While the Houston Texans helmet hasn’t changed at all since their inception in 2002, it doesn’t quite mean they don’t have a history. The history of the NFL (and AFL) in Houston dates back to 1960, meaning Houston was never just some new-age NFL city; they’re almost as old school as old school can get, and the city had always symbolized with the identity of the old Houston Oilers…until team ownership spurned the city and its fans in favor of Nashville, Tennessee after playing two turbulent seasons in Memphis in front of crowds totaling less than 20,000.
In fact, there had been much speculation regarding the Texans when the NFL announced it was returning to Houston.
For one, many believed the Houston Texans could’ve become the new Houston Oilers upon the franchise’s founding in 1999, such as my eight-year-old self included since I absolutely loved the team’s look from back in the 1990s.
However, the Oilers’ name was retired while the team’s color and history is part of the Tennessee Titans, who’ve been based in Nashville since 1999, meaning the Texans wouldn’t be able to emulate what the Cleveland Browns did in 1999 when the team returned as the Browns. Keep in mind though, that the Oilers who played in Houston and Texans are two separate franchises, unlike the Browns who were considered to have suspended operations between 1996 and 1998.
The Titans would go on to play as the Oilers in select games during the 2009 NFL Season to honor the 50th anniversary of the American Football League (AFL) which later became the American Football Conference (AFC) in 1970 when the two rival leagues merged.
History of the Houston Texans’ Helmet
So without the possibility of an Oilers revival, the Texans started with a wholly new identity and no history.
When were the first ideas of the Texans’ uniforms discovered?
At a team event when owner Bob McNair flashed a white helmet with the current logo.
Everyone bought the look to the point EA Sports’ Madden NFL placed the uniform with the white helmet into the game as a bonus team in its Madden NFL 2002 version, one year before the Texans made their debut in Madden NFL 2003.
The white helmet accompanied a generic uniform featuring blue jerseys (white for the road) with white pants and socks, featuring no markings, as can be seen here.
However, the helmet color was changed prior to the team’s debut from white to a navy blue color, as can be evidenced at the team’s official uniform unveiling on September 25th, 2001.
One theory states the color change was necessary due to the number of AFC teams already wearing a white helmet at the time. The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, and Tennessee Titans all wore white helmets, with the Colts and Titans set to join the soon-to-be created AFC South which also came into existence in 2002, which also happened to be the same division the NFL placed the Texans.
Since then, the Los Angeles Chargers (2007) and Buffalo Bills (2011) also reverted to white helmets, bringing the total to six in the AFC before the Titans switched to navy blue helmets prior to the 2018 season.
Today, the Texans’ helmet remains navy blue and resembles that of what the Titans did last season, giving the current and former Houston teams identical looks when the bitter rivals play one another, at least in the helmet category.
There have been several concepts circulating the internet for the Texans’ helmets if they did revert to white in the future, which would resemble the Houston Oilers of old, especially if the team opted to use a lighter shade of blue.
Only time will tell whether the Texans are willing to undergo such a change, but as of right now, there are no plans to change the team’s look.
The Texans’ helmet is one that carries on rich tradition in the State of Texas, even adding the lone star on the helmet. While I’d prefer a white helmet with some Columbia blue over the current color scheme, it’s a solid look and one that has since stood the team’s test of time since their inception in 2002.
While I’d love to see a full-blown Houston Oilers throwback someday, with permission from the Tennessee Titans, of course, this is a look I can live with. Word has it that the players are also behind this push and I’d be on the Texans’ bandwagon if they did deck themselves out either in Oilers’ throwbacks or adopted a faux-back look, identical to what the MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays did a few years back before wearing their real throwbacks on a regular basis.
The NFL’s latest franchise may have secured a timeless look, especially considering the other three expansion teams of the 1990s (the Texans were technically founded in 1999, but didn’t begin play until 2002) have all made changes to their helmets. The Baltimore Ravens did so prior to 1999 after a dispute with the original creator of the team’s helmet logo, the Carolina Panthers updated their logo in 2012, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have made numerous changes to their look.
In addition, the teams founded before those of the 1990s, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks, who both played their first season in 1976, also switched helmet styles twice. The Bucs had their first switch in 1997, before their 22nd season in the league while the Seahawks redesigned their look in 2002, after moving back to the NFC during the 2002 realignment.
Perhaps the Texans are becoming historical in their own regard, and though they’re still the league’s youngest franchise by a wide margin in terms of starting play (2002, six years after the Ravens began) and can still make a switch, so far the only change to their uniform of any kind involved adding the helmet logo to the team’s nameplate on the back of their jersey.
So, once again, I applaud the Houston Texans for keeping things simple and timeless for now, unless you want to count a helmet switch beginning with the team’s proposed helmet prior to September 25th, 2001.