New Season, New Shirt: The Best Tees for Every NFL Team
At a June retreat for The MMQB staffers at a lakefront cabin in Pound Ridge, N.Y., which involved fishing, flip cup and this epic picture, Peter King asked everyone to offer up new ideas for the 2016 season. One by one, we shared our thoughts. When my turn came, I said I wanted to write about football lifestyle.
“Great! Let’s do it,” Peter responded. “But one question: What is football lifestyle?”
Well, PK, you’re looking at it. For the past three years, I’ve run a men’s lifestyle site that covers everything from apparel to food to travel and tells the stories of guys pushing the boundaries of what’s expected. This column will be the football version of that. Every Friday in this space, I’ll write about everything from fan gear to tailgating essentials to the pets of players to what brand’s backpack Tyrann Mathieu carries into the locker room every Sunday.
To kick things off, I set out to find the best T-shirt for every NFL team. Click the links below for my favorite (The MMQB Pick) as well as my choices for over and under $25. And because I didn’t want to leave out the ladies, I asked my wife, Danny—writer, tank-top addict and avid NFL documentary watcher—to pick 32 pieces she’d sport in the stadium.
As a media member, I have no rooting interest so my picks are unbiased. I took into account wearability, originality and style, and sought out independent brands where possible because the NFL is a multibillion-dollar monolith and doesn’t deserve any more of your money. As you’ll see, I lean old-school, and many of the picks reflect my affinity for vintage logos and branding.
• The MMQB Pick: I saw these bold blue letters and it immediately brought to mind Marv Levy, Andre Reed and Cornelius Bennett. That’s the kind of memory recall you want in a shirt and not, say, J.P. Los(s)man.
• Over $25: Distressed logos on heathered gray all damn day.
• Under $25: Sometimes, you have to wear your pain with pride.
• Women: Give me a million Bills shirts and I’d pick the vintage buffalo every day of the week … and twice on Sunday.
• The MMQB Pick: I have no allegiance to the Dolphins, but if I was picking one shirt off this list for myself, it’d probably be this one. The aqua-orange combo and timeless logo is perfect.
• Over $25: The shirt is OK but it’s more about the orange. Be bold.
• Under $25: The players already are annoying about it. Might as well join them.
• Women: When the rest of the country cheers in coats this winter, you and your pod can rock this old-school tank with a shoutout to Dan the Man.
New England Patriots
• The MMQB Pick: Matt Patricia was created in a lab by mad scientist Bill Belichick, and you’ll never convince me otherwise. Patricia is exactly what every D-coordinator should look like. Wear his bushy-bearded face with pride, Pats fans.
• Over $25: Embrace Pat Patriot and leave the new logo alone.
• Under $25: Understated detail here? That old-school face mask.
• Women: If people stare at your chest, it’s only because this unusually restrained Pats graphic is comprised of the words “New England Patriots.”
New York Jets
• The MMQB Pick: Hard to go wrong with a clever nickname that began with one group in the ’80s and resurfaced three decades later. Also: If you find a shirt with this helmet on it, buy ASAP. Disappointed I couldn’t find one.
• Over $25: Gets right to the point, doesn’t it? Love that thick typeface.
• Under $25: A bit busy but a cool design with nod to the past.
• Women: Revis and the boys have been doing this a long time. Show ’em you’re a fan from way back.
• The MMQB Pick: I had a hard time here. I don’t really like the Ravens’ logo, name or colors—probably leftover loathing of Ray Lewis. So when in doubt, go simple.
• Over $25: See? Even the vintage treatment only barely helps the logo.
• Under $25: I can get on board with this washed purple look. So much less abrasive.
• Women: Looking to b-more than another fan in purple? These numbers speak for themselves.
• The MMQB Pick: The MMQB editor/podcast guru Gary Gramling owns this gem from Homage, and says it reminds him of growing up in the ’80s “when the Ickey Shuffle was the best thing that could happen on a Sunday.”
• Over $25: There’s something very grade-school phys-ed class about this design that I love.
• Under $25: Love the cartoon tiger and the diagonal black-orange stripe.
• Women: What’s more awesome than showing your favorite 300-pound defensive tackle some love? Finding the perfect tiger stripe bralette to go underneath it.
• The MMQB Pick: No need to complicate things when your team owns the best helmet in professional football.
• Over $25: The elf doesn’t get the respect it should outside Cleveland. Let’s help change that.
• Under $25: Ohio brand Homage pays respect to Bernie.
• Women: A cool logo takes the bite out of a bad beat.
• The MMQB Pick: The city of Pittsburgh has a local, throwback mentality, so might as well get a T-shirt—made by a local company, featuring a throwback team—to match.
• Over $25: The Steelers have the best receiver in the NFL. Flaunt that.
