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NFL safety committees told teams not to wear throwback helmets

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The news that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t wear their Bucco Bruce throwback helmets comes a month after two NFL safety committees concluded that throwback helmets are a bad idea.

The league office passed along to PFT a memo that was sent to the clubs in August, saying that when throwback uniforms are worn, helmets should not be changed.

“Our Head, Neck, and Spine Committee, chaired by Drs. Hunt Batjer and Richard Ellenbogen, and the Player Safety Advisory Panel, chaired by John Madden and Ronnie Lott, have recommended that players no longer wear different helmets as part of a ‘Throwback’ or ‘Third’ uniform,” the memo from the league office said. “Our office supports this change and has reviewed it with the chairman of our Health and Safety ownership committee, Dr. John York, who concurs with this recommendation.”

The league office told all teams planning to wear throwback uniforms this season that players must wear their regular helmets on throwback dates. The outside of the helmet can be modified by removing or replacing decals, but the helmet itself must stay the same. Once players have properly fitted helmets that they’re comfortable wearing, the NFL doesn’t want them changing helmets during the season just for appearances.

We’re told that some teams aren’t yet sure whether to go ahead with plans to wear throwback uniforms. The Cowboys, for instance, planned to wear their throwbacks with white helmets on Thanksgiving, and it’s not yet known whether they will blend throwback jerseys with regular helmets, or just scrap the throwback uniforms entirely.

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77 Responses to “NFL safety committees told teams not to wear throwback helmets”
  1. freshnsoclean says: Sep 17, 2013 6:05 PM

    NFL = No Fun League

  2. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Sep 17, 2013 6:06 PM

    This is not being explained very well. If the throwback helmets use modern technology and are fitted to each player, why can’t they be used? Is there a reason each player should wear the same helmet all season?

  3. briandorry55 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:08 PM

    This is complete nonsense.

  4. gatherspeed says: Sep 17, 2013 6:08 PM

    Do they understand the helmets aren’t actually from 1976?

  5. thehatefulnerd says: Sep 17, 2013 6:09 PM

    No one’s wearing an unsafe helmet.

    This is Goodell, being an unpopular stooge.

  6. beavertonsteve says: Sep 17, 2013 6:10 PM

    I hope teams just wear their mismatched helmets with completely mismatched jerseys until the NFL relents from the hideousness.

  7. jbaxt says: Sep 17, 2013 6:10 PM

    So throwback helmets have to use throwback technology? Am I the only one who thought they would just use new helmets with the throwback look? Or does this read the they’re seemingly going without face masks? I’m confused…

  8. somethingsmellsrotten says: Sep 17, 2013 6:11 PM

    Seriously…is everyone this stupid? Just change the color scheme and/or the decals on the modern helmet to reflect the throwback style. Why is this even an issue?

  9. indians131184 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:12 PM

    What, were they actually wearing Old helmets during throwback games all along or something

  10. swampfox42 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:12 PM

    Come on.
    Who gives a crap about those old jersey’s
    Many are hideous.
    The Jags, Jets, and other loser teams would feel at home.
    Maybe the Bucs and those fairy like cream-sicle uni’s would fit in again.

  11. kylexitron says: Sep 17, 2013 6:13 PM

    Makes no sense.

    Are you telling me that in a billion dollar revenue generating league, teams can’t afford contemporary helmets to go along with their throwback uniforms?

    Are we to assume that every time a team like the Bucs wants to wear there,s they are just pulling out the same uniforms from some box labeled “1977” and distributing 35 year old uniforms to players?

  12. greeneblitz says: Sep 17, 2013 6:13 PM

    Yeah, no explanation as to why?

  13. gorillapimpin says: Sep 17, 2013 6:14 PM

    Not a Cowboys fans but those throwbacks just stand for fall, Thanksgiving, and football.

  14. ghjjf says: Sep 17, 2013 6:15 PM

    Are the throwback helmets using the technology from the era that they represent? This makes no sense.

