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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.
• • • • •
Happy Birthday to ace DIYer and all-around swell guy Wafflebored. Enjoy your special day, buddy! — Paul
“iWhat” – sounds like a generic smart watch
When did Lou Brock (#20) ever wear #18??
I screwed up. Update now added to text.
Lou Brock didn’t wear 18, as far as I know (in the regular season any way). He was 24 for the Cubs and his 20 is retired by the Cards.
I screwed up. Update now added to text.
It happens to the best of us. I do agree though 20 is a better looking number than 30. I always think of hockey goalies, which is why I always imagine 30 as a bulky number.
30 just doesn’t feel *fast,* right?
I remember reading a comment many years ago in Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four, from either an editor or letter-writer, about how they could never add a member to the team and create a “Fantastic Five”, because putting a “5” on their costumes just wouldn’t look right; the shape of the “4”, with its sharp lines, connotes action and speed.
They’d probably say the same thing about “30”; maybe it’s the round base that 0, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9 all share that makes those digits look stodgy and slow. Like we unconsciously associate them with fat people — remember when John Kruk wore number 8 and was accused of having his picture on his back?
Happy B-day Wafflebored!
Regarding push notifications, I use Feedly, so I always catch the new posts via RSS. I often see them in the Facebook newsfeed, too.
And I forgot to log in, so my first post didn’t have the sweet UW+ tag :)
Ah, interesting. Thanks for that feedback, Jason!
No problem! I’m an RSS guy, so that’s how I follow all my favorite sites’ content. I actually don’t love in-browser push notifications, but that’s just me :)
Honestly, I don’t love them either. But people asked for that benefit, so we provided it!
I just signed up for a membership (long overdue). Dedicated RSS feed fan here too. I miss the full text in the RSS feed. It would be a nice perk for membership to have that back.
who is Mary?
Great research project there. As a someone living in Philly territory and thus getting very heavy play of NFC east games on TV I was not very surprised the Cowboys didn’t hold the lead in this, simply because I know teams, specifically the Commies, often will wear white at home just to force Dallas to wear their blues. Always a fun uniform quirk I enjoyed, to see teams force Dallas to wear blue.
I know the Browns had a few seasons when they wore white at home, but I’ve never heard the reasoning why. Of all teams it seems oddest for them to do so, you’d think a team called the Browns would wear brown when possible. Anyone know why they decided to ditch the Browns jerseys so frequently?
Same thought for the same reason. The Eagles often wear white at home during the hotter early part of the season and used to wear white whenever the Cowboys came to town just to make them wear blue.
Good question. I started following the Browns when I was a kid in the mid 60s, and back then they always wore white at home, so it was quite jarring to see them in brown, usually only when they played at Dallas. They appear to have begun the white-at-home practice in 1964, and they won the championship, so that may be why they stuck to it. Why they started it in the first place, though, I don’t know.
I thought maybe it had something to do with Paul Brown leaving and Blanton Collier taking over, but that happened in 1963, and they didn’t switch to white at home until the next year. So — no idea.
Thanks for the bit of history. Perhaps it is as simple as someone in the organization liking the convention of white at home in other sports, so they adopted it also?
I recall reading a long time ago that Art Modell chose the white jerseys for home games because he wanted our fans to be able to see a variety of visitors’ colored jerseys.
He wasn’t always a jerk.
Regarding the push notifications: I’ve clicked on the “Subscribe to Notifications” button the site but nothing happens. Perhaps that’s why the number is so low?
Shawn, you just signed up this morning, right? No new post have been published since then!
See if you get a notification when the Ticker goes live in about half an hour.
That is correct, I just signed up for Plus. I will be on the look out this morning.
Regarding the Cowboys only having one all-white season, this doesn’t really surprise me. I have read that a number of their opponents frequently wore white at home, just to force the Cowboys to wear their “dreaded” blue jerseys. Plus, the Cardinals and Washington, both teams in the Cowboys’ division at one time or another, have been known to wear white at home more than occasionally.
