The Worst Uniform in the History of Every NFL Franchise

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIIApril 11, 2012

The Worst Uniform in the History of Every NFL Franchise

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    As Nike has just revealed their new uniforms for the upcoming 2012 season, we were reflecting on how far uniforms have come over the years in the NFL.

    The longer that each franchise has been in existence, the more versions and changes they have gone through, some of which were more painful to look at than others.

    Our goal today is to identify the worst uniform in the history of every NFL franchise.

The Gridiron Uniform Database

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    While conducting research for this presentation, I came across this website, the Gridiron Uniform Database, which is a great location to check out old uniforms of the NFL and original AFL teams.

    You can find a link to their website right here.

    As we go through the various NFL franchises, if we can locate color photos of the worst jerseys of the franchise, we will show them on the team slide. If we can't find them, we will then show the display that we observed from the Gridiron Uniform Database.

    Thanks for understanding.


    Photo credit: Gridiron Uniform Database

Arizona Cardinals/St. Louis Cardinals

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    This franchise over the years has moved from Chicago to St. Louis and then to Arizona, where it currently resides.

    The St. Louis version broke out these uniforms in the mid-1980's, which features a really dull red color.

    There just doesn't seem to be anything going on with this particular red version, so it gets the vote as the worst one in Cardinals history.


    Photo credit:

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons debuted in 1966, and this is a picture of one of their uniform variations that the team used in the early to mid-1970's. .

    Falcons fans like the team wearing either the black helmet or the black uniform top, but the all-red look seems out of place.

Baltimore Ravens

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    The Baltimore Ravens franchise is unique to the city of Baltimore. The Baltimore Colts franchise is tied to the Indianapolis Colts franchise.

    So, when trying to identify the worst uniforms in Baltimore Ravens franchise history, we only have the uniforms they wore from 1996 on. That is the uniform we will then select, that first uniform, which has different designs for the numbers, as well as a different logo on the helmet.

    This is a photo of Ray Lewis wearing the 1996 uniform.

Buffalo Bills

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    The Buffalo Bills joined the American Football League in 1960. This photo came from the early years of the team, when they didn't have the logo of the buffalo on the side of the helmet. The Boston Patriots have their logo on the helmet, which is what they were called at the time.

    Photo is of Cookie Gilchrist running the ball, who was a terror to try to tackle back in the early 1960s. He was the original beast mode running back in Buffalo, long before Marshawn Lynch was ever born.


    Photo credit:

Carolina Panthers

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    The Carolina Panthers uniforms have made some minor changes over the years. The team has only been around since 1995, so there hasn't been that many changes from what they started with.

    The biggest complaint about the Panthers jerseys has to do with wearing the all-white look, including the uniform pants. If they wore a different color pants, that would help to contrast the uniform.

Chicago Bears

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    In doing a review of the various uniforms worn by the Chicago Bears in their franchise history, at Gridiron, it appears that the first time the Bears went to a white jersey top along with white pants was in 1957.

    For my money, I would rather see the Bears wear the dark top with the white pants, or the white jersey top with the dark pants. There is something about the all-white look that rubs me the wrong way.

    For any games in the winter where snow is already falling, I would imagine that it would be tough to spot the players when you are trying to find a target through all of the snowflakes.

    I couldn't find a picture of the 1957 Bears team, but I did find a 1932 picture of the championship Bears team that wore these crazy striped socks. I guess we will have to go with the crazy-socks 1932 uniforms instead.

    For those that were expecting the vote to be the older solid orange jerseys, I actually like that retro-look.


    Photo credit: NFL Hall of

Cincinnati Bengals

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    The original Cincinnati Bengals uniform, which was worn in 1968, the first year of the Bengals franchise, had the old hideous orange helmets with the word "Bengals" spelled out on the side of the helmet.

    Imagine that most people prefer the Bengals stripe on the helmet, as that is far more appealing to the eye.


    Photo credit: Ryan Austin Dean,


Cleveland Browns

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    In looking over the various uniforms worn in Cleveland Browns franchise history, the Browns have stayed true to their basic uniform design or look over the years with very little to no change.

    There have a few years where they have trotted out the orange jersey, but the helmet and pants have basically been maintained.

    The only uniform combination that I am personally not so wild about is the dark brown jersey top, and the orange pants combination look. Something about those colors just doesn't look that great to me. The first year I can see orange pants is the 1975 season.

    To give you a better idea, here is a picture of Brian Sipe wearing the brown-on-orange look. Ugh.

Dallas Cowboys

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    When teams are just getting established, the uniforms that they wear the first year may not be the greatest look for the team.

