For all photos, click to enlarge
Good morning, and welcome to the first Monday Morning Uni Watch report of the 2021 NFL season. Let’s begin in Landover, Md., where the Chargers and Washington provided something we don’t often see: an NFL game in which both teams wore TV numbers on their helmets.
A lot of people on Twitter asked me the last time this happened in the NFL. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the answer is 1960, because the Browns and Steelers both wore helmet numbers that season (and also in 1957, ’58, and ’59). Here’s a photo from their 1960 game:
There were presumably a fair number of games like this during the first couple of AFL seasons, because the Bills, Patriots, Broncos, and of course the Chargers all had helmet numbers during that period.
I’m thinking there may also have been some throwback games featuring both teams wearing helmet numbers, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Anyone..?
Update: Sure enough, reader/commenter Chris Hickey points out that the Broncos and Chargers played a throwback game in 2009 that fits the bill:
And in one final note regarding all of this, Chargers defensive lineman Joey Bosa was missing one of his helmet numbers for at least part of the second half (he appears to have had the other one):
In other news from around the league yesterday:
• The Packers added a “TT” memorial decal, apparently for former GM Ted Thompson, who died back in January:
I can’t make out the typography beneath the “TT.” The Packers did not wear this decal during the preseason, and I haven’t seen any announcement about it (anyone..?), so I’ll try to find out more today.
• Speaking of memorial decals, here’s something I missed in my NFL Season Preview: The 49ers are wearing a “70” memorial decal for Charlie Krueger. Unlike the Packers, they did wear this during the preseason, so there’s no excuse for my having missed it:
• Speaking of the Niners, they’ve added something new this season: uni-numbered chinstraps! The Chargers and KC have been doing that for decades, but this is the first time the Niners have done it:
• The Rams debuted their new white alternate jersey. Definitely their best uni combo, although it still has a lot of problems (additional photos here):
• The Rams also went with a seriously bold end zone design that I really liked (here’s last year’s for comparison):
• Colts quarterback Carson Wentz warmed up for yesterday’s game wearing the team’s new single-striped throwback pants (but then wore the proper double-striped pants for the game):
Carson Wentz set to begin a new chapter in Indy today. I asked him to describe his preseason for me. His answer: “wild.” @Colts @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/OnvBOk6I10
— Sara Walsh (@Sara_Walsh) September 12, 2021
• As had been previously announced, the games involving the two New York teams — Broncos at Giants and Jets at Panthers — featured 9/11-related sideline gear for all four teams:
— New York Giants (@Giants) September 12, 2021
• Speaking of the Panthers, their end zone wordmark was black (instead of last year’s Carolina blue):
• The Seahawks have two defensive linemen wearing Nos. 8 and 10. That’s not kosher, even under the new numbering rules, but they seem to have gotten away with it. Full details here.
• In a related item, two Panthers linebackers changed to single-digit numbers just prior to yesterday’s game.
• As is often the case early in the season, when the weather is warm, a fairly large number of home teams — eight of them — wore white: the aforementioned Rams, plus the Texans, Panthers, Bengals, Titans, Bills, Saints (playing in Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida, but still the designated home team), and Falcons.
And there we have it — the season’s first MMUW. Not bad for the first week!
(My thanks to all contributors, including Gabe Cornwall, James Gilbert, Chris Hickey, Alan Kreit, John Moore, Kenny Norwick, Jay Thomas, Chris Wellbaum, and @calbearz24.)
Click to enlarge
Bobble-pin reminder: In case you missed it last last week, the Uni Watch Pin Club’s September Pin is finally available for ordering. As you can see above, it’s a football bobblehead design — and it really bobbles! Dig:
This pin was produced in a numbered edition of 300; as of this morning, about 150 were remaining. It’s available here.
Need to get caught up? Here are our January, February, April, May, June, July, and August pins. (Sorry, March is sold out!)
My thanks, as always, for considering our products.
By Jamie Rathjen
Baseball News: Fox marked the start of the NFL season by posting football helmet concepts for MLB teams yesterday (from multiple readers). … The High-A Beloit Snappers played their last game under that name this weekend, as they’re planning a new name for next season. Appropriately, they wore turtle-themed jerseys (from @BeloitRockers).
Football News: Left over from Saturday: Reader Brian Jones points out that Illinois has played two teams in a row that shared their colors — UTSA and Virginia. … Three FCS teams wore flag-themed helmet decals, while two others had new helmets (from Blaise D’Sylva). … Halifax’s Saint Mary’s University played a preseason game this weekend and made some changes to their uniforms. “They now have ‘Huskies’ wordmark on the side of the pants. It used to be blank before. There is also a slight change to how the sleeve logo looks. SMU is ghosted now and Huskies team name is under the logo when it had not been before,” says Wade Heidt. Wade has more Canadian college items in yesterday’s comments. … Houston will be wearing white throwbacks this Saturday (from Ignacio Salazar).
