LeBron James shouts out Klay Thompson for college jersey retirement

It’ll never get old seeing the moments when game recognizes game. Especially when part of that game belongs to LeBron James.

Warriors guard Klay Thompson had an emotional day at his alma mater when his No.1 jersey was retired by Washington State on Saturday.

King James took to social media to give his sign of respect to Klay on the honor.

When one of the best recognizes you, it means something.

Over the years, the two have tipped their caps to one another. LeBron even jokingly (maybe not) tried to recruit Klay after he scored 43 points in a game right before Klay coincidentally would become a free agent.

Klay will be a Warrior for a long time after signing a max-contract with the team, so those hopes are lost, but it’s pretty obvious there are no hard feelings there.

He wasn’t the only one to show love for Klay.

Steph Curry was there acting like a proud papa for his longtime teammate as he watched Klay give his speech. And, of course, no Klay event is complete without some love from former Dub Zaza Pachulia.

Klay had a lot of support on a very important day.

Atlanta Falcons To Unveil New Uniforms In April

After 17 seasons in their current set, the Atlanta Falcons announced on Tuesday night they’ll unveil new uniforms in April.

Team owner and CEO Arthur Blank sent a letter to season ticket holders informing them of the looming changes.

“Time and again, we’ve heard you ask for new uniforms over the years,” Blank said. “We’ve listened to your feedback and worked closely with Nike and the NFL over the past two years to create a look that represents you and reflects Atlanta’s culture, pride and unity.”

The Falcons have worn red or black jerseys since their inception in 1966 with periods that included white, silver and/or black pants pants. The team also wore red helmets through the 1989 season — with thin gold stripes for the first four seasons to appease Georgia Tech fans who thought Atlanta looked too much like rival Georgia — but switched to black lids in 1990.

Atlanta went through a major rebrand ahead of the 2003 season that included a new logo and all-black uniforms with a unique sleeve design and piping down the pants. That look has remained, though the Falcons promoted the red alternate with white pants to the primary set one year later.

The team wore throwback uniforms on several different occasions in the last decade — most recently pairing their 1990s-era helmets with their 1966 throwback jersey and pants — in addition to an all-red Color Rush set in 2017. The clamoring for the throwback uniforms, as well as the recent trend of teams donning simpler uniforms, would suggest the Falcons will follow suit. It remains to be seen if they choose black or red helmets, however.

In addition to the uniforms, it appears Atlanta has slightly modified its wordmark. The header of the letter Blank sent to fans included a wordmark with a bolder and more condensed font than the previous wordmark, while the letter “T” no longer has a serif and — like the “O” — features an indented notch.

With the announcement, the Falcons will join the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams in unveiling new uniforms this spring.

Liverpool signs Nike deal to be official kit supplier starting in 2020-21; what will the uniforms look like?

The English giant is moving on from New Balance at the start of next season

Liverpool announced on Tuesday that it will move one from New Balance at the end of the season and begin a new partnership with Nike starting next season. The Oregon-based sportswear giant will supply the uniforms for the first team, women’s team, academy, staff and the club’s foundation starting in June. Here’s more from the team’s announcement:

Liverpool Football Club is delighted to announce Nike, the world’s leading footwear and apparel company, as its official kit supplier from the 2020-21 season.

The multi-year partnership, which begins on June 1, 2020, will see Nike manufacture and supply Liverpool FC’s playing, training and travel wear.

As official kit supplier, the agreement will see Nike outfitting the men’s, women’s and Academy squads, as well as coaching staff and Liverpool FC Foundation.

The partnership coincides with our move into a new, state-of-the-art training facility in Kirkby for the 2020-21 season, a project that includes investment in improved sport facilities for the local community.

Now, this isn’t really a surprise at all, and switching brands is quite common for soccer clubs when deals expire. You see some stick with one brand for a long time like Adidas and Real Madrid or Barcelona with Nike. But take Arsenal as an example, which in recent years has gone from Nike to Puma and then to Adidas. Liverpool has never worn Nike in its history, starting with Umbro in 1972 before Adidas (1985-1996), Reebok (1996-2006), Adidas (2006-2012), Warrior Sports (2012-15) and New Balance since 2015. This will mark the third straight American apparel brand for the Reds, who are owned by American sports company Fenway Sports Group, who also own the Boston Red Sox.

Now the big question is — what will the kits look like? It’s too early to tell, obviously, but the news didn’t stop those on the social media from creating renderings of what the kits could look like. Here’s a sample:

Liverpool joins Brighton Chelsea, Tottenham, Preston North End and Hallam FC as clubs sponsored by Nike in England. You can watch Liverpool in the Champions League and Premier League on fuboTV (Try for free).

