A Bit of Nostalgia

 Hello, out there in GUD-land. Today I have a surprise for you and it's not about something on GUD.

...Well...actually...it is, but only as a side-effect.

Let me explain.

If you've ever taken the time to read our 'About' section, you've become familiar with our story of how I 'found Tim' and we began working together to hatch what would become GUD. However, there's a part of the story that tends to go unnoticed, itself having been forgotten by many and an afterthought to everyone else. We sought to rectify that.

When I moved to Florida to begin teaching at a new school in 2002, I was presented with a desktop PC in my classroom. During lunches, I would surf the internet. One site became a frequent location of my visits...Football Uniforms: Past and Present (FUPP)

Even back then, I was a football nerd. Doodling helmets and logos. Coloring them in with colored pencils. It was therapeutic. It relaxed me. Having a website that had NFL uniforms? I was in heaven.

Shortly after discovering the site, I noticed a few short-comings. Using the 'Contact' tab, I wrote to the site's creator, Craig Wheeler. Growing up the son of a Steelers' season ticket holder, I knew that the Steelers had worn a 50th anniversary patch in 1982 that wasn't being shown on FUPP. I found some photos online and sent them to Craig. About a week later, Craig posted the update. I was so proud of myself and my contribution!

Over the next few months I found other instances of improvements that could be made and kept sending them to Craig. I can only imagine what Craig was thinking every time one of my emails popped up in his inbox.

But all good things must come to an end. After the 2003 season, as we say around the GUD, "Life happens." Craig could no longer put forth the effort to maintain the site on a yearly basis. 2003 would be the last year of additions to FUPP. The site remained in stasis for a number of years. At some point, the address for FUPP changed slightly to include the name "Weirdwolf." FUPP and its domain were taken control of by Lynn "Weirdwolf" Schmidt who kept the site up and running, but not updating, for several more years, until finally, the site disappeared off of the internet for good.

Past and Present was truly the first of its kind, dedicating images and research to maintaining an important aspect of NFL history. And now it was gone. 

It has now been 10 years since the Gridiron Uniform Database first appeared online. We've consistently improved and built into something bigger than any of us ever imagined. But everything we've become we owe to Football Uniforms: Past and Present for paving the way and opening the door for us. And that is why a decision was made.

We, at GUD, decided we wanted to honor the 'founding father of NFL uniform history' by displaying his graphics here within the Gridiron Uniform Database. With the help of Donovan Moore, creator of ColorWerx - now known as TruColor, we were able to reach out and gain permission from Mr. Wheeler to display his work on our site.

When Craig stopped updating FUPP beyond 2003, I was annoyed. I had downloaded his images and was using them as screensavers. What was I to do in 2004? It was then that I first began my graphic efforts to update Craig's images to suit the changes to uniforms made in 2004 and beyond. Oh boy were they bad. But I didn't worry because no one else was ever going to see them. But I made one tremendous mistake. When I made the changes and altered images like darkening the Patriots' and Broncos' navy blues from the shade Craig had used, I saved them by over-writing the originals. Gone was my 'vintage set' of Craig Wheeler originals.

For months I searched online even going into Chris Creamer's Forum where people had displayed Craig's images from time to time. But those entries were so dated that I was unable to make contact with the guests who had posted them there.

Finally, last week, I had a breakthrough. I found Lynn "Weirdwolf" Schmidt on Facebook. I made contact with him and asked, in his capacity of having taken over the domain of FUPP years before, did he ever take the opportunity to download the images for safe keeping?

He had, with one caveat.

"Weirdwolf" downloaded the images in July 2003, before the 2003 season began. Craig Wheeler had posted images for the 2003 season after its completion. But not to fear, I still had the 2003 images like the 'new for 2003 Falcons' uniforms,' the Texans in red jerseys, the Dolphins in orange jerseys largely untouched in Craig's template as he designed them.

"Ww" made the images and all of the key technical components available to us. However, coding from a 2000 website obviously has fallen a bit behind the times. But our own tech-master, Austin Snelik, is a miracle worker. In short order, he was able to get FUPP back up and 99% viewable as part of GUD. 

Thank you, "Weirdwolf," for your contribution to this project. Like us, I know you wanted Craig's work not to disappear forever. And thank you, Austin, for taking the time to resurrect FUPP for us old guys and placing a link to FUPP's new home on GUD's 'Links' page.

A single small problem still exists with our recreation. One image, the 1966 Houston Oilers, shows up as 'unavailable.' I'm not sure why that appears that way. The 1965 Houston Oilers image should also be the one posted for 1966, as well. We are working to get that corrected.

While Past and Present will stand as a gallery of Craig Wheeler's work and will not be updated any further, the largest omission from this 2021 version is the missing 2003 season. I will fill in that gap by posting Craig's original 2003 images within this blog entry. Of note, Craig never included 'Preseason Only' combos and he hardly ever included patched jerseys as separate combos. In order to consolidate space here, I have removed the sectioning lines and placed all combos on a single image.

2003 Arizona

2003 Atlanta

2003 Baltimore

2003 Buffalo

2003 Carolina

2003 Chicago

2003 Cincinnati

2003 Cleveland

2003 Dallas

2003 Denver

2003 Detroit

2003 Green Bay

2003 Houston

2003 Indianapolis

2003 Jacksonville

2003 Kansas City

2003 Miami

2003 Minnesota

2003 New England

2003 New Orleans

2003 NY Giants

2003 NY Jets

2003 Oakland

2003 Philadelphia

2003 Pittsburgh

2003 St. Louis

2003 San Diego

2003 San Francisco

2003 Seattle

2003 Tampa Bay

2003 Tennessee

2003 Washington

As the first of its kind, FUPP was ahead of it time. But life happens. We all understand that. It's just that, as history buffs with a pro football inclination, we hated to see Craig's work disappear from the digital landscape and be lost to time. Now, we can be assured that Craig Wheeler's contribution will never, ever, be forgotten again. 

Thank you, Craig.

Bill Schaefer

Tim Brulia here to add some thoughts.

I echo Bill's sentiments on FUPP 100%. Until this post by Bill, I thought I was the main P.I.T.A. for Craig, with my numerous emails for revisions! Our official 10th Anniversary will be June 12. But without question, FUPP was the spark and inspiration to continue the journey to compile the best and most accurate uniform history of  "America's Game." 

We feel that Craig planted the seeds of visual pro football uniform research and turned into a strong sapling. From there, we took to takeover the nurturing of the tree to a full grown tree with many branches; the teams, the years and the games with the help of so many contributors. 

Without Craig laying the foundation of FUPP, the GUD likely would never have gotten off the ground. That's why when the GUD launched in 2011, we dedicated this site to Mr. Wheeler. Craig, we hope we done ya "GUD!"




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