Hockey News: The Athletic did a (paywalled, obviously) article on goalie mask artists (from Kevin Zdancewicz). … Preseason shenanigans: The WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings wore blue helmets instead of white with their white jerseys (from Wade Heidt).
Soccer News: Scottish club Motherwell, who have supported mental health causes a few times in recent years, had striker Tony Watt and nobody else wear a suicide-prevention patch on Saturday, with his shirt auctioned off to support two charities. World Suicide Prevention Day was on Friday. … D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls wore flag-themed numbers on Saturday, aside from the yellow pediatric cancer ribbons and 9/11 patch that all MLS teams wore — yes, Canadian teams also wore the 9/11 patch. … The NWSL’s NJ/NY Gotham FC are playing one home game Oct. 6 at the Philadelphia Union’s stadium to honor retiring midfielder Carli Lloyd, who’s from the area. … Tottenham Hotspur’s women’s team switched to wearing the Women’s Super League font instead of their proprietary club font, which has usually appeared for WSL games and men’s European games but whose continued existence seems to be in a bit of doubt. … Some English clubs have been releasing third shirts recently, including Derby County and Hull City.
Grab Bag: The winner of the men’s race at yesterday’s Vienna Marathon, Derara Hurisa, was disqualified because his shoes’ soles were too thick, as he’d registered with legal ones but switched (thanks, Paul). … It’s apparently a tradition — although I can’t remember hearing about it or reading about it here — that tennis players at Grand Slams leave their shoes behind in the locker room for the attendants. Here are some from the U.S. Open (from Bill Fenbers). … Providence field hockey wore yellow shoelaces on Friday for pediatric cancer. … Maryland’s Potomac Curling Club has new buttons, which are the center of the house (from Steve Kaltenbaugh).
I agree while the Rams white uni’s are far from perfect, they’re a HUGE upgrade from those practice looking dish rags from last year.
They are a great example of what these uniforms could have been, with the bright blue and yellow, had they just used the either the St Louis era, or classic design templates.
And the picture included today makes it look like a Nike advertisement. It is amazing how they’d designed that jersey such that the swoosh is basically the sleeve logo, with no tv numbers or team logos to draw your eyes in.
Maybe its TV or the stadium lights, but the yellow is too much garish highlighter yellow.
The only good thing the Rams regular non-blue jerseys (can’t call them white) are good for would be the ‘before’ pic in an ad for Tide.
It’s hard to make out, but the writing under the TT in the Packers’ memorial sticker looks like years of birth and death.
Makes sense. Thanks, Eric!
“I’m thinking there may also have been some throwback games featuring both teams wearing helmet numbers, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head.”
Broncos at Chargers 2009:
Ah, good call. I’ve added that to the text.
Strange to see the Bills wearing white at home. If I were Bills’ management, I would not be thrilled having the Steelers coming into our house wearing the black jerseys.
According to the GUD, this is the fourth straight season that the Bills have gone mono-white white for their home opener, so it’s a bit of a modern tradition for them.
Yeah I thought it was weird, too, seeing the Steelers wearing black jerseys in Buffalo. Fully expected them to wear white, but then I remembered the Bill’s have been running “white out” promotions the last few years.
According to GUD, this was the 15th matchup of the two teams in Buffalo, and the first one where Buffalo wore white.
Re: Panthers Endzone, the green background was actually introduced last year, just with Carolina blue wordmarks instead of the black wordmarks we saw on Sunday
Thanks for the clarification, Cole — I’ll update the text.
Not only were two teams wearing helmet numbers, they were both wearing yellow facemasks. Wondering if that has ever happened before. Probably a first.
I remember the Redskins playing the Chargers on a Monday night game back in 1983 and they both had yellow facemasks then.
Yeah, I am assuming they may have matched up with yellow facemasks at some point when Chargers had them in the 70s and 80s, but I meant both teams with yellow facemasks AND numbers on helmet.
I think that has to be a first.
You’re probably right…
Is the trend to wear white at home for week 1 not just related to weather but also the psychological association of the color white with purity? I tend to think so, and it’s pretty lame in my opinion.
Saints wore white at home yesterday
The Saints wore white at home yesterday!
Yes, now added.
Weren’t the Saints in white and the home team in Jacksonville?
Yes, now added.
Saints technically wore white at “home,” too! Home was simply Jacksonville this week (thanks to Hurricane Ida).
Yup, now added.
Saints also wore white at “home”. Not to mention the highly superior white over gold combo that they almost never wear.
Gold Pants Gang represent!
Has there been any news of the Steelers honoring Tunch Ilkin, the former player/broadcast who lost his battle with ALS recently?
