The Sartorial Bowl
A look at the look of the Super Bowl
A Facebook friend of mine recently noted that he was disappointed by the uniform matchup for this year’s Super Bowl. He was 100 percent correct in noting that the uniforms will not look good together, as there is a conflicting shade of red situation (also present last year) that is going to make us football aesthetes (we are definitely not ATHLETES) go crazy with mild annoyance. He brought up some previous matchups where the uniform matchups were much more pleasing. So, I have decided to take a look at the BEST Super Bowl uniform matchups. How? It’s really a two part question. Which Super Bowl had the best teams based on their uniforms, and how do those uniforms match up? I am going to list my own top 10 here. Feel free to note your own personal favorites (or enraged disagreement) below in the comments.
Cowboys/Steelers. Super Bowl XXX. (also, Super Bowl XIII and X)
Not to be confused with the Vin Diesel movie by the same name, Super Bowl 30 was an otherwise boring matchup between two of the most popular teams in history. It can also be remembered as the last time the Cowboys were a great football team (25 years later and counting… hang in there Cowboys fans… any day now). The Cowboys cruised to a win, but more importantly, these are two iconic uniforms in a head to head matchup, with neither diminishing the other. The Steelers sported their black uniform with yellow pants and the Cowboys sported their legendary combo, the Cowboy blue pants and white jersey. As I noted in my uniform article that was my very 1st at the Duckpin, the Cowboys actually created their own color for the pants, and that color somehow merges the blue and silver perfectly. These teams also both share near perfect logos. The Steelers logo a perfect representation of Pittsburgh (and the only one to be on just one side of the helmet) and the Cowboys lone star the perfect representation of Texas. Tough to top these two iconic uniforms head to head. As a bonus, this matchup has happened 3 times, more than any other.
Ravens/49ers Super Bowl XLVII
These two matched up with two very different uniform schemes. Still there is just a hint of overlap. The gold in the uniforms is identical, and it makes for a neat link that ties the two together without creating any sort of clash. In New Orleans, gold works really well too. Ask the Saints. The red and white versus the purple and black created a neat sort of good guy vs. bad guy look that gave this almost a comic book feel. The strange symmetry of the head coaches’ appearances even added to the effect. Also, both of these uniforms are great on their own. Purple should be used a lot more in uniforms as a stand-in for all of the black uniforms we see. As the color of kings and villains, it creates a sense of power and toughness. Meanwhile, the 49ers are an iconic uniform that doesn’t need much improvement. Also, the game was a nail-biter, decided at the very end. And let us never forget the power outage, where nobody’s uniforms looked good in the pitch black.
Steelers/Cardinals Super Bowl XLIII
No, that’s not the size of my pants, it’s a fantastic uniform matchup that was also a fantastic Super Bowl. While the yellow vs. red was a tiny bit off-putting, what I really like here is the alternating coloring of the two. The Dark Helmet versus the White Helmet. The Cardinal’s beautiful red jersey versus the iconic Steelers white. The yellow pants versus the white. These are two of the best uniforms in the NFL, and their contrast in this game shows off some of the best of both. It helps that there were so many great plays in this game, it didn’t really matter who you wanted to win, it was exciting all the way through, right through Mike Wallace’s ballet tap to clinch it.
Rams/Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI
Silver and gold. Just like the song from the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, these two battled it out to decide which metal would be the dominant one. While neither of these uniforms are particularly appealing on their own to me, matched up, they created a strange sensation of watching a battle of alchemy. The blue matched perfectly, and the Patriots red is pretty downplayed here. So what you have are silver pants vs. gold, and silver helmet vs. gold. Of course, this also had the distinction of being our introduction to the Patriots dynasty. So, while most of us grew to be sick of seeing the uniforms, when they were first introduced to us, it was a bit of a surprise. I was even ROOTING for the Patriots in this game, as they were huge underdogs. Sadly, that plucky young upstart QB had a few more big games in him.
