Going retro is all the rage these days. Air Jordan has been successfully bringing old models onto the contemporary stage for years. Reebok is doing the same. NBA teams are pulling out retro uniforms left and right, including when the Cleveland Cavaliers wore about 100 of them in 2010. The NFL, long known as a league of strict tradition, is getting in on the new/old fad. Retro uniforms, or “throwbacks,” as the kids are calling them these days, have been popping up on the gridiron in recent years, and STACK is here to rank the best as well as the most hideous of them.
New York Jets “Titans of New York” Throwback
All photos: AP Images
Remember when Brett Favre played for the Jets? Yeah, neither do we. But if we can take one positive from the quarterback’s forgettable tenure in New York, it was the team bringing back its “Titans of New York” throwback uniform, worn by its ancestors, the New York Titans, in 1959 in the American Football League. The gold numbers and striping against the dark blue jersey have us longing for the olden days, before Mark Sanchez was butt fumbling all over the place. The Jets donned these throwbacks for the first time in 2008, then brought them back in 2011.
New England Patriots Throwback
The Patriots classic threads were cooler than most of the current uniforms in the NFL. Not only is the “Pat” Patriot logo on the team’s helmet super legit and amazing, but the red and blue striping against an all-red jersey and white pants pop against the green grass underneath the team’s feet. The away version looks just as good.
Buffalo Bills 1965 Throwback
The Buffalo Bills haven’t been very good at football activities for quite some time now, but hey, at least their throwback jerseys would win some sort of award at New York Fashion Week! The jerseys are cool, sure, but it’s the old school Bills logo, the solitary red Buffalo adorned on the white helmet, that makes the whole thing work. The team has worn variations of the 1965 uni, like the above version in 2005 and the away version in 2012.
San Diego Chargers 1960s Throwback
The Bolts’ throwbacks are just beautiful. Really. It brings a single tear to the eye. The lightning and numbers on the helmets. The powder blue and yellow accents throughout the uniform. These uniforms are so simple and clean, it was a total no-brainer to bring them back from the 1960s. The above photo is from 2009, but the Chargers wore various takes on old uniforms throughout the 90s and 2000s.
Pittsburgh Steelers 1934 Throwback
If looking like you’re playing a pick-up game in a prison yard is your thing, you’ll love these hideous throwbacks the Pittsburgh Steelers busted out in 2012. They were based on the Steelers’ original jerseys, outfits they wore in 1934 when they were known as the Pirates. The jersey hadn’t been seen since. Hopefully, someone buried them deep, deep underground. But alas, they found their way to daylight. Never again, Pittsburgh. Never again.
Green Bay Packers 1929 Throwback
The Green Bay Packers’s retro uniforms, revealed for the first time in 2010, sort of look like the target of a summer camp archery competition. Nothing here except a bright yellow circle with dark numbering inside. The helmets are a drab yellow, the pants a forgettable olive. This was during the Great Depression, and that may be why there is such a lack of enjoyable colors here, but that’s no excuse, Green Bay. These threads should be left in the past.
Philadelphia Eagles 1932 Throwback
We’re not sure where to start. The helmets look like someone threw blue and yellow paint at them to see what would stick. The color scheme on the jersey, which the aforementioned San Diego Chargers did so well, is a mess. Plus, the only bird we know of that is blue and yellow is the Kansas Jayhawk, and he’s not even real. This throwback uniform, picking up the colors of the Philadelphia flag and originally worn by the franchise in 1934, its first year of existence, made its way back on the field in 2007. It hasn’t been seen since, and millions of Americans have avoided going blind as a result.
Denver Broncos 1960s Throwback
Denver Broncos or the Denver Hot Dogs With Mustard? These hideous throwbacks from 1960 look like someone doused their favorite yellow condiment on their stadium food of choice. Not a good thing! The helmet is the only piece that passes muster in these throwbacks—which the Broncos brought back in 2009—and it barely matches the rest of the outfit. Just, yuck.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1970s Throwback
When someone looks at your football team and exclaims, “Hey, that looks like one of those creamsicles I used to eat as a kid,” it doesn’t bode well. That’s what’s going on with these all-orange-and-red throwbacks the Tampa Bay Buccaneers originally wore during the 1970s. After the team wore them again in 2012, the NFL effectively banned them, ruling that teams could not wear multiple helmets during the year. We have a feeling the real reason was that NFL excess did not want to watch moving creamsicles running around on the field.