Tennessee Titans Helmet

The Music City’s Miracle: Tennessee Titans Helmet History

Today, we’re talking about TWO helmet histories in a single article as the Tennessee Titans helmet history covers two teams (same franchise and history), with the old Houston Oilers playing a pivotal role in the evolution of one of the most ever-changing helmets in NFL history, both of today and yesterday. From 1960-1996, the team now known as the Titans played as the Houston Oilers in the NRG Astrodome, the first ever domed stadium in the world.

In 1996, after years of trying to squeeze a new stadium from the City of Houston, owner Bud Adams took off for Nashville, but not before playing in Memphis for two seasons as the stadium now known as Nissan Stadium was under construction. The Tennessee Oilers played in front of sparse crowds between 1997 and 1998 before debuting as the Titans in 1999.

 

==> Click Here for the Tennessee Titans Jersey History <==

1960-1998: The Houston/Tennessee Oilers

The final incarnation of the Houston Oilers Helmet.

Arguably the most refreshing color in the NFL, the Oilers’ first helmet consisted of a Columbia blue shell, white oil derrick, white stripe down the middle, and gray facemask. This look held akin until 1964 when the Oilers added a red stripe outlining the white.

In 1966, the team debuted a silver helmet with a blue oil derrick outlined in white and an additional trim of red.

In 1972 the Oilers reverted back to the Columbia blue helmet. This helmet held a unique look to the white oil derrick, coloring the interior of the white derrick in red as well as the derrick’s outline, which was further trimmed in white.

In 1975, the Oilers adopted a white shell, a shell that remained the same throughout the rest of the team’s history in Houston and first nineteen seasons in Nashville until the team made a switch to navy in 2018, as pictured at the beginning of this article.

One final change was made in 1981 when the Oilers switched from a traditional gray facemask to a red facemask, which rounded out their time in Houston in 1996 and remained with them when the team briefly played in Memphis during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

For more information regarding the old Houston Oilers’ helmets and logos, click through to Chris Creamer’s uniform blog, Sportslogos.net.

 

==> Click Here for the Tennessee Titans Team Profile <==

 

1999-Present: Tennessee Titans Era

The original Tennessee Titans helmet, which bears some resemblance to the Oilers.

To better connect with the City of Nashville and its Tennesseans, Bud Adams wished to change the total identity of the team he purchased back in 1960, necessitating a name change to go along with the identity swap.

A Name the Team Contest did exist in The Tennessean back in 1998, with a list of thirty possible names, including Titans. Word has it that a group of fans pushed for the name Copperheads, a ‘Very Strong Push’ according to Sports Logos founder, Chris Creamer. The proposed helmet and logo was also displayed during this time as well, a stark contrast from what the team would eventually become.

However, the Copperheads obviously didn’t come about when Bud Adams had his say in the matter.

Proposed helmet for the Tennessee Copperheads.

As Nashville is known mainly for its country music, it also has a reputation for being the Athens of the South. Coupled with the fact the name Titans has a history with professional football in the United States, Adams chose the name Titans.

For the most part, the helmet remained similar to the Oilers’, except navy blue was added with the debut of a new logo, the (in)famous flaming thumbtack.

This helmet remained for the Titans’ first 19 seasons in Nashville, changing last season when owner Amy Adams Strunk completely overhauled the look, erasing much of the former uniform and helmet’s resemblance to the franchise that preceded it.

Shop Tennessee Titans gear at FansEdge.com

 

My Take

I would’ve revived Columbia blue as the main color while changing the logo to the T-sword.

Wrong, totally wrong. So, so totally wrong to take an iconic look like the Oilers and erase its history faster than the Telmarines erased Narnian history (sorry, I’m a big fan and couldn’t resist).

Worse yet, the current helmet resembles that of division rival, the Houston Texans, who took the Titans’ place in Houston, playing next door to the old Astrodome.

If anyone knows the Texans’ navy helmet complete with a logo that bears navy blue within a white outline, the resemblance is too much. It’s like the Titans want to look like their division rivals.

Conversely, Texans players have voiced their desire to hopefully someday don the Oilers’ throwbacks, but since the name and history resides with the Titans, so far it’s been a no-go. Players like DeShaun Watson and J.J. Watt have been the most vocal about this, such as this photo of Watson wearing a Warren Moon jersey.

What bothers me even more about this helmet is that Amy Adams (daughter of Bud) had a power play with Columbia blue, or at the very least, the modernized version called Titans’ blue. That would’ve brought back the days of old and would’ve catapulted Adams’ Titans into one of the best if not the best helmet look in the NFL.

Another concept with lighter blue bearing the flaming thumbtack logo.

