By Phil Hecken
The Super Bowl is tomorrow, and the Panthers (in black & silver) vs. the Broncos (in white over white) promises to rank down at the bottom of “good” matchups. But just where will it fall in terms of overall matchups? Last weekend, I ran the top matchups, (if you missed that, or want to review it and see how I go about ranking ’em, click here. Remember, these are just opinions — and judging from some of the comments last Sunday, it’s clear some of you disagree with my picks. Maybe you’ll like my “worst” matchups a bit better. Here we go. (Click on any photo to enlarge)
Super Bowl XIV
Steelers vs. Rams
This one probably deserves to be more highly rated, but last weekend there were a LOT of Steelers games already in the top group. Still, my bad. I mean, when you have the Steelers in their black tops with block numerals outside in the sun against the Rams in the Rose Bowl…well, it was an oversight on my part. It’s not top 10 (which are the truly important Bowls — the middle 30 or so are only slight degrees of separation in matchup-ups). I probably kept it lower due to the royal vs. black helmets and slightly different gold pants.
Super Bowl XV
Eagles vs. Raiders
I try not to let personal biases influence my uniform matchups, but I have honestly never liked this particular Eagles uniform, which is why this one ranks in the bottom half. Also, it was in the Superdome, which always provides a gloomy atmosphere for a game. The Raiders of course looked good, and this Eagle uni is certainly better than their current one, but overall the matchup was only so-so.
Super Bowl IX
Vikings vs. Steelers
This could have been a better looking game — it could have been worse too: it was originally supposed to be played inside the gloomy Superdome, but the ‘dome hadn’t yet been completed so it was played outdoors in cold and gloomy Tulane (I believe the gametime temp for this was the coldest for any game, including Supe 48 in the Meadowlands). Both teams have good looking unis, although the Steelers in white are no where near as good looking as the Steelers wearing their black tops. Combine the cold, gloomy overcast day with fake turf and unis that just don’t pop and you get one of the least appealing matchups for a couple of teams with great unis at the time.
Super Bowl V
Cowboys vs. Colts
The first post-merger Supe featured the most egregious uni-wrong in Supe history — forcing the Cowboys (the designated “home” team) to wear blue. It was really the beginning of the “Bad Luck Blue” (jinx) for the ‘boys. Imagine how great this would have looked if the Colts were in blue and the ‘boys in white? So much potential here — a beautiful sunny day at the Orange Bowl, which (unfortunately) was also the first Supe played on artificial turf, which also takes the matchup down a peg. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad looking game — it just could have been so, so much better.
Super Bowl XVI
Bengals vs. 49ers
The Bengals have been in the Super Bowl twice, both times against the 49ers, and have lost twice to San Fran. But that’s where the similarities end. I would argue (and I think many would agree with me) that this was the Bengals best uniform, and of course the Niners looked pretty good too. But it also suffered from dreary-dome syndrome (this one the old Pontiac Silverdome), which upped the dreary factor. Like many of the games from the 10th best to 40th best, you could have put this in any number of spots. This one just happens to fall here.
Super Bowl XXI
Broncos vs. Giants
What this one lacked in uni goodness (I’ve never been a fan of the Giants uni of this era, though it’s not awful), it made up for in atmosphere. Played outdoors, in the sunshine of the Rose Bowl, the conditions were perfect. If the Broncos were in their “bad luck” (but beautiful) orange tops, this one would have slotted higher.
Super Bowl XXXV
Ravens vs. Giants
What a difference a uni-revision makes: by Supe 35, the G-men were “back” in their “classic NY” uniforms, which are certainly one of the better sets in the NFL. Sadly they were matched against the Ravens, who have never really had great unis (although their black/white/white is probably their best set). For a team who have played in five Super Bowls, the G-men have really worn a great uniform only once — and this was the game. Being played in nice weather outdoors in Tampa didn’t hurt this one.
Super Bowl XXIII
Bengals vs. 49ers
Unlike Supe 16, which placed several slots higher (for the same teams, this time with their home/road jerseys reversed), XXIII didn’t look nearly as sharp — even though it was played on grass in Miami, the orange and reds seemed to clash more than complement. Not a bad matchup, just not as good as XVI.
