By Phil Hecken
Tomorrow’s the big day, of course, when two of the most storied franchises in the National Football League meet up in the ultimate game. The green and
yellow gold versus the black and yellow gold. No one knows how the game will play out, but one thing we do know for certain — it just might be the best looking game in decades. Maybe in the history of ever. That’s because the two combatants, the Packers and the Steelers, have two of the best looking uniforms in the game. Will it be the best, uni-wise? Probably not, if only because both teams sport gold pants. Not that that, in and of itself, will make this a bad looking game — but it just might be a bit too much gold. The only other time we’ve had two gold-pants teams play each other was way back in Super Bowl XIV. That doesn’t look so bad, right? Well, in the gorgeous light of the sun’s gold rays, no. But once the lights went on, the gold trou really stuck out. With the sheen on the Pack and Steelers’ pants, under the bright lights of the Jerrydome, we may be seeing too much gold again tomorrow.
But, what was the best looking Super Bowl ever? Ask 10 people, and you’ll probably get 9 different answers. And that’s fine, because opinions, like certain parts of the anatomy, have something in common: everybody has one. What I may prefer, you may hate, and what Jim Vilk likes, everyone will hate. It’s just that simple.
So, with that in mind, several weeks ago, I was approached by Caleb Borchers, who asked me if he could “rank” every Super Bowl matchup for the past 44 years, based on the quality of uniform of both teams — similar to what Jim does with his “5 & 1″ bits. Only, there would be no five good and one bad…just a straight up ranking. Caleb came through with a tremendous effort — while I personally don’t agree with his rankings, I know he put a boatload of time and energy into this, and a lot of thought too. What follows, then, is Caleb’s personal ranking of each game played to date. You may agree or disagree, but you have to admit, it’s quite possibly the most comprehensive list of this nature ever compiled. Of course, Jim will have his own “5 & 1″ down below…so you can see how different mindsets work. I may even give you my own personal favorite(s). Feel free to add your own.
Ranking The Super Bowl Unis
By Caleb Borchers
A few years back, Page 2 over at ESPN ran a ranking of the best quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl. Actually, they ranked them all, so it was a ranking of the worst as well (hello Kerry “Pick Six” Collins). Others have ranked the best teams to play in the Super Bowl or even the best half time shows. As the big game comes closer (and as I admire the weekly 5&1 segment), I got to thinking, “Why not rank the Super Bowls based on the unis?” Surely a run down from the ugliest to the sharpest would be fun.
So, what follows are my rankings. Like any list it is largely swayed by personal opinion. I am the first to admit they are woefully inconsistent. I don’t like the red and orange clash of Broncos v. Skins, but don’t mind it so much with the 49ers and Bengals. I call ‘em how I see ‘em and that may not make sense in any brain but my own. I have tried to avoid putting too much emphasis on any one decade or team.
As far as criteria, they are simple. Primarily the question is what game looked the best? The game as a whole is taken into account. So, if a classic uni were to play an ugly modern monstrosity, the game will not be as highly ranked as if both teams looked great. Also, it is possible that two great looking teams play, but the uniforms’ color combos clash or they’re too similar. A pair of contrasting but complementing teams is best. The environment of the game can play a factor (I find that the early Super Dome games tended to look like they were played in an airplane hanger with flood lights) but probably not much of one. Also, I will individually rank rematches of the games, as rare as they are (ex. X, XIII, and XXX), but they are clumped for obvious reasons. Finally, a really large, gaudy Super Bowl patch (particularly ones clashing with the jerseys due to the use of color schemes reminiscent of the mid 1990s Detroit Pistons) might sway me. So, away we go…
2. Super Bowl I — This is a very nice beginning to America’s favorite game. The packers look great in their classic jerseys, complete with full sleeve stripes. I also think that the red of the Chiefs plays nicely off the green of the Pack. If you don’t like this match-up, you are as drunk as Max McGee was the night before the game.
3. Super Bowl XLI — Two of the best unis in NFL history were pitted against each other as the Colts in classic white and the Bears in traditional blue played for a championship in the rain. I feel like the precipitation added to effect, like a poor man’s snow. Even the gaudy patches seemed to fit the two teams nicely.
4. Super Bowl X — The only Super Bowl match-up to happen three times was beautiful the first go round. Some of the photos make the Cowboys pants look more blue, but generally they still don’t look like they do now days. Generally, this was a game between two classic teams in their classic jerseys.