  15. jack3dsd says: Sep 17, 2013 6:18 PM

    I just assumed NFL players got brand new helmets every game if they wanted along with jerseys gloves etc

  16. teal379 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:21 PM

    Yes because wearing a helmet all year long that’s taken hundreds, if not thousands of collisions makes more sense than periodically replacing said helmet to prevent any sort of impact fatigue or hairline fractures from compromising the effectiveness of said helmet.

    When I raced motorcycles – it was rare I’d keep a helmet longer than a single year and it didn’t take NEAR the abuse an NFL helmet does while being built twice as strong. (Players are getting faster but they’re not doing 100mph into the asphalt fast)

    The LAST thing a person should do is continue to use a helmet that’s been beat or exposed to repeated collisions. For a league doing 9 billion a year – helmets should be considered a disposable item. Replaced frequently.

  17. thegregwitul says: Sep 17, 2013 6:22 PM

    This is somehow the fault of Greg Schiano. I don’t know how, but it is.

  18. ghlatty says: Sep 17, 2013 6:22 PM

    Y’all missed April Fools Day by a mile. This story is too nutso to be true.

  19. moustachedone says: Sep 17, 2013 6:24 PM

    Pretty sure Bears already wore throwbacks last week.

  20. EJ says: Sep 17, 2013 6:24 PM

    Doesn’t the throwback helmet have the same technology as the teams regular one? If so, then what is the problem? Can you update this story MDS, some of us are confused?

  21. posmoo says: Sep 17, 2013 6:25 PM

    to cheap to have the helmets repainted and decals reapplied twice in one week?

  22. randomcommenter says: Sep 17, 2013 6:25 PM

    There is only 1 reason why this would make sense and that is if the league is conducting a research experiment this season and they want as few variables as possible.

    Other than that, it makes no sense at all. Are they saying that the people who make Romo’s regular helmet lack the ability to make that same model in white?

    If the player is wearing the same model and size of helmet and the only difference is the paint job, then it’s the same helmet.

    What if a helmet cracks? Is that player out for the year because its unsafe to wear his backup helmet?

  23. loytomaki says: Sep 17, 2013 6:26 PM

    I am guessing that the helmets are fitted to the player, and there might be a break in period to get them to fit well enough to be safe. But I am just guessing, would really like the explanation.

    Even if that were the case, if a helmet is defective there has to be a way to replace it, I find it hard to believe they cant get around this.

  24. bucsfan5000 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:27 PM


  25. @HowdyDoobie says: Sep 17, 2013 6:28 PM

    Shouldn’t the Player Safety Advisory Panel be chaired by doctor’s?

  26. titansbro says: Sep 17, 2013 6:30 PM

    I don’t get it. The pic on the previous bucco Bruce post clearly shows the new helmet with old color scheme & logo.

  27. wethog66 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:31 PM

    The NFL’s CYA mode, in regards to head injuries and player safety, has reached…


  28. fixorrepaird says: Sep 17, 2013 6:32 PM

    How utterly stuuuuuupid!

  29. nananatman says: Sep 17, 2013 6:34 PM

    They understand the helmets aren’t actually 20 years old right? They aren’t going to run out with vintage leather catcher’s mitts on their heads.

  30. digitalsasquatch says: Sep 17, 2013 6:35 PM

    Oh, please…the guts of the helmets are interchangeable, and the shells are changed frequently—have you seen a typical lineman’s or linebacker’s helmet by the end of a game? The divots aren’t just in the paint, they’re deep into the shell.

    The NFL’s delicate commercial aesthetic senses aside, a helmet with that kind of scarring is compromised and unsafe, so they pull the guts out of the old shell and pop them into a new one of the same manufacture.

    So playing with the same helmet for the full season—at least at the pro level— is demonstrably a moot point, and this whole safety committee argument is a load of predigested sod.

  31. mrgroovesd says: Sep 17, 2013 6:37 PM

    So what they’re saying is the throwback helmets will not be fitted properly before the game and the players are just given any helmet to wear? That’s great logic to not be a fun league anymore. Good going committee!