2020 NHL Winter Classic: The Logos, Uniforms, and Design

The 2020 NHL Winter Classic is today, and for the first time ever the annual event is being held in a warmer climate city. The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas plays host with its 92,000 seats waiting to be filled with patrons daring to brave a relatively warm +14°C (58°F) to see the Nashville Predators take on the home team Dallas Stars.

The Cotton Bowl on the morning of the 2020 Winter Classic

The overall theme of the design surrounding the event this year is the old west.

Designed by NHL Creative Services along with Fanbrandz out of New Jersey, the 2020 NHL Winter Classic logo is based on a belt buckle, a fashion accessory traditionally associated with Texans, cowboys, and Texan cowboys.

“As you start going through this process, we collectively brainstorm and discuss, ‘What makes the most sense for this event, this location, without being too whimsical?’”, said Paul Conway, the NHL’s VP of creative services to NHL.com at the time it was released.

“You want to be careful not to be too predictable on a certain level”, Conway continued. “You want to make sure it comes across and feels like it’s part of the Winter Classic brand, yet still feel unique. But everything certainly takes form and takes root in that early development.”

DALLAS STARS

While the official press release made no direct mention of it (saying only it’s based on Texas hockey history), the Dallas Stars 2020 Winter Classic logo and uniform are both clear tributes to the old Dallas Texans team of the 1940s.

The jersey is green with white shoulders, a single white stripe on each sleeve with both featuring a patch — a Winter Classic patch on the right arm, and a new State of Texas patch on the left. The Dallas Texans used both a shoulder yoke and the sleeve patches as well.

Player name and numbers are in a block, serif font — the same style as the “ST*RS” wordmark across the chest.

In an effort to create a more overall vintage hockey uniform feel, pants are beige (as they were in the NHL in the 1920s) and gloves are plain leather coloured (as they were in the NHL until the late 1950s). Both the pants and gloves do add a bit of colour with some green trim.

A look at the two Dallas Texans uniforms which appear to have inspired this Stars design… First, this design which looks a lot like the logo, sleeve, and socks striping:

And then the shoulder yoke, waist striping, and sleeve patches:

Mash together the best bits of both uniforms and ta-da! You’ve got yourself a great looking uniform. It’s magic!

Goaltender Ben Bishop has a special mask for the game featuring the Stars retro logo as well as the Cotton Bowl stadium and Big Tex wearing the Stars Winter Classic jersey:

The mask art was done by DAVEART.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

With a heavy nod to the old Nashville Dixie Flyers, who played in the Eastern Hockey League from 1962-1971, the Nashville Predators 2020 Winter Classic uniform replicates the Dixie Flyers style of a large horizontal stripe across the middle of the jersey and the team name scripted within it.

“The new jersey was created with a heritage aesthetic, featuring designs inspired by Nashville’s rich hockey history and its passionate hockey fanbase”, read the release from Adidas. “The script crest, felt block lettering and classic striping create a nostalgic look suitable for the NHL Winter Classic’s celebration of the game’s origins outdoors.”

On the shoulder is a “fauxback”-styled Predators logo, this new logo “represents the Predators’ size, strength, and speed” and is given a retro look “to pay homage to the history and heritage of hockey in Nashville”.

Like the Stars, this jersey also includes a patch featuring the 2020 Winter Classic logo on the opposite shoulder:

As mentioned earlier, this entire jersey a clear tribute to the uniforms worn by the Dixie Flyers, Nashville’s minor league hockey team in the 1960s. Like this Predators jersey, the Dixie Flyers uniforms included a similar horizontal stripe and scripted wordmark.

Of course, both goalies for the Predators have custom mask designs ready for today’s game, here’s Pekka Rinne’s who embraces the Preds new “fauxback” style logo:

While Juuse Saros has a new mask which includes a photo of Rinne himself (along with another Finnish hockey player Kimmo Timonen):

And here’s your good-looking uniform matchup for the game:

Game time is set for 2 pm ET (or 1 pm in Dallas)… but I’d be surprised if the puck is dropped before 2:30.

COLLECTOR’S CORNER: MUST HAVE ROOKIE JERSEYS

The NHL is becoming a younger league with each passing season. Players are making their debuts in their teen years and becoming superstars in their early 20’s. All hockey fans around the world love seeing players making their debuts and seeing them thrive and make an impact in the game. For all of those who have become jersey collectors or are fans of the game, the hottest jerseys on the shelves are those of the newest players in the league. If you are someone thinking about purchasing a jersey of one of this year’s rookies here are five players that are must-have jerseys for this year’s rookie class.