49ers/Bengals Super Bowl XXIV (also XVI, but the uniform choices in that one were worse)
Don’t ask me why I have this one here. I have absolutely no idea. At the time, the Bengals striped helmets were some of the coolest in football, and the all white uniform went very nicely with this. The 49ers, as noted earlier, is an iconic uniform. Still, the red and orange SHOULD be annoying. Yet, for some reason, when this concept popped into my head, this game wouldn’t go out of my head. I wasn’t alone either, as this game was also mentioned by my friend who came up with this topic. This was the very first Super Bowl I watched as a kid (at least that I recall). I only made it to half-time, and Golden Joe had no problem putting away the Bengals. This game doesn’t resonate as an all-timer, but it was one of the few I saw as a kid that WASN’T a blow out, so maybe that made it more interesting. At any rate, I can’t explain this, but here we are.
Bills/Giants Super Bowl XXV
In an effort to not ruin the good vibes Bills fans have going right now, I will not include a picture of the Wide Right that sealed this one for the Giants. If you are a big fan of the patriotic, this was the Super Bowl for you. Red, white and blue was on full display here. My biggest subtraction is for the all white Bills uniform. I wish they had gone with colored pants here, as that would have made for a nice complement to the Giants’ white pants. Sadly, they look a little washed out. Also, in a game that got VERY down and dirty, those white pants didn’t look so good by the end. As my friend (who made this his pick, I guess he loves America more than me) noted, this was also in the back drop of the Gulf War. This doesn’t mean much to me, because at this point, I don’t look back on the string of wars there with a whole lot of national pride, but at the time, it certainly had a unifying effect. Ultimately, these two color schemes are very complementary, but not too overwhelmingly similar as to be a distraction.
Dolphins/Vikings Super Bowl VIII
I find this one interesting because of how unique the uniforms are in this matchup. The Aqua and Orange versus the Purple and Yellow/Gold are really interesting to me. The Vikings and Dolphins both had really cool, city-specific schemes. This is one that is less about the uniforms complementing one another as it is the fun of seeing these both in the same game. These are two of the most fun uniforms of the era, and both are enjoyable in this game, with Vikings using a nice all white uniform and the Dolphins busting out their trademark “aqua” (actually teal). Of course, the actual game wasn’t much of a fun offensive showcase, as these were two of the best defensive teams of their era.
Chiefs/Packers Super Bowl I
The very first of it’s kind was also a nice uniform matchup. The dark green and gold versus the bright white and red hinted a bit at the matchup. The more wide open AFL was going face to face with the more old-school and traditional NFL in a matchup that was billed as force versus finesse. Force won out, with the Packers discipline and talent taking the day. While these aren’t the “coolest” uniforms, the logos have held up to the test of time, and these two seem to complement one another nicely. We almost got this one again this year, and it would have been a big improvement over what we did get.
Packers/Broncos Super Bowl XXXII
We are starting to get near the bottom of the barrel of quality matchups. These two are here, more because there is no clear negative color interactions. The alternating light and dark on both uniforms matches up very nicely. The color schemes here have no overlap, so there is true sense of opposition. I would add that the packers earth tones contrast nicely with bolder colors of the Broncos. This was also the first interesting GAME in almost 10 years, so I have some positive memories of this game being exciting when the ones before it had been very drab one sided affairs.
Patriots vs. Falcons Super Bowl LI
Once again, this is a matchup that is less about being visually incredible, and more about being two decent uniforms that balance nicely. The dark bottoms for the Patriots compared to the white bottoms for the Falcons, and then the dark uppers for the Falcons versus the light uppers for the Patriots work well. Really, this is just a chance for me to relive that time Brian told me the game was over at 28-3 and I refused to acknowledge it because I was terrified of Tom Brady winning yet another dirty Super Bowl. And of course he did. That reminds me… this starts two weeks of Super Bowl coverage from The Duckpin… stay tuned for more.