The Atlanta Falcons helmet history can be summed up in three phases: Great, Good, and Poor. Yes, if there’s one NFL team that has seen it all, it’s the Falcons. Once one of the more iconic helmets in pro football, the team has now since gone with a dated identity.
Time will tell if the Falcons decide to revert back to the old ways, but there is encouraging news on such a front, which I’ll describe later.
But first, let’s take a look at the team’s helmet timeline, starting in the 1960s.
When the Falcons debuted in 1966, their helmets consisted of a red shell with a gold, white, and black crown stripe. A black flying falcon made up the team’s first logo. Their crown stripe was intended to be a reference to the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech University, two powerhouse NCAA schools at the time.
In 1970, the gold stripe was dropped and the team’s colors from there on out have been red and black, with red dominating the scheme in the 1970s and 80s.
In 1978, as with most NFL teams, the Falcons switched from a gray to a white facemask, and again in 1984 to a black facemask, which they have to this day.
The Falcons redesigned their helmet and overhauled the entire uniform in 1990. While the logo remained the same, the team dropped the crown stripes and opted for a black shell, retiring the red. The entire uniform went black as well while red, the team’s former primary color, was practically abandoned, reduced only to an accent around the team’s numbers and pant stripes.
This began what was known as the Dirty Birds era in Falcons history and it saw the team reach its first Super Bowl in 1998 in a losing effort to the Denver Broncos.
In 2003 the Falcons updated the flying falcon (that’s not an arm on the opposite end, as most fans believe), adding red accents to the logo, which now resembled the letter ‘F’ better than the previous. The helmet remained black, but red made a comeback, this time in the logo.
This helmet has garnered mixed reviews, with some fans praising the fiercer falcon, a logo that serves two purposes as some sports teams have done in the past, namely the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers’ old school look.
Others have panned the look, stating its early-2000s Reebok redesign must go. The team has responded in a positive manner, breaking out the original uniform as a throwback, complete with the red helmet until the NFL banned multiple colored helmets in 2013.
These days, the Falcons have adopted a modified version of their dirty bird uniform once more, featuring the old falcon on the helmet.
Talking about the current helmet? No. No. No. No. No. No. No….No. Despite my gripes, I’m in love with the other helmets; either the red or the black. You can’t go wrong in any way, shape, or form with them.
If I had to choose, I’d go with the red helmets, as when I was growing up, loved playing on Madden as a historical version of the Falcons for this very reason. If the team were to bring back their red helmets with preferably the white facemasks, it would become one of the best in the league once more. Further, it would give the Falcons a unique look in the NFC, as no team in the conference wears a red helmet.