• Under $25: This makes me think the Steelers should lose the color on their three star-like symbols on their helmets for an alternate uniform.
• Women: If Biggie Smalls came up in the ’Burgh, he would’ve said, “If you don't know, now you know, Yinzer.”
• The MMQB Pick: I love this shirt. It’s kinda like a Waffle House sign, the Saved by the Bell logo and Houston Texans football all merged into one glorious design.
• Over $25: Big, bold and straight to the point. Just like Texas.
• Under $25: The sleeve stripes intrigue me. Feels like something Red Grange would wear.
• Women: Tailgate food and tight shirts don’t mix. This slouchy tee reps both city and team with a sweet, script-y style.
• The MMQB Pick: This one will have to do until they start making “I’m a Member of the Andrew Luck Book Club” T-shirts. (And yes, I realize I’ve now picked two shirts featuring guys with beards. Is that wrong?)
• Over $25: Sure, this logo originated in Baltimore, but it doesn’t mean Indy fans can’t embrace it.
• Under $25: Caricatures of franchise quarterbacks are always a sure thing.
• Women: Buck the horseshoe look with this old-school v-neck.
• Over $25: Lesson: When a teal logo is involved, stripping out all color and going monochrome is preferred.
• Under $25: Nice combo of gold and white, and I lov... WAIT. Are those logos in the armpits?! Who signed off on this?
• Women: Wish they’d punted on the rhinestones, but love the built-in cross-hatch.
• The MMQB Pick: When there is more excitement around a young quarterback than the overall team, that’s a good time to break out the player-specific shirt.
• Over $25: Faded hashmarks? Kinda like the extra vintage vibe they give out here.
• Under $25: Easily the best part of the Titans’ branding is this Roman-like font.
• Women: Capitalize on letterpress, not logos, with this snug American-made tee.
• The MMQB Pick: Broncos fans already know to reject the new logo like it’s a low Mark Sanchez pass at the line of scrimmage.
• Over $25: Confuse the hell out of the Peyton-come-lately fans with this Dijon-brown beauty.
• Under $25: Bonus: If anyone asks who’s on your shirt, you can just sack the crap out of them.
• Women: The only thing more inventive than Peyton Manning’s audibles is a shirt that combines them into his image.
Kansas City Chiefs
• The MMQB Pick: So much perfect here: the Red Sea nickname, the ketchup-mustard color combo, the subtlety of the 142.2 placement. Nice work, Charlie Hustle.
• Over $25: Can’t really mess up the Arrowhead logo.
• Under $25: In a sea of red, that yellow will stand out—in a good way.
• Women: One small detail—like letters that fade into the neck—is the difference between a go-to tee and an end-of-season addition to the garage sale pile.
• The MMQB Pick: Silver and swords—how is this not already the name of a Raiders blog?
• Over $25: My favorite part of the Raiders logo is the solitary black helmet stripe. So badass.
• Under $25: Bonus for future Vegas Raiders fans: This one doesn’t say Oakland anywhere.
• Women: Because not all women want to look like lady pirates.
San Diego Chargers
• The MMQB Pick: For fans spanning the past couple generations, pixels and pigskin go hand-in-hand. And that 8-Bit Bolt is boss.
• Over $25: Powder blue is all the rage, but count me as more of a fan of the Fouts-era navy.
• Under $25: That light blue-bright yellow combo has serious pop. Can’t sneak into Qualcomm in this.
• Women: Nothing like some California love. Throw up a finger if you feel the same way.
• The MMQB Pick: Roll your eyes at all the Romo jerseys, and instead reward the man who has been the most consistent performer in Dallas for the past decade-plus.
• Over $25: Because you can’t support the Cowboys without repping Texas too.
• Under $25: Bonus: T.O. might try to stand on your chest when you wear this.
• Women: You and Willie Nelson have a lot in common.
New York Giants
• The MMQB Pick: Who would be mad if the Giants wore this logo on their helmets once a season? Well, besides the uptight suits at the No Fun League.
• Over $25: Not that there is anything wrong with this logo. This shirt is also available in red; when it’s back in stock, pounce.
• Under $25: A very 80s vibe here. Phil McConkey fans, rise up.
• Women: Hundreds of words have been used to describe Odell Beckham Jr., but six letters are all you need.
• The MMQB Pick: How much does it cost to become the talk of the tailgate? About fifteen bucks. Tecmo and Reggie can’t miss in any crowd of Philly fans.
• Over $25: Give me the full eagle over the clipped helmet wing all day.
• Under $25: White tees are unforgiving but simplicity outweighs that here.
• Women: New season, new coach, new shirt that looks old.
• Over $25: Sorry. Same shirt, different color. I like it that much.
• Under $25: The gold is too good not to flaunt when the occasion calls for it.
