I feel doubly bad every time I see one of those black Lions uniforms with the number 88 on the back and chest and a “Williams” nameplate. I had written the black uniform off as another embarrassment of the Matt Millen-era but there are apparently fans out there that would love to see them come back, even if it is only for the Lions Monday Night Football game scheduled for week five of the 2011 season.
The merits of bringing the black back for one game can certainly be debated by itself but deciding to do so has other ramifications. NFL rules currently allow for an alternate uniform to be worn in one preseason game, two regular season games and one playoff game. It is important to note that in this case, “alternate” is synonymous with “third”. These rules apply to a third uniform, not a third and fourth. A decision for the black uniform for MNF is a decision against the throwback uniform for Thanksgiving Day. Is that a trade-off most are willing to make?
Lions defensive end Lawrence Jackson seemed to like the idea of bring back the black for the Monday Nighter so I asked him which alternate he would pick if forced to choose one. He replied via twitter:
turkey day uniforms…I grew up watching those…haha I was like man why we always gotta watch the lions lmao now I’m a lion
With a classic Thanksgiving match-up with the Green Bay Packers in 2011 I find it hard to believe the Lions (and Packers) will be in anything but old-school style throwbacks, just as they were when they faced in each other on Thanksgiving Day in 2001 and 2003.
I came across some interesting info in doing some fact checking for this post. Uni-watch.com recently got their hands on an NFL memorandum regarding proposed changes to the league’s policy on alternate uniforms. Two of the bulletpoints would have a significant impact, particularly to the Lions’ use of alternate uniforms on Thanksgiving Day:
Alternate uniforms would only be used in Sunday-afternoon games (not prime-time or nationally televised games).
Problem 1: Thanksgiving Day falls on a Thursday with amazing regularity and the games are nationally televised. This would also rule out a black jersey for Monday Night Football.
Alternate uniforms would only be worn prior to the start of the “flexible scheduling” portion of the schedule, which begins in Week 10.
Problem 2: Thanksgiving Day games occur during week 12 of the NFL schedule as it is currently constructed.
It is important to note that the source that provided the memorandum to uni-watch.com isn’t sure if the changes mentioned above have been voted on or accepted. The NFL already has a label as the “No Fun League” and petty restrictions to the use of alternate uniforms is hardly a step towards losing that moniker. Perhaps a special exception would be made for Thanksgiving Day considering the league milks the tradition angle on turkey day as it is. Everyone that cares knows that the Lions and Cowboys are the teams that play traditional Thanksgiving Day games so I don’t see any issue with alternate uniforms causing issues with team identity or branding. Too bad the league hasn’t always agreed with me in the past.