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: 1994 Iowa Football
We start off this week with an absolute heater of a football jersey. And by heater, I mean it would be an excellent source of fuel for when you toss it in the fire, because these things are heinous. The Iowa Hawkeye football team wore this jersey in their 1994 season, where they only went 5-5-1 (going back to the era of college football where ties were somehow accepted). It was part of a rough stretch for the football program, where they went 5-7 in 1992 and 6-6 in 1993. Quarterbacked by the late Ryan Driscoll, the Hawkeye offense was decent, ending the season with 27.9 PPG (34th best in the country). However, their defense had a pretty rough year, ending with 29.5 points allowed per game (85th). The team only went 3-4-1 in Big Ten play and failed to make a bowl game. While their 1994 season was forgettable, they improved in 1995, going 8-4 and winning their Sun Bowl matchup against Washington. Although these jerseys are hilariously bad, they definitely bring a nostalgic feel with them. They’re also a far cry from the program’s current uniforms, which are actually VERY traditional-looking.
Basketball: Philadelphia 76er’s PF Charles Barkley
For our basketball entry this week, I went with Charles Barkley’s jersey from the 1991-92 Philadelphia 76er’s season. I might not be the most die-hard NBA fan of all time, but even I know Barkley is one of the most recognizable players of all time. Drafted in 1984 by the Sixers out of Auburn, “The Round Mound of Rebound” went on the have a very successful career in the NBA. In the 1991-92 season, Barkley scored 23.1 points per game and made the All-Star Game (he was an eleven-time All Star). He currently ranks 5th in all-time NBA rebounds with 4,260 boards. I personally love these ’91 Sixer jerseys (probably for the wrong reasons), and Sports Illustrated describes them to a tee:
You can’t help but think of NBC’s “The More You Know” PSAs from the ’90s when you look at this uniform.– Sports Illustrated
Hockey: Pittsburgh Penguins RW Jaromir Jagr
I’ll admit, this week’s hockey jersey is a homer pick for sure. Regardless, “Jags” will go down as one of the best Penguins players of all time (as well as NHL players, period). Jagr was drafted in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Penguins, coming out of Czechoslovakia. He was drafted to compliment superstar Mario Lemieux, and was an extremely integral part in the team’s back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 1991 and 1992. In his rookie season, he scored 27 goals. When Lemiuex missed the 1994-95 season, Jagr stepped up in a huge way and won the NHL scoring title. Through the late 90’s, he continued to be one of the best players in the league, despite the Penguins going through a rough stretch as a franchise. He was traded to the Washington Capitals in 2001, due to the Penguins running into major payroll issues. Known as the “Ageless Wonder”, Jagr continued to play in the NHL until 2017, when he was released by the Calgary Flames. He is considered an NHL legend, and one that Penguins fans will never forget. The late 90’s Pens jerseys with the diagonally-stitched letters is a quintessential sweater, and there was no better player wearing it than Jagr.
Baseball: Arizona Diamonbacks P Randy Johnson
Our baseball jersey this week belonged to none other than the “Big Unit” himself, Randy Johnson. This legendary pitcher was taken in the second round of the 1985 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos and made his major league debut in 1988. After spending time with the Expos, Seattle Mariners, and Houston Astros, Johnson signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 1999 season ($52 million deal). The D-Backs won the NL West that year, winning 100 games. Johnson won 17 games that season and led the league with 364 strikeouts. This performance led him to win his second Cy Young award. After also spending some time with the Yankees, the D-Backs for the second time, and the Giants, Johnson retired in 2009. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015, and currently comes in at #2 all time in strikeouts. Johnson is also famous for absolutely vaporizing a bird that got in the way of one of his pitches (below). These pinstriped Arizona jerseys are a staple in MLB history, and showcase the franchise’s unique and traditional colors.
(Submitted by TFTB’s own Greg McAfee)
Soccer: 1991-92 Manchester United Away
For our final entry this week, I decided to not attach a player to this jersey, considering how good the Manchester United squad was during this time. With legend Peter Schmeichel in goal and Ryan Giggs breaking into the first team, United won the League Cup over Nottingham Forest. The team also won the European Super Cup, while being just barely beaten out for the league title by Leeds United. United was known as one of the more dominant European clubs at that time, with Manager Alex Ferguson at the helm. The end of the ’92 season also brought with it a ton of excitement over the club’s plethora of young talent, including David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, and Paul Scholes. These players would go on to dominate the soccer world for years to come. The club’s away kit that year was loved by many, but might be looked at today in a negative light. I personally love the kit, since it just perfectly represents the look that most clubs went with during the 90’s, especially with Adidas running the show during that era.
(Submitted by TFTB’s own Deke Whiten)
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.