Nothing that I’ve heard.
Maybe waiting for home opener? I don’t know.
Can someone please explain to me, from a design perspective, what the “Rams” shoulder patch adds to their uniform aesthetic? If you’re gonna do it as other teams do, then putting the ram head secondary logo would be the way to go. As it is, I swear the team is trying to prime folks to get them used to an eventual advertiser patch. Either way, yuck, -C.
Like so many other aspects of their uniform, I’m sure it was just pitched to the team as a way of being “innovative.”
The Browns and Steelers both still had helmet numbers for the 1960 season.
Here’s a photo from (I assume) their Week 2 matchup:
You are correct, sir! Will update.
The Seahawks DLmen wearing single-digit numbers is just more proof of how ridiculous the number rule change is.
Combined with the SF secondary wearing 1 through 4 the NFL is becoming more and more unwatchable.
I found it disorienting to watch Bears’ backup RB Damien Williams wearing number 8, which i associate with former starting QBs Cade McNown and Rex Grossman.
I agree that is was visually unsettling and harder to keep track of who is who.
It was always easy to bank on 20s-40s DBs or RBs, 50s and 90s LBs and DLs, 60s and 70s OL, and 1-19 QBs, Ks, and Ps, and 80s were TEs and WRs.
And 00s were Ottos.
Absolutely agree. Watched the whole Niner game and it was awful. Very confusing. Before, there was a sense of “order” that just made sense, it seemed. Now it’s all out the window. It’s going to take a long time to get used to this. Hopefully they just reverse it.
Oh I agree. I stopped watching the NFL when they made Otto Graham switch from 60 to 14 because 60 wasn’t allowed to be a QB number anymore. The league stopped making sense then with its uniform numbers rules in 1952.
I understand why home teams wear white early in the season “when the weather is warm”, but I don’t know how this applies to the Rams and Falcons, who both play under a roof.
Actually, the Falcons opened the roof yesterday.
In any case, I didn’t say *every* early-season instance of teams wearing white at home was due to the weather — I said the weather considerations helped to account for yesterday’s unusually high numerical total, which is true. (As for the Rams, they wanted to showcase their new uni combo in prime time.)
I was wondering about the roof in ATL. I’m guessing they aren’t opening it if it’s oppressive heat. I wasn’t questioning your reporting, just the reasoning of these teams to wear white early if they have a roof. Tradition maybe?
As I noted in another comment thread, the Bills have done it for their home opener for four straight years now. Chargers have done it for most recent seasons as well. Again, not sure where weather issues end and tradition begins for each individual team. But it has definitely become an early-season thing, and the weather definitely contributes to that.
In any case: An interesting trope!
Would agree that for Houston and Atlanta it doesn’t make sense for the white at home due to late summer heat, because if it is too hot to wear a dark jersey presumably it is too hot to open the roof.
My take on the Rams is that since white is an alternate jersey for them, it is not the same as normal white at home. However, I assume they’ve heard enough feedback to know people prefer this over the “dishwasher” normal away set, and if smart would minimize wearing the dishwasher set on the road as much as possible, saving their white alts for the road games.
Re: MLB football helmets – I would like to think that if the Blue Jays had a football outfit, the bird logo would be facing forward on both sides of the helmet.
Of all the MLB hats insignias, the one that looks most helmet-ready is the Diamondbacks.
My thoughts exactly. Found this. Looks so backwards even though it technically can work this way (i.e., no letters or anything to modify like the Ravens logo).
Well between white throwbacks and teams that simply wear white at home on a regular basis, how many teams strictly wear colored jerseys at home? Pittsburgh, Seattle, Indianapolis, & Minnesota come to mind. Washington pretty much does these days after decades as a white-at-home team. Everyone else dons white at home at least once a year. Even the Packers have their all-white Color Rush unis.
As always, the GUD has the answers:
The Marlins black on black logo doesn’t work on football helmet either.
The continued melding of 3-4 and 4-3 defenses is really making the OLB/DE thing confusing. Melvin Ingram is wearing 8 for the Steelers and I am pretty sure he spent more time rushing the QB than dropping in coverage.
My old litmus test was “are you in a three point stance?” because if your hand is on the ground, I don’t feel you’re a LB.
That all being said, while it will take some getting used to at the NFL level, I’ve watched enough college football to be ok with the new numbering.
Probably a get off my lawn thing but I can’t begin to describe how much I hate the new NFL numbering system. I already didn’t like WRs never being in the 80s but now this…
The funny thing is that it’s not just a “young vs. old” thing — depends on *how* old you are. I grew up watching lots of WRs with numbers in the teens (as well as some with numbers in the 80s), so I was happy when they went back to that — felt retro to me, not newfangled.
Now WRs in the single digits, that’s something different. But I’m enjoying the change of pace.