Super Bowl XVI
Bills vs. Washington
Like the Bengals/49ers just above this, the clash between the ‘skins burgundy and Bills reds keeps this one in this spot. While this game was played in the HHH Metrodome (at the time, one of the better domes), it was still a dome game. Like several others in this grouping, it could have been higher or lower. Not a bad looking game, but the red/burgundy and dome keep it in this spot.
Super Bowl XXXVII
Buccaneers vs. Raiders
While the current Buccaneers uniforms are, if not the worst, close to the worst in the NFL, their previous iteration wasn’t much better (IMHO). But at least the striping was normal and the numbers weren’t in digital form. Had da Raidahs been wearing black tops, this one would have ranked much higher. Still, good contrast and beautiful San Diego keep this one out of the bottom 10. The Bucs never should have ditched their Bucco Bruce creamsicles, and we look back now on this uni set as being perhaps better than it was, simply because what they’re wearing now is so bad.
Super Bowl XLII
Giants vs. Patriots
I guess it’s time this game (and basically it’s twin, which is next) got its due. While I appreciate the Giants desire to go “retro” with their road unis, I have never been fond of this road set — there’s too much red and not enough blue. Fortunately, the Patriots home set is much better than their roads — but the gray pants (sorta silver for the Pats) for both and some so-so unis makes this matchup only so-so. It may have been the greatest Super Bowl upset ever, but aesthetically and visually, it’s middle-of-the-pack.
Super Bowl XLVI
Giants vs. Patriots
Like Supe 42 before it, same concerns about the unis and the matchup — only for this one both teams got the generic Super Bowl patches and it was inside Lucas Oil dome. That places it a solid notch below Supe 42, which was in Arizona.
Super Bowl XXIX
49ers vs. Chargers
The 49ers got hot during the NFL’s 75th season (in which throwbacks were worn for [almost] all teams), and they rode their throwbacks right into the Super Bowl against the Chargers, who stuck with their 1994 unis. The result was a slightly anachronistic looking game. Combine that with the fact that this was one of the Chargers least good (for a team that’s worn some outstandingly good unis) set and I never liked the Niners in white pants, and it gets placed right here. Nice setting (Miami) adds a point or two here.
Super Bowl XXXI
Packers vs. Patriots
You can only keep the Packers so low, no matter who their opponent. In this case, the Patriots unis were, shall we say, not exactly classics. The transitional period between gorgeous Pat Patriot and modern Flying Elvis gave us a period where the Pats experimented with a couple looks before deciding on what they currently wear. It wasn’t a good five years.
Super Bowl XLVII
49ers vs. Ravens
This game may be best remembered for the lights going out. That might not have been such a bad thing. At least when the Ravens played in the Super Bowl (35) against the Giants, they wore white pants. Here, they went with the leotard look (no wonder many of the guys pulled their low whites high). And while Frisco had by this point ditched their unis with some BFBS attributes, their new jerseys seemed to lack the ability to have proper stripes. Oh, and, yeah — the game was in the Superdome, which must have been late on its utility bill.
Super Bowl XXXVI
Rams vs. Patriots
Few people remember (and that’s probably a good thing) that when the Rams went to their current uni-set, they had a two year period when their white tops had gold side panels, which were just an awful look. Mercifully, after the 2000-01 seasons, they ditched them. Unfortunately, they’re forever immortalized by their appearance in Supe 36. The Pats blue “home” unis are far superior to their road whites, but this one wasn’t a sight for sore eyes.
Super Bowl XXXIX
Patriots vs. Eagles
There are some, including our own Jakob Wolf, who feel this is the worst looking Super Bowl matchup — but sadly, it’s not even bottom five. While I’m not a big fan of the Eagles current
Super Bowl XLIX
Patriots vs. Seahawks
I will admit that after first absolutely hating the Seahawks new monoblue set, it’s kinda grown on me. Not much, and the leotard look is disappointing, but a little. Sadly, matching that set up with the Pats white roadies (and double sets of blue pants), this one almost cracked the worst five. Close, but Seattle has two more chances…
Super Bowl XXXII
Broncos vs. Packers
It’s hard to believe the Broncos have been wearing this uniform set since 1997. It hasn’t aged well, and never looked very good — and I blame swooshie for setting uniform design in a downward spiral with these unis. Sure, the Broncos went out and won the Supe (and they would repeat a year later) — instantly cementing the look as a “winning” one. In fact, many Broncos fans were hoping the team could wear this same outfit in this year’s Super Bowl (sorry, you made the orange your primary, which is far superior, but “unlucky”). Even the classic Packer uni couldn’t offset the visual assault from Denver.
