Sitting at his corner locker, right tackle Morgan Moses sorted through the pile of cleats on the ground in front of him. With the Ravens wearing what quarterback Lamar Jackson deemed the “sexy” all-black uniforms for their Thursday night game, he knows he’s got to look his best with all eyes on M&T Bank Stadium.
“This all-black uniform on a blackout game, it’s special,” Moses said. “There’s something about that all black with the black shiny helmets. You can switch the cleats up, you can get funky with the cleats. Definitely looking forward to it because when those lights are out and bright on Thursday night, everybody’s looking, everybody’s watching.”
Their threads will stand out even more this year with the Cincinnati Bengals going with their all-white uniforms. The only splash of color beyond the cleats will be their orange and black helmets. That’s a fashion choice safety Daryl Worley heartily disapproves of.
“They are messing it up,” he said with a laugh. “They’re definitely supposed to wear their white helmets.”
But as Moses pointed out: “It’s not about them though, it’s about us.”
Worley might be adding his own flash of color to the game. He hasn’t quite made up his mind, but he thinks he’ll have to carry on Marcus Peters’ tradition of going all gold with the cleats for a bit of contrast.
The veterans, like Worley and Moses, who have played in this game with the all-black unis matched with the blackout from the fans, know how crazy the energy gets and look forward to it every year. But for rookies Zay Flowers and Keaton Mitchell, this is a first. And Flowers has been waiting for this game. He has everything planned out.
Inspired by Rashod Bateman, he’s going “Dark Knight mode.” He’ll have his black Under Armour cleats and a black mask on. And he’ll probably keep the theme going with an all-black arrival fit. He hasn’t even put the uniform on yet, and it’s already his favorite. There’s only one thing left for him to figure out.
“I don’t know how I’m going to look in them — but I’m ready to see,” Flowers said.
Like Flowers, Mitchell is going to go all-black with the cleats, but that wasn’t as easy of a decision for him. He wore his white cleats in his last two games and scored touchdowns in each game. But as a lifelong Ravens fan, he’s watched many of these games and has decided to go with the theme.
The locker room was buzzing following the Ravens’ only full practice before the game, and lots of players were excited to talk about the all-black uniforms, which Kevin Zeitler described as “universally accepted” favorites. The exception is coach John Harbaugh, who said his favorite uniform is whatever uniform the team is wearing that game.
Yes, the uniforms are a surface-level thing. But after a befuddling and disappointing 34-31 loss to the Browns on Sunday, excitement and energy are critical with just a few days to bounce back. If the uniforms can help in any way, they’ll take it.
“When I think of black, like, all-black ... I think of just physical, death-row-type defense,” said linebacker Roquan Smith, who has made a reputation for himself as the tone-setter for the defense and for his delivery of the pre-game speech. “That’s what I think of when I see black. It’s more of like, ‘Show me what you’re about. Because, if not, I’m going to show you.’”
Maybe the uniforms will help the defense slip into that aggressive mindset, which was evident at the start of the season. Or maybe they’ll simply make the guys feel confident in their “sexy” uniforms. It makes you think of the famous Deion Sanders quote: “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good.”
“It’s a sexy color,” Jackson said. “I like the color.”
And if Jackson’s feeling good, maybe that sexiness slips into the offense.
The stage has been set. Jackson in black versus the stylish Joe Burrow in white. The top AFC North team versus the worst team in its division — who are only two games apart. It’s a prime-time matchup. The Ravens are anticipating a tough, gritty battle, and they plan to be ready.
Now, all Moses has to do is figure out what to wear. While he’s leaning towards the all-black LeBrons with a hint of gold, he said it will be a game-day decision to keep an eye out for. Zeitler can’t relate.
“I’ve got one cleat,” he said holding up a finger. “That’s it.”