Dud Matchup of the Week
November 6, 2009 | Kevin Zdancewicz


 The NFL season has been blessed with a number of outstanding uniform matchups this season, thanks in no small part to the AFL 50th Anniversary Throwback series. The Patriots-Titans (as the Oilers) throwbacks matchup might be the best of the year – and it was in the snow! Just outstanding. This must have been what they had in mind when they invented HD TVs. This Bills-Titans matchup is not too far behind and I thought Chargers-Raiders was great both in spite of and because of the fact that those uniforms are so close to what each team wears now.

To bring this back to reality, there will always be dud uniform matchups in the NFL, especially as long as the Bills, Bengals, Seahawks, Browns, and Vikings keep their current looks. And this column will serve as a reminder of just that. Call this installment “Jersey Matchup of the Week.” The Cleveland Browns are our first culprit. For a uniform set that is supposed to be classic and traditional, they are rather uninspiring. The plain orange helmets are played out and there’s a reason you have to search far and wide for other examples of brown-and-orange as a color combination. Unless I’m completely blanking on someone more obvious, I don’t think there’s another big four major sports team with that combo. The next most recognizable team is probably Bowling Green State University (despite the fact that green might have been a better choice for them).

The Browns might have been a likely candidate to make up half of a subpar uni-matchup. But the Bears? Chicago has a solid color-combo – not that I’m biased or anything – and some classic uniforms. The Bears usually has a solid home look with navy jerseys, but that changes when they trot out their bright orange alternates. These have been around for a while, but have failed to look any better with time – especially compared to the standard navy jerseys. The combination with the Browns’ orange helmets (what a weird phrase) and brown pants, as well as the mish-mash of both team’s stripes made this game a tough one to watch aesthetically.

Getting back to the Browns, the brown pants are the big issue with this road set. As much as I like solid-color pants in college, I don’t think it translates as well to the NFL. This is probably because the NFL requires players to wear full-length socks as part of the uniform and there isn’t always a good option for a team when they wear colored pants. So when the Browns wear brown pants, they can either wear white socks with stripes as they did or solid brown socks to create what has been dubbed “the leotard effect.” I’m not a big fan of white socks with stripes; they just seem so dated to me. Wearing the same color pants and socks isn’t the greatest look, but I don’t mind it as much when compared to nearly solid white socks (which doesn’t even come close to my biggest pet peeve: white pants with white socks). One decent solution is to add some stripes to the pants to at least break up the monochrome effect somewhat, though wearing a different solid color sock is the better visual answer.

The Titans are a good example for this lesson in colored pants and colored socks. The team had it right when they wore navy jerseys with white pants and navy socks. For the road, they paired navy pants with navy socks but at least had some stripes on the pants. Then more recently they added light blue pants with navy socks that look great too and eliminate the monochrome effect. The Titans have a nice set of options for working around the same color pants and socks issue while still maintaining some solid combinations (not that they always do that). A lot of other teams don’t have a secondary color that is versatile enough to work on an extra pair of pants or socks. I mean, imagine how much worse the featured matchup would have been if the Browns had tried to use orange socks with brown pants. Disaster.

Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports