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Back in black: Panthers will break out 'greatest uniform in NFL history' Sunday

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

The Carolina Panthers will wear black jerseys with black pants for only the third time in team history this Sunday afternoon in their 4:05 p.m. home game vs. the New York Jets.

The rare black-on-black combination won NFL.com’s “Greatest Uniform in NFL History” contest over the summer in a major upset. That victory came despite the fact the Panthers had worn the alternate combo only once – in the 2012 regular season against Denver, which the Panthers lost 36-14.

The Panthers then tried the uniforms out again in a preseason game this year against Philadelphia, which they also lost. So the Panthers’ AC/DC, “back-in-black” look will be looking for its first win Sunday.

While NFL jersey colors are decided months in advance – the home team gets first choice – and cannot be changed, pants color is far more flexible and can be changed at the last minute. The Panthers generally wear silver pants with their black jerseys. The fact that they would go all-black this week was first reported by The Observer on Thursday.

No matter whether the Panthers win or lose Sunday, they will go back to black jerseys and silver pants vs. New Orleans at home Dec. 22 (the Saints wore all black while blasting by the Panthers Sunday night).

Panther fans have long clamored to see the all-black look more often, although some of them would rather the team also had a black helmet it could wear with them. The Panthers do not and have no plans to do so.

The one bolt of color in the all-black look – the electric blue socks – comes courtesy of Steve Smith, who in 2012 got a sneak peek at the black uniforms before they debuted and was allowed to choose the sock color. So blame No. 89 if you don’t like that part of it.

The Panthers defeated the San Francisco 49ers’ current uniform in the finals of the NFL.com contest, getting about 90 percent of the vote in a contest where fans could vote an unlimited number of times.

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