NFL Football 2012: Each Team's Best Defunct Uniform

Mike FosterCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2012

NFL Football 2012: Each Team's Best Defunct Uniform

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    As some might not already know, the NFL is one game away from playing its last game in Reebok uniforms.

    Starting next fall, each NFL team will start wearing Nike uniforms, and not every current NFL uniform design can be guaranteed to be compatible with Nike's design style.

    You can expect most teams to keep their looks in tact, but some might take this opportunity to venture into some tweaking and/or significant redesigning.

    With this transition in mind, I thought it would be a good time to go back and look at some great uniform styles from the past that could be brought back.

    Here's a complete list of each NFL team's best defunct uniform.

Arizona Cardinals

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    While the Cardinals' current logo design is a wonderful and classy improvement over their old one, their past uniforms were much easier on the eyes than their current ones.

    Arizona made matters worse this year by getting in the habit of donning monochrome uniforms on a regular basis.

    If there was one uniform from Arizona's past that stands out, look no further than its threads from the turn of the century.

    Hints of blue striping on the jersey sleeve and socks made for a unique look. The Cardinals also rocked the state flag on the sleeve, which was a cool and rare element.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Atlanta introduced a great modern set of uniforms in 2003, but after one season, the Falcons ditched the original home uniform for the red alternate uniform, making the red the permanent home set.

    The combination of a black helmet, red jersey, white and red pants and red socks has made for a somewhat awkward look.

    And the Falcons dumped their alternate all-black uniform in 2009 in the wake of adding a throwback uniform to the mix (teams can only have one alternate jersey, except for the year that AFL throwbacks were grandfathered into the package).

    Atlanta's black helmet, black jersey, white pants look from 2003 was super clean, and Falcons fans liked how red was subtly utilized. 

Baltimore Ravens

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    Baltimore actually scrapped this uniform after a lawsuit. The original Baltimore Ravens logo was declared way too similar to a mock-up design by a fan, which was not chosen by the team to be in the set.

    The logo change Baltimore made a few years after its inaugural season came with a uniform change that yielded some boring results.

    Take the Ravens' look with plain black pants and black socks as an example. The lack of detail and monochrome effect creates what football aesthetic gurus refer to as the "leotard look."

    Contrast that to the original road design. 

Buffalo Bills

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    I'll argue that Buffalo struck gold with its new uniforms, which debuted this fall. The Bills' home blues might be the best uniform in sports.

    But, if we have to pick a set from the past, the uniforms the Bills wore in the 1990s weren't so bad.

    They were definitely better than the atrocities unveiled by the club in 2002, which are considered by some to be the worst uniforms in modern sports history.

    Plus, the uniforms shown above went to four Super Bowls. Granted, the Bills never won a championship in their red lids and royal blue tops, but none of the other uniform sets can make much of a correlative argument either. 

Carolina Panthers

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    Well, we've hit a roadblock with this one. 

    The Carolina Panthers organization has never once made a uniform change in their young history. The addition of Carolina-blue alternate jerseys, as well as an earlier experiment with white jerseys and silver pants, are the only variations to occur.

    Honestly, though, the all-white look for Carolina looks great. In fact, the Panthers have a very distinct and honorable uniform design.

    Despite the above claim, many think the Panthers will take the chance to make significant identity changes when they partner up with Nike.

    We can only wait and speculate.

Chicago Bears

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    Chicago is another team that has never really changed its uniforms around, and the Bears have been in existence way longer than Carolina.

    Yes, they did wear the solid blue jerseys with orange numerals, as well as some really freaky blue and gold get-ups in the earlier part of the century, but we are talking about sustainable looks.

    The all-white combination, which the Bears have let out of the cage a considerable number of times since 2002, is a nice alternative to their regular sets.

    In fact, the Bears wore all white as a primary road look a few years ago. But, the look isn't a staple of their identity, so you can assume it's always in trouble of being dumped.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Cincinnati's current uniforms are known to make viewers cringe. Although its current uniforms are more dynamic and cooler to look at than anything the Bengals wore in the past, over-designing and poor combination choices have made the Bengals the clown show of the NFL since 2004.

