The Patriots have had their share of fortune – both good and bad – wearing white, blue, and even red jerseys during their previous Super Bowl appearances.
Superstition in the NFL is a funny, funny thing.
Some players, coaches, and staffers claim to not give any credence to superstitious rituals or belief systems that can’t be explained by science or physical/mental ability on the field. These individuals don’t buy into murky concepts like luck, momentum, or karma, feeling that if they go out and execute better than their opposition for 60 minutes, a win is all but guaranteed.
Bill Belichick is a perfect example of this mentality. Just imagine offering Belichick a red, white, and blue rabbit’s foot, or asking him to wear his grey hoodie with the cut-off sleeves because you think it’s lucky. He’d probably roll his eyes and walk away, shaking his head in disgust.
But many other members of the NFL fraternity don’t share Belichick’s disdain for the unexplainable. It’s relatively common to hear stories of players undergoing pre-game rituals: whether it’s what they eat, what they wear, what they listen to, or what they do on the field even.
Just as a basketball player goes through a specific series of tailor-made repetitive actions before attempting a free throw, Julian Edelman sprints out of the locker-room tunnel to the opposite end zone to get pumped up before a game. Tom Brady usually listens to Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” to get hyped, and then repeatedly shouts out “Let’s go!” to the Gillette Stadium faithful before home games.
In last year’s Super Bowl, the Patriots were the designated home team… meaning they were supposed to wear their blue jerseys against the Eagles. But the team collectively bought into the mojo of wearing white in their previous two Super Bowl comeback wins, and decided to ask the NFL for permission to wear their white away jerseys instead, which they did.
And we all know how that ended up for New England.
So with the Los Angeles Rams electing to wear their blue-and-yellow throwback jerseys, the Patriots will arrive to Super Bowl LIII once again wearing white. They might not have had the luxury of choosing their attire this season like they did in 2017, but is the white shirt a good omen or a bad omen?
For a little context in coming to a definitive conclusion, consider their Super Bowl history when it comes to color:
Super Bowl XX
The Patriots got thumped by the 1985 Chicago Bears by a final score of 46-10. This represents the first – and probably the last – Super Bowl appearance by the team wearing red jerseys and the classic Pat Patriot insignia on their helmets. Of course, with the Rams deciding to go retro with their look this year, there’s always a chance other teams could follow suit down the line…
Super Bowl XXXI
Super Bowl XXXI was the team’s second Super Bowl appearance, and their first wearing road whites. While the uniform then looked significantly different than the Pats’ current away ensemble, it still serves as a solemn reminder that New England is far from unbeatable when dressed in white on the game’s greatest stage.
Super Bowl XXXVI
This is, understandably, the Super Bowl most people will be talking about in the days leading up to February 3. Not only did it pit the same two teams against each other that will compete in Super Bowl LIII; it also marked the coming-out party for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as champions in New England. For what it’s worth, this was the first time the Pats wore their home blue jerseys.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
For an encore act, the Patriots returned to the Super Bowl after a one-year hiatus. Because of the NFL’s alternating home-and-away plan for the AFC and NFC, New England once again wore their deep blue jerseys as the designated home team. And once again, the Patriots emerged victorious with a 32-29 win over the Panthers, pushing their record in blue to a perfect 2-0.
Super Bowl XXXIX
In an alternate universe, the Patriots wearing white against the midnight green of the Philadelphia Eagles would mean an unblemished 2-0 Super Bowl record and an extra Lombardi Trophy. As we’ll painfully reminisce later, it wasn’t to be… but at least back in 2005, the road white jersey improved its overall Super Bowl record to 1-1 with a 24-21 win over Philly.
Super Bowl XLII
If you gave Patriots fans the ability to go back in time and magically change one single loss to a win, chances are that 99% of them would select this game. A win over David Tyree’s New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII would have given the Patriots a perfect 19-0 record and a legitimate claim as the greatest team in NFL history. Thanks to Tyree’s remarkable luck and athleticism, though, this team will forever be an almost-ran that dropped New England’s record in blue to 2-1.
Super Bowl XLVI
There’s a reason most Patriots fans can’t stand Eli Manning or the New York Giants. As if seeing a perfect season crumble in heartbreaking fashion wasn’t enough, Manning had to go and do it all over again just four years later. New England will probably decide to wear blue again at some point in the future (especially if they lose to the Rams next Sunday), but as of now, this was the last time the Pats wore their home jerseys at the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLIX
New England improved its record in white to 2-1 after a thrilling win against Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. The story of the game will forever be unheralded, undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler making his first career interception at the most critical moment on the grandest stage of his life. This Super Bowl victory might have stayed the sweetest for the Patriots, if not for the one that came next…
Super Bowl LI
Ahh… the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. This game was historic on a number of levels, and may have done more in cementing Tom Brady’s legacy as the greatest of all time than any other memorable playoff or regular season performance. Super Bowl LI will also forever be remembered for “28-3,” the deficit the Pats had to overcome to finally best the Falcons in OT.
Super Bowl LII
Let’s just call it what it is: the Patriots’ 41-33 shootout loss to the Eagles was their most painful playoff defeat since Helmet Catch. New England was supposed to wear blue in this game, but decided to wear white after winning their previous two championships in the color (plus they beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX wearing white). The move backfired, dropping the team’s overall championship record to 3-2 when wearing their road jerseys.
So what happens next?
Will the Patriots improve to 4-2 all-time in “white” Super Bowls with a victory over the Rams next Sunday, or will they fall to .500 with a loss? Let us know in the comments section below which color you’d like to see the team wear for Super Bowl LIII if it were up to you!