One of the best sports traditions, in my opinion, is the tradition of a team wearing throwback uniforms for special occasions. This trend is most prevalent in Major League Baseball and the National Football League, and has especially become common in the Color Rush era of the NFL.
For as long as I’ve been a sports fan (basically from day one), I’ve always had an affinity for unique uniform looks in sports. Whenever I play Madden or NBA 2K, I take a good extra five minutes to find the perfect uniform combination for my team. Whenever they first introduced the NFL Color Rush uniforms, I was like a kid on Christmas morning.
In other words, I’ve always geeked out over cool-looking throwback unis, so here’s my list of the best- and worst-looking NFL throwback uniforms. This list is based on nothing more than my opinion and is open to debate. Let me know in the comments which ones are your favorite, or if you feel that I left anyone out.
5. Green Bay Packers 1929 Throwbacks
Maybe if I were alive in the 1920s I would have liked the whole circle-around-the-numbers thing. But I wasn’t, and I hate it. Perhaps the most horrendous part of this uniform is the combination of tan pants, blue uniforms, and brown helmets. I may be partially colorblind, but I know that that is one ugly combination.
4. Denver Broncos 1960 Throwbacks
Wow. These are bad. The Broncos wore these hideous brown and yellow uniforms in their inaugural season in 1960, when they were one of eight charter teams in the American Football League. They brought this look back in 2009 and 2010 to commemorate the team’s 50th anniversary, then quickly disposed of them. I think the worst part of these uniforms are the vertically striped brown and yellow socks.
3. Green Bay Packers 1937-1949 Throwbacks
No Pack No. The Packers just did not have a good luck in the 1930s and 40s. Again, tan pants just should not be part of a football uniform. Green Bay wore these unis from 1937 to 1949, and they brought this throwback look back in 2015.
2. Philadelphia Eagles Frankford Yellow Jackets Throwbacks
It hurts my eyes to look at these. This light blue and yellow combo was worn by the Frankford Yellow Jackets, Philadelphia’s NFL franchise from 1924 to 1931. The Yellow Jackets would be suspended in 1931, and the franchise would be sold and renamed to the Eagles in 1933. The Eagles wore these uniforms in one game in 2007, and have not brought them back since. Here’s to hoping that they burned them all.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers 1934 Bumblebee Throwbacks
This uniform looks like what a bumblebee would wear in prison. So much over-stimulation. Where do I even start? The stripes? The numbers in white boxes? The tan pants? (Can you tell I really hate tan pants?) Or how about the fact that they wear their modern-day helmets with these? I get it, obviously they can’t wear those thin leather helmets that wouldn’t protect your head from a pebble… but still. These are just bad.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions 1930s Thanksgiving Throwbacks
Go ahead, call me a homer, but I’ve got to show my Lions some love here. The Lions, who play every Thanksgiving, have always broken out the classic, plain uniforms that they wore back in the ’30s, and I love the clean, crisp simplicity of these modern throwbacks. Sure, they might be boring and underwhelming, but so are the Lions most days. And there’s nothing better to me than seeing Golden Tate pull down a deep pass from Matthew Stafford in the corner of the end zone while wearing these fresh throwbacks.
5. Denver Broncos 1968-1996 Color Rush Throwbacks
I know, that’s a lot of orange. This Color Rush combo is a tribute to the look of the 1968-1996 Broncos. Personally, I think they would look better with white pants, like the uniforms of the John Elway era, but I still think these are sweet. Denver’s current uniforms are in need of an upgrade, and I think a lot of Broncos fans would be happy to see this color scheme and these uniforms brought back as the team’s primary threads.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers 1962 Color Rush Throwbacks
Similar to the aforementioned Broncos Color Rush unis, these Steelers uniforms are a tribute to the team’s 1962 home uniform. The original uniforms featured a yellow helmet- which looks fantastic, by the way- and white pants, but I love this all-black combo. The Steelers have another similar jersey that features white block letters, but I think the all-black-and-yellow combination is the team’s best. Worlds ahead of those stupid bumblebee uniforms, if you ask me.
3. San Francisco 49ers 1994 & 1955 Throwbacks
These. Are. Fresh. I’m a sucker for simple, all-white uniforms, and these ones are perfect. It’s hard to make the drop shadow numbers look good, but the Niners nailed it with these. These Color Rush editions are technically throwbacks of throwbacks; They were originally worn by San Fran in 1955, but the team wore them again in their 1994 Super Bowl-winning season. There was no question that these would be in my top three favorite uniforms. I’m not even a Niners fan, but I’d totally wear one.
2. New Orleans Saints Color Rush Throwbacks
Like I said, I love the simple, all-white look. I’d be fine if the Saints wore these for every game. Really the only “throwback” aspect of these Color Rush uniforms is the resurrection of the “Old Gold” coloring, which the team abandoned before the 2000 season. That numeric font in Old Gold on the crisp white background, mixed with the subtle black and Old Gold striping, gives the Saints the perfect mix of modern and classic. The only thing that would make this uniform better is if the Saints introduced an Old Gold helmet to match.
1. Los Angeles Rams 1973-1999 Throwbacks
There’s little doubt that these are the most popular throwback uniforms in the league right now. This could be due, in part, to the recent success of the Los Angeles Rams, just look at these uniforms. Blue and yellow showed up quite a bit in my list of worst throwback uniforms, but the Rams got it right with these. The Rams sported this look from 1973 to 1999, but it has become so popular among Rams fans that L.A. announced that they would wear these throwbacks for five home games in 2018 and even more in 2019. The subtle ram horn sleeve design makes the jersey unique, the numeric font is perfect, and the pants compliment the jerseys perfectly. I can’t say enough how much I love these uniforms. Fans love the look so much that they want the Rams to officially adopt these as the team’s new primary look.