- Washington Commanders
There’s no excuse for this look to be this bad. Washington went with a stripped down “Football Team” look for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, which wasn’t too shabby for an ad hoc thing. They spent two years trying to figure out how to rebrand, with no expense spared nor shortage of creative options to explore. Their color scheme is one of the best in pro sports and the team harbors nearly a century of history to draw from. After two years and immense investments in time and money, they farted out this Commanders look. Stumbling out of the gate printing merchandise with the wrong championship years, Dan Snyder’s circus dumped out a HUGE pile of uniform alternatives and elements, including god-awful black-for-black’s-sake dreck. Everything about this look is overdone, unappealing, and embarrassing for one of the original franchises of the NFL. This whole disaster needs to be torn down to the studs. Even if they keep the Commanders name, they need to simplify to the extent that they don’t even have an alternate. Washington’s branding department needs an adult in the room. There are currently none (and likely none within the organization as a whole).
- Atlanta Falcons
The sorry, haunted Falcons are a franchise who can’t help but walk into rakes. In their efforts to finally turn the page of their Vick-era uniforms, which along with the Bengals and Cardinals lingered on for about 10 years longer than necessary, they went to Nike and implored them to lift the curse. The end result was the worst of all schools of NFL uniform thought. It’s an unfinished product that’s somehow still overdone; it’s too modern while still retaining too much of the (recent) past. There’s a gradient alternate for no reason. Nothing about it speaks to any sort of culture or history, nor is there any indication of their animal identity. They asked for garlic bread and received sourdough starter. Further damning is that they have had several “vintage” alternate uniform combinations that are among the best in the NFL, and yet…This is the best they and Nike could do, and honestly, anybody who knows the Falcons shouldn’t be the tiniest bit surprised.
- Seattle Seahawks
When Nike got the uniform rights for the NFL in 2012, the Seahawks were their first victim. In a time when the Oregon Ducks 500+ uniform combinations (not an exagerrated number) had permeated all of college football, Seattle was exiting something of a mixed bag uniform-wise at athe time, and clearly were quite pleased to let Nike’s designers go wild. The end result was a fairly radical reimagining. They’ve had a ton of success in this look over the decade since, but the time has come to remember their past and come back to something more sensible. Navy helmets run amok in the league now, and the era of slapping a pile of elements all over a uniform has come and, thankfully, gone. Very quickly, these Seahawks are going to bottom out with Russell Wilson in Denver, and their tired, embarrassing threads will follow their record’s tailspin to its inevitable conclusion.
- Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals turned a lot of heads in 2005 when they microwaved their once simple uniforms into a new set that featured tons of piping and panels, dropped navy for black, red went from scarlet to fire engine, and their helmet logo got angrier. The new stadium that accompanied the rebrand ushered in a new era that has been reasonably successful for a franchise that often gets forgotten. Nearly 20 years later, and the trendy uniform nonsense that they embraced then is simply embarrassing now, and the best they or Nike seems to be able to do is add black alternate uniforms and a sparkly black helmet. Their own star quarterback has publicly stated that their uniforms are terrible, and even he wishes for a simpler look harkening back to the simpler times when the Arizona Cardinals actually reflected both Arizona and the Cardinal. Currently this lumbering franchise is stubbornly insistent on looking like a clown show, and it’s a shame. Some day, maybe, they’ll course correct. Some day. But that day has not arrived.
- New York Jets
Another team that came to Nike and wanted everything all at once:
- Simple, yet complex
- Modern, but classic
- Green, yes, but as much black as possible
- Somehow utilize every logo we’ve ever used
The returns were, as you may imagine, the uniform equivalent of a stillborn platypus. Nothing about this look works to celebrate a storied franchise or put a proud foot forward. It’s simply a mess, and the seemingly mandatory inclusion of an all-black alternate is incredibly disappointing, but also something I’ve come to sadly expect. Do better, Jets. Maybe next time they’ll accidentally get things right, because when they try, the results are laughable. Kind of like their football team.
- Tennessee Titans
Ya know, the Titans are closer than I’m probably giving them credit for. I actually like the number font, their color scheme is just fine, and the branding is still pretty on point. That said, I hope take two of this particular uniform set trims up a few things, namely the helmet and the shoulder swords. I get what they’re going for with the shoulder swords, but yeah, let’s not. The helmets are a flop as well, sword spiking across the middle of yet another navy helmet and their logo given several extra strokes for some reason.
