I’m a traditional kind of guy when it comes to sports. Hence me detesting the DH in baseball, no jump balls in college basketball, and voting for the baseball All-Star game in any way other than with the chad-filled ballots at the ballpark.
Tradition, to me, also says that home teams wear their dark jerseys in the NFL.
You can’t even tell who the home team is anymore. It seems that only the NFC North teams (read: the “black and blue”, old NFC Central) abide by this rule, and wear dark at home. Everywhere else, it’s apparently “chic” to wear white at home.
The only teams I gave free passes to when it came to who can wear white at home were the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns — both out of tradition. I remember the old St. Louis Cardinals would try to take the Cowboys out of their comfort zone and wear their white jerseys in St. Louis, forcing the Cowboys to wear their rarely-used blue jerseys. It usually didn’t work. As far as the Browns go, they’ve been wearing white at home since the days of Jimmy Brown. Sometimes they’ll slip the brown jerseys on in Cleveland. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen the ‘Boys wear blue in Irving.
The Lions only wore white at home once, that I know of. It was Thanksgiving Day, 1970. The Raiders were in town, and in those days, Oakland’s white jerseys had silver numbers on them. The TV folks thought the silver-on-white combo wouldn’t look good for the nationally-televised game, so they asked the Lions to wear white so the Raiders could wear black. The Lions did, and they beat the Raiders 28-14 wearing their road whites at Tiger Stadium.
The Vikings always wear purple at home. The Packers wear green. The Bears have only worn white at home on a handful of occasions. Beyond that, it’s pretty much up for grabs, who wears white at home.
OK, who’s the home team in this photo? Not so fast….
The Bengals donned white yesterday against the Lions in Cincinnati. And the Bengals were one of the final holdouts; they could be counted on to wear dark at home, as supposedly mandated.
Why does this bother me so?
Not sure. I guess I just like knowing, immediately, who’s home and who’s away when I turn a game on. I have NFL Sunday Ticket, which means I am festooned with every single freaking game on my television set each week (which rocks, by the way). But when you tune in, you have to gather yourself and find the scoreboard graphic to see which team is at home. It used to be that the colors of the jerseys was the tip-off.
I guess I just like knowing that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. The NBA teams wear white at home. So does baseball. That’s fine. Hockey teams wear dark at home. Also fine. I really don’t care which is which, as long as we settle on one way and stick to it. The NFL is almost reversing entirely, with more teams wearing white at home than don’t. Plus, don’t dark jerseys look more menacing on a football team? And shouldn’t those more menacing jerseys be worn in front of the home crowd?
Frankly, if I were the Lions back in 1970, I would have told NBC where to put their request to have the Raiders wear their black jerseys in Detroit. The nerve!
Speaking of black jerseys, let’s hear three cheers for the Lions’ black alternate jerseys being retired. Those were God-awful.