NFL Returning Uniforms: Long Process Worth Waiting As League Encourages Teams To Unveil Old School Look


The ever popular red homecoming uniforms the San Francisco 49ers wore in their 1994 Super Bowl championship season are back – a franchise hungry long ago to bring them back to the uniform rotation. As the NFL begins to give teams the chance to bring back homecoming uniforms, the 49ers have gone through a lengthy process to ensure that the 94 red returns are in place for the 2021 season – the franchise’s 75th anniversary.

“The reality is that it takes about two years for that to happen,” 49ers chief marketing officer Alex Chang told CBS Sports on Friday. “Even with a design that has already existed, you still need 18 to 24 months to make it happen. We started this process in the fall of 2019 to prepare it for the upcoming season. the league, but also a collaboration with it on what design is.

“You have to get Nike involved, get involved with their design team, make sure they look at samples with the actual product in hand and how it fits into the current chassis that the guys are using on the court, off the court and whatever. it looks with the mainstream quality jerseys. It just takes that long, but for us it worked well.

“We wanted to bring this back for our 75th anniversary. We were really happy that it all expired.”

The 49ers were one of the teams that had already put together a homecoming uniform and an alternate helmet, which allowed them to throw a popular comeback thread earlier than other franchises. Chang said that San Francisco actually used a different helmet design when they wore the 1994 homecoming uniforms, putting an oval helmet sticker on the side and a “lounge police” helmet in front of the bumper that it was wearing. they wore during that 1994 season.

If the 49ers were to have another alternative helmet in place for 2022, they would have to submit their proposal to the league by the end of the month. They envision a red helmet worn by the team over 60 years ago.

“There are really two options for us,” Chang said. “Stick with the ’94 helmet, which we already use today and love this look – or a 1955 helmet that was a red helmet with a silver stripe and a face shield. We are looking at both.

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Teams with popular homecoming uniforms, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will have to wait at least a year before they can launch their classic sons. Tampa Bay should have submitted their Orange Creamsicle uniforms to the league 18-24 months before debuting them, which was no guarantee since the alternate helmet had only been officially licensed by the league last month. Chang said teams can have up to four sets of shirts (home, away, two substitutes) in a season. The Buccaneers currently have three sets of uniforms at the moment – home (red), road (white), and one (pewter), so there’s room for a fourth.

For many franchises, the fourth jersey could be reserved for a throwback that debuts in the next few years. Using a second helmet has created opportunities the league is keen to seize upon, having seen how popular alternative uniforms have become in the NBA and MLB.

“They’re seeing that it’s being adopted in basketball and baseball, which is good for us,” Chang said. “The league encourages clubs to embrace their history. They understand that this is fan-centric and how much that history means to the fans. There is that direct memory and the nostalgia factor.

“What you see from the league is the ability to bring those uniforms back with the alternate helmets, so the Kelly Green (Philadelphia Eagles) uniforms can come back, the Orange Creamsicles (Buccaneers) can come back.”

Could the 49ers lead a trend where throwbacks become their permanent home and road uniforms? They actually tried to do it just for this year in honor of their 75th season.

“We actually tried to make all 17 games a throwback, but we ended up with six – which we’re certainly happy with,” Chang said. “For now, the plan is to keep this closet from our home and the standard exterior and the ’94 reds as our alternate home and our ’94 whites as our alternatives down the road.”

The flashback revolution is coming to the NFL. The 49ers are one of the teams that shows just how much an alternate throwback can energize a fan base.


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