Cut back (hehehe) on the swords, go with a silver or white helmet (just overhaul the whole helmet, really), and they’re very close to entering respectability. As of now, however, they remain in jerseyfart limbo. #jerseyfart
- Los Angeles Rams
It’s a shame. A few simple changes and this identity would catapult into the top tiers of the NFL, but some significant alterations have to be made. The helmet horn must be restored to its former shape. This split banana experiment should end immediately, and whoever signed off on its implementation should serve time exiled in an icy wasteland.
The gradients – all of them – must go. Nope, not a one can be kept. And while you’re at it, make the gold richer and less neon. I freely admit I’m punishing them by ranking them so low, but between the helmet and the gradients, frankly they deserve it. Let’s not forget the stupid “bone” uniforms, either.
There is so much hope, but these changes are a requirement to salvage a brand that has been desperate for a perfect look for so long, yet routinely sidesteps the obvious path to heaven in order to drunkenly traipse through the delirium of some imaginary design utopia.
- Carolina Panthers
For all intents and purposes, the Panthers uniform is something of a “modern classic,” in that it has barely changed since the team’s arrival in the early 1990s, and in that time they’ve maintained their fairly plain yet dignified look. Greats like Steve Smith, Julius Peppers, Cam Newton, etc. have played large portions of their careers for Carolina with big chunks of success reminding the football world that the two Carolinas share a professional franchise.
The reason I have them so far down this list is that they’ve always had the posturing of a franchise working out a rebrand in the background while never going through with it, and at this point it’s simply time to recalibrate. They got a new “sneezing cat” logo that I’ve reluctantly accepted after over a decade, but otherwise it’s an above-average NCAA look that’s overstayed its welcome and has started getting mail to hook the NFL into a squatter’s rights conundrum.
- Philadelphia Eagles
During the 2020 election, the expression “I’ve seen enough” took root, and is now something of a meme phrase that has a toehold in the current Internet Whatever Blogger lexicon. When it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles uniforms, I’ve seen enough. They’ve had this look, with eensy changes here and there (including, as usual, BFBS) since 1996, and it’s time to do SOMEthing. This past offseason they dropped a random-ass workmark change that was apparently the first step of several in breaking out a revamped look, but all other reports indicate that ownership is not quite ready to revisit Kelly green (Nike pitifully says they can’t recreate the color on the material which is, in all honestly, a blatant lie), and who the fuck knows just what their intentions truly are anymore.
It’s stood the test of time reasonably well, but to ride out this only-okay look for so long is lazy at best, cheap at worst. You don’t need to rip the guts out of this thing, Eagles, but clean things up, yeah? Have some self-respect.
- Detroit Lions
Blue, silver, and white. Tremendous color scheme. Lion mascot – inoffensive and powerful! Tons of team history in a blue-collar American city – perfect.
It’s a beach ball being tossed underhand in a stadium with a 200 foot outfield. The Lions, however, keep hitting doubles.
Every revision of their identity over the last 20 years has made incremental improvements in some regards while taking chances in others that turn out to be bad bets. Their past insistence, like so many other franchises in this stupid league, to include black has been largely detrimental, and since 2017 they’ve gone with more of a matte gray alongside silver, in addition to bringing in blue pants for Reasons.
Rumor is that there will be changes, if not another overhaul, for the 2023 season, that may finally push the Lions into the realm of “almost timeless” where they’ve deserved a rightful spot all along, but have never found their way to their executive parking spot, choosing instead to park sloppily in a handicap zone with a pile of sun-faded tickets gathering on the dash.
- Miami Dolphins
Even the Dolphins organization seems fully aware that their 2013 overhaul was a big ol’ bed wetting. They’ve routinely trotted out classic uniform alternates in an obscene demonstration of football aesthetic mastery that is a ruthless tease to all those who can’t wait for this franchise to right their wrongs and adopt their old look full time, restoring sanity for good and all. The Exploding Toothpaste Dolphin was a thing, it got as much time as it deserved, and now its time to give it back a helmet and let the Miami Dolphins look like the friggin’ Miami Dolphins again.
- Houston Texans
The Texans are dangerously close to becoming their baseball cousins in Arlington, the Texas Rangers. They’re a red, white, and blue (well, navy blue) team in a sea of teams that wear those colors, their team name of “Texans” doesn’t really mean anything, and their logo is actually respectable considering how head-scratchingly bland their overall identity has always been. And like the Rangers, their only real variation is to include more red alternate uniforms as a substitute for creative development.
