But the Pro Bowl's biggest problem -- this year and every year -- is that the AFC always wears red and the NFC always blue but the players wear their regular helmets, which leads to some serious color-coordination problems. As usual, the most trenchant analysis comes from Uni Watch attache Ruth Wedes, who proposes a solution based on the game's Hawaiian locale: "They should all just wear a helmet with a pineapple on it."
As it happens, the Pro Bowl used to feature its own helmet designs. Uni Watch's go-to guy for this kind of thing is near-omniscient Curtis Worrell of Helmet Hut, who breaks down the Pro Bowl's headwear history like so:
1954-64: Navy helmets for the NFL's Western Conference; red helmets for the Eastern Conference.
1965-69: Gold helmets with the NFL shield logo and blue-white-blue striping for the Western Conference; the same design but with red-white-red striping for the Eastern Conference.
1970: Same as above, but with the NFL's 50th anniversary logo substituted for the NFL shield. This was the last Pro Bowl before the NFL/AFL merger.
1979-present: Regular team helmets.
And then there's Flozell Adams of the Cowboys, who had a different sort of headgear problem: He couldn't play because his helmet got lost in the mail, or his dog ate it, or something. At least that's his story -- maybe he just didn't want to be one of the lemmings.
More Masked Men
Sharp-eyed readers spotted a glitch in Uni Watch's recent survey of hockey goalie masks, in which mask artist and Painted Warrior webmaster Dennis Simone said Corrado Micalef was the last goalie to wear an old-style fiberglass mask. As several readers have pointed out, that status actually belongs to Sam St. Laurent of the Red Wings, who was wearing a Jacques Plante-style mask as late as the 1989-90 season.
"I should have known that," says a contrite Simone. Uni Watch should have known, too -- big thanks to Scott Murrell, Doug Norris and everyone else who wrote in to set the record straight. Meanwhile, with the NHL season now officially kaput, hockey fans can console themselves by clicking through the excellent mask history sequence that begins here.
Thanks also to those who've responded to Uni Watch's call for pix of masked baseball players. We now have a solid photo gallery of such players, including Ellis Valentine, Gary Roenicke, Kevin Seitzer, David Justice and Charlie Hayes (who wore two different mask styles -- this one with the Rockies and this one with the Yankees). A big tip of the Uni Watch cap -- which includes its own facebars, natch -- to all who helped out with this scavenger hunt, especially Dan Herr, Thomas Clark, Grant Beaudette, Bud Leno, Ron Ruelle and Andy Chalifour.
Still MIA: photos of Dave Parker from 1978, when he wore a football-style facemask after breaking his jaw. And here's an intriguing subplot, courtesy of Walter Graham: "Before Parker went with the facebar, he had a hockey goalie facemask molded to his helmet. I believe he used it for only one game. I recall seeing a picture of it in the Boston Globe during the '78 season."