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Horse Tracks: Will the Denver Broncos wear white uniforms for Super Bowl 50 rematch?

Remember way back when the Broncos shocked Broncos Country with their decision to forgo their orange uniforms in favor of the road whites for Super Bowl 50? Will they do so again in the rematch this Thursday? Have the Broncos ever worn white at home?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I was so sure we were going to wear orange. When other Mile High Report writers talked about it in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50, I thought the debate was preposterous! Every year AFC and NFC alternate as home teams in the Super Bowl and the home team gets to choose what jersey they want to wear. As the home team, why on Earth wouldn't the Denver Broncos wear orange?

"We've had Super Bowl success in our white uniforms"

John Elway was not wrong when the decision was announced. After going 0-4 in the orange uniforms, can you blame the Broncos for not being so jazzed about them? White-uniformed teams have won 32 of 50 Super Bowls and before the Broncos victory, 10 of the 11 previous winners wore white. Yes, the orange uniforms are awesome, but there was statistical credence to the Broncos superstitious choice to wear white in Super Bowl 50.

So what about this Thursday? I asked the question.

The Broncos will be wearing their usual orange jerseys at home to open the 2016 season. I can't ever remember them wearing white at home, can you?

NFL order? What does that mean? To the google-box!

It turns out that the 2003 instance of the Denver Broncos wearing white at home is affectionately known in uniform geek circles (I use that term affectionately as a uniform geek myself)  as "Shanahan Uniformgate."

I found this explanation on The Gridiron Uniform Database:

From Wikipedia..."On November 16, 2003, the Broncos wore their white jerseys at home for the first time since 1983, in a game vs. the San Diego Chargers. This was compensation for a uniform mix-up, after the teams' first meeting at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium in Week 2 earlier that season, when the Chargers were the team that was supposed to declare their uniform color. The Chargers were planning to wear their white jerseys, but the visiting Broncos came to the stadium in white, and were fined $25,000 by the NFL as a result. When the two teams met at INVESCO Field at Mile High later that season (Week 11), the NFL allowed the visiting Chargers to choose their uniform color in advance, and they chose navy blue, forcing the Broncos to wear their white jerseys at home."[38]

It seems that the term "Shanahan-Uniform-gate" gets attributed to Denver wearing white at home in November. It was actually the result of Denver bringing the wrong uniforms (whites) to San Diego back in September in Week 2.

So there you have it. The last time the Broncos wore white at home, it was done as a psuedo-punishment. How did the Broncos fare at home in white in that game? From a later comment in the 'Shanahan Uniformgate' thread...

Actually, I wasn't aware of the "make-up" ruling by the NFL. Not that it helped the Chargers in the latter game. As Peter King put it the next day, "Empty uniforms would have played better than the Chargers did Sunday."

The Chargers were crushed 37-8. I guess, that's what you get for not wearing white at Mile High.

So have the Denver Broncos worn white at home on other occasions?

According to Uni Watch, the Broncos wore white at home for the entire 1971 season, in 1980 against the Cowboys and the Chargers, and in 1983 against the Eagles, Raiders, and Bengals.  Why? Your guess is as good as mine. None of these instances were blessed with an as easily google-able nickname as 'Shanahan Uniformgate.'

So, there you go! A sort-of-comprehensive history of Broncos wearing white at home... and for those that scrolled through looking for the answer to the headline, the Denver Broncos will be wearing orange on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers.


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