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Pat to the Future: New England Seeing Red With Patriots Throwback Uniforms

The Patriots channeled “Back to the Future” to herald the return of their well-received “Pat Patriot” uniforms retired after the 1992 season.

The New England Patriots are still preoccupied with 1985 - and why not?

New England announced on Wednesday that their popular “Pat Patriot” throwback uniforms will return to the field this season. The announcement was made in a social media video depicting current Patriots standouts David Andrews, Kendrick Bourne, Matthew Judon and Matthew Slater donning the uniforms after jumping behind the wheel of the DeLorean time machine made famous in the 1985 film “Back to the Future”. Andre Tippett, one of the stars from the primary “Pat Patriot” era, cameos at the end of the showcase.

The Patriots used red as their primary color from their inception in 1960 through 1992, when they switched to light blue and later navy. Their early aesthetic became well-known through the eponymous Pat Patriot logo introduced in 1961. Pat, a colonial Minuteman preparing to snap a football, appeared on the team’s white helmets until he was replaced as the primary emblem by a new logo, informally referred to by some as the “Flying Elvis” due its uncanny resemblance to rock star. The throwbacks emulate the final style worn in the red days, which featured arching blue stripes across the shoulders.


Though the Patriots often struggled while wearing red - though they reached their first Super Bowl wearing the uniform during the 1985-86 season … it has remained a popular game-day choice amongst Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots briefly resurrected the look in 1994 (a white version for the NFL’s 75th anniversary celebration) and 2002 before adapting it as a full-time alternate from 2009 through 2012.

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NFL helmet rules, which allowed only one helmet shell per season, prevented the Patriots wearing such uniforms over the past decade. Such a rule prevented the Patriots from switching from their current silver helmets to a white look but the league has opted to relax those rules. While some teams (i.e. the Denver Broncos) adapted their retro uniforms to work with the new rules, New England was at the forefront of the effort to bring back “true” throwbacks.

"There was a sort of understanding here that, no, we're not going to wear the silver helmets with the red throwbacks, right? That would be a different alternate uniform," exec Ali Towle said in a statement on the Patriots website. "We wanted to stay pure to that original throwback, and so that's why we waited and kept lobbying the league to change it back. We fought the good fight."

New England isn’t the only team taking advantage of colorful helmets returning: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to re-don their orange uniforms from their inception (commonly referred to as the “Creamsicle” or “Bucco Bruce” aesthetic) while the New Orleans Saints plan to wear to a black alternate helmet in lieu of their traditional gold at some point this season.

And, at least in the case of the Patriots, if going "back'' is this glorious,'' why not bring it to the "future''?