The good, the bad, the ugly: Here's a look at the worst (and best!) alternate jerseys in sports

·6 min read

Uniforms are a team's identity. Think the New York Yankees' iconic pinstripe. The gold and purple of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Cowboys' classic blue star.

Athletes across all professional sporting leagues proudly display their team name across their chest, but some jerseys aren't deserving of that honor. While credit is due for trying to creatively reimagine branding and pay tribute to their history, some teams' alternate uniforms will live out their days in the hall of shame.

Other teams knocked it out of the park.

From the Pittsburgh Steelers' infamous bumblebee jerseys to the Washington Wizards' upcoming cherry blossom jerseys, here's a look at the worst (and best) alternates.

MORE: Washington Nationals, Wizards unveil new jerseys, paying homage to D.C.'s famous cherry blossoms

Juan Soto in City Connect jersey
Juan Soto in City Connect jersey

The Good...

Washington Nationals, 2022 

The Nationals paid homage to Washington, D.C.'s famous cherry blossom season with blossom-themed City Connect jerseys. The uniforms feature architectural typeface, representing our nation's capital’s strength, while the tonal floral toile is a symbol of its beauty. While the pink and ivory color palette differs from the Nationals' traditional red, navy and blue, the springtime colors feel like a breath of fresh air.

The Nationals' spring uniforms were created in collaboration with the Washington Wizards, marking the first Nike campaign joining MLB and NBA teams from the same market. The Nationals received top marks, but you'll have to scroll to see the Wizards.

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Washington Nationals' Yadiel Hernandez rounds the bases on his three-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Washington Nationals' Yadiel Hernandez rounds the bases on his three-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Los Angeles Lakers, 2021

The Lakers are known for the iconic Laker purple and gold, but the 2021-22 City Edition uniforms substitute the latter for Minneapolis baby blue. The striking jerseys honor each Lakers dynasty, from the color of the Minneapolis era of the 1950s to the drop shadow numbering of the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s.

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the closing seconds of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Crypto.com Arena on April 1, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The Pelicans won 114-111.
LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the closing seconds of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Crypto.com Arena on April 1, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The Pelicans won 114-111.

Seattle Sounders, 2021

Seattle paid tribute to legendary guitarist and Seattle native Jimi Hendrix with the Jimi Hendrix Kit, a purple, orange and yellow alternate jersey that embodies Hendrix with bold colors and psychedelic patterns. The jerseys are finished with Hendrix’s authentic signature stamped on the front and lyrics from his song “Straight Ahead" on the neck tape. What's not to love?

New York Liberty, 2021

The Liberty's 2021 Nike Jersey Collection is inspired by the Statue of Liberty, a famous landmark in New York that represents freedom. The seafoam green color is vivid, but the most striking part of the jersey is the word "Equality" across the chest in copper, black and white. The message is not only relevant to Lady Liberty, but the WNBA's continued fight for equal pay.

New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) in action against the Indiana Fever during a WNBA basketball game, Friday, May 14, 2021, in New York.
New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) in action against the Indiana Fever during a WNBA basketball game, Friday, May 14, 2021, in New York.

New Orleans Saints, 2016

The Saints have the best "Color Rush” alternate jerseys in the league, hands-down. The bright gold accents pair perfectly on the crisp white uniforms that catch our eyes on the football field.

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) gestures after running back Alvin Kamara (41) scored his sixth touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec 25, 2020.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) gestures after running back Alvin Kamara (41) scored his sixth touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec 25, 2020.

... The Bad

Seattle Seahawks, 2016

The Seahawks' all-Action Green Color Rush uniforms are as polarizing as they are bright, and that's saying something. The combination of the neon green jersey, neon green pants and neon green socks is overwhelming. Although the uniforms may be an eyesore, they are good luck for the Seahawks: They are 4-1 when wearing the all- Action Green jersey.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) jogs off the field during a game last season at Lumen Field.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) jogs off the field during a game last season at Lumen Field.

