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NFL teams turning back to white jerseys

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Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

In the NFL, it is becoming very fashionable to wear white after Labor Day.

It used to be that dark uniform jerseys were worn at home, and white ones on the road -- except, of course, if you were the Dallas Cowboys or Washington Redskins.

No more. Through the first seven weeks of the season, 15 teams have decided to wear their white jerseys at home. Nine have done it more than once.

Through 103 games, 30 times teams have worn their whites at home rather than the traditional darks (29 percent). In those games, the white-wearing home teams are 16-14.

"I think they are doing it because of the weather in some of these cities gets hot," said Steelers long-time equipment manager Rodgers Freyvogel.

That could be true for warm-climate teams such Miami, San Diego, Tampa Bay and Houston, but how do you explain New Orleans wearing white in all three of its home games at the Superdome?

Or even Philadelphia doing it at Lincoln Financial Field in its three home games• Or Carolina doing it for two of its three home games in Charlotte?

The New York Jets, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Tennessee are not hot-weather cities and each team has worn white at home; Oakland wore its whites at night; Arizona also plays indoors and wore white once.

Still, weather does have a lot to do with the choice, considering the frequency with which it occurred in the first two weeks compared to the past five.

Teams chose to wear white jerseys 13 times during the first two weeks, when the weather is historically much warmer, but only 17 times since.

It's not by coincidence, either, when teams decide to don the white.

Teams must submit to the league by the middle of summer which uniforms they are wearing and during which weeks.

In 2004, the Ravens made the Steelers wear their black jerseys for a Week 2 game in Baltimore. Game time temperature was 67 degrees, but Baltimore knocked out starter Tommy Maddox and won the game, 30-13.

Wearing whites at home is a new phenomenon, but not a new occurrence.

Until 1957, NFL teams could wear whatever jersey they wanted -- home or away -- even if the colors were similar.

The league stepped in and proclaimed the home team had the choice of jersey to wear. Most went with dark, except for Dallas.

Dallas wore its dark jerseys at home for its first four seasons (1960-63) in the NFL, but hasn't worn the classic dark blue jersey at home since. Baltimore did make the home Cowboys wear dark shirts for Super Bowl V played at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Dallas lost, 16-13.

San Diego wore whites at home in late 1970s and early '80s under Don Coryell. Joe Gibbs was an assistant on some of those teams and brought the tradition to Washington in 1981 when he became head coach. The Redskins didn't wear dark at home from 1981-2000.

As for the Steelers, there was a time when they sported home whites.

According to Tim Brulia of, the Steelers wore their white jersey once in 1964 against the Rams and every game except three from 1966-69.

The Steelers wore white for Super Bowl XL when they were officially the home team, but the game was played at Detroit's Ford Field.

The only team never to wear white at home• The Seattle Seahawks, but they did wear fluorescent green.

A white out

More NFL teams, other than long-time traditionalists Washington and Dallas, have chosen to wear white jerseys at home lately through the first seven weeks of the season:

Team - Times

Washington - 4

New Orleans - 3

Tampa Bay - 3

Dallas - 3

Philadelphia - 3

Carolina - 2

Houston - 2

Miami - 2

San Diego - 2

Baltimore - 1

Cincinnati - 1

Oakland - 1

Arizona - 1

Tennessee - 1

N.Y. Jets - 1

Top five

Saints (6-0) Do it all team, including rallying from a 21-point deficit on the road.

Colts (6-0) Have won their last four games by an average of 24 points.

Broncos (6-0) Unblemished record goes on the line Sunday in Baltimore.

Vikings (6-1) Let one get away last Sunday at Heinz Field.

Bengals (5-2) The Bears, no doubt, will attest that they are for real.

Bottom five

Browns (1-6) Which QB will they take with their first pick in the 2010 draft?

Titans (0-6) Look out Jags, they have to win one of these weeks.

Chiefs (1-6) Memo to Larry Johnson: shut down your Twitter account.

Buccaneers (0-7) Had to go all the way to London for another thumping.

Rams (0-7) If they won't win Sunday in Detroit, 0-16 is a real possibility.

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