As I’ve made apparent in my last post ranking football uniforms, I quite like looking at colorful clothing made for sports gladiators. The vivid display of war paint to signify the identity of each team is something I find very inspiring. What better way to show my appreciation for my NFL obsession than to pick out the best colors the league has had to offer?
I labeled this as “2019 Edition” because the NFL is always changing. New uniforms seem to be added every year, whether as a celebratory throwback or some modern re-design done to
sell more jerseys re-establish a team’s history. Who knows what history has in store, and I may change my mind later down the line! I even struggled to get to ten for this list, so I’m not as settled here as I could be. As for any qualifications, there’s nothing to consider here. If it was worn in an NFL game, it qualifies. With that, let’s get ready to watch some football (uniforms)!
#10 – Post-2011 Seahawks Home Uniform
Many talking football heads consider this among the most successful uniform re-designs since NFL partnered with Nike to supply their uniforms in 2012. Considering the old look of the Seahawks’ uniform, this was kind of an easy task, but they went above and beyond here. I agree wholeheartedly with my unnamed football heads.
The dark blue as a base could’ve provided all sorts of different disastrous situations, yet the designers had the initiative to only highlight the base color. The bright green only shimmering in the ocean of blue gives it a great pop that would make Bob Ross proud. Even the number plates consist of little shapes that mold into a gray field of different patterns and directions, which is still unique to the NFL.
I think the (and I may use this term often) uniformity of the uniforms is what’s most appealing about the re-design. It really doesn’t try to do too much, as a large majority of the uniform is just the same shade of blue. Only the shoulderplates and markings down the legs offer an escape from the blue canvas, working together to paint a picture of the team’s strange color combination. I realize Seattle is called the Emerald City, but really.
#9 – Ravens Home Uniform + Black Pants
As a hint/spoiler for the rest of the list to come, I like black/darker colors on uniforms. This is the first example of many.
More than the black, however, is the shade of purple. Only two teams in the NFL—Ravens and Vikings—incorporate purple as a major color to their uniforms, and that is a horrible shame. Purple is an awesome color that deserves more love in the football world. The Ravens have gotten the formula down to having it look great.
For any literature buffs out there, the Baltimore Ravens’ identity is likely an homage to Edgar Allan Poe, who resided in Baltimore and made a career of penning Gothic tales, including The Raven. When I think of this tidbit and look at the team’s uniform, I can’t help but feel an added sense of appreciation to its gloomy, almost intimidating darkness.
While I also like the uniform with the white pants, I prefer the balance of black + purple + black that fits the darker bill that I associate with the team. The subtle golden color surrounding the number font and logo also looks great. And while this has little to do with what I’ve spoken on up to this point, I really like the Baltimore flag adorned on the shoulders. I always found it really fun to look at, with all sorts of details happening to create an image of complicated machinery.
#8 – 49ers Home Uniform
Some say that a uniform needs to be involved in key parts of NFL lore in order to gain prominence. During the 1980’s (and part of the ’90s), no team was more glamorous than the San Francisco 49ers. Up until Tom Brady won his eightieth Super Bowl, Joe Montana was considered the greatest quarterback of all time, dawning that iconic red and gold. Red happens to be among my favorite colors.
The current 49ers uniform is among the more simple, some would say “standard,” uniform designs in the NFL. Two base colors, a double-stripe down the legs and helmet, no number outlines or anything frivolous. Just a whole lot of red and gold, highlighted by some white. Why change it? It looks phenomenal, and continues to carry fond memories of when the team was at the top of the world.
As a lover of history, I watch a lot of NFL Films and NFL Throwback, so my knowledge of 49ers highlights during the ’80s and ’90s are crammed full. There is something admittedly magical seeing that consistency of greatness come from a single team, a single uniform, time and time again. The comeback against the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, “The Catch” game, destroying the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX; all drenched in that symbolic red that my eye is always drawn to. I like the uniform on its own, but the history of its accomplishments provides more sentimental value.
#7 – Chargers Post-2018(?) Powder Blue Uniform
The Los Angeles Chargers have not even worn these uniforms in an actual game yet, and it’s already among my favorite uniforms I’ve ever seen. Their original powder blue uniforms were already really good, but one key change makes all the difference: the yellow facemask.
