Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 26, 2020

In the midst of the sports desert that the world finds itself in due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the world, people are scrambling to find sources of entertainment. Many sports fans have gone back in time, finding solace in the treasure trove of old games from a number of professional sports leagues. With that, fans have been exposed to the fashion mishaps in the forms of jerseys that existed in the past. And because we enjoy complaining about things, the Sports editors have decided to list some of the worst jerseys in the history of sports.

The Syracuse University Orange, 2006

We think that Syracuse put themselves in a bad situation from the very outset with their college’s nickname. There are a limited number of options available for a school whose primary color is one of the least compatible colors of all time. So apparently, the football team decided to go full speed ahead into a train wreck.

In 2006, the team elected to employ full orange jerseys with blue lettering. And we’re talking full orange — jersey, pants, helmet, everything. It was as if the produce section in Giant spilled onto the football field at the Carrier Dome in upstate New York. It was a gigantic, orange mess that should never, under any circumstances, be repeated. And if it is ever repeated, the football program at Syracuse should be disbanded post-haste. 

The Seattle Seahawks, 2016

There is a chance that we just hold a strong distaste for monochrome jerseys. There are many opportunities for single-toned jerseys to work, but when a team misfires on a concept, it is impossible to look away. 

In 2016, the Seattle Seahawks were a part of the National Football League’s (NFL) inaugural Color Rush movement during their Thursday Night Football games. They decided to make an entire uniform ensemble out of neon green. Like neon green. The intensity of the hue that Seattle chose to wear burned the retinas of every viewer across America. The uniforms were more akin to highlighters than standard NFL jerseys. It was an absolute disaster — there’s no other way to put it.

The Dallas Mavericks, 2003

You know you’ve messed up when people still refer to your design as a “trash bag” 17 years later. In 2003, the Dallas Mavericks debuted these infamous jerseys, much to the dismay of their fans. The 2003 team was perhaps the best Mavericks team ever to that point, featuring Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki side by side. Mark Cuban, the Mavericks owner, apparently decided his new team needed new jerseys.

In theory, the concept was decent. Gray jerseys with some shine could create a cool, flashy look. But in practice, they were a total flop. It is hard to describe them other than simply saying they looked like trash bags in jersey form. When the players began sweating in the jerseys, the colors looked even worse. The Mavericks lost that game horribly to a Kobe-less Lakers team, and the jerseys were never worn again.

Since that game, the game-worn jerseys have become sought after, some listed for thousands of dollars online. Everyone seems to want their piece of the worst jerseys the National Basketball Association has ever seen. It is safe to say there is a reason no one wears shiny jerseys anymore. And while some seem to enjoy the jerseys for nostalgic reasons, the consensus remains that these jerseys were literally trash.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, 1999

In 1999, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to try and create a “futuristic” jersey. It is hard to describe how poorly they executed this idea. The jersey is entirely red, which makes no sense, as the Pirates primarily wear yellow and black. They then put a gigantic image of a pirate’s face on the front of the jersey. And on the back, they wrote the players’ names vertically instead of horizontally. How exactly is this futuristic? Hindsight is 20-20, but it is telling that no recent jerseys look anything like this.

Now, I will say, several teams were required to wear jerseys styled like this. The Major League Baseball (MLB) was doing an event to gain some publicity at the turn of the century, so 22 of the MLB’s 30 teams made jerseys like this. But some of those other jerseys actually looked decent, and the Pirates pulled it off terribly in comparison.

The Pirates were a decent team that year, finishing just below .500. Many of the players joked about the look of the jerseys, and for good reason. During the promotion, the MLB stated that they had the year 2021 in mind when they were talking about the future. And with 2021 right around the corner, there is still a little time to see if their prediction of a futuristic jersey comes true.

Atlanta Falcons, 2020 – Present

Atlanta has been a mixed bag when it comes to its appearance for a while, and many of the Falcons’ faithful hoped this new uniform set would revitalize the simplified look of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. While the team will have a throwback uniform from this period in their arsenal, the rest of the set leaves much to be desired. Chief among these design disasters comes at you straight from a 12-year-old’s dresser: the red-to-black gradient uniforms. 

Rather than evoking feelings of professionalism and tradition as many of the get-ups of the NFL do, these uniforms are more reminiscent of a youth football program or a cycling team. There’s very little about the jersey that is redeeming, from the gradient to the massive white numbers in a strange font to the odd decision to place “ATL” across the chest as opposed to “Atlanta” or “Falcons” or, preferably, “Just Kidding.” If there’s anything to be happy about, it’s that these uniforms are considered alternates and will likely not be worn more than a couple of times a season.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 2016

The Jaguars became a polarizing team appearance-wise in 2013 when they unveiled a new uniform set that included overly complex jerseys and a black-and-gold two-toned helmet. Though the helmet drew criticism from many fans and ranks as the worst helmet of all time by several sports columnists, the Jaguars later doubled down on the gold when they began sporting gold jerseys and pants as part of the NFL’s Color Rush series. 

The gold looked more like brown mustard than yellow gold or a Vegas gold, which may have boosted sales of burgers and hot dogs at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, but did little to make their home team look good. While players tend to stay out of conversations about what they wear on gameday, the uniforms were so bad that former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles described them as “ugly as hell” in a teleconference call to Nashville media during the leadup to the Jaguars’ game against the Tennessee Titans in 2016. Luckily, the Jaguars wasted little time in axing the Color Rush set and have since donned new uniforms, but the gold look is certainly a stain on the history of Jaguar uniforms.

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