Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wilson—The First Masks With Color?

 By John Turney

Casares with Navy blue mask 

We know that the first facemasks with color in the NFL were in 1974 when the Chargers (yellow) and the Chiefs (white) wore non-grey facemasks as a team. Soon after others teams followed.

However, in the late-1950s and early 1960s individual players wore masks with color that seemed to not be painted but manufactured that way. We think they are WIlson masks. 

Among those who wore them were Johnny Unitas and Rick Casares. Later, it seems the mask Casaras wore was passed down to Billy Wade and perhaps even Ron Smith in the early 1970s, though we cannot be sure.

Here are some shots—

Unitas with blue mask 

Unitas's Helmet


Billy Wade, early to mid-1960s 

Rom Smith in early 1970s 

So, while no team wore colored masks until 1974, individuals did and it seems Wilson was the ones who made them. The Part number was likely WI110. First, it was only in white in the early 1950s, but clearly, it was offered in other colors later in the 1950s. Had it been painted it would have chipped like the Riddell RI-210 and RI-220 masks that were painted in the 1970s and 1980s that always peeled. 

Examples of peeling Riddell masks—

So, we're fairly confident the dark masks of Unitas and Casares and Wade were made that way. Just an interesting piece of uniform history.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fifty Shades of Brown?

Or is it Twenty Shades of Brown?
by John Turney

Blown up versions found below.
What exactly was the shade of brown of the football used by the New England Patriots in the November 30, 2014, Week 13 game versus the Green Bay Packers? that was played in Lambeau Field? The Packers won it 26-21 and no one publicly said a word about the shade of the ball the Packers used on offense and the one the Patriots used on offense. However, according to a source with ties to the Packers organization, several Packers defensive backs told their secondary coaches that the ball was "weird" and "looked black" when it was in the air.

Without making any speculation as to why the footballs each offense used appear differently (Sources: NFL Game Replay and photos, and other photo sources) in fact, they look to be two different shades of brown, one more reddish and normal, like is seen in 99% or more of all NFL games and the other dark, a shade not common to footballs used in NFL games.

Surely, Lighting and other things could be among vatrior reasons that in some rare cases football appear differently from moment to moment. One of the anomalies that comes to mind is the lighting Texas Stadium that had a hole in the roof, for example. In this case that seems unlikely since the stills were taken on consecutive possessions and matched up in a way that they are very close to each other in time as possible in a crude investigation. That, and the fact any viewer can go through the game replay or any photographic images taken of that game and see that the difference does consistently exist throughout the game.

Some might even take color samples via Photoshop or other graphics program to see the red-green-blue balance. (As a note, I have done that, but I am not an expert in the field and do not think I have enough knowledge to espouse any kind of "expert opinion". Now, I do use Photoshop a lot and am familiar, so my layman's answer? The balls are different shades of brown, when looking at the numbers that Photoshops yields after one puts the "color sampler tool" over them. Again, anyone can do that as well and can post the vlaues they get are the same same shade or different shade of brown.

With the verve in the NFL about deflation and other "gate" that have dogged the New England organization, this is simply more information and it will not cause a longer or shorter suspension of Tom Brady. That wasn't by design, it is just when the article was ready for print.

Now, If the balls are different shades, it begs the question of why? Prior to the rule that allowed the visiting teams to bring the balls they wanted to use this couldn't have happened. Now, it seems something happened to the football the Patriots were using. But if a fair-minded person concluded they are different shades of brown, then to that same fair-minded person the "why" question does become important.

During deflate-gate around the Championship games and the Super Bowl both Brady and Belichick said the Patriots preferred used footballs, likely used the practice during the week, and that those were the ones they take to away games. Fair enough, this practice is well within the NFL Rulebook. The current issue with deflation is in no way connected to this

So with no further delay, here are some shots if the ball and a few comments.
After a Patriot carry, ball set on ground. Credit: NFL Replay
Closeup of ball color Patriots used. Credit:
Closeup of ball color Packers used. Credit:

Compare this to top photo.
After a Packer carry, ball set on ground. Credit: NFL Replay
Here are some more, these are taken from a consecutive series so the lighting would be similar:
Ball look like normal Auburn brown. Credit NFL Replay.
Still in 2nd Quarter, ball looks, as Packers secondary said, "black". Credit: NFL Replay

More clear shorts from

Higher resolutions shots from first half of the game. Let eyes be the judge.


