The New Orleans Saints helmet has become one of the few timeless ones for teams in the NFC founded after 1960. The fleur-de-lis, a symbol of New Orleans, has donned the sides of the Saints’ helmets since their inaugural season in 1967. The team founded on All Saints Day has since used nothing but subtle updates to their helmet color, facemask and logo, which I’ll outline in the following sections.
The original Saints’ helmet consisted of an old gold shell along with a black fleur-de-lis along with a gray facemask. As you can see in the image to your left, the fleur-de-lis is taller and slimmer than the one used by the team today. It also lacked a black outline. On the crown of the helmet is a black-white-black stripe combo.
The only proposed major change involved a notion that New Orleans initially switched to black helmets during the 1969 preseason and planned to wear them for the regular season, however, the team failed to notify the NFL of the switch, prompting then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to bar the Saints from wearing the helmet, forcing a return to gold.
In 1976, as with many NFL teams, the Saints switched from the traditional gray facemasks to black and held this look until the 1999 NFL Season. The shade of gold used was also slightly updated for the time as well.
2000 and Beyond
In 2000, the Saints modified the fleur-de-lis, thickening the logo and adding a black outline to the white, allowing the logo to become more visible. The shade of old gold was also slightly darkened.
Some superstitious types state this was the best move the Saints have ever made, as they won their very first playoff game in team history in 2000.
While the team returned to their old struggles shortly thereafter, culminating with a 3-13 finish in 2005 when they were forced to play in various cities due to the damage done to the Superdome in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the greatest era in Saints history followed.
Starting in 2006 when future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees signed, New Orleans climaxed the team renaissance in 2009 with their very first Super Bowl appearance and subsequent victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
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While I’m a fan of the older look, it’s understandable the team will not switch back any time soon. Why would they? Since the subtle logo and color change, they appeared in Super Bowl XLIV, defeating the Indianapolis Colts and nearly returned to the Super Bowl in 2018 after a highly controversial call ended their season.
To their credit, they didn’t make any drastic changes to the helmet or logo, except the simple updates so for that, I applaud them. I’m not happy with many modernized changes NFL teams make, but I can more than live with this one.
It doesn’t seem like the Saints will make a move any time soon, unless they decide to go in a different direction once the Drew Brees era ends, but as long as Brees remains, look for the Saints to continue using the same look that won them a Super Bowl back in 2009.
It’s a little different to see teams founded after 1960 keeping a near-identical look for their helmet and logo, as teams like the Falcons, Dolphins, Bengals, Jaguars, Ravens, Seahawks, and Buccaneers all made major changes to their look, the Saints are definitely in the minority here along with the Panthers and Houston Texans, both of whom have resisted radical design changes along with New Orleans.
This would’ve been a different story, however, if the team was allowed to go through with wearing a black helmet rather than gold, but they could’ve easily changed course prior to the following season and didn’t, giving them a look that just identified well with the City of New Orleans as time went on.