Super Bowl XXXIII
Broncos vs. Falcons
As unappealing as the Broncos unis are, this one ranks below their earlier Supe appearance because the Falcons unis aren’t nearly as nice as the Packs. But this is actually a much better set than the Falcons currently sport. Better hope they redesign before they reach the big game. The Falcons need more red and the Broncos need a new set period.
Super Bowl XLVIII
Broncos vs. Seahawks
Poor Denver. Three of the worst five looking Super Bowl matchups have involved them — however, in this instance, it’s not all Denver’s fault — the beautiful orange color of their jersey was about the best looking thing in this Super Bowl. Seattle’s new unis still aren’t great and their penchant for leotards ranks this one as one of the worst looking Supes ever. If they had worn their Wolf Gray pants, they might have been saved the ignominy of a bottom-three rank.
Super Bowl XLIII
Steelers vs. Cardinals
The Cardinals, at one time, had one of the best looking uniforms in the game. Unfortunately, in their zeal to modernize, they became the epitome of what I like to call the “bumpersticker” syndrome — just one more stripe, line or amorphous shape and this will be perfect! Um. No. Combine that with the Steelers disappearing sleeve stripes and you have one of the worst-looking games ever. But not quite THE worst…
Super Bowl XL
Steelers vs. Seahwaks
The poor Steelers. Not only do they win the penultimate worst looking game, they get the absolute worst as well. This time, they are partly to blame — they could have worn their black jerseys (forcing the Seahawks to wear white, likely with white pants) — but they had worn white throughout the playoffs as the number 6 seed and opted to continue it in the Bowl. So that gave us the Seahawks in full suicide blue, which is easily one of the worst looking unis ever. Combine that with dreary Ford Field and the Stillers in their road (which could/should have been “home” black tops), and you get the worst looking Super Bowl. The only question is whether tomorrow’s game tops it. Stay tuned.
There you have it — I’m sure you’ll disagree with some of my choices — but I think most of you would agree with the 10 worst (even if not in that exact order). As great as the top 10 were, those bottom 10 were some stinkers. Fire away.
…A Blast From The Past
A long time a go, in a galaxy far, far away, I had asked Jimmer Vilk to provide us with his 5 & 1, Super Bowl edition. Since he and I disagree on most uniform matchup discussions, I thought it would be fun to do a bit of compare/contrast to my own picks — of course, these are just his best five and worst 1 — not a ranking of all 49. This is from 2010, so some of my (attempts at jokes) below don’t quite come across as funny now (or even then). I’m fairly confident none of Jim’s best (and I know not his worst) have changed since then. So, check it out:
5 & 1, Super Bowl Edition
The Mothervilker doesn’t usually touch the pro game, with good reason, but with no Olympics to keep him occupied, the Cavs hopelessly inept, and no professional hockey in the State (wait, do the Jackets count?)…Jim has plenty of free time on his hands these days…some might say too much.
So, in what may be his final 5 & 1 for a long time, Jim has compiled a special All-Time Super Bowl 5 & 1. Really.
5. XXXI: Patriots/Packers — To prove I’m not a complete fuddy-duddy…Flying Elvis 1.0 was pretty cool.
4. XXII: Redskins/Broncos — My Super Color Palette Special.
3. XX: Bears/Patriots — Any Pat Patriot version beats any Flying Elvis, and this was Pat at his absolute best.
2. XIV: Rams/Steelers — I love yellow gold, so the SI cover says it all.
1. IV: Vikings/Chiefs — The Chiefs have my favorite NFL unis…and those old Vikings (and the mud) make them look even better.
And the bad one: XXXIX: Patriots/Eagles — Both teams’ unis have downgraded so much…no wonder McNabb got sick in the huddle.
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it, Paul’s Friday Flashback on ESPN took a timely look at Super Bowl patches throughout the years. They’re now ubiquitous, but at one time (seems like a by-gone era now), Super Bowl jerseys were smooth as a prom queen’s thigh only not quite as risky, bereft of any extraneous patching.