    These uniforms, worn at the turn of the century, are nice and simple yet still produce a unique look because of the tiger stripes. I also really like the use of the full-body tiger logo on the sleeve. 

    Cincinnati could actually do a few minor things to turn its current threads from one of the worst to one of the more tolerable sets in the league. But, until it does so, these uniforms will be the standard.

Cleveland Browns

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    Some football fans might not know the difference between this uniform and the one Cleveland wears now.

    But, a weird and aimless pants stripe switch and the addition of a grey facemask took a really nice looking uniform and turned it into a puzzling one.

    Also, Cleveland introduced plain brown pants and solid brown socks to its attire a few years ago, producing a gross looking alternate road uniform that many called the "Tootsie Roll look." 

    I'll spare readers the other nickname.

    Plus, in this era, the Browns also sported a nice orange alternate jersey. I would not mind seeing the orange jersey and orange pants make a comeback next year.

Dallas Cowboys

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    This is pretty simple.

    Dallas rarely wears this navy blue uniform, as many have claimed it to be cursed. In fact, the Cowboys' NFC East rivals have gotten in the habit of wearing white at home, forcing Dallas to face them in the blue jerseys.

    But, the truth of the matter is these uniforms are far superior to the others. Dallas' primary uniform features three different shades of blue.

    The helmet uses navy blue, while the white jersey uses blue stripes and black trim, and the pants, also in regular blue stripes, are a strange tealish-silver.

    While the convoluted attire has been justified by the fact that the off-color of the pants looked more silver on screen in the 1960s and '70s, technology improvements have paved the way for Dallas to optimize their uniform design.

    The navy blue uniforms are more consistent, as well as more aesthetically exciting to look at, thanks to more well-executed design elements.

Denver Broncos

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    While I'm an advocate of the "swoosh" uniforms Denver has worn since 1997, as well as a huge fan of the "ghost horse" logo, these timeless uniforms the Broncos wore during the '80s and early '90s really look good.

    The colors, including a primary orange jersey and lighter blue helmet, are very classy. The uniform might be simple, but it's not nearly as "arena-esque" as the stuff Denver wears now, and many football fans of older generations highly prefer the older look.

    Denver fans should be excited to know, however, that the Broncos plan on making orange their primary home jersey color for next season.

Detroit Lions

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    This wonderfully simple uniform your eyes are feasting on is the Turkey Day throwback that Detroit wore in 2002 (notice how New England wore colors as well—great look).

    Detroit, to many's disappointment, has stopped wearing this uniform. And, the Lions messed up past attempts between 2003 and 2010 of donning this throwback style set because of black face masks.

    If there's another uniform we might want to see from Detroit, as an alternate in 2012, this would be a great addition. Also, blue face masks on the Lions' current uniforms could give them a push towards near perfection. 

Green Bay Packers

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    Green Bay is one of those teams that doesn't have much of a uniform history, and the other looks the Packers have sported didn't last long for a reason.

    Who can forget the horrendous brown, blue, and gold uniforms the Packers have worn as alternates in the past few seasons?

    These Bart Starr era throwbacks, which were worn on Thanksgiving in 2003, were a nice change-up.

    The main difference that strikes you is the addition of stripes to the socks, as opposed to the solid green socks the Packers wear today.

    Adding stripes back to the socks may not be a bad idea.

Houston Texans

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    If you aren't a Texans fans, you may not get this one.

    Looks the same, right? And how can a franchise that is still playing in the same uniforms it unveiled in 2002 have differences?

    The answer is simple.

    Houston has gotten in the habit of mixing and matching its jerseys, pants and socks, and the results have been underwhelming.

    Instead of wearing blue pants with red socks for road games, Houston elected to switch to blue pants with blue socks a few years ago.

    That made for the leotard look, which is frowned upon. This uniform combination was much more interesting and balanced. Plus, Houston wore this combo in its first game in team history.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Indianapolis has one of the classiest uniforms in all the land, but the Colts also could possibly win the award for having the most boring.

    Also, something worth mentioning is the fact they've experimented with a different jersey material from Reebok that made the shoulder sleeves insanely short. 

