NFL’s silly one-helmet rule throws wrench in throwbacks

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In 1994, the NFL commemorated its 75th season with a sweeping and comprehensive program of throwback uniforms, culminating in the 49ers catching fire in their old-school jerseys and riding them all the way to their most recent Super Bowl win. In 2019, the NFL will celebrate Season 100 (you may have seen the logo, if you’ve opened your eyes at any point this year), but any throwback program will be hamstrung by a rule that has made the concept of alternate uniforms far less interesting in recent years.

The league, citing concerns regarding head injuries, began limiting players to one helmet per year earlier this decade. This means that any throwback or alternate uniforms must rely on the base color of the team’s one helmet.

On one hand, one helmet is good, because the ongoing Nikefication of the NFL surely would result in some teams having umpteen helmets. On the other hand, why not let players have a second helmet? If it’s the same make and model as the helmet the player already wears, what’s the risk?

Perhaps it’s an issue that the owners will take up at the May meeting, given that there’s still time to plan another widespread throwback program for the league’s 100th season, allowing teams like Tampa Bay to break out Bucco Bruce, New England to open up Pat Patriot, the Titans (not Texans) to slap oil derricks onto white (or sky blue) helmets, the Seahawks to resort to silver, the Eagles to mingle in Kelly green, and the Vikings to ditch the matte finish for old-school shiny purple plus two-dimensional horns.

I know there are others; I just got tired of listing them. But you can in the comments. Which throwbacks would you like to see, if the NFL decides to let players double the number of helmets they can wear?

53 responses to “NFL’s silly one-helmet rule throws wrench in throwbacks

  1. Here’s my view. The only reason the NFL wears “throw back” uniforms is to have something else to merchandise. It’s all about money. Got to squeeze every nickel they can out of the fans!
    And to limit the players to one helmet shows how stupid the NFL really is about certain things.

  2. and the Vikings to ditch the matte finish for old-school shiny purple plus two-dimensional horns.

    Sorry Mike you have that switched around. Ditch the shiny for the matte finish. Anyway I love those old uniforms. Me and my Tommy Kramer jersey was the best on Sundays!! Yes I’m old, get off my lawn!!!!

  3. No helmets and then, boy oh boy go figure the number of penalties goes way down, players aren’t flying into each other head first, tackling becomes text book wrap ups again.

    I could go on but I got tired of listing the benefits…

  4. Oilers in Tennessee is about as stupid as Lakers in Los Angeles and the Jazz in Utah.

  5. Simple solution: The league approves throwback helmets. The helmets are worn once or twice or whatever. The teams then auction or sell the helmets and donate the proceeds to a charity. The cheapies in the NFL get a tax write off while the players and fans get to have some fun. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

  6. proc2000 says:
    March 29, 2019 at 8:08 pm
    The Buc’s creamsicles are a thing of beauty.

    Yes with the Errol Flynn Orange Pirate with the plume of feathers and the flower…er..Dagger in his teeth, the Denver Star Eyed Horse, Steelers “Grumble Bee” unis. Packers get out of Jail free, and who can forget the Pats little Tricorn hut hut man.. haha

  7. Orlando Thunder in’s acid green… I know it’s not a throwback, but that had to be one of the most obnoxious uniforms ever conceived.

  8. endtimesparty says:
    March 29, 2019 at 8:51 pm
    Sorry but you guys are going to realize you let the wrong QB go at the end of the season. Wentz Is injury prone and tho he has a nice deep ball, that only happens about 9 plays a game.

  9. People who play or coach football at the NFL level understand it’s not a good idea to rotate helmet colors or graphics from game to game.

  10. Bengals and Bucs.
    There is a ton of money to be made here- the league wouldn’t mind stocking store shelves with replicas of new throwback helmets for people to $pend money on……….right?

  11. Denver Broncos throwbacks are still the best! Honorable mention to Seahawks and Patriots. Not including Rams because the throwbacks are scheduled to be regular uniforms within the next 2 years.

  12. I agree its stupid. You can make them practice a certain amount of time in the alternate helmet to make sure it adapts enough to each player (like a new shoe).

    The Cowboys simple white and blue is my favorite. Think of TO eating popcorn after a TD thats the uni he has then. Class and sharp uni.

  13. Here’s what I’m wondering, what is the difference between players getting a different helmet for a one off game to throwback and a player (say a QB for example) switched his helmet for another because his headset went out? One isn’t considered okay and the other is merely tolerated?

  14. Brownies need a classic 1946 throwback with white helmets and white on white unis with brown/orange drop-shadow #s and striped socks. Would look awesome, especially if they played a Thanksgiving game. Alt. throwbacks should be 1980 BURNT orange pants, SEAL brown jersey, striped socks, classic BURNT orange helmet (not this post-2014 traffic cone crap that still makes us think there’s something wrong with the TV).