And honestly, the Texans can stay right here. They’ve got enough going for them uniform-wise to not risk becoming an embarrassment via a misguided Nike glowup. They are the NFL uniform equivalent of that huge, unread book you’ve been using as a monitor riser for years now. It’s not great, but it gets the job done and you don’t ever have to think about it.
- New England Patriots
The “flying elvis” helmet logo is here forevermore, courtesy of the Brady years, and really that’s not a big deal. It works, and is now associated with incredible success. The rest of the uniform has been simplified drastically of late, and I’m still not sure how much I like it. It’s definitely an improvement over the last few years, but it’s not like this holding pattern is a triumph. Not in the least.
- Baltimore Ravens
There’s a lot of good things the Ravens have had going on over the years, especially a strong color scheme and some good branding choices, but their helmet logo needs a refresher, plus they could stand to do away with the ultra-dated helmet spikes. The Ravens don’t need to go wild, just refine.
- Denver Broncos
The Broncos routinely come up in discussions among logo/uniform nerds as one of those teams that is powerfully overdue to rebrand, but at this point? At this point, the mid-90’s look they have is likely the look they will own for years to come. That doesn’t necessarily make it a great look, but their consistency has proven comforting over many years of watching teams abandon their dignity in the pursuit of shortsighted marketing buzz.
I definitely want the Broncos to change someday, but for the sake of holding steady we may just want them to keep on keepin’ on.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars ruined millions of televisions for years wearing their split-color black and gold gradient helmets and trying all kinds of reckless, stupid shit during the entirety of the 2000s. Their initial look was one of the best in the NFL, and it could have stood the test of time if they simply hadn’t given in to temptation to be a dumbass franchise. When Nike finally gave them perhaps the most required overhaul in sports during the 2018 offseason, it was welcomed with open arms. They were so close to getting things right, and they are a couple elements away from being a top tier look in the league. Their white home numbers NEED a black stroke, and gold should be implemented in small ways elsewhere in the uniform. These are minor changes that should take little to no effort to implement. I hope for them. It’s a fool’s hope.
- Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers kicked themselves in the balls by moving to Los Angeles from San Diego, and as they lay in a heap shaking in pain from their self-inflicted injury, they punched themselves in the crotch again by adopting every possible uniform combination that was within their color scheme’s range. It’s ridiculous. They are SO, so close to cashing in with a tremendous look with an iconic helmet, yet they got greedy and wanted everything all at once. The Chargers used to own navy and gold. They used to own powder blue and yellow. Now they don’t own any of it. And it’s their own fault.
- New Orleans Saints
The Saints are so frustrating. The gold in their pants doesn’t match the numbers or the helmet, but people were generally willing to look past that. Their helmet is basically perfect. Yet you know what happens when the Saints play NFL games? They have, at least for most of the last 20 years, worn black cleats, black socks, black pants, and a black jersey (or white on the road). The gold pants make the look work; it is a vital cog in making the Saints uniform work, but these assholes keep playing in all-black leotards for reasons unknown to science.
Fix the gold, ditch the black pants, and grow up. You should know better.
- Minnesota Vikings
I actually am totally OK with the matte helmet. The black facemask, mismatched number styles, and shiny helmet decals, on the other hand, all need addressed and corrected. Fix this, Minnesota, and you shall be restored properly into your place near the apex of NFL uniformdom.
- San Francisco 49ers
This honestly isn’t the 49ers fault. They should be higher, but Nike’s refusal to restore “Dazzle” material to NFL uniforms has absolutely killed these teams that relied on gold or silver to glisten and sheen. The 49ers, whose entire identity is built around the allure of gold, has been forced to split their uniform up, with a shiny gold helmet over dull brassy pants. It’s a joke. This franchise should arguably be among the top of the NFL, yet here they are treading water because Nike’s so-called limitations take precedent over cementing the branding for a historic and storied franchise.
- Buffalo Bills
Buffalo owed all humans with eyes a major apology for their uniforms during the years of 2002-2013 or so. Their bafflingly hideous rebrand into a navy dumpster fire was an affront to the world of taste, and mercifully in latter years the team has returned to a brighter, more timeless look. They only need minor changes – simplifying their helmet stripe to a single red line and making their uniform stripes match across the board. If they re-adopted the red helmet, I’d also be quite okay with that.
