Good morning! If your favorite NFL team punched its ticket to the postseason yesterday, congrats! If they were eliminated, please accept my condolences.
As you’d expect, the league was awash in Damar Hamlin tributes yesterday, the most obvious of which was the “3” patch being worn by the Bills. (As an aside, I heard some grumbling in various quarters about a patch being worn for a living/active player, but that’s actually not so unusual. I ran down several examples in this 2014 ESPN piece, and there have been a few others since then.)
Here are some of yesterday’s other salutes to Hamlin:
- Bills sideline personnel wore “3” caps and pins:
- Home teams had the option of outlining the “3” on the 30-yard line markers in either royal blue or red. For the weekend’s full slate of games, 12 teams used blue (Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Las Vegas [on Saturday], Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington), while four used red (Denver, Indianapolis, Jacksonville [on Saturday], and San Francisco).
- Players around the league warmed up in “Love for Damar” pregame T-shirts — blue for the Bills, black for everyone else:
- The black T-shirt design also appeared on a hoodie that some coaches wore on the sidelines during their games:
Meanwhile, in non-Hamlin-related news from around the league yesterday:
- For the first time in 37 seasons, the Saints paired their black jerseys with white pants. They wore that combo quite a bit from 1975 through 1985, but the white pants during that period had side striping, while the pants they wore yesterday were just plain white, which looked really bad:
- The Bears went mono-navy — with inconsistent socks:
- In that same game, reader Jonathan Safron, who wrote about his game photography for us last Friday, got these shots of the Vikings’ sideline:
- The Eagles went mono-black, including their new black alternate helmet:
- The Dolphins went aqua over aqua:
- As you can see in that last photo, the Jets went white over black. That means they managed to go the entire regular season without wearing their once-standard combo of green jerseys with white pants. In the end, Gang Green wore their green pants just twice this season, and their green jerseys just once.
- I loved the look of the Browns/Steelers game. The colors complemented each other really, really well (lots of photos here):
escapes the pocket and improvs for 6
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 8, 2023
- Speaking of the Steelers, running back Derek Watt and lineacker T.J. Watt wore jerseys to salute their brother, Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who played his final NFL game yesterday. But their jerseys didn’t have J.J.’s usual captaincy patch or Walter Payton Man of the Year patch:
- Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis wore faux Chuck Taylors:
- Just one home team wore white: the Commies.
And that’s a wrap for the regular season. Next up: Wild Card weekend.
(My thanks to John Turney and our own Jerry Wolper for their contributions to this section.)