Friday, January 21, 2011

Bengals Mini-helmet version 2.0

A couple weeks back I posted my step-by-step rundown of my custom Cincinnati Bengals helmet in which I attempted to make the Bengals helmet closer to nature.

That post can be found here:

Like anything done for the first time, I made some mistakes. Chief among them not waiting long enough for the black base layer to completely cure. When I removed the masked off stripes it removed much of the black paint with it. Looking back, it was an ambitious undertaking for my first try.

For my second try I skipped the black bottom layer and instead applied the decals over the top of the white and orange. I figured this would look cleaner and would be easier to execute.

Other than that each step was done in exactly the same way.

The finished product (note the awesome NFL helmet bedsheets):

oh and by request, the white facemask compared to the black facemask

I still like the white better. 

Thanks guys for your input and help. I really love the way it turned out and I'm thankful so many people were interested in this little project of mine. 

There you have it. If you agree, disagree, or have thoughts of your own. Share them with me at OR follow us on twitter at!/SeanMcCarthySHM

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Everyone Hates You For Being a Steelers Fan.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the AFC Championship game again and this Sunday they host the New York Jets in what they hope will be their 8th trip to the Super Bowl. I can't say I feel good about this. This has been on the top of my mind for a long time and I'd like to collect my thoughts in this forum because in regular conversation or facebook comments the discussion almost always devolves into name-calling and dick-measuring. I firmly believe that the fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, for reasons both in and out of their control, are among the worst fans in professional sports. 

So what do I know about Steeler fans? Well prior to this season I've spent each of the last 4 football seasons in Athens, Ohio. With Athens being the home of Ohio University and of relatively the same distance from Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, it's a melting pot of NFL football fandom. I'm convinced there's no better place to be on NFL Sunday than Athens. There's a sizable group of fans from the Bengals, Browns, and Steelers fanbases, and each has their own designated watering hole. There's also a small group of people who cheer for teams outside of the AFC North. They meet at BW3's on Sunday. I've even seen a guy in a Maurice Jones-Drew Jaguars jersey. We don't need to talk about them.

Funny story, I once saw 4 friends walking down Court Street sidewalk with each one wearing a different jersey of a team from the AFC North. Even Baltimore (the hard one to find) was represented. It was inspiring and beautiful in its diplomacy. 

So I know a lot of Steelers fans. I'm actually friends with a few of them, believe it or not, but that doesn't sway me from believing that they are the worst fans in the NFL. 

Am I objective enough to talk about the Steelers? Probably not. I hate the Steelers more than any team in pro sports. I hate Hines Ward and his fat smiling face. I hate Ben Roethlisberger and his ability to lumber out of any backfield sack, though I do find it hilarious that college aged girls are still wearing his jersey. We're not going to let you sweep that under the rug, Steeler fans. I hate their competently run organization. I hate the terrible towel (Is it really that terrible or are you just fans of alliteration?). My OCD hates that the logo is only on one freaking side of the helmet and overall I hate that they win year in and year out. I hate the Steelers so much I don't understand how anyone could like them. I'm not objective at all, but I'm still going to try to politely compose my thoughts. 


Before we get to my reasoning allow me to explain some things before you misconstrue what I'm trying to say. First, this isn't an argument about on-field success. A Bengals fan will lose that battle every single time against a Steelers fan. I'm not denying the Steelers 6 Super Bowl titles, nor am I denying their sustained success since their first Super Bowl championship in 1974. Actually, it'll help prove my point later. The Steelers are a well-run, intelligently operated organization that does a lot of things right, and I'll give my respect to the team in that regard. However, that's not what we're talking about here. 

