Some sports uniforms are iconic marvels of timeless design. The blue pinstripes on white worn by the New York Yankees, the powder blues worn by the Los Angeles Chargers and the purple and gold worn by the Los Angeles Lakers are just some of the gorgeous uniforms that any player or fan would be proud to wear.
But not all jerseys are created equally.
Some of the uniforms worn by American sports teams in the past century are downright sinful and would be enough to make even the most die-hard fan reconsider their allegiance. Here are some of the ugliest jerseys to ever be worn on a major sports field, presented in no particular order. Warning: You can’t unsee these.
1996 LA Galaxy
This is far from the worst offender on our list but there’s plenty wrong with this kit, especially when you consider it was worn by arguably the biggest franchise in Major League Soccer in the league’s first year of existence.
Nothing about this getup says top-level pro sports, and none of it gives off an LA vibe or has anything to do with a galaxy. The mustard-colored sleeves balanced against the black base and red collar is just awful to look at. Also, why are the numbers two different colors on the shirt and shorts?
2016 Jacksonville Jaguars (Color Rush)
You’ll see that mustard-colored uniforms are a trend on this list and these digs worn by the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars take the shade to the extreme. These awful uniforms were worn by the team only once, as part of the NFL’s gimmicky “color rush” design scheme for every team to try during Thursday Night Football games. Some of them were good but Jacksonville got the short end of the honey mustard-dipped stick. The team’s quarterback, Blake Bortles, called the special uniforms “ugly as hell.”
2009 Denver Broncos (1960 Throwbacks)
You’ll also notice plenty of throwbacks to the old days on this list because teams back then apparently had no clue what good uniforms looked like. In 2009, the Denver Broncos paid tribute to the team’s 50th anniversary by wearing these throwback uniforms, designed to look like the franchise’s getup from 1960, for one game.
Brown and yellow are just terrible jersey colors to begin with but the striped socks and plain helmets really top off the entire thing. The Denver Post joked that the team would have to “try to win ugly” when wearing these.
1995 New York Islanders
In 1995, the NHL’s New York Islanders made one of the most infamous decisions in sports branding history by changing the color scheme and logo on their sweaters after more than 20 years. The new uniforms ditched the attractive royal-blue-and-orange colors they’d always worn for uglier, darker shades – but it was the logo change that doomed this look.
The team’s brass replaced the team’s logo, a tasteful map of Long Island with “NY” over top, with a crusty sea captain who looked like the Gorton’s Fisherman. The new look only lasted for two seasons before being redesigned again.
1996 Detroit Pistons
The NBA’s Detroit Pistons had one of the league’s most iconic uniform designs from the 1950s into the mid-1990s, with bold blue and red being used on jerseys that simply said “Detroit” or “Pistons” in block letters across the chest. For some reason, in 1996, the team decided to switch to something more like seafoam green and a hideous logo that featured a burning horse and exhaust pipes coming from the letters.
The new logo was obviously meant to pay tribute to the team’s Motor City base, but the whole thing was too drastic a change and didn’t last long. The team went back to its classic look in 2001 and hasn’t looked in the rearview mirror since.
1999 Pittsburgh Pirates (Turn Ahead The Clock)
In 1999, MLB came up with a marketing gimmick that had its teams wear special “Turn Ahead the Clock” uniforms designed to look like what the team might wear in the future. We honestly could’ve done an entire list of just these awful uniforms but one that really stood out was worn by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The main color was bright red — not a color anyone has ever associated with the black-and-yellow franchise — and the front featured a massive print of the team’s pirate head logo, which isn’t all that attractive a logo to begin with.
The jerseys were worn only a few times during the 1999 season and were presumably shoved into Davy Jones’ Locker afterward.
2005 Sacramento Kings
These 2005 jerseys were nicknamed the “Gold Standard” by the Sacramento Kings and, given that example of their judgment, it should come as no surprise that they lost in the first round of the NBA Playoffs that season.
I’m not sure if gold is the proper name for this color because it looks a bit more like dijon or possibly cream. Combine that hideous base with the shimmery, satiny material and you’ve got an atrocious uniform.
These jerseys quickly disappeared from the team’s rotation and the writers at the Kings blog, Sactown Royalty, wrote that they “should have cost someone their job.”
