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As any sharp dresser knows, it’s not just which clothes you own, but how you mix and match them. That’s the lesson behind two interesting NFL trends this season. The first is the disturbingly XFL-esque trope toward solid-color unis. Teams have traditionally paired their colored jerseys with white or light pants, but the Bears, Bills, Broncos, Seahawks, Patriots, and Jets have all experimented with wearing their colored trousers—normally worn only with the teams’ white jerseys—with their colored tops, creating an unsightly monochromatic effect.
NFL rules stipulate that the home team gets to choose whether to wear its white or colored jersey. But the regulations are silent on the issue of pants, so the solid-color look is technically within league guidelines. At first, the trend involved only teams wearing black or navy, but then the Jets took the field wearing solid green, and how long can it be before the Cardinals or Chiefs match up their red trousers and red jerseys? (Thankfully, the Vikings and Ravens only have white pants in their wardrobes, so the world is safe from solid-purple unis, at least for this year.)
Fans don’t buy football pants—not yet, anyway—so this is the rare uni trend that has nothing to do with merchandising. As it turns out, it’s the players who are behind this fashion fiasco (which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen what football players wear off the field). “Peerless Price kinda championed it here,” a Bills spokesman told Uni Watch, and a Bears rep said, “The players just thought it would look cool.” And will teams maintain the solid-color look? Most publicists said something akin to “It’s always an option,” although the Bears rep, noting that Chicago wore solid black during a loss to Green Bay, said, “Nothing’s good when you lose to the Packers, so we might not do it again.”
The other odd NFL development involves a more traditional look, but one that’s showing up in untraditional places. To wit: Except for the Cowboys and Redskins, home teams have almost universally opted to wear their colored jerseys—until now. The Dolphins, Browns, Bucs, Chiefs, Titans, Falcons, Panthers, Chargers, and Texans have all worn white at home at least once this season. The explanation here? Most of these franchises are warm-weather teams, and as a Dolphins rep told Uni Watch, “We think it’s an advantage to wear white and make the other team wear their colors in the hot sun.” Some of these clubs, like the Chargers, will revert to wearing colors at home as the weather gets cooler.
Ironically, while wearing white at home is untraditional on the gridiron, it’s standard procedure in the other major sports, where teams wear white or light shades at home, gray or darker colors on the road. Which just goes to show that tradition is as tradition does.