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The Coolest Alternate Jerseys in Pro Sports

Sean HojnackiFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2017

The Coolest Alternate Jerseys in Pro Sports

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    Fashion is not a common consideration for true sports fans. It's put up or shut up. As former UCLA football coach Red Sanders first said (not Vince Lombardi), "Winning isn't everything...it's the only thing."

    But then again, you don't want your team going out there looking like a bunch of chumps. All eyes are turned to the men on the field. Or ice. Or court. And you want your team to look cool!

    Of course, there's the old home-and-away dichotomy for uniforms, but it's helpful to have a third jersey as a change of pace. Unless your team's kit is so classic that it could hang in a museum (the New York Yankees pinstripes, for example), an alternate jersey can be a powerful thing.

    Some fans believe in a sacred luck bestowed by the alternate jersey. "We've never lost at home wearing our alternates in the month of October," some might say. Other fans just want a third jersey to wear when the other two are in the wash during a grueling baseball season.

    Whatever the reason, alternate jerseys can be a great thing. They may be loud. They may be tasteful. But they must be cool.

    So here's the very coolest alternate jerseys from the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA.

Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks debuted their alternate "Wolf Grey" Nike uniforms on Dec. 16, 2012 against the Buffalo Bills. This game was played in Toronto and featured a streaker, as well as a performance of "Gangnam Style" by PSY.

    While these grey jerseys don't exactly dazzle the eye, they are a welcome relief from the lime-green alternates the Seahawks used to sport.

    Those were really just a shameless cross-promotion for the Seattle Sounders of MLS, also the Seahawks' roommates at CenturyLink Field and another piece of Paul Allen's empire.

Minnesota Wild

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    The general ugliness of their standard home and away duds helps enhance the coolness of this Minnesota Wild jersey. But hey, at least they've got Zach Parise (sorry, New Jersey).

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Los Angeles Clippers have taken over L.A. this year, with the other tenant at Staples Center falling flat lately. These alternates are pretty cool, but they're hampered by the fact that you can barely read the tiny cursive on the chest.

    They should've just shortened it to "Lob City."

Colorado Rockies

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    The Colorado Rockies' alternate jerseys aren't all that cool, but there's something different about them. What could it be?

    That's right, these are vests. I didn't know that was allowed.

    Outside of professional billiards tournaments, you don't see many vests in sports. And they haven't been seen in baseball since Ted Kluszewski ripped the sleeves off all his jerseys because his biceps were too big to fit. It was the original "Gun Show."

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers need something besides Kyrie Irving to keep their fans excited. And these jerseys are just the trick.

    Anyone who has ever been to Cleveland can tell you that it's not a very fashionable city. After all, its baseball team uses a racist logo and its basketball team used to have a paint smear across the jerseys from 1994-99. Intentionally!

    These are a great improvement and they match anything that's bright yellow.

Baltimore Orioles

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    There's something about the Baltimore Orioles' orange alternates that I can't quite put my finger on. They're just pale enough not to be offensive.

    While they don't exactly exude the grit and toughness of The Wire, they're pretty nice. They're unlike the deep, sickening orange of the San Francisco Giants' alternates, which are less brown than tenné and eerily close to the Texas Longhorns' color of choice.

    Is Matthew McConaughey a pro baseball fan?

Miami Dolphins

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    South Beach is loud and proud when it comes to fashion. And the Miami Dolphins should be no different.

    Unfortunately, the team prefers to wear these flashy orange jerseys at home and at night (perhaps to avoid blinding its fans and players), but the Dolphins don't play on prime time very often these days owing to the subpar product they've been fielding lately.

    They haven't retired these alternates, but is the NFL really slating a Dolphins home game on national TV anytime soon?

Philadelphia 76ers

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    I'm not sure what Jrue Holiday is so upset about in this picture, because these Philadelphia 76ers jerseys are sweet! They are plain enough to look retro, and stylish enough to be a classic.

    Now if only they could get Andrew Bynum healthy enough to wear one.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    It's hard to imagine the Pittsburgh Penguins wearing anything other than black and yellow, but there's something about these dark-blue-and-light-blue alternates. The old-school penguin logo is skating along in the center, and the numbers are done in a lovely Arial font.

    This is a nice change of pace, just like a 48-game hockey season. Just get to the playoffs already!

Chicago Cubs

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    Aside from Starlin Castro and an ivy-strewn ballpark, these royal-blue alternate uniforms are just about the only thing the Chicago Cubs have going for them.

Denver Nuggets

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    Well, he's no Kiki Vandeweghe, and he's not even starting for the Denver Nuggets, but JaVale McGee looks pretty good in these quasi-throwback alternates. Plus, he appeals to fans of Big Bird, too.

Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans have an annual "Battle Red" day on which they sport these uniforms. The cheerleaders, the Bull Pen Pep Band and their mascot, Toro, all join in the red-clad fun as well.

    They typically enjoy success in these Battle Red games, perhaps because their opponents' retinas have been scorched beyond use. Sadly though, they've abandoned the red pants in favor of white ones since 2011.

New York Rangers

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    The New York Rangers haven't altered their jerseys much over the years, aside from the short-lived Statue of Liberty uniforms.

    But these throwback-style sweaters are sweet indeed. The diagonal "New York" has a classic look, but you have to be sure not to accidentally strangle yourself with the laces on the neckline.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    The Portland Trail Blazers need more red in their uniforms. These alternates answer that call.

