The New York Jets helmet seems to change every two decades and now that the team underwent an entire uniform redesign in 2019, the trend continues. The Jets wore white shells starting in 1963 and it held true until 1977 when the team opted for green shells. The green remained a fixture from 1978-1997 before returning to white. From 1998-2018, white dominated the helmet scheme before a new design came about starting in 2019.
A Word on Nicknames
The Jets not only have a long helmet history, but they also have had two names, the first being the Titans of New York, a name which I wish they would’ve kept as it made for a perfect counterpart for the New York Giants of the then-rival National Football League, hence the name being chosen in the first place. The name Titans has since been revived with the arrival of the Tennessee Titans in 1999, a team that has featured navy blue helmets since 2018.
Yes, unlike the hunter green and white look the Jets possess today, the Titans of New York held a navy and gold color scheme.
So, what is the history of the New York Jets’ helmet?
Take a look at my timeline below!
Debuting as the Titans of New York, the team had a plain shell with a gold stripe running down the middle. This uniform was the same one revived under Jets ownership in the mid-2000s until the NFL implemented a one shell helmet rule supposedly to lower the risk of concussions.
In 2009, the Jets wore this look on multiple occasions, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the old American Football League (AFL) which now consists of the American Football Conference (AFC) minus the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans, all of whom joined the AFC in 1970, 1995, 1996, and 2002.
In 1963, the Titans were renamed the Jets since the team played in Shea Stadium at the time, located near LaGuardia Airport, the same home as the National League’s New York Mets of the MLB.
This was the year the Jets switched to kelly green and white, with the wordmark Jets residing inside a green airplane. This logo remained until 1964, when the first version of the oval with the Jets wordmark appeared, a white decal with the Jets wordmark written in green.
In 1965, due for fans’ difficulty of seeing the logo from a distance, the color scheme flip-flopped, with the football turning green and the Jets wordmark, white. This logo was shaped more like a football than their 1998 successors and accompanied the team when they defeated the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts in Super Bowl III.
This helmet lasted with the Jets until a radical uniform design took place in 1978.
In 1978, most likely to separate themselves from other teams in the AFC East, all of whom wore white helmets at the time, the helmet changed to kelly green with a modernized Jets wordmark on the sides, written in white. The kelly green and white look stayed for the next decade before 1990.
In 1990, black outlines were added so TV audiences could better read the numbers on the players’ jerseys. The white facemask was replaced by black during this time as well, and this look remained until 1998 when head coach Bill Parcells took over head coaching duties.
In 1998, a modernized version of the 1965-1977 uniform returned, with the team reverting back to white helmets. The football-shaped oval was now curved at the edges and hunter green was used in favor of kelly with sports teams finding darker colors to be more marketable at the turn of the 20th century.
This helmet remained until the 2019 uniform redesign, and only with the introduction of the NFL color rush in 2015 did the team modify their helmets somewhat, with the kelly green returning in chrome, a very modernized twist to the old kelly green look of the past.
The Jets unveiled their latest uniforms along with a new helmet on April 4th, 2019. The kelly green shells return, officially known as Gotham green, according to Nike.
The helmet logo is a completely new one but features elements of the team’s 1998-2018 look. While the ‘NY’ script and oval are eliminated, the ‘JETS’ wordmark was retained with an identical font, along with the underlying football.
The Jets have become known for switching their uniforms and helmet shells every twenty seasons at a rough estimate, so we’ll see if the team decides to keep the new helmets for the long haul or will give them up after five seasons, which is the minimum number of years a team must wear a new uniform and helmet combo.
While I’m not a fan of black, I like what I saw last night as the Jets incorporated black facemasks in 1990 along with black outlines on the jerseys so audiences could better view the team’s uniforms. Therefore, the Jets are the only NFL team to get a free pass on this, unlike those who incorporated black in the late-1990s-early-2000s.
The team would be smart to stick with this look, as the Gotham green provides a decent upgrade reminiscent to the team’s 1978-1997 uniform designs; almost a modernized upgrade that entwines tradition with innovation.
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From the Titans of New York Navies to today’s Gotham green, the Jets like to mix things up seemingly every two decades, giving their fans a fresh look to see and cherish. I expected a return to green since the team previously held green helmets for twenty seasons before spending two decades back in white. Now, we’re back in green until at least 2039 if things are going in the direction they’ve been over the past forty seasons, if one is willing to keep up.
I’m excited to see the new look in action and I know Jets fans are longing to see the look come about as well, so while we won’t know what it’ll really look like once on the field, early returns for me at least, are seemingly positive.