  32. indians131184 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:38 PM

    What if they made throwback helmets like David wrights handihelmet?

  33. channelguy says: Sep 17, 2013 6:40 PM

    Buffalo wore throwback helmet LOGOS on modern helmets Sunday, as part of their 1964 throwback unis.

    No danger of any violation though, since Im sure no one from the league office would have bothered to watch Buffalo play in order to enforce their silly new rule.

  34. 12seahawks says: Sep 17, 2013 6:40 PM

    I didn’t realize that the players only have one helmet, regardless of the uniform.

    That seems really dumb.

  35. frankenklein9009 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:44 PM

    This is horrible. The throw backs are always fun to see n they show off the old traditions n what we once had. This is terrible

  36. ridingwithnohandlebars says: Sep 17, 2013 6:45 PM

    So John Madden is the chair of the panel that made this recommendation, but the throwback helmets are still in the new Madden game.

  37. tincansailor981 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:48 PM

    Who cares? Throwbacks are mostly ugly anyway. But I do support the idea of firing Goodell. He has ruined the NFL with his haphazard “leadership.”

  38. Patriot42 says: Sep 17, 2013 6:51 PM

    I think I speak for most of the Neanderthal fans that believe football players should be able to use their helmets as a weapon or allowing players to play with concussions should continue. What do we care all we want is to set on our couch pick the lint out of our bellybuttons, belch and cheer at great hits.

  39. mackcarrington says: Sep 17, 2013 6:55 PM

    Doesn’t the NFL know that Notre Dame repaints their helmets every week before every game? if Notre Dame can afford to paint them every week, surely the NFL can afford to paint theirs 2 or 3 times a year.

  40. gt40bear says: Sep 17, 2013 6:56 PM

    Goodell strikes again! What a slug! He and his policies are going to ruin/kill the NFL like Bettman has done to the NHL.

  41. gatherspeed says: Sep 17, 2013 7:02 PM

    Just another way to take away ‘old time football’. No more 70s helmets. No more hard hitting.

  42. philahitman says: Sep 17, 2013 7:02 PM

    Yes, teams were gonna wear leather helmets with no facemask.

    As far as the same exact helmet all season thing… dont objects that take repeated hits eventually lose structural integrity? I would think a new helmet would be safer than one thats taken 100’s of hits already.

  43. philahitman says: Sep 17, 2013 7:05 PM

    Goodell’s non discipline policies are awful. I support his discipline policy because Tagliabu let it become a shameful joke where players served their prison time in the off season… but everything else he does is trash.

  44. daysend564 says: Sep 17, 2013 7:09 PM

    Craziness will ensue when a team decides to throw back to the days of leather helmets.

  45. mogogo1 says: Sep 17, 2013 7:09 PM

    Psst… don’t tell Roger Goodell and upset him, but Buffalo wore their throwback helmets this past weekend in the game versus Carolina.

  46. steelers4385 says: Sep 17, 2013 7:13 PM

    Nothing will stop unless fans hold a strike. Period. Everybody thinks its a joke and is to lazy to do untill you want to do something stop complaining.

  47. mackcarrington says: Sep 17, 2013 7:15 PM

    @mogogo1: Buffalo only changed the decal on the side of the helmet and the stripe. They didn’t use different helmets.

  48. 12444uggg says: Sep 17, 2013 7:16 PM

    I’m just chiming in to agree, this is as confused of an article or a decision by the safety board (I can’t tell which) as I could come up with. It’s a helmet, you stick a different decal on it.

  49. thegreatgabbert says: Sep 17, 2013 7:19 PM

    Something about those throwback helmets makes everyone want to play like Jack Tatum.

  50. sheetolay says: Sep 17, 2013 7:21 PM

    Hmmm…..Eddie Lacy must have been wearing a throwback helmet last Sun.

  51. nickster31 says: Sep 17, 2013 7:37 PM

    First off, with the beating these helmets take every week, they at least get a new coat of paint every week. Who cares if it is white, black, orange or purple.