5. Super Bowl XIII — This entry really has to go with the one above. Same comments apply. This edition does not have the huge patches on the Steelers’ shoulders, but I also think daylight games were better back then (these photos just seem so dark), giving the edge to X. This was also the first Super Bowl were a team chose to wear a white jersey when designated the home team.
7. Super Bowl VII — This match-up is a perfect example of some classic 1970’s looks. Those yellow pants on the Skins look great. Also, big bonus for the beautiful LA Coliseum in the background. Perfect season ending in a perfect location.
8. Super Bowl XXXII — In this match-up, we see two jerseys that sort of define the generation of NFL unis from which they come. Some hate the Broncos overhaul, but I don’t mind it. The contrast between the two and the beautiful San Diego night made it a memorable scene.
11. Super Bowl XXVII — The Bills looked great and the Boys, well, they are the oddly blue pantsed Cowboys. This game is ranked above the next year’s mostly due to the palm tree beauty of Pasadena that served as a backdrop.
13. Super Bowl XII — Watching old Broncos clips will make you long for the days of the orange crush. Generally the jerseys just balance each other well (and I love the Broncos sock stripes). Would have been even better if the lighting of the Super Dome back then wasn’t so bad (note classic Landry pose in the background).
14. Super Bowl XX — The only Super Bowl appearance for Pat Patriot. I love how both teams can have similar color schemes, but the differences in shades can make such a difference. The Bears always look solid.
15. Super Bowl XVII — A rematch of ten years earlier, yet this game looked different because Washington elected to wear white. I love it when white jerseys and colored pants face a team in the opposite, and the green/red contrast is nice.
16. Super Bowl III — Shoulder hoops heaven! Joe Namath’s famous guaranteed win featured two teams that rocked the stripes around the shoulder as well as anybody. They also are two teams that have a lot of white. In some ways, this one looked better in black and white.
17. Super Bowl XXXVI — This is one that will definitely be dated. It was the early 00’s and the lure of chrome-izing everything was too much for New England, St. Louis, and Regis Philbin. Metallic paint flecks aside, it still was a pretty good looking game.
19. Super Bowl XXI — The Giants had a pretty solid uni set back then, and looked good in blue. John Elway and company were a little less exciting in all white. A little too much similarity in color schemes to be higher up.
20. Super Bowl XLIV — I am more or less ambivalent about the Saints unis and the Colts always look good. Definitely was not a fan of the giant orange blob sitting on the black and gold of New Orleans.
22. Super Bowl XLIII — This one is a hard one to place. The Cardinals are bumper stickered to death. On the other hand, the Steelers look classy like always. In the end, this is a game that just settles nicely on the eyes.
25. Super Bowl XXV — The Giants and Bills played the Norwood-missed-kick Bowl. While this Super Bowl had a nice patriotic feel as the country was headed into Iraq War I, two teams with exactly the same color schemes is not super exciting.
27. Super Bowl XXIII — This was a far better looking game then seven years earlier when these two played in reversed home and road jerseys. The white Bengal jerseys looked good, considering they have animal print.
28. Super Bowl XXXIX — Both teams looked sharp in this one. The Patriots made their only appearance in the Elvis era in white and the Eagles had their modern green unis. Much like XXXVI, I think this will be one that years from now will hold up, but will be locked into a certain period in uni history.
29. Super Bowl II — Super Bowl II was a match-up between two classic franchises and two classic uniforms. The black of the Raiders and white of the Packers led to a rather dry color palette, however. The game looked fine, but nothing exciting.
30. Super Bowl V — Without the helmet logos, one would be forgiven for thinking this was an inter-squad scrimmage. This game is known as the blunder bowl. Maybe the two teams couldn’t remember which team was which. Special note: this is the only of the Cowboys eight Super Bowls in which they wore blue jerseys.
32. Super Bowl XVI — Like their Bay area counterparts, San Fransisco’s white jerseys are no where near as good as their home unis. The Bengals looked better than today, but not by much. As a native Detroiter I hate to say it, but Pontiac during a blizzard was just a weird place to have a Super Bowl as well, leading to that haze effect.
34. Super Bowl XXXVII — This game sort of looked like a pocket full of change: all silver and copper. Oddly, those metal tones actually fit together. While the game patches were present, they had yet to explode into the monstrosities we see recently.
