Athletes Who Looked Strangest in New Uniforms

Peyton Manning

The Peyton Manning saga has finally come to an end (at least until it’s time to see whether he can actually still throw the ball) and the Colts legend will conclude his career as a Denver Bronco. If you find it difficult to picture Manning in a Broncos jersey, you’re not alone. Manning’s the latest in a long line of superstars who became so identified with the team and city they played for, only to conclude their careers in a foreign jersey.

This is a list of the 15 ballplayers who looked most out of place in new uniforms at the end of their careers.

Top 15 Strangest Looking Uniforms

15. Karl Malone – Los Angeles Lakers

The rest of the country was barely aware that there was a professional basketball team in Utah until Karl Malone and John Stockton arrived in the mid ‘80s. Malone scored more points than any player other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while building the Jazz into a perennial playoff contender. However, in ‘03, he signed with the Lakers in hopes of winning the championship that had eluded him throughout his career. Unfortunaetly, he fell just short once again as the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the NBA Finals.

14. Duke Snider – New York Mets and San Francisco Giants

The Duke with Willie Mays
The Duke with Willie Mays

The Duke was a mainstay in centerfield for the Dodgers for 16 seasons, powering the team to two championships (One in Brooklyn and one in L.A.) During the 1962 season, the Dodgers sold him to the Mets, where he was instantly a crowd favorite from his days in Brooklyn. After one season in New York, though, he asked to be traded to a contender and was sold to the Giants. Years earlier, his teammate Jackie Robinson retired rather than play for the Dodgers’ arch rival, but Snider accepted the move and concluded his career with one unproductive season in San Francisco.

13. Franco Harris – Seattle Seahawks

Harris was an important component of all four of the Steelers’ championship teams in the 1970s, and in ‘72 he won a playoff game in stunning fashion with his “Immaculate Recpetion.” The Steelers cut the popular veteran before the ‘84 season after he threatened to hold out for more money. He signed with the Seahawks and ran for a few hundred yards in his lone season with the team.

12. Hank Aaron – Milwaukee Brewers

“Hammerin Hank” smacked home runs for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves organization for 20 years. In 1974, just months after he broke Babe Ruth’s record, the team traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers so he could prolong his career in the American League as a designated hitter. His numbers significantly declined over his two seasons with the Brewers, though he was selected to his 21st All-Star Game in 1975.

11. Emmitt Smith – Arizona Cardinals

Smith ran for more yards than any running back in NFL history during his 12 years with America’s team and was arguably the Most Valuable Player on their Super Bowl teams of the mid ‘90s. After his record-breaking 2002 season, the Cowboys hired Bill Parcells to rejuvenate the floundering franchise and he  promptly cut Smith, who then signed with the Cardinals where he languished behind a weak offensive line for two seasons.

10. Patrick Ewing – Seattle Supersonics and Orlando Magic

Ewing was the centerpiece of the New York Knicks franchise from the moment they selected him with the first pick in the 1985 draft. He led them to two NBA Finals, but by 2000 the Knicks had transitioned into an up-tempo team, ill-suited for his aging knees. Unwilling to meet his demands for a contract extension, the Knicks traded Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics where he played for one season before riding the bench for the Orlando Magic the following year.

9. Ray Bourque – Colorado Avalanche

The all-time leading scorer for NHL defensemen suited up for the Boston Bruins for 21 seasons. In 2000, the team was in rebuilding mode and Bourque asked to be traded to a contender. Management honored their captain’s request and shipped him to Colorado, where he capped off his career by winning the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in his final season. He brought the cup to Boston to celebrate at a rally with Bruin fans.

8.  Joe Montana – Kansas City Chiefs

“Joe Cool” quarterbacked the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories while earning a reputation as one of the greatest clutch performer in football history. After he missing the entire ‘91 season and most of ‘92 with an elbow injury, the team decided to go with the younger Steve Young at quarterback and traded Montana to Kansas City. At 37 years of age, he still had something left in the tank and he led the Chiefs to the AFC championship game in January 1994.

7. Bobby Orr – Chicago Blackhawks

During his 10 years with the Boston Bruins, Orr won three MVP awards and scored the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals in ‘70 and ‘72. Then, in ‘76, he turned down a lucrative offer from the team, which included part ownership, to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Crippled by knee injuries, he played in only 26 games in three seasons with the Blackhawks and famously never cashed a check from the team, because he felt he hadn’t performed up to expectations.