5. Ottawa Senators- Brady Tkachuk

Brady Tkachuk was drafted 4th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft out of Boston University. The American born winger followed in the footsteps of his dad Keith, and his brother Matthew by playing in the NHL. Through 16 games in his young career, Brady is a point per game player and he brings a gritty style of play to the Senators lineup. He earned the respect of hockey legend Don Cherry after his fight with Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings. Brady has the skill and the grit to his game that will make him a force in this league for a long time coming.

4. Dallas Stars- Miro Heiskanen

One of the biggest topics of the 2018 NHL offseason was where Erik Karlsson would end up. The Dallas Stars were one of the teams interested and the Senators asking price was their top prospect Miro Heiskanen. The Stars declined to go through with that trade route and kept their top prospect. That decision turned out to be a great one for the Stars. The 3rd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has been a staple at the blue line for the Stars. Coming out of the draft Miro drew comparisons to Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang. His puck moving skills are very similar to that of Letang. The Finnish born blueliner has a tremendous offensive upside and is magic with the puck. Heiskanen shined in his NHL debut and took all of two shifts in the NHL to wow the fans. Miro Heiskanen will become a household name and will have a phenomenal career down in Dallas.

3. Montreal Canadiens- Jesperi Kotkaniemi

The 3rd overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft became the first athlete born in the 2000s to play in a North American major professional league. Kotkaniemi is a Finnish born center that possesses a high hockey IQ with a dangerous shot. Going into the draft Kotkaniemi sat outside the top 10 on the draft boards for all the NHL insiders. When the Montreal Canadiens were on the clock with the 3rd pick, they knew they had something special in Kotkaniemi and in his first season, he is turning heads. The 18-year old drew comparisons to Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings when he was drafted back in June and he is playing the role that Kopitar does for the Canadiens. The high hockey IQ that was seen by the scouts has come to show in the NHL game. Jesperi Kotkaniemi is going to be a staple down the middle for the Montreal Canadiens and is a great cornerstone to build a franchise around.

2. Buffalo Sabres- Rasmus Dahlin

The team that won the NHL Draft Lottery was getting the prized possession of Swedish born defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. The Buffalo Sabres won the draft lottery and welcome Dahlin with open arms. The Swedish born defenseman drew high praise from a fellow countryman in Detroit Red Wings legend Niklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom was asked about Dahlin and said, “He is better than what I was at that age.” One of the best defenseman in the history of the game saying that you are better than them is one of the best compliments a player can get. Dahlin has made a ginormous impact on the Buffalo Sabres this year. The Sabres have gone from the bottom of the league to the top in just one season. Dahlin has made nothing but highlight reel plays with and without the puck. Hockey fans around the world are in for a treat watching this once in a generation player night in and night out. If Dahlin can fulfill his prophecy he is on pace to have a hall of fame like career.

1. Vancouver Canucks- Elias Pettersson

Drawing the respect and comparisons to The Great One by The Great One himself is one heck of a way to start a career. Elias Pettersson was drafted 5th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Ever since making his NHL debut he has done nothing but score and put up points for the Canucks. Pettersson became the youngest player in NHL history to score 10 goals in his first 10 games. The highlights of Pettersson have been plentiful. Against the Red Wings he scored on a booming slap shot that drew comparisons to Wayne Gretzky’s famous slap shot goal and after getting tripped up he made a nice pass to set up teammate Brock Boeser for a goal while lying on his stomach. In the Canucks yearly skills competition Pettersson won the hardest shot completion with a shot of 99.4 MPH. The shot wowed fans all over the world due to the fact he still only weighs 176 lbs. Once he develops and becomes bigger, his shot can become lethal to opposing teams and goalies. Pettersson, in his very young NHL career, is close to a point per game player with 42 points in 38 games and is already being considered a lock for the Calder Trophy(Rookie of the Year). Vancouver has something very special in Pettersson and for hockey fans and jersey collectors around the world, his jersey is a must-have.

Nike, Ohio State Now Selling “Alumni” LeBron James Jerseys

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes than LeBron James – literally and figuratively. But it’s also well-known that he didn’t attend any college, let alone Ohio State.

So it’s a little weird to see that an Ohio State LeBron James “alumni” jersey is suddenly being sold by Nike.

But that’s exactly we have on the market according to Ohio State reporter Andrew Lind.

Nike is now selling a basketball jersey with the Ohio State name and colors, and with LeBron’s No. 23 jersey number on both sides.

LeBron has stated on some occasions that if he likely would have attended Ohio State if he had gone to college.

He ultimately went to the NBA straight out of high school, staying in his home state of Ohio by being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers – less than 50 miles from his hometown of Akron.

One can only imagine what kind of success Ohio State would have found with a talent like LeBron.

But it’s still pretty weird to think of LeBron as a college alum for anyone, let alone a school that prides itself on its football program like Ohio State does.

