In My Opinion

Fowler: Black-on-black uniform contest could become Panthers’ strong suit

July 22, 2013 

PANTHERS_BRONCOS_11

Carolina Panthers (1) quarterback Cam Newton is sacked by Denver Broncos (99) defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson during third quarter action on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.

JEFF SINER — jsiner@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

Before this month, I would wager the following sentence had rarely been uttered among even the most fervent Carolina Panthers fans: “I believe the Panthers have the best uniforms in NFL history.”

And yet, in an online contest this month sponsored by NFL.com, the NFL’s official website, the Panthers uniform has advanced to the finals of the 64-team “Greatest Uniform in NFL History” bracket.

More accurately, the Panthers’ alternate 2012 uniform – black jerseys, black pants, blue socks – has gotten to the finals. The Panthers have worn that color combo only once, and it came in a 36-14 home loss to Denver in 2012. But it struck a very loud chord.

What does this tell us?

Maybe that somebody who loves the Panthers and knows computers has managed to vote a few hundred thousand times. But it also tells us that the Panthers have to wear this black-on-black combo more often – let’s say in the Monday night Nov. 18 home game against New England for starters – because their fans apparently love it.

As for the Panthers’ basic uniforms? They were a No. 13 seed in the “current” division and went out in a first-round loss to the current Chicago Bears’ uniforms. Which is about right.

But those alternate all-black Panther uniforms – a No.15 seed to begin the contest – blasted their way through the “throwback” bracket. The Panthers now “play” the current-day San Francisco 49ers uniform in the final.

Fans can get more information about the contest and vote at NFL.com/greatestuni# – the voting ends Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern.

The Panthers’ black-on-black combo has already beaten the St. Louis Cardinals (1973-81), the Chicago Bears (1941-48), the Atlanta Falcons (1966-67), the L.A. Rams (1973-80) and, in the semifinals, the San Diego Chargers (1961-65).

In the semis, the Panthers got 873,000 votes compared to 643,000 for the No. 1-seeded Chargers, so Carolina garnered nearly 58 percent of the vote. That’s pretty good, even though it is all totally unscientific.

Some background: The Panthers generally wear white jerseys for early-season home games, to combat the heat, and black jerseys the latter part of each season at home (but with silver pants). By NFL rule, the home team gets to designate which jersey it wants to wear. Pants are not designated and are typically not announced. The Panthers players didn’t even know they were going to wear black pants against Denver last November until they arrived at the stadium on game day.

Look, the Panthers’ black-on-black uniform looks good. The Panthers players like it. The fans like it.

There’s absolutely no way that it is a better uniform than some of the NFL’s most tried-and-true combos, though, like the ones Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Dallas, Washington and Oakland wear, for example. Those black-on-black uniforms just haven’t been through enough wars.

How Panthers fans have hijacked this contest is beyond me, but I do kind of admire them for it. Not so the video host of this NFL.com contest – a guy named Dave Dameshek who bills himself as “the uniform monitor.” In a video posted on NFL.com, he unabashedly campaigns against the Panthers winning the final and for the 49ers.

Does all this really matter? Not really. The win-loss record is what matters, of course. If you go 16-0, you would look good in anything.

In the meantime, though, consider this a plea for more black-on-black for the Panthers. Even if the “Uniform Monitor” gets his way and they don’t win.

Scott Fowler: sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @Scott_Fowler

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