    Secondly, there are only so many sizes of helmets, it is the padding (which also come in different sizes) that make it snug on the head (ever see Peyton Manning when he takes his off?). Dont tell me that a team of trainers and coaches for each team cant make new helmets fit players. One of the dumbest things I have ever heard.

    And lastly, the fact that this was even discussed by the NFL, let alone publishing a report on it, shows the decision makers (Madden? Seriously?) really need to be replaced.

  52. thenew013 says: Sep 17, 2013 7:43 PM

    i think it would be funny if they wore the current helmets with throwbacks. then you should be able to wear like crazy colored shoes and socks that dont match. kinda like a tacky tuesday. I am actually being half serious.

  53. jetsjetsjetsnow says: Sep 17, 2013 7:45 PM

    Cool! Leather helmits with no grills! Should be a free for all!

  54. ped013 says: Sep 17, 2013 7:57 PM

    The comment above about motorcycle helmets is very correct. If a helmet is in a significant collision, it has been compromised and should be replaced. With the collisions that NFL helmets are involved in on a weekly basis, I am surprised that players aren’t encouraged/required to change helmets more often, not keep them for the entire year.

    Do you really think that Brandon Merriweather’s helmet, after delivering one concussion and then causing his own in the same game, is really structurally better than a new helmet?

    While brands and styles of helmets may differ, if a helmet can be properly fitted to a head, then the same brand/style helmet should be able to fit the same head again.

    Interestingly, this new rule actually hurts the teams more than the fans. Think about how many throwback jerseys and helmets have been sold in the past on team websites and pro shops that will no longer sell when they aren’t used on the field.

    Maybe the NFL is actually doing something fan-friendly for once…saving us some money.

  55. patriots123456 says: Sep 17, 2013 8:03 PM

    The old helmets will be listed on Wed injury report…

    They will be moved from doubtful to OUT…

  56. peopletrains says: Sep 17, 2013 8:08 PM

    According to Forbes list of billionaires that just came out, I’m pretty sure nfl owners can buy their players a second helmet that fits like the first. Christ.

  57. clemenza58 says: Sep 17, 2013 8:11 PM

    This has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. To work in the league offices on Park Avenue, the standard attire includes red noses and big floppy shoes. The person occupying the commissioner’s office is a complete parasite.

  58. thegronk87 says: Sep 17, 2013 8:18 PM

    too bad, the patriots have the best throwback helmets in the league.

  59. gmenfan1982 says: Sep 17, 2013 8:21 PM

    Why don’t they just properly fit the helmets of the alternate uniforms the same way as the normal helmets. Doesn’t seem like much of a problem to me.

  60. crazyphatdude14 says: Sep 17, 2013 8:36 PM

    Guys, the issue isn’t that the helmets are not modern. It’s that the helmets when worn will slowly conform the your head just like a shoe does. It just fits better. So using a new helmet is like wearing a new shoe. Sometimes they are uncomfortable and can make your feet sore. A new helmet can put pressure on your head that an old helmet that is broken in won’t. Headaches, blurred vision from pressure, and an extra vulnerability to concussions can all occur from using a new helmet mid season. That being said. This rule is ridiculous. It’s not that big of a deal. All the things mentioned would be minor and halfway through the game the helmet would fit a lot more comfortably. This is just more evidence that the NFL is becoming more ridiculous every year….

  61. jdphx says: Sep 17, 2013 8:38 PM

    You mean those throwback Redskins helmets were
    not REALLY made of leather???

    And yes.. I said it. Redskins.

  62. gpry says: Sep 17, 2013 9:03 PM

    It was also recommended not to wear the throw back jock straps, as unresponsive jock itch could cause issues…no word if this vintage fungi originated in Tampa

  63. kevin926 says: Sep 17, 2013 9:06 PM

    jerks, they don’t have a clue, you tell me how many players have the same helmet they started with at the end of the entire season. any flaws, they are gone. what the hell is the diffence, im not very happy with the new nfl–fu roger g.
    mr g told lynch he doesn’t care about polls–
    how do you like this poll? give you a hint–my poll is in the center of my hand

    keep it up and you will start to really make the fans love you

  64. benjua18 says: Sep 17, 2013 9:22 PM

    someday they’ll find the technology to put old designs on new helmets.