I don’t know what it is, but that yellow facemask was an astoundingly smart decision that brings the entire flair of the uniform to new heights. The lightning bolt symbol for the team feels all the more appropriate, as the yellow gives an electrifying jolt of color. Like a few others on this list, the design isn’t too complicated, but does enough to highlight the colors provided to offer a balance of energy that makes the team feel dangerous, even if they really aren’t.
And it just looks like California, doesn’t it? Please excuse this statement, non-American readers, as it would not make much sense to you. But for fellow Americans, doesn’t it just scream “California”? The coolness factor, and the beautiful blue that invokes a fondness of nature, notably the hue of the brightened sky or the thrill of the waves. It suits the location of the team amazingly well. I wanna go surfing now.
#6 – Saints Home Uniform + Black Pants
What do I like more than red and gold? Black and gold. Right after gushing about the beauty of the powder blue and the California-esque groove of the Chargers’ uniforms, I’m back to my penchant for dark, emo aesthetic with the Saints. But it has to be with the black pants! Gold pants are nice, but I like black, black, and more black.
This is an example of a uniform that just looks really good to me. There’s no real significant sentimental value to these uniforms for me (except perhaps that I like Drew Brees), nor does it have a lot of historic staying power. (The Saints have historically been very bad.) More than anything, I just really like black, and the gold makes for a really nice highlight to give some breathing room from the dark void. Not much else to it.
One small thing I will note, however, is that the team kind of plays around with the color of their collar, sometimes going full-on gold and sometimes cutting off the bottom portion for more black. It’s a tiny detail, but I prefer it with more black, as, again, I like the gold as a highlight and not as a main component. The helmet, which is my least favorite part, serves as a control tower to reel in the majority of the black in favor of a bright viewing point. At the very least, the facemask isn’t gold.
(Quick aside, the recent Saints all-white throwback uniforms are also really nice and makes my love for the black almost moot.)
#5 – Giants Home Uniform
A similar case with the 49ers’ home uniform, the Giants are a team that has worn the same iteration of their blue jersey for almost its entire existence. The design has stood the test of time and is a uniform I hope they will never change, because it is aesthetically orgasmic.
As other uniforms have shown (by my taste), complexity is almost never crucial to a successful design. It all comes from focused simplicity with the occasional highlight. The Giants’ uniform exudes this philosophy, with only a little red adorning the otherwise majority blue-white attire. And said red gives it such a boost in personality that I can’t even explain why it does. I love that little touch of red, and I love that it isn’t splashed all over (the red-uni alternates are… eh).
As evidenced by its longevity, the Giants have had a history of great moments wearing these uniforms, as well. However, my memories often think of them in their away uniforms, most notably in their two Super Bowl wins under Eli Manning against the Patriots. And while I will always enjoy the red numbers on top of the white jersey, there’s just something about the white numbers washed in deep blue waters that give the Giants that signature bravado. The way it mends into the helmet also gives me the pleasure of uniformity.
#4 – Bengals Home Uniform + Black Pants
Alright, Kapodaco, we get it! You like black pants! Just stop it already!
Black pants, indeed, as the signature identity of the bengal tiger would be all the more extravagant if the animal were black with orange stripes as opposed to the alternative. Probably. I’d have to see that.
As stated before, I really like black on a football uniform. Something I’ve discovered in my glory days of making the perfect team on Madden 11 (EA, if you’re reading this, bring back this feature and I will buy your new game) is that I really like orange. Paired with black, it might be my favorite color combination ever (but the selection is nearly endless). Like with purple, orange is a very underrepresented color in the NFL, with only the Browns, Bengals (ironic if you know NFL history), and Broncos (and at one point Buccaneers) sporting the colors in a major fashion. (Not counting the Bears’ or Dolphins’ orange uni alternates.)
Enough with history, though, the Bengals’ current home uniform is another that many football talking heads consider a great re-design for the team’s identity, and I (again) wholeheartedly agree! Their uniforms were part of the reason I was drawn to the team when I first got into the NFL in 2011, as I was dazzled by the lovely orange and black display. A rare display of experimentation that works wonderfully. Stripes wherever possible and a sleek black body with decent bursts of white and orange. It’s a wonderful outfit for men nearly as fast as tigers.
#3 – Browns Pre-2015 Away Uniform + White Pants
Ha! It doesn’t always have to be black pants! (The Browns don’t wear black.)
