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Poll: Ugly Stupid Uniforms of the AFC


If you know me, you know I love history in general and sports history in specific and sports uniform history in extra-specific.  When you’re a designer who’s a sports fan it’s kind a natural result.

Also, if you know me, you know that while I’m not super-traditional about uniform design, I think roughly half the uniforms in the NFL are stupid and, in many cases, inferior to their predecessors.  So in an effort to gauge the opinion of  this blog’s enormous readership, I thought we’d start with the first in a series of polls.  Even the ladies and non sports fans are welcome to participate, as it’s purely a question of aesthetics.  Shall we review the candidates?

Buffalo Bills.  Probably at the top of my list due to the, well, everything.  The ill-conceived pairing of navy and royal, the awkwardly outlined color block on the shoulder, the ’80s helmet with a navy stripe that tries to tie it all together… this thing i just a disaster:


Denver Broncos.  I couldn’t stand this one when it came out, but I’ve grown more accustomed to it as time has passed (probably because the colors are somewhat tasteful).  This look has been more or less the same for a little over ten years, and was the first uniform to abandon striping for the unconventional “stripe that tapers to a point and goes off track” design.  Not a fan.


New England Patriots.  Another team (like Buffalo, Philadelphia, and St. Louis) that has taken one of the great, classic designs in sports history and messed with it to the point of total desecration.  Pat Patriot: meet Elvis, the high-cheekboned flying head with multicolored dreadlocks.  The Pats make some kind of uniform change every single season, but they all add up to ugly.  Nothing says manly like shiny silver pants:


Baltimore Ravens.  Hard to believe they’ve been in the league for more than a decade, and an ugly decade it’s been.  Baltimore’s another proponent of the “stripe that’s not really a stripe” motif.  It’s hard to do worse than a purple, gold, and black color scheme, and when you combine it with a goofy number font and quadruple drop-shadows, it tends to look like an arena football team design.  Thursday nights are half-price!


Cincinnati Bengals.  What Adam Sandler movie are we filming?


Houston Texans.  Pretty boring except when they’re wearing this snazzy red-on-red number, but this uniform’s ugliness lies in its mediocrity.  Nice helmet logo, but a woefully generic modern jersey design.


Jacksonville Jaguars.  You didn’t think I was going to forget this nightmare, did you?  At one point they actually considered a gold and black jaguar-spotted helmet, but then figured they could make their players look just as idiotic by making them wear teal.  And as if teal weren’t bad enough, they threw gold and black in there just to make sure no one in their right mind would buy their merchandise.  Blanche Devereaux, eat your heart out:


Whose uniforms are the worst?  Cast your vote now.  The winner will get nothing and like it.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Luther Broughton permalink
    09/27/2009 9:35 pm

    I’m gonna have to agree with you on most of these, especially the Broncos… Now if you are going to bash the Broncos, thrn u must check out the new Vikings with that “stripe that tapers to a point and goes off track”….
    Please consider the Panthers also…. I HATE the ‘pussy’ blue and the tapered stripe.. They should dump that blue!

    • mcliatt permalink*
      09/28/2009 6:16 pm

      Vikes and Panthers will both make it into next week’s poll: “Ugly Stupid Uniforms of the NFC.” Then, after a few weeks (during which hopefully a few more people vote) we can have an “Ugly Stupid Uniforms of the NFL” poll, where we pit the Seahawks and Panthers against the Jaguars and Bills.

      Panthers could stand to ditch the blue, but I think I dislike the design more than the color. At least it’s not as bad as Jacksonville!

  2. 09/28/2009 1:58 am

    a) I agree on the Bills 100%. I went nuts when they simply made the buffalo start charging back in 1975 or so. The throwback they have is a beautiful sight. b)The Bengals have grown on me as well, and really don’t bother me, especially with Halloween around the corner. c) Broncos helmet annoys me beyond belief with the orange pointed thing that starts in back – what is it???!! Helmet side logo ok, the rest a mess, and they should be “put down” for starting the obnoxious stripy arch thingy you describe on the pants that lead to the point…disgusting. d) Don’t mind Elvis and the Patriots as much as I guess their winning has made me less critical, yet I cannot forgive them for leaving Pat the HIKER – the best logo EVER – to change to anything at all. e) I still consider the Ravens an expansion team even though they have won a Super Bowl, and agree 100% on the Arena Football comment – I do like the “coat of arms” patch though.
    f) The Jags don’t bother me so much and I like the running jag patch on each sleeve – would have loved to see the spotted helmet! g) Last, and YES, LEAST favorite are the Texans. They ruin a perfectly cool helmet with the worst generic
    jersey’s imaginable. DULL, DULL, DULL. A couple of thick stripes white/blue/white ala the old Boston Patriots and you have an ass kicker. Give us your top FAVORITE next Miles!

