By: Joe Pohoryles
When watching sports, the action on the playing field is the main draw. Nothing beats rooting for your team’s victory with family and friends. Yet these days, sports leagues everywhere have come up with ways to make watching the game even more enticing: alternate jersey designs.
With jerseys designed for special occasions, fans can watch their teams in action with a fresh look, and have the chance to purchase them to add to their collection. Some alternate jerseys are terrific, even favored to the regular home and away kits, while others are failed experiments best left unmentioned.
The four major sports teams of the DC area have had their share of alternate uniforms in recent history, and so we’ll take a look at the 14 alternate uniforms the teams have had over the past 15 years, from the worst to the best.
The Ugly and Underwhelming
14. Wizards’ Baltimore Pride (2015-16)
This throwback paid homage to the Baltimore Bullets of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and while the sentiment is nice, the turnout was anything but. NBA teams have pulled off good-looking short sleeve uniforms, but the Wizards did not follow suit. The stripe placement is odd, especially with the turn it takes on the shorts, and the logo’s placement just makes for a big blue and white clash on a red backdrop. Credit the organization for trying to put out something different, but the idea could have been executed much better.
13. Redskins’ 1930s Throwback (2012-present)
This uni brings a modern touch to the earliest look in franchise history. The dark burgundy is a fine start, but the dijon mustard-colored pants and the dark gold (nearly brown) numbers clash in an overall ugly color combination. The best part of the jersey — the leatherhead-style helmet — cannot even be worn anymore because of the NFL’s rule implemented in 2013 that states a team can only use one helmet style for the whole season. It’s just not a pretty jersey, and without its best part, it loses some historical significance, too.
12. Wizards’ Navy w/ Red Top (Statement) (2014-present)
Nothing is inherently ugly about this one, and it even got updated for the 2019-20 season to feature the “The District” text featured on earlier Wizards alternates (as you’ll see further down). Its tameness is what holds it back; it does not look all that different from the normal home/away styles, and does nothing to make it look better. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not incredible.
The Pretty Good
11. Redskins’ Gold Color Rush (2016-present)
From this one forward, I actually like the look. These all-gold Color Rush uniforms offer a nice alternative to the usual burgundy and white, but unfortunately they have never been seen in action. The organization, as of 2017, was opposed to the look and have yet to wear it on the field. Why they did not get involved during the design process is beyond me (maybe they were not allowed to, but that does not really make sense). It’s not the best-looking color rush uniform in the league, but I think it’s a fine once-a-year jersey to change things up.
10. Nationals’ Stars & Stripes Curly W (2017-present)
A simple, patriotic twist adds a little extra flavor to an overall tame jersey that’s not all that different from the usual uniforms. The difference in shades of blue for the navy version throws me off a little, but I think the white one looks really clean. As the nation’s capital, the American flag design is fitting, and also subtle enough to not completely overwhelm the jersey. Not to mention, with baseball being a summer sport, this is the perfect jersey for Nats fans to wear for the Fourth of July. Not a significant change, but still something that is an improvement from the original design.
9. Capitals’ 2015 Winter Classic
Unlike the 2011 Winter Classic, where the team first introduced their throwback editions, new designs were brought in for 2015. This new spin brought a different shade of red and a simple, but retro-looking ‘W’ logo. Personally, I don’t even think it needs the ‘Capitals’ text across the front and would look nicer with the ‘W’ alone, but it doesn’t take away from the look. They have not really worn it since that Winter Classic (at least that I can remember), but I think it should make a comeback.
8. Wizards’ Gold + B/W (2006-2009)
I already know this placement is controversial, as many regard it as one of the uglier jerseys in recent NBA history, but for whatever reason I like it. The shade of gold is not the prettiest, but I don’t think it’s that egregious; at least it doesn’t clash in any way like it does with the Redskins’ throwbacks. It’s difficult to see in the photo above, but the sides are lined with black stars, going with the ones on the shoulder fronts. Unlike other NBA jerseys, it doesn’t do too much; it differs from the usual blue and white color scheme without going overboard. To me, the style just screams ‘mid-2000s’, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it.