And you ask if there are other games? Yes. But only sometimes .Difference in colors, but more later on that.
Patriots versus Colts. 2014. Credit:
Once it is or is not determined by folks who were there that the football were different shades then questions could be asked what should ask what caused that? Would a week of practice in the rain do that? (The Pats use practice balls in games) Did it rain in  Foxborough that week?  Are there other games where the shades are indoors and are still different and what would the reason be? Are there games where the Patriots use footballs that appear exactly the same as the other teams? Yes. So, what was different here?

After speaking to several former NFL players (including one who kicked) and coaches there are varying theories among those who do agree that the shades of brown differ and that, again, PFJ will get to soon. But proceeding carefully is important because this may be a case of using a normally weathered ball that week, which, as long as it passes NFL referee inspection and air pressure is legal to use, Or there could be one more example of a team who seeming likes to cut corners doing it here for some advantage.

And my opinion? The kicking ball held by the official in maroon coat is, according to the chart above is "cinnamon". The one Brady is spiking is like "carob" or "mocha". The football the Packers were using in this came was same shade as the kicking ball in my estimation.

More later.

Update 5/13/2015
A.J. Feeley says he witnessed Patriots use doctored footballs

Update II 5/13/2015
What’s with this dark ball thing?

 Update III

Not dispositive, but weeks one and two of 2014 I couldn't discern a difference in the shades of brown each offense used. For the next two games versus Oakland and Kansas City, I cannot make the same claim, but here are samples from the next two weeks. You be the judge.
Now, however it gets confusing. AJ Green is catching a ball everyone is used to seeing, but BOTH Brady and Dalton used a ball more the color of something affected by Pepto Bismol. Just Saying.

This ball AJ Green is catching in pregame looks to be normal. Credit
The footballs Brady and Dalton are holding here look to be the dark shade. Credit:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Waufle Ball

The Ways and Means of a Defensive Line Coach
by John Turney

Mike Waufle. Art credit John Turney. 
Mike Waufle never meant to be a football coach, he wanted to be a New York State Trooper. Well, life has twists and turns much like a defensive linemen's route to the quarterback.

The Western New Yorker enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served for four years starting in 1972. From there he played football at Bakersfield Junior College, and was part of a team that won the JC National Title in 1976. From that he earned a trip to Logan, Utah, where he played defensive line at Utah State and was a team captain there, doing his best to uphold the tradition of the great defensive line legacy created by All-Americans Merlin and Phil Olsen.

Instead of going through the process of being a peace officer an opportunity arose for Waufle to begin a coaching career at Alfred University in his homestate of New York where he caught the coaching bug. Then, for five years he was an assistant at Utah State, moving on to Fresno State from 1985-88. He had a one-year stint at UCLA and then two years at Oregon State before settling at the University of California at Berkeley in 1992 for six years where he developed two All-Americans y Duane Clemons and Regan Upshaw  and his success caught the eye of Raiders coach Jon Gruden, whole hired Waufle to be the Raiders defensive line coach and got Waufle his start in the National Football League.

From the beginning his linemen did the things expected of defensive linemen
  stop the run and rush the passer, i.e. be three down players. One measure coaches look at is "splash plays" though it's not the only one. Much has been written than a good pass rush does not always end in a sack, which is true, and that sacks are not the only measure of a pass rusher. Nonethess, in the coaching world of college and the NFL coaches want and teach players to make splash plays because they turn games, forces fumbles and interceptions.

In this way, Waufles pupils have shown well since his entry to the NFL in 1998. 
Darrell Russell had one who had all the skills and was often in the backfield. Russell Maryland was a Raider in the late 1990s and was often getting "stuffs" which is a term coined bu Stats, LLC for tackling a running back in the backfield. Sacks, as is now common knowledge is tacking the quarterback for a loss and the term a popularized by Deacon Jones. But there was the typical cast of Raider Characters who made a lot of plays in the backfield, sacks and stuffs or "stacks?" Combining them together, a term coined by me right now.