The Super Bowl era began with the 1966 regular season not 1967. The first Super Bowl occurred on January 15, 1967.
I just spent the requisite 5 days at home with covid after going on vacation so I’m beat. Glad you’re good (so far) but it can take a couple days to show with Omicron variants.
I don’t understand how push notifications work on desktop, when I’m not actually on UW. So that’s why I didn’t check that box.
My favorite Maury Wills story was the Giants grounds crew soaking the base paths in 1962.
I love the Browns in all white a couple times a season – but because we wore them all 2011, they now have the reputation of being the “surrender whites” and the fans by and large don’t want that combo.
” I don’t mean to get all NPR on you . . .”
Loved the research project
Not an NFL team, but the 1984 USFL Arizona Wranglers wore white jerseys with copper helmets and pants right through the Championship game, which they lost to Philadelphia. What makes this weird is the Wranglers redesigned their uniforms after 1983, and were folded together with the Oklahoma Outlaws in 1985, which means nobody ever got to see their colored jerseys. The USFL database says they were red, but how do they know?
I did find this on Wikipedia, although with no valid citation: “The Wranglers intended to change to red jerseys for the 1984 season, but the league office had put in a rule that stated any team changing jersey colors (in this case, blue to red) had to wait one season before doing so.”
I have heard the Wranglers dark jersey was red for 1984 a million times, and no other indication, so I do believe that if they were to wear a dark jersey, it would have been red.
And I have seen a couple supposedly red jerseys for sale, but I do wonder if there was ever enough red jerseys to outfit the team or not, or the other teams simply cooperated in allowing the 1984 Wranglers to wear white, because the team didn’t have another option.
I always thought the 1970 Bengals wore white all season. In my imagination anyway…
They just missed, wearing black jerseys at Cleveland in week 4. Other than that, they were all-white all season.
The Browns and Bengals negated each other from joining the list in 1970. My quick review of the spreadsheet suggests that was the only time two teams thwarted each other.
Wow, that is a pretty interesting bit given the teams wore near identical uniforms at that time.
Glad to hear you’re feeling better, Paul.
Also, I love the spreadsheets!
“Somehow that (#30) 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…”
A good piece about ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ numbers can be found here:
It’s funny you linked to that, Chris. Before I did that piece with Jimmer, I never really thought about numbers being fast or slow (or connoting speed). Even after it I still don’t. But it’s funny how it’s a not uncommon thought amongst UWers. Now…how one wears a uniform (tight fitting like Rickey or Willie Mays always seemed to me to be *fast*). The baggy unis of the turn of the century…not so much. Granted, his body changed (I’m not quite sure how) over the years, but Barry Bonds in a tight uni, with low tops and stirrups (link) always seemed much faster than his baggy uni/pajama pants look of later years (link). I’m sure he *was* faster as a rookie, but the way he wore the uniform certainly made him LOOK much faster.
Doesn’t Mookie Betts wearing 50 for the Dodgers fit into the “not a fast number” category?
Mookie at 5/9 180 has about the same height/weight as Wills who was 5/11 170, and the 50 on Mookie has the same proportions (relatively speaking) as the 30 on Wills.
I didn’t even realize there were push notifications with Uni Watch Plus. I skimmed over the benefits of UW+ and didn’t see anything I would use. But for $25/year I figured it was no problem supporting my favorite blog. I learned my lesson on a podcaster that I didn’t support and now am sad he went away.
I’m going to sign up for notifications just to have something extra that the freeloaders don’t have.
There is not one white football jersey (NOT ONE) that looks better than its colored counterpart, and that absolutely includes the Cowboys! They actually look good in their regular blue uni. I know it used to be because of superstition (insert eye roll) but then it turned into the whole ‘we’re America’s team and the heroes and the good guys who wear white’ nonsense. Either way it needs to stop (they’re also not located in the East, but that’s a conversation for another day). I get wearing white at home when it’s hot out and you want that advantage, but by October we need to see some color.
