Third jersey

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The 2003 black alternate uniform of the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League

A third jersey, alternate jersey, third kit or alternate uniform is a jersey or uniform that a sports team may wear in games instead of its home outfit or its away outfit, often when the colors of two competing teams' other uniforms are too similar to distinguish easily. Alternate jerseys are also a means for professional sports organizations to generate revenue, by sales to fans. Of North American sports leagues, the NFL generates $1.2 billion annually in jersey sales, with the NBA second selling $900 million annually.[1] Another use of the alternate uniform is for identifying with causes, like the Central Coast Mariners wear an alternate pink kit on pink ribbon day.[2][3]

Extra alternate uniforms or fourth/fifth kits are not commonly used, but are sometimes required when teams' other uniforms cause color clashes, or the uniforms are unavailable to use. In cases where teams have worn more than three kits in the same season, the extra kits were usually recycled from previous seasons.

Third-choice jerseys or uniforms are used in all four North American major professional sports leagues, and in college sports.[citation needed]

Third kits are commonplace in European association football and in some European rugby union clubs. Alternate guernseys or jerseys are common in Australia's two biggest domestic leagues, the Australian Football League (Aussie rules) and National Rugby League (rugby league).


For home and away jerseys in North America, historical convention has often dictated the colors used by teams in a given league. Teams generally have one jersey which is primarily in a team color, and another jersey which is primarily white (or another light color) and accented with a team color. "White at home" is the convention in baseball (MLB), basketball (NBA, NCAA basketball, and WNBA), minor league professional hockey (AHL and ECHL), and college hockey. "White while away" is the convention in football (NFL, NCAA football), major league professional hockey (NHL), and professional lacrosse (NLL and MLL). Association football (MLS) does not have a "white at home" or a "white while away" convention.

The conventions are not necessarily rules, although some leagues do enforce the conventions on occasion.[4][5] Sometimes the home team has the first choice of color, with the visiting team forced to choose a contrasting color. Teams thus create a third jersey in a third color, to ensure that they will always have an appropriate selection for the game.

In American sports, throwback jerseys are generally only used for special team games and not for the "third" purpose. In American football a third jersey may be a throwback uniform based on designs the team used in the past. In association football, meanwhile, it is more commonly a radically different design.

American football

National Football League

The NFL was the last of the major professional sports leagues to adopt the third jersey rule in 2002, with the only exceptions being the 1994 season, when teams issued a throwback uniform in honor of the league's 75th Anniversary. Initially, the NFL rule stated that a team may wear their third jersey only once a year, however, after one year this restriction was increased to twice a year. There are currently no rules on wearing alternate pants. Teams are also permitted to wear alternate jerseys as often as desired in playoff games (except the Super Bowl, where teams must wear their standard uniforms); the only team to do so (other than in 1994) was the 2008 San Diego Chargers.

Some teams will generally use one of their third jersey allotments against a particular division opponent each year. For instance, the San Diego Chargers would frequently wear their popular powder blue third jerseys at home against the Oakland Raiders, while the Houston Texans were known to wear their "Battle Red" third uniforms at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers are known to wear their throwbacks at home against the archrival Baltimore Ravens. The New York Giants were known to wear their red third jerseys at home against the Dallas Cowboys until the red jerseys were retired in 2009.

When wearing their third jerseys, especially if the team is wearing a throwback uniform, the team may theme the field around the uniforms. When the New York Jets, for instance, wore their 1960–1962 "Titans of New York" throwbacks at home, they painted the field in the Titans blue-and-gold color scheme (The Jets' current color scheme is green and white). In addition, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dressed the field up in Orange when they wore their Creamsicle throwbacks in 2009.

Teams will generally wear their third jerseys at home, although a few clubs wear them as the visiting team as well. The Carolina Panthers are known to wear their electric blue third jerseys on the road (especially in Tampa) if the home team opts to wear their white jerseys against the Panthers and the weather is very hot. Since introducing a wolf grey alternate in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks have exclusively worn their alternates on the road. Since the Denver Broncos switched their primary jerseys to orange in 2012, they have never worn them on the road in a regular season game. Instead, they have worn their now-alternate blue jerseys when the opposing home team wears white jerseys. The Jets have also worn their Titans throwbacks once in 2007 against the Miami Dolphins at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Because the football helmet is such a significant and visible part of the football uniform, some teams also wore alternate helmets when wearing their third jersey. This was particularly true for throwback uniforms, such as those worn by the Steelers (yellow), Jets/Titans (yellow), and Buccaneers (white). The NFL outlawed the use of alternate helmets beginning in the 2013 season.

In alphabetical order, the teams that have used third jerseys heading into the 2011 season:

  • Arizona Cardinals – Introduced a black alternate in 2010.
  • Atlanta Falcons – Adopted a red alternate in 2003 when the team redesigned the uniforms. The red alternate became the primary home jersey the following season, and the black jersey was used as an alternate through 2008. In 2009, the Falcons introduced a new set of alternate uniforms based upon the ones used by the franchise in its first season of 1966, featuring red helmets, black jerseys and white pants. No alternate has been worn since 2012.
  • Baltimore Ravens – Introduced an alternate black jersey in 2004. Mostly used in nationally-televised games during the night time.
  • Buffalo Bills – Have used the AFL-era uniforms as alternates since 2005, and in 2009, a white throwback jersey was introduced as part of the AFL's 50th anniversary. A red alternate, never used in a game, has been sold since at least 2001; it saw its first on-field use in 2015 as part of the NFL's "Color Rush" promotion. The white throwback serves as the team's third jersey as of 2013, complete with standing-buffalo helmet decals; because only the decals are different between the third kit and the standard, it is within the NFL's rules.
  • Carolina Panthers – Introduced an "Electric blue" alternate in 2002.
  • Chicago Bears – Wore 1940s-era orange throwbacks in 2004 Thanksgiving Day game with Dallas. Popularity with the fans led to the team introducing an orange alternate of the current design in 2006. The Bears wore their alternate orange jerseys for one (two in 2011) home game per season that is closest to Halloween. This was replaced by a 1940s styled set for the 2010 season, for two games against divisional opponents at home to honor the original "Monsters of the Midway" for the anniversary.[6][7] The orange alternate was re-adopted for the 2011 season, though Chicago switched back to the "Monsters of the Midway" theme in 2012.[8]
  • Cincinnati Bengals – Introduced an orange alternate along with the redesigned uniforms in 2004. Worn during "special occasions".
  • Cleveland Browns – An orange alternate of the old design was worn for three seasons (2002–04). An orange alternate of the new design was introduced in 2015 with the new home and road jerseys.
  • Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys are notable for being one of the few teams to designate their white uniform as their regular home uniform. Because most other teams wear their colors at home, the Cowboys end up wearing white in the vast majority of their games; the team's early owners recognized this fact and believed it would lead to better recognition on television, and the tradition remains today. Used white "Double Star" jerseys in 1994 and navy "Double Star" jerseys in 1995. Revived the navy "Double Star" jerseys on Thanksgiving Day during the NFL's "Throwback Weekend" in 2001–2003 and the white "Double Star" jerseys for Color Rush in 2015. From 2004 to 2012, the team wore the original 1962 navy "home" uniform designs as a third jersey, usually on Thanksgiving Day, but now cannot wear them due to the alternate-helmet rule; because the ban was only enacted after NFL teams must declare whether they plan to wear white or color for each specific game, on Thanksgiving 2013 the Cowboys wore their standard blue jerseys at home for the first time in 50 years.[9] Although the Cowboys primarily wear white at home, an alternate 1962 white jersey was made, but has yet to be worn by the team. They did use the 1960–63 away jerseys for the NFL's 75th season of 1994 for one game under mandatory league rules, but they used silver helmets.
  • Denver Broncos – Wore the Orange Crush-era "throwbacks" in a 2001 Thanksgiving game, just five years after they were retired. The team introduced an orange alternate in 2002, which became the team's new primary home jersey beginning in 2012. The navy blue jerseys, which had been the team's primary home jersey since they were introduced in 1997, switched to alternate designation in 2012. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the AFL, the Broncos wore their infamous 1960–61 uniforms (with vertically-striped socks) for two games in 2009.
  • Detroit Lions – Wore 1950s-era throwbacks on Thanksgiving from 2001-04. Wore black alternates from 2005–08, then returned to the throwback design.
  • Green Bay Packers – Wore 1940s-era throwbacks in 2001 Thanksgiving game with Detroit, and wore 1960s-era throwbacks in 2003 Thanksgiving game, also with the Lions. Replica jerseys were sold consisting of a yellow jersey with green numbers from 2004–06. The team wore a 1920s-style uniform (in navy blue with a yellow circle on the front with a navy number, and brown helmets [used to signify the leather helmets from the era]) on December 5, 2010 against the San Francisco 49ers, continuing until they switched back to 1940s navy blue throwbacks in 2015.
  • Houston Texans – Introduced a red alternate in 2003.
  • Indianapolis Colts – Wore mid-1950s throwbacks in 2004 Thanksgiving game with Detroit used very early in team's history. Wore a similar jersey with a navy blue helmet in a preseason game against San Francisco in and in a regular season game against Philadelphia in 2010.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – Wore black alternates from 2002–08. The black alternates was reintroduced in the 2012 season but became the primary home uniform while the teal uniform was retained as an alternate. A new teal alternate uniform was introduced in 2013 along with the full uniform re-design, but it has only been worn once (in 2013) since then.
  • Kansas City Chiefs – Wore Dallas Texans throwbacks in 2009.
  • Los Angeles Rams – Introducing 1974–99 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams throwbacks in 2009, the tenth anniversary of the Rams' Super Bowl XXXIV victory. A yellow uniform was introduced in 2015.
  • Miami Dolphins – Introduced an orange alternate in 2003. The team most recently used these jerseys in a 2010 game vs. the N.Y. Jets which they lost 31-23 making the Dolphins 3-1 when wearing the orange jerseys. Miami also wore "undefeated '72 Dolphins" throwbacks in 2003 Thanksgiving game with Dallas and inaugural season throwback uniforms against the New York Giants in 2015.
  • Minnesota Vikings – Introduced alternate purple pants when they redesigned their uniforms in 2006, which were worn twice with their white jerseys in 2006, and then once with their purple jerseys in 2007, but then hung them up until week 9 of the 2010 season when the team needed a spark. They wore them once with the purple set and once with the whites. The Vikings wore 1969-95 home throwbacks one game in each of 2007 and 2008, and twice during the 2009 campaign. The throwbacks have mostly been worn against an NFC North rival.