From Football to Baseball, Tim Tebow’s Jerseys are Perfect Keepsakes

If you take a look at my Facebook posts from middle school, you’ll come across a lot of Tim Tebow quotes. He was such an inspiration growing up. As a young woman, it’s rare that you look up to a college football player. Tim Tebow once turned a huge Texas fan into a Florida Gators fan. Hook ’em forever, but Tebow’s college football days were everything to me.

Take away his football talent, and you still have a man with an impressive skillset. After his time in the NFL, Tebow pursued a baseball career. Although he’s no longer playing professional football or baseball, you still have an athletic and influential person that sports fanatics and analysts still talk about today. Pay homage to the man with your own Tim Tebow Jersey.

Tim Tebow Jerseys

1. Tim Tebow Autographed Nease High School (White #5) Jersey w/”05 State Champs” – Tebow Holo

Throwing it back to the good ol’ high school days. Here’s where it all started!

2. Unsigned Tim Tebow Florida Blue Custom Stitched College Football Jersey Size Men’s XL New No Brands/Logos

Tebow’s Florida uniform topped jersey sales lists for years, even if he never made a dime off them.

3. Unsigned Tim Tebow Denver Orange Custom Stitched Football Jersey Size Men’s XL New No Brands/Logos

Relive Tebow’s playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers over and over. Show people you’ve been a longtime fan of the 2007 Heisman winner with this Denver Broncos jersey.

4. Nike Tim Tebow #15 New York Jets NFL Jersey Adult Size 48

Right after Denver released Tebow, he had a short career with the Jets. I feel like Jets fans are just as passionate as Dallas Cowboys fans, so go ahead and get the jersey. Forget the stats.

5. Tim Tebow New England Patriots Jersey Nike Youth Large Rare 14/16 Hard To Find

You either love them or you hate them. Regardless, Tebow was once a Patriot, so we were all rooting for them at some point.

6. Tim Tebow #11 Philadelphia Eagles Jersey White Size 52

This jersey is just strange to look at. Number 11? Yep, technically Tebow was an Eagle at some point.

7. Majestic Tim Tebow New York Mets Youth White Home Official Cool Base Player

Tebow was a talented baseball player. Rumor has it a Los Angeles MLB team had an eye on Tebow when he was in high school. Can you imagine if he would’ve went into the major leagues instead of the NFL?

Well, after his football career ended, Tebow played with the Mets for a minute. You can remember his time with the minor leagues with this Mets jersey.

8. Tim Tebow Jersey Authentic New Tork Mets Sz 44 Majestic

He’ll never catch Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso on the field, but Tebow is still one of New York’s favorite players. This Mets jersey is nice! It’s only $70, which isn’t bad for a jersey. Show off your love for number 15.

Visit the NFL Shop for more top seller replica jerseys and collectibles. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way of showing your Tim Tebow pride, consider number T-shirts. Now, when is this guy going to be inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame?

From Timeless Classics To Uniforms That Look Like The Trash Bags They Belong In, These Are The All-Time Best And Worst Looks Of Dallas-Area Sports Teams.

By now, we’ve all seen those dreadful new Dallas Mavericks City Edition jerseys — the ones that look like they were designed by a fortysomething who’d heard about the 1990s but somehow managed to never actually live in them.

Yes, these ones:

Nope, they’re not great!

Of course, as much enjoyment as we get from dunking on the Mavs’ poor sartorial and design choices throughout the years, it should be said that our professional basketball franchise isn’t the only offender when it comes to sports teams around these parts just severely missing the mark on the fashion front.

At the same time, we should also point out that there have been some truly great uniforms worn by our area athletic organization at certain points, too.

In this post, we aim to highlight both — the good and the bad — by attempting to identify the best and worst uniforms that each of our region’s teams have worn throughout the years.

Dallas Mavericks

THE BEST: The Dallas Mavericks’ throwback green jerseys, most recently seen in the 2015-2016 season, are so adored that they’ve even inspired an entire group of people on Twitter to start up a #GreenItBack campaign in hopes of convincing Mark Cuban and the rest of the team’s front office to bring these bad boys back into the squad’s regular uniform rotation — and hopefully as its main look. It’s tough to disagree with those folks; this look is among the cleanest the team had ever worn, and its font choice is — a rarity for this franchise — actually readable and good. Seriously, the little curls off the D and the Ls are a great touch, as is the green inner outline.

THE WORST: This design, worn only once in 2003 before being taken off the market, are so bad they’ve become almost legendary. It’s easy to understand why; they look like what you’d get if you just wrapped a human in tin foil and said, “OK, now, go play some basketball.” I’m literally sweating while I look at these things because I imagine the players were actually being cooked alive while wearing these on the court.