• Women: Marketing teams spend years on the perfect sports slogan. Kirk Cousins rolled off the field, barked three words and nailed exactly what it feels like to win.
• Over $25: Why is the bear yawning? Perhaps he just watched Jay Cutler play.
• Under $25: The design is meh, but bottom line: Orange is underrated as a Bears color.
• Women: Back in ’85, when this team nickname was resurrected, this look would’ve required a visit to the local iron-on shop.
• The MMQB Pick: It’s kinda like someone tried to wipe off the logo on this shirt. Long-time Lions fans can empathize with that feeling: There are many Sundays they wish they could erase.
• Over $25: The squashed lion is growing on me, but the real love here is for those vertical stripes.
• Under $25: Tecmo Barry is all you need to know.
• Women: You don’t have to wear a lion to roar.
Green Bay Packers
• The MMQB Pick: Your buddies might prefer the Aaron Rodgers Says R-E-L-A-X shirts but no need to overthink things with a logo this iconic.
• Over $25: I never realized the Packers had their own font until I researched this piece.
• Women: With Clay Matthews on the front, every tee is a muscle tee.
• The MMQB Pick: Is the Run DMC design played out? Probably. Do you want to be the one to tell Adrian Peterson? I didn’t think so.
• Over $25: This combines two things America needs more of: heathered purple tees and big yellow mustaches.
• Under $25: Love the facemask here, especially the fact that it’s white. Strong look.
• The MMQB Pick: This will work, but what I really wanted was a shirt featuring this helmet, complete with concussions-be-damned shell and vintage facemask. Make it, and make a mint. Or at least $30 from me.
• Over $25: If you can get past the model’s cheesy tattoos and the color being “licorice,” then this is a sweet shirt.
• Under $25: Hard to endorse a black shirt, but I do enjoy the font.
• Women: Fact: Julio is a nickname. This prolific ATL wide receiver’s given name is actually Quintorris.
• The MMQB Pick: Sure, it’s a stretch as a Panthers shirt. But pride in state and pride in football team go hand in hand. And this is a badass product, a frequent occurrence for Old Try.
• Over $25: Never been a fan of the logo (too angular) but I like this treatment.
• Under $25: Possibly the best value on this list. Love the all white panther too.
• Women: Gotta support the swag. He’s not No. 1 by accident.
New Orleans Saints
• The MMQB Pick: I love this old logo, but if you wear this shirt, you better be ready to answer the question, “Why is his chin resting on the shield?”
• Under $25: Does the price reflect the company’s opinion of Drew Brees’ hairstyle?
• Women: Not even the almighty Breesus could shake this song from his head.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• The MMQB Pick: The most inevitable pick on here. If you didn’t see this winking, sword-biting man coming, then you haven’t been paying attention.
• Over $25: Look, here he is again. Bucs fans are so lucky in the logo department. Not so much on the actual field though.
• Under $25: Fine, I’ll give the current look some love too. Pewter has potential.
• Women: The original version of this Bucs logo was last used in 1996—two years after QB Jameis Winston was born.
• The MMQB Pick: The simplicity of this logo, used by the Chicago Cardinals in the 40s and 50s, is perfect. Hey, we need a logo designed for the Cardinals football team. \\\Eight minutes later/// Done!
• Over $25: The NFL’s most likeable player deserves your support.
• Under $25: So this actually costs $28, but five bucks goes to a great cause. Do it for BA.
Los Angeles Rams
• The MMQB Pick: Spent more time than I care to admit searching Rams shirts. So many great options. See? I can like new things too.
• Over $25: The recall here for fans of ’80s NFL is of Jim Everett and Eric Dickerson. Man, it’s good to see football back in L.A.
• Under $25: Throw it on back even further with this gem commemorating the D-line group from the ’60s and ’70s.
• Women: L.A. ain’t cheap: Save money by supporting both boys in blue.
San Francisco 49ers
• The MMQB Pick: The combination of tri-blend softness and a vintage design is undefeated, very much unlike expectations for your 2016 49ers.
• Over $25: This is a creative way to honor the best who ever played the position.
• Under $25: Will they make one of these for Blaine Gabbert one day? You never know. (Except we do, and they won’t.)
• Women: This drape-y racerback leaves your biceps bare for Kaepernicking.
• Over $25: The 8-bit treatment shows how superior the Seahawks’ old-school helmets are to the modern version.
• Under $25: If you take nothing else away from this list, let it be this: Stop modernizing NFL team branding. Older is almost always better. Now get off my lawn.
• Women: Anyone can sport a Seahawk. To the true fan, the team and city are inseparable.
The MMQB Football Lifestyle column is a curated list of links to what’s catching Dom’s eye off the field. The MMQB has affiliate deals with some of the brands featured and receives commission on certain purchases. Have an item for consideration? Share it.