Sunday, May 27, 2012

Auction Gold - Forrest Gregg's 1959 Blanket

Another gem comes to us from the current MEARS auction:

1959 Forrest Gregg Green Bay Packers Personal 54" x 60" Blanket

Vince Lombardi dubbed Forrest Gregg as the best player he ever coached. It was the Gregg who pried open holes as Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung received the praise.

Sourced directly from Gregg is this blanket honoring his performance in 1959. "GREEN BAY PACKERS" and a football are centered on front. A swatch has "Forest Gregg '59" chainstitched on the lower right corner. A few minor stains and minor hole (near name swatch) are the only qualifications.
Amazing. I wonder how often these were issued to players?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Take a Knee (Pad)

News from the NFL Owners' meeting that the league will mandate thigh and knee pads for all players, beginning with the 2013 season. The NFLPA is objecting to the rule being implemented outside of collective bargaining, but that seems overly political to me.

The thigh pads were very prominent in the mannequins at Nike's unveiling event, but I didn't think they'd actually require players to wear them.

The easy snark is that "knee pads will do soooo much to prevent concussions", but this seems to me to be consistent with the NFL's overall goals so far. There is no inconsistency in stressing player safety while exploring an 18-game season; in fact, the former is a prerequisite to the latter.

I do worry, though, that it's a step in the wrong direction. Adding body armor is what got the NFL into the situation it is now, and for years I've been arguing that the solution is to reduce padding, not increase it. Then again, I'm not terribly sympathetic to the union's concerns, considering how many former players are currently suing the league over the NFL's ignoring safety concerns, and how many current players continue to demonstrate their profound objections to the ongoing safety concerns.

At the very least, mandating knee pads will end the biker-shorts look that many receivers, notably Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, have been wearing in recent years:

UPDATE 5/23/12:   Paul Lukas reminds me of this excellent article by Stephen Fatsis on the reasons behind players abandoning pads.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In Case You Doubted That It's Still "EQUIPMENT"

As the first images start trickling out of the rookie training camps, eagle-eye uni spotters have noticed that the rooks' jerseys still bear the "NFL EQUIPMENT" patch, worn on all gamers since 2002 but mercifully retired as part of the transition to Nike as the exclusive league-wide uniform supplier.

Jim Biever,

I presumed that meant they were wearing old Reebok jerseys in camp. It's a fairly common custom to recycle old practice gear It's not unheard of to keep game uniforms around after a supplier switch; for years after the Packers moved from Starter to Nike in 1997, Brett Favre continued to wear his old Starter cold-weather jersey with the manufacturer's logo covered up.

Paul Lukas asked Nike about these patches, and received the following response from publicist Brian Strong:
"The NFL shield is reserved for anything worn on gameday (including uniform, sideline, etc). The NFL Equipment logo is placed on anything worn outside of gameday (training, practice, workouts, lifting, etc). So what you’re seeing in training camp is definitely not old inventory."
Sure, he can say that, and maybe that's generally the case around the league, but not in Green Bay. Check out this photo of outside linebacker Dezman Moses with coach Kevin Greene:

Jim Biever,

Moses is clearly wearing a reconditioned jersey, with the Reebok vector logo covered up:

Although I'd rather that the "NFL EQUIPMENT" logo had just been retired, it's good to know the NFL's official rules for its display.

Friday, May 11, 2012

More on Those Washington Helmets

Hydro Graphics, Inc. has confirmed that they were responsible for Washington's throwback helmets. They posted these pictures to their Facebook page:

You can really get a sense of the texture.

I wonder how this trompe-l'œil will appear in person. It's certainly more visually interesting than the solid glossy brown helmets: I worry that it could look overly artificial and silly in person, though. We'll have to see in a game.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

But Can They Do Pleather?

