012

1950s Clear Shell Packer Helmet?

Reader "sl" sends in this query:
Just curious if you have ever seen a "clear shell" Riddell Packer helmet from the 50's era uniforms in person? I ran across a clear shell with the interior painted gold with a blue stripe (blue paint is in the mold). Just wondering if it could potentially be a Packer helmet.
A little background: When Riddell developed the first plastic-shell helmets in the late 1930s, the controversial new product was constructed out of clear plastic. Team-color paint was then applied from the inside, sometimes covered by a layer of gray primer. Later, as team logos became more common, they would also be applied to the shell from the inside before painting, preventing those team markings from being scratched off during game action.

One significant drawback, at least where the Riddell helmets were concerned, was that the plastic had the tendency to yellow over time, a discoloration which confounds researchers of the sport.

Other manufacturers soon followed, including Marietta and MacGregor. Marietta was known for its much thicker shell, less prone to yellowing. MacGregor was purchased and relaunched as Kelley in 1977, and Marietta was purchased by MaxPro in 1978. Those two companies, Kelley and MaxPro, were the two most notable manufacturers of clear-shell helmets in the 1970s and early 1980s. MaxPro eventually bought out Kelly in the early 1980s, consolidating the clear-shell market under one manufacturer. In 1991 MaxPro was sold to Riddell, bringing the story full-circle.

I do know that at least some Packers used Riddell helmets during this period. Given the blue color-impregnated stripe, it would resemble the coloring seen on quarterback Tobin Rote's 1954 Bowman card (right). The tendency of Riddell helmets to yellow means we can't be completely sure about the original color, but plausible options include white, silver, and gold. So again, it could well be.

I'd love to know if there's anybody out there who can answer sl's question. If you can provide any information, or need more from sl, send me an email or post a comment. And thanks—I always like a good mystery.