"Old Is New Again" or "What in Sam Hill is a 'Clash' Jersey?" - Part I ***UPDATED***

Prior to the 2015 season beginning, an announcement was made that Thursday Night games would be permitted to be waged as it was over 50 years ago - with both teams wearing colored jerseys. One year before "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the League instituted a rule in 1957 requiring each team to have a white jersey option. Doing so would provide contrast for viewers on television - the new medium for broadcasting games.

In the years leading up to that time, 'color versus color' (or CVC) was the norm. Teams like the Bears, Lions, and Redskins wore their colored jerseys for almost every game, in some cases for decades, without interruption. However, teams like the Giants, who primarily wore red jerseys for most of their games until 1953, needed something else in their lockers when they played Washington (burgundy), traveled to the Chicago Cardinals (red), or even went across town to visit the Brooklyn Dodgers (red). Two teams playing in red simply wouldn't do.

Enter the 'clash jersey.'  From 1937-52, the Giants carried an extra blue clash jersey designed to replace the normal red ones when they played a team wearing red (or reddish) jerseys. Other teams that featured clash jerseys included those same Dodgers and Cardinals whose versions of their clash jerseys were identical to their primary jerseys, just in a contrasting blue as opposed to red. Green Bay had plain or striped yellow jerseys to contrast their greens. The Rams had plain blue (plain red in 1949) to contrast their yellow jerseys in their Cleveland and early L.A. days. The Steelers had yellow versions of their black jerseys in the early 1940s. Even the Colts wore a plain, unstriped red jersey as a clash jersey when they played against other dark or navy jersey teams for their first three years of play.

So with HD televisions and an image-conscious NFL now encouraging CVC match-ups on Thursday Nights this season, some teams will eventually need to reach into the past in order to provide for the future. They will require a modern version of the clash jersey. After all, what better way to escalate jersey sales than to require nearly half of the League to add a new official jersey?

Despite such NFL 'shoves' in that direction, several teams either can't, or shouldn't, go the clash jersey route. For example, if your team has only two colors in their color scheme and one of them is white, you should really stick with that color and white. I'm looking at you, Colts and Jets. First, I can't picture a black & royal or a black & green version for either team. Second, while a blue clash jersey was fine for those red teams half a century ago, I don't think the League wants teams to introduce a color that is not part of the team's scheme. <coughNinerscoughblackjerseycough> Excuse me, please. What was that?

Some teams actually already possess their clash jerseys. The Chargers have their powder blues that would provide enough contrast against other navy based teams. The Broncos still carry their navy jerseys as an alternate that can be worn against other orange or red teams when wearing their own orange wouldn't slice it. The Cardinals have a black jersey to wear against other red-based clubs.

Other teams have worn their clash jersey in the past but have since abandoned it and would need to resurrect said third jersey. The Bears wore an orange jersey as an alternate from 2005-11. The Falcons wore the black version of their current red primary as their main jersey for several years in the early 2000s until switching to the current red and creating a black throwback that has since been abandoned as well. My favorite would be the Saints bringing back the gold jerseys they wore for a single game back in 2002.

Fans would likely need to get used to seeing plenty of yellow (not gold) as clash jerseys. Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Kansas City, and Washington all utilized yellow as their main 'second color' other than white. These yellow jerseys would necessitate the Packers, Steelers, and Redskins to add a new pair of pants to their wardrobe as a mono-yellow look would be hard on the eyes.

What, then, should these new clash jerseys look like?

Well, one thing we can be sure of. Back in the day, the Cardinals sometimes kept their red socks to wear with their blue clash jerseys. Other times they coordinated and paired matching blue socks with the blue jerseys. In today's NFL, any team going with the clash combo would go the 'whole nine yards' in order to match up and down.

For the AFC as already noted, the Jets and Colts would not add an extra jersey. The Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Jaguars, Texans, Titans, Broncos, and Chargers each already have a white jerseys and two differently colored jerseys and therefore need no further additions. That leaves the Bills, Patriots, Dolphins, Steelers, Chiefs and Raiders being in need of a newly colored clash jersey. But after thinking about it, my belief is that the Raiders would forgo every opportunity to add a third jersey. I thought about a silver jersey similar to what the Patriots used for several years but I couldn't see that getting paired with silver pants. And since the Raiders just don't wear something other than silver pants, I went ahead and added Oakland to the Colts and Jets as teams not receiving a new jersey.

This was a relatively easy swapping of red and blue. I did the same thing with the socks.

Navy and red are exchanged again. I was tempted to remove the jersey side-panels but decided against it. The pants stripes were recolored so that the stripes match the jersey side-panels. The belt was also changed to red. I was tempted to change the silver shoulder stripes on the clash jersey to navy but decided against it due to the fact that they'd then look too much like the Texans' red jerseys.

An exchange of orange for aqua has this clash jersey combo resembling the one worn in 2003-04 and again in 2009-10. I thought about reversing the orange and aqua in the pants stripe but then it would not match the helmet stripe so I left it be.

Half-way through this clash jersey I had a change of heart. Due to the way the Steelers have cut their 'northwestern' sleeve stripe pattern in half, along with the fact that the home jersey and road jersey patterns are not the same, I decided to go with the road white jersey template and change it into a yellow clash jersey. Black and yellow were reversed and the socks, too, were changed to yellow. I badly wanted to add northwestern stripes to the socks but came to the conclusion that complete NW stripes on the socks would be too much in contrast with the abbreviated set of stripes on the sleeves so I left them out. In order to avoid the 'full-banana,' I chose to bring back the white pants worn by the Steelers in 1970-71 which would actually look really good when worn with either of the other two jerseys, as well.

The Chiefs (and/or the NFL and its jersey manufacturers) have been producing novelty yellow Chiefs jerseys for years. Now one will finally see game action. White and yellow have been swapped out in a re-colorizing of the Chiefs' road white jersey. This clash jersey just screamed to be paired with the Chiefs' red pants.

The rest of the AFC - minus the Colts, Jets, and Raiders - should already be familiar to our viewers but, for consistency, we'll include them here.

Not sure how much contrast black provides versus the purple. I can't see how Baltimore could wear purple against a team wearing, say, navy. Black wouldn't be much good in that case, either.

Definitely adequate contrast provided here, though.

Ditto for the Browns.

No problems here.

For the sake of brevity, let's just say that contrast is not the problem here.

Despite putting the light blue jerseys into storage, they'd work well as a clash jersey. But would a red jersey work better? I think it does. And it is a team color, too.

I still like the navy jersey better.

Will Spanos ever wake up and make the powders the primary?

The NFC should present some more opportunities.

The Eagles, Panthers, 49ers, Cardinals, and Seahawks each have three existing jerseys.

The Cowboys are my only team that I have determined do not need a third jersey (to be explained next time).

That leaves 10 teams in the rest of the NFC needing their clash jerseys developed from scratch or resurrected from the storage closet.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Bill Schaefer


  1. I think yellow over black pants would be a tremendous look for the Steelers. I know they've never worn black pants ever, but boy, would that be snazzy!

  2. The RAIDERS need a silver clash jersey, and the Jets & Colts, needs black clash jerseys in the AFC.



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