College Team Defies NFL Over Uniforms

University of Houston Cougars plan to wear the light-blue look of the former Oilers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Updated May 5, 2024 6:29 AM CDT
College Team Defies NFL Over Uniforms
A screen shot from the 2023 home opener showing the UH Cougars in throw-back light blue uniforms.   (YouTube)

When the University of Houston's football team took the field for their home opener last year, fans surely did a double-take. With their light-blue uniforms, they looked for all the world like the city's former and beloved Houston Oilers of the NFL. Now the university is defying an order from the league to stop wearing them, reports the Houston Chronicle. In a cease-and-desist letter, the NFL warned that "the Houston Cougars' attempt to free ride on the popularity of the NFL and the club violates the intellectual property rights of the NFL and (Tennessee) Titans." The latter team is mentioned because the Oilers moved to Tennessee in the late 1990s.

After mulling over the threat, the school has decided to tell the NFL to stuff it. It plans to keep wearing the uniforms on special occasions this season, its first in the Big 12 conference, per USA Today. "We've got a very defensible position," athletic director Chris Pezman tells the Chronicle. Among other things, the school maintains that the Oilers-like uniforms have strong historical ties to the city, where the response to them has been "overwhelming," says Pezman. He adds that the shade of blue is not identical to the Oilers' Columbia blue.

The school now awaits the NFL's next move. "It remains to be seen if the NFL will try to use its power and financial resources to make life difficult for the University of Houston, but that would probably be a bad look for the league," writes Steve DelVecchio in a post at Yardbarker. (More NFL stories.)

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