Ranking The Worst Alternate Jerseys In The NFL

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The Worst Alternate Jerseys In The NFL

Pat Lovell - USA TODAY Sports

Everybody loves football – despite the rise of concussion awareness and a seemingly endless list of players getting in trouble off the field, we all flock to stadiums (or our couches) to see our gridiron heroes suit up on NFL Sundays.

Of course, the uniforms they suit up in are almost as popular as the game itself. NFL jerseys are ubiquitous in everyday life; no longer just restricted to game-day apparel, walk through any mall or grocery store and you’re likely to spot at least a handful of die-hards sporting their team colors, even if their favorite player has long since been traded or retired.

For many teams, the uniform has become an iconic symbol of a franchise’s history. There’s just something about seeing that lone star on the Dallas Cowboys’ helmet, or the silver and black of the Oakland Raiders that calls back to the glory of years past.

Then there are the special “alternate” jerseys. In an attempt to create additional buzz – and merchandise sales – many franchises bring out these uniforms only once or twice a year. In some cases, like the San Diego Chargers’ powder blues, the results are so incredible that you wonder why they don’t just make these their full-time gear.

This is not about those times. As more and more teams feel the pressure to have unique alternates for marketing and sales, some of the ones that make it to the field are, shall we say, less successful. As much time and money is spent on market research, it’s really stunning that some third jerseys ever see the light of day. Some of the worst offenders of recent years have been retired, but there are still plenty that make you wonder who gave the go-ahead.

I’ve compiled ten of the worst alternate offenders in the 2013 season. Love any of these sets? Any that I missed? Leave your comments below and sound off.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer and NFL contributor for “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, or add him to your Google+ network.

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Denver Broncos' Navy Blue

Broncos Navy
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Broncos fans may look back fondly on the introduction of Nike's primarily blue uniform design, as it coincided with John Elway leading the team to their first two Super Bowl championships. Unfortunately, while it isn't a particularly bad jersey, it was a complete departure from the classic "Orange Crush" look of the team's past. The orange home uni is the far superior look, so now that the team has the looks of a championship squad, the blues can stay on the shelf.

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Tennessee Titans' Navy Alternates

Titans Navy
Don McPeak - USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans wore these navy home uniforms from the franchise name change through 2008, but there's a reason they put them away. Much like the Broncos, the Titans don't have an offensive look here, but the powder blue not only calls back to the Oilers of years past, but it's just a much better look on the field. The Titans did wear these uniforms in the Super Bowl, so there's just enough history to justify these not being completely forgotten.

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Houston Texans' "Battle Red"

Battle Red
Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports

It may not be the best-looking jersey in the league, but the fans in Houston get behind it like crazy. "Battle Red" days work like a charm and fill Reliant Stadium with crimson. Still, the contrast between the deep red of the jersey, the nonexistent shoulder stripes, the thick blue collar (the Broncos struggle with this design, as well) and the all-blue helmet just doesn't work as well as it could. I grant them this - whoever made the decision to put the red pants away deserves a raise.

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Arizona Cardinals' Black Alternates

Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports

This jersey is just one example of the "black alternate" trend going too far. While black and red go well together, the Cardinals franchise has a long history to draw from for a throwback or other third jersey. Even bringing back the old red jerseys with the Arizona state flag on the sleeves could have worked. Black for black's sake is just kind of taking the easy way out, and the Cardinals aren't the only offender...

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Philadelphia Eagles' Black Alternates

Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

More black for black's sake. This one is even worse, since it's really nothing more than an accent color that flipped with the team's primary "midnight green", like you might see on a discount replica jersey. I have two words for the Philadelphia Eagles: Kelly Green. There's no reason why a classic throwback isn't part of the lineup, even with NFL rules forbidding alternate helmets. Bring them back, ditch the black.

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Jacksonville Jaguars' Teal Alternates

Melina Vastola - USA TODAY Sports

No list of NFL worsts this season is complete without the Jacksonville Jaguars, right? The Jags teamed with Nike's designers to bring something completely new to the struggling franchise this year, and this is what they came up with. The team seems to struggle with its identity almost as much as it does with filling the seats at Everbank Field. The teal jerseys actually aren't any worse than their main set, but this list is for alternates, so they had to make the cut. Odd slash stripes near the collar and the black sleeves make this a no-go.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' "Creamsicle" Throwbacks

Matt Stamey - USA TODAY Sports

The greatest throwbacks are the ones that bring fans back to a meaningful era in the team's history. That being the case, it's a wonder why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers insist on bringing back the orange "creamsicle" uniforms with "Bucco Bruce" on the helmets. For the better part of 20 years, the Bucs were all but irrelevant in these uniforms, and that mediocrity has carried on in throwback form.

It's probably better that the league's rule against multiple helmets prevented these from being worn this season. Then again, at 0-8 and with a full-on mutiny possible any day now, perhaps a bit of color wouldn't have hurt, after all.

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Green Bay Packers' "Acme" Throwbacks

Benny Sieu - USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers' green-and-gold look is a classic, and that charm should not be messed with for the sake of a one-off "throwback" weekend. If you're going to mess with quality, you need to bring something special, and these definitely do not meet that standard.

These have a lot of historical value, calling back to the days of Curly Lambeau and the Acme Packing Company, but they really couldn't look worse in 2013. Without a lot to work with in the throwback department, they should really just stick with the green set.

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Seattle Seahawks' "Wolf Grey" Alternates

Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

What's that? The Seahawks have a new alternate uniform, you say? This has got to be good. Remember how ridiculous that neon green Sounders-style set was a few years back? Nike's got to have something cool up their sleeves for this one.

Oh. Grey. Well, that's cool, I guess. Yawwnnnn...back to sleep.

The problem with the alternate look in Seattle isn't that it looks bad, it just doesn't look like anything at all. On TV, it ends up looking like they're just wearing dirty white uniforms half the time. There are probably a dozen different things the designers could have come up with that would be more exciting and boundary-pushing than literally the most neutral color on the planet. Marketing-speak about "wolf grey" aside, I expected more.

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Pittsburgh Steelers' Striped Alternates

Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

For 45 years, the Pittsburgh Steelers' look has remained largely unchanged, with the exception of the font type for the players' numbers and names. Black and gold represents all the franchises of the Steel City, and the Steelers are still one of the best-dressed teams in the league. Well, most of the time.

This look dates back to the days when the team was known as the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Steelers would have done just as well to borrow the baseball Pirates' uniforms from just down the street as to don the "bumblebee" look again. Nobody looks good in those horizontal stripes, especially some 300-pound lineman...or fan in the stands.