If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have an interest in sports kits. If that interest extends to any great degree towards American sports, then Uni Watch should really be on your regular reading list.
Recently, a piece on the site noted that NFL side the Carolina Panthers had debuted five new uniform combinations this season (credit to reader Gabe Cornwall for doing the legwork) and we felt that we had to extend our artistic repertoire to mark this occasion.
For the uninitiated, in the NFL, generally speaking the home team has the choice of wearing a coloured or white jersey, with the visitors then having to go with the opposite (so the term ‘away jersey’ is more correct than in football).
In addition, clubs are allowed on three occasions in a season to wear something other than their primary or secondary jerseys – this can be an alternate/third, usually a different colour in the same style; a ‘throwback’, essentially a reworking of an old uniform; or a ‘Colour Rush’ uniform (see here for more).
Many teams lay out their jersey schedule at the outset of the season, with the Panthers also doing so. However, while there are restrictions on jersey usage, there are no such limits on shorts/socks combinations.
As Uni Watch said, up to this year the Panthers had generally used five combinations (NFL rules state that socks should be white from mid-calf downwards but this is often ignored so we have represented them as most often worn):
The black-silver-black, the most traditional look, has yet to be seen – it appears to have been usurped by black-black-blue (before the early 2000s, teams in the same colour jerseys and pants was exceedingly rare, except for all-white) and the silver pants have stayed in the cupboard all season season so far. The all-blue is the Color Rush outfit but that isn’t on the roster for the current season, and nor is the blue-silver-black.
Instead, the team have really flexed their muscle in terms of mixing things up, seemingly at the behest of the players.
Prior to the start of the season, NFL teams play four preseason games, with leeway allowed in terms of jersey usage. The white-white-blue was used against the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers in preseason and was also seen in week 5 against the New York Giants and the regular season meeting with the Steelers in week 10.
Against the Miami Dolphins in preseason, they went with blue-white-blue and this was also the combination for the only outing of the third jersey in the proper season, against the Ravens in week 8. However, this wasn’t a new combination.
For the preseason game against the New England Patriots, they did begin to push the boat out, wearing the blue jerseys with black pants and blue socks.
In the early part of the season, teams in warmer climes often opt to wear white and the Panthers did this for their first two home games, against the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals. However, in both, and the week 2 trip to the Atlanta Falcons in between, they opted to use the black socks for another first-time combination.
In week 6 against Washington (their fifth game, having had their ‘bye week’ early), the blue socks returned to the white uniform but this time joined by the black pants.
The following week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the blue socks were swapped for the black.
With white jerseys for their first six games and then blue against the Ravens, it meant that the black tops weren’t seen until week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For that game and last week’s matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, it was the black-black-blue that was favoured, but for the game against the Detroit Lions in Week 11, they went mono-black (the opposition, incidentally, were in their all-grey Colour Rush outfit).
For the rematch with the Buccaneers tomorrow, they are slated to wear white, with black to be used in the next three outings against the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons before they finish their regular season in white against the Saints.
We shall be watching to see if there are any more variations.