Canada Day, NFL Jersey Color Submission Day, Fourth of July

By Tim Brulia

To our many friends in Canada, a very Happy Canada Day and later this week, we wish all of our fellow Americans a Happy Fourth of July.  To both sides of the border, please be careful with the fireworks!

July 1 also marks an important day in the National Football League.  For it is the deadline date in which all teams must submit the jersey colors they intend to wear for their 10 home games (two preseason and eight regular season games) for the coming season.

I would assume that most teams have submitted their choices to the NFL well ahead of the deadline.  And likely, while the color selections may be iron-clad, extenuating circumstances may allow for last second revisions after the jersey submissions.  One example from last season may well be the Dallas Cowboys switching from what was a certain wearing of their recent tradition of 1960-1963 inspired Thanksgiving
Cowboy throwbacks, 2012
Cowboy Darks, 2013
throwbacks to their normal dark blue jerseys.
This was due to the late mandate by the NFL banning the use of two different colored helmets due to worries about potential concussion issues.

Exactly when this edict began is unknown to me, but it has been in place - I would assume - since at least the 1990's, and perhaps well before that.

While the 2013 Official NFL Rule Book does not specifically address the deadline, the 2010 Rule Book did. In a 2010 article I did for Uni Watch, I was able to cite a direct quote from that season's Rule Book:

"...playing squads are permitted to wear only (official team) colors or a combination of those colors for helmets, jerseys, pants, and stockings; provided that white is also an available color for jerseys and mandatory color for the lower portion of stockings."
"Before July 1 of each season, the home team is required to inform the NFL their choice of their jersey color (white or color) for their home games of the upcoming season and the away team MUST wear the opposite.
For any game (Pre-regular-post season), the two teams MAY wear jerseys in their official colors (non-white). As long as the Commissioner OK’s that the colors sufficiently contrast."
So basically, this means that every uniform matchup we will see on the field for 2014, from the Hall of Fame Game in Canton on the night of August 3rd to the last game of the regular season, scheduled to be played on Sunday night, December 28th, will have been known by the NFL and the clubs in question for the games to be played.

Some teams - but by no means all - will make these jersey colors public, either by website, press release, or their social media accounts on Facebook and/or Twitter.

For the most part, we usually know how these will play out.  The Cowboys and Dolphins usually wear white for almost all of their home games, many others will usually wear white at home early in the season when the weather is more summer-like; warm and humid.  Once the autumn winds creep into their environs, the dark jerseys will become the norm.  The rest are normally much more steadfast, and will wear only dark at home. Of course, there will be surprises that will be sprung upon us, as well as alternates and throwbacks.  All of these, as stated above, must be submitted to the NFL's Park Avenue offices in New York City by today.

Pants colors, unlike the jerseys, are exempt from the rules.  So, teams like the New Orleans Saints for example, will make known to the NFL that they will wear white at home for both preseason games, and perhaps their first four home games, then switch over to black jerseys for the rest of the season.  BUT the pants?  Well, they don't have to make know their plans to wear either gold pants or black pants until just before kickoff!  The NFL is only concerned with jersey colors as worn by the home team, and then the visitors must wear the opposite, be it white or dark.

Now you might ask, what happens if say BOTH teams want to wear their dark jerseys?  In such a scenario, a special petition to the Commissioner of the NFL must be made.  If Mr. Goddell believes the request passes muster, in particular, the jersey colors contrast enough (such as green vs. black, or red vs. black), he will likely approve the request.  You might ask, with such high-tech devices like big screen HD TV's being mainstream these days, why don't we see more color on color matchups?  It's my belief that the NFL sees that white vs. color is far and away the preferred choice and most obvious way to tell the teams apart, both on TV and in the flesh at the stadium, it's not really given much of a second thought.  Such is the NFL mindset on this matter that even a request by the Seahawks to wear their "wolf grays" against their opponent in dark has to go through this litmus test request of Commissioner Goddell.

Since we have discussed at length the timing process to determine who wears what and when for the preseason and regular season, what exactly is the process for the post season?  Though not etched in stone, it is likely that the home teams must make known to the NFL their jersey color no later than four days (or 96 hours) prior to kickoff. For the Super Bowl, the deadline for the designated home team is likely 11 days before the Big Game.  Normally, there are few - if any - surprises.  One notable stunner in the past decade was the Super Bowl XL jersey decision by the Pittsburgh Steelers to wear white instead of their customary black jerseys.
Super Bowl XL uniform matchup
The choice was made by Head Coach Bill Cowher as the Steelers had won three straight playoff games, all on the road, all while wearing white. Cowher believed that wearing black would be messin' with the mojo.

One of the more popular features of the GUD is our "White at Home in the NFL" listings by both team and by season, going all the way back to 1957, when the NFL issued, for the first time, hard and fast rules on one team in white jerseys, one team in dark jerseys.  It's a rather handy guide to quickly see the "WWWW" ("Who Wore What When") breakdown for your team or for a season you fondly recall.

So, while this week might be a great celebration of North America's Independence, not to mention the ongoing World Cup, Wimbledon and baseball campaigns, those of us at GUD will mark the decisions made today by the NFL's 32 teams in the weeks and months to come.


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