There are actually a decent collection of all-white uniforms I like more than the colorful alternatives in NFL lore. I prefer the Jets’ all-white uniforms (prior to 2019), I’m torn on the Colts’ two major uniforms, and the Saints’ new all-white throwback (linked above) is one I find better than their traditional gold pants away uniform. When an all-white uniform is done correctly, I like it nearly as much as I traditionally like all-black uniforms. Enter the “Heyday of the Browns” era.
Right now, the Cleveland Browns are kind of a joke in the NFL (though the 2018 has gotten some hopeful). They’ve had a million losing seasons since their resurrection in 1999, and their struggles with finding a franchise quarterback are as pathetic as the Jaguars’ attempts in the last fifteen years. But when the Browns entered the NFL in 1950, they were that era’s current New England Patriots. They dominated every year throughout the ’50s. They were in the Championship Game seemingly every time. Whenever I saw that team in those grainy old videos, they were in all-white uniforms. That image stuck with me.
Now as perennial losers, most laugh at the team’s ineptitude, but I hope they can become once again. Each team deserves some time to shine. Seeing the (old) white uniforms is like seeing the ghost of glory’s past, climbing and struggling to return to prominence. More than its aesthetic value (which is still wonderful), it’s a symbol of the Browns’ once-proud history of domination and innovation. It’s timeless, and something I was devastated to see them replace. Whatever the Browns change their uniforms to next, it’ll be immensely difficult to top what I consider the third-best NFL uniform of all time.
#2 – Dolphins Home Throwback Uniform
If you’ve read up to this point, you may have noticed a few key qualities to what makes for a great uniform in my mind. A little history, a little sentimental value via nostalgia, a great assortment of colors and subtle highlights, etc. Anyone with a basic knowledge of the NFL could probably predict what I’m going to say for these uniforms, but I’ll go ahead and explain in full detail.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to achieve perfection. Going 17-0 in that season, they were not beaten a single time. No other NFL team has done that since—the closest was the 2007 Patriots. The head coach of that team was Don Shula, who loved the traditional aspect of football through the run-first offense and great defense. To some extent, I think the design of the uniform embodied similar preferences, with only three distinct colors and a large heaping of aqua green (or blue?). The Dolphins’ recent throwback uniform to pay tribute to those days is a beautiful concoction of old and new, one that I think cannot be beaten.
It screams “Florida.” It screams “Dolphins.” It screams “NFL history” and “Perfection.” It takes everything I provided as compliments for other uniforms and molds them all into a singular, perfected formula. The colors are perfectly blended, amazingly symbolic of the team and city it plays for, and it just looks awesome. The way it pops is a rare feat for any football uniform, even outside the NFL. The way they brought it all together with the modern touch-ups just gives way to all sorts of appreciative oozing. It would absolutely be my favorite NFL uniform, if not for one bold contender.
#1 – Titans Pre-2018 Navy Home Uniform + White Pants
The Titans? What the hell? Why is this here, and number one no less?! You have historic, classic uniforms like the throwback Dolphins unis, Browns all-white unis, and the 49ers home gear and you decide to put one of a thousand Titans home jersey variations as the number one spot?!?!
Yeah. Because it’s fucking great.
There is no sentimental value or historical significance to these uniforms (except perhaps “The Music City Miracle”), and it doesn’t really feel like an extension of Nashville or Tennessee as a whole. All we have here is a case of everything coming together in a “All the planets align and shoot a ray of light into my brain to make me fall in love with the design” situation. No matter how insignificant they may be in the eyes of the typical (or diehard) NFL fan, I absolutely love these uniforms more than any other. Looking at them brings me aesthetic bliss and I’m really pissed that the organization replaced them with garbage.
I think more than anything, it’s the colors. That navy blue combined with the sky blue, similar to the Chargers’ powder blue, is such an amazing, awesome color combination that even the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL pull it off well. It abides by my “simple with highlights” fashion philosophy with the line down the legs and sleek sky blue down the shoulders, and I think the Titans’ logo looks awesome on the clear, white helmets; matches well with the pants, too. It just works for me. It’s almost a natural occurrence. That’s why it’s my favorite NFL uniform.
What are some of your favorite NFL uniforms? What do you think of my selection?
For more Top 10’s on this subject, be sure to check out the associated archive.
Thank you for reading. Have a great day.