Super Bowl Superstition: Believe the white jersey

I’ve always been a person of great superstition in life, especially when it came to sports.

As a player in high school, I used to use the same sweatbands, undershirt, socks, cleats and same routine, especially if my team was on a winning streak. As a fan, I have all sorts of routines; the playoff beard and wearing certain jerseys for certain games.

For Super Bowl LI coming up on Sunday, there seems to be a bit of a trend when it comes to the jerseys that teams wear and over the last two decades, one particular jersey choice has won. Whether it’s luck or if the football gods are leaning towards that one color, it’s hard to ignore that the superstition for the team who wears the white jersey in the Super Bowl has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the game.


For fans of the New England Patriots, that’s good news to hear, as for the second time in three Super Bowl contests, the Patriots are wearing the white jerseys, just like they wore in Super Bowl XLIX almost two years ago when they held off the Seattle Seahawks. On Sunday, they will wear white against the Atlanta Falcons when they play at NRG Stadium in Houston; a building the Patriots know very well considering they won Super Bowl XXXVIII some 14 years ago (although in that game, they were wearing their home blue jerseys).

It’s a trend that’s hard to ignore, but if you go all the way back to when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles 12 years ago, all but one team who wore the white jerseys in the game have won. The lone team to differ from this; the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV when they wore their home green jerseys and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers six years ago.

So that’s 11 teams in 12 games:

Super Bowl 39: Patriots, white jerseys.

Super Bowl 40: Pittsburgh Steelers, white.

Super Bowl 41: Indianapolis Colts, white.

Super Bowl 42: New York Giants, white.

Super Bowl 43: Steelers, white.

Super Bowl 44: New Orleans Saints, white.

Super Bowl 46: Giants, white.

Super Bowl 47: Baltimore Ravens, white.

Super Bowl 48: Seattle Seahawks, white.

Super Bowl 49: Patriots, white.

Super Bowl 50: Denver Broncos, white.

And if you want to take this jersey trend back even further, going back to Super Bowl XXX when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers and were wearing their white jerseys, 15 of the last 21 teams to wear white won; so you can include the Broncos winning Super Bowl XXXIII, the then-St. Louis Rams winning Super Bowl XXXIX and Baltimore Ravens winning Super Bowl XXXV all believe in the superstition.

Seattle came really close to snapping part of this streak when they had the Patriots on their heels at the one-yard line, but in one of the worst play calls in a Super Bowl game ever, Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass by Russell Wilson to end the game, whereas Marshawn Lynch should have been handed the ball, but he didn’t and Seattle lost. Maybe if they had worn the white jerseys, they don’t pull off that blunder. And think, a year ago, they had worn white against the Broncos and destroyed them 43-8 to win Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.


Wearing the white jerseys in this game seems like it favors New England in this game for nothing more than luck. For the Falcons sake, they’re wearing their home red jerseys in this game, their second Super Bowl. Their first and up until now, only Super Bowl game, was a 34-19 loss to the John Elway-led Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII; a game that Atlanta wore their home black jerseys. Pure luck? Coincidence? Or is it the power of that white jersey?

Two of the Patriots last Super Bowl victories have been in white jerseys. Two of their last Super Bowl losses; both to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI, they wore their home blue jerseys. The one in XLII was during their run at a perfect season and were 18-0 heading into the game against the Giants before losing 17-14. Maybe the Patriots don’t lose the game if they had worn white? Who knows.

But for the superstition, luck and coincidence side of things, the game favors the Patriots because of those white jerseys and if they do win the game against Atlanta, it’ll make 12 of the last 13 teams to win the Super Bowl while wearing white and since 1996, 16 of the last 22 teams to do so.

As if the Patriots needed any further luck on their side in a Super Bowl game. After all, they are 14-2 and with Tom Brady back from his four-game suspension, has only lost one time. With those white jerseys, don’t bet on a second loss happening in Houston.

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