7. Wizards’ “The District” variations (The City) (2017-2019)
Either Nike got lazy with their “The City” edition designs for the Wizards, or they just really loved this one, because the three jerseys above were the special Nike jerseys, respectively, for three consecutive seasons. While other teams got totally different styles from year-to-year, the Wizards just went from white to black to red. Despite the lack of creativity on Nike’s part, it’s a fine look. I’m a big fan of having “The District” on the front, and the Washington Monument on the sides is a nice touch, but otherwise the solid color schemes limit its potential.
6. Capitals’ 2018 Stadium Series
This one is interesting because the Caps exclusively wear red or white, so it was cool to see them in navy for once. The red stripes and white shoulders accent it well, though I’m not super fond of the front logo. Obviously, it uses the shortened team nickname, so it’s a more casual twist, but I did not believe it was the best option. That’s my only complaint; I think it would look so much better with the team’s W-shaped eagle (or “Weagle”) logo:
Seriously, how awesome does that look? I’d say enough to vault into the top three, at least. Maybe add a couple white stars to the front, too. Either way, this is another one I’d like to see them wear more than once.
5. Wizards’ DC Stars & Stripes (The City) (2019-present)
After three years of the same “The District” design, Nike finally brought back the stars and stripes look that fans fell in love with in 2016 (foreshadowing to later in this list). Instead, the front features the DC logo, which differentiates from the usual “Washington” or “Wizards” text across the front. The DC flag design on the waistband is also a cool touch. The all-whites allows the red and blue to pop, and returns a spin on a fan favorite design.
The Crème de la Crème
4. Redskins’ 1970-71 Throwback (c. 2007)
Fans have not seen this look on the field since the 2007 season, and that’s a shame. In fact, the franchise only had this as their actual uniform from 1970-71, so this clean look has been criminally underused. The inverted colors on the helmet with the ‘R’ logo is a nice change-up, and pairs with the pants nicely. Although it’s a white jersey, there is still a strong presence of burgundy and gold from the numbers to the sleeves. Even if they never use the Color Rush, they can at least bring this back. I wouldn’t complain.
3. 2011 Winter Classic/Original Throwback (2011-present)
The white version was reintroduced for the 2011 Winter Classic, while the red one was brought back into the mix a few years later, after the franchise wore these jerseys from its inception in 1974 until 1995. They’re similar to the current jerseys, but are a lot cooler (in my opinion). The stars on the throwbacks are much more prominent, and I like how they are included on the sleeves here, alternating between blue and red/white (something the regular jerseys lack). It’s just a nice-looking sweater, and I’m happy the team uses them a fair amount.
2. Nationals’ Navy/White Alternates (2018-present)
There may be bias here considering the Nats went through their entire World Series run primarily sporting their navy alternates, but I have always been a fan of the scripture/underlined front text on baseball jerseys, as seen across the league (Dodgers, Orioles, etc.). This style has not been featured much before on Nats jerseys, except for the away jerseys that said ‘Washington,’ so it’s nice to see the actual team name in this format. The white version has only been used in spring training, but I think I like it slightly more than the navy ones. (I’m starting to sense I have an affinity for white jerseys). Either way, this is a look I can’t get enough of, and I hope it’s here to stay.
1. Wizards’ Stars & Stripes (2016-2017)
Ok, maybe this isn’t the most alternative-looking jersey on this list, and it’s very similar to the current The City edition, but this one came first, and I like it better than the new one (although I’ll take the new one over nothing). I honestly thought this should have become the official home or away jersey. The logo front of the newer version seems more gimmicky, whereas the “Washington” text across the front has a crisp look to it. The subtle red and white border surrounding the numbers makes it less bland. The stars and stripes’ location on the side make it so it’s not an overtly patriotic look, yet it still brings the whole thing together. Everyone else can pack it up and go home; in my eyes, nothing beats these.
(Cover Photo Credit: Washington Wizards YouTube)