36. Super Bowl XXIX — This is a game that would have been beautiful had it come along at another point in history. Take the 49ers white pants experiment and add in the baby blue-less Chargers and you get two teams playing at the low ebb of their uni history.
37. Super Bowl IV — This is a perfect case of the combo being worse than the individual parts. Red and purple just flunk color theory 101. Bonus points, however, for the awesome AFC patch that the Chiefs wore on their shoulder.
38. Super Bowl XXXV — Traditionalists may hate me, but the grey pants make the Giants more bland than their 80s counterparts. On the other side of the field, the boring black and white of Baltimore would make even Mr. Lukas question whether a little more purple could help.
39. Super Bowl XXXVIII — Word to the wise, if you don’t want to see Janet Jackson’s boob, don’t Google image search Super Bowl XXXVIII. That’s just one of several reasons the word “wardrobe” is not usually related to unis in the case of this game. Carolina did not bring much to the party, leading to a pretty average looking game.
40. Super Bowl XXXIII — ZZZZZZZ. This bland bowl is another example where a franchise had the misfortune of finally reaching the bad game at a point where their jerseys were at their worst. Denver’s new look works alright with another well dressed team, but can’t do much when the other side brings nothing to the table. (Side note: do the Broncos really want to trust their future to this guy?)
42. Super Bowl XXXI — Did this game feature perhaps the best jersey in the NFL? Yes. Did it also feature a team that didn’t look like they belong in the NFL? Yes. Those garish Pats jerseys looked like the MLB turn ahead the clock promotion vomited onto an NFL shoulder pad. The overwhelming ugliness of the Patriots (what is with that number font?) drags this one really low. The bottom was only avoided by the beauty of Green Bay.
43. Super Bowl XV — A lot of things went wrong here for me. Silver predominates, and I just don’t think of the Eagles as a team who belongs in silver pants. The Philly sleeve stripes are a mess and the pant stripes aren’t much better. And again, the Super Dome used to make games look like they were being played in a London fog storm.
44. Super Bowl XI — Purple and silver. Yuck. The game would have been much better with black Raider jerseys and white Viking unis, but alas it did not fall on the right year. I generally find the Raiders away look uninspiring (plus don’t those silver pants look almost white in some of these photos?), and the Vikings aren’t my favorite either.
Whew. Thanks, Caleb. That’s a tremendous effort.
What say you Uni Watchers — what’s your “best matchup” of all time? How’d Caleb do? The floor is yours.
Back to Brooklyn?
What you’re looking at is one of three “throwback” possibilities for the LA Dodgers next year. That’s the “1911” version (although they wore similar versions in 1910 and 1913). I actually wrote about that back when my posts were shorter than the list of Detroit Lions Super Bowl appearances.
Beginning this Monday (February 7), fans (and Uni Watchers) will have the opportunity to vote on one of three designs to be worn on six different dates in 2011. The second choice is this 1931 model, which is also a fantastic choice. I loved that one as well, and colorized a shot of that uni a ways back. The third choice is the “1940s” version, which was of course, the satin uni (which I covered here). A number of colorizers also tried their hand at that uni (see here, here and here). They really can’t go wrong with any of those.
They’ll all be worn on weekday afternoons, so while the “satin” throwback might be really sweet, it won’t make much sense if they’re wearing it in the daylight. Paul did some checking and he confirmed that the 1940s throwback, if selected, would be made of modern materials (likely the cool base) although James Huening suggested it’s possible they could also be made from “dazzle.” I’m kind of hoping that one goes down now.
As James pointed out, the only drawback is that the Dodgers will be wearing a road uniform at home — but I think that’s a small price to pay. Personally, I’d love to see the 1911 version, because the vertical placket is awesome, but any of the three would be great.
Best of Benchies
Purple Wildcats, Burgundy Cougars, Teal Jaguars, Green Eagles? What a joke. Everyone knows a uni should look EXACTLY like the animal, right? I mean, c’mon, already, there should be FAR more brown and tan unis out there. Well, thank goodness at least one broomball team took the time to get it right, for pete’s sake.
Lots and lots of tweaks keep pouring in, so obviously this is a popular feature. A bunch new to get to today. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great a keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!