    Initial feedback of that first season can help to steer teams into ultimately coming up with a design or look that is pleasing to the masses.

    Take this picture of Don Meredith, legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback, wearing the uniform from that initial 1960 team.

    With a big white star on each shoulder, this uniform is screaming to be placed in the attic with the mothballs.


    Photo credit: Juds Press Box,

Denver Broncos

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    This is a photo from a 1960 game in the American Football League showing the Denver Broncos wearing their initial uniform, complete with the solid brown helmet and the crazy socks that had stripes running up and down, instead of sideways.

    I wonder if the Broncos had any trouble in recruiting players that actually wanted to play in these uniforms?

    For the crazy yellow socks look, click on this link here.


    Photo credit:

Detroit Lions

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    Although this is a black and white photo, you can easily imagine that the uniforms that the Green Bay Packers are wearing (circa 1961-62) are almost identical to what they still wear now.

    The Detroit Lions uniforms on the other hand, seem rather uninspiring, and the famous Lions symbol on the helmet is not part of this uniform, which is basically a solid color, presumably silver.


    Photo credit:

Green Bay Packers

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    The Green Bay Packers rolled out these retro uniforms from the 1929 season, displayed here by Aaron Rodgers and company.

    Needless to say the uniforms were met with very mixed reviews from not only Packers fans, but from football fans in general.

Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans joined the NFL in 2002. In 2007, somebody had the idea of letting the players wear the red solid jersey top along with the red solid pants.

    If you like the all-red solid look, then congratulations. As for my personal taste, that look just doesn't work for me.

    Red means stop. How many times did the Texans go to the playoffs wearing those all-red uniforms? See what I mean?

Indianapolis Colts/Baltimore Colts

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    The Baltimore Colts joined the NFL in 1953 and the team thrived there until they moved the team to Indianapolis. From the mid-50's to today, the Colts uniforms have undergone some changes.

    The biggest change was when the Colts trotted out the retro uniforms that came with the double horseshoes look on the back of the helmet, combined with the dark blue helmet. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars joined the NFL in 1995. From their first year until now, the Jaguars uniforms have made some changes.

    But the most drastic change was when they switched from wearing the teal uniforms to the black uniforms. You could always identify the Jaguars wearing the teal color. It is hard to get used to the black jersey.

Kansas City Chiefs/Dallas Texans

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    This franchise began in the American Football League as the Dallas Texans in 1960, and then the team moved to Kansas City in 1962, where they have remained ever since.

    The photo of Len Dawson from the early 1960's shows that the Chiefs jerseys then are basically identical to how they are now. It is surprising how many teams have kept their jerseys basically the same over the years.

    Technically, we could have named the Dallas Texans uniforms as the worst in franchise history, as they opted to try to fit the entire state of Texas on the side of the helmet. It was a look that just didn't work.

    For a link to that helmet, click on here.

Miami Dolphins

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    The Dolphins have traditionally stuck with their white or green jerseys throughout their franchise history since they came into existence in 1966.

    However, the Dolphins veered off course when they decided to break out these orange uniforms, which makes you wonder how close an Orange Julius store is to you. 

    Could minority owner Jennifer Lopez have influenced this color choice?

Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings came into the NFL in 1961. The early uniforms, as exhibited here by former Vikings star Hugh McElhenny, featured longer sleeves that had these really wide white stripes on the sleeves.

    Have to admit that I really don't care for the wide white stripes. The other major change is that the sleeves are much shorter on the jerseys.

    If you happen to be a fan of the color purple, then you probably have always been partial to the Vikings uniforms.

New England Patriots/Boston Patriots

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    In 1960, the New England Patriots were known as the Boston Patriots, and the first year that the team played, they wore a red jersey with long sleeves that had these blue stripes that circled the shoulder area.

    That is the major difference that the Patriots uniforms has changed over the years, and it was a change for the better.

New Orleans Saints

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    The New Orleans Saints were established in 1967. The uniforms have gone through some changes, but mostly from a color scheme and mixing jersey colors with pants colors.

    We are using this photo of a Sports Illustrated cover from the inaugural 1967 team to show the bronze color that was featured in the first Saints jerseys.

    It wasn't until the 2001 season that the Saints actually started wearing a black on black look, with a black jersey top to go with black pants.

    Whenever I saw them play in those jerseys, it gave me kind of a morbid feeling, just like what Saints players must be feeling about the team right now, with all of the negative stuff that is going on. 


    Photo credit: Sports Illustrated

New York Giants

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    This is a photo from the 1934 New York Giants team.

    If you go to this location, you can find a team photo of the 1935 Giants, and you can determine from the web site if these were the worst uniforms in the franchise's history. These get my vote.