    • mcliatt permalink*
      09/28/2009 6:39 pm

      a) The Bills throwback is one of the coolest uniforms ever. It is 100% better than that monstrosity they normally wear.

      b) The Bengals’ idea in general is okay with me. I loved the Ickey Woods era uniform. But the current version with the goofy looking shoulders and weirdly shaped body panels is just too strange.

      c) I forget about their helmet pointy thing. Either make a whole stripe or get rid of the thing! I forgot that the Panthers actually had the “not quite a stripe” thing on their helmet first, but at least it tapers at the back of the helmet instead of the front. I actually like the Broncos’ number font, just not on a football jersey.

      d) Patriots get a pass from people because they’re always good, but that uniform is horrible. Horrible! The numbers, the red facemask on a silver helmet, Elvis on the helmet, Elvis on the sleeve. They never should have changed one thing.

      e) I still consider the Ravens the Browns, and that trophy should be in Cleveland. No offense to the well-deserving people of Baltimore. The patch is okay, and I don’t even mind the purple, but yeesh.

      f) The Jags’ redesign for this year (not shown) has less gold (maybe none at all) on the jersey, but it’s still ugly. And I think they got rid of the Jaguar on the sleeve. The uniform I showed above is really only ugly and stupid on account of the color scheme. Otherwise it’s not bad. This, apparently, is a Photoshop job depicting the spotted helmet idea that never got off the ground: Also, their helmet now has some kind of shiny metallic finish to it: I think they’re trying too hard.

      And g) The Texans’ unis are boring, but not the worst for me. Nothing stands out enough to be offensive, they’re just, as you say, dull.

      I will have a favorites poll down the road, don’t worry! I’m not being negative, I just want to get opinions.

  3. Clarke Scott permalink
    09/28/2009 7:50 pm

    1) I actually really like the Blue on Blue of the Bills’ uniforms. I don’t like the uniform design but the colors are cool. If they went with a more simplified classic design I think that scheme would work. (Yes, the throwback Bills uniforms are awesome. Very awesome)

    It seems that a couple of these examples are teams that have tried to keep a retro/classic inspired design with a modern color scheme. The Ravens, Jags and even Panthers have really nice designs in and of themselves. The Ravens are the most Arena league and I’m afraid the Jaquars can get a little loco sometimes. If the Ravens toned down the number font and removed the B logo from the pant stripes, i think they’d be pretty cool. I also think that the Jags teal works but only in a very conservative uni design.

    People have brought up the Panther’s blue. I agree that it needs to be tweaked. I know they can’t make it Carolina blue b/c its too much like UNC but right now it is too “electric” or too much cyan. It isn’t classy. It’s like they should be the Myrtle Beach Panthers.

    Hate the Bengals. I don’t know how anybody thought that was a good idea. I”m impressed that they had the courage to say “Hey, we have a crazy helmet design. Let’s go nuts and put tiger stripes everywhere.” But, someone has to realize that it is not working. The experiment is over. If you’re going to keep the helmet, tone down the uni. Crazy helmet + Crazy Uni = Crazy Bad.

  4. Willie Echo permalink
    09/28/2009 7:51 pm

    Living here in New England as a transplanted NYer, I have to agree that the Patriots get a free pass on a lot of things. Especially the uniform. It is god-awful. With the John Kerry-likeness logo on the helmet (long miserable face) and the silver ice capades- pants, this is by far the worst uniform in football.

    The only saving grace is the blue jersey. Even that is not quite up to standards with all those NASCAR -like stripes on the sleeves and once again we see the Kerry-faced logo.

    Hey New England, you had best back in the day (Pat the hiker). Why not go back to it for more than a game or two? What have you got to lose?

    Maybe they are still taumatzed by the ass-whoopin they took in that uniform back in the Super Bowl vs the Bears in 1986….

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