Ranking the Top 10 NFL Uniforms
As a UK-based NFL fan, I’ve always been impressed with how football teams tend to stick with the tried and tested when it comes to uniforms.
Soccer clubs are infamously well known for changing theirs from season to season, provoking anger from fans that want to buy the latest shirt to wear. There may be tweaks from time to time with the NFL, but the uniforms are the same from year to year.
The colors a team play in can have a huge effect on the way it plays and how the fans and players feel. It can also reflect the team itself – either geographically or culturally.
As NFL teams don’t change too often, I thought I would have a go at ranking the ten best in the league.
This isn’t an all-time list, so there will be no room for the Houston Oilers sky blue effort, for example. I will also be largely disregarding the helmets and logos – as that has been covered elsewhere on this site.
Here are my own feelings about the best NFL uniforms.
10 – Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have moved around since beginning life in Cleveland in 1936. But the name has always followed the team – to Los Angeles, then St. Louis and then back to Los Angeles again.
The Rams were also the first team to have a logo on their helmets.
The colors have also stayed the same from when the team was originally in California – so blue and yellow continue to shine brightly. But the main reason why I have included the Rams in the top ten is the detail touch of the ram horn on the shoulders of the jersey.
It is the same as the horn on the helmet and I think that little piece of extra thought is enough to warrant inclusion here.
Turning the page + moving forward.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) October 5, 2021
9 – Cincinnati Bengals
Thanks to its nickname, Cincinnati has one of the most distinctive uniforms in the NFL. There has never been any backing away from the tiger motif and the Bengals helmet itself is a thing of beauty – in my opinion.
The tiger stripes continue onto the shoulders – and this season to the legs as well. That might be a slight overkill but the orange, black and white combination really stands out.
The team itself hasn’t been incredibly successful in recent years, although Joe Burrow is starting to make a real difference as QB now.
8 – Cleveland Browns
Up until now I have included teams because of their more modern-thinking design and detailing. But everything about Cleveland is old school.
The brown, orange and white color scheme would never get past the focus group stage these days – and the team is the only one in the league not to have a logo on its helmet.
But I’m a real fan of tradition (as you will probably see with the rest of my picks for this piece), and the brown jerseys could not belong to anyone else but Cleveland.
I’m not entirely sold on using orange numbers in the alternate version of the uniform, but I always like to see the brown jersey teamed up with the orange pants.
The Cleveland Browns uniform definitely proves that there is no need to change perfection.
7 – Chicago Bears
This is another classic uniform that has changed very minimally over the years. The Bears might not be as successful as they once were either, but they still look good out on the field.
The recent throwback white jersey also looks good, with the navy and orange stripes on the shoulders and sleeves. The orange version of the shirt, however, should be gotten rid of as quickly as possible.
6 – Los Angeles Chargers
This is one uniform that has grown on me in recent years. I’ve not always been a fan of sky, or powder, blue shirts but the current version of the Chargers jersey really plays into the whole sunny, California vibe.
The Chargers logo, which is one of the best in the NFL in my opinion, is used cleverly on the shoulders and looks good whether the yellow bolt is surrounded by white or blue.
White and yellow don’t always go when it comes to sports uniforms, so the Chargers must be doing something right here.
5 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Let’s get back to old time, traditional football again shall we? Pittsburgh is another team that likes to do things slightly differently, having the logo on just one side of the helmet.
That tradition is another one that has remained through the years and makes the whole uniform distinctive as other teams constantly tweak theirs.
Everything about the Steelers evokes an old-style football team and the uniform’s details all fall into line with that rugged personality that the name suggests.
4 – San Francisco 49ers
For NFL fans of a certain age, the red and gold uniform of the San Francisco 49ers instantly takes them back to the days of Joe Montana and his incredibly successful team of the 1980s.
It is a classic color combination that has – just about – worked even when tweaked over the years.
The current version has ditched the overt black shadowing on the numbers and gone back to the basics with white on red. That look already has me sold, but the gold pants finish off the uniform beautifully.
The thick white and thin red stripes down the legs are also a good move. All San Francisco now deserves is a team that lives up to its fashion icon status – and the superstars of the past.
With 3:10 remaining, @JoeMontana engineered a game-winning, 92-yard touchdown drive to lead the #49ers to a Super Bowl XXIII victory.@JerryRice's 215 receiving yards are the most in #SuperBowl history. pic.twitter.com/A1sKlRMFAN— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 22, 2018
3 – Miami Dolphins
What says Miami more than the color aqua? It is no surprise that the Dolphins have always gone for a sun-drenched palate when it comes to their uniforms. Together with the blue of the ocean, there is also the bright orange and white that evokes long, white sandy beaches.
Where Miami led, many more sports teams from South Florida have followed – even Inter Miami, David Beckham’s MLS outfit included pink in their shirts.
If I’m being really picky, I’d like the shirt to include the throwback stripes on the arms and to ditch the stylized dolphin on the helmet for the old cartoon-style one. But this is still a great uniform.
2 – Green Bay Packers
It was tough separating my two favorite NFL uniforms, but Green Bay just got beaten to finish second in the rankings.
The Packers have obviously adhered to a fundamental principle of ‘if it ain’t broke’ and have kept to the classic green and yellow since the 1950s.
That included sticking with the striped collar of the jersey rather than the new design all the other teams agreed to.
You just have to love a team that refuses to bow to big companies when it comes to its history.
1 – Las Vegas Raiders
This organization may have moved between LA and Oakland over the years – and now calls Sin City its home – but its uniform has always remained the same and is designed to intimidate opponents even before the players take to the field.
My number one ranked NFL uniform award has to go to the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Raiders black and silver has remained basically the same since Al Davis joined as head coach, and then general manager, in the 1960s.
Along with an imposing logo, the Raiders live up to the bad boy image and were the first to adopt black as the signature color. The silver-colored numbers just add to the feeling that these players want to hurt opponents.
There are no extra frills or details needed on the 2021 jersey and the move to Las Vegas has seen the silver and black rise again.
Best NFL Uniforms
There are some other teams that didn’t quite make the cut into my top ten NFL uniform rankings.
I like the original color choices of the Minnesota Vikings, as well as the black and gold of the New Orleans Saints. But some other classic designs, such as those used by Indianapolis and Kanas City just don’t do it for me in the same way as some of the selections that made my top ten.
As I said before, this is a personal top ten and you may well have different ideas about what makes a good uniform. You may even think my fashion sense leaves quite a lot to be desired. Or maybe you agree with my selection? Let me know what you think.
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