Can NFL Teams Wear Alternate Jerseys in the Playoffs?

Can NFL Teams Wear Alternate Jerseys in the Playoffs?

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National League Football fans have come to love the alternative uniforms sported by their teams. These unis are different from the regular club uniforms, and are worn periodically over a season. We have been asked: Can NFL teams don alternate uniforms in the postseason?

National Football League teams are allowed to wear alternate uniforms once during the playoffs.

The rule applies to the entire postseason ~ except the Super Bowl for the NFL championship, the final game of any season.

What are NFL Alternate Uniforms?

Also known as a third jersey, third kit, or third sweater, these are jerseys or full uniforms that differ from the usual two uniforms worn for either home or away games.

Changes can be subtle, such as for clubs like the Miami Dolphins whose helmet logo and design has hardly changed since they joined the league; or bold, like the all-black “blackout” uniforms sported sporadically by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fans new to the sport could be either shocked or confused ~ or both ~ when seeing little green that’s associated with the Eagles on these blackout versions.

Some clubs even add fluorescent colors, notably the Seattle Seahawks.

Why Alternate Uniforms?

Sometimes teams choose to go with a third kit to simply change things up, or to please fans. Players also may request a third uniform due to superstition.

Have a long losing streak? Maybe a different look will bring some luck.

Teams also may choose to go alternate unis if the uniforms of their opponent that week has uniforms of similar color or design. Basically, to offer more contrast between the two, to help fans tell the teams apart.

Some alternate uniforms are only a changed jersey, with players still wearing the usual helmet, pants, and socks.

Finally, a reason teams like the Eagles may go all-black is an effort to intimidate opposing players.

Chance to Really Show Off NFL Alternate Uniforms

Because the NFL playoffs mean the sudden end of the season for losing teams, clubs wishing to showcase their alternate uniform during the playoffs may wish to do so with the very first contest. No team, after all, is guaranteed a second playoff game.

Those confident to don them later in the postseason may lose the opportunity should they get knocked out of the playoffs early.

As NFL playoff games are broadcast to millions of viewers, these contests pose significant marketing opportunities for the clubs participating.

Alternate jerseys cannot be worn in the Super Bowl, should a club make it that for through the playoff.

Alternate Jerseys as Money-Makers

Teams that choose to use alternate uniforms gain the benefit of a new marketing opportunity namely from sales of jerseys to fans.

Fans who purchase alternate jerseys from their team show their support strongly. It can be a statement of sorts.

Jersey sales amount to about $1.2 billion for the league and its clubs. It’s the most of the major North American sports leagues, far surpassing the $900 million by the National Basketball Association.

Fourth- and Fifth Kit Football Uniforms

Teams are allowed to have more than one alternate uniform. Some jabe a fourth, or even fifth, kit.

Relatively often, teams will design uniforms to support a cause, such as pink for breast cancer awareness, or camouflage in support of the military or its soldiers and veterans.

Sometimes these “cause uniforms” can mean just adding a pink ribbon, with few, if any, significant changes.

Other times there are no doubts that a uniform is different than usual, such as the all-camouflage jerseys.

Throwback NFL Uniforms vs. Alternate Uniforms

Also popular with fans are so-called throwback uniforms, which are alternate unis designed to match or emulate styles used by NFL teams in the past that since have been replaced by updated modern designs.

Throwbacks are a type of alternate uniform in the NFL. Notable examples:

  • The thick yellow stripes atop jerseys of the Pittsburgh Steelers from long ago.
  • The almost nauseating bright orange jerseys and helmets of old Denver Broncos squads. The Broncos today might opt for orange Jerseys, but in the team’s modern style, with no change to the current navy blue helmets.
  • White as the primary color for helmets of the old Dallas Cowboys.
  • The no-yellow look of old Los Angeles Rams teams.

Some NFL uniforms today hardly have changed since the 1960s, like for the Green Bay Packers, or Chicago Bears.

However long before the ‘60s, those older NFL teams donned some quite crazy unis ~ Packers and Bears included. Those teams nece part of the NFL when it was formed in 1920.

Other Revenue from NFL Jerseys

The NFL is exploring a program where companies could pay for a patch on jerseys. The league in 2024 announced that such a program could bring in an estimated $673 million from such a program.

These sponsorship programs have been discussed for years not only by the NFL, but also other major sports.

They would emulate what is typically associated with professional soccer or NASCAR, with available space peppered with logos and even ads.

Major League Baseball already has a sponsorship program, namely allowing sporting goods manufacturer Nike to stick its logo on jerseys it provides.

It should be noted that the Nike logo is very small on MLB unis, made really for television audiences since most fans in the stands would hardly see the swoosh logo.

Related Questions

What do teams do with the alternate jerseys after a single game in use?

Answer: The first three kits they are handled no differently. For the fourth kit and any others, some teams may choose to recycle for future use.

Do other sports use alternate uniforms?

Answer: All major North American sports leagues, and some of their minor league clubs, use alternate uniforms, including Major League Baseball. Even schools do this, like when Notre Dame chooses green uniforms instrad of the typical navy blue for home games.

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