Mac the Knife

The NFL's "Five Year Rule" Explained

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A lot of people here at the mothership reference the NFL's "five year rule" when it comes to changes in uniforms, helmets, logos and so forth.  But what is the rule, exactly?  Well, thanks to my bothering to look it up, I'm providing the answer for future, I'm sure scholarly, discussion.

 

The "five year rule" is represented by a resolution adopted by the NFL's Executive Council as "2002 Resolution G-3."  The formatting might get a little wonky below but its current form, verbatim (verbatim to the point where I'm even following the author's mistake in that the NFL's Constitution and Bylaws uses roman numerals, thus there is no "Article 19," but rather an "Article XIX"), is as follows...

 

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Whereas, pursuant to Article 19 of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws, the League has the authority to approve changes in uniform appearance, including logos, colors and design;

 

Whereas, changes in uniform appearance that are proposed by Member Clubs are subject to, among other things, the notification requirements set forth in Article 19.9(D)(1) and in 1997 Resolution NFLP-1;

 

Whereas, consistent with the NFL Uniform Code, and unless expressly provided otherwise, the term "uniform" as used herein applies to every piece of equipment worn by a player, including but not limited to helmet, pants, jerseys, wristbands, gloves, stockings, shoes, visible undergarments, and accessories such as headwear, coverings worn under helmets, and hand towels;

 

Whereas, pursuant to Article 19 and interpretations thereunder, each Member Club is permitted to have one home uniform design and one away uniform design for use during NFL games;

 

Whereas, the marketing benefits to the NFL and its Member Clubs, and developments in the NFL's consumer products business make it beneficial to revise the notice requirements for uniform changes and permit the Member Clubs to create a third uniform design for use at regular season NFL games subject to certain conditions.

 

First, be it Resolved, to supersede 1997 Resolution NFLP-1 and to amend Article 19.9(D)(1) to read as follows:

 

(D)  No club shall have the right to make changes in its club colors and/or in the designs of its team helmets or uniforms except in accordance with the following provisions:

 

(1)  Absent specific extenuating circumstances as determined by the Commissioner, if a club desires to make any changes in club colors, uniform appearance, designs of team helmets, designs of team uniforms, trademarks, or trade names, it must give written notice and details thereof to the League on or before March 1 of the year prior to the year in which it wishes to change; must comply with the uniform change notification and approval timeline as established by the League office and amended from time to time, the current timeline being attached hereto; and further must obtain approval from the League pursuant to the Section 19.9(D)(2) herein by December 1 of the year prior to the year in which it wishes to change; otherwise it shall have no right to make any change for the succeeding season.

 

Second, be it Further Resolved, that beginning with the second half of the 2002 season, the Member Clubs may use a third uniform design subject to the conditions set forth below:

 

(1)  The third uniform design may be one of two options (a) an alternate color scheme, using the colors that are a part of the club's existing color palette (as set forth in Article 19.9 and any Appendix to the NFL Constitution and Bylaws), and using the same design and logo as either the existing home or away uniform, or (b) a previously approved "classic" uniform from the Club's history.

 

(2)  < < this paragraph has been repealed due to the 'single shell' rule > >

 

(3)  The creation of a third uniform design is subject to the notice and approval procedures set forth in Section 19.9(D) of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws, as amended; provided, however, that for the 2002 season only, the deadline for obtaining League approval for a third uniform design is May 1, 2002.

 

(4)  A Club may wear an approved third uniform design at one home game each season in connection with a special event, occasion or anniversary, provided that the Club gives notice to the League office by July 1 of the year in which the selected game is scheduled to be played, the selected game does not conflict with a League event of initiative, and the event being commemorated is approved by the Commissioner.

 

Third, be it Further Resolved, that a Club may not change its regular home and away uniforms more than once every five NFL seasons, and may not change its third uniform design more than once every five NFL seasons, absent specific extenuating circumstances (e.g., Club ownership change or relocation) as determined by the Commissioner.

 

Fourth, be it Further Resolved, that the Commissioner, in consultation with the NFL Business Ventures Committee, is authorized to establish policies and procedures relating to the subject matter of this resolution, including but not limited to uniform changes, third uniform design, the use of special event uniforms in connection with League initiatives, and related administrative matters, which they shall periodically present to the membership for discussion.

 

Fifth, be it Further Resolved, that the NFL Constitution and Bylaws shall be deemed further amended as necessary to accomplish this Resolution.

 

But wait... there's more!  Only this I have to modify from the original text's layout because it's in table format...

 

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Attachment to 2002 Resolution G-3:

Uniform Change Notification and Approval Timeline

 

-- By March 1 of the year prior to the year in which a uniform change will take place, written notice and details of any changes in the uniform must be provided to the League office (e.g., if you want to make a change for 2020, you must notify the league not later than March 1, 2019).

 

-- By July 1 of that year, uniform color selection and logo design must be completed, having been approved by the club's owner and chief executive.

 

-- By August 1 of that year, initial uniform samples must be created and approved by the club's owner, equipment manager, and chief executive.

