Looking Like A Fool, With Yo' Pants On The Ground

Yesterday here at the Gridiron Uniform Database, Bill's article on the monochrome-white look stirred up some debate here at the website.  For the most part people apparently can tolerate monochrome uniforms (whether white or color) as long as they are not matching the pants of the opponents.  For example, mono-white can look good, as in the examples Bill used yesterday, as long as the other team is wearing colored pants.

Bears at Cowboys, 2004 - a rare color-on-color matchup
in the modern-day NFL
What if they were to simply apply the same logic to pants as they do now to the tops?  If a home team is wearing a white pant, the visitors shouldn't wear white pants also, just like now if a team wants to wear white (the jersey top, that is) at home, the other team must wear a color.  (With the exception of the occasional color-on-color matchup, like the Bears vs. Cowboys in 2004, although even then the throwback Cowboys had white shoulders.  Color-on-color matchups, of course, were the norm before the days of television.)

Why not apply the same logic to pants as well?  Teams like the Colts that now only have white pants should be required to have a second color of pant, and while the Colts could certainly intend to wear white pants as much as possible, as that is their classic look, in a case where they are on the road against, say the Bears, who choose to wear navy tops and white pants, then the Colts would have to go with white tops and blue pants.  Worse case scenario, for the Colts, then, would be to be playing on the road against a team that chooses to wear mono-white at home, and then they would have to wear mono-blue, I'm not sure that would be a good look -- of course, instead of blue they could have gray pants, like they wore from 1982 through '86.  Interestingly enough, when the Colts did wear those gray pants, they only wore them with the blue tops, and not the white. 

That would be the drawback to this system, basically if teams were required to have two colors of pants, to contrast when an opponent wears white at home, does a team choose to have as their "second pant," pants of the same color as their colored jersey (in the Colts' case, blue) or do they have a neutral pant, like a gray.  If they have a gray, they then could pair the colored jersey with the gray, but the whole point was to pair the colored pant with the white jersey.  But if the only non-white pant that they have is the color, then they take the risk of being forced into wearing mono-color, if the opponent chooses to wear mono-white at home.  Of course, there would be nothing to stop a team like the Colts from having white, blue and gray pants.

Syracuse in mono-orange.  Some colors just
don't look good in monochrome.
Maybe we need to look at the short three game trial the 1995 Colts gave to their blue pants, and see why they "didn't work."  Did they wear them against other colored pants?  Did they wear them against white pants?  I think it was just a case of that's what they've known for so long, and it looked different.  Perhaps a trial of any sort should be a whole season before it is summarily dismissed.

Take for instance the old Bucs' creamsicles uniforms.  Up through 1991, the Bucs only had white pants.  In 1992, they debuted orange pants, and they were mostly liked (when paired with the white top, of course).  If you went with our proposed system, a road game against a team wearing mono-whites, the Bucs would have been required to wear mono-orange -- a look that the team never tried.  (Although Sam Wyche reportedly did propose it for his final game in 1995, he was overruled by Hardy Nickerson.)  Would these 1992-96 Bucs, under our system, have had a third pant, in order not have to wear mono-orange to avoid clashing with white-on-white road opponents?  Perhaps they would have added a black pant?  Or what if they had simply added pewter-pants to their existing ensemble, as in this example to the right?  Perhaps the 1997 redesign wouldn't have even been necessary, had they slightly modified their existing uniforms in this way.
The Bucs, however, with the 1997 redesign, now offer the ultimate in uniform versatility.  They have a white top and a color top (red) paired with white pants and a color pant that is a different color than the top (pewter).  They can therefore go mono-white, or white-with-color-pant or color-with-white-pant, or color-with-different-color-pant without going mono-color.  And in the fourteen seasons with this uniform set, they have and do wear all four combinations.  Under our system they at least have the opportunity to avoid wearing clashing pants at all times.  Why then, therefore, would they choose to wear the white pants against the white-panted Falcons as in Bill's example yesterday?  Under our rules, they would then have worn the pewter pants, which would have looked better, in our humble opinion.

Wouldn't this look better with the Jets in green pants?

The Jets are another team that gets the thumbs-up -- and while using only one color besides white.  They can go mono-color, mono-white, color-white or white-color, and they do wear all four combos.  That hasn't prevented them, however, from wearing mono-white against a team wearing white pants.

Many teams already have two colored tops and two color pants, and some don't even have white pants at all.  The Saints, for example, have only gold and black pants.  They can go mono-black if and when they want, and they do.  (Just don't do it against a team wearing black pants, as Bill showed us yesterday.)

Teams like the Raiders and Lions, for example, both have only silver pants.  Look at this picture to the right.  These pants do clash, but it somehow looks all right.  Or does it?  Would it look even better if the Lions were wearing blue pants?  Or how about if the Raiders paired white pants with the black home jersey.  (But that's their iconic silver-and-black look!  No, we can't mess with that, I can hear you scream.  Relax -- they are the home team.  So the Lions, here, would have had to adopt either a blue or a white pant.  Hmmm.  Mono-white wouldn't look so bad here, I would think.  But I did like the blue pants that the Lions had in 1998.