    I'm sure Colts fans miss the swooping sleeve stripes, seen in this picture of Marshall Faulk from back in the day.

    But, the blue face mask and blue pants, as well as the striped socks, made for a really nice alternate look. 

    Indianapolis made a questionable switch to grey face masks a few years ago, which hurt the look of the uniform even more.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Superior is the first word I think of when I see these beautiful threads.

    Jacksonville unveiled new uniforms in 2009 that offended the world of professional design.

    These solid uniforms, with a wonderful number font, perfect hints of gold and the awesome jaguar logo on the sleeves, were scrapped for a less original shade of blue, weird and unfriendly jersey piping and terribly boring numerals.

    The worst part was the complete elimination of gold from the uniform, which conflicts with the gold primary logo. 

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Like Chicago, the Chiefs have a very empty uniform history, and their current set is not only timeless but possibly one of the best uniforms in sports.

    But the all-white look has not been in the picture much recently.

    It kind of takes a perfect road uniform and makes it bland, but I would not mind seeing it once or twice a season.

Miami Dolphins

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    These early '90s uniforms, worn by the great Dan Marino, are definitely a solid look that could give the 'Fins' current uniforms a run for their money.

    The only real differences in the sets is the pictured's lack of navy blue, which was introduced to the Dolphins' team identity in 1998. 

    This uniform is simpler and could look really good on a modern template.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Minnesota gave history a slap in the face with its dynamic uniform redesign a few years ago. A weird side panel design that doesn't fully transition is a major pet peeve of athletic aesthetic experts.

    These uniforms from the Randy Moss era brought out a better color balance, with gold sticking out on the roadies.

    The current uniforms only use gold for subtle piping, which actually makes for a blander look. 

New England Patriots

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    These uniforms were simply known as the "Flying Elvis" threads.

    A unique number font, awesome shoulder logo placement and neat sublimated-stripe pattern on the jersey fronts made for one of the more unique uniforms in sports history.

    I also am a huge fan of the logo, though many of the older generations prefer the hiking patriot.

    New England's current uniforms are way more generic and were actually run into the ground even more when the entire NFL Europe wore the Patriots' template for a few consecutive seasons.

New Orleans Saints

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    New Orleans' current uniforms are nice, but the Saints, too, like to sport the leotard look on the road, and the lack of design elements in their set can bore you at times.

    These uniforms from the Archie Manning era featured white numbers, rather than gold, and white pants, making for a cleaner look.

    Sleeve stripes were a nice touch as well, and I love how Archie's wrist bands in this photo add to the interest.

New York Giants

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    I'm not a huge fan of the Giants' current road uniforms, though I understand why many fans are.

    And, the current road uniforms are also nearly replicas of the design the Giants wore nearly 50 years ago.

    But, the road uniform the Giants wore prior to the most recent change looked significantly cleaner.

    For one, the current uniform system has two sets of grey pants for no reason. And the road jersey doesn't have a hint of blue in it.

    As you can see, this set had much better color balance and still popped just as much as the home. The Giants are known as "Big Blue," yet their current road set is way too close to being exclusively red and white. 

New York Jets

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    New York's current set, which echoes the same look sported during the Joe Namath days, is a timeless and classic look.

    But, if we have to choose another uniform, there is the benefit of choosing one with that awesome helmet logo, which I think is superior to the current one.

    These uniforms worn by the Jets in the 1960s and 1970s weren't too bad. New York made the mistake of adding black to the mix with black trim and black face masks, but it fixed all problems by returning to the two-toned jerseys and white helmets you see now.

Oakland Raiders

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    Here's another team's uniforms we simply cannot dispute.

    Oakland has essentially worn the same uniform for years and years.

    And any other thread the Raiders have sported was terrible. We could elect their road jerseys with silver numbers as something we'd like to see return.

    But, would anyone like to see that return? I'm sure NFL spotters would not appreciate it, as silver and gold numbers on white jerseys are nearly impossible to see from afar. 

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Plenty of Eagles fans will tell you they miss the kelly green, and I liked how these uniforms had a nice balance of green, white and silver.

