Cincinnati Bengals Helmet

Cincinnati Bengals Helmet History

Bengals Current Helmet
Current Bengals Helmet.

I have a treat for NFL fans today as we dive into the Cincinnati Bengals helmet history, which is one of the most unique in NFL lore. For one, like the Browns, Steelers, and Ravens, the Bengals’ helmets have changed just once since their inaugural season in 1968. Yet it’s the team’s helmet history that sparks interest in many NFL historians.

While many of our historical teams are much more well-known for their long, storied histories such as the NFC’s Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, unique tales regarding uniforms even reside in many of our younger franchises, such as the Bengals who served as the tenth and final edition of the AFL franchises in 1968.

Among NFL-AFL relations, the Bengals serve as a bridge not only between the two leagues but as actual spawn from another NFL team, where a series of events brought about not only the Bengals’ existence, but also their original helmet and entire uniform design.

This has simply not been seen often in either the NFL nor any of the four major North American Professional Sports Leagues.

And for that, a team whose history may be rather bland other than a few successful years in the 1980s becomes far more interesting regarding their creation and their whole look, from 1968 until today.


==> Click Here for the Bengals Team Profile <==


From the Browns to the Bengals

The Bengals’ Browns-like original helmet.

Paul Brown, who saw success with the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1962 lobbied the NFL for a new franchise, refusing to take part in the “inferior” AFL. Yet upon learning of the NFL-AFL merger for the upcoming 1970 NFL Season, Brown founded the Bengals, who took the field in 1968.

Brown, despite his falling out and subsequent firing with former Browns owner, Art Modell, still owned the equipment, so he took it with him to Cincinnati to start the Bengals, changing the brown on the jersey to black. In fact, the Bengals’ helmet was almost the exact same shade of burnt orange the Browns used at the time.

If you follow this link, you can see just how eerily identical the Bengals’ original uniforms were to their future and now current division rival.

The only difference in these helmets was the BENGALS wordmark on the sides plus the absence of a stripe down the middle.

The Bengals wore their Cleveland-like helmets and jerseys from 1968 until 1980, when they finally overhauled the look.

Note, that this could never be done in today’s NFL, however some college teams like the Iowa Hawkeyes and Duke Blue Devils have modeled their own uniforms after NFL teams, with Iowa taking the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ look and Duke’s primary uniform set resembling the Indianapolis Colts.


==> Click Here for the Bengals Jersey History <==


While the Bengals have modified their uniforms over time, the helmet has remained the same, featuring tiger stripes and a black facemask. Like division rivals Browns and Steelers, the Bengals’ helmets are also unique in that their logo wraps around the top of the helmet from one side to another, reminiscent of tiger stripes.

Some consider this an actual logo while others do not, claiming the helmet is simply multicolored, as stripes are on a tiger.

Something that is certain, however, is the uniqueness, where logo decals in the league consist of either pictures or letters, the Bengals are the only team in the league with markings. Such a design has become so popular that college football teams like the Memphis Tigers have adopted the design on multiple occasions. Take another look here.

The unique look has definitely caught on, and if there is any consistency with the Bengals over the past four decades, it begins and ends with the helmet.


My Take

Some have lobbied the Bengals to switch to a black and white color scheme, which would be a tribute to the snow tiger.

I’ve always been enamored by the Bengals helmet and next to the Browns’ logoless look and the Steelers’ one-sided logo, I consider it the most unique in football. Even more interesting is the fact all three teams play in the AFC North and are bitter upon bitter rivals.

No team out there plays down and dirty like the Bengals while the Steelers are known for their hard-hitting and the Browns have gained a reputation lately of playing with swagger and cockiness, especially with the addition of quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Three timeless, unique helmets, three heated rivalries, six new chapters each season.

May the Bengals’ helmet remain unique….but they should probably look into changing the jerseys and pants.

For more on the AFC North, feel free to visit the Cleveland Browns’ page here, the Baltimore Ravens here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers here.



Timelessness, that’s what has become of the Bengals’ current helmet, fitting in right with the Browns and Steelers, but also mimicking other teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and other classic teams. While the Bengals are relatively young having been founded in 1968, making them the 7th youngest franchise in terms of years, the helmet itself has the look of a team decades older than they.

The similarities to their in-state rival begins with the helmet as well, stemming from similarities between the two cities, their close proximity to one another, but entirely different cultures between the two, as has been pointed out by several Cleveland and Cincinnati figures throughout the decades.

While the Bengals’ uniforms might not bring in the same tradition as the helmet itself, they can always claim at least one link to the past, and it begins with the orange lids.

The history tie-ins are certainly another point of uniqueness here, allowing some interest within the Bengals’ somewhat lack of compelling history which is plagued in mediocrity in each decade not named the 1980s. Well, the team does have an interesting history, even if such history came about a few years before their inception and the series of events that led to the creation of the Cincinnati Bengals.

A big thanks for stopping by The Helmet and Jersey Stop, please come back soon.

