Miami Dolphins Helmet

The Miami Dolphins Helmet History

The Miami Dolphins’ helmet and uniform combination remained consistent from 1966 until 2012, when the team released a new version of the helmet logo in 2013. However, there have been numerous minor tweaks regarding the helmet before the 2013 overhaul, as pictured above.

Despite its extinction during most regular season games, the leaping dolphin in front of the sunburst remains popular, so much to the point the look is worn two to three times each season when the Dolphins don their throwback uniforms. There have also been calls to return to the throwback on a full-time level, which in recent years, teams have answered such a call.


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Return to Classics?

The Los Angeles Rams did so in 2017, replacing the millennium gold ram horns with the classic white and yellow, depending on whether the team is playing at home or on the road. The San Francisco 49ers did so in 2009, dropping the dark red and returned to the championship colors, as the team called them. The Bills followed suit in 2011, returning with the white helmet. It’s rumored the Browns are in process of following the trend in 2020 along with a complete uniform overhaul. The Jaguars returned to wearing a black helmet full-time in 2018. And the Denver Broncos have done so to an extent, bringing back the bucking bronco within the capital ‘D’ when the team’s color rush uniforms are worn. Ditto for the New York Jets and Giants.

Time will tell if the Dolphins decide to reverse course and bring back the classic dolphin. They’ve already taken the first step in doing so by discarding the navy blue that was once prominent on the newer uniform and returning full-time to orange and aqua.

There have been subtle changes to the Dolphins’ leaping dolphin logo, which can be viewed below:

1966: The team’s debut season, the dolphin head was near the sunburst’s center.

The 1966 version depicting the original logo.

1967: The dolphin’s body was centered, but the former look returned from 1968 until 1973.

1974: The logo shrunk somewhat and the dolphin’s body returned to the sunburst’s center.

1997: The logo, like many in the 1990s and early 2000s, received an update. Both the sunburst and dolphin were simplified and the expression changed on the dolphin’s face, supposedly to a more serious look.

2013: The leaping dolphin is retired and is replaced by a more detailed sunburst with what is known as the swimming dolphin. This logo still resembles the leaping dolphin to an extent with the sunburst but is a stylized, sleeker version of the leaping dolphin.


Will the Dolphins Revert Back?

The 1967, 1974-1997 version, this one featuring an aqua facemask.

The NFL has seen a recent trend in teams reverting back to their helmets, logos, and uniforms of the past. The Dolphins are no exception to that rule, which often begins with teams wearing a throwback look as an alternate to see how they test with newer NFL fans.

With the NFL still being a growing league on a global scale, many in the league’s international audience seem to take more to the older styles of years’ past, judging from the trend to switch back to the older, more classic, and traditional looks. We saw this with the Rams when they petitioned for and were granted permission to wear their royal blue and yellow throwbacks for all home games this season, including the playoffs and Super Bowl, the first team in NFL history to be given such permission.

With the NFL celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NFL relax their rule on three alternate uniforms a year and granting special permissions to teams that they gave the Rams in 2017.

Teams like the Dolphins will be able to test the older look on a greater scale to see how its longer term revelation impacts both American and International crowds.


My Opinion

The 1997-2012 version, the first to feature navy blue in the helmet.

While I’m all for modernization, I think modernized uniforms should be relegated to alternate status and the fans have spoken for me in droves. Uni Watch’s Paul Lukas has felt the same regarding NFL uniforms and helmets, and routinely ranks classic looks over the modernized eyesores that saw a spike in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with a few stragglers like the Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the early 2010s, the Cleveland Browns doing so in 2015 plus the Tennessee Titans being the most recent example last season, releasing a uniform that was panned by critics and fans alike.

It would be refreshing to see the classic Dolphins look return full-time, and perhaps celebrating the NFL’s 100th anniversary will be the team’s final push.

Related Article: History of the Miami Dolphins Jersey

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  1. Old looks are the new and this shows in the way teams in the NFL are returning to their old apparel and logos. This is because using classic looks helps to show history. The classic looks are also better than the modernized looks in my opinion. The dolphins should revert to the classic look I agree

    1. I agree that the classic looks are far more historical and link new players to the older ones. Modern looks are good for a one or two-game showing a year, but nothing more than it. I remember back when a lot of teams switched to more “updated” looks when I was younger and Reebok took over. I thought the uniforms were awesome then but after a few years craved for the oldies to come back. 

  2. Isn’t it the case that all too often, when it comes to logos and liveries, new is not necessarily better. I admit occasionally a new design grows on you, but quite often the new ideas are a retrograde step. Like you, I hope the Dolphins revert back to the classic dolphin design. Sadly, I’m not holding my breath. 

    1. Hi, Rob. I’m not for the time being since the team added a minor tweak to their uniform last season getting rid of the navy blue on the jerseys and pants. I’m not sure if this means they have to follow the NFL rule to wait five years or not, being that it was a minor move. If they do have to wait, the leaping dolphin logo might not be back full-time until 2023 at the earliest. 

  3. Hello Todd Mathews 🙂 

    I enjoyed reading your take on the miami dolphins helmet history. It really is well researched. 

    I quite agree that the NFL is growing on a global scale with most international audiences wanting to go back to the older looks which is becoming the common trend these days, as teams try to connect more with its global audience but i also know traditional more progressive fans who do not share this same feelings of nostalgia. 

    I guess a compromise for home and away jerseys would be the best solution for everyone.

    1. I was surprised to see the international audience gravitate more toward the classical looks. While I like modernized uniforms as an alternate, they seem to grow out of fashion fast, such as the 2013-2017 Jacksonville Jaguars look which critics and fans alike panned; ditto for the Bills’ 2002-2010 eyesores. I’m glad to see the helmets and jerseys reverting back to the old days. 

  4. Todd,

    Football being one of my favorite sports, I like the throw back uniforms and helmets.  Thank you for providing history to the Miami Dolphins Helmet- I did not notice all the small little changes that you have pointed out in your article.  Of course, viewing them on television they are not really all that visible.  The artistry that goes into designing the helmets and uniforms making them unique to each team for the fans takes talent along with imagination. Glad you took the time to put this all together for future generations to enjoy.

    Plan on coming back to see what else you might reveal in the future about my favorite sport,


    1. Hi, Susan, I actually didn’t know of the changes until a few years back when I saw a difference in the dolphin on Dan Marino’s helmet in an old photo. I knew the 1972 Dolphins helmet was different in that the dolphin was lower rather than centered, but it was fairly recent when I saw the difference on Marino’s look. 

  5. What a surprising post about The Miami Dolphins helmet. What is the origin of the Miami Dolphin helmet? I have read your article carefully and I love it very well. This post is very aspected for the Miami Dolphin fan. This the very informative history which is important for a fan. I impressed you and your post. I look forward to your next post.

    1. Thanks, Jafor. I’ve never really found out the origin, but it’s something I’m keen on researching and adding to this post if I do find what I’m looking for. My next post will touch up on the New York Jets’ helmet, something I can’t wait to research! 

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