- Cincinnati Bengals
Who else was celebrating last spring when the Bengals revealed their new uniforms after giving themselves the Arizona Cardinals treatment? It was such a welcome breath of fresh air, and they righted many wrongs of the past, but Nike just can’t help themselves. The inclusion of stupid-ass orange socks and “clownfish/Nemo” side panels were intense mishaps that tarnish an otherwise great look. Thankfully those elements can simply be excluded and the remaining uniform is basically perfect. Until then, I must keep them out of the top 10 as punishment for their hubris.
- Indianapolis Colts
Blue. White. Horseshoe. Football. The Colts haven’t had to do anything for decades now, and thankfully they’ve avoided pratfalls, but they recently darkened their blue just a hair and I can’t unsee it. The shift from a vivid bright blue to a drab dull blue makes all the difference, and depending on the lighting, time of day, angle of the sun, etc., the blue looks better or worse, and that kind of unreliable experience sucks. Go back to the Manning/Harrison-era blue, please. That’s all I ask. Otherwise keep up the fine work.
- Cleveland Browns
The Browns would be higher on this list if they made their helmets glossy again. That’s it. That’s all I require. They finally look like the Browns again after the disastrous Manziel rebrand, but the helmet, which is the entire focus of their identity, doesn’t work as well when it’s non-reflective. If they fixed that, the Browns would be in the top 5 easily.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After letting madness run rampant in their previous Jameis Winston era “clock number” era, Nike showed mercy to us all and restored the Bucs to their glory years look, and it is most welcome. The red and pewter look they switched to in the mid-90s is a modern classic that should be graduated into the “untouchable” category now that they’ve added some Brady/Super Bowl legacy to this jersey set.
Welcome back; never leave.
- Las Vegas Raiders
I’m still not used to them being in Vegas. Anyway, the Raiders are going to join the remaining teams on this list as having what are essentially perfect uniforms that should never change, ever. Any of these remaining teams could be number 7; any of them could be number 1, so I’ll sing praises and try to give whatever reasoning I feel relevant to their placement, if any.
My main qualm with the Raiders is that they have a stroke on their road uniform numbers but none on their home jersey, and that’s about it. Otherwise it’s one of THE football looks throughout history. It is legendary. The Autumn wind is a pirate, albeit a half-drunk one that stumbles in from the Vegas strip.
- Dallas Cowboys
There’s just something about the Cowboys that I can’t help but place atop a pillar when it comes to NFL branding. Their simple star logo is perfect, 99% of the time they wear the same uniform every game and have for over 30 years, and the green-tinted pants, which don’t make any sense anymore, are now untouchable. Their numbers are a vivid blue but their pants have navy stripes. It all works. I don’t know why. This is the power of their brand.
They are relegated to this spot mostly due to their atrocious alternate throwbacks they bust out from time to time, primarily on Thanksgivings, which should be put in a closet somewhere and never opened again until the heat death of the universe.
- New York Giants
Fewer teams look better on TV than the Giants (as long as they’re not wearing alternate uniforms). Their bright blue and red profits greatly from gray, but also contrasts perfectly with white. The NY helmet logo requires no further adjustment, especially when compared to the underlined GIANTS helmet decal that they used to employ. They dropped the gray recently, which is a shame, but they still look damned good on gamedays. It’s one of the best looks in football.
- Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs looks has gone virtually unchanged for 50 years. In that time they have had no need for any goofy alternates or stupid gimmicks. The interlocking KC of their helmet does kind of look like a barbeque sauce logo, but other than that, they haven’t touched a thing, and I don’t blame them.
- Chicago Bears
If you’ve gotten this far, you may be shocked to read that the Bears, my favorite sports team, is behind the Packers, who I legitimately hate with all my essence, in a ranking of my own choosing. The Bears have, and I hope this comes off with all objectivity, some of the finest uniforms in all of professional sports. They have historically always looked damned good. Their uniform is timeless, truly.
They are third because:
- the other two teams above them have uniforms that I admire greatly
- they deserve it for unveiling an orange helmet this season
If the team uses the orange helmet beyond this season, they will continue to drop in the rankings, as it is a shameful, disgraceful thing that I simply cannot tolerate.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s a football uniform that looks best when spattered with mud, worn by scowling men whose hands are bleeding a bit from 3 quarters of gridiron combat. Nothing further, your honor.
- Green Bay Packers
Their home uniforms look just as good as the road ones. Their color scheme is perfect. Their helmet and stripes are perfect. Their logo is perfect.
The Green Bay Packers look good in all weather, all situations, all circumstances. If an alien landed and wanted a template to base their football team uniforms on, we’d simply provide them Green Bay Packers photographs.
They have THE football uniform in all of football that all teams should aspire toward.