10 Worst Alternate Uniforms in Professional Sports

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10 Awful Alternates

10 Awful Alternates
Gary A. Vasquez- USA TODAY Sports

In an era where everything about sports is focused on revenue, and more volume equals more sales, almost every team has an alternate uniform to complement their regular set. Many of these jerseys are wildly popular with fans and even outsell the normal uniforms on occasion. Each team takes a different approach to creating an alternate. Some go for the obvious, creating a jersey in one of their primary colors. Other teams aim to pay tribute to their tradition, designing sets that are reminiscent of uniforms they have worn in the past. And then there are the teams that create alternates with the goal of changing how uniforms are done. Several examples of this have occurred in the NBA this year, the most notable being the Golden State Warriors, who worked with Adidas to create the first sleeved jerseys of the modern NBA era.

Unfortunately for our eyes, many teams fail miserably when designing their alternates, and end up subjecting television viewers worldwide to garish looks that cause us to actually devote significant thought to just how bad the uniforms are.

The qualifications for this list are that the uniforms in question must be a current element of a team's uniform repertoire. One-offs and special throwbacks do not count. Each person has their own personal standards for what makes a good or bad uniform. That being said, the uniforms that made this list tended to violate at least one of three key uniform rules. They either strayed too far from the team's traditional color scheme and uniform style, were too boring and did not display much contrast, or went too far when it came to changing how uniforms are made. Interestingly, a disproportionately large number of these uniforms use navy blue as a primary color. The following is a comprehensive ranking of the 10 worst alternate uniforms among the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL.

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10. Arizona Diamondbacks Black Home Alternate

Arizona Diamondbacks Black Home Alternate
Jennifer Hilderbrand- USA TODAY Sports

It isn't that this uniform is really awful-looking. The problem with this set, worn for every home Saturday game, is that it does not fit with the rest of the team's color scheme in any way, shape, or form. It stretches the limit farther than any other pro uniform when it comes to introducing black where it is not a key part of the team's identity.

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9. Houston Astros Navy Blue BP Uniform

Houston Astros Navy Blue BP Uniform
Thomas Campbell- USA TODAY Sports

To be fair with this uniform, its intended use is as a batting practice uni. There should be no huge expectation of artistic brilliance from a BP jersey, as it's an avenue for designers to have fun and get away with some things that would be too edgy in a game uniform. Then again, BP jerseys aren't supposed to be worn in actual games. The Astros wear these for every Sunday home game, and the tequila sunrise side panels clash too much with the navy lifelessness in the rest of the jersey. It's never good to bring in elements of such an extravagant uniform when your primary goal is simplicity.

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8. New York Islanders Navy Blue Alternate

New York Islanders Navy Blue Alternate
Debby Wong- USA TODAY Sports

The worst part of this uniform is the giant numbers on the front. Big jersey numbers like this are for football, not hockey. The gray shoulder panels are not good either, and this uni's terribleness is topped off by the awful font and white outline.

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7. Pittsburgh Steelers Black & Yellow Throwback

Pittsburgh Steelers Black & Yellow Throwback
Charles LeClaire- USA TODAY Sports

While these are an ode to history and therefore get somewhat of a free pass, they are still a fashion disaster. The bumblebee stripes are awful, and the jersey colors do not complement the beige pants at all. While these are bad, at least they are fun, and that's why they aren't higher on the list.

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6. San Antonio Spurs Silver Alternate

San Antonio Spurs Silver Alternate
Soobum Im- USA TODAY Sports

These uniforms go too far when it comes to being different and revolutionary. The giant Spurs logo in the middle of the jersey is weird, and the small numbers on the right shoulder are out of place. These elements cause the jerseys to have a huge area of blank space on the torso, and they end up looking empty. While the color combination works, the design is just too extravagant.

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5. Chicago Bears Navy Blue Throwback

Chicago Bears Navy Blue Throwback
Rob Grabowski- USA TODAY Sports

The worst part about these jerseys isn't how bad they look, it's that the Bears got rid of their orange jerseys, one of the best alternates in the NFL, to add this look. This jersey just looks like a cheap knockoff Bears jersey that you could find at Walmart. While they are supposed to be throwbacks and reference the team's history, the Bears' regular navy jerseys are timeless enough that they don't need a throwback to complement them. These end up just looking like a less detailed version of the Bears' normal uniforms.

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4. Atlanta Braves Navy Blue Alternate

Atlanta Braves Navy Blue Alternate
Christopher Hanewinckel

These jerseys are, without a doubt, the worst jerseys worn in the MLB on a regular basis. It's a bit of a stretch to even call them “alternates”, since the Braves wear them for the majority of their away games. Using the base color of the jersey for the numbers is never a good idea, and these end up just being a huge heap of navy blue drab. While these would have a “cool” factor if they were just worn for several games under the lights, when they are worn on such a frequent basis, they are nothing more than boring.

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3. Colorado Rockies Black Alternate

Colorado Rockies Black Alternate
Chris Humphreys- USA TODAY Sports

The Rockies have not worn this uniform set in a long while, but it is still officially listed in their style guide. These were a staple of the team's success in the late 2000s, particularly in the 2007 World Series. This was Ubaldo Jimenez's favorite uniform, and it seems to have disappeared since he was traded. These uniforms are terrible for obvious reasons; the black layers itself everywhere and the set deviates almost completely from the team's traditional purple-based look. Just to pile on to this uni's awful factor, it features the monochrome sleeveless effect and it is a solid-colored jersey on top of pinstripe pants. If this was worn regularly, it would arguably be the worst uniform in the MLB.

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2. Green Bay Packers Navy Blue Throwback

Green Bay Packers Navy Blue Throwback
Mary Langenfeld- USA TODAY Sports

This Packers' throwback is the worst uniform in the NFL, a sharp contrast for a team who has some of the best primary uniforms in the whole league. The gold circle with the tiny uniform number is awful, and it features no other detail. While it's a nice reminder of what the league used to look like, it seems like they were pushing too much with this one, going so far as to wear helmets with brown paint to try to replicate the leather helmets that were worn during this set's original run. On top of everything else, this uniform features none of the Packers' current colors. Instead of feeling like they're watching the Packers of the old days, fans must feel like they are just watching a completely different team.

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1. Oklahoma City Thunder Navy Blue Alternate

Oklahoma City Thunder Navy Blue Alternate
Kyle Terada- USA TODAY Sports

This uniform is the worst set in all of the NBA and on top of that, all of sports. The design, which breaks away completely from the traditional jersey template, features “Thunder” written in big letters down the side, and huge jersey numbers aligned on the far left of the jersey. Besides these two obvious elements, the jersey's primary color is a dull navy blue, and there is a huge white waistband that breaks up the navy jersey and shorts. Other terrible elements of the shorts include “OKC” in big letters down the side, and “Oklahoma City” written on the rear of the shorts. This uni's boring colors, along with its botched attempt at innovative design, make it the worst uniform in professional athletics.


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  • fretlessman71

    Green Bay and Pittsburgh, I’ll give you (and maybe the Islanders too), but everything else is way off base. Black IS a color of the D-backs, AND the Rockies (I should know – I bleed purple and black!), and if you hate these so much, might I suggest a side vocation in designing alternate jerseys that follow your own set of rules. Me, I’m gonna get my sports fashion blog going so I’m ready to rip your sense of style up one side and down the other with an equally meaningless article…