Great read, so be sure to check it out if you missed it!
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Here is a look at the Milwaukee Brewers caps through the years. … From Paul: Chewing tobacco may be banned at CitiField, Yankee Stadium (already banned in LA, SF, Boston). … Oooohhh — tasty: Check out this giveaway set of burgundy socks from the Phillies this season (from Jonathan Bishop). … This is kinda nice: Check out the old-school headspoon on Tarleton (TX) State (from Al Gruwell). … Oh, my: These are real life jerseys the Orix Buffaloes will wear in real life games in 2016 (thanks to SeÃ±or Droolcup). Here’s a bit more on that. … Check out these sweet batting helmets and logo for WWU softball! Love the outline of the state of Washington on there! … The Lewis & Clark College Pioneers have a bunch of new unis for 2016, including the ever popular camo (from John Trupin). … Here’s a look at some of the shoes the Carolina Tar Heels will wear in 2016 (from James Gilbert). … Crossover Alert! Ducks & Angels (from F.K. Yaaj). Here’s how they looked on the ice (also posted in Hockey). … Eastern Michigan does have a very cool patch.
NFL News: “Not sure if this made it to the site yet,” says Jeff Flynn about the NFL’s logos reimagined as Professional Wrestlers. “Via UPROXX – The Culture of What’s Buzzing,” he adds. … In honor of the Super Bowl, here is a link identifying the first NFL game between the Dayton Triangles and Columbus Panhandles (thanks to Patrick O’Neill). … Here is yet another article on football and concussions, this one basically confirming that NO helmet is concussion-proof (nice find from Jason Hillyer). … Wow — it’s amazing how far shoulder pads have come over the years (from Josh SÃ¡nchez). Also from Josh, check out Peyton Manning’s recruiting questionnaire. … Gary Pug asks why Joe Montana has what appears to be an aqua face mask — anyone know? … The LA Rams are selling Welcome Home t-shirts in the Los Angeles Airport (and likely elsewhere too). … An injured Panthers linebacker is playing in the Super Bowl with 3D-printed arm brace (thanks Brinke). … Here’s an article with which Jakob Wolf is certain to disagree, “Rise in NFL concussion rate shouldn’t keep fans away.” … “I found this photo (of Jim Brown) on a site detailing the best season in each franchise’s history. The season for Brown was 1963, when he set the NFL rushing record (until O.J. broke it),” writes Scott A. Crawford. “However, research shows that this helmet was used from 1957-59, and then another stripe was used starting in 1960. Any idea if the holes in the top are for ventilation or for some sort of transmitter?” … The Washington Post published a neat, illustrated guide to every Superbowl Halftime show (big thanks to Andrew Hoenig). … “I was killing time at the mall today at went into a calendar store (75% off!) and saw the Browns calendar” says Joseph Bailey. He adds, “Note Bowe, Mingo and Whitner are all in the new uniforms. Those images were all from the uniform reveal in April. Seems kind of cheesy that they’d use those images instead of actual action shots. Maybe because the browns suck, there were no good action shots.” … Eric Wright notes there are some Super Bowl memes floating around the net and Facebook. “This one has the wrong Browns helmet (looks like they’re 2 incarnations behind),” he notes. … Oooohh – check out these team helmet straws at 7-11 (from Joe Nocella). … Gatorade is using the wrong jerseys in their ad for Supe 50 (from Kyle Tilford). … If you happen to be near the Santa Clara Fine Art Museum, you might want to check out their Super Bowl exhibit. … Is this a confused Carolina Cowboys fan, or just trolling? (from Bo Madden).
College/High School/other Football News: “Caught up in Super Bowl excitement, the high school by my house ordered some custom shirseys of its former student Andrew Newell, a lineman on the Carolina Panthers,” writes Tim Stoops. “Also, the school mascot is Redskins. Their tweet yesterday showing off the shirts had an unfortunate hashtag. I’m referring to the #OnceA… hashtag. One more bonus: the same high school last week took their logo and gave it the G.I. Joe treatment for Military Appreciation Day. They put it on shirts for purchase too. Wow.” … UK (much more on that below in the college hoops section) got a new secondary logo and some new football unis too. Here are some closeups of the new logos on the unis. More on that here and here. Our pal Chris Creamer also had a good review here. For more on the ‘cats hoops uni and secondary logos, see the college hoops section. … “Photo posted to the mothership’s NOW feed (yester)day shows a installation of college cheers on a wall at the Big 12 offices,” says Art Ryel-Lindsey. “I count five–FIVE!–single opening quotes rather than apostrophes.”