 

-- By November 1 of that year, final uniform samples are to be provided to the League office for TV testing.  Approvals from club owner, equipment manager and chief executive must be certified to the league by this date.  If final samples do not arrive in the League offices by November 1 of the year preceding the season in which the change is occurring, the uniform will not be approved.

 

-- By December 1, the league office gives final approval for use the following season.

 

Isn't that simple to understand?  :unsure:

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So, in plain terms, buy this crap cause in five or so years, we’ll sell you better crap or a return to lesser crap?

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Quote

the term "uniform" as used herein applies to every piece of equipment worn by a player, including but not limited to helmet, pants, jerseys, wristbands, gloves, stockings, shoes, visible undergarments, and accessories such as headwear, coverings worn under helmets, and hand towels;

 

Quote

Club may not change its regular home and away uniforms more than once every five NFL seasons

 

So since the rams changed their pants and helmets which falls under their term of uniform, then surely they have to wait until 2022 to change those and can only change their jersey's, no?

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44 minutes ago, EddieJ1984 said:

So since the rams changed their pants and helmets which falls under their term of uniform, then surely they have to wait until 2022 to change those and can only change their jersey's, no?

 

Not exactly.  The Rams situation is a little weird, in that, at least under the rule, they could have petitioned for an immediate change:

 

"Third, be it Further Resolved, that a Club may not change its regular home and away uniforms more than once every five NFL seasons, and may not change its third uniform design more than once every five NFL seasons, absent specific extenuating circumstances (e.g., Club ownership change or relocation) as determined by the Commissioner"

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It is funny that pants are listed as part of the uniform in this regards. As far as I'm concerned, the NFL has never regulated pants. A team could ultimately have multiple pairs of pants and it not matter. I don't believe the Ravens' gold pants were in the league's style guide that season. And with that, the Rams were in fair territory to change their pants without delay on other changes.

 

That's the way I've always understood, at least.

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2 hours ago, Clintau24 said:

As far as I'm concerned, the NFL has never regulated pants.

 

Like, to the point of pants not being a mandatory requirement? 

 

I really want to see some owner skirt this gray area and march his pantsless team on the field. 

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9 hours ago, Clintau24 said:

It is funny that pants are listed as part of the uniform in this regards. As far as I'm concerned, the NFL has never regulated pants. A team could ultimately have multiple pairs of pants and it not matter. I don't believe the Ravens' gold pants were in the league's style guide that season. And with that, the Rams were in fair territory to change their pants without delay on other changes.

 

That's the way I've always understood, at least.

Like a lot of actual laws, the real policy comes from how the law is administered. The written rule seems to give the league the power to approve or disprove of pants changes, but in practice this hasn't really happened. Taken together, the changes appear to be something that the league would normally require a long approval process for, but the individual pieces are "minor". Some towns have regulations against stores over a certain square footage to try and keep Wal-Mart out, so Wal-Mart just builds two or three "different" stores right next to each other. Grocery stores in NY can't sell wine or liquor, so Wegmans opened a totally separate wine/liquor store owned by a member of the Wegman family in their parking lot. I've said it before, but the Rams' changes were the ultimate I'M NOT TOUCHING YOU!!! rebrand. The helmet stayed the "same", but the color of the decal and the facemask changed, which apparently doesn't trigger the 5-year wait. The pants changed, which the league doesn't seem to care much about. That both changes were ugly (taken in context with the unchanged jerseys) isn't something the league really concerns itself with.

 

They could have changed when they moved, but they didn't think it would be a big deal. It was a big deal, and then they wanted to change immediately and change again when they moved into the new stadium. No. Screw them. If you can't commit to uniforms for at least five years (not a really long time, honestly), you shouldn't be allowed to change.

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9 hours ago, Clintau24 said:

 As far as I'm concerned, the NFL has never regulated pants.

 

 

That's just a funny sentence.

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Welp, poor sentence structure got me here...:wacko:

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I assume the Rams know what they're doing on the matter. They wouldn't have changed the helmets if it would lock them out of changing the jerseys two (now three) years later.

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On 4/20/2018 at 6:58 AM, Cosmic said:

Like a lot of actual laws, the real policy comes from how the law is administered. The written rule seems to give the league the power to approve or disprove of pants changes, but in practice this hasn't really happened. Taken together, the changes appear to be something that the league would normally require a long approval process for, but the individual pieces are "minor". Some towns have regulations against stores over a certain square footage to try and keep Wal-Mart out, so Wal-Mart just builds two or three "different" stores right next to each other. Grocery stores in NY can't sell wine or liquor, so Wegmans opened a totally separate wine/liquor store owned by a member of the Wegman family in their parking lot. I've said it before, but the Rams' changes were the ultimate I'M NOT TOUCHING YOU!!! rebrand. The helmet stayed the "same", but the color of the decal and the facemask changed, which apparently doesn't trigger the 5-year wait. The pants changed, which the league doesn't seem to care much about. That both changes were ugly (taken in context with the unchanged jerseys) isn't something the league really concerns itself with.

