Throughout history, most sports jerseys have been pretty elegant, save a few missteps, most of which were in the 1970s and 1980s. Man, what were our parents on?
These days, teams spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours on jersey designs, knowing the difference between a good design and a great one can lead to millions in additional sales, a definite boon to the real heroes out there, billionaire owners.
This is especially important for unpopular franchises. The Nashville Predators or Tampa Bay Buccaneers are never going to have huge selling jerseys based on the popularity of their teams alone, so they try their best to design the coolest jerseys, in the hopes that rappers and guys without girlfriends will wear them instead of normal clothes. They'll think they're cool, but we'll all know better.
Sometimes though, all these efforts are in vain. Even though a jersey design is usually dissected and approved by 14 different middle managers and an equal amount of focus groups before the public even gets a glimpse, duds often find a way to slip through the cracks.
Here are the 20 worst jerseys in sports today.
20 New York Red Bulls
I'm not exactly sure what the New York Red Bulls jersey is supposed to represent. The front of the jersey has two bulls about to headbutt each other, in front of an ugly yellowish-orange sphere that I think is supposed to be the sun. Naturally, the bulls are red, because sports jerseys aren't usually high on subtlety.
In case you didn't quite get the Red Bulls imagery, they went ahead and put it in big letters on the back of the jerseys. That's the New York Red Bulls. Sponsored by Red Bull. Are you thirsty yet?
19 Anaheim Ducks
I've spent the last five minutes looking at this jersey in a trance, trying to figure out what the logo on the front is supposed to be. Damned if I know. If it's a duck, then I've got to cut back on my meds.
It doesn't look like anything. It's modern art on the front of a jersey. It's almost like they hired a guy and told him to intentionally make something nobody understood just so we'd talk about it. Mission accomplished, I guess.
18 Cleveland Browns
What kind of team is named after a color? What, were all the good names taken?
Over the years, the Browns have been the laughing stock of the NFL, consistently putting horrible teams on the field. The jerseys haven't been much better. You don't have many color choices when your team is named Browns.
This year's model is a slight improvement, but they're still uglier than Johnny Manziel's future.
17 San Diego Padres
I understand the San Diego Padres have a strong military heritage. The U.S. Navy has a huge presence in the region and the team has been a supporter of the troops over the years, doing things like giving military discounts for tickets.
But they really need to rethink the monstrosity that is the alternate camouflage jersey. These jerseys are so bad that it's impossible to take a player wearing one seriously. Matt Kemp could get an unassisted triple play and 80% of the fans watching won't even notice because they're too busy snickering about how stupid he looked wearing camo.
16 Cleveland Cavaliers
Everybody, repeat after me. Mustard yellow jerseys are never a good idea. Feel free to repeat this as many times as necessary until it sinks in.
After the Cavs re-signed LeBron James, they knew they'd sell millions of jerseys no matter how ugly the design was. It would have been the perfect opportunity to do a redesign, dropping the team's grotesquely ugly 3rd jerseys, that are a shade of yellow best described as looking like the worst nacho cheese ever. Alas, the jerseys stay.
15 Cincinnati Reds
Teams that have been around for a while in every major sport face a conundrum. Should they go ahead and redesign a classic logo into something more modern and take the risk of alienating an established fan base? Or should they stick with the tried and true logo?
The Reds are going with the latter approach, even though their simple logo looks as though it was picked as best in class from a 7th-grade art show. Of course, like the Browns, it's not like they have a choice when the team is named after a color.
14 Boise State Broncos
I have a hatred of Boise State that I'll fully admit is irrational. They're just one gimmick after another. First it was the blue turf; then it was beating Oklahoma in 2007 in the Fiesta Bowl on a trick play. Other teams prefer to be taken seriously, while Boise State tries every attention-grabbing ploy it can in a desperate attempt for the big boys to finally notice them.
Oh, and the jerseys are ugly. Orange pants and a blue shirt is not a combination that should go on anybody who isn't color blind.
13 Houston Astros
The Houston Astros have a great history of ugly jerseys, sporting the infamous orange, yellow, and white (with a star on the front) jersey that remains popular today simply because it's so ugly.
Tapping into this tradition, the Astros decided to wear a bright orange third jersey this season. No, I have no idea why either. My best guess is the team was supposed to tank, so ownership threw up their hands and figured if the team sucked, maybe the jerseys should too. Well, they're in contention and everyone can see their jerseys now, so that failed.
12 Chicago Fire
With a name like Chicago Fire, you'd think the cool jersey possibilities would be practically limitless. You'd think, but here we are.
It's not that the jersey itself is so bad. The white version of it looks pretty sharp and the red and blue version isn't so terrible, at least until you look at the front. Right smack dab in the middle is a big Quaker logo, even highlighted so there's no way you'll miss the fact Quaker paid to appear on the jersey.