There is not one white football jersey (NOT ONE) that looks better than its colored counterpart…
Even if this is true, it is not particularly relevant. What matters is whether any *uniform combo* that *includes* a white jersey is superior. And I think there are several that qualify, including the Cowboys’. I also think Green Bay’s white/yellow combo looks just as good as the green/yellow, and ditto for KC’s white/red vs. red/white.
Your mileage may vary and all that. I’m just saying that we should be focusing on the full uni, not just the jersey.
MLB put out a press release saying the Dodgers would wear a memorial patch for Maury Wills for the rest of the season.
Interesting to note the Cowboys were forced to wear their blue jerseys once in three consecutive seasons by the same opponent (the Cardinals). Was this a bit of gamesmanship on the part of the Cardinals, wearing white at home to spite the Cowboys?
When the Cardinals moved to Arizona (before they moved inside), they wore white at home during the first 1/2 of the season.
Nice work by Adam. Clicking thru to see some of those combos was a fun way to spend my coffee time.
Re: notifications…I prefer not having things pop up on my phone which is what we’re talking about, yes? I’ve always checked the site later in the day to catch up on comments so I see new content that way these days with the new way it’s posted.
Finally… my COVID cough was pretty infrequent but it did last for some time (3ish days?) after I tested negative. My lingering issues were with my equilibrium and stamina. Dealt with those for several months.
Hope you’re 100% asap Paul
As far as the push notifications go, I hate those. I like to seek out content at my own pace and U-W is a daily visit for me.
Is it possible to receive new post notifications by e-mail?
The Tennessee Oilers came oh-so-close to wearing one combo for their entire 2 season existence, wearing those beautiful blue tops just twice in ’97 when they traveled to play traditionally white-at-home teams (Cowboys and Dolphins).
I wonder if the decision to don the road set so often…and exclusively in ’98…was by design, as they didn’t have a ‘home’ per se until they re-branded.
this post is why i uni-watch. in fact, I was just talking about the all white 1986 brownies 2 business days ago with an unenlightened uni square.
shooooot, if I was less evolved, I might even speak of my now rushing blood, but I’m just too right proper dignified to do that. unfortunately, I’m not that evolved past 1986, so I will still refer to said up-sizening in a way that I might as well have just come out and said it.
insert emoji of Stan Laurel nodding his head to Oliver Hardy and making the "hmpf" face.
Hi, Paul – Glad to hear you’ve tested negative again! Here’s hoping that cough clears up soon.
In response to the question about subscribing to push notifications for UW+, my experience is that I’ve found the function obtuse and user unfriendly. Like Shawn Dzwonkowski mentioned above, every time I click on the “Subscribe to Notifications,” nothing happens. And I’ve clicked on that link multiple time since I first joined. I’ve never seen any kind of notification on Uni Watch, either as a pop-up or in any other form.
Now, admittedly, I did try making a flurry of account adjustments when I first signed up, including setting preferences for notifications on the discussion forums page. But I haven’t been able to find a way to update those initials preferences. And that holds true for the “Subscribe to Notifications” feature, too. Even if no new posts have been published, it seems that something should happen when you click on the button to allow you to update your settings.
Thanks for letting us provide feedback! I definitely would like to use the available features more thoroughly (and competently, to the extent I can learn how to use them better).
When a team manages to wear its white jerseys all season, it reminds me of “going low” (nil) when playing the card came Spades. If the schedule doesn’t include Dallas or one of the few teams wearing white at home, there’s a good chance. But teams like Washington can suddenly decide to wear white in November, ruining the streak. Best to keep the home jersey schedule on the down-low, unlike the Cowboys – made to break out the blue jerseys near the end of the season!
Of course, those days are gone…
Growing up in the era of the San Diego Super Chargers, I had this memory that the Chargers always wore white. And, when they wore blue, they “always” lost. I didn’t know at the time, but my research showed the Chargers did in fact favor their white jerseys over their blues.
The all white uni thing was a great memory for me. The Browns Cowboys and Rams all wore white at home when I was a kid. I loved seeing the Rams in their blue but it was rare. The Cowboys blue looked better than the the white especially when they wore them with the charcoal gray pants.