Mono-color unis are twice as nice

The Saints were one of the first teams in the Super Bowl era to wear all one color. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Don't look now, but the NFL has come down with a serious case of mono.

No, not that kind of mono. We're referring here to the increasing tendency for teams to wear solid-colored uniforms, with matching jerseys and pants. Among uniform aficionados, this is often known as "going mono," which is short for "monochromatic" or single-colored. The usual lingo is to refer to the mono effect by color: "The Rams went mono-blue last night" or "The Cardinals will be going mono-red this weekend."

Leaving aside mono-white (a different topic for a different day), here are a few things you should know about going mono:

1. Mono is a fairly recent NFL phenomenon. Going mono was pretty much unheard of in the Super Bowl era until 1997, when the Eagles wore mono-green for for a game against the 49ers. The league was then mono-free until 2001, when the Saints wore mono-black for several games. That set the stage for the mono floodgates to open in 2002, when a slew of additional teams experimented with the mono look. In the dozen years since then, many more teams have gone mono -- sometimes as a one-off experiment, sometimes as a default look.

2. Mono allows for the element of surprise. NFL teams are required to script their jersey schedules before the season starts (the home team can choose to wear white, and the road team has to wear the opposite), but they don't have to pre-select their pants. So even if you already know that, say, the Chiefs will be wearing their red jerseys for a given home game, they can still surprise you by deciding at the last minute to add their red pants to the mix, creating the mono-red look.

3. Some teams have mono immunity. Certain teams simply can't go mono, because they don't have a matching set of jerseys and pants. The Steelers, for example, wear gold pants for every game but don't have a gold jersey; the Raiders wear silver pants for every game but don't have a silver jersey; and so on.

4. Mono is controversial. The mono effect tends to make the uniform look more like a one-piece superhero costume. As such, it creates highly contentious debates around the uni-verse, with younger fans usually supporting the mono effect and old-schoolers lining up against it.

One final thought: As noted in a recent column, Uni Watch is very much in favor of more color-versus-color games. Now imagine what that would mean for a game between two mono-clad squads. In addition to going mano a mano, the teams would also be going mono on mono -- nice.

Paul Lukas has never caught that other kind of mono. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.