Complete the look with Columbia blue jerseys and the Titans would’ve owned the NFL’s aesthetic department. Instead, they tried something drastic and like the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars did in 2013, failed miserably. Okay, maybe the Titans didn’t fail as bad as the Jaguars (which we’ll get to tomorrow) but man, next to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it’s the worst look in football, with the helmet bottoming out at #32 in my rankings.

 

Conclusion

The Oilers/Titans have an interesting, but disappointing history in the uniform and helmet department. Looking to the future, it’s clear that the Titans are seeking their own unique identity away from the Oilers, and perhaps this is what motivates players from the Texans to voice support to bring the Oilers’ name, colors, and history back to Houston, even if only as throwbacks.

The Texans-Titans rivalry might be newer and underrated, but my is it bitter, and even fighting over the right to wear a uniform might just be another contribute to an already intense rivalry.

 

Further Gallery

The original Houston Oilers helmet.
The oft-forgotten silver helmets.

12 comments

  1. wow. Boatload of information, very neat! never would have realized the history behind some of this stuff. And thankfully the ads didn’t annoy the heck out of me like some sites
    Thanks!

    1. Yeah, the ads have been very friendly for the time being, but they can get annoying at times! The history behind the Titans is a colorful yet sad one, as I’ve missed the Oilers since their successors debuted the flaming thumbtack logo. Yikes!

  2. Hi Todd,

    Thank you kindly for this fascinating review on the Tennesse Titans Helmet History. You really seem to know your stuff with this and it really was a fascinating read. Did they make a movie about the Titans because I remember distinctly seeing one? Bud Adams certainly rings a bell as well, and sure enough, you know I am not an NFL Fan.

    I was searching for a Tennesse Helmet for a present for a friend of mine that keeps on bumping his head. Its a running joke and so I wanted to buy him something stylish and HIGHLY protective – kind of a way to make a point. I am going now to have a look at the prices and take it from there.

    Thanks again Todd and I am looking forward to your coming articles. ~ Philip.

    1. Hi, Phillip, you’re thinking of Remember the Titans, which was about a high school team in what I believe was the 1960s. It’s actually my favorite sports movie of all time! You might remember Bud Adams back in the mid-1990s when he was causing a ruckus for lobbying a new stadium from the City of Houston. Well, the Titans definitely have style, I will give you and your friend that! Just not my taste of style.

  3. Who knew there was history in an NFL helmet!? If you can’t tell – I’m not personally big on football lol. But my dad loves football. I’m going to show him this – it may interest him :). As for your article – I agree with your final take on changing the design! Definitely way too close of a resemblance!

    1. Thanks, Sherry! I was big time disappointed when the Titans switched to navy helmets. I heard the rumor, but didn’t want to believe it, as it just wouldn’t look right. I’m projecting a uniform change in about four years.

  4. Hi, Todd.
    You are providing loads of information on changing helmets in NFL history. Kudos to you !!
    I agree with you but the old silver color was much more classy and punching though the changed look is impressive too.
    Thanks for  sharing such detailed  information which is a boon to football lovers.
    Warm Regards,

    Gaurav Gaur

    1. Hi, Gaurav, a big welcome to you! I’m just not much of a fan of the new one since it’s very Texans-like, but something else I noticed this morning was that the Jacksonville Jaguars and Titans look similar when viewed from a distance as well. Little contrast in the AFC South. 

  5. When I was growing up, the Houston Oilers was my favorite football team. I loved their uniforms and I suffered a lot of heartache rooting for that team. When they moved, it was the ultimate heart ache. It was like the ending of a romantic relationship and I don’t even look at the Titans as a real football team. 

    1. Hi, Lee, I loved all those old Houston Oiler uniforms and I wish the NFL would’ve had Bud Adams allow the current Houston Texans to use the name, rather than Texans, a name which has a history in Dallas rather than Houston. Those uniforms were some of the best ever and for a minute, I thought of doing a post separately for the Oilers since these days there’s no real correlation between the Oilers and Titans from a uniform standpoint. 

  6. Hi  Thanks for a great article, its nice to see the true sports fans passion. we are only just beginning to see the rivalry between the different teams. It helps us here in the UK that there was a programme explaining the rules to us. its now very popular on TV here. It was  interesting to read about the changes with the helmet. I really enjoyed it, and I have learnt something new today. Thank you

    1. H, Alan, I see American football getting more and more popular over in the UK, and I can even see a situation where one game weekly will be played in the UK or somewhere in the Central European Time Zone, which I’m more than cool with as I love watching the NFL from 9:30am here in the Eastern Time Zone in the US which concludes with Sunday Night Football at 8:30pm. Those out west may think different, so if I moved to British Columbia someday I might think different, but I enjoy it here in the east. 

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