Dallas Cowboys

THE BEST: For all the issues one may have with Jerry Jones and the way he runs his team, you can’t accuse him of missing the mark much on the branding front. The Cowboys have a classic look, and they rarely stray from it. A lot of this stems from how simple the team logo is, and how that logo fits into the simple design of the jersey. I mean, it’s just a star! And because it’s just a star, you can package it almost any way you want, in any combination of the team’s silver or blue or even white color schemes, and call it a day. This is a look that just screams, “Don’t mess with success!”

THE WORST: OK, so, this is the exception to the just-slap-a-star-anywhere-and-you’re-good-to-go rule. When you make the star white and putting it right on the shoulder, it looks more like a theatrical production’s interpretation of military attire than it does something that looks sleek on the football field.

Texas Rangers

THE BEST: Most plain white jerseys are pretty boring, granted. But the simplicity of this Nolan Ryan-era Rangers look really works in its favor. With the team name scripted out in that classic baseball font where the last letter swoops back under all the other ones, this jersey looks crisp and timeless.

THE WORST: The Rangers just recently announced a slate of new uniform options for the 2020 season and, while most of them are pretty cool, the team’s planned spring training look leaves a lot to be desired. Am I nuts in thinking that it looks like a Polo shirt that’s missing its collar? The modernized version of the old State of Texas logo that’s placed on the left chest just screams golf shirt to me. It’s a very “I’m going to find this at T.J. Maxx one day” kind of jersey — and, even looked at in greater detail, it doesn’t improve much.

Dallas Stars

THE BEST: The newest Stars jersey is also the team’s best. Designed for the upcoming Winter Classic match-up that the team is hosting at the Cotton Bowl here in Dallas on New Year’s Day, this design is a clever nod to the uniforms worn by the first pro hockey team in Dallas history, but in the modern team’s Victory Green and white color palette. Another stellar design that errs on the side of simplicity over complication, it even incorporates a little flash into its package in interesting ways, like with how it hides the Texas state flag within its inside back collar. Sure, maybe using a star to stand in for the “A” in “Stars” is a little cliche at this point — but at least the letter and the symbol used to stand in for it both have points at the top — unlike some other examples of letter-swapping that you can find in bad designs elsewhere.

THE WORST: Oh. Oh, no. I’m not even sure what to say about this one. This 2003-2006 alternate sweater design looks like if you took the Chicago Bulls logo and pointed the horns down, then transported this poor bovine creature into space and converted it into a constellation through some kind of dark magic. It’s also popularly referred to as the “Mooterus” jersey, since it bears a bizarre resemblance to the shape of a uterus. Beyond those critiques, the curved lines and shooting star added onto this package fail to contribute anything positive to the mix. This is just a terrible miss on all levels.

Dallas Wings

THE BEST: N/A.

THE WORST: This isn’t necessarily the Wings’ fault, as the WNBA forces all teams in its league to use the same basic design template, swapping out only the colors and logo in order to fit each team’s aesthetic. The Wings’ color scheme is actually pretty interesting and undeniably eye-grabbing, and could be put to use in cool ways by the team if it had the freedom to explore that. Alas, they don’t, and the WNBA’s template doesn’t do the team’s look any favors, leaving its players to look like walking highlighters.

FC Dallas

THE BEST: (To be clear, we’re sticking to post-Dallas Burn-era jerseys here.) Considering just how steeped in tradition and pride the State of Texas is — sometimes a good thing, sometimes not a good thing — it’s a little surprising that more area teams don’t rock jerseys that have been inspired by the state flag. But FC Dallas did just that with this kit, and it makes for a clean look — one that manages to be pure Texas without screaming about being pure Texas.

THE WORST: Woof. It’s always a risky endeavor when a team comes out with an alternate jersey that uses a color scheme different than its usual look, but it’s worst when it’s done in tribute to another team, as was the case with this 2006 look that supposed paid homage to Mexico’s famed Tigres club. I’m sure someone in the marketing department thought this would be a good way to endear FC Dallas to the fanbase of a more historic franchise than its own, but the execution here is just an eyesore.

Local Colleges

THE BEST: An easy choice, frankly. SMU’s Triple D marketing campaign and subsequent Dallas-themed jersey from this year has been universally praised as a perfect ode to the City of Dallas and maybe the best branding decision that a local sports team has made in a long time. Is it a coincidence that the team that got to wore unis this clean was also the best one that the school fielded in literal decades? We think not.

