Each team to style in own mono­chrome look

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Nancy Ar­mour nar­mour@us­ato­ USA TO­DAY Sports

Do not ad­just your TV, lap­top or phone. That Ker­mit the Frog look the Seat­tle Sea­hawks are sport­ing is in­ten­tional, and those are in­deed the Mi­ami Dol­phins mas­querad­ing as the Ten­nessee Vol­un­teers.

The NFL’s ex­per­i­ment with Color Rush uni­forms last sea­son went so well the league de­cided every­one should get in on the fun. (Well, every­one ex­cept the fuddy-dud­dies who will see the mono­chrome uni­forms and grum­ble about how Dick Butkus and Tom Landry never would have ap­proved of such fash­ion fool­ish­ness.)

Now all 32 teams will be stylin’ in one, sig­na­ture color this year. Judg­ing by the pre­views sent out by Nike and the NFL on Tues­day, some will do it bet­ter than oth­ers. (We see you, San Fran­cisco 49ers. You, too, Min­nesota Vik­ings and Bal­ti­more Ravens ... un­for­tu­nately.)

“We’re just re­ally ex­cited to do the en­tire sea­son this year,” said Jaime We­ston, the NFL’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing. “Last year’s test was a whet of the whis­tle, so we’re just ex­cited to see how all the lo­cal teams (use it).”

The NFL is tout­ing the Color Rush cam­paign for Thurs­day Night Foot­ball as an op­por­tu­nity to get the en­tire home city en­gaged. When the Buf­falo Bills broke out red uni­forms for the first time in their 56 years for their Nov. 12 game against the New York Jets, sev­eral of Buf­falo’s best-known and most vis­i­ble land­marks were lit in red to match.

Yes, smart alecks, you could tell the dif­fer-

ence be­tween the build­ings, un­like the Bills’ red jer­seys and the Jets’ green ones, which cre­ated a night­mare for some col­or­blind peo­ple. Nike and the NFL fixed that for this year, so six vis­it­ing teams — the Jets, Cleve­land Browns, Los An­ge­les Rams, At­lanta Fal­cons, Ari­zona Car­di­nals and Hous­ton Tex­ans — will wear all-white be­cause their Color Rush uni­forms ei­ther are prob­lem­atic for col­or­blind view­ers or are too close to the monochro­matic shade cho­sen by the home team.

Any­way, nice as the idea is of paint­ing the city in­sert-yourteam-color-here in a show of civic pride and unity, this is just more mar­ket­ing savvy from the NFL.

Thurs­day Night Foot­ball is al­ready the NFL equiv­a­lent of a Petri dish. Games typ­i­cally aren’t very good; for every Green Bay Pack­ers win against the Detroit Lions on a Hail Mary there seem to be three or four more like last year’s Washington Red­skins-New York Gi­ants matchup. But Amer­ica has proved time and again that it will watch any­thing hav­ing to do with the NFL — have you seen the rat­ings for the draft? — so the league can af­ford to take risks with Thurs­day night games and see if any pay off.

This year, for ex­am­ple, it is split­ting the broad­cast pack­age among CBS (five games), NBC (five games) and the NFL Net­work (ex­clu­sive cov­er­age of eight and simul­cast of the oth­ers). Bonus points if you know what chan­nel the NFL Net­work is on your sys­tem with­out look­ing it up.

The league also will stream the CBS and NBC games glob­ally on Twit­ter, an ob­vi­ous play to that all-im­por­tant younger de­mo­graphic.

Which brings us back to the Color Rush uni­forms.

Monochro­matic uni­forms have been a sta­ple in col­lege since Nike turned Ore­gon into its per­sonal de­sign lab­o­ra­tory, and Un­der Ar­mour has only upped the funki­fi­ca­tion. Google Mary­land foot­ball. You’ll see what I mean.

The NFL has been slower to adopt the trend of go­ing mono, no sur­prise given its love for tra­di­tion. But while older fans might not see the ap­peal of the Jack­sonville Jaguars look­ing like hu­man high­lighters or Mar­cus Mar­i­ota do­ing his best im­i­ta­tion of a Smurf, younger fans do.

And it’s those younger fans who are out in droves watch­ing Thurs­day Night Foot­ball.

“It’s no longer TGIF, it’s TGIT,” We­ston said. “Those young Mil­len­ni­als are com­ing out to watch the games.”

The younger de­mo­graphic is go­ing to have a big say in whether the NFL hits its stated goal of $25 bil­lion in rev­enue by 2027, so if that means play­ers will re­sem­ble the Fruit of the Loom gang for a game or two, so be it.

Oh, and for those who think this is an­other shame­less money grab by the NFL, not ex­actly. The league says it will use all of its pro­ceeds from Color Rush jer­seys to fund health, safety and well­ness pro­grams for young peo­ple, be­gin­ning with new fields and equip­ment to re­place those dam­aged by re­cent floods in Louisiana.

See what they did there? It’s all about the kids.

If you don’t like the Color Rush jer­seys or any of these other new­fan­gled trends, don’t worry. Throw­back games will be here be­fore you know it.


Top, quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son mod­els the Sea­hawks’ bright Color Rush uni­form. Above, wide re­ceiver Allen Robin­son show­cases the Jaguars’ gold threads.


Wide re­ceiver Jarvis Landry mod­els the Dol­phins’ (not the Ten­nessee Vol­un­teers’) orange Color Rush uni­forms.

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