    Here is the web site link, which is called


    Photo credit:

New York Jets/New York Titans

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    When the New York Jets joined the American Football League in 1960, they were known as the New York Titans.

    The original jerseys have made a comeback during the retro phase of NFL popularity, or when they NFL has throwback games. Some retro uniforms look cool, but I have to admit, that I have never been a fan of the Titans retro jerseys. They just plain look ugly and dull.


    Photo credit: True Lax,

Oakland Raiders/Los Angeles Raiders

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    Whether they played in Oakland or in Los Angeles, the Raiders jerseys have basically stayed the same for a long time. The Raiders started up in 1960 as one of the original American Football League franchises.

    However, those initial Raiders uniforms have to be considered the worst uniform in the history of the team. These 1960 uniforms just don't have very much appeal.

    Did people originally complain that the numbers were too small? These numbers are huge.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Although we don't have any game photos of the 1935 Philadelphia Eagles team to share with you on this presentation, if you go through the Philadelphia Eagles team page at The Gridiron, you will see how the team has changed jerseys over the years.

    This version from 1935 with the blue stripes running up and down the pants has to be by far the strangest and worst uniform in Eagles history.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Figured this was as good a time as any to show what uniforms looked like in the 1930s. This was the Steelers jersey (was anybody else thinking jail break, or am I the only one?).

    As far as the Steelers franchise goes, the NFL uniforms they wore in the 1966 season with the yellow stripes that ran on the top of the back and top of the front seemed like a pretty strange design or look. You can see how they evolved at the Gridiron team page for Pittsburgh right here.

    For an interesting look at some really old football jerseys that appear to be affiliated with the Pittsburgh franchise, but not necessarily the NFL, check out this link.


    Photo credit:

San Diego Chargers/Los Angeles Chargers

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    I must admit that I forgot that the Chargers franchise actually began as the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960 before they wound up settling down in San Diego for good. Just one more football team that wasn't able to stay in Los Angeles.

    The first jerseys of the American Football League team in 1960 featured a rather strange black lightning bolt going down the side of the pants. Not sure when I had ever seen a bolt of "black lightning" before, so that would have to be my vote for worst Chargers uniform.

    For an excellent site that shows in detail how the Chargers uniforms have evolved over the years, click on this link here. It is for uniform history.


    Photo credit: uniform history

San Francisco 49ers

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    Frankie Albert was a famous San Francisco 49ers quarterback in the late 1940s to early 1950s. The 49ers joined the NFL in 1950, and this is what the 49ers uniforms looked like. It is understandable that it is tough to appreciate them, since it is a black-and-white photo.

    The 49ers didn't introduce their legendary golden pants until the 1959 season.


    Photo credit: NFL Hall of Fame

Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks came into the NFL in 1976, and they have tried various changes to their uniform over the years.

    The Seahawks decided to roll out the lime green uniforms in 2009, but they were quickly put back in storage. Something about lime green and professional football don't seem to mix very well together.

St. Louis Rams/Los Angeles Rams

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    The Rams franchise originated out of Cleveland. Cleveland won the NFL title in 1945 and then they relocated to Los Angeles in 1946. The team remained in Southern California until 1995, when they moved again, this time to St. Louis.

    This photo is from the Rams early years, and is a picture of Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch in action. The Rams have used different designs with the Rams logo on the helmet, but this bright yellow jersey for me was the worst one that I could find.


    Photo credit:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Perhaps there is no NFL team that has made such a drastic uniform change or look than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From the early "creamsicle" look of 1976 to the red and pewter look of the late 1990s, the Bucs have really made quite a transformation.

    I am sure there are some fans who love the orange look, but I for one am not a fan of that look. I really like the pewter and red jerseys, but that is just me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers

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    The Houston Oilers franchise started out in the American Football League, and they played in Houston from 1960-96. For two years they were known as the Tennessee Oilers (1997-1998) and then they became the Tennessee Titans in 1999.

    I really like the old powder blue retro-look of the Houston Oilers uniforms. The worst uniform look for me with this franchise came about in 2007 when the Titans decided to pair a dark jersey with dark pants. Just not a good look in my opinion, as there isn't enough contrast. 

Washington Redskins

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    We waited until the final team slide to go to the older uniforms that included the helmets that were a piece of leather.

    There is something about that era when I see the photos of what they were forced to wear that cracks me up, but also makes me marvel as to how badly they must have been beaten up by guys that would attempt to take their heads off.

    This is a photo of Sammy Baugh, a famous quarterback, who played from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. You can see that despite the black and white photo, that the jerseys back then were not very special, and the helmets unfortunately were even worse.


    Thanks for checking out our presentation.