Detroit Lions Helmet

The Detroit Lions Helmet History

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.

 

1950-1960

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.

 

1961-2008

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.

 

2009-Present

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.

 

Shop Detroit Lions gear at FansEdge!

 

My Take

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.

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6 comments

  1. Hey Todd,

    Great article about the Detroit Lions helmet. I really enjoy reading it…a lot of great information. Honestly, i didn’t knew anything about the subject matter…but now i do know… Thank you.

    Best WIshes!

    1. Thanks, George! Many, including NFL fans, know very little about the subject matter of NFL helmets, jerseys, and uniforms, so my goal here is to create a huge online encyclopedia on the subject matter. This site is still very much in its infancy as of March 27th, 2019, but we’re getting there.

  2. Great website, and interesting article about the Detroits Lions Helmet and the redesign of it.
    I learned something that I didn’t know about. I love watching NFL football games!
    Thanks Todd
    Best wishes

    1. Thanks, Letha. While the helmet’s roots have remained essentially the same, they have gone with trends, which seemed to backfire at times, however, necessitating constant revisions.

  3. Just what I was looking for, Tod!

    A friend and I were debating, got a little heated, lol about the changes that were made to the Detroit Lions Helmet.

    I think the changes made to the Detroit Helmets in 2017 was a winner!

    Looks like I won the bet with your captivating take on the history of the helmets changes.

    Enjoyed visiting your website and cheers for all the info.

    Jeff.

    1. Yeah, the 2017 design has been a major upgrade from the black accents brought about in the Millen era. I just wish the team would’ve done this sooner. It was long overdue. 

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