NFL Throwback Uniforms: Ranking the 15 best vintage jerseys in league history

Look good, play good. The sports psychology behind those four words is fascinating. There is actual merit behind that cliché. NFL throwback uniforms provide some of the best and worst examples of aesthetics. The top NFL throwback jerseys are so good they can make non-fans of the franchise want to hang one up in their man cave. But who has the best one?

Top NFL throwback uniforms | 15-6

Bottle up that nostalgia — let’s rank the top NFL throwback jerseys!

15. Dallas Texans

They had the state of Texas on their lid with a star signifying the city of Dallas on the map. That is an unbelievable touch, even if the team was horrific. Let’s give a shoutout to the great Lamar Hunt for this fantastic bit of history before eventually moving the franchise to Kansas City.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Photo Credit: Getty Images

14. Cleveland Browns (mesh dark brown)

Is there anything more Dawg Pound than a mesh practice jersey being worn on Sundays? They look like they’re about to punch you in the mouth wearing the darkest shade of brown they could find. The white numbers almost blended in with the white shoulder pads peeking through the mesh. The classic whites are a great look, too, but the spirit of Cleveland lies within the mesh.

Mike Pruitt (43) runs with the ball during a game against the Los Angeles Rams.

13. Buffalo Bills (1994)

1994 was an excellent year for uniforms, and the Buffalo Bills were no exception. Red, white, and blue will always be a winning combination. But the red helmet with the blue tops and white pants were the best look the Bills have sported in their history (and the white helmets of the ’60s with the all-red buffalo were amazing too). What makes this one of the top throwback jerseys in NFL history was the beautiful color coordination and the team’s success that went along with them.

Photos: Buffalo Bills Uniforms Through the Years

12. Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles’ uniforms have always been stellar. But there is something about the oversized No. 29 of Eric Dickerson that resonates best. The number was too big in the front. The number was too big on the arms. The yellow on the sleeve was massive. But all that gaudiness was perfect for a city like Los Angeles. The Rams’ horn helmet is the best persisting helmet in the league.

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11. Denver Broncos (Elway era)

This might very well be the best helmet of all time outside of the “Bucco Bruce’s.” The massive “D” on the helmet with the horse framed is an incredible look. It seems like the horse is blowing smoke also, which would be appropriate for a Denver-area team in the year 2021. The orange crush makes this NFL uniform one of the greatest throwbacks of all time.

Cowboys safety Brock Marion (31) brings down Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway during the first half of their game at Texas Stadium on Sept. 10, 1995.

10. San Francisco 49ers (1994 edition)

I have no idea how the NFL allowed the 49ers to have the numbers so prominent on these throwback uniforms. The three red stripes on the sleeve were perfect, and even the most near-sighted fans could see everyone’s numbers from the nosebleed seats. There’s also something incredibly sleek about all white tops and bottoms.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (creamsicle)

They’re ugly, but they’re iconic. The red and orange bleed into one another to create a kind of combination color if you’re farther than 10 feet away. However, what makes this one of the top throwback uniforms is “Bucco Bruce” on the helmet. The man is carrying a blade in his teeth — that is cold-blooded right there. For what it’s worth, the uniform looks fine up close. The colors simply do not contrast well enough at a distance.

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8. Atlanta Falcons (all blacks)

Black tops. Black helmet. Deion Sanders in his backpedal, getting ready to snatch up another pass from the opposition. That’s the look. Paired with the falcon wing swooping down to follow the lines of the facemask naturally and you have the meanest throwback uniforms in NFL history. The subtle red outline on the numbers is perfect, and the silver pants complete the set.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

7. Philadelphia Eagles (kelly green)

The wings on the helmet just don’t hit like they used to. There was a beautiful lack of definition to them when the wings were silver with no outline. The eagle on the arm sleeve was a beautiful touch. But the best thing about these was that the white tops were just as cool, if not cooler, overall. There was something about the sparkle we got when the light struck the green numbers that hit differently than the all-green tops.

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6. Dallas Cowboys (white shoulders)

When you played Madden as a kid (or adult), you picked these Cowboys NFL throwback jerseys. If you didn’t, you missed out. If you don’t, fix it. The white shoulders that frame around the back accentuate the name on the back perfectly. The way the white and blue meet mid-sleeve to sharply jet up to the mid-collar is unique. The star on the shoulder and helmet is beautifully simple. The numbers have no outline. Like the Cowboys’ daily jerseys, these are a classic and simple design, which is a perfect contrast for such a bright franchise.

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Photo Credit: USA Today

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Top NFL throwback uniforms | Top 5

The cream of the crop is upon us.

5. Miami Dolphins (Marino era)

Miami’s uniforms from this era were just like Dan Marino. They put up big numbers but couldn’t quite get the job done to secure the championship. The white tops with teal numbers contrast beautifully with the tertiary orange Miami uses. The stark difference between the bottom and top due to the teal-based bottoms worked perfectly. Also, the logo on the side of the helmet completes the design. An orange ring somewhat framing a dolphin wearing an old-school helmet? I’m in.

Photo Credit: USA Today

4. Denver Broncos (originals)

The first fiery hot take of the list lands all the way up at No. 4 on the list. The bright yellow tops and brown bottoms ooze football. They’re one of the top NFL throwback uniforms of all time because of their simplicity. The brown helmet has a single white line on the top and player numbers in white on the side. The yellow jersey has brown numbers with no outline color. The brown pants with two yellow stripes are an incredible inverse of the tops and work smoothly with the helmet. Yet, the socks could go the way the Steelers’ throwbacks seem to want to go — prison.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

3. Houston Oilers

The Houston Oilers’ baby blue tops with white numbers and red outlines are some of the prettiest throwback uniforms in NFL history. They also paired with an outstanding collar on the sleeve with two exterior red lines running around it. Then, two more bold white lines wrapped around. And it finished off with the baby blue stripes curling around in the very center.

Tennessee Titans players lobby to wear throwback uniforms in 2021
Photo Credit: USA Today

2. New England Patriots (Pat Patriots)

NFL teams knew how to do red, white, and blue. The “Pat Patriots” uniforms only come second because the most superior color around lands in the top spot. The red ones, in particular, are one of the top NFL throwback uniforms of all time. Paired with white pants and two red exterior vertical stripes, and a blue vertical stripe in the middle, this made for the most well-thought-out color coordination the league has ever seen. How did the Oilers and Patriots come up with that specific combination? Did they try it with the blue and red swapped on the stripes?

New York Jets v New England Patriots
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

1. Los Angeles Chargers (Powder Blues)

Even the name is No. 1. “Powder Blue” just lands right. What makes these the top NFL throwback uniforms of all time is watching how unfairly cool LaDainian Tomlinson appeared making guys miss while wearing these. Chargers uniforms have always been exceptional. The best part about these particular NFL throwback jerseys is they went through many changes from 1960 until the team wrongly chose to go with a navy blue color. Their only championship came in 1963 while wearing the powder blue jerseys. Coincidence? I think not!

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