Hockey News: Hmmmm. Check out the uniforms and socks that were worn by Colgate Hockey for their Autism Awareness night last evening (h/t Ben Birnell). Here’s how they looked on ice. … This is pretty cool: a custom “Category 5” jersey for a Carolina hockey fan (from Ben Trachtman). … The Indy Fuel have a neat St. Paddy’s Day jersey upcoming. … “Not sure what Bobby Clarke is wearing for the (Flyers) alumni game, but they sure look like Cooperalls,” says P. Costello “They have that effect at least.” … Check out these Atlanta Gladiators Mardi Gras unis! (from Jeff Tasca). … Crossover Alert! Ducks & Angels (from F.K. Yaaj). Here’s how they looked on the ice (also posted in Baseball).
NBA News: “I’m not sure if this has been in the Ticker this week,” says Mike Chamernik. “But if not: Here’s a good piece that breaks down the various forms of NBA shoe deals. I was surprised to see that only 10 players in the league have their own signature shoe.” … For Darryl Dawkins Tribute Night, which is tonight, check out the socks the Philly 76ers will wear (from Robert Hayes). … Whoa, check out the plaid shorts of the NIBL’s Seattle Buchan Bakers (great find by Ryan Sprayberry). I hope #33 is wearing a knee pad. … Last night, the Sacramento Kings wore their sweet light blue throwbacks (via PJ Clark). … Also last night, the Cavs and Celtics went color vs. color (from Mark Skog).
College Hoops News: As noted above, the University of Kentucky unveiled a new secondary logo and new unis yesterday (listed above briefly in College Football). There was also a new hoops uni. It will be worn one time. … Of course, those on the Twitter had lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of commentary on the new secondary logo. Here’s more on that too. … Northwestern wore purple at home Thursday night vs Minnesota’s gold, snapped 5-game losing streak (via Dan Sagerman).
Soccer News: It seems that Bayer Leverkusen has some new home jerseys (from Patrick Thomas). … Do you want to know what’s changing about championship stars on MLS jerseys this year? Me either, but here’s the scoop (from Tom Drees). … LigaMX’s Pachuca celebrating SÃºper Bowl week with a Jacksonville-esque logo. … After the news that some of the new fan jerseys for D.C. United would have a collar slogan reading “Without Representation Taxation,” the team will issue replacements (if that were me, I’d keep the mistake — might be worth more on eBay some day; of course, I’d never buy a new polyester jersey, so no need to worry about that). From Adam Apatoff. … Luis Mota wore Favir Kafedzic’s jersey last night for the St. Louis Ambush. Cue the NOB tape job.
Grab Bag: This is Argentina’s new entry into Super Rugby, a competition that features 5 pro teams each from New Zealand and Australia, 6 from South Africa, and one each from Argentina and Japan (thanks to Eric Bangeman and also Jacob Allaman). … The Free State Cheetahs, a rugby squad, are reverting back to traditional jerseys. … Here’s a good Sports Illustrated piece on how sports jerseys have now become ubiquitous in the United States (and probably almost everywhere, but especially in America). … The logo on the ESPN.com app is gold. Jeff Flynn asks, “For SB50? If so, not sure the color is right!” … Here’s the history of Auburn’s iconic interlocking AU logo.
And that will do it for today, folks. The BIG day is tomorrow. Be sure to check back in as I will have the annual uniform history for both the Panthers and the Broncos by none other than Gridiron Uniform Database founder Tim Brulia and much more. After reading those, you’ll be able to wow all your friends, enemies and frenemies at your Super Bowl get togethers with your vast uni knowledge. Either that or they’ll make you sit in the corner by yourself. But only if they don’t Get Itâ„¢. Till then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I’m good with celebrating a championship. If I were in charge, there would be no celebrating regular season titles, division titles, final eight, final four or first loser.”
— Mike Styczen