Here it is, arguably the most storied franchise in the NFL, and one of the most recognizable brands in sports. The Green Bay Packers helmet history is nowhere near as long as the franchise’s existence because, well, like many of our traditional franchises, the Packers’ look just hasn’t changed all too often.
That’s from 1959-onward.
There has been a little bit of change, though, but ones just subtle enough for us helmet enthusiasts to see and share with the masses.
But, if you count those turbulent days of the early NFL, I suggest you strap in because the early part of this timeline is going to take a while to read.
Okay, not too long; just our usual quick hits before we dive into the modern era.
So, let’s get started.
Prior to 1961
As with many of our oldest franchises, the Packers being the second oldest having been founded in 1919, the team wore old leatherheads from 1921 to 1951.
Alright, let’s get this timeline cracking.
In 1921, the Packers stuck with dark beige leatherheads until 1932.
In 1932, the new look consisted of a blue base with a yellow and blue pattern at the crown. Click here for a better look at all these early helmets.
In 1934, the Packers went with a yellow base with a vertical yellow-blue striping pattern at the crown.
1935 saw a switch to light beige base with a green-beige striping pattern at the crown.
1936 kept the same look, but added an inverse helmet as well, featuring a green base with light beige and green striping patterns.
Finally, from 1937 all the way until 1950, a plain yellow leatherhead was used.
The original plastic-shelled helmet contained a gray facemask when the facemask came into existence in 1951, which was light beige with a single green helmet stripe.
In both 1957 and 1958, the Packers wore white helmets with a blue stripe, sort of resembling the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The first modern-looking helmet came in 1959, when the team switched to metallic gold (yellow for purposes of this article). The crown stripes were also modern, with green-white-green on the logoless helmet, as shown at the image above.
In 1961, then-coach Vince Lombardi asked equipment manager Gerald Braisher to design a helmet logo for the team in a time logos were becoming more and more of a trend due to the league’s increasing popularity on TV.
Braisher then asked his assistant, John Gordon, to conceive a final draft of the design.
The pair came up with a football-shaped ‘G’ within a green football-shaped field, which Lombardi later approved and the logo was added to the helmet that season.
There has been speculation on the meaning behind the ‘G,’ with Tiki Barber claiming the ‘G’ stands for Greatness, while most believe it stands for Green Bay, which is unique among the other professional teams in the four major sports leagues due to the fact it’s by far the smallest city containing a pro sports team, the population being roughly 105,000, the 286th largest city in the nation.
Following the 1969 season, the football-shaped green field was later rounded at the points to resemble an oval, giving the Packers a modern touch that it has held over the past five decades.
The only change the Packers would make to the helmet since 1979 is the facemask color, which also became a trend in the late-1970s.
Today, the color is the same shade of dark green as the jerseys, with the team never having gone back to the gray facemask since.
The only other helmets the Packers have worn since are on throwback weekends. Prior to the NFL’s mandate banning multiple colored helmets in 2013, the team wore brownish helmets with a navy and gold throwback to mimic the leatherheads of the uniform’s era.
Now that multiple helmets are abolished, the Packers now simply remove all markings from the helmet when wearing the throwbacks. However, such a helmet can also, in a way, stimulate the leatherheads the Packers wore from 1937 until 1950, since such helmets lacked markings of any kind.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the Packers have done just that. While I crave gray facemasks, the Packers may be an exception to the rule, with the green looking in place with the current (and practically only) uniforms the Packers have worn since incorporating the plastic shells.
These days, few teams get it right when it comes to their helmets and jerseys, and the Packers are fortunately one of those teams.
The Packers sure have the iconic logo of the day, but very few realize that even Green Bay decided to switch things up at the turn of the decade starting in 1970 with the less-football shaped logo. This is very reminiscent to what the New York Jets did with their own uniform change back in 1998 when they reintroduced the 1965-1977 logo and uniform set.
Despite a collage of different colors early in the team’s existence, Green Bay found a look and for the most part, stuck with it. For years to come, it’s my prediction that the Packers will continue to do what works for them and make little if any change to a look that has become one of the league’s more international brands.