I'm also not talking about a specific subsection of Steelers fans or the fact that they have thousands of bandwagon fans with no connection to the city of Pittsburgh. I don't care how you became a fan of the Steelers. I don't care if you're from Pittsburgh. I don't care if you live in Pittsburgh. I don't care if you're one of the many bandwagon fans that lives outside of Pittsburgh. I don't care if your parents are Steelers fans. I don't care if you're a 4th generation Steelers fan. I don't care if your dad played for the Steelers. I don't care if your dad is Terry Bradshaw. I don't care how you became a fan or how long you've been a fan. All that matters to me is that you are a fan of the Steelers. 

Thirdly, am I jealous of the Steelers success? Yes. Am I bitter? Yes. I'm not denying that either. I'll own that all day long. I wish the Brown family operated the Bengals like the Rooneys operate the Steelers. I wish the Steelers had allowed Carson Palmer to play more than one snap in 2005's wildcard round. I wish the Bengals had 1/6th of the Steelers' super bowl success. I'm incredibly envious of what Steeler fans get every single season, and the fact that cheering against the Steelers has worked about as well as cheering for the Bengals, but that's not what I'm talking about. 

I'm not talking about how the Steelers seemingly get every bounce (ie. This season when the Bills' Stevie Johnson dropped the game winning TD pass with no coverage in OT) or that they seemingly get every favorable call (ie the phantom holding call on Baltimore's Defense last week, or the entirety of Super Bowl XL), and I'm not talking about how injuring Carson Palmer made it unquestionably easier for the Steelers to beat the Bengals in 05. Like I said, I'm bitter, you would be too. 

So what am I talking about? I'm talking about why being a Steelers fan automatically makes you the worst fan in sports.

When you become a fan of a professional sports franchise you make a deal that in exchange for paying for tickets and merchandise, and devoting your time and energy while watching crappy teams perform poorly, they'll give you one or two (if you're lucky) really good teams that go onto win championships. 

Pittsburgh fans have weaseled out of the first condition of being a fan. Being a Steelers fan is incredibly easy. There's no struggle, there's no sacrifice. There's never a point where they look at another losing season and question why they're still a fan. They never have to watch a season fall apart in September. The only thing easier than being a Steelers fan is being a Yankees fan. 

But Sean, what about the Patriots or the Colts, haven't their fans had it pretty easy? True, but both franchises have also had downright horrible seasons, recently too. Prior to this decade both franchises have a history of long stretches of futility. The Steelers do not, not since 1972 at least. In the last 25 years the Steelers worst record is a 5-11 in 1988. No Steelers fan my age remembers that season. They never have the absolutely hopeless, miserable, depressing seasons that every other NFL franchise has gone through. I'm talking 0-16 (Lions), 1-15, 2-14, 3-13. At this point I'd be happy if the Steelers just once went a Bengalian 4-12. 

In 2003 they went 6-10. How cute, they think that's bad. That must've been awful for you guys. That 6-10 finish led to drafting Ben Roethlisberger. In 2004 they went 15-1. In 2005, they won the Super Bowl. 

But Sean, the Steelers didn't win the Super Bowl from 1979 through 2004. Also true, but losing becomes easier when you have 4 titles to fall back on. You think Bills fans would be so strung out about their 4 Super Bowl losses if they won the first one or if they'd won one since? No way. When your team is good in the NFL you get to watch meaningful football all season long. When they're in the playoffs you get to go to playoff parties, gather with friends, and you get to do that every time they advance. Even if the end result isn't a Super Bowl championship, at least you didn't have to endure a long tedious season of bad football. If the Steelers are eliminated by the Jets on Sunday their fans won't bat an eye because they already have 6 in the bank. On the other side, a loss by the Jets, a team that hasn't won the Super Bowl since 1969, will be felt a lot harder. 

But Sean, the Steelers were pathetically terrible before the 70's. Again, true, but how many Steeler fans were even alive for that period? Even if they were and are old enough to remember it, the last 40 seasons of league dominance has done more than enough to heal any old wounds. 

I guess I should point out that selecting an NFL team is generally an arbitrary process. Few people choose their favorite team. Most people grow up from a young age liking one team for one reason or another and stick with it, but rarely is it a conscious decision. 

