The New England Patriots are expected to announce slight modifications to their current uniforms next month, but even bigger news might be waiting next year: there appears to be a chance that throwback uniforms return in 2021. The discussion was started earlier today when Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and noted that the current safety rules regarding helmets could change next offseason.
This rule was first implemented in 2013 as a concussion countermeasure, but it allowed teams to use only one set of helmets throughout one season. Changes between two different-colored ones therefore became prohibited, bringing the end to throwback looks like the one worn by the Patriots: New England’s red-and-white ensemble used a different helmet than the navy-and-silver outfits worn by the players as a standard uniform.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio dug a little deeper after Arians’ statements were aired, and he got in touch with NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy about the issue. McCarthy had to say the following about the rumors:
There will be no change for the 2020 season. There are ongoing discussions for a potential change for the 2021 season, but no decisions have been made.
While a lot can and will happen between now and the NFL’s ownership meetings next spring, there is a realistic chance that the league’s decision-makers will at least consider altering the current rules to allow throwbacks to return. From New England’s perspective, this means that the club’s old-school Pat Patriot design might be making a comeback in 2021 after what will be an eight-year absence at the end of the NFL’s 2020 season.
The Patriots wore the red-and-white look from their inaugural season in 1960 until a design overhaul of 1993: Pat Patriot was replaced by the so-called “Flying Elvis” that has graced the team’s helmets ever since, while the color scheme initially changed to blue-and-silver before another modernization ahead of the 2000 season. Since then, New England used navy-and-silver as its main colors and basis for its uniform.
The throwbacks reappeared only now and then: the Patriots wore them three times during the 1994 season and once in 2002, before returning them as a regular third outfit between 2009 and 2012. New England introduced its all-blue color rush design back in 2016, but the original has not returned — yet.