The Carolina Panthers jersey has very little history, even if the franchise started over a quarter-century ago. Much like another team that had joined the NFL somewhat recently, the Houston Texans (2002), the Panthers have taken a more traditional approach, with very little to no changes in their jersey since joining the NFL.
However, there’s a small side to the Panthers’ history that few NFL fans, or even die-hard Panther fans, know of, and that’s the fact the team’s prototype look contained some different elements.
A small part of the Panthers’ resistance to jersey change came from former owner Jerry Richardson, who was a self-described traditionalist, stating back in 2012 when the team made upgrades to their helmets that the uniforms won’t change.
The Panthers debuted in 1995, but in an October 1994 press conference, the jerseys looked slightly different. The home look was originally going to the Carolina blue jersey similar to what the team ultimately opted for. The numbering was silver along with black and white trim as outlines. The vertical shoulder striping was black and outlined in silver. TV numbers on the shoulders were black with silver outlines while the Panthers’ helmet logo appeared on the sleeves.
On the road whites, the black numbering was outlined in white and again in Carolina blue. Vertical shoulder sleeves were black, outlined in Carolina blue, as were the TV numbers. The helmet logo on the sleeves also appeared.
As one can see at the link, these jerseys and entire uniform combination wasn’t strikingly different from what the team settled on. In fact, in the 2018 preseason, the Panthers wore a uniform similar to the home prototype. Also, the image provided shows the team’s uniform combination worn against the Washington Redskins on October 14th, 2018, depicting the Panthers in a uniform resembling the away prototype.
So, the Panthers ultimately opted for the following looks:
Black jersey, white numbering, Carolina blue trim, white TV numbers with blue trim, Carolina blue vertical striping, silver trim, helmet logo on the sleeves.
White jersey, black numbering, Carolina blue trim, black TV numbers, Carolina blue trim, Carolina blue vertical striping, black trim, helmet logo on sleeves.
In 2002, the Panthers unveiled a Carolina blue alternate. The alternate included a Carolina blue base, white numbers, black trim, white TV numbers, black trim, black vertical stripes, silver trim, helmet logo on sleeves.
Again, these jerseys have seen very little to no change, except for one in 2012 when the team added the phrase ‘Keep Pounding’ to the inside of their jersey collar, a nod to Sam Mills, who died of intestinal cancer in 2005.
Per this article, Mills reportedly told the team, “When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do – quit or keep pounding. I’m a fighter. I kept pounding. You’re fighters, too. Keep pounding!”
The phrase has since become the team’s official slogan.
It should also be noted that while I don’t dive incredibly far into the whole uniform sector, that the Panthers have, despite the unchanging jerseys, worn several uniform combinations, especially in 2018. Including preseason, the team wore an astounding nine different uniform combinations, earning them a moniker of the “Oregon Ducks of the NFL.” The NCAA’s Oregon Ducks football team is known for breaking out in a new uniform every week.
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While I nod teams who tend to be unchanging, the problem with the Panthers’ look is that it’s stuck in the 1990s. Carolina blue is fantastic and it’s something they should upgrade to primary rather than leave at alternate status. Also, perhaps focus more on Carolina blue as opposed to black, which would give the team a unique look throughout NFL circles, perhaps even resembling the North Carolina Tar Tells, whose primary color is of a similar, yet lighter shade of Carolina blue.
The look isn’t terrible, but it can definitely use an upgrade. I would love to see a road jersey donning Carolina blue numbering and black outlines, matching the team’s vertical shoulder striping.
Related Article: The Carolina Panthers Helmet History