- Paul Lukas
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Sports fans love lists, and that definitely includes uniform fans. The 10 best this, the 50 worst that -- the possibilities are limitless.
Sometimes, though, the best approach is the simplest one.
For example: How about if we ranked all 122 MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL teams based on their uniforms? No specialized niche categories, no eccentric criteria -- just a straightforward uni-based appraisal of every professional team from the Big Four leagues.
With that random "What if ..." idea, the Uni Watch Power Rankings were born. Our intent is simple: to present the last word on uniform assessments.
If that sounds like an audacious project, well, it is. You say it's nonsensical, maybe even crazy, to compare a hockey uniform to a basketball uniform? You're right! But we're doing it anyway, because lists are fun. Admit it, you're already wondering where your favorite teams are going to rank.
We'll be rolling out the Power Rankings in five installments over the course of this week -- one segment per day, from worst to first. So today we'll start with the bottom of the chart, spots 101 through 122, and then we'll continue on Tuesday (76-100), Wednesday (51-75), Thursday (26-50), and Friday (1-25).
Before we get to the rankings, though, here are the ground rules:
• All judging has been done by the Uni Watch Power Rankings Executive Committee, which has a membership of one and freely admits its biases. The committee is rather fond of green but gets a rash at the mere thought of purple, for example. Similarly, the committee tends to like old-school designs and is skeptical of design "innovations" that just feel like gimmicks. Despite these predispositions, however, some teams' rankings may surprise you. (Just to provide some diversity of opinion, we've also invited ESPN.com writers in the four major sports to chime in on what they like and don't like in a uniform design. Their essays will be showcased throughout the week, although they weren't part of the judging committee.)
• Each team has been ranked primarily on the basis of its current home and road uniforms, with alternate uniforms taken into account if they're part of the team's regular uni rotation. One-off designs, special promotions, throwbacks, and so on have not been considered.
• In a few cases, ranking a team's "current" uniform set has been tricky. Some franchises, such as the Bobcats and Seahawks, recently unveiled new designs. These have been evaluated as best as possible, but it would be fair to say that their assessments are incomplete and that their rankings should be viewed as though they had an asterisk. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets are due to unveil their uniforms in September, but there's no way to rank that design until we see it, so the team's ranking is based on last season's set. Unfortunate, but them's the breaks.
• Several NHL teams, such as the Sabres and Panthers, have announced that they're retiring their alternate uniforms for the upcoming season, so those designs were not considered when evaluating those teams.
• Almost every NFL team has some little design tweak this season, thanks to Nike's new deal as the league's uniform outfitter. Many of these changes are fairly subtle, but they've been factored into the rankings to whatever extent possible based on preseason action and Nike's unveiling event in April. NFL throwbacks and alternates were not included in the evaluations, except for teams that have always worn their alternates each season.
• If the NBA follows through on its plan to sell advertising space on its jerseys (a final vote is expected in September), all 30 of its teams will be put at the bottom of the rankings next time around.
• Speaking of which, we plan to update the Uni Watch Power Rankings on a semi-regular basis. So if a team updates its design, it can move up or down in the rankings.
OK, enough preliminaries -- let's get to the rankings. This is Day One, and we're starting at the bottom of the chart, the absolute worst of the worst. Competition at this end of the chart was every bit as fierce as at the top. Take a look (you can click on each team's name to see its current uniform set), and feel free to post your feedback in the comments or on Twitter -- use the hashtag #UniRank. Then meet us back here for another installment each day this week until we reach the top 25 on Friday.
UNI WATCH POWER RANKINGS -- Click team names to view uniform sets
(Special thanks to Michael Barreras, Jared Hartung, Mark Meeks and Zack Tanner for their photo research assistance.)
Paul Lukas will never look at the number 122 the same way again. If you liked the Uni Watch Power Rankings, you'll probably like his daily Uni Watch web site, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.
Uni Watch tackles the epic task of ranking the uniform kits of the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL from 1-122. (Part 1)