Football Uniforms in the NFL – Does Color Matter?

What’s important about the color of a football uniform in the NFL? Well, everything or nothing, depending on who’s asking.

In NFL games today, one team wears white jerseys while the other wears color jerseys. However, it wasn’t always that way. Before games were televised, both teams usually wore color jerseys. However, the NFL changed the rule so that one team wore white jerseys. The reason for the rule was so that viewers could tell the difference between a light-colored team and dark-colored team on black and white TV.

Under current NFL rules, the home team chooses whether its football uniforms will have white jerseys or the color version. The general rule is that the home teams wear the color jerseys while the visitors wear white. However, if the home team chooses to wear color uniforms, and the away team still wants to wear its color uniforms, the NFL Commissioner can grant an exemption if the two colors sufficiently distinguish the teams. This rarely occurs, though in October 2009 the Dallas Cowboys wore their blue football jerseys when playing at the Kansas City Chiefs, who wore their normal red jerseys.

There are also a couple circumstances when teams may wear white jerseys at home. First, white jerseys are cooler, so teams in the south playing outdoors often wear football uniforms with a white jersey in the dog days September. These teams include the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.

Second, since 1964, the Dallas Cowboys typically wear white football uniforms at home. Other teams, like the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns, have chosen to wear white at home during certain seasons. During the first 12 weeks of the 2014 season, the Tennessee Titans only wore their light blue jerseys once. However, most teams don’t wear white unless they have too. For example, the Seattle Seahawks have never worn white jerseys at home.

So does the color of the jersey in NFL football uniforms matter? The general answer is no, but there are exceptions. For Super Bowl XL, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the choice of which jersey to wear. If their previous four Super Bowls, the team wore black jerseys. However, since they were a wild card team and had won three road games in a row with white jerseys, they chose white. It proved a good decision, with the Steelers beating the Seattle Seahawks and earning their fifth Super Bowl title.

Some also believe that the Dallas Cowboys, who usually choose to wear white jerseys, are cursed when they have to play in the blue jerseys. This curse stems from two ugly losses. First, in 1968 the Cowboys were heavy favorites in a divisional playoff game against the Cleveland Browns, but somehow found a way to lose. Also, there is Super Bowl V, where the Dallas Cowboys wore blue. They played poorly and got stomped by the Baltimore Colts.

Bill Belichick, for one, may buy into the curse. In 2011, when the Dallas Cowboys came to Foxboro to play the New England Patriots, the three-time Super Bowl winning head coach chose white jerseys for his team so that the Cowboys would have to wear blue jerseys. Many believe he was carrying on this tactic from when he was an assistant coach with the New York Giants, who tried to take advantage of the curse by forcing the Cowboys to wear blue jerseys in the 1980s.

Despite the advantage or disadvantage of NFL football uniforms with white jerseys, most of the time it’s not an issue. Far more important factors, like executing plays and creating turnovers, determine the outcome of games.