 

They could have changed when they moved, but they didn't think it would be a big deal. It was a big deal, and then they wanted to change immediately and change again when they moved into the new stadium. No. Screw them. If you can't commit to uniforms for at least five years (not a really long time, honestly), you shouldn't be allowed to change.

 

Exactly. By the letter of the law, teams should not be permitted to mix and match pants since they can only have “one home uniform design and one road uniform design” and it is explicitly specified that the term “uniform” includes helmet, jersey, pants, socks, and literally everything else a player wears that is visible.

 

What the Rams have done is also explicitly counter to these rules as written. I have to assume they obtained a waiver as described, but the fact that they were granted permission to change such a large portion of the uniform and the club colors, but not the jersey shows where the enforcement line is and what the priorities are.

 

Even if they had to retain the St. Louis home uniform as a third for a few years to not upset the retail pipelines, the best resolution would have been to grant them a waiver to fully accommodate their color change, even if that meant wearing Penn State hand-me-downs due to design timelines. For whatever reason, they weren’t, at which point they probably should have abandoned the white plan, or replaced their throwback with a full blue and white third uniform if they felt that strongly about it (Now that I think about it, whichever of the two color schemes becomes the primary home and road look, I hope they utilize the other for the third).

 

I wonder if they were given a choice:

 

Change only A and C, but not B, and you can still do your full redesign when your building opens...

 

Change A, B, and C now, but you have to wait five years to do the full redesign.

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not to add to the confusion, but the "Uniform Change Notification and Approval Timeline" of the OP is definitely more of a guideline than a rule. the Dolphins changes would not have happened this year if every one of those had to be met

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2 hours ago, BrandMooreArt said:

not to add to the confusion, but the "Uniform Change Notification and Approval Timeline" of the OP is definitely more of a guideline than a rule. the Dolphins changes would not have happened this year if every one of those had to be met

 

I didn't see it listed, but y'alls change definitely would've been considered a "tweak", correct? Which iirc doesn't fall under the 5 year rule. 

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56 minutes ago, shaydre1019 said:

 

I didn't see it listed, but y'alls change definitely would've been considered a "tweak", correct? Which iirc doesn't fall under the 5 year rule. 

 

im still not 100% sure on that. the way i took it, any change to the jersey would fall under the rule, which is why the Rams havent changed yet?

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The NFL doesn't enforce the rule on pants because they don't sell pants.

 

Since the current rule was enacted, several teams have introduced new pants without counting as a new uniform as far as I know: Rams (obviously), the Ravens' gold pants, the Redskins' gold pants, the Giants' white pants, the Panthers' black pants, and the Browns' previous brown and orange pants. I'm not sure about the Jags' old stripeless black pants, as those coincided with the away jersey number color change, but even that only lasted 4 years.

 

I'm still not sure how the Rams got away with the helmet change though, since those are sold. I guess there's no explicitly stated rule about decals and masks, so they found a loophole. I wonder how many gold-horned replica and mini helmets are still sitting around unsold.

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This wording confused me a bit:

 

Third, be it Further Resolved, that a Club may not change its regular home and away uniforms more than once every five NFL seasons, and may not change its third uniform design more than once every five NFL seasons, absent specific extenuating circumstances (e.g., Club ownership change or relocation) as determined by the Commissioner”

 

 

is that stating that the regular home and road can’t be changed for 5 years under ANY circumstance, but the ALT and only the alt can, but only in the case of ownership change and stuff like that?

 

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19 minutes ago, BringBackTheVet said:

This wording confused me a bit:

 

Third, be it Further Resolved, that a Club may not change its regular home and away uniforms more than once every five NFL seasons, and may not change its third uniform design more than once every five NFL seasons, absent specific extenuating circumstances (e.g., Club ownership change or relocation) as determined by the Commissioner”

 

 

is that stating that the regular home and road can’t be changed for 5 years under ANY circumstance, but the ALT and only the alt can, but only in the case of ownership change and stuff like that?

 

I think it means if you get a new home uniform but keep your old road one, you can't change either the home or the road for five years. If you get an alt, you have to keep it for five years, but it doesn't affect the timeline for changing your home and road looks.

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2 hours ago, Cosmic said:

I think it means if you get a new home uniform but keep your old road one, you can't change either the home or the road for five years. If you get an alt, you have to keep it for five years, but it doesn't affect the timeline for changing your home and road looks.

 

Oh ok yeah that makes sense. So basically introducing a throwback doesn’t reset the clock on the primaries, and if you introduce a 3rd that is a recolor of your primary and then you change primary the next year, you go without a third for four seasons. 

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5 hours ago, BringBackTheVet said:

and if you introduce a 3rd that is a recolor of your primary and then you change primary the next year, you go without a third for four seasons. 

You'd be able to keep the third jersey for those four seasons.if it would still qualify as a recolor of the primary. (Example: The Jaguars introduced a recolor third jersey in 2002, and changed their white jersey in 2004, but the third jersey was still a recolor so it was allowed to stay.)

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