What are the best NFL helmet designs for each team?
This is not an NFL concept article. Instead, this article covers the best helmet in each team’s history, from 1960 to the present day.
Some helmets listed here you will be familiar with. If you recently became an NFL fan, you might be taken aback by a few of these designs, starting with the AFC East, which may look completely unrecognizable.
For an article depicting today’s designs, click here, where you will find my current NFL helmet rankings.
If you’re curious on which helmet designs I feel are the best for each of the thirty-two teams, including one massive surprise.
Yes, the old standing buffalo helmet is the best and one of the most popular in league history. The team revived the look in 2005 due to its popularity, and have worn the look as an alternate ever since. I really believe that someday the Bills will revert back to the standing buffalo look for good, having already returned to the white helmet in 2011 after wearing red shells from 1984 through 2010.
The fact the Miami Dolphins brought this helmet back in 2015 shows the fact that fans still retain a love affair with the helmet. While the new logo still reigns supreme here in 2019, the Dolphins have continued to wear the throwback helmet and uniform since the 2015 unveiling.
The Patriots brought back a version of these helmets back in 2009 when the original AFL teams celebrated their 50th anniversary. They were seen a few times after the 2009 season before the NFL banned the use of multiple helmets in 2013. The Patriots only made one Super Bowl when wearing this helmet (with a white facemask) in a losing effort to the Bears to close out the 1985 season and the team has won six since then in their Flying Elvis helmets, meaning it’s highly unlikely they would switch back to these full-time.
Yes, the kelly green and ‘Jets’ script won out over the other designs, and there have been several in the Jets’ history. While the white helmets historically scream Jets, the kelly green look has been adored by generations of fans since making their debut in 1978. Starting in 2019, the Jets brought back an updated version of this look.
Many who are recent followers of the NFL may not realize the Ravens had a previous helmet design. This is because the original design has almost been erased from history due to legalities. Either way, the original helmet, which the team wore from 1996-1998 may still exist today if the team wasn’t forced to disband the logo.
The Bengals have had a grand total of two helmet designs, the first being very Cleveland-like. There wasn’t much of a decision here, and besides, the tiger-striped pattern makes the Bengals’ look one of the most unique in the NFL.
The Cleveland Browns have also had an identical helmet throughout their existence, but when one looks closely, they have changed facemask colors and helmet striping since the 1970s. The gray facemask may be the most iconic of the lot, having won the 1964 NFL Championship in it before reverting back to the look prior to the 2006 NFL Season.
The Steelers originated with gold shells but have since switched to black shells and have won six Super Bowls in them. Not only that, their logo is one of the most unique and iconic logos of all-time, and arguably the most iconic in the AFC.
Surprised? Don’t be. Texans’ receiver DeAndre Hopkins, quarterback DeShaun Watson, and defensive end J.J. Watt, the team’s three star players, are lobbying for the Tennessee Titans, who own the Oilers’ records and history, to return the team name and colors to Houston. Far-fetched? Not really, as names like Johnny Unitas reside in the Baltimore Ravens’ Ring of Honor despite playing his entire career for the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts. While Titan’s owner Amy Adams-Strunk gave the Texans’ players a ‘hard no,’ it will nevertheless increase the bitterness of the Titans-Texans rivalry. Nevertheless, neither Watt, nor myself, can’t wish. Dear Amy Adams-Strunk, this is my own personal lobby to relinquish the name and color rights back to the City of Houston.
The Colts have only had a tiny tweak to their helmet logo and have switched facemasks a few times. Other than that, I’m going with the classic gray facemask and horsehoe logo. It should never change.
My favorite helmet is the original 1995-2012 look, but I’ve long believed these helmets scream 1990s more than the initial helmet, or the initial used helmet, so the current helmet that debuted in 2018 gets the nod. Though I will say I’d love to see a fauxback to the unused helmet if the NFL ever allowed teams to use multiple-colored helmets again.
I was never a fan of the navy blue helmets that debuted in 2018, as I felt a Titans-blue shell would’ve been a ringer. Unfortunately, they’re stuck with navy until 2022. Until then, I’ll take the now old white shells.
Yes, the mutant tradition with innovation hybrid has come upon us. I dreamed of these shells with the classic ‘D’ logo for years and when they debuted in 2016 with the NFL color rush, it became my favorite helmet. While it’s unlikely the team will change their now ‘championship’ look, at the very least they should bring the old logo back.
Well, it’s their only helmet, and it’s their only helmet for good reason. You can’t go wrong with red and white.
This is technically one of only three helmets in the entire history of the Los Angeles Chargers, or at least in a manner of speaking. Now, the entire history of the LA Chargers includes that of the same franchise once known as the San Diego Chargers, so even with the entire history, I’m still taking the current helmet. Like the Broncos, this one combines tradition with innovation.
