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The five best and worst uniform redesigns in sports history

In honor of the Bucs’ new uniforms, we came up with some hits and misses from previous redesigns. Spoiler: the 1970s were bad.
These flag-themed Maryland uniforms from 2013 are among the worst we've ever seen.
These flag-themed Maryland uniforms from 2013 are among the worst we've ever seen. [ PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP ]
Published Apr. 8, 2020
Updated Apr. 8, 2020

When the Bucs ditched their alarm-clock numbers to come up with the new uniforms they unveiled Tuesday, they became just the latest team to update their wardrobe.

With that in mind, here are our picks for the best and worst uniform redesigns. Note: We excluded throwbacks and alternate uniforms, which is why you won’t find the Gators’ swamp green monstrosities on this list.

Best

Brooklyn Nets (2012)

It's not as patriotic as past uniforms, but certainly can't fault the timelessness of this look.
It's not as patriotic as past uniforms, but certainly can't fault the timelessness of this look. [ STUART RAMSON | AP ]

The Nets needed a new identity as they moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn. They got one by ditching the red, white and blue of their ABA days to a classic black and white look. Nothing fancy, but it works.

Seattle Seahawks (2012)

Which recently redesigned uniform do you prefer? The one on the left, or the one on the right?
Which recently redesigned uniform do you prefer? The one on the left, or the one on the right? [ SCOTT EKLUND | AP ]

Seattle had previously spotlighted the neon green from the mascot’s eye before, but it didn’t work. This one did, by using the unique shade as an accent to a more traditional navy blue and gray. Then again, drafting quarterback Russell Wilson that year ensured the Seahawks were bound to start looking better.

Related: What makes these Bucs uniforms look good? Names like Brady and Barrett on the back

Pitt football (2019)

Pitt's retro-inspired uniforms were a great choice.
Pitt's retro-inspired uniforms were a great choice. [ KEITH SRAKOCIC | AP ]

There was nothing wrong with the Panthers’ previous uniforms; they were just forgettable. The new ones are not. Props to Pitt for a successful throwback to the blue and yellow heydays of Tony Dorsett and for coming up with a color palette that stands out without being highlighter yellow.

Los Angeles Kings (2011)

The Kings redesigned their uniforms in 2011.
The Kings redesigned their uniforms in 2011. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Although purple is underutilized, it didn’t seem quite right with the Kings. They upgraded by ditching that color to focus on black and silver — a sharp look and a nice nod to the Wayne Gretzky era.

Buffalo Bills (2011)

The blue, white and red is a good look, especially with white helmets.
The blue, white and red is a good look, especially with white helmets.

This was successful because they made tweaks rather than enormous changes. Switching from red helmets to white ones made the uniforms as a whole look cleaner, as did the flip from navy blue to royal blue. Now the Bills have one of the nicest designs in the league.

Bonus: Best of the Bay

Rays (2008)

The Rays started a new era on opening day in 2008.
The Rays started a new era on opening day in 2008. [ Times ]

Given how bad the franchise had been, Tampa Bay needed a fresh start, and it got one by exorcising the Devil from the Devil Rays. The new uniforms helped, too, ditching the green in favor of a timeless blue.

Worst

Chicago White Sox (1976)

Do any of these White Sox uniforms look good to you? (AP Photo/LO)
Do any of these White Sox uniforms look good to you? (AP Photo/LO) [ LO | ASSOCIATED PRESS ]

The worst of the worst came for a few games that season when the White Sox played in shorts. Even if you dismiss that impractical choice as a quick stunt, that doesn’t excuse the rest of the uniforms that season. Faux collars? Shirts designed to be worn untucked? Nope.

Related: How Nike designed Florida Gators' swamp green alternate uniforms

Houston Astros (1975)

The Astros' rainbow uniforms lasted far too long.
The Astros' rainbow uniforms lasted far too long. [ ED KOLENOVSKY | AP ]

The orange and red rainbows (which look more like sunsets) are unforgettable, so give the Astros that. And they clearly belonged to a certain era. It’s best to leave them there.

Vancouver Canucks (1978)

Sensing a 1970s theme? Vancouver leaned into its V name by putting Vs all over in yellow, orange or black. Or maybe the V stood for vile. Either way, they mercifully lasted for only a few years. Here’s hoping they never return.

Utah Jazz (1996)

Even Karl Malone couldn't overshadow the Utah Jazz's head-scratching uniforms.
Even Karl Malone couldn't overshadow the Utah Jazz's head-scratching uniforms. [ STEVE LIPOFSKY | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Coming up with an identity is tricky when a team moves to a new location that has nothing to do with its name. But did the Jazz really need to add mountains to its uniforms almost two decades after coming over from New Orleans? The music-free landscape was a miss.

Maryland football (2011)

These flag-themed Maryland uniforms from 2013 are among the worst we've ever seen. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
These flag-themed Maryland uniforms from 2013 are among the worst we've ever seen. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) [ PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP ]

By drawing inspiration from the state flag, these debacles were supposed to highlight state pride. Crab cakes might have been a safer pick. Some of the iterations were fine, but the awful ones were really awful. Black and gold on one side, with red and white on the other? Blech.

Related: Bucs uniform unveiling left Twitter with plenty to say

Bonus: Worst of the Bay

USF football (2014)

As odd as the Bucs’ alarm-clock numbers were, at least those appeared in games, unlike a 2014 Bulls proposal. Then-coach Willie Taggart wanted to replace players’ names with THE TEAM on the backs of jerseys. Turns out that would have violated the NCAA’s uniform policies, so the idea was scrapped, but not before a picture of the jersey circulated.