With the Bucs going with mono-white for this
2009 game, the Cowboys wearing blue-over-silver
gets the "thumbs-up" from us here at The
Gridiron Uniform Database
.  Had the Bucs gone

with white-over-pewter, under our rules
the Cowboys would have had to pair the
blue jersey with...uh...wait a minute, both of the
Cowboys' pants are two different shades of silver,
both of which could theoretically be deemed
to clash with pewter.
Under our system would the Cowboys need
to add a blue or a white pant?  Hmmm.

So bottom line, our proposal would be that all teams should have two sets of pants, just like they all have at least two jersey tops now.  When there is a conflict, the road team should have to wear a contrasting pant from the home team.

With the Women's World Cup being in the news right now, one can look at the traditional system that soccer has used.  Both teams have a "normal kit" and a "change kit".  A team will generally always wear the normal kit, but if there is a conflict with the opposing team, they will wear the change kit.  In practice, this winds up being pretty much what the Cowboys do.  Preferring to wear their white uniform, in a league where teams mostly wear colors at home, has the net result of them almost always wearing the white uniform.  They last wore their regular blue "road" uniform in 2009, as last season they we able to get by wearing either their whites or their throwbacks entirely.

~ ~ ~

So what do you all think?  Should all teams be required to have two pairs of pants?  Should NFL games feature exclusively non-clashing pants, like they do with jerseys now?

Coming up this weekend our head researcher Tim Brulia will be bringing us some interesting uniform research he recently conducted at the Library of Congress in Washington, and also don't forget to vote this week in the latest round of uniform matchups in the Best NFL Uniform Of All Time Tournament


  1. I think all teams should have 2 different color pants. And contrasting pants in games isn't a bad idea.

    Off topic, I wish all teams had a mandatory alternate third uniform/jersey. It could be a throwback or a team color. There are currently no home or road gold/yellow jerseys. I would love to see the Redskins adopt an alternate yellow gold jersey to pair with the burgundy pants.

  2. "But I did like the blue pants that the Lions had in 1998." - RH

    Detroit's blue pants weren't around long enough to grow on me. It wasn't that they were bad, by themselves, but when paired with those grey (silver) socks...ewwww! They were 1998's version of Cleveland's brown pants - which HAD to go, by the way.

    At first,I hated Miami's aqua pants, but seeing them on a regular basis, well, I kinda got used to them and they grew on me. In of themselves, Cleveland's orange pants were hard to look at. But in hindsight, Cleveland (version 2.0) should never have gotten rid of the orange pants when they brought them back for '03-'04.

  3. At least they (the '98 Lions) gave them a full season unlike the Colts. And yes, maybe keeping the blue socks they normally wore with the silver pants would have looked better. But to compare them with Cleveland's brown pants? That's harsh. At least they didn't go with mono-brown. They could've even added a solid brown helmet. That really would've been a piece of... work.

    Cleveland's orange pants never really grabbed me '03-'04...it just wasn't same as in the Brian Sipe '75-'83 years, at least not to me.

  4. "With the Women's World Cup being in the news right now, one can look at the traditional system that soccer has used. Both teams have a "normal kit" and a "change kit"."

    not just soccer, this has been the norm in aussie football for well over 100 years, until the afl started pressuring clubs to use home/away, which some have staunchly balked at...older clubs have traditional kits, and additional "clash" kits (which, in itself is a fairly recent innovation, thanks to the advent of t.v.) for matches where there is a tendency for uniforms to (obviously) clash...

    if you like color v. color, it's a regular event in afl matches...

    btw, imho. the bucs creamsicles would look horrible with pewter or black pants...maybe a third alternate of red jerseys and orange pants, or red pants if they had to wear the orange tops on the road (at cleveland, e.g.), would look better in that alternate reality...

  5. Football DID have a primary/secondary set up before 1957. For ages the Giants and Cardinals among others had a red primary/blue secondary set-up.

    Football changed because as the TV boom hit the NFL and with games being televised in black & white, some teams just clashed too much. So the NFL remedied this situation with the mandatory white road/color home jersey rule starting in 1957.

    As for soccer, at least in the UK, domestic league soccer matches was virtually banned from telecasts for decades. So the impact of color clashes was not felt as strongly as here in the US with football. By the time league matches were televised broadly in England, color TV had been well established and thus no need for a white/dark rule.

    As for aussie rules, once games started being televised heavily Down Under, a rule stating that the visiting team MUST wear white shorts came into being. Helpful especially when Collingwood would be playing North Melbourne on the B/W telly in 1966.

  6. Why were domestic UK league games banned from the telly? You mean back in the day the big Man U versus Celtic United matches wouldn't have been on TV? Wasn't that as big over there as NFL is here?

  7. collingwood and north are still a clash match even with white shorts for the designated away club, and the same holds true for richmond and essendon...the afl has put pressure on each of these clubs to come up with a clash over the years...e.g., north has "argentina" (much lighter blue) bars v. collingwood when they are the designated away club, and collingwood just this season introduced a clash jumper for their designated away match v. north by eliminating one of the bars on the jumper (their first clash/away jumper was black bars on white, a change from white bars on black, but the afl wasn't satisfied and collingwood answered with new clash for north this season)...essendon has worn a wider sash v. richmond (as away club), while richmond has added yellow side panels in addition to their sash for their clash jumper (as away club) v. essendon...white shorts aren't helpful enough when both clubs wear white bars on dark jumpers or colored sashes on black...



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