Steelers Color Rush jersey game confirmed

The previously speculated day for the Steelers to wear Nike’s latest marketing gimmick, the “Color Rush” alternate jersey, has apparently been bumped from one holiday to another.

With the Steelers playing on 3 holidays this season (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day) it was original thought that Pittsburgh would be wearing the yet-to-be revealed uniforms against the Indianapolis Colts on “Turkey Day,” as the NFL had previously marketed the Color Rush concept for Thursday Night Football games.

However, a recent interview with Steelers’ President Art Rooney II revealed that the Steelers would debut their 4th 2016 alternate jersey on Christmas Day.

Last season, Thursday nights introduced another wrinkle into the NFL and Nike’s marketing machine, with the debut of the “color rush” jersey. The NFL featured 4 “color rush” games in 2015, where 8 teams began wearing monochromatic uniforms.

The first such contest featured the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets wearing all red and all green jerseys, to the dismay of many red-green colorblind viewers.

Despite the marketing disaster in the very first Color Rush game, the trend continued with the 6 more teams wearing similar full color uniforms.

Since the concept started with only 8 teams, I had wondered if Pittsburgh would join the color rush frenzy in the near future; as the Steelers have traditionally shunned altering their jerseys over the years (they opted out of the Nike “fly wire” collar, and also do not sport the “C” captain’s badges)

As soon as the news broke, the speculation began on what the Steelers might wear that evening. Would the team break tradition and wear a modern era alternate jersey? After all, the Steelers only added a third jersey option around 9 years ago, during their 75th anniversary.

Since the Steelers/Ravens games is one of only two games on Christmas Day, Rooney says, the decision was made to wear them that day (instead of Thanksgiving.)

“We will be wearing what is referred to as our ‘color rush’ uniform for the first time,” said Rooney. “I know in a few weeks we are going to be able to unveil exactly what that looks like. We haven’t had a home game on Christmas in my memory. It will be unique, special. This will add a little more excitement to what I am sure will be an exciting day.”

The 75th anniversary uniforms were a hybrid representing the look of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with the Steelers sporting gold helmets with black throwback tops featuring gold numbers, and white pants with gold stripes. The look was well received by fans and media, unlike their replacements, the 80th anniversary “bumblebee” jerseys:

The “prison stripe” look dates back to the Steelers 1934 season, their second year as a professional football team. Unlike the 75th anniversary iteration, the 80th anniversary uniform remained faithful to the originals, including the “puke” khaki color pants and striped socks.

Fans either love or hate the look.

Which beckons the question: what could happen when the masterminds at Nike come up with the color rush concept for the Steelers?

Steelers President Art Rooney II commented on the possibilities earlier this league year:

“I haven’t heard anything official, but I assume that’s a color rush game. “It’ll be Indianapolis’ call in terms of what uniform they wear, and so I haven’t heard yet from them what their color rush uniform is. We’ll have to wait and see on that one what color we’ll be wearing.”

According to the color rush protocol, each team was able to choose their color. The default option for each team is white.

Since the Steelers are the home team, they have the option to choose what they will wear, which is traditionally black tops with gold pants. However, a tweet surfaced shortly after the NFL schedule release, which claimed to be an authentic representation of what each team would wear on Thursdays.

The legitimacy of the photo has been questioned, and is believed to be fake, but offers another alternative for the Steelers: gold jerseys.

The Ravens currently have three uniform options: white, purple and black. Should the Steelers opt for a lighter color, it doesn’t mean they will: in last year’s color rush games, the uniforms didn’t always contrast by hue. The Bills and Jets both wore darker shades, while the Jaguars/Titans game had gold and powder blue, and the Panthers/Cowboys went with powder blue and white respectively.

That leaves the door open for an all-black Steelers uniform:

“We had our options,” said Rooney. “We had some presentations from Nike in terms of what the options were, and we decided our color-option was going to be black, and the default option is going to be white. When you’re the road team, the home team gets to decide what it’s wearing. If for some reason the Colts would decide to wear white, we would wear black. We just felt black was more of our predominant color (than gold).”

Rooney’s comment further undermines the Twitter leak, and all but confirms the Steelers may go with a uniform that features black tops and bottoms. I believe that uniform will closely resemble the 75th anniversary jersey, but with the modern era numbering and lettering. (Note, despite what others are reporting, this quote was from earlier this year; Rooney has not confirmed black as the color, while this sound bite was taken within the context of playing the Colts on Thanksgiving Day.)

I’m of the opinion that an all-black kit could look like a jersey Reebook had produced several years ago; a vanity jersey, called the “shadow jersey.” It was devoid of any color, using only black and white in it’s scheme:

Such a pattern would fit the color rush theme to a tee. However, I’m of the opinion the whites would be replaced with the traditional gold, for a unique look that’s not far from the standard Steelers option. That mockup is below, with the traditional Steelers helmet and solid black pants.

Also below, is the “default” white kit, which is mentioned by Mr. Rooney. It’s not as exciting as the all-black concept, but is rooted with the 1960’s Steelers, who wore an two different versions of all-white uniforms.

However, the Steelers are one of the few NFL teams who strictly wear their team color at home: the last time Pittsburgh consistently wore white as a home jersey was in 1969, Chuck Noll‘s inaugural year as head coach, and the final season the Steelers played in Pitt Stadium.

Therefore, I’m excited to see an all-black style uniform; and we may do so, before the regular season kicks off in September.


While interviewed during the Steelers/Lions preseason game halftime show, Steelers President Art Rooney II gave more insight into Christmas Day’s Color Rush jerseys:

“It will be something different,” said Rooney. “The first time we have worn black pants. It will be an all black uniform with gold numbers. I think our fans will enjoy it. It’s something different. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.”


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