THE WORST: Can someone explain to us why TCU had orange numbers on its alternate uniform this year? Because the school’s own explanation of this design doesn’t do that for us at all. Apparently, this look was inspired by the school mascot’s ability to shoot blood from its eyes as a sort of final defense mechanism when facing down a predator — which, OK, maybe explains the red on the gloves and on the helmet. But why orange on the jersey, then? If I saw someone wearing this around town, I’d immediately think that a Syracuse fan had moved to Dallas. I wouldn’t think, “Oh, orange is kind of like red, which is the color of the blood that horned frogs squirt out of their eyes when they’re worried they might die.” But, hey, maybe that’s just me.

Can the Color of Your Team Uniform Give You a Competitive Edge?

It’s not uncommon for athletes to have good luck charms, lucky numbers, and superstitions, including some downright bizarre pre-game rituals. For instance, Michael Jordan wore his UNC shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform in every NBA game. Before a night game, third baseman Wade Boggs would begin practice at exactly 5:17 PM and start wind sprints at precisely 7:17 PM. It sounds crazy, but it seemed to have worked for these two Hall of Famers.

One superstition some athletes hold may actually have some scientific merit. Studies have shown that the colors of athletic uniforms can sometimes make the difference between winning and losing. Certain colors associated with dominance and aggression can actually empower players and give them a competitive edge.

Colors have a psychological effect on the animal brain, ours included. A certain hue can impact a person or animal’s mood, behavior, brain activity, and body posture. For instance, in nature, orange and red signal aggression and danger to a variety of organisms. In many human societies, red is associated with anger and fear. Black often signifies dominance and death.

When it comes to athletic uniforms and coaches apparel, scientists say that the colors black and red may affect the way the team’s opponent sees them as well as the way the wearer feels and performs. During a 1988 study, Cornell University’s Mark G. Frank and Thomas Gilovich showed 25 subjects a series of images of hockey and football team uniforms in different colors. They found that the subjects were more likely to label those in black uniforms as more aggressive than those in other colors. The researchers also concluded that hockey players wearing black team apparel acted more aggressively on the ice.

In a similar study, Olympic athletes wearing red were found to be more likely to defeat those in blue uniforms, according to researchers from the University of Durham, Russell Hill and Robert Barton.

Of course, if red and black uniform colors were actually a dominant factor in determining the success of a team, the Atlanta Falcons would have won a Super Bowl by now and the New York Yankees would not have earned 26 World Series titles. Nonetheless, if you’re choosing a design for your custom team uniforms, it might not hurt to go with something red and black.

For Navy Midshipmen, small football uniform patches carry important stories

Justin Self had always leaned on his father, Mike, to pursue his dream of playing college football. Drills on the middle school field, Friday night lights in Texas, Saturday morning garage workouts, summer camps and official visits — Mike guided him through all of it. The two bonded through their love for the sport, as Mike was born in Arkansas and raised in Birmingham, Alabama — a mecca of college football — and Justin grew up about 35 minutes from the historic Cotton Bowl.

Mike had played two seasons as a long-snapper at North Alabama before serving in the reserves and enlisting in the Navy, where he worked mostly as a radio operator but was never an officer. Considering his background, it was only natural that part of his son’s recruiting process included an official visit to the U.S. Naval Academy. Justin was sold as soon as he met the team.

“I had always joked with him about how I was going to be an officer when I graduated and he was an enlisted guy,” Justin said, “so he was going to have to salute me.”

It happened sooner than expected.

“I remember my signing day,” said Justin, now a junior offensive tackle. “When I finally signed, he broke down in tears. Afterward, the gym was empty, it was just me and him in there. He came up and he gave me a salute.

“‘You’re going to be an officer,’ he said.”

In May 2017, before Justin’s plebe summer, the training program for incoming freshmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, Mike Self died after a heart attack he suffered during a family trip to visit relatives in Alabama. He was 49 years old, and Justin was 19.

About a year later, Justin was home on break and rooting around in his dad’s storage shed in their backyard, searching for things from his father’s childhood when he spotted an old cardboard box.

The otherwise nondescript cube was a treasure trove of Mike Self’s Navy days, filled with pins and badges he wore on his old uniform, pictures, foreign currency and a yearbook from the three different ships he had served on.

Justin Self is wearing his late father's USS Dahlgren patch, which Self found in a box.

Justin opened the unmarked box and spotted the patches his dad had cut off his uniforms, thin black strips in a slight arch with U.S.S. DAHLGREN stitched in white letters. Excited, he ran inside the house to show his mom. That night, an idea hit him:

“When I dress for the Army-Navy, game, I’m putting these patches on.”

Selecting a patch for the uniform worn in Saturday’s Army-Navy game is one small, but significant, personal choice given to the Midshipmen on a campus where nearly every other decision is made for them, including what they wear and how they wear it.

