This is good news or bad news depending upon the recipient, but apparently Fox is killing the Thursday Night Football ‘Color Rush’ alternative uniforms. Fox recently won the latest bid to air the NFL’s mid-week program, reportedly agreeing to pay between $550-650 million a year for the opportunity.
According to Jason Barrett, Bill Wanger of Fox Sports said that the colorful alternate uniforms are going away, and that “hardcore fans don’t need gimmicks to watch”. It would be fair to say that the entire concept of the hurricane of hues was met with mixed reactions at best to start with.
In its defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers actually had a pretty cool Color Rush uniform, which featured a nearly entirely black body with ‘gold’ numbers. It gave a distinctive appearance and stood out in contrast to a number of other teams’ uniforms, which bordered on atrocities, and some of which even affected the color-blind.
Wanger is right of course that football fans don’t need gimmicks to tune into games, and frankly I don’t know anybody that was more interested in and more likely to watch football because of novelty uniforms anyway. I’m really not sure what the plan was behind the entire venture and what was thought to be gained from it.
If this is indeed the end for the Color Rush Steelers uniforms, then it had a short but sweet run. The team played one of its greatest games in recent memory on Christmas Day in 2016, defeating the rival Baltimore Ravens at the last minute with a lunging Antonio Brown touchdown that locked up the division title and helped send the Ravens home.
Ben Roethlisberger threw three touchdowns in that game while the team rebounded from his two early second-half interceptions. Le’Veon Bell scored both on the ground and in the air with 122 rushing yards, while Brown caught 10 passes for 96 yards and the game-winner. Ryan Shazier had an interception.
The second time the Steelers donned their Color Rush alternates was against the Tennessee Titans last season, and that was an even more lopsided affair, at least by the end. The scoreboard read 40-17 at the final buzzer, though by early in the second quarter it was just 16-14.
While the defense gave up a long touchdown, they also came up with four interceptions courtesy of Coty Sensabaugh, Robert Golden, Sean Davis, and Mike Hilton. Cameron Heyward recorded two sacks while Stephon Tuitt, L.T. Walton, and Vince Williams all got a piece of Marcus Mariota as well.
But the day was really all about Brown, who caught 10 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns. The offense scored four touchdowns, the other going to Jesse James, while Chris Boswell added four field goals.
While the Color Rush might be dead for Thursday Night Football, however, it may be premature to write its epitaph. The day before Wanger’s comments, and NFL Network article hinted that the uniforms might no longer be exclusive to TNF, so they might appear on other nights. Maybe.