Aside from the occasional lapse in regard to league protocol, the Niners and Bills have provided a bunch of NFL teams a model to follow. Both teams' turnarounds have been nice, but that's not what I'm talking about. It's the fact that in the last couple years, each has made the smart sartorial choice to discard their ugly modern getups in favor of their respective handsome (slightly modified) uniforms of the past.
However, a number of teams have recently assaulted our eyes with their throwbacks (I'm looking at you, Acme Packers), proving it's not as simple as just going into the attic and pulling out the first set of retro duds you find.
That's why I, the Uniform Monitor -- America's foremost appraiser of all that's good and bad in the Technicolor world of sports apparel -- have focused my keen eye on eight teams whose throwbacks have left me feeling incomplete to offer some better alternatives.
Kudos to the Jetropolitans on going back to (a slightly darker version of) the Joe Namath-era getups back in 1998. Further kudos for honoring the franchise's past by wearing the navy-and-gold Titans uniform (which I like more than most people). Now, the time has come to make the ironic move of wearing the unis worn by Freeman McNeil, Al Toon and the Sack Exchange back in the '80s. Some Jets fans might suffer painful flashbacks to Richard Todd throwing another game away, but they can take comfort in knowing their current QB isn't one iota better.
The Pokes' all-blue-and-white getups are good, but great. In my weekly Uniform Monitor (which you can read at DaveDameshek.NFL.com every Sunday), I spoke out against the navy-and-silver, L.A. Express lookalikes the Cowboys wore on Sunday against New England. Why? Because the best blue jersey of the three they've worn over the decades is the royal blue number Chuck Howley and Co. had on for Super Bowl V.
Steelers Pittsburgh's throwbacks of the last few seasons aren't putrid -- the gold numbering on the jerseys is downright nifty -- but the gold helmets are a deal breaker. Then again, they're infinitely better than the Steelers' uniforms for the NFL's 75th anniversary, which are nothing less than the Worst Throwback Ever. To the untrained eye, the current Steelers unis might not appear much different from the version the team wore back in the '70s, but look closer: The numbers had a more rigid quality, befitting of a rugged bunch like the Steelers. Better still was the gray facemask. After all, shouldn't a team named "Steelers" wear a facemask that looks like steel? Matter of fact, please allow this to serve as the Uniform Monitor's formal request to the Rooney family to bring those back. Thanks in advance.
As with the fourth Indiana Jones movie, I wish I could pretend those neon green jerseys never happened. Alas, when I close my eyes, I sometimes still see them like a fevered nightmare or that "Green Lantern" movie (speaking of things I wish I could un-see). I know they weren't throwbacks, but it upsets me that the one time the Seahawks didn't wear their ugly all-blue uniforms, they opted to dress like a glow stick rather than honor Jim Zorn, Steve Largent, Dan Doornink and the rest of the original 'Hawks by sporting the best getups the franchise has ever had.
Broncos fans are rightly excited about their team's decision to go with the orange jersey in 2012. Don't be mistaken, though -- it won't be the Elway-era uniform, which it seems most Broncos fans would like to see. I know I'm in the minority on this, but I really like the brown-and-gold getups, vertically striped socks notwithstanding. But the best of 'em all is '60s uni they broke out for the NFL's 75th anniversary in '94. I'd like to see those again, and soon.
The current unis -- with those too-shiny navy pants -- are at best a failed attempt to give a modern update to a classic uni, and at worst are just plain awful. Everyone but the Spanos family loves the powder-blue gems (highlighted by the black numbers on the hat), but if we can't get those, how 'bout a look back at the Air Coryell getups? It'd be worth it just to see Vincent Jackson in the fellow acrobat John Jefferson's No. 83.
Like most people, I love Atlanta's throwback, which we saw on Sunday. Because I don't care for the current Falcons uniform -- or for that matter, the Deion Sanders-era getups -- I'm always happy to see the red hats. However, I'd like to see the all-red Steve Bartkowski, William Andrews and Grits Blitz-era uniforms even more. Dig them gray pants.
Maybe it's by design, but the metallic gold in the Rams' current uniforms conjures South Bend's golden dome more than the golden Southern California heritage of the franchise. When the Rams do sport a throwback, they go with the uniform Kurt Warner and Co. wore when they beat the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Understandable given their Midwestern fan base, but a shame for those of us with an eye for football fashion.
Look at the throwback options they have at their disposal: The gray facemask/matte-finish blue-and-gold Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer wore in Super Bowl XIV; the monochromatic blue-and-white the Fearsome Foursome sported in the '60s; and the dashing gold jerseys Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin had on their backs in the L.A. Coliseum in the '50s. What a shame that these are all being wasted. Then again, maybe we'll get to them when the Rams move back to L.A. next year.
Teams with good throwbacks
I'd be remiss if I didn't tip my hat to the teams whose throwbacks are just fine as is. The only question I have for the Patriots, Lions, Eagles and Saints is, why don't you make these your full-time getups?