We've all seen the clip of a black cat scurrying across the field during Week 9's Monday Night Football game between the Cowboys and Giants. The Panthers social media team even made a humorous Tik Tok video featuring an undercover Sir Purr as the feline perpetrator. This was certainly a strange moment in the NFL, and it even brought bad luck to teams with cat mascots, who have now gone 1-14 since November 5, (Carolina 0-4).
Whether you found the black cat incident to be merely a hoax, or you're the rather superstitious type, you can't ignore the facts. In last Sunday's Week 13 loss to the Redskins, the Panthers donned their black-on-black uniform combination, which has now hit the field 11 times in regular season play (15 games total). With respect to the limited number of games, Carolina is 3-8 (.273) when wearing all black. Here's a breakdown by season and record:
|Season||Overall Record||Regular Season||Postseason||Preseason||All Games|
It may be premature, but for now I'm dubbing this "The Curse of the Black
Cat Uniforms". Let's take a look at the historical performance of this popular uniform combination and I'll let you decide whether it's somewhat legitimate, or simply wasted energy. I tend to agree with Greg Olsen when he said "playing in the NFL is a lot more than just running around and looking cool". But personally as a uniform tracker, it makes for some interesting analysis.
2012: Black Uniform Debut
With the summer release of Madden prior to the 2012 season, gamers noticed black pants became an option. This wasn't going to be the only change; Nike took over the NFL contract and with that, the Panthers logo received a modern upgrade. In Week 10, they debuted the mono-black combo against the Broncos, who were led by Coach John Fox in his first game back in Charlotte. Denver stomped Carolina 14-36, giving way to an embarrassing 2-7 record. Despite the slow start, the Panthers managed to finish at 7-9 by the end of the season.
2013, 2015, 2016: Inconsistent Usage
The black-on-black uniforms were chosen three times in 2013; beginning with a preseason game at Philadelphia (L), then once in the regular season vs the Jets (W), and again in the NFC Divisional Playoff against the 49ers (L). This remains as the only time the Panthers have gone black-over-black in the postseason.
In 2015 and 2016 however, the all black combo only appeared in the preseason, posting a 1-1 record. "Who cares, preseason doesn't count", I've heard some say; but this clearly shows that Carolina was skeptical about this uniform set.
2018: Back in (All) Black
It wasn't until David Tepper took ownership in 2018 that Carolina brought back the all black unis for the regular season. That year, the Panthers showcased five different uniform combinations (as opposed to three), with black jerseys / black pants becoming the second most worn kit behind the traditional white / white. One would assume it was the new owner who switched up the wardrobe, but according to Equipment Manager Don Toner, this input came from the players.
The 2018 season was less than impressive as Carolina finished at 7-9, with five of those losses occurring in black-on-black uniforms (one win vs Tampa Bay). It's important to note that in 2018, the classic silver pants (usually worn with either black and blue jerseys) were stored away and replaced with black britches for black jerseys, and white britches for blue jerseys. Thus, mono-black became the standard "dark" uniform in 2018.
2019: New Uniforms, Same Results
The 25th anniversary was a special season for uniforms, as the Panthers became the second-to-last team to adopt Nike's newest "Vapor Untouchable" template. From a design perspective, the changes were minimal; a commemorative patch was sewn onto the jerseys and the pants' hip logo was removed (supposedly for improved leg flexibility). It did come as a surprise though when Carolina returned to the silver pants for the first time since 2017, taking an embarrassing L in San Francisco, 13-51. The following three black jersey games however, the Panthers reverted to the black-on-black combo; initially defeating Tennessee before getting upset by Atlanta and Washington.
While the black-on-black uniforms have received high praise from fans and uniform critics alike, Carolina hasn't played as good as they've looked. To me it makes perfect sense that a team nicknamed "Panthers" should wear black jerseys with black pants. Or even perhaps black helmets, as many have suggested (I'm not one of them). Is it time to take a step back and return to the silver pants, or should the team just focus on winning football games? Carolina is scheduled to wear black jerseys twice more this season; both at home vs Seattle and New Orleans.
Let me know what you think in the comments below, or on Twitter at @PanthersUnis.
This article was written by Scott M. Trembly (@ScottMTrembly), creator of Panthers Uniform Tracker (@PanthersUnis). Follow along on Twitter for more content like this.