    Another element from these bad boys I enjoy is the detailed sleeve stripe pattern, which plays off the nickname "Eagles" very well.

    Philly's current uniform design is a victim of awkward traces of black and charcoal. That's right—the Eagles use charcoal in the color scheme and hide it in their pants stripe and numbers.

    Once you notice that, you will be bothered to insanity. Philly has too many colors that are too similar, and if it wasn't for white, the Eagles uniforms would look more like shadows.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Pittsburgh's past uniforms have not been that dynamically different. 

    The Steelers did have the gold helmets, black jerseys and white pants for a while, but there's no doubt the other design style is far superior.

    Pittsburgh could benefit from simplifying its sleeve-stripe design next year, as the Steelers' current has become a tad too complicated to work on all uniform cuts.

    This uniform worn by Terry Bradshaw is only different from the current by the design of the number font. These numerals were block, while Pittsburgh's current numbers are stylized and curvy. 

San Diego Chargers

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    I might be in the minority, but I really think a white helmet, powder blue jersey and gold pants combination could work full time.

    It worked back then, and it could be a nice and colorful option for the future.

    I'm not saying San Diego should choose to wear this combination all of the time, but if it made its powder blue jerseys the primaries and added yellow pants as an alternate, the Chargers could really have something. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    San Francisco's current uniforms just look like a really bad attempt at a throwback.

    The Niners' sleeve stripes are truncated due to jersey styles, and the logo, which features black, stands out like a sore thumb because black is not present anywhere else on the uniform.

    These uniforms from the Jeff Garcia era really had a complete and classy look to them. Black, dark red and gold work very, very well together.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Seattle's current uniforms are mind-boggling. The color of the Seahawks uniform, described as "denim" by a lot of fans, is very dull.

    The Seahawks make it worse by wearing monochrome uniforms on a constant basis, and the addition of slightly darker navy pants and electric green jerseys added insult to injury.

    I'm sure Seahawks fans would not mind the team making some significant uniform changes in the near future. While the logo is a vast improvement over the old one, it isn't used right.

    I love how the totem pole sleeve style of the old jerseys worked so well. Seattle has a great identity. It needs to run with it. 

St. Louis Rams

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    The Rams stopped wearing this as a primary uniform combination, and I still can't think of why.

    Instead of rocking the gold pants, which make this uniform set one of the funnest to look at in the league, the Rams wear white pants or navy blue pants.

    The addition of these pants combinations was a nice idea in terms of adding to the mix, but the Rams began wearing the alternate pants constantly a few years ago.

    What makes matters worse is the fact that the stripe pattern on the pants is different for each pair, making the identity obsolete. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Tampa Bay's current red, pewter and black uniforms are considered one of the more unique and likable sets in the sporting world.

    So, we don't really want to see the Buccaneers waiver, especially considering how atrocious their uniform history is.

    But, once in a blue moon, it is nice to see the "creamsicle" uniforms pop up.

    Tampa Bay has worn the orange and white duds for the past few years, to the attention of all social media outlets.

    I'd like to see that continue. Maybe it's just because I'm a Falcons fan.

Tennessee Titans

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    To this day, we might never know why the Titans took one of the best modern uniforms and turned it into the worst.

    Additions of Carolina blue jerseys and Carolina blue pants might have been the worst thing to happen to the Titans' identity.

    That's because Tennessee changed its home and road uniform a few years ago. The current home set features a white helmet with a light blue jersey and navy blue pants, while the road set is a white helmet with a white jersey and light blue pants.

    There is now zero color balance and consistency within their identity.

Washington Redskins

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    And, finally, we run into the Washington Redskins.

    Washington's current look is pretty solid, but many would claim they prefer the spear logo on the helmet as opposed to the Redskin emblem.

    These throwback style uniforms, worn for the Redskins' 75th anniversary in 2002, caught the attention of the sports world.

    The unique shades of burgundy and gold, plus the exciting detail and surprisingly modern looking helmet, made these threads one of the more liked new uniforms of the modern era.

    A change to this style would be drastic, but I'd be inviting to it.