2003 Dallas Mavericks
In the mid-2000s, the Dallas Mavericks were near the top of the NBA’s pecking order but they took a major loss in the uniform department for one special night in 2003. On opening night of that season, the team wore these new uniforms that looked like shimmering silver, but when the players started sweating in them, they looked more like brown silk.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban succinctly said that they looked like “wet garbage bags” and made the decision to pull them after just one game. These infamous uniforms are now collectors’ items for online sellers.
2014 Tampa Bay Rays (Turn Back the Clock)
Throwback uniforms can be a great way for teams to honor their history and make some extra money from nostalgic fans in the process but what happens when your team is still new? The Tampa Bay Rays were founded in 1998, so they were forced to get creative when MLB ordered that “Turn Back the Clock” jerseys be worn on a day in 2014.
The team decided to create a “fauxback” uniform that they claimed resembled something from the 1980s. The color scheme mostly looks good except for the dark blue but when they could’ve come up with any design in the world, it’s disappointing that this was the best they could do.
2009 Montreal Canadiens (1912 Throwbacks)
For the 2008-2009 season, the Montreal Canadiens paid tribute to the franchise’s 100th anniversary by wearing uniforms from its past. In February 2009, the team rolled out these awful throwbacks to the 1912-1913 Habs.
The design was painful to the eye and made the players look like human barber poles from head to toe. The Maple Leaf logo — which is easy to confuse with that of the rival Toronto Maple Leafs — and abbreviation, “CAC,” also didn’t help these uniforms earn respect. The team only wore them once that season, much to the delight of everyone watching their games.
2013 San Antonio Spurs (Military Appreciation Uniform)
When the San Antonio Spurs decided to honor America’s veterans during the 2013-2014 season, they chose this special uniform that could potentially be described as a war crime. The team’s camouflage duds likely made players, like Manu Ginobili below, wish they truly could disappear from view. The Spurs wore these uniforms twice during the season and the reviews were not kind, with USA Today calling them “awful.”
2007 Philadelphia Eagles (1934 Throwbacks)
When you think of the Philadelphia Eagles, green has to be the only color that comes to mind, which is why these throwback uniforms confused even the most loyal fans of the team.
In 2007, the franchise paid tribute to its long history by wearing the same uniforms its players had worn in 1934, which were powder blue and yellow. The whole color scheme brings to mind the UCLA Bruins and the design itself looks more like something a small high school team would wear.
Sporting News called these the ugliest NFL uniforms in history.
1994 Chicago Bears (1920 Throwbacks)
As we’ve already stated, uniforms from the early days of pro sports look pretty atrocious, including this design. In 1994, the Chicago Bears honored the franchise’s storied history by wearing the jerseys worn by the first team ever in 1920. The blue and yellow stripes (why was everyone obsessed with those colors back in the old NFL days?) are pretty tough to look at, but it’s the tan pants that really take this look over the top.
Let’s hope the Monsters of the Midway keep these buried under Soldier Field for eternity.
2015 Green Bay Packers (1937 Throwbacks)
I’m starting to wonder if blue and yellow were the only colors that existed in the early days of the NFL. The Green Bay Packers are another franchise whose link with the color green is immortal but the early teams looked more like the Michigan Wolverines when they hit the field.
During the 2015 season, the Packers rocked these 1937 throwback uniforms which, like those worn by the rival Bears, included ghastly pants that look more like khakis than football gear.
2016 Columbus Crew
When your uniform gets compared to the Minions from “Despicable Me,” it’s not usually a good sign that they will intimidate your opponents. The Columbus Crew unveiled these new kits ahead of the team’s 2016 season and they drew groans across the soccer world.
Again, powder blue is a great jersey color but when paired with light yellow, it becomes something that looks like it was worn by a community youth soccer team in the 1970s — especially with those striped tube socks.
2015 Baltimore Ravens
The combination of purple and black that has been worn by the Baltimore Ravens for more than 20 years has worked well to give the team one of the NFL’s most unique uniform looks. But the franchise made a big blunder in 2015, when it unveiled mustard-colored pants to go with its classic jerseys and helmets. These pants literally look like they were last-minute replacements when someone got a stain on their normal pants, not matching anything else in the ensemble terribly well.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh actually liked them, telling The Baltimore Sun, “I think it’s fun,” when asked about the new design.
Our definitions of “fun” are not the same, sir.