Miami Heat, 2020

The Heat's "Miami Vice" collection contains some of the coolest sports jerseys ever made. The first four iterations of the collection spanned white, black, blue and pink jerseys, but the fifth and final "Vice Versa" uniform appeared to combine them all together and push the boundaries too far. The blue and pink ombre is reminiscent of cotton candy.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) and forward Precious Achiuwa (5) talk during the second quarter against the Houston Rocket at Toyota Center.
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) and forward Precious Achiuwa (5) talk during the second quarter against the Houston Rocket at Toyota Center.

San Francisco Giants, 2021

The Giants Nike City Connect uniforms are supposed to evoke fog and the Bay Bridge, but the plain-Jane jerseys look like Thanos snapped his fingers and are partly disappearing. Although the sleeves have a Golden Gate Bridge imprint, it seems like Nike could have done so much more with this design. It seems like a missed opportunity.

Green Bay Packers, 2016

The Packers took the green out of Green Bay with these 1937 throwback jerseys. The navy blue alternate jerseys include a gold yoke across the shoulder pads, as well as faded gold pants and navy blue socks.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to the scoreboard following a turnover during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on Oct 16, 2016.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to the scoreboard following a turnover during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on Oct 16, 2016.

Houston Astros, 2019

Here's another jersey that is extremely polarizing. While many love the iconic red and yellow rainbow stripe, it is a lot to take in. Although this jersey was daring and ahead of its time when it first debuted in 1975, the contrasting horizontal stripes have proved to be a fashion faux pas through our current lens.

... And the Ugly

Washington Wizards, 2022

The Wizards' blossom-themed jerseys haven't even made their debut yet and we already are dreading them. The idea behind the jerseys is cool and the bright pink uniforms seem to be right up Kyle Kuzma's stylish alley, but this is an example that sometimes less is more. The blue and pink ombre paired with falling Cherry Blossoms is just too much for the eye. The Wizards' jersey will debut during the 2022-23 season.

Florida Gators, 2017

The Gators took their mascot a little too literal with these gator-inspired alternate uniforms, which were created to honor the 25th anniversary of Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium being named "The Swamp." The jersey features "swamp green" alligator skin with blue alligator-skin sleeves and bright orange number decals. The cleats also don alligator-skin. This uniform looks like PETA should be called.

Pittsburgh Steelers, 2016

The Steelers took the "Killers B's" (a nickname for the lethal combination of QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown) too literal with their 1934 throwback uniforms. The striped black-and-yellow, bumble-bee jerseys sting the eyes and the matching striped socks are overkill.

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs with the ball after making a catch during the first quarter against the New York Jets at Heinz Field against the New York Jets on Oct 9, 2016.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs with the ball after making a catch during the first quarter against the New York Jets at Heinz Field against the New York Jets on Oct 9, 2016.

Denver Broncos, 2009

The Broncos are known for bright orange and navy blue, but did you know that the original team colors were brown and mustard? The newly-formed team wore mustard  jerseys, brown pants with yellow stripes and the infamous vertically striped socks from 1960-61. The getup was so awful that the Broncos held a public burning ceremony for the socks in 1962. Ouch. But the jerseys rose from the ashes in 2009 when the Broncos wore the throwback jerseys to commemorate their 50th season. They were horrible then and they are horrible now.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) breaks up a possible interception by New England Patriots' Shawn Springs (29) in overtime in an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009, in Denver.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) breaks up a possible interception by New England Patriots' Shawn Springs (29) in overtime in an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009, in Denver.

Montreal Canadiens, 2009

Stripes have appeared to land heavily under the worst uniforms and the Canadiens 1912 Throwbacks are no exception. The jerseys feature blue, red and white stripes that resemble a barber shop pole.

Follow Cydney Henderson on Twitter @CydHenderson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The best and worst alternate jerseys in sports

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