COLOR RUSH: ONE FOR ALL
Each team to style in own monochrome look
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.