  65. mantastic54 says: Sep 17, 2013 9:24 PM

    I guess they forgot to send the memo to the bears last weekend

  66. rcali says: Sep 17, 2013 9:56 PM

    The Throwbacks are terrible overall. The NFL would never use them but some dopes keep buying them.

  67. gruder007 says: Sep 17, 2013 10:14 PM

    This past Sunday the Bears wore their 1940’s Monsters of the Midway throwback jerseys…


    What a maroon…

  68. firegodellnow says: Sep 17, 2013 10:15 PM

    I am so sick and tired of these nonsensical decisions emanating from the NFL. Who do they think we are? What do they think our money goes towards? Do they give a rats behind about the fans? I’ll tell you what this is the kind of thing that could make their revenue drop Even more than it already has – see stadium revenue decreases already. The drop in attendance especially in marginal markets. Every week we have another article about how we’ve avoided several blackouts.

    If my CEO made my revenue drop by any respect With decisions that a 5th grader could see are moronic, I would fire him immediately. I want Roger “PC” Millionaire fired immediately. Or you risk losing my money and that of other pissed off fans were sick of this kind of garbage. This is the most asinine idiotic moronic decision that I have ever heard in my life in any business.

    All we have is constant insults to our intelligence – we need to start voting with our feet and with our wallets and stop giving this a-wipe God-ell our money.

    Yes I know it’s the owners, but we need to hit them where it counts so they get get the message rid of this King Rat who is ruining this historic franchise and get somebody in there who values the game we all love.

  69. robgilman says: Sep 17, 2013 10:56 PM

    you cant fix stupid

  70. lamontjoe says: Sep 17, 2013 11:11 PM

    I hate the Cowboys throwback unis. This is just another way teams can make $ from jerseys. I want the Cowboys in their regular white jerseys. I’m sick of those ugly white helmets.

  71. moolium says: Sep 17, 2013 11:28 PM

    can they play by throwback rules while wearing throwback jerseys? (i.e. tackling and hitting.)

  72. BH says: Sep 18, 2013 12:00 AM

    Are the throwback helmets made of something different than their current helmets? I was under the impression that they helmets were up to date,, only different designs or decals on the throwback helmets. What the hell?

  73. Eric Fay says: Sep 18, 2013 12:14 AM

    I loved the comment about Madden of all people coming up with this. meanwhile the game has hundreds of alternate uniforms. unfortunately, the game bogs down so much when cycling through the uniform options that an actual player could probably change his helmet faster than I could in the game.

    side note: when are they going to put an option in the game to go for a helmet to helmet hit or go for the knees? we need a third joystick on the controller.

  74. phaktor333 says: Sep 18, 2013 12:59 AM

    Real simple solution….fit the players for two helmets during the offseason. One regular and the other throwback…same design and same fit. Don’t cry poor now in the name of ‘safety’. If anything, in order to off set the costs of second helmets, charge more for merch…the suckers will still line up to buy them.

  75. andysolis says: Sep 18, 2013 1:35 AM

    I just got confirmation from Brian Broaddus from on twitter Dallas will wear regular whites on Thanksgivings game.

  76. noring4youstill says: Sep 18, 2013 5:57 AM

    Pretty sure in this multi billion dollar industry that they could be fitted for another helmet. Way to kill the throwback. Of course I honest to all Holy expected when reading this to state, ” We have decided they shouldn’t because 1. It reminds us of the NFL of old and how tough it was and 2 encourages players to play harder and hit harder or some BS like that.

  77. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Sep 18, 2013 7:25 PM

    Forget the helmets, the jerseys shouldn’t be worn because they hurt peoples eyes they’re so ugly.

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