BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots rolled out their 2020 jerseys on Monday, essentially upgrading the Color Rush jerseys to the primary home jersey and incorporating the same style for new road white jerseys. The reaction from fans — at least, based on Twitter replies — was a bit mixed.
While part of that sentiment may solely be in reaction to the new jerseys themselves, there’s no doubt been a public outcry for a return of the red jerseys and white helmet, a look the Patriots donned from 2009-12. Though the original iteration of the Pat Patriot jerseys is generally considered a forgettable era in Patriots history, the team certainly looked sharp in the throwbacks during the Tom Brady era.
While those red jerseys and white helmets will not be returning for 2020, the team announced that it hopes to bring them back in 2021.
“Our primary uniforms in the modern era have been blue and white and they will remain so,” Jen Ferron, CMO of Kraft Sports and Entertainment, said in the new jersey announcement. “We recognize that fans also have an affinity for the red ‘throwback’ uniform and we hope to incorporate that into our uniform rotation in the future.”
The reason for the delay remains the same reason the Patriots went away from the red throwbacks after 2012. The NFL instituted a new rule in 2013 that prohibited all teams from wearing different helmets during the year. The rule was created in the interest of player safety, even though players are allowed to switch personal helmets during a season and even though players are required to wear different helmets after getting traded or signing with new teams during a season.
That rule brought about the disappearance of Tampa Bay’s famed creamsicle jerseys, in addition to the Pat Patriot throwbacks.
But it’s expected that the NFL will eliminate that rule following the 2020 season. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians hinted at that in an interview last month.
“I think once the helmet rule changes next year, we might have some creamsicles and some throwbacks, which I think are the best uniforms in the league,” Arians told Dan Patrick.
An NFL spokesman later said that discussions have begun to modify the rule in 2021, though nothing has been decided yet.
In addition to fans calling for the return of the red throwbacks, the Patriots might also consider the success the team had while wearing red roughly a decade ago. The Patriots did go just 2-2 in the red throwbacks when they returned in 2009, but the team brought them back for a 45-24 win in Detroit on Thanksgiving in 2010. That result was similar to the Patriots’ 20-12 win in Detroit on Thanksgiving 2002, a day when the Patriots also wore red.
The Patriots wore red jerseys while beating the Jets in both 2011 and 2012, and some of Tom Brady’s best performances came while wearing the throwback look. Certainly, his nearly perfect, six-touchdown day in a 59-0 win over Tennessee may be his finest afternoon of work ever. His late comeback against the Bills in Week 1 of the 2009 season — his first game back after missing the 2008 season — was one for the ages. In the aforementioned Thanksgiving game in 2010, Brady posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Earlier that year, the Patriots beat Brett Favre and the Vikings on Halloween while wearing the red throwbacks.
While Brady is obviously no longer a part of the equation, the team enjoyed some tremendous afternoons and evenings while wearing their red throwbacks. And in Monday’s announcement, the Patriots said that their 6-1 record while wearing Color Rush jerseys “sparked the discussion to promote them to the team’s primary look.”
In what is the most promising sign for the eventual return of the red jerseys, the Patriots’ online store is already selling red jerseys as “alternates.”
So the push for the retro look could be very real, and if the league changes its rule after the 2020 season, the return could be coming soon.