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Panthers’ uniform wins in a landslide

Scott Fowler
Scott Fowler is a national award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer.

The Carolina Panthers have officially won NFL.com’s “Greatest Uniform in NFL History” contest in a landslide with their black-on-black look. And that victory will ensure the Panthers will wear their black jerseys, black pants and blue socks together more often in 2013, which won’t be hard – they have worn that combination only once in franchise history.

“Oh, you’re definitely going to see black jerseys and black pants some more now,” said Jackie Miles, Carolina’s head equipment manager since its inception. “This hasn’t gone unnoticed in our building. I’ve always liked the look myself. Now that this has happened, I’m going to push for it more often.”

Miles said the Panthers are locked into black jerseys five times already this season: in the preseason at Philadelphia, and in late-season home games starting in mid-November against New England, Tampa Bay, the New York Jets and New Orleans. They could wear black pants as well for any or all of those games and likely will for at least a couple. Unlike jersey color, the pants color can be decided at the last minute.

The Panthers traditionally wear all white early in the season due to heat concerns when they can (NFL home teams choose jersey color). They will wear white jerseys and white pants for their first four regular-season home games (Chicago and Pittsburgh in the preseason and Seattle and the New York Giants in the regular season). They will then wear their alternate blue jerseys at home against St. Louis on Oct.20 and Atlanta on Nov.3, Miles said.

The black-on-black look does contain one bolt of color – the electric blue socks. Miles said that wide receiver Steve Smith was responsible for that. Miles kept the black pants a secret from every Panther player except Smith in 2012, but told No.89 about it and then let Smith choose the sock color.

The Panthers debuted the look last November. It has only been worn once, in a 36-14 home loss to Denver, which makes the “Greatest Uniform in NFL History” title seem even more ironic.

While the Panthers have never won in that uniform, they did win the contest despite drawing a No.15 seed in a 64-uniform bracket styled after the NCAA tournament. Fans could vote an unlimited number of times. The Panthers won six straight matchups on NFL.com – the league’s official website. They got about 90 percent of the vote this week in the final for a victory over the five-time Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers, compiling more than one million votes while the 49ers received slightly more than 100,000.

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