  15. Diggityofficial says:
    March 29, 2019 at 8:11 pm
    Eagles Kelly Green all season.


    I get the nostalgia value of the Kelly Green, but as someone who has watched the birds since the early 70s, when the helmets were white, I *really* don’t want to see a full return to the Kelly. I associate it with their losing years, with the small exceptions of Vermeil and Buddy Ryan, both of whom flamed out in disaster. I also associate the cries for a complete return to Kelly green with a breed of fan who thinks that Buddy Ryan is their patron saint and that Jeffrey Lurie is cheap.

    I’d love to see them occasionally put on 1960 throwbacks they broke out in 2010.

    But other than that, please no.

  16. Its comical to me that the NFL doesn’t think a pro equipment staff cant properly fit an alternate helmet. Yet the NCAA has no problem here. Ridiculous.

  17. The reasoning for the NFL’s one set of helmets mandate is because the more often a player wears the same helmet the better fitted it becomes around the player’s head and is more likely to prevent concussions. It becomes more form fitted around the player’s skull. If a team had a variety of throwback uniforms and helmets they would be worn much less often and not be as form fitted around the player’s head. And hence more likely to increase the risk of concussions.

  18. I’m pretty sure this is just safety “theater” for PR purposes. A helmet is a sticker. In high school we had standard blue helmets with a D on the side. When we made the playoffs some member of the athletic staff removed that D, and put on a helmet-covering sticker that made the helmets silver. I remember because mine started peeling off during a game revealing the blue underneath. If Danville Road High School could afford completely changing the look of our helmets I’m pretty sure the Jacksonville Jaguars can too. Mind-boggling.

  19. Mr Lurie of the Eagles has proposed this every year for the past 4/5 years. Now it’s getting fire. There were some really good ideas from some posters above. YES, the NFL has to make money with every new idea (crazy but true) the idea of selling game worn helmets (sorry Eli) for charity is brilliant. Most of us fans love their teams old throwbacks. It takes older guys back to good memories or old players we loved. Kelly Green Eagles with Reggie White and Randall Cunningham bring me great memories. Love the Oilers Blue, Chargers powder blue, Tampa Bay, New England all great throwbacks!

  20. Eagles are the ones pushing this proposal through. Everyone will benefit. Kelly Green indeed! 🦅

  21. One helmet rule is silly, BUT teams are allowed to change decals (see Rams horn color).

    So, Eagles should create a giant decal of an eagle wing with a kelly green background. The large decal would match the kelly green jersey.

    And since you asked, Washington’s throwbacks with the faux leather helmet are the best.

  22. Yes… old school shiney dark purple Vikings helmet. Gray facemask… like they wore in the 70’s. They brought them back 2008-2012 a few times. A thing of beauty! They should roll with those helmets and uniforms permanently.

  23. The Bucs throwback game was always a big hit here. This ridiculous rule ruined that. I would love to have that game back. Honestly I wouldn’t mind then switching back to creamsicle permanently. The current Bucs uniform with the digital alarm clock numbers is atrocious.

  24. The old bengals helmet with BENGALS written on the side would be awesome. And yes, the Oilers helmets too.

  25. The Braves experimented with dipped effects on their helmets when they opened the new stadium. Maybe that could allow alternate unis while using one helmet

  26. Vikings should get rid of the Matt finish and don the deep purple. Would also like to see the oilers with the LIGHT BLUE helmets. Bengals block letters. And Bears with the White C. And Rams with white horns and solid blue jersy

  27. The one helmet rule is recommended by the helmet manufacturers, not the league. The helmet companies cannot prove (in court) that a new helmet is as safe as a “fitted” helmet. Its all about limiting liability.

  28. If they can make intricate wraps for cars they can make wraps for the teams one helmet. After the game just remove the wrap and move on.

  29. Funny thing is, the uniform the teams wore when you first started watching are the ones we all like.
    Me growing up in the 70s, I like the niners wearing gold with thin stripes, the Bill helmet with the standing buffalo, BENGALS on the helmet, Dolphins in aqua, Chargers in powder blue, and Vikings with stripes around the shoulder.
    Some people like new styles, some people like classic.
    However, the designers don’t care as long as we’re all buying.

  30. How can there be a one helmet rule? Last season the Rams wore helmets with both a white horn and the hideous yellow horn.

  31. The NFL is ridiculously conservative about this. I remember in the 75th year the Jets wore that odd Green helmet with the classic Jets logo and white a reverse image of the classic helmet. Just…not right. I think the Bills had a white standing Buffalo on their red helmet.
    The NFL cares so much about their trademarks that, ironically, they almost settle for some half-assed, middling fan service that disappoints.

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