Also, being a fan of a team means what they do in the front office and on the playing surface is completely out of your control. Fans can make noise and make it more difficult for the visiting team, but as an individual there's really nothing you can do to help your team win and you certainly aren't a better person for liking a winning team. We're all just along for the ride.

Because it's so arbitrary and out of your control, being a fan of a consistently good team is essentially like being born to rich parents. Basically, you're fortunate to be given a team that wins more often than not because you have no role in their victories. Constantly boasting about on-field performance is like bragging about how much money your dad has. You had no say in it so why are you shouting? And it is true, Steeler fans love to boast. 

Steeler fans are the NFL's rich kids. There's no struggle, you don't have to work for anything, but you're given everything you could ever want. It's why the Saints winning the Super Bowl in 2009 was a far better story than the Steelers winning it in 2008. They were a historically terrible franchise and their fans deserved it with all their years of supporting a horrible team. The Steelers fans didn't deserve anything in 2008. 

For that struggle, I respect Saints fans. I respect the fans of the Lions, the Chiefs, the Chargers, the Bills, the Falcons, the Vikings, and I even respect Browns fans. I respect any fan who has stuck around through the entirety of a down period and remained through thick and thin. I have no respect for fans of the Steelers because there is no thin. None. 

As if it couldn't get any worse, the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins have 3 championships of their own in the last 20 years. What the hell?

So call the whambulance, but I hope the Jets win. I hope they win by 50. I hope the Steelers are demoralized and it sets them back for a decade. If they do beat New York I hope they're defeated by either the Bears or Packers in the Super Bowl. Those are the things I hope for, but a lifetime of watching Steeler teams troll their way through the NFL has left me with that same sinking feeling as always. I'm not optimistic. Come on Jets, Packers, Bears! Do it for the rest of us and rescue us from another Pittsburgh championship. Save us from the NFL's version of the trust fund babies. 

At least the Pirates suck. Thank god for baseball's pay structure. 

There you have it. If you agree, disagree, or have thoughts of your own. Share them with me at OR follow us on twitter at!/SeanMcCarthySHM

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arts and Crafts Time! My Cincinnati Bengals Helmet Project

I've been a Cincinnati Bengals fans for as long as I can remember. Part of what attracted me as a little kid was their awesome tiger striped helmet.
It satisfies every aspect of a good football helmet. It's 1.) unique in football, 2.) instantly recognizable, 3.) looks sharp from any angle, and 4.) descriptive.

That said, if we're going for accuracy, real Bengal tigers aren't exclusively orange and black. No, real tigers have white underbellies that fade into the orange of their back while the black stripes remain constant.
SHM's favorite picture

So I set out to make a zoologically (is that a word?) accurate Cincinnati Bengals helmet. To save cash and resources I decided to use mini helmets because they're smaller, cheaper, and easier to work with.

here's a quick mockup:

I started with a blank shell that I bought online. I used black because I needed black as the base color.

next, I removed the pads, chinstrap, and front and rear bumpers. and taped off the pad in the middle of the shell. 

I then masked off the stripes using the tiger stripes ripped from this Bengals mini helmet I bought online. Ebay is a beautiful thing.

With the black stripes masked off the next step was adding the orange top-coat. Sprayed the whole helmet several times with a plastic-special orange gloss spray paint. 

Now, I don't pretend to be a graffiti artist, but I'm kinda proud of this next step. To get the white to orange fade I was looking for I sprayed the bottom half of the helmet with white gloss using cardboard to  keep from spraying too much of the helmet. 

Once it dried I cut the stripes out using an exacto knife and peeled them off revealing the black layer underneath. 

The adhesive from the stripes left some residue on the base layer and some rogue orange paint snuck in, but it's nothing that can't be cleaned up later. Also, that is my real arm hair. My great grandfather may have been a gorilla. 

reattached the front and rear bumpers, glued the ear pads back in, snapped on the chinstrap, and fit the new white facemask (also purchased online) to make the helmet complete. 

