[Editor's Note: Today we have a guest entry by Tom Juettner, who's noticed a certain chromatic trend in the NFL. — PL]
By Tom Juettner
In the Uni Watch community we always talk about the spread of BFBS. But I’d like to point out another trend that’s almost as prevalent but receives very little attention: navy for navy’s sake. Blue is such a common color that we often take its myriad shades for granted. Looking at the NFL today, however, we’ve seen an explosion in the use of navy blue.
First we have to define exactly what we mean when we talk about navy blue or dark blue. Every team has its own unique shade so its difficult to know precisely where to draw the dividing line, especially since some teams have used blues that are quite dark or deep, like a lapis, but that don’t quite feel like navy. We can even go in the other direction and debate whether the Bears’ shade of blue should be considered navy, since it’s such a deep midnight shade that it often appears to be black.
I’ve decided to draw the dividing line using a simple before/after comparison that illustrates the broader point nicely: the Rams pre- and post-1999. If its on the dark side of that divide, then we’ll include it in the navy brigade.
Having come to a reasonable approximation of how to define navy, let’s compare its spread to the BFBS phenomenon:
In 1969, a year before the merger, the AFL and NFL had a total of 26 teams, five of which wore black in some way (Steelers, Raiders, Falcons, Saints, Bengals), or 19.2% of the teams. In that same year, the Bears were the only team to feature navy blue (3.8% of teams). The rest of the league, if they used blue, used royal (Colts, Bills, Broncos), lapis (Giants, Rams, Cowboys), powder (Chargers), Honolulu (Lions), or Luv-Ya (Oilers).
In 1992, twenty years ago, there were seven teams using black, or 25% of the league (Falcons, Bengals, Raiders, Saints, Steelers, with accents for the Eagles and Jets). In that same year, 3 teams or 10.7% used navy in some way (Cowboys for alternates, Bears, and Chargers).
In 2011, 12 teams used black either as an accent or a main color, a whopping 37.5%. However, 11 teams utilized navy full-time — a number almost four times as high as 20 years earlier, an increase to 34.4% of the NFL. The Bears, Cowboys, and Chargers still use navy but have been joined by the Broncos, Patriots, Texans, Titans, Rams, and Seahawks. The Bills and Dolphins both use navy as an accent color. And I’m not even including the Packers and Jets, both of whom wore navy throwbacks. If those two teams are counted in the navy brigade, then more teams (13) wore navy than black last season.
The motivation for using navy is probably much the same as for using black. Many teams that formerly used a lighter shade, such as the Rams, Patriots, or Seahawks, darkened their hue to appear more intimidating.
The explosion in navy is just as notable as the explosion in black because of how rapidly the change has occurred. In just the last two decades, navy has expanded at a faster rate than black. Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or just one of those things? Discuss.
Super Bowl Logo Contest — Last Call: Today’s the last day to submit an entry for Phil’s Super Bowl XLVIII logo design contest. Full details here. The deadline is tonight, 6pm Eastern.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Yesterday I noted that the Stars have added a 20th-anniversary mark at center ice and wondered if they’d be wearing some version of that as a patch. The answer is yes, although the patch version is more complex than the center ice version. … Here are all 16 World Baseball Classic uniforms (from Dan Kurtz). … Cops in Slidell, Louisiana, will soon start wearing Super Bowl badges (from my ESPN editor Dave Wilson). … Cross-dressing alert: J.J. Watt of the Texans wore a Craig Biggio jersey at a press conference on Wednesday (from Matthiew Mitchell). … “I went to the Minnesota Gophers hockey game on Tuesday and took photos of every different kind of jersey I could find,” says Jeff Barak. “I also documented some of the various employees wearing jerseys, some fan jerseys that stood out from the crowd, and how fans have begun to make their own production runs of throwback jerseys. You can read about all of this here.” … Steve Garvey’s kids made him a Dodgers jersey birthday cake back in 1978 (from Brady Phelps). … “A school district near Milwaukee had been ordered by the Department of Public Instruction in 2010 to drop its ‘Indians’ nickname,” says Lucas Grishaber. “Parents recently challenged this through the Appeals Court and lost, so now the school Superintendent is asking lawmakers to strip DPI of its power to order schools to drop their nicknames. Additionally, the Superintendent indicates that the parents will try to take this issue to the State Supreme Court.” … In a vaguely related item, the Braves’ new BP cap was featured in the “Lowbrow/Despicable” quadrant of New York magazine’s “Approval Matrix” this week … New mask for Anders Lindback (from Joe Delach). … New Nike gear for Rory McIlroy. … Chris Pronger is the Flyers’ captain. So why is Dick’s Sporting Goods selling Claude Giroux jerseys with a “C” on them? (From Michael Geddes.) … Apparently nobody in the Islanders’ front office considered all the jokes that would ensue from adding Advil as an on-ice sponsor. “Sweet, delicious irony,” says John Muir. … “I love baseball and I love the Marx Brothers, so this photo is like heaven to me,” says Lou Sherwood.