The Detroit Lions’ helmet history is quite the backstory and it begins all the way back in 1950, when many teams started swapping the old leatherheads for plastic shells.
Many of us know the Lions’ current helmet logo has been virtually the same with nothing more than a modern upgrade back in 2009. What we may not know is the fact there were more than just the traditional silver shell and Honolulu blue logo that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from this historic franchise.
During the first decade of the plastic helmet shells, the Lions’ original helmets were gold, believe it or not, with no markings of any kind.
Starting in 1952, the Lions switched to a solid silver shell, which still bore no markings.
The 1952-1960 helmet is the same one the Lions have since adopted as a throwback, normally worn on Thanksgiving Day along with a throwback jersey and pants, all of which bear zero markings.
As with many NFL teams in the 1960s, the Lions added a helmet decal and crown stripes to their helmets. This decal became that of a leaping lion while two blue helmet stripes occupied the crown.
In 1970, the Lions added white in between the blue helmet stripes, which allowed the blue to stand out more.
Starting in 1983, the traditional gray facemask was abandoned in favor of Honolulu blue, another trend that became popular in the NFL in the late-70s and 1980s.
When Matt Millen became the general manager in 2002, the Lions again updated their look in 2003, this time featuring black for the first time. The blue facemask was changed to black and black stripes were added to the helmet stripes. This was yet another trend that was popular in the early 2000s, with many teams switching to darker shades.
After a historically bad 0-16 season, the Lions decided to add fierceness to the traditional leaping Lion logo, which many felt was too soft. Detail was added to the lion’s mane, and sharp teeth were made visible near the mouth area. Also, a white eye gleamed from the decal, too.
In 2017, the Lions began a radical redesign process of their uniform and helmet, which eliminated the black for the first time since it was introduced back in 2003. As a nod to the earlier helmets, the Lions went with just Honolulu blue on the helmet’s crown while changing the facemask back to its traditional silver/gray.
I’ve been clamoring for the Lions to ditch the black for years and they finally obliged in 2017. As a result, they now possess one of the better helmets in the NFL and one of the best in the NFC.
Another team that has once again followed a trend, and it seems like the Lions do this often, by reverting back to a more classic look, but with a modernized twist. While the helmet logo remains the same, the now-dated black is long gone from the look, hopefully for good.