  • New England Patriots – Wore the "classic" Patriots throwbacks in 2002 Thanksgiving game with Detroit, which were reintroduced in the 2009 season and were retained for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons before getting banned due to the NFL's alternate-helmet rule. Wore a silver alternate (treated as a "white" jersey, against which opponents would wear colors — in fact, its first in-game use forced the Cowboys to don their "unlucky" blue jerseys) from 2003–06. An all-black alternate is sold in stores but has never been worn on the field.
  • New Orleans Saints – Wore a gold alternate (treated as a "white" jersey) in 2002 vs Minnesota and also wore their original 1967 throwbacks vs Tampa Bay in the same season. In the 2006 season, wearing black pants became widespread, both at home and away. The 1967 throwbacks were reintroduced on September 25, 2011 in a 40–33 win over the Houston Texans.
  • New York Giants – Introduced a red alternate in 2004, worn during one home game per season. The chosen game is usually a very high-profile encounter — for example, the red jersey was worn in late season divisional games, often against the Dallas Cowboys. The red jerseys were retired following the 2007 season. Introduced white pants in 2013, worn with blue jerseys.
  • New York Jets – Have worn the 1960–62 New York Titans throwbacks since the 2007 NFL season.[10] A white Titans jersey was introduced in 2009 as part of the AFL's 50th anniversary celebration. The team announced that the throwbacks will not be worn for the 2010–11 NFL season. The throwbacks did return in the 2011–12 NFL season but were not worn in the 2012-13 NFL season and are now forbidden under the alternate-helmet rule. A kelly green version of their home jersey was introduced in 2015.
  • Oakland Raiders – Wore 1963 throwbacks in 2009. (The Raiders' jerseys have changed very little since the early 1960s.)
  • Philadelphia Eagles – Wore 1948 throwbacks in a 1994 game. Introduced a black alternate of the current design in 2003. In 2007, the team wore 1934 Frankford Yellow Jackets jerseys, featuring bright yellow and aqua colors, against Detroit to honor the team's 75th Anniversary (when the Eagles started the 2007 season with a record of 1–3, the one win came when they wore the Yellow Jackets uniforms, causing many to say that the Eagles should keep those uniforms on). In 2010, the team wore a 1960 uniform in commemoration of their 50th Anniversary of their last NFL championship on Opening Day (September 12) against Green Bay. The Eagles did not wear an alternate in 2011 but returned to wearing the black alternate in 2012. In the 2014 season, the Eagles introduced black pants alongside their black alternate jerseys to make up brand new all-black alternates.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers – Wore 1963–1964 era throwbacks during the 2007 season as part of the team's 75th Anniversary. Used the same throwbacks for two games in 2008.[11] They were worn on October 4, 2009 against the San Diego Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens.[12] For the 2010 season, the throwback uniforms were worn against the Cleveland Browns on October 17 and against the New England Patriots on November 14.[13] They were worn in 2011 as well. A different throwback uniform, this one incorporating a horizontally-striped pattern used in 1934, was introduced in 2012 and has been worn annually since.
  • San Diego Chargers – Reintroduced the popular "powder blue" Chargers uniforms from the 1960s as an alternate in 2002. Elements from the throwback uniform were used when the Chargers re-designed their logo and uniforms after the 2006 season. Now sporting a white helmet (minus jersey number) full-time, the powder blue uniform was modernized and has served as the new alternate jersey since 2007. The throwback uniforms returned in 2009, in celebration of their 50th anniversary as one of the eight original AFL teams.
  • San Francisco 49ers – Famously wore their 1955-era throwback uniforms for nearly all of the 1994 season and subsequent playoffs, including their Super Bowl victory (a fashion statement that perhaps set the stage for the throwback craze in later seasons). Team also wore "1989 throwbacks" in 2002, 2005 and 2006 (even though they were still used regularly as recent as 1995). The team wore them in their 2007 season opener vs. Arizona (with special league permission) after the death of NFL Hall of Famer Bill Walsh.[14] The 49ers bought back uniforms from the 1984 era as a tribute to the 1980s teams for the last game of the 2008 season on December 28 versus the Washington Redskins, some players also grew early 1980s mustaches for the game to finish the look. A modified version of those uniform became the full-time home and away uniforms in 2009. The 49ers introduced a black jersey and black pants alternate uniform in 2015.
  • Seattle Seahawks – Wore a neon-green third jersey during Week 3 of their 2009 season, which was their third uniform through 2011 despite never seeing the playing field again.[15] Seattle introduced "Wolf Grey" pants, jerseys, and helmets as an alternate uniform in 2012 against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto[16] to go along with redesigned home and away uniforms. Since 2013, it has been worn twice each season and always in an away game.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – While current team ownership has wanted the Culverhouse-era jerseys erased because of the futility of the Buccaneers during that era, in 2009, for the Ring of Honor, the team officially allowed Culverhouse-era orange jerseys to be worn for such occasions. Such usage was forbidden under the 2013 alternate helmet rule. They also have a black alternate, though it has never been worn.
  • Tennessee Titans – Introduced a light "Titans blue" alternate of the current design in 2003. The "Titans blue" jerseys were the team's primary home uniform from 2008–14, though the team did not wear the light blue jerseys for any games in 2014 (save two preseason games). The navy blue uniform became the new alternate, though the Titans did not wear them from 2009 to 2013. The team wore Houston Oilers throwbacks in 2009. The navy blue jerseys, which were previously the team's primary home uniform from 1999–2007, returned as the team's primary home uniform in 2015. Tommy Smith, who was hired as the team's president and CEO following the death of longtime owner Bud Adams in 2013, is not a fan of the light blue jerseys.
  • Washington Redskins – Wore 1960s-era uniforms in 2002 as a tribute to the team's 70th anniversary that season, which was also worn once as an alternate during the 2003 season. During the 2007 season, to honor their 75th anniversary, the Redskins wore the Vince Lombardi-inspired 1970–71 throwback uniforms for one game. For the 2012 season, they adopted a throwback uniform based on those worn in 1937, their first year in the nation's capital, which included a brown helmet with a pattern mimicking the texture of the leather helmets worn at the team; since the banning of alternate helmets in 2013, the team has worn the uniform with their regular helmets with the stripes across the middle removed.

