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Eight in the Box: The NFL's best throwback uniforms

(Chris O'Meara, AP) Think of what we were deprived of when the Bucs cancelled plans to wear this throwback. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The San Diego Chargers will roll out their popular throwback jerseys on Monday night, for a matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. In honor of that decision, this week's Eight in the Box takes a spin through the best throwback jerseys the league has to offer.

Honorable mention: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Unfortunately, Tampa Bay had to scrap plans to wear its bright orange throwbacks because of a new NFL rule prohibiting players from switching helmets during the season -- other teams sporting throwbacks are able to swap decals on previously approved helmets. Opinions on these Tampa Bay uniforms vary wildly, from those who love it to those who loathe it, usually with very little in-between. That the look is synonymous with one of the worst teams in NFL history, the winless 1976 Bucs expansion team, could be a point for those against the garish apparel.

Without the helmets, though, these throwbacks are not worth using. The "Bucco Bruce" logo of a swashbuckler with a knife in his mouth is an all-time classic.

8. Kansas City Chiefs

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images) The helmet makes the jersey. This helmet puts this Chiefs throwback over the top. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Again, it's the helmet that puts this throwback over the top. The jerseys and pants themselves are not all that different from what the Chiefs usually trot out on game days. But the helmet logo -- an outline of the state of Texas -- is simple without being boring, and it offers a cool reminder of the team's history. Before moving to Kansas City in 1963, the Chiefs won an AFL championship as the Dallas Texans.

Also in this category: Buffalo's buffalo-helmet design and the Titans' Houston Oilers throwbacks -- both available for viewing here.

7. Washington Redskins

(Aaron M. Sprecher, AP) When did RGIII play for Florida State? (Aaron M. Sprecher/AP)

Sure, the most recent Washington throwbacks look a lot like Florida State's uniforms. And, yes, the decal on the right shoulder is the increasingly controversial Redskins Indian chief logo. But come on: These are sharp. If you do not like the uniform adjustments, at least appreciate that the team took the effort to make its helmets resemble the leather helmets used in football's early days.

6. Atlanta Falcons

(Paul Abell, AP) Black uniforms don't always work, but they certainly do for this Falcons throwback jersey. (Paul Abell/AP)

In general, I'm not a fan of teams using black uniforms. (Carolina gets a bit of a pass because it matches its logo; others, like the Lions' mid-2000s alternates, should be thrown away forever.) For some reason, however, it really works for the Falcons. It may be because the black provides such a distinct contrast to the red helmets, giving the Falcons' throwbacks a truly unique look.

5. St. Louis Rams

(Seth Perlman, AP) The Rams sacrificed distinction with their switch from electric yellow to gold in their jerseys. (Seth Perlman/AP)

Not sure about you, but I cannot glance at the Rams' throwbacks without seeing Eric Dickerson blowing through tackles in the 1980s. St. Louis toned down its color scheme in the new millennium, trading in yellow for a much tamer gold. I'd go back permanently, if I were the Rams. Those helmets -- and that electric yellow, in particular -- are among the most recognizable in the league.

4. Chicago Bears

(David Stluka, AP) The Bears nicely reflect their storied history with these 1940s throwback jerseys. (David Stluka/AP)

The NFC North actually has a couple more old-school getups that could have made their way onto this list -- the Packers' 1929 blues and the Lions' traditional blue-and-silver both have arguments for inclusion. The Bears did claim a spot, though, with their 1940s homage. The numbering brought a one-of-a-kind feel here, relaying the same historical ambiance.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

(Brian Garfinkel, AP) Imagine how fast Chip Kelly's offense would seem to move in these bright green threads. (Brian Garfinkel/AP)

Like the Chiefs or Bears (or Patriots, still to come on the list), the Eagles accomplished a throwback look that's classic without being overwhelming. Some Philadelphia fans have been pushing for the organization to re-adopt this kelly green color scheme, over the dark green that the Eagles have worn for the past several seasons. I'm with those fans: This uniform should be in the permanent rotation.

2. New England Patriots

(Photo File, AP) These Patriots throwbacks sport a classic logo and a patriotic color scheme befitting the team's name. (AP)

Maybe it's because the old Electric Football set I owned pitted the '85 Patriots and Bears against each other that I hold a deep appreciation for New England's throwback duds. Whatever the reason, it's hard to argue with this look -- even if the pants call to mind the University of Arizona's gear. The red, white and blue fits the team name; the jerseys are far more of an eye-catcher than the Patriots' every-Sunday uniforms; and the logo (a colonial soldier snapping a football) is among the best the NFL has ever produced.

1. San Diego Chargers

(Paul Spinelli, AP) You know you've got a great throwback uniform when it earns alternate jersey status. (Paul Spinelli/AP)

The best of the best. There's a reason that the Chargers have kept their powder blues very much in the uniform rotation over the last few years. No one would mistake that jersey for any other team -- it is distinctly San Diego, and it is unmatched in the world of NFL throwbacks. How popular was this one? So much so that it is now the team's official alternate jersey.

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