Nike unis bring 'sweatbox' pattern to NFL

Nike's uniforms create a checkerboard pattern when players sweat due to differences in fabrics. AP Photo/Tom Uhlman

A few days ago, I wrote about how many of Nike's new NFL jerseys have two-tone collars. Turns out that's not the only two-tone element of the new Nike uniforms.

For years, many of Nike's college football jerseys have incorporated stretch panels and ventilation panels. The idea is to provide just the right kind of fabric at each area of the body rather than using the same fabric for the whole jersey. When the jersey is dry, you can't really tell the difference. But when the players perspire, these fabric panels turn dark, creating a two-tone effect. Uniform fans refer to this as the "sweatbox," because of the square-shaped panel on the abdomen area that typically turns dark with sweat.

When Nike unveiled its new NFL jerseys in April, I noted that many teams were using the different fabric panels for their jerseys. (For example, look at the torso and underarm areas on this Ravens jersey.) Now that the first round of preseason games has been played, it is clear that the sweatbox has come to the NFL.

A few teams, however, will be sweatbox-free. The Eagles, Falcons, Packers, Panthers and Raiders have opted to go with a more traditional jersey construction. Maybe they weren't sold on the stretch and ventilation advantages. Or maybe they just didn't want their jerseys to look ridiculous.