The Best NFL Helmet Designs for Each Team

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.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

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.

 

Miami Dolphins

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.

 

New England Patriots 

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 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.

 

New York Jets

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.

 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

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.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

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.

 

Cleveland Browns

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.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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.

 

AFC South

Houston Texans (as the Houston Oilers)

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.

 

Indianapolis Colts

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.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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.

 

Tennessee Titans

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.

 

AFC West

Denver Broncos

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.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Well, it’s their only helmet, and it’s their only helmet for good reason. You can’t go wrong with red and white.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

This is technically one of only two 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.

 

Oakland Raiders

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.

 

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

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.

 

New York Giants

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.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

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.

 

Washington Redskins

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.

 

NFC North

Chicago Bears

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.

 

Detroit Lions

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.

 

Green Bay Packers

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.

 

Minnesota Vikings

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.

 

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

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.

 

Carolina Panthers

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.

 

New Orleans Saints

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.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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.

 

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

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.

 

Los Angeles Rams

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.

 

San Francisco 49ers

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.

 

Seattle Seahawks

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.

 

 

 

 

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8 comments

  1. I am not an NFL fan but the hubby is; he liked your post. He’s a Giants fan. The topic is one that not many will think about in my opinion. You have chosen a unique Niche to get into. Are you selling jerseys or any type of NFL gear? If not, is that part of the plan? The hubby would like some Giants stuff. Even though I am not a football person I think this was a Great article and very informative,

    1. Hi, Scole, I’m making this more of an encyclopedia of NFL helmets and jerseys, but yes, with each helmet and jersey featured I provide a link to click through to an actual store for purchase. I initially made this a wider niche regarding NFL apparel, hence the site’s name, but felt it was too wide in the end, so I decided to make it more for research and historical purposes while still providing such links. 

  2. I am not sure what I would consider to be the best NFL helmet designs for each team. I will say that I have always liked the Dolphin’s helmet. I don’t know if it’s because my brother became a Dolphin’s fan at an early age (much to my father’s dismay – he is a Giants fan). But, there is something about the colors of the logo that just always appealed to me.

    My brother is older than me and we shared a room, so I had no choice but to like the Dolphins as a kid. But, I am a true Giants fan because we’re from New York (even though they now play in New Jersey – HaHa!) I guess my father won that battle! 

    I like your post and it’s going to keep me busy for a while checking out all of the designs.

    Best Regards,

    Jim

    1. The Dolphins had one of the most unique color schemes back in the day and have since updated their jerseys to return to such a color scheme. If they adopted the old 1966 look again, I can see the team getting a lot of fan support. 

  3. Hi Todd, 

    I am an ardent aesthetician. I love beauty in every form it comes. Sometimes I root for football teams with the most beautiful look, even if they are not good enough on the pitch, I love them just fine just because they look good. 

    I see the AFC East Buffalo Bills helmet as the best looking me all that you listed. The red and white combination is simple and uncluttered. Making it easy to appreciate the design of the helmet. 

    1. Hi, Peace. That helmet is beyond iconic, I can attest. I wish they’d return to it full-time. 

  4. Your article on the best NFL helmet design for each team is really a joy to read. I really love the designs and especially the way you uploaded them neatly on your page as it makes it easier to read  and understand your review easily. I love the design of the New York Jets the most based on its Greenish color and its quite uniquely different in colors when compared to others that are mostly whitish in design. ( Though we have some other colors apart from the green and white). Thanks so much for this lovely post. I hope to read more of your posts subsequently

    1. Aha, you might be in some luck today, as the Jets are unveiling a new uniform combo and the helmets are rumored to be kelly green. A photo leaked online and if it’s it, the kelly green helmet rumor is confirmed. It kind of resembles what’s above, except the logo is a little different, but it still works well. 

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