It doesn’t matter how you look when you win, right? Wrong.
Teams who historically succeed are much slower to change their jersey design.
Just ask the New York Yankees, whose pinstripes have set the bar in baseball, both in fashion and World Series titles. Be it the Montreal Canadiens (24 Stanley Cups), Boston Celtics (17 NBA Titles), or Los Angeles Lakers (16 NBA Titles), the greats have winning embroidered into their uniform. Literally.
Heading into 2020, the Rams have already made a splash with a new uniform design, the litmus test for a franchise struggling to make waves. Did the Bucs change their jersey after they won Super Bowl XXVII? Or did they change it when they went 4-12?
Today we take a look around the league to gauge the best and worst fashion of the upcoming 2020 season.
If you want to be a champion, you have to look the part.
TIER 7: Goodwill’s Leftovers
Whoever designed these uniforms actively hates the players, the fanbases, and themselves.
A great place to start would be a mascot redesign. Until Dan Snyder changes his mind, these guys will be dead last for looks.
31) New York Jets
The Jets looked like they were a failed ROTC uniform, so they tried again and nailed the Madden Custom Team look. The simple color scheme should pair with a simple design (see 2019 Falcons Alternates), but they tried too hard and it shows. You would think New York City would try and look more presentable.
30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sometimes winning makes a team look good. Take, for example, the Seahawks; the teal/gray combo rocked by Shaun Alexander was a laughingstock, but Russell Wilson slings a few touchdowns and gets a few rings, then BAM. Elite jersey. The Bucs? Not the case. Even winning a Super Bowl did little to mask this nightmare of a uniform. The color scheme is horrendous, but at least they are going back to the more classic look for 2020.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars
Another color scheme failure was only made worse by a gradient helmet until some intern finally talked some sense into the team’s equipment manager. Gold and aquamarine don’t look great, and being a dumpster fire of a franchise certainly doesn’t help the design.
Tier 6: The Losers
Is it just that they can’t win? Or is it something in the look?
28) Atlanta Falcons
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? A GRADIENT JERSEY? Atlanta literally had one of the league’s best looks with the red/black/white color scheme, a killer logo on the helmet, and a fantastic alternate. They dumped all that for a luggage tag designed by a 2004 Microsoft PowerPoint slide. Hideous.
27) Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are doing a slow-burn version of the Falcons’ 2020 redesign. Over the years they have tried to reimagine their look since the Greatest Show on Turf, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Now they have a sponsorship tag as a team name stitched on their heart, and an off-white alternate with on-white shoulder stripes. Worse yet, the font has some weird loopy lines in the numbers for absolutely no reason other than maybe to throw off the opposing designer.
26) Cincinnati Bengals
When Chad Johnson was ripping balls out of the air in tiger stripes, it might have worked. A team without promise for many years finally has just that in Joe Burrow, and the LSU product is already fourth among all NFL players in jersey sales. If his spark off the field translates to winning games, Cincinnati could dethrone Tiger King’s monopoly on the look.
25) Tennessee Titans
A year ago they would have been even lower, but then Derrick Henry flipped off Bill Belichik and now I don’t know what to think. If Ryan Tannehill can keep this team a contender, maybe the look will grow on all of us. Until then? Pass.
Tier 5: The Gym Shirts
You haven’t given them away yet — you just wear them to work out anyway.
24) Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are not bad. Red and yellow just should never go together like that. Winning a Super Bowl with the hottest name in the League certainly helps tie the look to success, and they certainly did great considering the colors, but those two were never meant to be. A failed marriage from the start, if ever there was one.
23) Detroit Lions
The Lions’ uniform is like having couscous with dinner — who cares? No nutritional value, no flavor, no nothing. It’s like at 4:55pm on a Friday someone was like, “oh god we never did those jerseys! Can someone just, uh, throw something together?” and they all still made it to happy hour on time.
22) New York Giants
There is an argument to be made for this uniform. It has stood the test of time, it is simple, and it is classic. The grey pants and solid uniform without any borders on the text are almost too simple. Much like in their games, the Giants leave more to be desired.
21) Arizona Cardinals
Until I saw Kyler Murray rocking the visor with this jersey, they were an afterthought.
Tier 4: Vanilla Ice Cream
Sure, it’s sweet, but you could also get a Choco Taco.
20) Miami Dolphins
The Heat’s Miami Vice is everything the Dolphins could be, but this look does little to inspire fear. They are definitely classic and have some strong features (double-bar on the shoulder, great text outline, helmet stripe), but the aquamarine and orange ultimately disappoint.
19) Denver Broncos
At least the Dolphins knew to keep orange the secondary color. The Broncos would be way lower on the list if they hadn’t won a bunch of games, but here we are. Too many people like the blue/orange for them to fall lower, but the font does the uniform no favors. If they continue playing poorly, they could end up a gym shirt real quick.
18) Minnesota Vikings
When they’re not losing 38-7, the Vikings are still trying to make this look work. The font’s got a weird squiggle to it that’s two nonsensical redesigns away from Wing Dings. Minnesota also dropped the ball on the color rush, pairing purple and gold as if they were orange juice and milk. The home jerseys are pretty strong, though changing the old font would still elevate them to the next level.
