The NFL color rush program has become a popular tradition in recent years, with teams unveiling specially designed alternate uniforms that showcase a dominant team color. Introduced in 2015, the color rush uniforms have added excitement and visual appeal to Thursday Night Football games. But there has been some confusion around the rules and frequency that teams can wear their color rush uniforms. Here is a breakdown of how many times NFL teams can wear their color rush uniforms in a season.
The Origin of the Color Rush Program
The NFL color rush program was introduced in 2015 as a way to boost ratings and interest around Thursday Night Football games. Prior to 2015, the only alternate NFL uniforms were throwback or retro uniforms honoring a past era in a franchise’s history. The color rush uniforms were specifically designed to be eye-catching, modern alternates that used bold, vibrant colors in creative ways. The NFL promoted the Thursday night games in which the color rush uniforms would debut.
The first color rush game took place on September 17, 2015 featuring the New York Jets in kelly green vs. the Buffalo Bills in all red. While the Bills had worn all red uniforms in the past, the kelly green Jets uniforms were unique and instantly garnered attention. The visual contrast of the two bold uniform colors together on the field created strong enthusiasm around the color rush concept.
Early Color Rush Rules (2015-2016)
In the first two NFL seasons with the color rush program (2015 and 2016), the following rules applied:
- Only teams playing on Thursday Night Football could wear a color rush uniform.
- Each team could only wear their color rush uniform once per season.
- The two teams had to wear bold, contrasting colors that created a vibrant visual effect.
The color rush games were branded as special events to create hype and interest around the Thursday night schedule. At first, only a limited number of teams had color rush uniforms designed each season. In 2016, there were just eight Thursday night color rush games featuring only 16 of the 32 NFL teams.
Expanded Rules (2017-2019)
Starting in 2017, the NFL expanded the color rush program to allow more teams to participate. The new rules from 2017-2019 included:
- All 32 NFL teams now had a color rush uniform designed.
- Teams were no longer limited to wearing them only on Thursday nights.
- Each team could wear their color rush uniform a maximum of three times per season.
This expansion achieved the NFL’s goal of generating interest by having color rush uniforms featured in most weeks of the regular season. Fans also responded positively to seeing bolder uniform designs for their favorite teams.
Current Color Rush Rules
In 2020, the color rush program evolved again with two key changes to the rules:
- Teams can now wear their color rush uniforms a maximum of four times per season.
- It is no longer required for the two opposing teams to wear boldly contrasting colors. Matchups featuring two teams in darker color rush uniforms are now permitted.
Giving teams an additional annual opportunity to showcase their popular color rush uniforms was a logical step after the immense success of the program. And relaxing the contrasting color requirement allows for creativity in color rush game scheduling without limitations.
Do Fans Want More Color Rush Games?
Based on strong sales of color rush merchandise and enthusiastic feedback on social media, it’s clear that NFL fans are captivated by the alternate uniforms. In a recent poll on NFL.com, a majority of over 28,000 voters expressed wanting more color rush games each season:
|Yes, I wish teams could wear color rush uniforms more often
|No, the current rules are fine
|No, there are too many color rush games now
This poll confirms that the appetite for color rush uniforms among NFL fans remains very strong. There seems to be demand for even more exposure to the creative designs.
The Future of the Color Rush Program
Given the overwhelming popularity of color rush uniforms among NFL fans, it’s likely that the league will continue to expand the concept in coming seasons. Here are two changes that could happen in the next phase of the program:
- No limit on frequency: The NFL may remove the limit on how often teams can wear their color rush look. Popular designs could become a regular part of a team’s uniform rotation.
- Color rush expansions: The color rush concept could expand beyond uniforms into other team apparel like sideline hats, sweatshirts, or team logos.
As long as the vibrant colors and creative designs remain fresh, color rush will continue being a hit with NFL fans. The uniforms have succeeded in boosting interest and viewership around Thursday Night Football and regular season matchups. As the rules continue evolving, color rush is giving teams a chance to reinvent their aesthetics and connect to younger fans through bold, eye-catching style.
- NFL teams can currently wear their color rush uniforms a maximum of four times per season.
- The color rush program has expanded each year since starting in 2015 to include more teams and games.
- Fans strongly support having even more color rush uniform games based on merchandise sales and polling data.
- The NFL may continue expanding the color rush concept by removing frequency limits or extending it to sideline apparel.
The color rush initiative has been a win for fans, teams, and the league overall. As alternate uniforms find more ways to boost fan engagement across sports, NFL teams are now dreaming up fresh color rush designs each season. While the uniforms may keep changing, the excitement surrounding their reveal will remain one of the NFL’s new great traditions.