The Tennessee football program initially planned to wear new black jerseys last fall and auction them off in support of the local black community. However, that did not happen due to a supposed contract issue with Nike.
“There are contracts within our organization that are about our apparel and what we’re allowed to wear,” then-head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “It’s something that our players and staff want to do. It’s something that we’re not going to be able to do from the standpoint of our contract.
“We’re going to find ways within our organization to raise money and support local institutions. We’re not going to be able to do it this game. Nike guaranteed us that from now on we would be able to have black jerseys. It’s something we’ve worked hard on within our administration to get done.”
It appears Nike has now delivered on that promise for new head coach Josh Heupel, as a retail version of Tennessee’s black jersey leaked online on Monday afternoon.
According to uniform tracker and friend of the site Chad Fields, Tennessee regularly wore black jerseys prior to 1921 but their only appearance during the modern era came in a game against South Carolina on Oct. 31, 2009. The Volunteers paired the black jerseys with their standard white helmets and orange pants.
It’s unclear if/when the jerseys will actually see the field or if Tennessee will wear corresponding black helmets and pants. But given the lack of white on jersey –which features orange numbers, an orange Power “T” on the collar and orange Nike Swoosh – let’s hope they are.
Retail photos courtesy of Alumni Hall.