Color Rush

For the 2015 season, the NFL debuted a "Color Rush" jersey concept for select Thursday games (Thursday Night Football and one Thanksgiving Day game) in celebration of 50 years of games being broadcast in color. The games featured, mostly, both teams wearing one color matching jerseys, pants, socks and shoes, specially designed to clash with the color of the other team.

The games were as follows:

College football

Although uniforms are much less regulated at the collegiate level compared to the NFL, alternate uniforms – and even regular uniform redesigns – are generally less common due to many teams' respective histories and traditions surrounding a particular jersey color or uniform combination.

Ole Miss was one of the earliest programs to use two different jerseys, wearing the school colors of navy blue and red depending upon the game.

Recently, however, many teams have begun to experiment with alternate uniforms and helmets, especially teams whose uniforms are provided by Nike. Since the late 2000s, Nike has provided the University of Oregon Ducks with modular uniform systems consisting of as many as four color choices for jerseys, pants, helmets, socks and other components, allowing the Ducks to select a new combination for nearly every game.

One of the more famous third jerseys is that of the University of Notre Dame. The team wears either white or navy blue for most games, but occasionally special kelly green jerseys with gold numbers, evocative of the "Fighting Irish", are chosen for a major contest.

Association football

Ryan Giggs wearing the 2006–07 Manchester United third kit.

Third kits existed in English football at least as early as the 1930s. Until 1989–90,[21] the FA Cup competition rules stated: "Where the colours of the two competing clubs are similar, both clubs must change unless alternative arrangements are mutually agreed by the competing clubs".[22] Away kits were often similar as well, therefore third kits were worn in the 1948 FA Cup Final by Manchester United and the 1950 final by Arsenal.[23] Clubs sometimes needed to find makeshift third kits for their players.[21]

Man United won the 1968 European Cup Final in a blue third kit, and England introduced light blue third kits at the 1970 and 1986 World Cups.[23]

Since the 2000s, most clubs in major European leagues have used a third kit, or had one in reserve. Replicas of the kits are usually sold at club merchandise shops. Sometimes a previous season's away kit is used.

One notable incident occurred in 1996, when Manchester United changed into their blue and white third kit at half-time, with manager Alex Ferguson blaming the grey away kit for several sub-par performances.[24] Ferguson commented, "The players couldn't pick each other out.[...] They said it was difficult to see their team-mates at distance when they lifted their heads".[25]


Major League Baseball

After decades of wearing the same uniforms, Major League Baseball teams began to experiment with numerous designs in the early 1970s, ranging from popular designs (such as the Oakland Athletics' pullover jerseys that most MLB teams later adopted) and not so popular (such as the Chicago White Sox wearing shorts, or the Cleveland Indians wearing all-red).

Among such designs that were also tested were third jerseys, to break the traditional mold that baseball teams wear white uniforms at home, and gray on the road. This began in 1972 when the A's flamboyant owner, Charles O. Finley, introduced new uniforms to the team. Taking after the lead of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the jerseys were pullover spandex that would later catch on in MLB (though this would be phased out by the early 1990s in favor of the more traditional button-down jerseys), but by going one step further than the Pirates, the A's introduced alternate gold and green jerseys. The gold jerseys, lighter in color, were considered "home" alternates while the darker green jerseys were considered "away" alternates.

Soon, many teams caught on with different colored jerseys. The Pirates even went as far as to having a rotation of which jerseys to wear, matching white pinstriped, gold, and black pants to wear with jerseys of the same color. The white pinstripes were later phased out in favor of solid white.

The New York Yankees have generally shunned the practice of third jerseys. The Yankees wore three different jerseys in 1911, 1916, and most recently in 1943 according to the Dressed to the Nines database maintained by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In recent years, the Yankees have worn throwback uniforms for single games in 1996 and 2012.[26] Third jerseys otherwise remain popular in baseball today, either as an alternate design or as a throwback known as "Turn Back the Clock Night." The Milwaukee Brewers, for example, have worn a variation of their 1978–1993 home uniforms for every Friday home game. In 1999, the Seattle Mariners hosted the Kansas City Royals for a game where both teams wore "futuristic" uniforms meant to represent the year 2027 (what will be the Mariners 50th season). The "Turn Ahead The Clock" promotion was so successful that it was copied the next year by 20 MLB teams, this time representing the year 2021 (due to sponsorship by the real estate company Century 21); however, the jerseys were roundly ridiculed and have not been seen since.

The Toronto Blue Jays change from their traditional blue and grey jersey to a red alternate jersey every Canada Day (July 1) to help celebrate the national holiday (and with it, a cap with a red maple leaf on it, which is Canada's national symbol). In 2007, the Jays announced that as part of the team's popular "Flashback Friday" promotion, the team would use replica uniforms based on the powder-blue road uniforms used in the 1980s at all Friday night home games, starting with the 2008 season. To complete the look, the Jays also wore the original blue and white caps, with their traditional logo on the front of the uniform as well as on the caps. The Tampa Bay Rays wore a black alternate from 1998-2000 when they were the Devil Rays, and from 2005–07 they wore green alternate jersey worn both at home and away on selected games. When they changed their name to the Rays, they introduced an alternate navy blue for home and away games to go along with their white and gray uniforms. In 2010 they added light blue jerseys to be worn only on Sunday home games. The Cincinnati Reds wear a red alternate at many afternoon home games, and the Atlanta Braves wear a red jersey for every home game played on Sunday, while the Washington Nationals wear red for all weekend home games, and in 2011 have done so for most weekend road games as well. The Pittsburgh Pirates wore a red alternate for every home game played on Friday during the 2007 season, even though red is not an official team color. Since 2009, the Boston Red Sox wore a red alternate jersey for Friday night home games and a blue alternate jersey for Friday night away games. Also since 2008, for every afternoon home game, the Kansas City Royals wear powder-blue jerseys almost reminiscent of the old jerseys they wore in the 1980s (and in 2010 introduced new powder-blue caps to be worn with these jerseys, though they have since gone back to wearing their normal blue caps). The San Francisco Giants wear orange jerseys during all Friday home games. The Philadelphia Phillies introduced an alternate cream-colored uniform (with a blue cap to complete the look) in 2008 and currently wear it for all afternoon home games. Most recently the Mariners revived their teal jerseys from the mid-1990s, to be used on Friday and Monday home games. In 2015 they also introduced an alternate version of their home uniforms, using the team's classic blue-and-yellow scheme on cream uniforms, to be worn on Sunday home games. The Baltimore Orioles wear alternate black jerseys (with a cap showing the "O's" script logo) every Friday, regardless of whether they are home or away (home games against the Red Sox would force the latter to wear their regular grey uniforms rather than their navy Friday uniforms), and in 2012 they introduced an alternate orange jersey to be worn during Saturday games. In 2013, the New York Mets introduced two different blue alternate jerseys; one has their team name on it (in orange lettering) and is used at home, while the other has their city name on it (in gray lettering) and is used on the road. Prior to that, the Mets wore two black alternate jerseys in a similar fashion as their current blue alternates.

