Chicago Bears Helmet

Lids of the Midway: Chicago Bears Helmet History

The Chicago Bears helmet history started to get really interesting in the 1940s and continues to hold one of the most iconic looks in the NFL today. From the classic plain helmets of the 1940s to the wishbone ‘C’ of today, the traditional Bears’ look continues to stand the test of time.

Whether it was Dick Butkus or Brian Urlacher or Roquan Smith, Gale Sayers or Walter Payton, or even Jim McMahon or Mitchell Trubisky, the traditional helmet links both old and new versions of the Chicago Bears.

But what about the good old before times, from 1920 to 1940?

Were the Bears just as turbulent as the other founding franchises in the NFL?

You bet, and one such bit of turbulence is making an epic return to the field in 2019, so stay tuned and enjoy this little timeline I have set forth, as things are going to get wacky.

 

1920-1939

While no attempt is made to reintroduce the leather helmet, the Bears will be wearing this with their throwbacks this season.

When the Bears debuted in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys, they held quite a different look. From 1920 to 1930 the Staleys/Bears (moved to Chicago in 1921 and became the Bears in 1922) wore the prototypical dark beige leatherhead.

Not much different from teams of the past.

From 1931 to 1933, the team bore winged helmets reminiscent of the University of Michigan, except the look was blue and orange rather than blue and yellow.

Starting in 1934, the Bears wore several different helmet combinations. In 1934, they used plain white and blue leatherheads, as well as one that bore an orange and blue pattern.

In 1935, they went with only plain blue.

In 1936 and 1937, the winged look returned, which the Bears will be wearing a modernized version of this season.

1937 also saw the debut of orange leatherheads which stuck around until 1938.

Finally, the Bears would go simply with plain blue leatherheads starting in 1939 which remained until the plastic shell replaced the leather.

 

==> Click Here for the Bears’ Team Profile <==

 

1940-1961

The Chicago Bears’ first modernized plastic shell consisted of plain navy with no markings. The helmet which lasted until 1961 is now worn today as part of the team’s alternate throwbacks, which are worn at least twice a year. Now that the NFL has allowed a third game in third uniforms, there’s now an option to wear the helmets three times throughout the season.

As mentioned previously the Bears will be resorting to a different set of throwbacks beginning in 2019, so it’s unclear whether the logoless helmet will take the field in the future or if it will be retired.

 

1962-1982

Chicago Bears 1962-1973

The Bears first added their wishbone ‘C’ helmet decal in 1963. This version of the ‘C’ was white, in contrast to their now-traditional orange.

The original wishone ‘C’ look was reminiscent of the Cincinnati Reds of the National League, which is shown in the corresponding image.

In 1974, the Bears added burnt orange to the interior of the ‘C’ and white was now relegated to an outline, which has remained on the team’s helmet ever since, with the only modifications being periodic upgrades to the overall helmet shell.

 

==> Click Here for the Bears’ Jersey History <==

 

1983-Present

In 1983, the Bears, like many teams, abandoned the then-traditional gray facemasks in favor of blue. Since then, the helmet has seen zero change.

It has become one of the most recognizable helmets in the NFL with the design itself surviving over three and a half decades while the wishbone ‘C’ in its current design has remained for over four and a half decades.

As mentioned earlier, the Bears do remove the decal at least twice during the NFL season, bringing back their old, plain blue shells to pair with their classic uniforms, but will add orange striping at the crown to commemorate their throwbacks used in 2019.

 

Shop Chicago Bears gear at FansEdge!

 

My Take

The pre-2010s helmet design.

Navy and burnt orange is a look with perfect color contrast. It contains longstanding tradition and as an NFL purist, I feel the look should only change if the Bears decide to revert back to the classic white wishbone ‘C.’

There are a lot of (NFL) teams trying to get cute with their helmets and uniforms. The Bears are one of the few exceptions to this trend, and rightfully so. Paul Lukas’ Uni-Watch had repeatedly ranked the Bears’ uniforms as one of the best if not the best in the NFL.

You can’t go wrong with tradition and the Bears are one of few teams to realize if something isn’t broke, don’t bother to fix it. The Bears are right in refusing to fix their already near-perfect helmets.

May the classic wishbone ‘C’ live on.

 

Conclusion

The Chicago Bears and the entire NFC North are almost in every way as historic in their aesthetics as the NFC East, with the Bears being one of the oldest members of either conference. It’s old school tradition between teams like the Bears and their ancient brethren the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, which always sets up some entertaining aesthetics even if the games don’t always harbor the same result.

As I said, may the classic wishbone ‘C’ live on, because it has a history like perhaps no other insignia in sports.

 

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10 comments

  1. Haha, an interesting article about the helmet design! By the way, I’m curious about which team’s helmet design is your favorite and why?? It can be just the out looking design or in a functional aspect.

    1. My favorite will always be the Cleveland Browns; as their logoless helmet along with me being a native of Ohio, drew me to the team. Overall, though, if talking in historical purposes, I’m going with the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, and Green Bay Packers, due to their logos’ timelessness.

  2. Hello; If the Chicago Bears organisers see it fit to continue with their traditional helmet, it could speak volume for the theme in years to come, as Vintage articles are highly valued.

     If the colour of their helmet stands out among the other NFL players Helmet, I think they are on the right trend keeping their tradition firm.

    DorcasW

    1. The color contrast is just one amazing feature regarding the Bears’ helmet and their entire uniform and I think it’ll remain the same for years to come. If not, the fans will revolt, I guarantee you! 

  3. Back again, Todd!

    Couldn’t help myself and looked up other historical facts about the Chicago Bears helmet changes that were made. I love reading about history and how things derived to their final point. Kinda a hobby for me…

    Just wondering if you have any more fascinating posts about historic changes that were made to the actual uniforms?

    Cheers, Jeff.  

    1. Hi, Jeff, I’m actually in process of posting my takes on all thirty-two teams’ jerseys at the time of this writing. I’m about 11 teams in, so the Bears’ and other teams are coming up fast. 

  4. As a lifelong football fan, I do love the simplistic perfection of the Bears’ logo. I have grown up in Texas, however, so I have to rank the Cowboys’ star just a teeny bit higher. Except for adding a border, I do not believe their logo has changed since they became the Dallas Cowboys.

    Their rare third logo -the cowboy on a horse stood up from 1690-1970, but the Star was featured on this logo as well (awesomesportslogos dot com).

    These two teams have stood the test of time and continue to be prominent in the NFL.

    Thanks for this information,

    Gwendolyn J

    1. Oh, nothing out there beats the lone star on the Cowboys’ helmet. That’s the most iconic logo in sports, but the Bears’ logo does come close; it’s right up there with the Cowboys in my Tier I. 

  5. Wait, you mean you don’t love the changes to the Seahawks’ helmets? You don’t want to see a smirky bear cub pushing away linebackers amidst crowds of roaring fans painstakingly recreated on a tiny surface careening around a field on someone’s head? Why not? 🙂 I’m kidding of course – I agree with timeless classics, and some of the new designs are…really awful. I actually thought the orange C was the original – I prefer the white. Maybe upgrade to a white/silver and move the orange to just the facemask? What do you think?

    1. Seahawks? Heck no! I liked the white, but the team didn’t win often when they wore them, I can tell you that; during the dark ages. I can’t see the Bears trying it without first clearing it with the fan base. Chicago logos are beyond timeless, even in broad standards. Except maybe for the White Sox. 

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