Got a big set of tweaks today…so lets get right into it:
Starting off the show is Brandon Sims, who had some ideas for what the NFC Championship could have looked like, if, ya know, Nike had the clothing contract:
You have no clue how excited I was to see my tweak in your post the other day. I’ve been messing around with the pro combat templates a lot and experimenting with some of the things Nike might do to our poor teams when they get a hold of the unis.
Today I took advantage of the classic NFC Championship game and put in some of my ideas. I really like the ability that Nike has to combine classic and modern elements in a jersey. In this one I redid both helmets with different base colors. I played with it a lot and I really really really like the idea of a white lid for the Packers. Also if you look closely I used a more green green than the Packers use now.
On the Chicago side my main change was the jersey font. The one they use now is thin and not at all bear-like, if you know what I mean. I used the same shape and idea with a much bolder font. I’m not 100 percent sure what I think about the shoulder but I think I like it (I really dislike sleeve stripes, especially on sleeveless jerseys, I think it is a cheep way to add a little flare to your jersey.)
That’s about it. I love the blog and I hope to keep sending tweaks.
P.S. Please excuse my combo of yellow socks and shoes, I couldn’t resist.
Next up is Kyle Allebach, who has created uniforms for the “Hershey Bears.” Check it out:
I read about the debacle about the Hershey Bears putting the logos of the teams they beat on their jersey, and it got me thinking about adding a football team to Hershey, PA (I live about an hour away, and the UFL only wants to target “small markets”). Keeping in step with the hockey team, I named these guys the Hershey Bears as well. I chose Maroon, Gold (or as close as I could get to gold), and Silver as colors. I made the home and away standard uni’s, and then an alternate idea. Note; I’d rather not see monochrome maroon for the alternate home, but teambuilder is rather limited in my opinion.
Thanks for your time,
Closing out the tweak show today is Coachie Ballgames, who has some soccer concepts for us:
I tried combining France’s old crest with their newly unveiled jersey because I feel like the throwback look of their new shirt does not mesh with their very modern logo. And I removed the swoosh because everything looks better without the manufacturer’s logo.
I also did a review of the new France shirt and discussed the throwback design trend in general here
And that will do it for today. Check back tomorrow for more tweaks, concepts and redesigns.
IMPROMPTU INFORMAL UNOFFICIAL UNI-WATCH GATHERING?
Scott Rogers (“RSRogers”) will be in the Twin Cities this week. He and Ricko will be meeting at Bunnys—where Paul and Ricko watched the Vikings-Saints during the Deep Freeze last year—at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 10. Any U-W’rs are more than welcome to join them.
They promise not to get into a fistfight over whether the Nationals should, or should not, wear Washington Senators throwbacks.
Anyone interested can let Ricko know.
Bunny’s Bar & Grill, St. Louis Park, MN
(on Excelsior Blvd., just west of Highway 100 and east of Methodist Hospital)
OK, so Paul & I won’t be there, but it should be a great time. Stop on by and pay your respects to Rick & Scott.
5 & 1, Super Bowl Edition
And now, the part of the post you’ve all been waiting for: The 5 & 1.
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.
Now you know why he’s not doing any pro 5 & 1’s again.
So, I’ve avoided this “facebook” and “twitter” stuff forever, but one of my spring classes actually requires me to get a twitter account and to “tweet” (or whatever it’s called). So, I figured, I guess I can’t fight this anymore. So if any of you guys do this twitter thing and want to follow me (or have me follow you), my “handle” is philhecken. I’m already following a few choice writers and sites, so I should be able to bring some good uni (and other sports related info) pretty quickly, and offer some UW updates as we consider some possible future changes around here. So check me out, or not. OK? OK!
Time to shut down this massive post. My ultimate bestest Super Bowl Uni Matchup? Almost impossible to say, since there are a few I particularly enjoyed, but most of the early ones were great. I’d say SB I, III and V (for some reason, the Boys in blue versus the Colts was just awesome) were great, and more recently, the Bears vs the Colts was pretty sweet as well. The worst, without question, was the suicide-blue monochrome-clad Seabirds versus the Stillers. Just awful. What say you?
Have a great Saturday, folks. The big day is almost upon us.
Baseball is as much a set of stories as it is a set of stats. How else could you take a card with a table of numbers that would make an actuary comatose, slap a photo on the other side, and make a precious memory? — “DJ”