To honor the U.S. military, during Sunday home games, the San Diego Padres originally sported special camouflage-colored jerseys (with green caps to match); in 2011 the camouflage jerseys were changed to a brown/tan "desert camo" with a tan cap. Then in 2016, the Padres replaced them with a new "navy camo" jersey (honoring the U.S. Navy) with a blue cap. Also, they released a modernized version of the franchise's classic brown jerseys with brown-and-yellow caps (which was originally worn from 1969-1984) to be worn for Friday home games.

In contrast, the Chicago Cubs frequently wear a blue alternate jersey, whether at home or on the road, and not according to the day of the week. This jersey is worn based on the decision of the starting pitcher (particularly when Carlos Zambrano was scheduled to start), thus explaining why it is worn more often than other third jerseys.

After the death of Harmon Killebrew in 2011, the Minnesota Twins decided to wear their cream-colored "throwback" third jersey – a direct replica of the uniforms used for most of Killebrew's career – for every home game for the rest of the year.

Among Major League teams, the Milwaukee Brewers have the most alternate uniforms, with four. The Brewers have two alternate uniforms with the same color, with one featuring the team nickname and used on home games, the other featuring the city name and used on away games; in addition to their regular alternates, since 2011 the Brewers have, during various "Heritage" games, worn uniforms with "Cerveceros" ("Brewers" in Spanish), "Bierbrauer" (German), "Birrai" (Italian) and "Piwowarzy" (Polish); their opponents during those games would usually also have the foreign translation of their own team name on their road uniforms, such as "Piraten" ("Pirates" in German) or "Cardenales" ("Cardinals" in Spanish).

More recently, there is also a trend towards alternate grey uniforms. The San Francisco Giants wear a different version of their road grey uniforms, featuring the interlocking "SF" instead of the city name in full. This design is similar to the road uniforms the team utilized in the late 80's. The Dodgers and the Cubs have followed suit in wearing alternate grey uniforms, sporting the team name in front (rather than the city name) for their grey alternates.

The trend toward multiple uniforms of the same color can also lead to on-field mix-ups: in 2011, Brewers pitcher Zach Greinke, making a pinch-hitting appearance, accidentally wore the "Bierbrauer" jersey the night before German Heritage Day,[27] while in 2014, just three games into the first season where the alternate was introduced, outfielder Junior Lake played the first inning in a "Chicago" jersey while the rest of the team wore "Cubs".[28]


National Basketball Association

The concept of the third jersey in the NBA was first introduced when the Atlanta Hawks wore neon green alternate jerseys in addition to their standard blue road and white home jerseys during the 1970–71 and 1971–72 seasons. However, it was not until the mid-1990s that third jerseys became a common trend throughout the league.

The 1994–95 season brought the first wave of third jerseys in the NBA, as the Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings released new alternate uniforms. The trend continued in the 1995–96 season with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks introducing their own third jerseys.

Since then, third jerseys became a regular part of every NBA team's uniform rotation, but at first, not all teams were receptive with the concept. For instance, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers initially refused to join the trend out of respect to tradition, but they eventually unveiled new alternates in the 2002–03 and 2005–06 seasons respectively.

The third jersey trend only got stronger when the NBA signed exclusive uniform contracts with Reebok and later Adidas. The Adidas deal, in particular, saw the introduction of additional alternate uniforms in an effort to boost jersey sales; examples include the Golden State Warriors' sleeved alternates and the Heat's monochrome uniforms.

In addition to third jerseys, there are also holiday-themed jerseys that are worn only on special occasions. These include the jerseys worn on Christmas Day, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras (for the New Orleans Pelicans), and Saint Patrick's Day.

Other alternate uniforms in the NBA include the "Noche Latina" uniforms, military-inspired uniforms, and "Pride" uniforms, all of which were also concepts introduced by Adidas.

NBA teams were only allowed to introduce a new third jersey at least two years after unveiling a new logo and uniform set. This rule has since been relaxed somewhat, following more recent third jersey releases by the Utah Jazz, the Brooklyn Nets, the New Orleans Pelicans, the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Phoenix Suns the Charlotte Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks, in which some of the teams release their alternates on the same day as their regular home and away set.

