Welcome to The Vault, the weekly blog post that takes a look back at some of the best (and worst) jerseys throughout sports history. Each week, a classic set of threads each from the sports of football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer will be revisited.
All submissions are welcome by messaging @tftb_smalls on IG.
Football: Oregon Ducks QB Danny O’Neil
Before you say “Who the f**k is Danny O’Neil?”, I do wanna say that I know he’s probably an unknown name nowadays. However, I love the Oregon Ducks jerseys from the 90’s, so I had to at least find one player that wore it. And as it turns out, there’s an obscure story that comes with it. Danny O’Neil was named the starting quarterback of the Oregon Ducks as a freshman, and continued to be successful enough to keep his starting role until he graduated in 1994. While at Oregon, he threw for 8,301 yards and 62 touchdowns. In his senior season, he led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl with a 9-3 record and 2,212 passing yards . Oregon did meet Penn State in the Rose Bowl that year, and lost 38-20 (Penn State had what was considered one of the most prolific offenses in the country behind Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter). Even though the Ducks lost, they were the first Oregon team to win a conference championship in 37 years. Despite his collegiate career ending in disappointment, O’Neil did receive an invitation from the Kansas City Chiefs to join the team in training camp the following year. However, instead of accepting the offer, O’Neil began his career after school as a youth pastor in California (he happened to be a born-again Christian while at Oregon). While I personally find this career choice astounding, I guess you have to give this guy props for not simply going with the flow. Meanwhile, the 1994 Ducks uniforms are considered a classic, and even entered the team’s jersey rotation in 2014 as a way to commemorate the 1994 season. While Oregon currently rocks some of the flashiest uniforms in college football, you have to appreciate the simplicity and nostalgic look these jerseys bring to the table.
Basketball: Milwaukee Bucks SG Ray Allen
For this week’s basketball entry, we have the 1996-97 Ray Allen Milwaukee Bucks jersey. Allen was drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996 out of the University of Connecticut. However, he was immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Stephon Marbury in a three player deal. He soon grew into a prolific scorer, and even competed in the Dunk Contest in his rookie season. After making the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1997, Allen would sign a six-year extension with the Bucks in 1999 that made him the highest paid player in franchise history at that time. The Bucks, led by Allen and Glenn Robinson, would go on to make the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. Allen would eventually get traded to the Seattle Supersonics in the 2002-2003 season. By the end of his career, Allen made 10 All Star Games, had the most 3-point field goals made in NBA history, and won two NBA championships with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. His rookie jersey just has that classic 90’s NBA look, and is still worn by many fans today.
(Submitted by TFTB’s own Benny Buckets)
Hockey: USA Olympic Hockey G Jim Craig
If you haven’t seen the movie Miracle, I beg you to drop everything you’re doing right now and go watch it. It’s one of the best sports movies of all time, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re a commie bastard, plain and simple. Either way, the 1980 USA men’s Olympic hockey team has earned its place as one of the most memorable teams in American sports history. In the heat of the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union, the extremely young and talented team of amateurs beat the Soviet hockey team (which was considered the best hockey team to have ever graced planet Earth) in the medal round with a final score of 4-3. Jim Craig, the American goalie, had been drafted by the Atlanta Flames in 1977 after playing at Boston University. Instead of signing with Atlanta right away, Craig won the 1978 NCAA national championship at BU and began playing with the US Olympic team in 1979. During the 1980 medal round game against the heavily-favored Soviets, Craig stopped 36 out of the 39 shots he faced. His composure was key down the stretch and helped the US move on to face Finland in the gold medal game (where they also won). The “Miracle on Ice” is an iconic moment in American sports history, and the lasting images of Craig’s clutch performance should make every American’s twig and berries stand at full salute if they have a single ounce of patriotism in their body. Craig’s 1980 jersey is still a classic to this day, and most hockey fans will recognize it immediately.
Baseball: Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz
For this week’s baseball entry, I decided to go with a jersey that wasn’t actually officially worn in the MLB regular season. The Red Sox have been known to wear these green jerseys on St. Patrick’s Day during spring training, and I absolutely love this change-up (baseball jokes are the worst). Although I’ve never been to Boston on St. Patty’s day, I can only assume that these can be spotted everywhere while the entire city is out boozing. I chose the David Ortiz version of the green jersey for a few reasons. First, Ortiz is considered one of the best Red Sox to ever play for the franchise. His 541 home runs and 1,768 RBI’s speak for themselves. Second, Ortiz has routinely come up clutch in huge postseason moments for the Red Sox. Specifically, his heroics in the 2004 ALCS comeback against the Yankees will always be remembered by the Red Sox fan base. Third, his rallying cry after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing still gives me the chills to this day. What a legend.
Soccer: Barcelona AM Ronaldinho
For our last entry this week, I decided to go with an absolute legend of the game: Ronaldinho. This dude was one of the most electric Brazilians to ever take the field, and inspired an entire generation of soccer fans. Hell, I even had ‘dinho’s signature Nike cleats growing up. In his 145 La Liga appearances, Ronaldinho scored 70 goals and notched 50 assists. His ball skills were mesmerizing, and his goals were absolutely superb. He won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and one Ballon d’Or. He was a key part in Barcelona’s 2003-04 Champions League and La Liga titles, when he won his first World Player of the Year award. After scoring two goals against Real Madrid in the 2005 El Clasico, he became only the second Barcelona player to ever receive a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldinho later went on to enjoy professional stints in Italy, Mexico, and his home country of Brazil. I personally love the Barca jerseys before the club displayed sponsors on the front, which is why I picked the 2005 Ronaldinho jersey as this week’s soccer entry.
If you have any jerseys that you’d like to see on the Vault, please feel free to message @tftb_smalls on Instagram. Input is always welcome.