The most dramatic NFL team uniform changes in history

The NFL is all about tradition. It celebrates its past, cherishes its legends, and modern players are always looking to outdo those who came before them. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that throughout the history of the NFL, most teams have stuck with the same uniform designs, making only small changes here and there. 

However, this is not true across the entire league. Some teams have made some rather dramatic shifts over the years, either because they’ve moved cities or because they were looking to rebrand themselves to something new. 

To see how we got to where we are today, let’s take a look at the most dramatic NFL uniform changes in the league’s history.

Major Changes to NFL Uniforms

Somewhat surprisingly, few teams in the NFL have made truly major changes to their uniforms. But four stand out for their shifts:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Perhaps the biggest change in NFL team uniforms came in 1997 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to really mix things up. Since their inception in the league, they had worn burnt orange, white, and red uniforms, and their helmets sported this logo: 

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But in 1997, they decided to change things up entirely. They switched their logo to a completely different version of a buccaneer, and they also completely changed their color scheme. The change was so dramatic that if you look back to old footage of the team, it’s hard to know who is playing. 

Here’s what their logo looks like now: 

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Denver Broncos

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The next most dramatic uniform shift came from the Denver Broncos. Originally founded in 1960 as a part of the AFL, the Broncos first sported yellow and brown uniforms. However, like most NFL teams, their initial design didn’t last, and they quickly switched to an orange, blue, and white look, with a logo that featured the letter “D” with a bronco running through it. 

Then, in 1997, the team made a pretty big shift. They totally redid the color scheme, though they stayed with the same core colors. The new uniforms featured darker shades. The major change was to the logo, which dropped the “D” and featured just a horse. 

While this move was dramatic, it seemed to have worked well for them; in their second year with the new look, the team won its first Super Bowl, and then won it again a year later. 

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New York Jets

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The first version of the New York Jets, the one that helped launch the AFL, were actually called the Titans of New York. They wore light blue and gold uniforms. Later, in 1963, the team adapted the Jets name and logo and introduced green and white as their color scheme. 

Since then, the Jets have stuck with the same colors, but they’ve redone their uniforms a total of four times, alternating between white helmets with the old school logo and all green helmets with a newer look. 

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The current version of the Jets’ uniforms are new as of 2019 and feature a color the team invented — Gotham Green.

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Other Changes

These three teams, the Buccaneers, Broncos, and Jets, have undergone the biggest changes in terms of their uniforms. Other teams to make larger than average adjustments include the:

  • Seattle Seahawks — In 2002, the Seahawks dramatically changed their color scheme, though it was modeled on their classic look. 
  • Tennessee Titans — Originally the Houston Oilers, and then the Tennessee Oilers, the team changed its name to the Titans in 1999. They kept a similar color scheme but introduced an entirely different logo.
  • New England Patriots — In 1993, the New England Patriots retired their long-time logo — Pat Patriot — in favor of what they have now. Still a throwback jersey, many Pats fans still prefer this look.

More Changes to Come

Although most NFL teams have kept the same or very similar uniforms throughout their history, some have dared to completely reinvent themselves. It’s hard to imagine some of the older classic teams (Packers, Chiefs, Steelers, Cowboys, etc.) making big changes. But you never know. A few bad years might be enough to get these storied franchises to want to totally reinvent themselves. Until then, we can take solace in knowing that, when it comes to NFL team uniforms, few things will ever change.

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