The Los Angeles Chargers helmet has gone through numerous changes throughout the franchise’s existence, but as with many NFL teams, the return to classic signifies the return to normalcy.
Despite this, their arch-shaped lightning bolt they’ve used on their helmet logo has remained the same since their 1960 debut. The color schemes, including the lightning bolt’s color, and even outline, however, have changed throughout the team’s 60-season existence.
The Chargers debuted with a white shell consisting of either a gold or blue lighting bolt, depending upon the year. The player’s number appeared under the bolt in black writing.
The next helmet to debut consisted of a navy blue shell with the yellow lightning bolt outlined in navy and white. These helmets were also one of the first to consist of a yellow facemask, one of the first teams in the NFL to adopt such a look other than traditional gray.
The helmet and overall uniform debut came with the hiring of coach Don Coryell, nicknamed the Air Coryell uniforms in league circles.
The helmet underwent yet another redesign in the late 1980s, debuting an inverse look of the Coryell-era uniform with a white lightning bolt surrounded by navy blue and yellow outlines. The facemask was also changed to navy.
This has been the Chargers’ longest look to date, lasting nineteen seasons and also saw a Super Bowl appearance in 1994. Despite the progress, these uniforms also became synonymous with the worst era in Chargers’ history from 1996 until 2003 when the team failed to reach the playoffs or even put together a record greater than .500.
They bottomed out at 1-15 in 2000, and the era of these uniforms will always flashback to that of Ryan Leaf, arguably the biggest draft bust in NFL history who flamed out of San Diego after the 2000 season.
In 2007, the Chargers brought back their original helmets with two exceptions. One, the outline consisted of both powder and navy blue and two, the jersey numbers did not appear on the helmet.
These helmets were brought back by popular demand as the Chargers did wear identical helmets to their 1960s-70s uniform on throwback weekends.
Great helmet, but to be honest, it doesn’t match well with the entire uniform, as in my take, to wear these white helmets, the team must be wearing powder, and not navy jerseys. Fortunately, the team does have powder blue jerseys to be featured as alternates.
It’s my hope the team takes this route and relegates the current navy threads as an alternate set while the powders become the primaries. If so, the helmet and jersey alike will resemble such a classic and timeless look for the team.