Teams are also allowed to wear their third jerseys as often as desired during the first three rounds of the NBA Playoffs and the NBA Finals. Per the NBA Rule Book, there is no official rule that states that teams are restricted on wearing alternate uniforms or white at home during the NBA Finals. They only requirement stated is from Section VI, c. which states, "The home team shall wear light color jerseys, and the visitors dark jerseys unless otherwise approved. For neutral court games and doubleheaders, the second team named in the official schedule shall be regarded as the home team and shall wear the light colored jerseys."

Canadian football

Geroy Simon wearing the BC Lions' black third jersey in 2011.

The Canadian Football League first introduced the use of a permanent third jersey on September 6, 1994 when the Calgary Stampeders wore black uniforms for the Labour Day Classic against the Edmonton Eskimos.[29] The CFL did not have a rule for use of alternate uniforms and teams were able to wear them as often or as little as they liked, a rule that is still in effect today. Teams are also able to wear multiple alternate jerseys within the same season, as seen with the Montreal Alouettes during their 2009 campaign when they wore alternate black, blue, and throwback jerseys, in addition to their regular home and away uniforms. Teams are also permitted to wear their third jerseys as the away team, provided that they do not clash with the home team's uniforms. Despite teams having no restrictions with third jerseys, only the Stampeders chose to wear them during the 1990s, presumably due to the league's financial struggles during this decade.[30] As such, no CFL USA team ever wore an alternate uniform. The Alouettes were the next team to introduce third uniforms in 2001 when they also wore black uniforms; a colour that was not part of the team's colour scheme. The Saskatchewan Roughriders first wore their black alternates in 2002 as it became more normal for teams to wear these jerseys. The BC Lions wore orange retro uniforms twice during the 2003 season as part of the celebrations for their 50th season, but those were only worn for that season.

In the 2005 CFL season, Reebok redesigned the primary home and away uniforms for all nine teams and also introduced new alternate uniforms for six teams, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts abstaining and the Saskatchewan Roughriders keeping their alternates that they had been using since 2002.[31] Calgary introduced the third iteration of their black uniforms while the Alouettes wore a blue jersey with red numerals.[32] The BC Lions, having now converted to orange as the primary jersey colour, wore black alternates, the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers wore their own versions of gold alternates, and the Ottawa Renegades wore red alternate jerseys.

For 2006, the Tiger-Cats introduced gold alternate jerseys on August 12, 2006 in a game against the Argonauts.[33] This season also saw the first case of both teams wearing alternate uniforms as the Alouettes brought back their black uniforms in a home game against the Eskimos who wore their gold jerseys.[34] The Winnipeg Blue Bombers also wore their alternate gold jerseys as the away team for their playoff game against the host Toronto Argonauts.[35] The Toronto Argonauts were the last CFL team to wear a third jersey as they wore alternate Cambridge blue uniforms on July 26, 2007.[36][37]

The league recognized the history of its teams by having member clubs wear throwback uniforms beginning with the 2008 CFL season with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers wearing 1950s-style uniforms for two games featuring both teams.[38] The CFL then had all eight current teams wear 1960s-based uniforms for the 2009 CFL season and 1970s-based uniforms for the 2010 CFL season.[39] These differed from the designated third jerseys in that most were for one season only, except for the Saskatchewan Roughriders white retro jersey and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers royal blue retro jersey that were worn in subsequent seasons. These throwback uniforms were worn to lead up to the 100th Grey Cup celebration.

Following the league-based retro initiative, the league then turned its attention to a modernized take on all nine teams (including the expansion Ottawa Redblacks) by introducing Signature uniforms mostly in the 2014 season.[40] The Lions first wore their Signature uniforms in 2013 as part of their 60th season celebrations with the other eight teams following suit the following season. The uniforms were worn twice by each team except for Ottawa who wore theirs three times and Winnipeg who wore theirs once. In 2015, Winnipeg abandoned the uniforms altogether, as did the BC Lions, despite their popularity in BC. Every other team wore theirs twice during 2015 except for Hamilton, who wore theirs once on Labour Day.

The following list is a recount of all known alternate uniforms worn by member clubs as of the 2014 CFL season and does not include one-time throwback uniforms:

