Helmet Designs and History of the 1978 NFL Season

The 1978 NFL Season brought about a few changes in helmet designs for a number of teams. Also during this time, gray facemasks began to get dropped in favor of new colors, which would become more apparent during the 1980s. Two new teams would be added as well, which was part of the 1970 merger agreement.

Just like with my previous two historical seasons, let’s take a look at how each design changed (or didn’t change) throughout the latter half of the decade. For a few helmet designs, I had to use identical fill-ins since I can only legally locate so many for use, but I have provided links to the actual looks. However, the only main differences occur in either the helmet striping or facemask color.

As time goes on, I’ll be able to locate and update as appropriate.


==> Related Article: Helmet Designs of the 1970 NFL Season <==


AFC East

Lots of changes here. The Dolphins have moved the leaping dolphin head above the sunburst. The Jets unveiled a completely new helmet that season. The Bills have changed logos and don blue facemasks. And the Colts now sport a white facemask.

1978 Patriots

New England Patriots: 11-5


1978 Dolphins

Miami Dolphins: 11-5


New York Jets 1978-1989

New York Jets: 8-8


1978 Bills

Buffalo Bills: 5-11


1978 Colts

Baltimore Colts: 5-11


AFC Central

The Oilers have since switched to a white shell while the Browns changed to white facemasks. The Bengals would make a switch to their familiar tiger-striped helmets in 1981 while the Steelers introduced black facemasks in 1976.

1978 Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: 14-2


1978 Oilers

Houston Oilers: 10-6


1978 Browns

Cleveland Browns: 8-8


Cincinnati Bengals 1968-1980

Cincinnati Bengals: 4-12


AFC West

Another division seeing a lot of changes. The Broncos and Chiefs switched to white facemasks while the Chargers switched to a navy shell and yellow facemasks. The Seahawks also joined the AFC West in 1977, one year after playing their inaugural season in the NFC West, a division they would return to in 2002. This version of the Seahawks’ helmet is the 1983-2002 look, as I was unable to locate a reputable substitute. The actual look can be seen here.

Denver Broncos 1975-1996

Denver Broncos: 10-6


1978 Raiders

Oakland Raiders: 9-7


Seattle Seahawks: 9-7


San Diego Chargers 1974-1987

San Diego Chargers: 9-7


1978 Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs: 4-12


==> Helmet Designs of the 1966 NFL Season <==


NFC East

Redskins are on their third different helmet since I started this series with the 1966 season, but one they would continue to use to this day. The Giants now have a white facemask and new logos. Slight difference between what’s shown here for the Giants and what they actually wore. The helmet striping is was actually a white-red-white triple stripe, whereas what I have here is the look shown from 1981-onward.

1978 Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: 12-4


Philadelphia Eagles 1974-1995

Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7


1978 Redskins

Washington Redskins: 8-8


Arizona Cardinals 1960-2004

St. Louis Cardinals: 6-10


New York Giants 1976-1999

New York Giants: 6-10


NFC Central

Okay, so we have the Buccaneers now located in the NFC Central here in 1978, having started as members of the AFC West before heading to the NFC. The Lions’ helmet shown is still the older 1983-2002 version and the Bears actually had gray facemasks, but again, I’m only able to locate so much at any given time, so we’ll call them fill-ins. You can click this link here for an accurate depiction for the Bears and also this link for an accurate one of the Lions.

Minnesota Vikings 1961-1979

Minnesota Vikings: 8-7-1


Green Bay Packers 1961-1979

Green Bay Packers: 8-7-1


Detroit Lions 1983-2002

Detroit Lions: 7-9


Chicago Bears: 7-9


Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1976-1996

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-11


NFC West

Rams have new helmets, bringing back the yellow beginning in 1973. This version shown is from 1981, since the masks were gray at this point. You can find the actual depiction here. Lighter facemasks for the Falcons as well.

Los Angeles Rams: 12-4


Atlanta Falcons: 9-7


1978 Saints

New Orleans Saints: 7-9


1978 49ers

San Francisco 49ers: 2-14



AFC Championship

Houston Oilers: 5

Pittsburgh Steelers: 34


NFC Championship

Dallas Cowboys: 28

Los Angeles Rams: 0


Super Bowl XIII

The Pittsburgh Steelers faced off with the Dallas Cowboys in what would be the second of three Super Bowl matchups between the two rival franchises from opposite conferences. The game was a deadlock over the first three quarters, with Pittsburgh taking a 21-17.

However, with 6:51 to go in the game, the Cowboys found themselves down 35-17 with two controversial officiating rulings going in favor of Pittsburgh and the game appeared to be over. However, this wasn’t the case, as Captain Comeback named Roger Staubach rallied the Cowboys to a four-point deficit with 22 seconds to go in the game.

The ensuing onside kick proved unsuccessful and Pittsburgh won in one of the more controversial Super Bowls of the decade.


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  1. Hi Todd,

    It’s very nice of you listing all the different helmets and the history in 1978. Among all the helmets, I like color black with graphics on it, they look pretty low-key but premium.

    But, I always get confused when I watch the game with my friends and end up phubbing during the entire game. I feel guilty and could not join the discussion afterward. 

    I have a question, does each team re-design the graphics on the helmet every year? Or some team will keep the pattern for a long while? 

    1. Depends on the team. In most cases, they need to hold the same graphics for five seasons minimum but some teams will do a lot of switching up. It just depends. 

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