The NFL color rush jerseys have been a popular alternate uniform that teams have worn occasionally since 2015. However, there has been some uncertainty around whether these colorful jerseys will continue to be used in the future. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of the color rush jerseys, their current status, and what the future may hold for these eye-catching NFL uniforms.
The History of Color Rush Jerseys
The NFL first introduced the concept of color rush jerseys in 2015, although initially it was just a one-game test run. The idea was that teams would wear bold, monochromatic alternate jerseys that featured just one dominant team color. This created vibrant, high-contrast matchups when two teams with very different uniform colors faced each other.
The first color rush game took place on December 8, 2015 with the Buffalo Bills wearing all red versus the New York Jets in all green. It proved to be a hit, and the following 2016 season the NFL expanded color rush jerseys to Thursday Night Football. Every Thursday game that season featured both teams wearing color rush uniforms in contrasting styles.
Fans responded positively to the eye-catching color rush jerseys, which also drove merchandise sales. The NFL continued the Thursday night tradition, and allowed teams to start wearing the alternates for other primetime games as well. Certain color rush matchups like the Green Bay Packers versus Chicago Bears became instant classics.
The Fate of Color Rush Jerseys
While popular at first, color rush jerseys started to face an uncertain future around 2020. The NFL transitioned Thursday Night Football broadcasting rights to Amazon Prime starting in 2022. Amazon reportedly was not interested in retaining the mandatory color rush elements of Thursday games.
There were also some indications that NFL teams, especially older traditional franchises like the Packers, were tiring of the gimmicky alternate uniforms. The Custom Ink analysis of NFL jersey popularity based on sales and search data showed color rush jerseys declining in interest recently. They dropped from the 2nd most popular type of NFL jersey in 2018 to 4th by 2022.
Many teams stopped unveiling new color rush designs, or even wearing the alternates they previously created. The NFL seemed to be phasing out the program, with no Thursday night color rush components, and teams rarely electing to wear their colorful alternates outside of Thursday games.
Will Color Rush Jerseys Make a Comeback?
While color rush jerseys have declined in recent years, there are some indications the concept may not be completely dead yet. A few teams like the New Orleans Saints have continued embracing color rush, wearing all-white or all-black alternates multiple times during the 2022 season.
There is also the possibility that the NFL could bring back color rush jerseys on Thursday nights, even with the Amazon partnership. According to league insider Jay Glazer, discussions have already happened about potentially reviving the concept on Thursday nights in 2023. While nothing is certain yet, it shows color rush jerseys could still have a future.
The NFL may also follow the lead of college football, where teams have the freedom to wear alternate uniforms as often as they like. Many college programs have embraced wearing “blackout” and “whiteout” jerseys for big matchups. If NFL teams similarly had more flexibility around alternates, color rush styles could regain popularity for select games.
The Current Status of NFL Color Rush Jerseys
Here is a summary of where NFL color rush jerseys stand currently heading into the 2023 season:
|No longer required||The NFL no longer requires teams to wear color rush jerseys for Thursday Night Football games.|
|Team option||Teams can choose to wear color rush alternates if they want, but it’s at their discretion rather than mandated by the league.|
|Less frequent||Most teams opted not to wear color rush at all in 2022, a major decrease from their peak popularity.|
|Could return||There are discussions about bringing back color rush jerseys on Thursday nights as early as 2023.|
So in summary – color rush jerseys are currently in limbo. They are not gone entirely, but are also not as prominent as they were from 2016-2020. Their future usage will likely come down to a team-by-team basis, at least until if or when the NFL reinstates league-wide color rush guidelines.
The Best and Worst NFL Color Rush Jerseys
Opinions vary widely among fans on which NFL team has the best, and worst, color rush jerseys in their current set of uniforms. Here is a subjective look at some of the hits and misses of existing color rush designs:
Best Color Rush Jerseys
- New Orleans Saints – The all-white jerseys with gold trim are super clean and pair nicely with the white dome environment.
- Dallas Cowboys – The navy blue jerseys pay homage to the early Cowboys uniforms and work perfectly against a bright white helmet.
- Baltimore Ravens – The all-purple look, especially paired with purple pants, really encapsulates the Ravens identity and mystique.
- Los Angeles Chargers – The powder blue jerseys are a modern twist on a classic color scheme that is uniquely Chargers.
Worst Color Rush Jerseys
- Arizona Cardinals – The all-black uniforms look cool, but without any white elements they can be overly dark and dreary.
- Cincinnati Bengals – The orange jerseys with black tiger stripes just comes across too busy and styled more for a high school team.
- Cleveland Browns – The all-brown color scheme, dubbed “the turd suit” by some fans, is just a bit too drab for an NFL uniform.
- Washington Commanders – The burgundy and gold color rush set is classic, but the plain look is also rather boring and uninspired.
The Future of Color Rush Jerseys
While the heyday of mandatory color rush uniforms on Thursday nights may be over, these alternate jerseys likely aren’t gone for good based on a few factors.
For one, fans still respond positively to color rush reveals and the festive environment they create. When done right, they create excitement and buzz around the game. TV ratings also show that color rush matchups tend to draw strong viewership, especially among younger audiences.
There are also strong merchandise sales incentives around offering something new and different from typical jerseys. As long as color rush jerseys remain shelve-sitters and not part of regular rotation, they will attract collectors and sell well.
Teams like the New Orleans Saints have shown that color rush jerseys can still be deployed effectively to create hyped “event game” environments. As long as certain teams embrace the concept, the NFL will likely keep the color rush possibility in its back pocket.
Potential Revamp of Color Rush
If the NFL does choose to bring back color rush jerseys in a bigger way, they may consider some tweaks to the program:
- Allow more customization – Teams could design color rush jerseys tailored to iconic historic uniforms, rather than just monochromatic colors.
- Open alternate usage – Instead of limiting color rush to Thursday, allow teams freedom to wear alternates a certain number of times per season.
- Promote color vs color – Encourage color on color matchups instead of color vs white, for maximum vibrancy.
- Enhance merchandising – Develop new color rush gear each season, not just one set of uniforms.
By improving the color rush concept and allowing more team flexibility, the NFL may be able to revive interest in these creative alternate uniforms both for fans and teams.
While the era of mandatory Thursday night color rush uniforms appears over, these creative alternates likely aren’t gone for good. Fans still have interest in seeing new uniform concepts, and color rush jerseys drive excitement, viewership, and merchandise sales. Teams like the Saints have shown they can still be deployed effectively for big games. The NFL also has incentive to revive the concept to attract younger audiences.
It remains to be seen whether the NFL will bring back league-wide color rush guidelines. But even if they remain an optional team-by-team basis, color rush jerseys seem poised to remain an intriguing part of the NFL uniform landscape for years to come.