  • BC Lions – Introduced a black alternate uniform in 2005 loosely based on the 1960s jersey, initially worn with white helmets. Switched to orange helmets with black uniform from 2006 to 2008, including the 2006 West final and 94th Grey Cup win. Worn with black retro helmets in 2009 and 2010 seasons. Retired the jerseys in 2011 wearing white helmets, in the final game at Empire Field. Introduced gunmetal uniforms, first worn on August 17, 2013, and worn twice during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, including an away game in Toronto on August 17, 2014.[41] The Lions did not wear a third jersey in 2015.
  • Calgary Stampeders – First to wear third uniforms when they introduced black alternates with red numerals in 1994 on September 6 against Edmonton. They were the first team to wear alternates during a playoff game and the first to wear alternates during a Grey Cup game, which they did in the 86th Grey Cup in 1998.[29] Those black jerseys were retired following the Grey Cup win and new black alternates with white numerals were unveiled in 1999 that were worn until 2004. They first wore black pants with the black jerseys on October 18, 2002 at home vs. the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.[32] The third version of black uniforms were worn on Labour Day in 2005 and were last worn on September 2, 2013. 2011 was the first time the Stampeders wore black helmets with the black uniforms.[42] The Signature series uniforms were first worn, also on Labour Day, for the 2014 season and again in 2015. They were also worn for home playoff games in both years too. Since 1994, the Stampeders have worn black on Labour Day 13 times.[43]
  • Edmonton Eskimos – First wore their gold alternate jersey on September 9, 2005 against the Calgary Stampeders.[44] Wore the gold alternates against the Alouettes in 2006 as the away team as the Alouettes also wore their alternate uniforms.[34] The club last wore these jerseys on September 7, 2007, again against the Stampeders.[45] The club had no third jersey after the retirement of the gold jersey until the 2014 season when they wore their Signature series green uniforms with the gold "EE" logo.
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Introduced a gold alternate jersey on August 12, 2006 against the Toronto Argonauts.[33] The jerseys were always paired with black helmets and black pants. They were worn three times during the 2007 and 2008 seasons and worn for the last time on October 31, 2009 and just once for the 2009 season as the team wore retro jerseys that same year.[46] The team had no alternate jersey until the Signature series grey uniform was unveiled in 2014.
  • Montreal Alouettes – Began wearing an all-black uniform in 2001 and continued wearing them until 2004 and two more times in 2006. Introduced a blue alternate with red numerals in 2005 and wore these jerseys in the 93rd Grey Cup. The blue alternates were worn again in 2006, 2009 and 2010. The team introduced a new black jersey, this time with grey numerals as opposed to blue, for the 2007 and interestingly wore this jersey five times during the regular season while wearing the primary home jersey four times. This jersey was worn until the 2010 season and was brought back one more time for the 2013 season.[47] The team wore dark grey and blue Signature series uniforms for the 2014 season.[40]
  • Ottawa Rough Riders – Never wore a third jersey.
  • Ottawa Renegades – Introduced a red alternate jersey worn with white pants on July 1, 2005 against the Montreal Alouettes. Worn four times for the 2005 season including a game where they wore the jerseys with black pants on September 16, 2005 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
  • Ottawa Redblacks – As part of the Signature series, the Redblacks wore red and plaid uniforms three times during the 2014 season, including an away game on November 7 against the Toronto Argonauts.[40] They wore them twice again in 2015.
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders – First wore a black uniform with green numerals during the 2002 season. The jersey was always worn with black pants and was last worn in 2006. The team introduced retro-themed green alternate jerseys worn with silver pants in 2007, based on the uniforms first worn in 1967. From 2010 to 2012, these jerseys were worn with white pants. Also in 2010, white retro versions of these jerseys were introduced, but contrary to most CFL teams, the Roughriders continued to wear these until the 2012 season for select away games. In 2013, the green retro jersey was worn with green pants. In 2014, the team remodeled the retro green jersey, this time more resembling the uniforms from the early 1980s. Also in 2014, the team wore their Signature series uniforms twice, while also wearing "blitz green" for the first time.[40] Both the retro uniform and the Sigature series uniforms were worn twice during 2015.
  • Toronto Argonauts – Were the last franchise to introduce a recurring alternate jersey, which they did in 2007 on July 26 against the Montreal Alouettes. The jersey was Cambridge blue and partnered with their Oxford blue pants and was worn once in 2007, 2008 and 2009. With the retro uniforms that were introduced in 2009, the team also paired the retro Cambridge blue pants with the alternate jerseys for a monochrome Cambridge blue look that the team wore twice that year. The team wore an Oxford blue retro jersey in 2010 that made a return appearance in 2011.[36] The team became the first in the CFL to wear a white alternate uniform that wasn't based on a retro uniform when they wore their Signature series jerseys in 2014. This uniform was worn once at home and once away in both 2014 and 2015.
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Wore gold alternate jerseys as part of their 75th anniversary season in 2005. The jerseys were worn with either white pants or blue pants and were worn every season through to 2010. Additionally, for the three seasons that the Blue Bombers qualified for the playoffs, the gold jerseys were worn for each game, both home and away, and in the 95th Grey Cup.[48] Also in 2010, the club wore retro 1970s era royal blue jerseys, which were then adopted as the alternates for 2011 and 2012.[49] A modified 1980s era royal blue jersey was introduced in 2013 and was also worn in 2014. The Blue Bombers only wore their 2014 Signature series uniforms once, whereas all other teams wore theirs at least twice, possibly due to negative fan reception.[50]

Ice hockey

National Hockey League

Patrice Bergeron in all black Bruins third jersey in 2011, with exchanged "spoked-B" and shield logo locations

In the National Hockey League, each team has its own distinctive sweater design (hockey tradition usually refers to jerseys as "sweaters," because hockey players actually wore sweaters on the ice until the 1960s). Prior to 1995 (save a few isolated instances), each team only had two sweaters – one for home use, and one for the road. One sweater was dominantly white (or in a few instances, a light color), and the other dominantly a dark color. The home team has first choice of uniforms from the 1917–18 to the 1969–70 seasons (the white sweater was predominantly the road sweater with the dark sweater predominantly being the home sweater), but from the 1970–1971 to the 2002–03 seasons, white sweaters were worn at home and dark sweaters were worn on the road. Since the Third Sweater Program was introduced in the 1995–96 season, some teams wore the third sweater at home, which would have required an opponent to carry two sets of equipment and uniforms with them while on the road. This was alleviated starting in the 2003–04 season, when new rules mandated dark sweaters at home and white sweaters on the road.

The first third sweater in the NHL was a gold Pittsburgh Penguins home sweater used in the 1981–82 and 1982–83 seasons, then as the only home sweater in the 1983–84 season.

With the introduction of the third sweater, teams were allowed to use a completely new style for their sweater (and in some cases, corresponding alternate socks, helmets and other uniform elements), especially for the annual New Year's Day NHL Winter Classic outdoor ice hockey game event. Every team in the league except the Detroit Red Wings, the New Jersey Devils and the Montreal Canadiens have introduced a third sweater at one point since the program began. However, Detroit used a "throwback" sweater for the 2009 Winter Classic (which was used again against the Chicago Blackhawks on April 11, 2009) and New Jersey used "throwback" green and red sweater against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 17, 2010 (which were later used in the 2014 NHL Stadium Series), including a replica helmet worn by goaltender Martin Brodeur that was made to look like the original helmet he wore in his first game with NJ back in 1992. Montreal introduced several "throwbacks" in 2009 to celebrate their centennial season. Following the NHL's lead, the NBA and NFL also use third sweaters. The NHL suspended the Third Sweater Program after the 2006–07 season because of logistics problems involving the new Rbk Edge style NHL sweaters, which were unveiled at the 2007 NHL All-Star Game. An exception was made during the 2007–08 season for the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, where the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres wore throwback uniforms for the game. After the one-year absence, third sweaters returned to the league for 2008–09.