    This scheme hearkens back to the days of Lenny Wilkens, Bill Walton and (again) Kiki Vandeweghe. Now they've got LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, so things are looking up for the first time since Clyde "The Glide" Drexler.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Now that's how you screen a goalie! These Vancouver Canucks alternates are so Canadian that they're practically European. Such minimalism! But all that blue is very cool.

Atlanta Falcons

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    This is cheating a little bit, but only because the Atlanta Falcons consider these throwbacks. Prior to 2004, the home jersey was black anyway. In '04, they began wearing red jerseys as their primary home uniform.

    The only real "throwback" thing about these is the old-school red helmet. Atlanta belongs in black uniforms because they are styling. We need to see more of these. After all, they just scream "Deion Sanders."

Orlando Magic

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    The Orlando Magic finally traded away Dwight Howard after firing Stan Van Gundy at Superman's behest. Now they'll be in full rebuilding mode for a couple of years.

    But at least they're keeping it old school with these black, pinstriped jerseys. They evoke the 1990s uniforms from when they had Shaquille O'Neal, but they've dropped the corny "Magic" printed across the front with a star in place of the "a" and dotting the "i."

    Too bad, I liked it.

Boston Red Sox

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    I'm personally not a fan of the Boston Red Sox, but I have to say that these intensely red alternates have an elegant slimming effect on David Ortiz.

    They are best matched with actual red socks worn high on the calf.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    These intimidating black alternates for the Carolina Hurricanes suit the team name, as you get the actual effect of hurricane-force winds. Look at the strain on that warning flag! And the hockey stick acting as the flag pole is a nice touch.

Miami Heat

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    I don't typically like black basketball jerseys unless they speak to the team's traditional color scheme. Hence, you won't see the alternates of the Boston Celtics or Chicago Bulls on this list.

    But the Miami Heat have long sported black in their colors. This time, they just eliminated the red.

    If Darth Vader commissioned basketball jerseys, this would be the winner. The Dark Side fought long and hard to eliminate even the white outline around the letters and numbers, but then the refs wouldn't know which players not to call fouls on.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    These are an example of a third jersey that resembles a throwback. But since the Columbus Blue Jackets have only existed for 13 years, these are obviously not throwbacks.

    The team does seek to evoke the rich tradition of history which imbues the State of Ohio. There's obviously a Civil War buff somewhere in the front office, because the team has an 1857 replica cannon (depicted on this jersey) which it fires off repeatedly during home games.

    Plus, the powder-blue pads and gloves are a beautiful complement.

Arizona Cardinals

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    The Arizona Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald. And they have these black alternate jerseys. And that's about it.

    Maybe they should get a real quarterback. I'm just saying it might help.

Colorado Avalanche

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    It's really too bad that Patrick Roy isn't the goalie for the Colorado Avalanche anymore, but this retro version of their jerseys is very cool. It's simple and straightforward.

    Call me crazy, but I greatly prefer these alternates to the "A" as a mountain with an avalanche rushing down it. Scary stuff, and very hazardous to pond hockey.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Kobe Bryant appears to be demonstrating how tasty the Los Angeles Lakers' Sunday whites are. He also seems to be asking if there's a winter hat to match the alternate jersey.

    But these look so good, you almost forget that the Lakers still wear yellow at home most of the time.

Chicago White Sox

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    The Chicago White Sox have such a good color scheme, even Eazy-E thought it was cool. These alternates are awesome, but they get a little toasty in the August sun.

New England Patriots

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    Okay, I acknowledge that this is technically cheating on my part, as these are the New England Patriots' throwbacks. But that's really only because their normal helmet would clash so horribly with the sweet red jerseys.

    I envision these throwbacks becoming the proper alternate uniforms at some point in the near future. They look good and evoke the Boston Red Sox alternate uniform. Also, we've seen teams like the San Diego Chargers adopt a throwback jersey as their alternate with some minor tweaks.

    Anyway, we'll leave it up to Gisele. She knows fashion so much better than football.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Pirates should wear black. Now all the Pittsburgh Pirates are missing is the eye patch and the parrot, but those contravene MLB rules.

    If they just sported the old-school caps with it, these alternates would beautifully evoke the good old days of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell.

Boston Bruins

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    I have to admit, when I was a kid, I had no idea what a bruin was.

    If the Boston Bruins had only sported these alternates back then, I would've known it all along. It's a lion with the head of a wolf, right?

Kansas City Royals

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    The stylish, powder-blue alternates recall the days of George Brett playing for the Kansas City Royals. You know, when the Royals were actually good.

    Now, if only Jeff Francoeur remembers how to hit again and Alex Gordon figures out how to hit a home run instead of a double, KC could make some noise. But probably not.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Unfortunately, the pyrotechnics are not formally part of these Baltimore Ravens alternates, but they sure do help, don't they? And the defense should always stand in front of the blood-red eyes of a snarling raven.

    Call me crazy, but black is just slightly more intimidating than purple.

San Diego Chargers

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    Yes, Antonio Gates, we salute these San Diego Chargers jerseys right back. These are boss!

    Unfortunately, Philip Rivers' regular-season success and playoff futility is remarkably similar to that of Dan Fouts, who wore the powder blues so well. Good thing they got rid of LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson!

Oakland Athletics

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    Here it is, the pinnacle of alternate-jersey fashion, the Oakland Athletics. Somehow, these loud yellow-and-green jerseys just look better in the summer sun, against the backdrop of lush, green grass.

    They really pop, and they easily trump the other alternates worn by the A's—the dark-green uniforms.

    It's not often you see a group of 25 men all wearing yellow and looking so happy. But the A's are so excited about their duds that they stormed back to claim a division title. As Yoenis Cespedes can tell you, these are potencia indeed.

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