Shortly after 11AM yesterday 28 different fan-bases got to 'ooh' and 'ah' over their new uniforms for the 2012 season. Carolina Panthers fans were left staring at the 'new' design saying "What's different?". Outside of the new logo and an electric blue belt the uniform is 100% unchanged from last year's version. They were one of four teams to not take any of the innovative steps in design Nike touted yesterday, and in turn fans wont get any flashy features promised in the 'Elite 51' jersey.
It seems like an odd choice not to take the steps in improved breath-ability, wicking or flexibility that the Nike uniforms offer over their predecessors. Prior to the event it was leaked that teams wearing metallic pants would be seeing a change to something matte due to the materials Nike were using. The Panthers still have their sliver pants, though the tone has changed slightly.
When Nike rolled out their college uniforms a few years back it took a couple of years for teams to get re-designs, with most opting for the same uniform with the technological advancements. It makes sense that the NFL, in turn, would take a little longer in rolling out a host of redesigns, and to this end I wouldn't be surprised if those four teams who stuck to the prior design (Panthers, Falcons, Packers, Raiders) were the next in line to get a re-work.
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Yes, Jerry Richardson has publicly said there would be 'no significant changes in his lifetime', but that can become a semantic argument , like the use of 'impact player'. No, the Panthers wont get a new color scheme, or be wearing anything akin to the multi-colored Seahawks re-work, but there is the issue of the current uniform's pants to reconcile.
There is no intelligible reason why an organization would hamper their player's comfort and heat management to simply stick with tradition. After all, even the Steelers and Giants succumbed to the Nike re-works, and they're as steeply trenched in history as anyone. I believe the Panthers know they need to find a way to redesign the pants, and by keeping everything on an even keel for next season it will buy the NFL and Nike design teams time to look at the construction. The same can be said for Oakland, who also have metallic pants to contend with; the 49ers, for example decided to ditch their gold pants in favor of a bizarre mustard tone at home.
Carolina's problem is that the pants and helmet match at home, and changing the pants to white would cause problems. Concurrently, those hoping for a black-on-black scheme may be waiting for a while. A full black uniform absorbs heat and doesn't read well on TV. There's a reason so few teams attempt to have a full black uniform at any level.
This is all pure speculation on my part, but I have a feeling we may see a new Carolina Panthers' uniform sooner, rather than later. With the organization already showing a commitment to Sam Mills and his 'Keep Pounding' mantra, 2013 will be ten years removed from the superbowl season, and would be the perfect time to unveil a new uni. Maybe it wont have 'significant changes', but we could see a few tweaks in the near future.