Owen Sound Attack's Joey Hishon wearing a third uniform in the Ontario Hockey League

Once a team has been granted permission by the league to use their new design, they will request and be allowed ten to fifteen games during the season in which they may use their third sweater. They may continue to use the third sweater in subsequent years as well. This alternate design allowed the team's appearance to flirt with radical designs which have occasionally gone on to become the new looks for some of the participating teams, though they can also be quite garish. An infamous example is a third sweater planned to be used by the St. Louis Blues: an over-the-top mix of trumpets, musical notes and staffs, it was rejected by then-coach/GM Mike Keenan, who reportedly banned the sweater from use.[51] Sales of third sweaters to fans have also provided significant additional income for cash-strapped NHL teams. For example, in 2013 the Calgary Flames introduced a third sweater in exactly the same colours as their primary home sweater, but with the addition of "western styling" mixed with traditional hockey sweater features such as laces and the team name in script on the front.[52]

Teams are also allowed to wear their third jerseys as often as desired in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; however, they may only wear two different uniforms during the playoffs (one at home and one on the road). Examples of teams who wore third jerseys in the playoffs include the Dallas Stars (in 1999), the San Jose Sharks (from 2009 to 2014), the Anaheim Ducks (in 2014), the Minnesota Wild (from 2013 to 2016), the Washington Capitals (in 2015), the Toronto Maple Leafs (in 1999), and the Pittsburgh Penguins (in 2016).


Several teams have had multiple designs of their third jersey.

Rugby league

National Rugby League

In recent years the third jersey has appeared in the Australian NRL, with every team having a 'home' jersey, an 'away' jersey and a 'heritage' jersey. The NRL does not currently require third or alternate jerseys, because most clashes can be resolved with away jerseys or using modified under-20s jerseys.

  • South Sydney Rabbitohs used a white jersey (the under-20s away jersey) against Canberra in 2008, even though the NRL stated that the Souths and Canberra jerseys don't clash. They have a similar jersey for 2009 which contains tribal Aboriginal and Maori designs.
  • Parramatta Eels have adopted a home (yellow with blue designs), away (blue with yellow designs, however in 2007 this was the alternate) and alternate (white with yellow designs, however in 2007 was away) jersey scheme. They (along with Manly-Warringah and Illawarra) were one of the pioneers of away jerseys in rugby league in Australia.
  • Canterbury Bulldogs use a jersey reminiscent of their training jersey as a clash strip (also their under-20s away jersey). They also wear their Berries strip from the 1960s as a heritage strip and a similar (yet quite different) jersey (white with blue and black butcher stripes) for trials.
  • Brisbane Broncos have been known to wear a blue and aqua alternate jersey, however, it is rare to see as blue has become a colour hated by Queensland rugby league fans.
  • Wests Tigers have worn a white version of their 2008 home jersey, switching the white/orange areas, and introduced a "10 Year Anniversary" jersey, which is white with black and orange V's. They also wear modernised versions of the old Balmain Tigers and Western Suburbs Magpies strips from the 1980s.
  • Though not technically third jumpers, the Centenary of Rugby League celebrations left all teams with special jerseys for the Centenary round, and in 2009 several teams wore the same jerseys (the Newcastle Knights, however, wore their foundation strip, in 2008 they wore a Newcastle Rebels jersey, which was the first Newcastle team in the NSWRL and played in the NSWRL's foundation season. The New Zealand Warriors wore a jersey symbolising the history of rugby league in Auckland, with a dark blue jersey with 2 white V's, while the Melbourne Storm wore their 2000's light purple with white lightning bolts away strip in the 2009 Heritage Round, while in 2008 they wore their foundation jersey with V's).
  • As a result of the above point, the Sydney Roosters have used five jerseys in 2008.

See also


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  10. [1] Archived August 25, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
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  21. 21.0 21.1 3 March: "Until 1989-90 the rules of the FA Cup..." HFK - News & Updates Archive 2011 Retrieved Jul 16, 2012
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  31. CFL and Reebok unveil new game jerseys
  32. 32.0 32.1 Stamps Unveil Third Jersey
  33. 33.0 33.1 Tiger-Cats third jerseys up for grabs
  34. 34.0 34.1 Golden moment for Goldie
  35. Argos win Scotiabank East Semi-Final
  36. 36.0 36.1 Toronto Argonauts uniforms and logos
  37. Alouettes 26, Argonauts 13
  38. Celebrating Our Legacy: The CFL goes "Retro"
  39. CFL Celebrates the Seventies!
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 CFL Signature Uniforms by Reebok
  41. Black is the new orange for B.C. Lions' uniforms
  42. Green and Gold standard: Esks down Stamps
  43. Stampeders excel as men in black
  44. Jersey to be a golden success?
  45. Stampeders 20, Eskimos 17
  46. Cats blow out Riders; Playoffs in sight
  47. Montreal Alouettes All-Time Uniforms
  48. 2007 Photo Gallery
  49. 1970's retro jerseys
  50. Blue Bombers, CFL miss mark with new jerseys: designer
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  52. "Flames Unveil New Third Jersey To Mixed Reviews, With Some Saying It Is "Bland"
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External links