Some relics are priceless in their current
state -- regardless of the smell. Presented for your viewing pleasure is a Kiki DeAyala white away jersey from 1984. It remains
dirty and unaltered from the last time it was used. DeAyala led his defense into battle many times while wearing this
shirt, as evidenced by numerous incredible hit marks on the numerals, extensive wash wear and no less than seventeen
team repairs to this one-of-a-kind treasure.
Though the back of the jersey is dirty,
it only has one major repair (a patch to cover a hole near the right underarm). Here's a closer inspection of the upper
back of the shirt.
Another photo showing the
back of the jersey. Note the previously mentioned repair to the right of the large "1", near the middle of the numeral.Numbers were applied on Gamblers away jerseys
in two seperate layers -- the red color first, and the black color second. Often, specific Gamblers jerseys can
be identified in game video when the red number trim is not perfectly aligned with the inner black color. A quick
numeral scan reveals that the large "3" on the back has several unique characteristics.
Another interesting observation is that
the rear numbers were not centered on the shirt left to right, and were placed more to the left. Because of this, the "DeAyala"
name is considerably off-center versus the numbers.
Using all the clues listed above and matching them to video
copies of games, we know this jersey was worn by DeAyala on March 5, 1984 versus the San Antonio Gunslingers (week 2) and
on June 3, 1984 versus the Denver Gold (week 15). Because of the heavy wear, this jersey was probably worn in more than
just two games... More research to follow!
Video of DeAyala landing a devestating blow
to an opposing receiver while wearing this jersey.
Switching to a frontal view of the jersey, we can see the overall appearance of this Houston treasure.
Like most Gambler linebackers and linemen, DeAyala's jerseys were factory-fitted with spandex sides and undersleeves.
Because of the two-layer method
used to create the numbers on Gambler jerseys, no two player jerseys are exactly alike. Looking at the photo below, which
shows a closer view of the large numerals on the jersey front, one can notice the unique characteristics on the bottoms
of both numbers. While scanning game video to identify when this jersey was used, the unique red number trim was one of the
easiest ways to do so.
Here is a better look at the jersey's
front left shoulder and sleeve. I counted nine team repairs in this area alone. DeAyala was the Gambler's leading
tackler, and this is exactly the kind of wear you would expect to see on a heavily-used battle shirt.
Another view of the left sleeve. The hole
that was repaired above the "3" can clearly be seen during the game against Denver.
Players could wear their
sleeves shorter and tighter by tying a series of grommets together with string (which is something DeAyala opted to do). Most
Gambler lineman and linebacker jerseys are found with these holes, which go hand in hand with spandex sides and spandex
strips on the bottoms of the sleeves. This bottom view of the left sleeve gives us a good look at the grommet positions.
All legitimate Gamblers gamers have a tag
on the lower front left tail (some have a very small "100% Nylon" flag located at the bottom of this tag).
Russell Athletic manufactured all Gamblers team jerseys, and a tag similar to the one pictured should always be affixed with
white thread. Interestingly, this jersey fits much tighter than a size 48 after being factory-fitted with spandex sides.
A view of the lower front of the jersey.
These six buttons are here to hold a "crotch piece" in place. A crotch piece is a long strip of fabric
that hangs down from the rear tail of a jersey, and is pulled between the player's legs and fastened to the front
of the jersey with buttons. This keeps the jersey tight against the player's body, as well as tucked into the pants.