All that's left is to clean up the stripes, and add the NFL sticker, bumper stickers, green dot, and warning stickers that are in the mail. Other than that, I think the zoologically (did I make that word up?) accurate Bengals helmet turned out pretty cool, but I am in no way endorsing a change from their current and classic 6-striped helmet. WHO-DEY

There you have it. If you agree, disagree, or have thoughts of your own. Share them with me at OR follow us on twitter at!/SeanMcCarthySHM

Thursday, January 6, 2011

NFL Playoff Predictions

At this time last year I was nervously anticipating the Bengals appearance in the postseason against the New York Jets. I expected to be in the same situation again this year. The Bengals only improved personnel wise and they were coming back with the confidence they had from winning the AFC North the year before. They finished 4 and 12 and lost ten games in a row in that stretch. Needless to say, they're not in the playoffs this year. This leaves me without a real rooting interest in the NFL's postseason. Last year I was leaning heavy on the Saints because I loved their story, but other than the hope that Pittsburgh doesn't get to the Super Bowl again and If I can help it, neither do the Patriots, I'm struggling to find a team to get behind. 

Last year I picked the Bengals to win the Super Bowl because I'm an undeniable homer and my bias knows no bound. With only rooting interest against some teams my judgment is less clouded for the 2011 playoffs. So here they are, my picks for the 2010 NFL Playoffs that are sure to be wrong. 

Each pick is only for the winner of the game. No line will be provided, no score will be provided. 

AFC WIldcard
The "Peyton Manning is better than Mark Sanchez" Pick.

This is the Colts 9th consecutive playoff appearance, which ties an NFL record. To put that in perspective, the Bengals have 9 playoff appearances in their 40+ year history. The Jets have just 13 in their 50 year history. Most of the credit for this streak goes to Peyton Manning, the Colts reliable quarterback. It just goes to show what kind of standards the Colts are operating under. Their "bad" season is a 10-6 campaign and the AFC's 3 seed hosting a home wildcard game against the Jets. Wasn't that exact set of circumstances considered one of the Bengals' all-time great years one year ago?

I'm taking the Colts to beat the Jets. Despite playing in two of the last four Super Bowls the Colts have a reputation as playoff choke artists. I don't think it happens here. The Colts will outscore a Jets offense that has gotten back on track as of late, but I won't bet against Manning in a battle of Manning and Sanchez. 

The "not-yet-ready-for-the-big-show" Pick

The Chiefs remind me of the Bengals from a year ago. They run the ball well, they don't score a ton of points, and they play solid defense. They also came out of nowhere and won a weak division. The Raiders went 6-0 in the west, but 2-8 outside of it just to show what we're dealing with. 

This is the first home playoff game for the notoriously loud Arrowhead Stadium since 2003, but I think the Ravens who are making their third consecutive playoff appearance will take this one. They've won 3 road playoff games in the last two years and I don't think the Chiefs are ready to deal with the Ravens' experience...or their offense or their defense.

NFC WIldcard
The "Saints are a walking MASH unit, but you're still 7-9" Pick

The Seahawks won the NFC West with a record of 7-9, which is the first time in league history that a division has been captured with a sub .500 record. Watching the game between the Seahawks and Rams that decided the winner of the NFC West was the funniest/saddest football game I've seen in a while. It was like watching an episode of 16 & Pregnant. It was two morons arguing over something and you know nothing good is going to come out of one of them. 

The only thing better than a 7-9 team winning their division would be said 7-9 team winning a playoff game. I don't think it's going to happen, even with the Saints battered offense with Reggie Bush as the lead back. Remember when it used to be a good thing to have Reggie Bush as your featured back? Saints over Seahawks, but the Hawks will make it closer than everyone thinks. 

The "Aaron Rodgers seems like a really good dude" Pick

The Packers quarterback seems like a really good dude. Just does. I like the Packers over the Eagles. Just because. Rhyming pick. 

