Originally Published at Uni Watch
By Phil Hecken
About a month ago, I told you about the beginnings of a very special project — one which may some day go down in the annals of uniform history — on a par with Marcus Okkonen’s Dressed To The Nines That of course, was Tim & Bill’s “NFL Uniform Project.” If you didn’t see either one, Part I is here and Part II is here. At the time, we heard from Uni Watch NFL Historian Tim Brulia and his able graphic partner, Bill Schaefer. They were thisclose to launching a full-blown website; all they lacked was someone with the proper experience in building one.
Well, shortly after those posts ran, they found one, in the form of Uni Watch reader and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan Rob Holecko (who you may know as “Rob H” from the Comments section), who you’re about to meet in a bit of greater depth today. Rob is the man who became the final piece to a very important puzzle — the man who enabled Tim’s vision and Bill’s graphical expertise to now find a home on the Internet. I’m pleased now to bring you Rob, who’ll explain the last part of the NFL Uniform Project. Here’s Rob:
The Gridiron Uniform Database
By Rob Holecko
For the past few weeks I have been working with Tim Brulia and Bill Schaefer to help them build the website they described they were looking for to house their amazing collection of pro football uniform history. I am pleased to announce that we have launched a website called The Gridiron Uniform Database, on the web at GridironUniforms.com. We hope that our website will become the definitive reference for football uniforms in much the same way that Dressed To The Nines is for Major League Baseball uniforms.
My motivation in undertaking this task was pure selfishness. The truth is, I was selfish in that I wanted there to be a website that I could go to to look up these images. As a sports fan, I have visited the Dressed To The Nines site as well as Craig Wheeler’s Football Uniforms Past and Present. When I read on Uni Watch the first part of Tim and Bill’s story, I figured that they’d be putting together a website in no time.
When the second part of the story ran, it ended with a request that if anyone had the skills to create such a website to get in touch with Tim and Bill, I at first hesitated.
I thought someone more qualified than I would step forward and work with the guys. I knew some basic HTML and web design and played around with designing some websites before, but nothing too big. I am interested in this subject and would have loved to work with them on this, but I certainly thought they would already be working with somebody by the time I emailed them.
About a month ago, I started a website of my own chronicling all of the occasions of throwback uniforms being worn in the major sports, so working on this site with Tim & Bill was right up my alley. ThrowbackReport.com was just something I threw together. I had found that there was no real resource on the web showing the games with throwback uniforms, so I decided to create my own. ThrowbackReport.com currently has pictures from over a hundred MLB games that teams wore throwbacks in, and although it does include NFL, NHL, NBA and others, the focus of that site right now is MLB games.
So after seeing Throwback Report, Tim and Bill agreed to work with me, and the three of us have spent the last three weeks e-mailing back and forth, much as Bill and Tim have been doing for the last two years in getting the details of the images just right. We have discussed everything from layout and design and site interface, to how to make the website easy to use and informative, and how to present the information in the best way possible.
At first the website was just going to be a database of the images, much like “Football Uniforms Past and Present” was. I used to visit that site, as well. It is a shame that it has not been maintained. We were first just going to try to replicate Craig’s site, but with Tim & Bill’s graphics. But as we were making corrections and additions to things, I suggested to the guys that they should have a blog. With on-going debate and discussion about changes to the database, a blog is a perfect way to illustrate those changes on a daily basis.
After adding the blog Tim, Bill and I decided that The Gridiron Uniform Database would also need a forum. A forum is a necessity for a website of our nature. Say someone visits the site and sees a possible error. Perhaps the stripes on the socks of the 1938 Bears should be a different color. They can visit the forum and start a thread about it.
I have been writing the blog daily since May 29, however in the future all three of us will contribute. We each plan on having regular features. Right at the beginning here, our focus has been on primarily adding content to the website, and keeping a daily update going on what has been added. As we go forward, you can be sure that Tim and Bill will be contributing quite a bit as well. With the blog format, we can continue to update website visitors on what is going on at the database. This isn’t an overnight process, this website will never be ‘complete’, however we can certainly make it the best we can. With the blog and the forum, we hope to really build a community (presumably predominately Uni Watchers) to discuss and comment on changes to the database and NFL Uniforms in general.
At the present the website has the images that every NFL (and AFL and AAFC) team has worn since 1933. It currently also has all of the head-to-head matchups from the 2010 season, and previous seasons will be added sequentially. The guys are all the way back to the mid-80s on creating the head-to-head match-ups. The limiting factor on getting them in is really how fast I can put them in. In the future we will be adding pages which will show all of the historical head-to-head matchups between two teams.
The hardest part is completed. Putting all this together, getting the team pages and the yearly pages done has pretty much taken the most of the last three weeks. Now comes the fun part, as we “open up for business.” I hope that everyone who visits the website will find it informative, but also enjoyable.
But is there enough content for a daily blog about simply NFL Uniforms? Uni Watch is a great ‘niche’ website, in that it focuses on the entire field of “Athletic Aesthetics” — well the goal of our blog at The Gridiron Uniform Project is to sort of be a ‘sub-niche’ – focusing on one aspect of the Uni Watch “universe.” Whereas Uni Watch is a daily must-read for me, I hope that our website will maintain a level of quality that members of the Uni Watch community will feel they want to visit it daily as well.
There are literally hundreds of stories to be told about NFL uniforms of the past, and between Bill and Tim and myself we will bring them to you. Already in the past two weeks, we’ve talked about the Steelers’ lack of preseason helmet numbers, the two-toned material of the 49ers uniform pants of the 1960s, and a discovery that the Redskins actually wore blue in a game in 1942.
This week we’ll be looking at the 1941 Eagles’ uniforms and whether they wore black-and-silver that year or green-and-silver. I hope that our website can devote more time and coverage to these historical football uniform stories on a more in-depth basis than Uni Watch has the time and space to do. We’ve only scratched the surface, as long as there are corrections and adjustments to be made to the database, there will always be more to be done.
I hope to keep the blog fresh, funny and informative. But the real star of this whole project is Tim & Bill’s graphics. When I saw the examples of their work on Uni Watch, I felt it would be a shame if they weren’t showcased somewhere on the internet. Realizing that I was in a position to help them, I felt it was my duty to do so.
You can visit our website at GridironUniforms.com, and you can follow us on twitter @GridironUniform.
Thanks, Rob. Just a tremendous effort all around. I want to wish you guys all the success in the world, and I’m sure there’ll be many a Uni Watcher who heads over to your board to say “Hello” and to begin using the database for all kinds of research. Great, great job Tim, Bill & Rob!