The Raiders, like the Chiefs, have had the same helmet for years and whether the team is known as the Los Angeles Raiders or Las Vegas Raiders, this helmet will accompany the team wherever they play.
The Cowboys’ iconic star debuted in 1960 and has since evolved into its now-familiar double-outline. The team hasn’t looked back since. Nor should they.
Another tradition with innovation. The Giants’ color-rush shell and logo combines their current look with a former helmet decal. Personally, I love it and maybe one day the team will switch to it on a permanent basis, though I will say there is nothing wrong with the current ‘ny’ logo.
I’ve long griped about the team’s dated midnight green helmet, and the team did wear the old kelly green look as a throwback until 2013. The timeless scheme may not have won a Super Bowl, but it provides a fresh, unique look for a team stuck in the late-1990s and early-2000s from an aesthetic standpoint.
Love the name or hate it, love the logo or hate it, this helmet was neck and neck with the team’s old school spear logo, which I wouldn’t mind the team bringing back because it’s just as aesthetically pleasing. However, logos and colors stand the test of time for a reason, and until Redskins fans say different, this helmet and name should stay.
The Chicago Bears have had very few helmets throughout their history, and while I love the white wishbone ‘C,’ fans everywhere have become accustomed to the orange ‘C,’ which blends well with their helmets and is a logo that will serve the team over the next half-century. The Bears have donned this helmet logo since 1974, and the only change to the helmet was ridding the gray facemask in favor of dark blue.
Ordinarily, my purist ways might push me back to the pre-2003 design, but the Lions are one of VERY few NFL teams to have gotten a modern-day makeover right. They eliminated the black. The current logo is an upgrade over the pre-2008 one, and it blends ultra well with their current uniforms.
The football-shaped ‘G’ has become synonymous with the Pack and has seen four Super Bowl victories. There are two facts: 1) The logo and helmet are timeless, and 2) such a rarity these days in terms of helmets, but can link Bart Starr to Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Freeman to Devante Adams, and every other player to have suited for the Pack in between.
While the uniform that accompanied this helmet blew, the helmet was actually a nice upgrade. Now, the team wears a similar helmet today, but the facemask is a dated black, which would’ve been better suited for the late-1990s or early-2000s. To fix the problem, the Vikes simply need to change the color of their facemask.
The 1966-1989 red shell set the team apart, especially when the color black dominated the then-NFC West and current NFC South with the Panthers and Saints utilizing it to a heavy extent. Pictured above is the 1966 version of the helmet, the original helmet, which had gone through variations until 1989. Currently, no other team in the NFC wears the red helmet, which will set the Falcons apart even more. While I’m more than cool with the ‘dirty bird’ look, the red shells (coupled with red jerseys) would be tough to pass up. The team brought back a version as a throwback until the 2012 season, before the NFL banned the use of multiple-colored helmets in 2013, which forced the team back to wearing black shells exclusively.
As an NFL purist who loves the older versions of helmets, the updated helmet works just as well, which if one looks closely, will see changes to the helmet from its older version. The panther has a 3-D appearance coupled with greater use of Carolina blue, which I’ve long argued should be the Panthers’ primary color.
Like the Panthers, the Saints made subtle changes to their shells and logo in 2000. The fleur-de-lis is thicker and the gold is a different shade. While I do like the old look, when it comes to which is the better helmet is irrelevant, as the team simply provided a tiny update for the look. It’s also worth mentioning the Saints failed to win a single playoff game in their older helmets while they have become synonymous with winning since the switch, especially from 2006-onward.
The Bucs had a great look between 1997-2013. Then, they had to go mess it up with a chrome facemask and logo that’s too big for the helmet along with a lighter shell. The team needs to return to pewter that held a more intimidating look than the arena football-like helmet we see today.
None of these helmets are particularly brilliant, but this one edges the supposedly fiercer-looking bird they adopted back in 2005, which honestly looks like a demonically possessed bird.
The LA Rams are the only team in the NFL to wear two different decals; the white horns with white jerseys and yellow horns with blue jerseys. I’m going with the yellow horns that the Rams wore for the bulk of their time in LA, up to 1964, and from 1973-1994, before bringing them back as part of the primary uniforms once again prior to 2018.
The pre-1996 helmets the team won four Super Bowls in edges our the team’s current design due to the currents holding the same decal design of the 1996-2008 version. The classic decal screams championship for a franchise that hasn’t won since 1994 and have been inconsistent since.
Yes, the 1983-2001 look from the team’s AFC days debuts in the NFC. When the Seahawks last updated their uniforms in 2012, the darker-colored trend was in its last days, as well as the unorthodox uniform designs. Now that teams like the Jaguars, Dolphins, Lions and Vikings opted for simpler helmets and looks, and the Browns doing so in 2020, means the trendy Seahawks should follow the new-old trend.