Panthers Uniform Survey Analysis


by Nathan Fry


With a (fairly) new owner, a new head coach, and a potential new stadium within the next ten years, a new era of Panthers football is upon us. With a large amount of change surrounding every facet of the franchise, some form of a uniform refresh is sure to follow. The purpose of this survey is to establish how fans feel about the current and future design choices of the team, and what they'd like to see out of the Panthers' uniforms.
This survey was published on May 6th and ran for three days in total. Hundreds of responses were submitted, and I am so glad to see the high level of participation from Panthers fans. One very important thing to remember is that this survey is entirely unofficial and I am not affiliated with the Carolina Panthers in any way. All responses were gathered from fans by myself.
In case you want a TL;DR summary of the findings in this survey, scrolling straight down will take you to the Conclusions portion of this piece. If you just want the graphs instead of the analysis, that's cool too! Just head over to:

"All black everything"

With eight responses to choose from, this was always going to be an extremely fragmented vote. At the end of the day, the combination of black jerseys and black pants received over a third of the total responses.
Fans have shown strong support for the all black uniforms ever since they were first used in 2012. The Panthers typically wear them for night games at home, but have also worn them in the afternoon and on the road during the past few seasons.
Important to note is that the next two “favorite” uniforms are both blue uniforms, with the blue on white and blue on black combinations earning major interest, despite having low usage historically.

away uniforms garner the most criticism from fans

Coming in at 24.2% of the total vote, the white jersey and black pants combination is the winner of the least favorite category. The Panthers didn’t use this combination until recently, but have started to wear this uniform in a higher volume over the last year.
I was genuinely surprised that the Color Rush uniforms didn't wind up being the most disliked uniforms in this survey. They wound up in the 5th spot in this poll.
Also, I'm not entirely sure if it was fair to include the black jersey and white pants combo, since I haven't been able to find a record of such a uniform being worn, but they still came out with 14.1% of the vote, which is justifiable for an entirely mismatched set of pants, helmets, and jerseys.
Black helmets have been heavily debated between fans for nearly ten years now, ever since the team got all black uniforms in 2012. For most, the idea is that the team would wear an entirely “blackout” style uniform. This helmet could also be used with blue and white jerseys alongside black pants.
In one of the most lopsided votes in the entire survey, Panthers fans voted for a resounding "yes" to adding black helmets to the team's uniform set. Receiving over 70% of the votes cast, there is a large desire for a black helmet among Panthers fans. This would be the first change to the Panthers' helmet color in franchise history, as the Panthers have worn silver helmets during each game across the team's 25 seasons.
The one issue many find with the concept of black helmets is that no one is certain about what they should look like, or what sort of decals should be put on the sides and top of the helmet. While the fans wouldn't be making that decision anyways, it's interesting to think about, as the new style could be a complete departure from what we currently see on the silver helmets.
While tons of people say they want black helmets in forums and comment sections, many fans don’t go further into the issue and ask whether or not they’d like it to be the “primary” helmet for the team. Since most see the helmet as a natural progression of the all black uniform, the idea that the helmet still has to be worn with other uniforms is sometimes forgotten. With the potential removal of the "One Shell Rule" in 2021, which requires teams to stick to one helmet color per year, the team could theoretically introduce a black helmet to use as an alternate for certain special games, like a blackout or a prime time game.
In a close 57.6% to 42.4% result, fans voted in favor of a new uniform set for the Panthers. This would mark the first major change to the core uniforms since the introduction of black pants in 2012. The result was closer than anticipated, but in the end the majority said that they would prefer to see a new set of uniforms for the Panthers.
I consider this to be the more important question by far when it comes to the idea of new uniforms. They're an inevitability, even if over 40% would like to see them remain the same, so we might as well estimate the general preference of the fanbase for when that day comes.
In a super-majority vote, the fans made their opinions loud and clear: Keep things traditional when it comes to the Panthers’ uniforms. Though there are new trends that come into the NFL every year, like this year's fascination with gradients from the Falcons and Rams, the Panthers' fanbase would prefer continuity between the old uniforms and the new set, whenever it comes to pass. Small changes were suggested, like the shoulder stripes being more standardized than they've been in the past, as the sleeves could be worn different ways which changed the jersey's appearance. Some respondents suggested "fixing" the jersey by adding a smaller or more horizontal stripe on the shoulder as opposed to the large and vertical one seen currently. Another suggestion was "claw marks" on each shoulder, to make the uniform align more with the Panther mascot.
This vote was much closer than I anticipated, with the blue tops losing out in a much more even vote than the initial responses to the survey seemed to indicate. Through the first fifty responses, it was much closer to an 80% margin for black uniforms, but in the end the blue side gained many more votes on the back end of the 72 hour voting period.
With the blue jerseys gaining more use across the past two years, there is a possibility that the blue top with either white or black pants could become the new home uniform. The team hasn't worn its usual home uniform much in the past two seasons, and wore black on black at home twice in the last year, which was equal to the amount of times the blue top was worn at home.
Of course, white jerseys are always the home uniform to start the season due to the heat and humidity of the Carolinas, but the other jerseys may begin to split time more often across the next few years when the weather cools off.
Black uniforms remain the norm for the Panthers at the end of the day, but there's definitely a large market within the fanbase for the blue sets as well. One of the reasons cited for the blue jersey's support was that the Panthers' silver pants, that are matched with black tops and are traditionally worn as the home uniform, are seemingly gray and a lot more flat textured, while they looked more shiny and silver in previous seasons. The silver pants were not worn once in 2018, and the team switched to the Nike Vapor Untouchable template in 2019. This could have changed the look of the pants, but there's no way to be certain if this change is the cause of the color shifting.
\With over 60% of the vote, Panthers' fans said that they would like to see a "throwback game" with the old helmet decal at some point. This would generally include the use of the original helmet design, which can easily be done, as the uniforms have barely changed over time. The helmets are also the same color now as they were back in 1995, which would make the transformation a simple one.
A throwback uniform day could revolve around new inductions into the Panthers' Hall of Honor, matching the uniform worn by the Hall's current members. The team could also add touches like painting the endzones with the old early 2000's design that was used until Carolina's subtle rebrand in 2012.
While it won't make sense to some due to the similarities of the past and present, this is an easy brand change that the team could include as a staple in the Panthers uniform lineup for special occasions. "Retro" is seemingly always in, especially in the NBA and other sports leagues, and the fans certainly appear to be on board with the concept.
With 35.4% of the votes cast, the Panthers' all black look wins another popularity contest. Interestingly, the standard black and silver uniform came in fourth, behind the two currently used blue combinations. The Panthers have worn blue tops at home with more frequency during the Tepper era than they have in the past, which may contribute to their newfound popularity. The Color Rush set outperformed the remaining black jersey options, which included white and blue pants, though all three uniforms haven't been seen recently and are a long shot to be worn at all in the near future.
An interesting stat to note is that the Panthers have historically performed poorly in the all black uniforms, with a 4-11 overall record across the eight seasons that they have worn in.
White on white prevailed as a fan favorite with a whopping 51% of the vote. Being one of the cleaner looks worn by the team, with a minimal amount of color variation, it stuck out to voters as the clear choice for road games. Surprisingly, white on silver got 13.6% of the votes, even though the uniform has only been worn once in team history (Indianapolis, away, 1998.)
White on black, a combination that's been worn in the past two seasons with increasing frequency, is also a heavy contender for being the road game uniform according to the survey's results. Weighing in at just over 35% of the votes, it outperformed expectations and made the final result closer than I thought it would be in the end.

