What do the 1972 Cowboys, 1986 Browns, 1991 Chargers, and 1998 Oilers (all shown above) have in common? They’re among the 21 NFL teams in the Super Bowl era to have worn the same uni combo (not just the same jersey color) for each regular season game.
That analysis comes from Uni Watch reader Adam Tow, who recently combed through the mighty Gridiron Uniform Database to determine which teams had truly uniform uniforms for an entire season — an interesting research project!
Adam has summarized his findings on this spreadsheet. The 21 one-combo teams are shown in green; near-misses that wore the same combo for every game except one are shown in yellow. If you click on those green and yellow cells, you’ll be brought to the Gridiron Uniform Database page for that team, so you can see what they wore.
I’m sure most of you already know this, but just in case: The reason it’s possible to wear the same combo all season long in the NFL is that home team gets its choice of white or color. So if a team chooses to wear white at home, and if all its road opponents wear color at home, then boom — you’ve worn white for the entire season. (The inverse could also work, at least in theory, resulting in a team wearing color for the entire season, but it’s unthinkable that a team’s road schedule would feature nothing but teams wearing white at home. Indeed, all 21 of the one-combo seasons were by teams wearing white.)
A few additional notes:
Twelve of the 21 one-combo seasons paired the white jerseys with white pants. The other nine involved non-white pants.
Can you guess which team has had the most one-combo seasons? You might be thinking the Cowboys, but the answer — which I would not have guessed — is the Browns, with six such seasons (including two in a row in 1972 and ’73). Close behind are the Rams with five (including three in a row in 1968, ’69, and ’70) and the Chargers with four (including two in a row in 1982 and ’83).
The parenthetical instances I just noted are the only examples of teams going one-combo in consecutive seasons.
As for the Cowboys: Although they famously wear white at home, they’ve had only one one-combo season — 1972. (They’ve had five near-miss seasons, however.)
Lots of Uni Watch readers probably know that the Bucs wore mono-white throughout their inaugural 1976 season. That’s the only time they’ve gone the one-combo route.
The last team to accomplish the one-combo distinction was the 2011 Browns. Considering the advent of Color Rush and the demise of the one-shell rule, we’ll likely never see such a season again.
Some of the 21 one-combo teams wore a different combo in the preseason and/or the postseason. But they still qualify for the list, because this research project was looking only at the regular season.
Fun project! Big thanks to Adam for delving into this one for us.
Maury Wills: 1932-2022
Maury Wills, the greatest base-stealer of his generation and the 1962 National League MVP, died yesterday at the age of 89. I never saw him play, but he’s always been interesting to me from a Uni Watch perspective, for two reasons.
First, he was a relatively small man who wore No. 30, which is a big, blocky number. Somehow that never felt right for a speed-demon player like Wills. He should’ve had a sleeker, more streamlined number — either a single digit or at least something that included a “1” so it wouldn’t be so wide, like Lou Brock’s No. 18. (Yeah, I know Rickey wore No. 24 and 35 for much of his career, but he had a much larger, broader frame, so the wider number didn’t look as incongruous on him.)
Update: As a bunch of commenters have quickly pointed out, Lou Brock wore No. 20, not No. 18. I was mistakenly thinking of his single-season then-record 118 stolen bases. In any case, his 20 never bothered me the way Wills’s 30 did. Hmmmmm.
Second, in 1981 Wills got caught in one of my favorite incidents of MLB cheating. He was managing the Mariners at the time, and opposing teams were saying that M’s outfielder Tom Paciorek was illegally stepping out of the front of the batter’s box as he took his swing. So Wills had the Seattle grounds crew lengthen the box a foot — for which he was promptly busted by A’s skipper Billy Martin:
Contrary to the last line of the next-to-last graf, Wills was indeed suspended for this stunt, for two games.
No word yet on a possible memorial patch or armband, but I imagine the Dodgers will do something in that regard. R.I.P.
In case you missed it last week, I’ve partnered with the cap brand Official League on a contest to design an unofficial USMNT cap for the upcoming World Cup. Full details here.
Uni Watch Plus Update
I want to check in with two items regarding Uni Watch Plus. First, although we currently have 316 UW+ sign-ups (thank you!!), it looks like only 50 of those people — about 15% — have registered to receive push notifications whenever a new blog post is published. I’m a little surprised by that, because so many people asked for notifications to be included as a benefit when I first floated the idea for UW+ back in July.
If 85% of our UW+ enrollees don’t want the notifications, that’s fine — up to you! But I want to make sure people are getting full value for their money, and I also want to make sure we’re offering benefits that people want and care about. So if you have any feedback on this (or on any other aspect of UW+), let me know. Thanks.
Next: After we launched the Uni Watch Plus program on Sept. 2, we had at least a few sign-ups (and often a lot of sign-ups) every single day — until two days ago. I figured that was just an aberration, but then we again had no sign-ups yesterday. We’re stuck on 316 enrollees.
That’s not a a terrible number. But given the size of the overall Uni Watch readership, I’ll confess to being a bit disappointed that only 316 folks have signed up for UW+, and even more disappointed that the initial sign-up rush appears to have ended already. I don’t mean to get all NPR on you, but Uni Watch needs your support. As ad revenue declines throughout the internet, we need to move to a revenue model that depends more on readers, not on advertisers. (Also, with Mary preparing to move out and my rent and other expenses therefore about to spike, I’d be lying if I said I’m not a little concerned about my personal cash flow.)
You get good benefits with UW+ — an ad-free site, access to our message forum, and more (push notifications if you want them!). But here’s an extra enticement: Starting today, and continuing until further notice, if we get at least seven UW+ sign-ups in a given day, I will randomly selected one of that day’s enrollees to receive a Uni Watch prize package consisting of:
Three Uni Watch pins
A Uni Watch koozie
A Uni Watch trading card
A Uni Watch magnet
A set of three Uni Watch coasters
Ideally, I’d like to be sending out one of these prize packages every single day. I mean, seven sign-ups per day should be pretty doable, right? (Why seven? Because it’s my favorite number.) Also, I’ll once again point out that this is a particularly good time to sign up for the UW+/Bulletin bundle, because my NHL and NBA Season Previews will be coming out on Bulletin in early October.
Prizes and timing notwithstanding, we’d really like to keep growing the UW+ comm-uni-ty. So if you enjoy Uni Watch and have the means to help support it, I respectfully ask that you please consider joining UW+. (Want to learn more about UW+? Look here.)
Thanks for listening, and for your support of Uni Watch — it’s greatly appreciated.
Remember how yesterday I said I’d spent all day Sunday coughing? Yesterday it mostly stopped and I felt much more like my usual self. Took a rapid test in the afternoon and sure enough: negative!
Unfortunately, I started coughing again during the night. Not sure what that’s about, but I’m still testing negative, so that’s most important thing. Glad that’s over with — now I just need to go out and buy more Robitussin.
Thanks to everyone who sent kind thoughts during this latest episode — greatly appreciated.
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Happy Birthday to ace DIYer and all-around swell guy Wafflebored. Enjoy your special day, buddy! — Paul