The New England Patriots helmet has gone through quite an evolution since their inception in 1960, from the three-cornered hat logo all the way to Flying Elvis, who we’re familiar with today.
And for good reason. The Patriots have seen success unlike any franchise in NFL history since the retirement of Pat Patriot and the introduction of a logo by the name of Flying Elvis.
The six-time Super Bowl Champions also had a prototype helmet (Proto-Elvis) in their past which I’ll discuss in further depth below. It’s quite the history lesson and one that was relegated to folklore until 2011.
Let’s take a look at the Patriots’ helmets throughout the years from humble beginnings to one of the most iconic in the NFL today.
The Boston Patriots
When the Patriots debuted in 1960, they wore white helmets with a navy blue three-cornered hat as a logo with their uniform number under the hat. The helmet was white, a contrast from today’s silver helmet the team had since 1993.
This helmet lasted one season before the team switched to the timeless Pat Patriot logo.
The Pat Patriot Era
Over the next three decades, the Patriots switched to a helmet logo consisting of a minuteman hiking a football, who became known as Pat Patriot.
From 1961 to 1964, Pat Patriot had plain white skin and a facial expression that I call the zombified look which resembled a creature from the Walking Dead.
In 1965, Pat Patriot was given his familiar look with apricot skin along with a gray facemask. The Pat Patriot look carried through and updates were only given for the facemask over the following years, with a white and ultimately a red facemask.
The Infamous Original Flying Elvis…Proto-Elvis
In 1979, the Patriots were said to have held a fan vote at halftime to either choose a new logo for the team or to continue using Pat Patriot. The halftime vote was said to be a thing of legend until a reader at UniWatch decided to do some research.
As mentioned, a fan vote was held at halftime at the old Foxboro Stadium. The fans were instructed to vote by either applauding or booing as team officials held up signs for either Pat Patriot or what I like to call the original Flying Elvis.
Why do I call it the original Flying Elvis, or Proto-Elvis?
Click here and you can see for yourself.
Who came up with the logo concept?
A man named Miceal Chamberlain, son-in-law to then-team owner Billy Sullivan. The reason Chamberlain wished for a new logo was due to the complexity of Pat Patriot, which he claimed was too hard to market.
Chamberlain worked closely with NFL Creative Properties in California with conceiving the new logo over the next three to four years, convincing Sullivan to adopt the new logo.
When Sullivan was ready to unveil the new logo, he decided to put it to the test with the fans before officially adopting it. At this point, Chamberlain knew the battle was lost, claiming the fans “booed the hell out of it.”
So, Pat Patriot stayed, appeared in a Super Bowl as fodder to the Chicago Bears in 1985, and remained until 1993 a year after former owner James Orthwein bought the team.
Flying Elvis, which many believe was based on the infamous proto-logo from 1979, accompanied the team’s radical redesign. The helmet’s color was changed from white to silver, with a minuteman’s head (resembling Elvis Presley) and a royal blue three-cornered hat.
In 1994, the Patriots tweaked the facemask from silver to red, and the helmet remained in a similar design ever since with the addition of a navy color when the team opted for another redesign in 2000.
Flying Elvis has since won six Super Bowls, appeared in nine, and has since become one of the most synonymous helmets associated with championships in the NFL.
While many fans clamor for the old days of Pat Patriot, it’s apparent Flying Elvis is here to stay, accompanying a team that has become arguably the greatest dynasty in NFL history.
Tale of Two Logos
The Patriots were one of the NFL’s most futile franchises before the 1990s, appearing in the playoffs just seven times from 1960-1995, with a playoff record of 4-6 in that time span. They appeared in the Super Bowl once before 1996 and lost 46-10 to Chicago. It was Pat Patriot’s finest moment.
In fact, things were so bad that former owner James Orthwein bought the Patriots in 1992, fully planning to move the team to St. Louis, Missouri after the 1993 season before current owner Bob Kraft refused to allow Orthwein out of his lease.
Since the introduction of Flying Elvis, the Patriots amassed a 33-14 record in the playoffs and appearing in twenty seasons.
The verdict? Flying Elvis is here to stay, and for Patriots fans, for good reason. So, long live Flying Elvis. When one thinks of Flying Elvis, one thinks of winning championships and a dynasty that the NFL has never seen before or since.
Again, I think Elvis is here to stay unless of course, the Kraft Family decides to memorialize the look as the symbol of the Brady-Belichick era, which began in 2000 when the Patriots changed uniforms from Pat Patriot to Flying Elvis.
Personally, I’ve always fallen for the Pat Patriot look, given for one, the red, white, and blue color palette, which symbolizes patriotism in the minds of fans all across America rather than silver and navy. For another, when the Patriots introduced their Color Rush jersey, it was a blue version of the old Pat Patriot look, something that would mesh great with the white helmet.
While such a uniform combination is only something we can find in Madden, it still might bode well with New England faithful if such a new and cutting edge look did take the field within the next few seasons.