6. Willie Mays – New York Mets

The “Say Hey Kid” roamed centerfield for the New York/San Francisco Giants from 1951-72. Widely considered the best all-around player in the game, he led the team to victory in the 1954 World Series. At 41 years of age, Mays was washed up when the Giants sold him to the Mets in 1972. The hearts of baseball fans sank to the floor when he misplayed two fly balls in the World Series during his final season in 1973.

5. Brett Favre – New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings

Favre wasn’t just Mr. Green Bay, he was the face of the league during his tenure with the Packers. The Mississippi gunslinger created countless indelible images in that green #4 jersey and though he began his career with the Falcons, after 16 seasons with Green Bay it seemed inconceivable that he could ever play for another team. But as Favre contemplated retirement in 2008, the Packers committed to Aaron Rodgers and shipped Favre to the Jets. He suited up for New York for one season before closing out his Hall of Fame career with the Packer’s rival Minnesota Vikings.

4. Johnny Unitas – San Diego Chargers

Unitas was the field general of the great Baltimore Colts teams of the late 1950s and one of the individuals responsible for the surge in popularity experienced by professional football in the United States. From 1956-72, he led the team to two championships and won three MVP awards. By 1973, his body had broken down and the Colts traded him to the San Diego, where he played five games for the Chargers before retiring after the ‘73 season.

4. Joe Namath – Los Angeles Rams

No athlete was more associated with the spotlight of New York than “Broadway” Joe. He was the Jets’ quarterback from 1965-76 and led the team to a legendary upset over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. By the mid ‘70s, knee and hamstring injuries had sapped him of his mobility, and in May ’76, the Jets waived him so he could sign with the Los Angeles Rams. Broadway Joe just didn’t look right in a blue and yellow jersey, playing in only three games for the Rams before calling it a career.

3. Babe Ruth – Boston Braves

Though he began his career in Boston, the Babe was so synonymous with Yankee baseball that Yankee Stadium became known as “The House That Ruth Built.” In the twilight of his career he desired that he wanted to manage, but the Yankees had no intentions of replacing skipper Joe McCarthy, so they sold Ruth to the Boston Braves in 1935. Overweight and broken down, the Great Bambino played less than two months for the Braves before walking away from the game.

1. Michael Jordan – Washington Wizards

When we envision M.J. soaring through the air with his tongue wagging or knocking down a game-winning shot, he’s wearing a red Chicago Bulls jersey. However, three years after retiring from the Bulls, discontent as co-owner of the Wizards, Jordan came out of retirement at the age of 38 to play for his new team. Though he still performed at an All-Star level, the air was out of his game, and the Wizards failed to make the playoffs both seasons he took the floor.

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Top 20 Quarterbacks to Start a Team With

by Paul Knepper

Suspend reality with me for a moment and imagine that you are the owner of a new NFL franchise. You can pick any quarterback to head your team. Who would you choose?

Naturally, your first thought is Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but this isn’t a one year deal. You’re building a team and must consider both the short and long term interests of your franchise. Age and durability are important factors. You may also want to consider off-the-field issues for the face of your franchise.

Here’s my list of the top 20 quarterbacks to start a team with.

20) Kevin Kolb

Kolb has finally landed a starting gig in his fifth year in the league. During limited playing time with the Eagles he showed signs of greatness and at other times appeared lost. The Cardinals obviously think he’s the answer to their quarterback problem, trading Dominique Rodgers-Cromarte and a second round pick for him, then signing him to a five-year $63 million contract.

19) Matt Schaub

Michael Vick’s one-time backup in Atlanta has found a home in Texas, where he’s led one of the most productive offenses in the league the past few years.  Of course, throwing to Andre Johnson always helps. Schaub’s not a franchise quarterback, but he’s probably in the top ten to fifteen QBs in the league and should remain so for the next five years.

18) Andrew Luck

The “suck for Luck” sweepstakes are in full swing and the Seahawks are the early favorite. He’s the consensus number one pick in the 2012 draft and the most highly touted pro quarterback prospect in years. His experience in a pro-style offense at Stanford should help him hit the ground running in the NFL.

17) Jay Cutler

For years we waited for this gunslinger to take his game to the next level. It’s not happening. At 28, in his sixth season in the league, the Bears know what they have in Jay Cutler, a good quarterback, with a great arm who still makes poor decisions and demonstrates questionable leadership ability. I’m not sure if I want to rest my Super Bowl hopes on that right arm.

16) Mark Sanchez

The verdict is still out on the Jets third-year signal caller. His completion percentage is cause for concern and he needs to continue to cut down on his mistakes over the middle. Still just 24, there’s room for improvement and it’s noteworthy that he’s played his best football in pressure-packed games, leading the Jets to the AFC Championship in consecutive seasons.