11 Utah Jazz
The history of the Utah Jazz is about as uneventful as Utah's itself, making the two a perfect match for each other. With the exception of the Karl Malone/John Stockton led teams of the 1990s, the franchise has been forgettable in every way.
Apparently the team is trying hard to recapture some of that magic, releasing jerseys that look like they've been locked in the closet since 1989. Not only is the lettering on the front truly bizarre, so are the colors. But hey, there are plenty of Karl Malone jerseys in stock.
For a bunch of Ivy League eggheads, the folks at Princeton sure did mess up the football jerseys.
The piece de resistance for these has to be the terrible orange stripes across the shoulder pads. There's not one stripe. There's not two. No, there's four stripes. And then there's the helmet, with the weirdest paint job I've ever seen. Is it supposed to be flames? That's not a facetious question, I legitimately have no idea.
Stick to science, nerds.
9 Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes don't really have an attractive home or away jersey, but they're certainly not ugly enough to make this list.
I wish I could say the same thing about the 3rd jersey. It legitimately looks like a big pair of lips all puckered up, ready to give you a big kiss. It's the hockey jersey equivalent of visiting your great aunt Millie.
To top it all off, there's a hockey stick bending to the will of the hurricane. If the hurricane is playing hockey, shouldn't it be holding the stick? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
8 Jacksonville Jaguars
Who was the genius who told Jacksonville that teal was a color worth having on its jerseys? Because holy cow, they've taken that and ran with it.
The latest reiteration of the teal jersey is every bit as ugly as the last few. This time they've decided to add a little brown to it, almost as though they were trying to one-up the ugliness from last time. At least they've demoted the teal jerseys to alternate status, going with the much better looking black ones most of the time.
7 Miami Marlins
Like the Houston Astros, the Miami Marlins decided that out of all the colors in the rainbow, bright orange would be the best jersey color. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria isn't exactly known for his sharp decision making skills, but at least his team only wears these unis occasionally.
Miami, listen. You've been a laughingstock organization for pretty much the last 20 years. Why give people more reasons to laugh at you?
6 Pittsburgh Pirates
I intentionally ranked San Diego's camouflage jerseys near the bottom of this list, knowing the depths of the team's relationship with the military.
Pittsburgh gets no such easy treatment. Look at that jersey. I mean really look at it. Take a minute to absorb just how ugly it is. You can barely tell what team is on the front, because some genius decided to stick with a color theme that blended in really well with the camo.
Rookie phenom Jung ho Kang was recently lost for the rest of the season while wearing this uniform. If that doesn't convince you they're ugly and cursed, nothing will.
5 Washington Wizards
Every Washington sports team goes with a red, white, and blue color scheme, for obvious reasons. Most make white the primary color, adding just a hint of red and blue, because they understand the joys of subtlety.
Not the Wizards. On the team's home jersey, it takes a perfectly nice mostly white top and ruins it with a big blue band around the middle. The road jerseys are similar, with a big white band interrupting a nice red base. At least they came to their senses with the alternate jersey, which is by far the best of the three.
4 Bakersfield Condors
In 2013, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the Bakersfield Condors decided to go all out, even wearing Abraham Lincoln inspired jerseys for the occasion. These jerseys were about as ugly as you'd expect.
At least their heart is in the right place, with proceeds from the jersey sales going to help local charities. Still, Bakersfield, we gotta talk about how ugly these things are.
3 Ottawa Senators
Ottawa's home and away jerseys are some of the nicest in the whole NHL. There's something about that logo that is actually kind of intimidating.
But the team really dropped the ball with its third jerseys. It's an homage to its old jerseys back in the 1920s, a time when peanut butter and lard sandwiches were an actual thing people ate. Why you'd want to remember those times is beyond me. The front features a big O, some stripes, and that's about it. It honestly looks like they just left it up to the intern.
2 Colorado Avalanche
Colorado recently released a brand new jersey the team will wear for their outdoor game versus the Detroit Red Wings, and it might be the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Let's take a minute to truly bask in the ugliness of this thing.
Firstly, look at the numbers on the side. Those have to be the biggest sleeve numbers I've ever seen. The crest in the middle looks like it was created using MS Paint. And the brightness. This thing is more pale than Napoleon Dynamite.
1 Pittsburgh Steelers
In 2014, the Pittsburgh Steelers wore their throwback jerseys in a game versus the Indianapolis Colts, causing millions of football fans to frantically search for their remote to change the settings on their TVs.
Alas, these jerseys actually existed and are still for sale in the official NFL shop. Where do I even begin? Should I talk about the ugly brown pants that accompanied the bumblebee-inspired tops? Should I talk about the horribly ugly white patches where the numbers go? I better just go lay down.