C Patch On NFL Jerseys (What Does It Mean?)

If you’re not the biggest NFL fan, or you’re just getting into the sport, you might have seen some players wearing a C patch on their NFL jersey, and you might be wondering what it signifies. The C patch is not just merely a form of decoration and is considered to be a symbol of leadership and respect and is an honor for any player to wear. 

The C patch is on the NFL jerseys of players chosen as team captains for the season. Up to 6 players can be chosen as captains every season. The C patch has stars underneath the letter “C,” indicating how many years a player has been elected captain.

Each of the stars below the C patch on the NFL jersey is highlighted from white to gold for each year they spend as a team captain. In a player’s fifth year as captain of a team, the player receives a gold-colored C patch on their jersey with four gold stars below it.

The Meaning Of The C Patch On An NFL Jersey

If a player has a C patch on their NFL jersey, it means that they have been selected as one of up to 6 captains on their team for the season. There doesn’t necessarily have to be as many as six captains per team in a season; however, there has to always be at least one captain on the field at a time. A player wears a C patch as a symbol of leadership and respect and with pride and honor.

Only the captains are allowed to communicate with the match officials during the game; therefore, at least one captain must be on the field at a time. The chosen players as captains are usually split up across the offense, the defense, and special teams.

Wearing The C Patch

Wearing the C patch is a decision that the coaches can decide on or that the team can vote on as a whole. This means that should the coaches not want the players on the team to wear C patches, or should the team have a majority vote not to wear C patches, they do not have to do so and can still elect captains.

Some teams choose not to use the C patch when designating captaincy roles as these teams choose to rather designate captains weekly rather than designate captains for a whole season. However, if these teams reach the playoffs, they will designate captains for the playoffs and use the C patch.

The Design Of The C Patch

The C patch is a piece of material that comes in the shape of a square with rounded edges. The color of this material can vary depending on team colors or certain special recognitions. A large white letter “C” is situated on the material with stars placed underneath.

Until 2019, the C patch on NFL jerseys always had four white stars below the letter “C.” 

Each star would then be highlighted gold for each year a player was elected captain. This means that if the player has been captain for only one year, they would still have four stars on their C patch; however, only the first of those stars would be highlighted gold.

After 2019, however, the rule for the design of the C patch changed slightly. The new design no longer has four stars on the C patch by default and now only has one gold star underneath it for each year a player has been selected as a captain. This means that if the player has only been captain for one year, they will only have one gold star below the white “C” and no more.

The Gold C Patch

The gold C patch is worn by NFL players who have been team captains for five years. This C patch design features a gold-colored letter “C” on the patch instead of a white one and four gold stars underneath the letter “C.”

If a player moves teams, despite their number of years as a captain at their previous team, they will no longer be allowed to wear the C patch on their NFL jersey. If the player is elected as a captain in their new team, the first C patch they will wear starts with only 1 star underneath the “C,” despite the number of years they may have been captain of their previous team.

Special Recognition C Patch Designs 

During certain special recognitions, the color of the C patch design on a player’s NFL jersey may differ from their usual team color depending on the type of special recognition. For military service recognition, the color of the C patch will be camouflage, and for breast cancer awareness recognition, the color of the C patch will be pink.

The NFL also began a partnership with the American Cancer Society whereby captains wear multi-colored C patches for recognition in support of those battling cancer.

The Placement Of The C Patch On An NFL Jersey

The C patch is on the top right or left-hand corner of the shirt by the player’s chest. The side on which the patch is worn varies from team to team, depending on what other patches and designs the team have on their NFL jersey.

Editorial credit: YES Market Media / Shutterstock.com


The C patch is a symbol of leadership and respect, allocated to up to 6 team captains every year, which are spread across the offense, defense, and special teams of each NFL team. The C patch consists of the letter “C” on a square piece of material with rounded edges. Underneath the C are several stars, each representing the number of years a player has been elected captain.

The color of the C patch material varies depending on a team color or sometimes special recognitions. The letter “C,” however, is always white until a player has been elected captain in his 5th year, whereby he is given a gold C. Teams can, however, decide whether or not they want to wear C patches on their NFL jerseys, based on a decision by either the coaches or by a vote by the team themselves.


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