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Billy Napier confirms when — and why — Gators will wear black uniforms

Zach Abolverdi05/16/22
Article written by:On3 imageZach Abolverdi
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Athletics

PENSACOLA, Fla. — As Gators coach Billy Napier drove to work last Thursday morning, he listened to the news on his way to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The reports made him reflect on those in the line of duty.

“We got people in this country that go to work every day and their life is on the line,” Napier said. “And I’ve got tremendous respect for that.”

It’s the reason a new tradition is coming to the University of Florida football program.

Billy Napier revealed to SI last month that the Gators would start wearing black uniforms. At the time, he had doubts they would be ready for this season but anticipated them for 2023.

During his speech last Thursday in Pensacola, Napier confirmed exactly when — and why — UF will be debuting black unis.

“When are we going to break out the black on black?” a fan asked Napier toward the end of his Q&A session.

“I heard some boos in the back,” Napier quipped.

By the end of his reply, however, the crowd had given him a round of applause three times.

Napier confirmed the Gators won’t have black uniforms this fall but will start wearing them next year.

“We will do it in the 2023 season,” he said. “This will be become a little bit of a tradition. We’ll do it one time a year. It will be the next to last home game and it will always be around Veterans Day, that part of the year, for military appreciation.”

That drew the first round of applause. Napier then explained how he started the tradition at Louisiana.

His players wanted to wear black, so he obliged and decided to use it as a teaching tool. He built his team’s theme of the week around Veterans Day and brought in somebody from a different branch of military to talk to the players after each practice.

Napier will now continue that theme at Florida.

“We’re going to use it as a deliberate opportunity to educate the players and really make a big deal about our branches of military, first responders even,” he said.

Napier also uses the black uniforms as an opportunity to give back.

“We’re going to take these black jerseys every year and we’re going to auction some of them off,” he said. “We’re going to take the money and we’re going to give it families of people in the military that were wounded or maybe had some type of setback.”

That produced an even louder reaction from the Northwest Florida Gator Club.

“So, it’s a win-win for everybody,” Napier continued. “We get to Black Out the Swamp. We get military appreciation. We get to create some awareness and education so we can be grateful for these freedoms that sometimes I think we take for granted.”