15) Tony Romo

Quarterback of “America’s team” is the most scrutinized position in sports and Romo’s schizophrenic play hasn’t helped matters. Take week one against the Jets for example. He was great for three quarters, then handed the Jets the game with two inexplicable turnovers. The most significant statistic attached to Romo is that the Cowboys have only won one playoff game during his tenure.

14) Eli Manning

Once you get past all the hype that comes with his last name, playing QB in the New York market and his recent statements, Eli is simply a good quarterback, nothing more. He’s in his prime right now and still led the league in interceptions last year. I can hear Giants fans screaming, “But he won a Super Bowl!” Yes, and so did Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson; their busts aren’t lining the walls of Canton any time soon.

13) Joe Flacco

The Ravens signal caller continues to improve in this his fourth season and the team has rewarded him with greater responsibility and a more dynamic group of receivers. He hasn’t missed a game in his career and should continue to be a dependable, if not spectacular player for the next eight to ten years.

12) Cam Newton

It’s way to early to jump to any grand conclusions, but 854 yards passing in his first two games, one of which was against the defending champion Packers, is unbelievable. Last year’s Heisman winner is also capable of rushing for 100 yards on any given Sunday. I’ll take his upside over more established QBs like Eli Manning and Cutler.

11) Michael Vick

It took many seasons, a stint in the big house and some tutoring from Andy Reid and Marty Mornhenwig for Vick to become the quarterback the Falcons envisioned when they selected him with the first pick in the 2001 draft. The Eagles QB played MVP-caliber football during the first half of the season last year, though he’s had trouble staying healthy and his legs will be less of a weapon as he ages.

10) Peyton Manning

A mysterious neck injury may sideline the Colts franchise player for the entire season, meaning he may be 36-years-old the next time he lines up behind center. It’s fair to wonder if he’ll be able to compete at the same level and if so, for how long. Given his condition, I’d take 10-12 years of some of the young guns over two or three possibly diminished years from Peyton.

9) Matthew Stafford

Stafford can really sling it. The third-year quarterback tossed seven touchdowns in the Lions first two games this season. The only question about this former Georgia Bulldog is his durability. His first two seasons in the league were cut short by injuries, including one to his throwing shoulder last year.

8)  Josh Freeman

He doesn’t receive a great deal of press playing in Tampa, though to this point he’s been the most impressive quarterback from the 2009 draft, which included Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez.  Freeman took great strides last year, playing with the savvy of a seasoned veteran on a much-improved Bucs team.

7) Phillip Rivers

The Chargers brought back memories of the “Air Coryell” days last season, with Rivers throwing for a league-high 4,710 yards. And that was without the services of stud wide receiver Vincent Jackson for most of the season. Rivers and the Chargers lack of success in the playoffs prevent him from being ranked higher on this list.

6) Sam Bradford

This Heisman trophy winner and first pick in the 2010 draft has lived up to his billing so far, passing for over 3,ooo yards in his rookie season without the benefit of a number one receiver. He’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that ended his junior year at Oklahoma and at the age of 23 has plenty of room for growth.

5) Matt Ryan

“Matty Ice” made Falcons fans forget about Michael Vick pretty quickly. The fourth year signal caller really came into his own last season, significantly improving his touchdown to interception ratio (28/9), while leading the Falcons to the number one seed in the NFC.

4) Drew Brees

The Siants QB had an off-year last season and still led the league in completion percentage. He has a Super Bowl MVP on his resume and is rightfully mentioned among the best quaretbacks in the game. At 32, he should have a few elite years left, but you may want to consider a younger option like one of the Matts (Ryan or Stafford).

3) Ben Roethlisberger

His off the field issues are well documented and there have been rumblings that he’snot the best teammate, but  Big Ben has led the Steelers to three Super Bowls, winning two of them. He doesn’t have the accuracy of Manning or Brady, but he has a knack for making plays when his team needs them most. At 29 years of age, he should have several more top notch seasons in him.

2) Tom Brady

Brady brings a championship pedigree and had perhaps his finest season last year, throwing 36 touchdowns, compared to just 4 interceptions. If you were choosing a QB for one season this former Michigan Wolverine would be your guy, but at age 34 he realistically only has two to three elite seasons left. Still, I like my chances of winning a Super Bowl in that short time period.

1) Aaron Rodgers

With his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLV Rodgers secured his place among the elite quarterbacks in the league and at just 27, he’s the youngest of the bunch. He’s the complete package on and off the field. If you were starting a franchise he’d be the number one pick.

Honorable mention:

Colt McCoy, Christian Ponder, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker