Uni Watch Power Rankings: What Can Brown Do for You?
Jim Brown famously wore brown for the Browns, but very few other teams have worn that color.
As you surely know by now, former NFL great Jim Brown died last week. When I was growing up in the 1970s and first learned about him, I thought, “Oh, Jim Brown played for the Browns and they wore brown.” It all made a sort of intuitive sense — like, of course he played for that team, and of course they wore that color. (It turns out that Jim Brown is hardly unique in that regard. According to the Football Database website, he’s one of 23 Browns to have played for the Browns.)
Brown’s death got me thinking: It makes sense that a team called the Browns would wear brown, but how many other teams have worn that color? I knew instinctively that brown has been less popular as a uniform color than all of the primary and secondary hues (red, blue, yellow, purple, orange, and green), but I was surprised to discover just how few brown-clad teams there have been over the years. A lot of that is no doubt due to the color’s scatological associations. Still, when you consider the number of non-objectionable things in this world that are brown — chocolate, coffee, lumber, leather, cola, hair, eyes, a whole menagerie’s worth of animals, and a lot more — it’s a bit surprising that the uni-verse is so brown-bereft. Remember the old UPS slogan “What can brown do for you?” The sports world has mostly responded to that by saying, “Thanks, but we’re good.”
With that in mind, I’ve compiled an informal uniform ranking of brown-clad teams. I say “informal” because we’re dealing with a very small sample size here — I was able to come up with only 15 such teams (and several of those are essentially novelty entries that have achieved “so bad it’s good” status). Moreover, the four NCAA schools grouped together at Nos. 11 through 14 all register pretty similarly to me — you could easily rejigger their positions on the list, or just call them a four-way tie.
I’m sure there are more brown-uniformed teams out there there that I missed — Division III colleges, minor league squads, Negro Leagues teams, fourth-tier European soccer clubs — but these 15 are the highest-profile examples I’m aware of. Here they are, from worst to first: the few, the proud, the brown-clad.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
Admit it, you’d forgotten about this one — or at least you’d tried to. This was Portland’s City Edition uniform for the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. The use of brown was supposed to represent the Oregon forest or something like that, and the team even went so far as to photograph a few players wearing the uniform in the woods (or, more likely, in a photo studio with fake trees). Because hey, if there’s one thing you want to wear out there in the wilderness, it’s a basketball uniform!