One interesting suggestion was the addition of a "Sam Mills patch" that would be added to the chest or sleeve of all jerseys, or to the back of the team's helmets as a sticker. Teams generally add similar patches to their uniforms to honor the loss of the team's owner or a beloved player.
On the subject of color combinations, several fans called for the removal of the Color Rush uniform entirely from the team's lineup. They haven't been worn since a Monday Night Football match up with the Eagles in 2017. The team wore a franchise-high six unique uniform combinations this past season- none of which included blue pants. so it's safe to say that the Color Rush set has been quietly retired.
Another interesting change that was suggested was the decal of the current helmets, since they are placed fairly far behind the facemasks due to newer helmet templates, and disrupt the look of the design according to some fans.
I'm not entirely sure how the decal would be changed, but it would possibly be somewhat smaller, or holes would be cut into it so that it would fit further up onto the side of the helmet. Overall though, this was not a large concern compared to the others that were mentioned.
One last change was the removal of silver from the Panthers colors entirely. Dozens of responses were submitted that said the color was unnecessary with the black, white, and blue color scheme looking more than good enough on its own. Some fans stated that the removal of the silver helmet would be a good first step in that direction.
"The colors," "the colors," "the colors." I hear you loud and clear. Y'all just love the Panthers' black and blue color scheme. The overwhelming majority of responses mentioned how the "blue and black work well together" and that "the shade of blue is great because it's something makes the team unique."
There's a surprisingly low amount of content to write about in this section, but that speaks to how much the fans love the team's colors. Roughly 95% of the responses given mentioned the color scheme as their favorite part of the Panthers' design. The other responses mentioned the logo and mascot as favorites, as the design was unique and not seen in other professional sports teams' designs.
Overall, the fanbase seems receptive to change, but not in large amounts. Most changes that were voted on are still in the vein of the traditional uniforms worn by the team, or are simply alternates that don't replace staples of the current uniforms for good.
Interestingly, the black jersey performed well throughout the survey when paired with black pants, but was always outvoted by the blue alternate jersey when it was paired with the standard silver pants.
This may mean that the fan base simply doesn’t like the black and silver look anymore, or that the repeated exclusion of that uniform has lead the fans to like it less. This is potentially supported by several comments that I received that stated the silver “didn’t make sense” in the color scheme or that it should be removed in favor of white.
There is a strong amount of support for black helmets, but surprisingly, there is not a large amount of fans who want it to be the primary look for the team. Whether this would mean that silver remains the helmet color, or that the team would move to blue, or even white helmets is unknown. (My one regret in the survey is not adding more options for helmet colors.)
The fans are fairly receptive to a uniform refresh, but not to an overhaul of the team's identity. There was strong opposition to a more "unique" approach to a potential team redesign, and heavy support thrown behind what fans called a "Chargers-style concept" that would clean up the current sets, without losing many of the details that the fans currently like.
Fans called the team's current look "simple," "clean," and "classic," though the last point is most likely due to the fact that they've rarely changed. One fan added that they were happy that the uniform hasn't been "Nike'd up" like Tampa Bay, Cleveland, or Jacksonville. The failure of those redesigns, and the resurgence of uniforms similar to the looks prior to the Nike overhauls, as well as the success of the Chargers' new AFL themed uniform, could point towards a trend that values uniform traditionalism over gaudy and overly loud designs. (Though the Falcons and Rams would certainly have something to say to that.)
Good or bad, change is on the horizon in the Carolinas, and it's not hard to imagine that a new uniform is (eventually) coming with it. Tepper may feel that it's time to put a stamp on the brand of the team, or that the nearly 30 year old uniform may be too dated. No matter what the team decides to do, there's one thing that the team should take from these results: don't mess with one the one of the most unique and beloved color schemes in the NFL.
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