I don't trust Vick and I think the Packers have the defense to contain him while the Eagles won't be able to stop Aaron Rodgers on the other side. I'm going with Green Bay. 

AFC Divisional Playoffs
The "Tom Brady looks like adult Simba" Pick

With his long hair, every time Tom Brady gets on his teammates I think of that scene at the end of Lion King where Simba fights Scar. The Ravens are scar. They won last year in Foxboro in the playoffs, but like Simba the Patriots will come back older, wiser, and with cool dude surfer hair. I'm picking the Patriots in this one because they're 14-2, they play solid football all around, they don't make mistakes, and they've learned the lesson the Ravens taught them a year ago and that's be ready for Ray Rice. The Ravens defense is old, and not great against the pass. Expect Brady to exploit that. 

The "Anybody but the Steelers" Pick

At a bar on New Year's Eve a Steelers fan asked me, "how does it feeeeeel to be out of the plaaaaayofffss, Suckaaaaa?". That's actually what he said with the same tone and inflection, not making that up. I replied, "normal". Because it is normal for me. Steeler fans feel like they're entitled to the playoffs every year and it's why everyone around the league hates you, Pittsburgh. Your team wins all the time, but you aren't cool about it. Colts fans are. I'm picking the Colts and I'm not even going to explain why. This is my bias-clouded-homerific pick. 

NFC Divisional Playoffs
The "Falcons are this year's Saints" Pick

Prior to last season the Atlanta Falcons had never had back-to-back winning seasons and now they're 13-3 and the NFC's number 1 seed. Matt Ryan is becoming one of the NFL's top quarterbacks and Micheal Turner will be good to go. In a rowdy Georgia Dome, I'm taking the Falcons over the Packers. 

The "I don't trust Jay Cutler" Pick

In the playoffs a lot of a team's success hinges on the play of their quarterback. Jay Cutler of the Bears has been solid this season, but he's still a mini Brett Favre. He has a tendency to throw interceptions at the wrong time and I don't like putting him into a position of pressure. Also, I like the Saints and their experience. Going with the Saints in this rematch of the 2006 NFC championship game. 

Conference Championships
The "Haven't we done this before?" Pick

The Patriots and Colts has been the rivalry of the last decade. They met for the AFC Championship in 2003 and 2006. They've combined for 6 of the last ten AFC Championships and they have two of the best quarterbacks in the league. I think the Patriots win though. 

The "NFC South battle" Pick

The Saints and Falcons have developed a pretty nasty rivalry. The Falcons seem to have taken the luck of the Saints and will ride it to a victory to go their second super bowl in franchise history. I'm basing this pick off of the game the two teams played two weeks ago where the Falcons barely lost a game they didn't really need. I think they play with more fire in the NFC championship and avoid "Brett Favreing" themselves into losing to the Saints. 

Super Bowl 45
The "Holy-hell that's a terrible logo" Pick

That is just an absolutely terrible Super Bowl logo. It's all I can think about. If you haven't heard, and it's likely that most of you haven't, the NFL has moved away from unique and different logos for each Super Bowl and instead has instituted a "logo system". Apparently from now on, every Super Bowl logo will be a gray scale lombardi trophy atop the roman numerals with a defining feature of the host city behind it. As a logo dork, this is upsetting. 

According to the Patriots players this team is better than the one that went undefeated in 2007. They lost early to the Jets, but avenged it with a 45-3 Monday night beatdown. They had one lapse where they seemed disinterested in Cleveland, but they'll be mentally prepared without the distraction of going undefeated in the Super Bowl. Atlanta is 13-3, but the NFC was down this year without a truly great team. 

I think the Patriots win their fourth Super Bowl. 

Don't hold me to this. 

There you have it. If you agree, disagree, or have thoughts of your own. Share them with me at OR follow us on twitter at!/SportsHateMe