2015 Western Michigan Broncos Football
Tan strikes again! In 2015, the NCAA’s Western Michigan Broncos debuted these hideous duds, which made their players look like various types of coffee all at once.
As if the tan jerseys and brown pants wasn’t a bad enough combination, the overly busy design across the shoulders just compounds the entire thing into one unique mess. Obviously this ugly uniform didn’t get in the team’s way, as they continued to wear them in 2016, when the Broncos went 13-1 and played in the Cotton Bowl.
2013 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball (Big East Tournament)
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish is another one of those iconic American sports programs that have kept its uniforms pretty sharp over the years, across all sports. But in 2013, the geniuses at the Big East Conference, where the school plays hoops, decided to have every team wear special uniforms for its annual tournament.
They were all pretty bad but Notre Dame fared the worst, being forced to run the court in a single shade of green that looked like it was inspired by McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.
The shoes and socks they had to wear were also awful, especially because they didn’t exactly match the rest of the ensemble.
1995 Mighty Ducks Of Anaheim
One of Disney’s greatest artistic failures came in designing these sweaters for the 1995-1996 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The entertainment giant founded and owned the team for its initial years and this design was worn during the team’s third season in the NHL.
The design features a cartoon Mighty Ducks mascot bursting through ice in what can only be described as a goofy look for a bunch of tough guys to wear during a high-level competition. The font that listed the player’s name on the back was also nearly unreadable.
These notorious jerseys were only seen a couple of times before disappearing forever.
1999 Colorado Rockies (Turn Ahead The Clock)
Yet another of MLB’s terrible “Turn Ahead the Clock” uniforms was worn by the Colorado Rockies. The franchise had been around for less than a decade at this point, so it didn’t have a well-established uniform culture yet, but this didn’t do any favors in making them look like contenders.
These featured a massive version of the team’s already uninspired logo, including a mountain and a soaring baseball, that stretched to take up the entire front of the uniform. It looks more like a t-shirt a fan would buy from a vendor in the parking lot at Coors Field than something a big-league player would don.
2016 Seattle Seahawks (Color Rush)
The NFL’s “Color Rush” program gives us yet another one for the Hall of Shame. For a Thursday Night Football game in 2016, the Seahawks went full neon, giving players these blinding unis with a color dubbed “Action Green.”
This was when the team was at the top of NFL standings every season but these head-to-toe monstrosities made them look more like pretenders than contenders. If the goal was to make their players look like human highlighters, then congratulations are in order to whoever designed these.
2013 Pittsburgh Steelers (1934 Throwbacks)
In 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a trio of players known as the “Killer B’s,” but this was taking it too far. These heinous uniforms were worn by the Steelers just once during that season as a tribute to the team’s look from 1934.
It’s tough to tell if they look more like bumblebees or something a prison-yard football team would wear, but either way, they don’t look NFL-ready.
Maybe we should just leave the 1930s-era uniforms in the team museums.
1976 Chicago White Sox
If there was a Hall of Fame for awful sports uniforms, these duds worn by the 1976 White Sox would be first-ballot entrants. These uniforms are so notorious among sports fans that they’ve undoubtedly inspired countless lists like this one. The team wore shorts (!), long socks and what looked like v-neck t-shirts with black collars sticking out for only a single game during the season.
The uniforms were thought up by legendary owner Bill Veeck, who thought they’d be a fun addition to the team’s wardrobe lineup.
The players mostly liked them, according to Fox Sports.
1994 U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (World Cup)
In 1994, the United States hosted the FIFA Men’s World Cup, making the Americans an automatic qualifier and putting them in the spotlight on the world’s biggest stage for team sports. So it was a shame that the team had to wear these hideous kits during the tournament.
The World Cup is always about patriotism at its core, but wearing a uniform that looks like a distorted version of your country’s flag is a bit much.
Just look at the tasteful, timeless unis worn by the opposing Swiss team in this shot and you might consider switching your citizenship.
1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers launched as an NFL expansion team in 1976, they sure made an impression. The team took the field in these orange-and-white eyesores that have since been dubbed the “Creamsicle” uniforms by both fans and detractors.
As if the colors weren’t bad enough, that old logo with the cheesy, orange-skinned pirate biting a dagger on the helmets made the whole look even more obscene. The franchise’s red, black and white ensembles they wear today are much more pleasing and intimidating.