For the first time in the history of the Super Bowl, this Sunday’s NFL Championship game features two teams with red jerseys in their uniforms.  Granted, the shades are a little different, but they’re still in the same spectrum.  Both the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs also have some gold in their uniforms, further adding to the nuances that surround the upcoming game.

Who Wears Red Uniforms In Super Bowl?

However, since the Chiefs are considered the home team because of the final NFL standings, they were able to choose the uniform color scheme they want on the field and have chosen red over white – the Niners will be wearing white over gold.  Some might believe that the Chiefs’ decision, from a psychological point of view, was smart, but there are also those who believe Kansas City just set itself up for disaster.

Yes, red represents a lot of good characteristics – assertiveness, warriors, anger, blood, aggression.  One color expert and author, Leatrice Eiseman, told Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, “There’s never anything reticent or quiet about red.  And in recent years there’s another buzzword that’s been used. It isn’t just power but empowerment. So that if you adorn yourself in red, if you use red, psychologically that can give you the feeling that you are more powerful.”

Red is also designed to instill fear in the eyes of the opponent.  Adds biologist and Durham University professor of evolutionary anthropology Russell Hill, “That bright, intense red coloration is actually present only in dominant male.  If you’re not a dominant male that red color just washes out. It’s a badge of status. If you look across a lot of other mammal species, red is the color. It’s used to signify dominance and aggression in a wide variety of animals.”

Both the Chiefs and the Niners wore their red uniforms in the playoffs and we see where they are now.  It could just be a coincidence, but superstition is a big part in athletes’ lives.  However, it doesn’t always have to be the case.  Eisman points out that fans will ultimately be drawn to their favorite team regardless of the color scheme.

This was echoed by the University of Buffalo’s chairman of the communications department, Mark Frank, who asserts, “Usually it’s, here’s our color, we’re blue. And when you’re at practice you say, ‘Let’s go blue!’ You don’t say, ‘We’re on the road, so let’s go white!’  You’ve got the general hurdle of this is who we are: we’re red, we’re blue, we’re green, we’re black versus, when we’re wearing our roads, we’re still kind of that way even if we don’t look like that.”

Is Red An Advantage?

Until now, it would seem that red has an advantage.  However, here’s the rub.  San Fran’s red and Kansas City’s red are separated by just one tinge on the Pantone color scale (PMS 186 C for the Chiefs and PMS 187 C for the Niners).  The Niners have a slightly darker red, which was made with the addition of black.

Eisman adds, “With these two the only possible distinction is that when you darken a color — and the 49ers color is a little deeper in tone — you actually make that happen by adding black to the color. So, you add a little more seriousness of intention.  It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be all that different from the Kansas City team. But, at the same time, I think that is the one distinction, that it has a little bit more depth. And with a little more depth comes a little more focus and intention.”

This would make it seem that San Fran has a little bit more of an internal fire than does Kansas City.  There’s also another aspect of red that dates back to before TVs first recognized anything other than black and white.  It is always said (even if it’s a slight exaggeration) that bulls go crazy when they see red.  The Chiefs may have just painted themselves as targets for this Sunday.