The Ugliest Uniforms in Sports History
by Ryan Papaserge | St. Bonaventure University
Fashion faux pas aren’t just reserved for the fashion world. Though the sports world may seem to function outside the domain of fashion trends and critiques, athletic uniforms are far from immune to criticism, oftentimes rightly so. With the colors, styles, and logos a team wears often worn by fans across the country and around the world, uniforms are actually a crucial element in a team’s marketability.
While there are many winning looks that have withstood the test of the time (see: Yankee pinstripes), sports fans have withstood their fair share of uniforms that were or at least should have been flushed down the proverbial toilet. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 20 of the ugliest uniforms of all time.
This list is restricted to the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS and college football and basketball. Throwbacks are not included on this list – great uniforms from back in the day don’t necessarily translate to 2011.
Buffalo Bills (2002-2010)
Being a native of Jamestown, N.Y. (about an hour and 15 minutes away), I was treated to this ghastly design for the majority of my teenage years. The navy blue is fine, but the blue lining – a callback to the previous uniform’s look – just throws everything out of whack. It’s also way too monochromatic with the navy blue pants. Thankfully, the alternate uniform released in 2007 happened to be the best uniform in the league, so much so that the Bills essentially used the design to update their look for the current season.
Chicago Bears (2006-2009)
The “Monsters of the Midway” have had one of the classic looks in the National Football League, essentially wearing the same uniform with some minor tweaks for decades. That being said, the orange alternate introduced in 2006 seems like an obvious cash grab. While it looks fine in the design posted above, the third jersey looked ridiculous on the field.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Unused)
It’s probably a good thing the Jaguars decided to go in a different direction before taking the field for the 1995 season…
Miami Marlins (2012)
This alternate uniform hasn’t even been used in game action yet, but it’s completely alright to hate it. Just an obnoxious amount of orange all around, from the cap to the ugly, ugly jersey.
Seattle Seahawks (2009-present)
Are you noticing a trend here? Most of these uniforms are alternates and this one is no exception. Who decided that lime green was the best choice for a uniform base? Even though it’s part of the Seahawks’ logo, it really looks out of touch in comparison with the mostly subdued look the team normally goes for.
Tampa Bay Lightning (2008-09)
This is one of the those awkward situations when the promotions department is working way too hard to get a nickname out there that no one really seems to care about, as the “Bolts” branding for this NHL team only lasted one season. The third version of it that came out subsequently was not much better.
Detroit Tigers (1995)
This alternate uniform is incredibly bland, something that a Little League team would wear.
Minnesota Twins (1997)
Yet another misadventure in alternate uniforms. Before deciding on one of the better alternates in Major League Baseball with a navy-blue look, the Twins went all-red for a season. Very, very bad idea.
Toronto Blue Jays (2004-2011)
One of the great questions of the universe: Why did the Toronto Blue Jays switch to using black uniforms like this for several seasons? It’s a good thing the traditional blue uniforms are coming back for the 2012 season.
Atlanta Braves (2005)
This uniform is a bit of a mess. Red being the primary color in this case isn’t a great idea, as the navy blue font comes off as very hard to read.
Washington Nationals (2010-11)
There isn’t a ton to complain about with this uniform – in fact, it does look fairly sharp. On the other hand, take a look at the logo on the jersey (“DC” for the 2010 season, the regular logo for the 2011 campaign). It’s pretty hard to make it out with the U.S. flag pattern in the background.
Charlotte Bobcats (Unused)
These uniforms were initially considered by Bobcats management before entering the NBA for the 2004-05 season. There’s a reason why they were all rejected.
Dallas Mavericks (2003-04)
I can’t imagine how awful these looked on the court. Ridiculously shiny to the point of temporary blindness.
Dallas Mavericks (2004/05-2008/09)
These uniforms were supposedly designed by Sean Combs, most recently known as “Diddy.” Since there’s no green in the Mavericks’ logo or uniform, I’d love to know why it suddenly became so prominent here.
Detroit Pistons (1995/96-2000/01)
Nothing says “tradition” like ditching the blue and red you wore for decades in favor of a logo which features a ridiculous cartoon horse and a horrible color scheme.
Houston Rockets (1995/96-2002/03)
Another bizarre NBA uniform from the late-1990s. There should be a rule banning cartoon-esque logos, even if the pinstripes look pretty cool.
Milwaukee Bucks (1995/96-1998/99)
Two words: Oh, “deer.”
Philadelphia 76ers (1991/92-1993/94)
The Sixers had a pretty nice look before this. Adding emphasis to “Sixers” with stars and a drop shadow isn’t going to work.
Sacramento Kings (1994/95-1996/97)
Wow. Just wow.
Toronto Raptors (1995/96-1998/99)
Horrendous. It’s amazing this uniform lasted for more than one season.