Since August, long before the first snap of the season, Navy’s specially designed uniforms for its game against Army in Philadelphia were hidden in the academy’s Halsey Field House. They weren’t completed, though, until late November, when the finishing touches were sewn on — one patch chosen by each player from more than 600 shipped to Annapolis from all over the world, or passed along through friends and family, representing all different branches of the military, including, of course, the Army.

At Navy, it’s a unique tradition that began in 1989. Army also wears patches chosen specifically for this game, but collectively honors a division as a team.

Each stitched symbol tells its own story, and while some are chosen simply for style, other reasons run deeper. For the second straight season, Justin Self will honor his father — but he also saved enough of the patches for his little brother, Brent, who committed to play at Navy next year.

“For some guys, it’s emotional,” Justin said. “They do it because it’s something they’ve always believed in. Some guys pick because it’s the coolest patch on the table. For me, it’s knowing [my dad] is on the field with me since he can’t be in the stands. It’s my little way of having him there with me on the field.”

Patches are mailed from all over the world in hopes a player will select them for his jersey.

The patch is in the mail

Dear Navy Football,

I’m submitting my squadron’s patch for consideration for this year’s Army-Navy game. The squadron is VAW-121 Bluetails from Norfolk, VA, and we fly the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. We have been deployed since April 1st onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN where we have been flying missions in support of U.S. objectives in the Arabian Sea. We have several alumni in the squadron, but unfortunately we will not be able to attend the game. I know it would mean a lot to all of the alumni and Sailors in the squadron to see the command represented front and center at America’s game. It would lift their spirits on what has been a very long and demanding deployment. Thank you for your consideration. GO NAVY! BEAT ARMY!

Very respectfully,
LCDR Vaughn “Patchez” Villarreal
Operations Officer
VAW-121 Bluetails
USNA Class of 2007

The letters pour in from literally all over the globe, detailing missions abroad and at sea, and explaining the significance of the enclosed patches. There are heaps of them in clear plastic bins; many are spread out on tables in a colorful array for the players to examine. Some letters are directed to specific players, but no one forces them to wear that specific patch.

Sometimes, it means just as much to have the patch chosen as it does to wear it.

“I’m not sure if the patch ended up getting picked or not …,” Lt. Cmdr. Villarreal wrote in an email to ESPN, “but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

On Nov. 7, players slowly shuffled into the equipment room to sift through rows of various patches in many shapes and sizes from different commands. Like in a department store, some players asked to put the patches on hold.

“It’s back there, it should be in the top drawer,” junior striker Jacob Springer reminded Greg Morgenthaler, associate athletic director of equipment operations for football. “Top right. You held it for me.”

Since Aug. 30.

Sophomore cornerback Mikey McMorris enlisted the help of his older brother on FaceTime as he browsed the selections. Sophomore receiver Mychal Cooper was on the phone with his stepfather, Jon Arnold, in the equipment room as they decided Cooper would wear one of Arnold’s old Army patches.

Joe Goff is wearing his brother's Army patch to honor the West Point grad.

“All of these mean a bunch of great things, but I really have no connection to those,” Cooper said, looking at the patches on cluttered tables. “My stepdad, he’s been a really big influence in my life. He was in the Army. He was in the 101st Airborne Division. I’d like to wear something that means something to me.”

Peter Ford, Navy’s assistant director of equipment operations, looks more like a lineman than a tailor, but he boasts he can sew one patch in under a minute (as long as it’s a circle, there’s no Velcro to burn off, and it’s not something complicated — like Eagle wings).

“I learned to sew from YouTube,” he said.

Ford and his colleague, Shari Mangas, use the two sewing machines in Halsey Field House, where Mangas had been sewing on the A’s for the American Athletic Conference for over a month. The Navy uniforms will also feature college football’s 150th anniversary patch for the first time this season.

On the day before Thanksgiving, the entire team went to the theatre at the Annapolis Mall to see “Knives Out.” Before the movie started, they were treated to a special preview on the big screen — the reveal of their uniform for the Army game.

“I was not expecting it,” senior long-snapper Michael Pifer said. “It was a really good, collective reaction. I’m pretty sure everyone liked the concept and the theme of it.”

Senior nose guard Jackson Pittman and junior linebacker Austin Talbert-Loving have chosen to wear the patch featuring a castle sent in by the battalion of former Navy defensive end Amos Mason. A 2017 graduate, Mason is now a combat engineer officer in the Marine Corps, based in Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Pittman and Mason went to the same high school, Brentwood Academy in Tennessee, where Pittman’s father, Jack Jr., coached them both.

“I’m excited that he chose to wear my badge,” Mason said. “You can send them in, but there’s no guarantee that those guys are going to wear it.”

