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The story behind the Bills’ red helmets

Buffalo Bills v Baltimore Colts Getty Images

As the Buffalo Bills prepare to unveil on Friday night their new uniforms, which already were inadvertently disclosed by the folks at EA, the team’s official website tells the tale of why the team changed in the 1980s from white helmets to red helmets, which apparently will be changed on Friday back to white.

Per Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, quarterback Joe Ferguson was color blind.  So with four teams in the AFC East having white helmets at the time (Pats, Dolphins, Bills, Colts), Ferguson was struggling to separate receivers from defenders.

“We needed to do something to distinguish the white helmet,” said Bills equipment manager  Dave Hojnowski.  “We found that Joe saw the red helmet differently than the white.  I’m not sure if it was a darker gray to him, but it was easier for him to distinguish and that’s the reason why we made the switch.  That was under the head coach at the time, Kay Stephenson.”

With the Bills apparently going back to white helmets, a color-blind quarterback in the AFC East will once again have trouble.  Though the Colts are gone and the Pats have switched to silver, the Jets have traded green helmets for white and the Dolphins fortunately have never switched from white to aqua or circus peanut orange.

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25 Responses to “The story behind the Bills’ red helmets”
  1. shackdelrio says: Jun 23, 2011 8:38 AM

    Ok, so Joe Ferguson was color blind. What was Trent Edwards’ excuse?

  2. ebenezergrymm says: Jun 23, 2011 8:44 AM

    I wonder what color their helmets will be when they move to Toronto…

  3. marvsleezy says: Jun 23, 2011 9:45 AM

    I think Buffalo is actually one of the more likable teams in the league.

  4. joetoronto says: Jun 23, 2011 9:56 AM

    ebenezergrymm says: Jun 23, 2011 8:44 AM

    I wonder what color their helmets will be when they move to Toronto…
    **************************************************
    Blue with white.

  5. richm2256 says: Jun 23, 2011 10:05 AM

    The Jets had green helmets???? Maybe they were so ugly that I blocked them from my mind, but I always remember them having white. Different logos at times, but white.

  6. tunescribe says: Jun 23, 2011 10:23 AM

    Too much red, white and blue in the league as is. The Bills should’ve gone radical — a la brown, gold and black. That would fit both the buffalo imagery and tough Buffalo blue-collar vibe.

  7. brasho says: Jun 23, 2011 10:35 AM

    What makes this even more stupid, is that the Jets had green helmets at the time, and people that are color blind cannot distinguish red from green. GENIUS!

  8. greencheeto says: Jun 23, 2011 10:38 AM

    This is an old story/rumor. Though I didn’t hear it was because Joe was color blind, but rather Old Joe was having trouble distinguishing between helmets because of his age…

  9. bigbeefyd says: Jun 23, 2011 10:51 AM

    brasho says:
    Jun 23, 2011 10:35 AM
    What makes this even more stupid, is that the Jets had green helmets at the time, and people that are color blind cannot distinguish red from green. GENIUS!
    ******************************
    Depends on the type of color blindness (I am completely color blind but I CAN distinguish red from green).

  10. nyjalleffingday says: Jun 23, 2011 10:52 AM

    @richm

    They were green before 2001, that’s why you can’t remember.

  11. PackersHome.com says: Jun 23, 2011 10:58 AM

    The Red helmets look far better than the White ones, simply because a White helmet looks cookie cutter.

    Stay Red or go something else other than White.

  12. deadeye says: Jun 23, 2011 11:21 AM

    I’m a die-hard Dolphin fan, but honestly I think that the old Buffalo Bill uniform that O.J. Simpson wore is one of the sharpest uniforms ever.

    I love the white helmet, and was ticked off when the Jets, Bills, and Patriots switched to different colors. I haven’t seen the new uniform yet, but if the logo and colors are the same with a white helmet, I’m pretty sure I’ll at least like it.

  13. pirate5369 says: Jun 23, 2011 11:35 AM

    BRINGING IT BACK TO THE GOOD OLE O.J. DAYS

  14. olcap says: Jun 23, 2011 12:00 PM

    “That was under the head coach at the time, Kay Stephenson.”

    I didn’t know that Buffalo had a female coach back then. Too funny. Who would name a male child “Kay”?

  15. db3300 says: Jun 23, 2011 12:06 PM

    “I think Buffalo is actually one of the more likable teams in the league.”

    Losing prevents them being a threat so they’re naturally more likable.

  16. steelernfl says: Jun 23, 2011 12:21 PM

    The colors teams use today are bla bla bla. There are more colors than black, red, blue, silver.

  17. philtration says: Jun 23, 2011 12:22 PM

    Patriots need to go back to their real uniforms too.

    Get rid of that stupid “Flying Elvis” logo.

  18. horatio69 says: Jun 23, 2011 1:09 PM

    richm2256 ,

    You must have been in a coma from 1978 until 1997, when the Jets wore green helmets.

    I don’t buy the color-blind story. The Yuccaneers used the same excuse when switching to white jerseys at home, because Vinny Interceptaverde kept tossing INTs by the bushel. The change didn’t help much.

  19. richm2256 says: Jun 23, 2011 1:44 PM

    nyjalleffingday says:
    @richm

    They were green before 2001, that’s why you can’t remember.
    ————————————————-

    There was football BEFORE 2001???

    Actually, I’ve been watching the Patriots since about 1968. Perhaps it’s just that the Jets have done so little since the year after that, I just stopped paying attention to them.

    I mean, why WOULD you?

    Now that they’ve won two straight Super Bowls, maybe we should.

  20. ramofsteel says: Jun 23, 2011 1:55 PM

    Nooo I like the Bill’s red helmet. If you have to change it, white helmet w/a red buffalo, and the rest stay the same. :)

  21. spillertime21 says: Jun 23, 2011 2:10 PM

    Thank god for the uniform change. I’m not thrilled about the white helmet but their jerseys and pants will be similar to their throwbacks they have been wearing the last few years. No more dark blue on dark blue!!!
    Seriously, that jets fan that can’t remember the green helmets??? Are you serious? You must be one of those “diehard” jets fans that go all the way back to when they got Rex and sanchez!!

  22. dempsey63 says: Jun 23, 2011 2:15 PM

    olcap says:

    “That was under the head coach at the time, Kay Stephenson.”

    I didn’t know that Buffalo had a female coach back then. Too funny. Who would name a male child “Kay”?

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    How ironic! SMU coach June Jones III asked the same question.

  23. sdiegosteel says: Jun 23, 2011 2:20 PM

    I don’t buy the color-blind story. The Yuccaneers used the same excuse when switching to white jerseys at home, because Vinny Interceptaverde kept tossing INTs by the bushel. The change didn’t help much.

    ———————————————–

    Did they watch the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State?

    I wonder if he saw the rest of the team when they were wearing the camouflage fatigues . . .

  24. yankees2009 says: Jun 23, 2011 2:36 PM

    marvsleezy says: Jun 23, 2011 9:45 AM

    I think Buffalo is actually one of the more likable teams in the league.

    —————

    You and every other Bills fan… the rest of the fans couldn’t give a rats a** about them

  25. dwight123 says: Jun 24, 2011 8:22 AM

    @marvsleezy I wonder why? oh wait..they are the laughing stock of the league,year after year?

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