Here it is, arguably the most storied franchise in the NFL, and one of the most recognizable brands in sports. The Green Bay Packers helmet history is nowhere near as long as the franchise’s existence because, well, like many of our traditional franchises, the Packers’ look just hasn’t changed all too often.
There has been a little bit of change, though, but ones just subtle enough for us helmet enthusiasts to see and share with the masses.
So, if you’re ready for a short article regarding the Packers’ helmet, let’s have a look at what I believe is the most iconic brand in the NFL.
Prior to 1961
As with many of our oldest franchises, the Packers being the second oldest having been founded in 1919, the team wore old leatherheads before switching to the now-familiar plastic shells in 1951.
The original plastic-shelled helmet contained a gray facemask when the facemask came into existence, metallic gold shells with no logo with a green and white stripe topping the helmet’s crown.
In 1961, then-coach Vince Lombardi asked equipment manager Gerald Braisher to design a helmet logo for the team in a time logos were becoming more and more of a trend. Braisher then asked his assistant, John Gordon, to conceive a final draft of the design.
The pair came up with a football-shaped ‘G’ within a green oval, which Lombardi later approved and the logo was added to the helmet that season.
There has been speculation on the meaning behind the ‘G,’ with Tiki Barber claiming the ‘G’ stands for Greatness, while most believe it stands for Green Bay, which is unique among the other professional teams in the four major sports leagues due to the fact it’s by far the smallest city containing a pro sports team, the population being roughly 105,000, the 286th largest city in the nation.
The only change the Packers would make to the helmet since 1979 is the facemask color, which also became a trend in the late-1970s. Today, the color is the same shade of dark green as the jerseys, with the team never having gone back to the gray facemask since.
The only other helmets the Packers have worn since are on throwback weekends. Prior to the NFL’s mandate banning multiple colored helmets in 2013, the team wore brownish helmets with a navy and gold throwback to mimic the leatherheads of the uniform’s era. Now that multiple helmets are abolished, the Packers now simply remove all markings from the helmet when wearing the throwbacks.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the Packers have done just that. While I crave gray facemasks, the Packers may be an exception to the rule, with the green looking in place with the current (and practically only) uniforms the Packers have worn since incorporating the plastic shells.
These days, few teams get it right when it comes to their helmets and jerseys, and the Packers are fortunately one of those teams.