Defensive co-captain Nizaire Cromartie will wear a patch in memory of recent graduate Joshua Kaleb Watson; he was one of three U.S. sailors, along with Mohammed S. Haitham and Cameron Scott Walters, fatally shot on Dec. 6 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Cromartie’s patch was taken from the flight suits of his classmates from the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida, where Watson, Haitham and Walters were assigned.

Players in search of a patch sort through options to have stitched on their uniforms.

Keeping memories alive

Not all patches come to the equipment room.

Navy offensive tackle Billy Honaker will wear a patch to honor his cousin, Christopher Stephen Honaker, who was killed in Afghanistan. Senior safety Elan Nash lets his dad, who served four years on the USS Forrestal, choose a patch from his dress uniform. This year he picked a Petty Officer 3rd Class Aviation Structural Mechanic badge.

“He was a big influence in me coming here. And being affiliated with the Navy and the Naval Academy in the first place, when I was younger he had taken me to some games, just as a fan, because we’re from the Philadelphia area,” said Nash, whose grandfather also served in the Navy. “Obviously, he’s had a huge impact on my life. … It’s just a cool way to honor my legacy and my family a little bit, more than just the name on the back, but something more specific to what my dad actually did in his time in the service.”

Senior offensive tackle Joe Goff picked his brother’s Army patch (yes, he’s allowed) because he said the West Point grad is the reason he plays football.

“I’m just more than happy to honor him and be able to show him I’m thankful for what he’s done for me,” Goff said. “Even with the whole Army-Navy tradition, the family love is definitely what’s more important to me.”

One of the most remarkable origin stories is of Pifer’s patch. He was sitting in his dorm room in October, scrolling through Facebook, when he came across a post celebrating the 95th birthday of his friend’s grandfather, John Kepechia:

Happy 95th Birthday to John Kepechia! He was a member of the US Navy Torpedo Squadron VT305. They were shot down over the Solomon Islands on their 34th Mission May 21st, 1944. John was 19 years old. Of the survivors he is the only one remaining.

“I was like wait, I didn’t realize all this happened,” Pifer said. “I can’t believe I never heard anything about this. It was kind of surreal.”

“He was 19 years old and people were dying in his arms,” Pifer’s mom, Jill DeNillo, said of Kepechia. “I’m bawling reading this, so I’m investigating it more. We knew he was a veteran, but we didn’t have any clue until just recently that he’s the last remaining survivor.”

Michael Pifer had a replica made of a patch worn by a friend's grandfather, 95-year-old John Kepechia, when he was shot down over the Solomon Islands in 1944.

Knowing he had to pick a patch for the Army-Navy game, Pifer immediately thought of Kepechia, who follows Pifer’s Navy football career. Pifer played youth football all the way through high school with Kepechia’s grandson, Tyler Lavelle. There was one problem: Kepechia’s patch — and everything else from that day — has been missing since he was taken prisoner. Kepechia had a drawing, though. It was a picture of a red donkey on tan felt, and according to a collector’s site, it was made in Australia and only 200 were ordered.

DeNillo did some searching through social media and eventually found a company called Wings and Things in Pensacola that would replicate the patch.

“Since it’s in World War II and the 1940s, I didn’t know if anyone was going to be able to create the patch,” Pifer said, “Whenever we figured out we could, I was like, ‘Yeah, no-brainer, let’s do this.’

“We actually were able to get some in bulk, so we were able to give some to him and his family so they are able to pass that down and keep telling the stories.”

The memorabilia is what keeps the stories, and memories, alive.

Following his military career, Mike Self worked as an electronics technician for a company in the oil industry and focused on his wife, Ginger, and their two boys, Justin and Brent. When Justin was in high school, he and his dad “had this little thing” where Mike would write him a note every Thursday night and slip it into his lunchbox on Friday mornings to encourage him for that night’s game. He continued to do that through email when Justin was at the Navy prep school.

Now, Ginger writes them, and her voice cracked as she talked about it.

“I started reading some of them, what Mike wrote, and thought, ‘OK, how could I put it in my own words?'” she said. “I just encourage him to stay with it, ‘What your dad taught you, just keep it up.’ I always end it with — because my husband did, too — ‘Love, one of your biggest fans, Mom.’ Because one of his biggest fans is always watching, too. I say that to him, too, ‘You know he’s watching.'”

Justin still saves the emails. He has a box of his own, just like his dad.

“It means everything to me,” he said. “I’ve got them saved in folders every time she sends them to me. I want to be able to, in 20 or 30 years, share those with my kids. I even have my dad’s old paper ones in a box at home somewhere. I just want to be able to show them what my parents did for me.”

On Saturday, with one small patch, he’ll show everyone watching, but he won’t be the only Midshipman wearing a story.