Mike Waufle's career Sacks + Stuffs at his various coaching stops

After Oakland came the New York Giants and the opportunity to coach Michael Strahan and ended up yielding Waufle a Super Bowl ring in 2007. That season Strong-side linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, a defensive end by trade, would play defensive tackle along with nickle defensive tackle Justin Tuck (also a defensive end by trade) with Strahan and Osi Umenyiora the other end in a 4-DE set. Kiwanuke broke a leg late in the season and his role was filled by players like Barry Cofield and Jay Alford and they unsettled Tom Brady to the point the helped the high-flying 2007 Patriot offense to 14 points and won the Super Bowl. That season the Giants defense has 108 stuffs plus sacks (stacks),

After a two-year return to Oakland, in 2012 Jeff Fisher hired Waufle to coach his defensive line in St. Louis. And he's done exceptionally well in comparison to the league. In 2013 his Rams had 113 stacks (the second most by a Waufle-coached line) and since his arrival, no team has had more sacks plus stuffs.
Source: NFLGSIS, Complied by PFJ
2014 will bring challenges, if Aaron Donald can avoid a sophomore slump, if Chris Long can fully recover from his ankle injury, can Robert Quinn have another explosive year like he did in 2013, will Nick Fairly replace a solid player who contributed to the "stacks" on the Rams for the last three years?

Will the Gregg Williams preference for using 3-man lines on nickle and dime, keep the numbers like they were in 2014 ore will the increase to the 2012-2013 levels. Will Ethan Westbrook work into the player his talent suggests he can? All these are the question all coaches like Mike Waufle have to answer to their fans. But with the talent the Rams possess it's possible Waufle could have his line set a personal best in stacks in 2014.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Triplets, Trifectas, or Trios?

by John Turney

In 2014 Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antionio Brown  totaled 1148 touches of the football, twelve short of the all-rime record set by Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison in 2000. For our purposes the total includes passes and runs by the quarterback, runs and catches by the running back and catches plus any runs by the leading receiver.

Stats, LLC. used to publish yearly annuals with these totals, but not recently, therefore we've gone back and done the totals our way and updated it through 2014.

Manning and his cohorts have several places on those trios (including first all-time) who have reached  the 1000 mark in total touches, doing so with Edgerin James, Marshall Faulk as well with Denver in 2013. The Steelers are are  on a fine run in this category, only the suspension of Bell would keep them off this list in 2015. 
Credit: Panani
Credit: Ebay

The Rams were only 8-8 when their "Triple Threats Threds" had 1135 total touches in 2006. Drew Bledsoe, like Peyon Manning has several entries with a couple of teams on this list. The mid-1990 Lions with Barry Sanders, Herman Moore with Scott Mitchell really put the ball into just a few hands and were in the playoffs a few times. Workhorse James Wilder and Steve DeBerg have their team from thirty years ago on this list, in the top 10. Brett Favre, like Manning and Bledsoe had several appearances on this "over-1000 touches list). The 1999 Rams missed this list, but rank very high in the years gained by a trio from that year, in 2000 an injury to Kurt Warner likely kept the off. But in 2001 they had exactly 1000 touches and also rank high in the total yards of a triplet or trio.

credit: Comccom
Credit: Players, Inc

Credit: Topps, graphic by PFJ


One of the bigger surprises is the early 2000s New Orleans Saints making this list three times with trigger man Aaron Brooks and receiver Joe Horn. Once was with running back Ricky Williams, the other two  with Duech McAlister. In 2010, Sam Bradford was a rookie, Amendola was essentially a rookie with steady Steven Jackson and took a team that had 6 wins from 2007-2009 to a respectable 7-9 record in 2010 and are 12th all-time in terms of trio touches. Also, in a 30-year old  (1984) performance Neil Lomax, Ottis Anderson and Roy Green gave a huge performance that also ranks high on the total yards by three players list.

The original "Triplets" Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin appear twice on the list and Air Coryell with Fouts, Chuck Muncie and Kellen Winslow make an appearance, as kind of forerunners to the trio or triplet theory.
Credit: Panini

Credit: National Treasures

Credit: Leaf

Credit: Topps
Credit: Ebay

Credit: NFL Properties
The 2001 Rams had exactly 1000 total touches, but ranked very high in the yards gained by a trio. In 2000 a hand injury to Kurt Warner likely left them of the list and in 1999 they were below 1000 touches but very high in the yard gained, giving them top marks for efficiency.

Credit: Panini