The Washington Redskins have unveiled throwback uniforms to celebrate their 80th Anniversary:
Washington Redskins
This is worth our notice for the unique faux-leather treatment they've given the helmet:

Helmet treatments have been the bane of NFL throwbacks since the first ones were rolled out in 1994. When throwing back to an era before helmet logos and striping, the standard conceit has been to wear a plain, unadorned shell:

The originals look great, but the modern interpretations look unfinished and awkward. The rich texture of the leather is missing.

In an earlier post, I proposed a different approach to the blank brown shells with gray facemasks. Perhaps, I thought, if they added some subtle shading, a slightly darker shade of brown, it might hint at the old leather strips:

This takes my approach to its logical conclusion, and fixes what I think is the biggest problem with leather helmet-era throwback uniforms.

The Redskins didn't specify, but that leather-like finish is undoubtedly the work of Hydro Graphics Inc., Nike's standard supplier of custom finishes. HGI has already created helmets for the Giants in the last Super Bowl and commemorative helmets for the outgoing Jaguars owners.

Shame that we won't be seeing the Packers' throwback blues this season, but if and when they return for 2013, I expect that we'll see their helmets outfitted with a similar finish.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Packers Heritage Trail

For all the Packers' long and glorious history, the team's earliest still remain something of a mystery to fans. Even the team itself gets the details wrong. That can be attributed in part to the NFL's general myopia concerning anything before Super Bowl I, and in part to a lack of accessible information about the Packers' first five decades.

That all changed yesterday.

Detail from a slide shown during a presentation on the Packers Heritage Trail, a new walking tour of historic Packers sites in Green Bay, at the Neville Public Museum on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
Yesterday, plans for the new "Packers Heritage Trail" were unveiled at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay.

The trail is the brainchild of Cliff Christl, former Green Bay Press-Gazette and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer. Christl, who covered the Packers from 1974-2007, just might know more about the team's history than anyone alive.

The walking trail will incorporate 22 bronze plaques over a 4½ mile path commemorating significant locations in Packer history, spanning the eras from Curly Lambeau to Vince Lombardi.

Images of the plaques have also been released:

This looks amazing. I can't wait to check it out.

UPDATE:   the signs are being installed:

D.J. Folkman of Lawrence-based Jones Sign on Wednesday finishes installing a 180-pound brass plaque as part of the Packers Heritage Trail Foundation at the Green Bay Press-Gazette offices, 435 E. Walnut St. The plaque is one of 22 to be displayed as part of on the Packers Heritage Trail in Green Bay that cover Packers history. The Press-Gazette plaque notes that Andrew Turnbull, one of the original Press-Gazette owners, served as the Packers first president from 1923 to 1927.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bart and the Proto-G

What the heck is going on here?

Reader Jeff Flynn, Jr. sent this photo into Uni Watch this morning. That is, of course, the legendary Bart Starr wearing a leather helmet adorned with a very different "G" emblem than the one we're used to.

White with a narrow green outline, no background oval, the logo bears (if you will) a distinct resemblance to Chicago's "wishbone C" logo.

Was this a prototype, worked up by Dad Braisher before he created the now-iconic helmet logo? I'll see what I can find. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How Nike Sees the Packers

These are Nike's renderings of the Packers' 2012 uniforms, taken right from the manufacturer's style guide.

Do those front numbers look a little small to anyone else?

The throwback blues are included in the style guide, although the Packers have announced that they will not be worn this season.

Here's where we get our first surprise: white swooshes. The Reebok vector was always gold on their versions:

I presume that they will be available at retail, even if not worn on the field, so we'll have confirmation soon enough.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Number 53 in Your Program, Number One in Your Hearts"

The Packers have made it official - first round draft pick Nick Perry will wear number fifty-three.

Like most players taken in the first round, he was originally photographed with a #1 jersey:

Stanford's Andrew Luck is the exception; the Colts had come to an agreement with him before the draft and therefore he could stand on the Radio City stage holding up the #12 that will define his career in Indianapolis.