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  1. Todd,
    I was in Miami when the Bengals played the 49’s in the super bowl. I have great respect for this team and their left handed quarterbacks. They have not had a great run at the playoffs in the past few years though.
    I like how you have given the history and how the helmet got its current look.
    Do you think they would actually change to the snow tiger colors.

    1. Hi, John, I think the last time the Bengals won a playoff game was that season. I’m almost 28 and the Bengals are the only team that hasn’t won a playoff game in my lifetime! I think they might change the colors judging from the popularity of their all-white color rush uniform, but the orange helmet looks so out of place due to the NFL’s one-helmet rule. If the demand is there from the fans, I can see a move.

  2. I can feel your passion for that topic just by reading your article!
    And I find that fascinating.
    So much that I really enjoyed too.
    And that says a lot considering helmets are not really my thing.
    Even more, I barely know a fact or two about them!
    Well, I definitely know much more now than a few minutes ago.
    Thanks for that and thank you for sharing it!

  3. Hey Todd,

    I have seen only one game of the Bengals and I liked their style.
    The helmet history is interesting, I didn’t know that they hda one, to be honest.
    Are you a fan?

    1. Hi, Asen. Many don’t realize the Bengals have a unique history, judging by the fact the original 1968-1980 look is rarely brought up. I’m no Bengals fan, I can assure you. I like their cross-state rivals, the Browns!

  4. Todd, I was never a fan of NFL, because I live in Europe and this sport is not very popular here, but it was really interesting to read the history of some NFL teams helmets. Especially I liked the Bengals helmet with the black stripes. Thank you for an interesting article and a little NFL history lesson.

    1. Yes, the NFL is just now breaking ground in Europe but will be a while before it becomes close to mainstream over there. I’m the same way; I’ve always admired the team’s unique tiger-striped look. I would endorse a switch to white shells, though.

  5. This Helmet is very attractive and eye catching. no wonder it’s in circulation for all these years and remain in
    top position in the NFL. Sometimes fans go to these NFL games just to look on the players outfit or their uniform which included their helmets. Bengals helmets will never change throughout the years to come no matter what changes the team made!

    1. It’s funny that you say fans go to the game to admire the uniforms. Back in the old days before the advent of color TV, many teams, most notably the Dallas Cowboys, began wearing white at home so fans could see the other team’s colors during games. The Los Angeles Rams were known for this as well, and to this day the Cowboys wear white at home on an exclusive basis. The Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Rams have done this exclusively on as well but on an inconsistent basis.

  6. It is interesting that the Bengals helmet remained virtually unchanged from 1968 until the present,also that the league has allowed the two rival teams, to have almost the same color helmets.

    It would be interesting to know, if the Bengals management, have considered changing, to the striking black and white stripes of the snow tiger,as they make this a striking color scheme?

    It is a strange quirk of fate that after the fallout with Art Modell, Brown owned all the equipment,and that he was able to start his own new team fully equipped, without having to spend anything.

    It is strange that Brown,had so despised the AFL, that he would lobby the NFL, for a new franchise,and yet ironically, he would end up in a NFL-AFL, merged league later on.

    1. And that even stands true today, Robert, as the Browns and Bengals continue to be the only two teams in the league with not only orange helmets, but an identical shade of orange. I’d love to see the snow tiger look, as black and white has always worked well together in a color combo, despite its basic outlook. 

  7. Loving the Bengal helmet Todd!

    That shouts aggressiveness, just imagine having your whole entire team with those helmets with matching jerseys, the aura alone would be enough to put fear in the opponent team throughout the game. I have to admit, the classic Bengal does look nice and simplistic but those stripes would really mean business. Which one do you prefer more, the classic, or the stripes?

    1. If the Bengals paired these helmets with the pre-2004 jerseys, I’d be all for it. The striped pattern is one of the most unique in NFL history and continues to be so. The classic one was classy, to say the least, but far too Cleveland Browns-like. I’d love to see them bring it back as a throwback, though. In fact, the Browns and Bengals play each other twice a year and since it’s the NFL’s 100th anniversary, I’d love to see the two teams don throwbacks from their first meeting back in 1970. 

  8. Hey Todd

    I personally am not a fan of football, but I do admire some of the logos different teams have. I think the stripes look cool. It really does resemble the look of a snow tiger! 

    The history behind it is also pretty interesting to read about. I know I personally enjoy learning how one team ends up rivaling another.

    Thank you for sharing this information with us!


    1. Hi, Mandy, I might do an article about the best ‘uniformed rivalries’ in the future and would include a brief history not only of the Browns-Bengals rivalry, but others as well, since many have interesting histories such as the Cowboys-Redskins, 49ers-Seahawks, Titans-Texans, Browns-Ravens, and others, the latter two being a personal bitterness between the fans and the other team. 

  9. Hey Man!

    Great article. Loved the energy behind this article. Though not a big American football fan, but your article makes me wanna watch a match or two. Also the history of the helmet was exciting and fascinating. You have covered almost all the aspects of it. I didn’t know most these things before. Great work!

    Thanks of sharing!

    1. I remember when I was too young to really know football, the teams’ uniforms were what initially got me hooked! From there, it becomes easy to understand the game, ironically while admiring the game’s aesthetics. 

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