17) Baltimore Ravens
Purple and black is actually a great combination. When Mark Ingram throws in a visor? Brilliant. The Maryland flag is doing everything in its power to bring this look down to earth to no avail. The oddly gothic font seems a bit overzealous for a bunch of grown men playing a game, but maybe that’s overthinking it.
16) Cleveland Browns
HERE ME OUT. These jerseys look like fossils from the days of leather helmets brought back to life. They have such an old, antique look that they cannot be ignored. Had Cleveland kept the 2019 look, the Browns might be closer to dead last, but this season’s redesign does a great job of paying homage to the likes of Jim Brown.
15) Los Angeles Chargers
Finally the best football team in Los Angeles at something. The Chargers overhauled their kit this season, and it takes a lot of liberties. Normally simplicity wins out (i.e. the Browns), but each detail works to the benefit of the whole look, so credit is due. It could be an all-timer if they can get a title.
Tier 3: The Wild Cards
They’re competitive but rarely make a deep playoff run.
14) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are not toeing the line of over-simplicity with this look, they are the line. Making the bold choice to only feature two colors, they actually nail it. The ceiling on these jerseys is pretty low considering there is essentially nothing going on, but the floor is 19th best in the league, so that’s nice.
13) Philadelphia Eagles
The birds are on their fourth jersey in franchise history (not counting minor changes), and it is definitely the worst. Midnight Green means two different things to Reebok and Nike, apparently, because the new look is nothing like that of the Dawkins days. The wing on the helmet and some nice throwbacks (Kelly Green, Blue, and Yellow) makes the overall kit quite strong, but their new shading hurt the design’s rating.
12) New England Patriots
Remember that thing about winning makes uniforms look good? The Patriots have a fine uniform. It is certainly elevated by complete and utter domination over the last 15 years. Without Belichick and Brady, this kit is likely irrelevant among NFL jerseys.
11) Houston Texans
From Home to Alternative, each look is sleek, simple, and dominant. The font is a great risk, the logo on the helmet adds a ton, and they didn’t try anything over the top like red pants. They took what the Chargers tried this year and did it better, first.
10) Buffalo Bills
This might be crazy, but the Bills have the best uniform in their division. Red, white, and blue is a strong color scheme for anyone to work with, but they stole the Bears’ shoulder design while rocking a western font with “Bills” across the chest. Considering their logo is a literal bison, they did a great job.
Tier 2a: The Classics
Win enough and you make the rules.
9) San Francisco 49ers
Personally speaking, not a great look. However, the 49ers jersey has set the bar for so long, outlasting countless other uniforms with little to no alteration. That counts for something.
8) Dallas Cowboys
Love them or hate them, the Cowboys got it right. The silver-ish pants, the alternates, the star, it’s all so recognizable. Truly the Yankees cap of football.
7) New Orleans Saints
They can’t rewrite history and dream of beating the Vikings in the 2017 NFC Championship, but they can design a great jersey. Like the 49ers and Cowboys, their uniform hasn’t changed at all, and the black and gold inspires fears in opponents. The icing on the cake: it looks great on fans.
Tier 2b: The Newbies
You don’t have to win to look good. Sometimes it just takes a good wardrobe.
6) Carolina Panthers
Maybe it’s because they got good, but this set for the Panthers has really aged well. The sharp blue contrasting the mute black and grey accents for a great look. Even the Panther logo looks great, and the shoulder stripes are second only to the Bears. They are definitely slept on, but the Panthers quietly have one of the league’s best uniforms.
5) Seattle Seahawks
The new Seahawks look was lucky enough to brand itself at the same time as the rise of Russell Wilson. Their jersey adds some flare the others lack, risking deviation from simplicity and succeeding. The logo is a killer, but the color rush is… interesting. Preferences for it go, either way, knocking the full kit down a few notches. Grey pants on the white jersey though? *Chef’s kiss*
Tier 1: The Lambeaus
Heroes are remembered, but legends never die.
4) Green Bay Packers
If Lambeau is an icon among NFL stadiums, the jersey of the team that plays there is the Lambeau of uniforms. The Packers “Ode to North Dakota State” Green-Yellow combo is lethal and has a legendary throwback to pair with it. Minus a few points because the jersey doesn’t look good on fans, but with the G stamped on the helmet, these are all-time greats.
3) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers’ jerseys are dank. That’s all there is to it. The hard, simple, black design is equal parts rugged and sleek, the helmet decal has an homage to the city’s industry, and the throwbacks are iconic. God snapped when he made these bad boys.
2) Chicago Bears
Normal blue and neon orange will land you 19th overall (see: Broncos), but navy blue and normal orange? Different story. The Bears have a timeless design that somehow has room for flexibility with an alternative. Fitting to have an iconic jersey for an iconic sports town.
1) Las Vegas Raiders
Imagine every game is a blackout. That’s what being a Raiders fan is like. The ultimate jersey has the touch of glimmer like the Cowboys, but with an entirely more bad*** look. If you go to war, dress your infantry in Derek Carr jerseys and the enemy will go running.
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