The NFL Should Have Preseason Uniforms

The NFL has been slow to adopt a trend common to other sports leagues: one-off uniforms.

While the NBA, NHL, and MLB are more than eager to adopt jerseys for just about any occasion (Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, or just because), the NFL has relatively extreme rules in place for what teams can wear and when.

Each NFL team is allowed one home jersey, one road jersey, and one alternate jersey. Teams will also debut special “Color Rush” jerseys for Thursday night games this year. Color Rush is dumb and bad, but I will concede that it’s at least interesting in that it forces the NFL (by its own hand) to be different in at least one small way.

But I propose that the NFL should do something else entirely.

It struck me the other day, as I caught part of the Packers’ preseason game against Oakland, that almost no NFL team bothers to paint the field for its preseason games. If the grounds crew doesn’t want to pretend like these are actual games, why should the players? They should wear special (or, put more positively, different) uniforms that let everyone know that this game doesn’t count and should be taken as a fun spectacle.

Therefore, I propose that the NFL should have special preseason jerseys.

I’m looking to MLB’s batting practice uniforms for inspiration here. Each team has a special uniform (sometimes more than one) to be used, essentially, just to warm up. Sometimes teams wear these jerseys in actual games that matter, but that’s fairly rare. In any case, the NFL could look to this model and allow each team to develop its own special preseason uniform to be worn four times a year, then discarded.

Much like MLB does with its annual Fourth of July hats, the NFL could roll out a league-wide template each preseason that teams could customize to fit their color scheme and logos. This would give the preseason its own distinct visual style and give the NFL another product to market to fans eager to plunk down money for a fancy shirt.

Of course, the risk-averse NFL won’t go for this, in part because the league is (as I said just a few short words ago) extremely intolerant to risk. Rolling out a series of different jerseys for the preseason slate would also undermine the NFL’s perennial claim that preseason games are exactly the same as regular season games… and you should pay the same price to see them, as a result.

But hey, a guy can dream.


AnalysisJon Meerdink