The Oakland Raiders helmet history dates back to the AFL in 1960, much like their AFC West rivals, all of whom were chartered members of the American Football League (AFL). Like the Kansas City Chiefs, their helmet has seen very little change; well, very little change since the 1960s, which I’ll get into in a moment.
And one can only wonder what they would’ve looked like had they been christened the Oakland Senors…yikes! And to think that almost happened if it wasn’t for the fact the nickname became the butt of all jokes in the Oakland media after the name unveiling.
The Raiders are known for their tradition when it comes to both the helmet and uniforms, leading many to believe the team has remained stoic in their looks since their founding seasons in Oakland.
However, not only have the Raiders gone through different helmet incarnations, they debuted in 1960 with different colored shells. This shell contained zero logos or markings.
In 1962, the Raiders, then black and gold rather than their usual silver and black, added a gold crown stripe to their helmet.
During the 1963 preseason, the Raiders also wore the 1962 shells.
Come the 1963 regular season, the team switched to their now-familiar silver shell with a jolly roger wearing a black helmet. Swords crisscrossed behind the pirate and the typescript ‘Raiders’ appeared above, along with a black stripe running down the crown of the helmet.
However, this helmet was also different to today’s familiar look, being that the shield enclosing the roger was silver instead of today’s black.
The Raiders would wear this helmet during the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Season in 1994 and a decade and a half later in 2009, when the original eight AFL teams celebrated the AFL’s 50th Anniversary Season for select games.
And finally, today we have the look every NFL fan has become familiar with, the silver helmet, black stripe, gray facemask, black shield, with a similar jolly roger equipped in the same exact helmet.
Same roger, same typescript of ‘Raiders’ running across the top, same intimidating look the team has owned in both the helmet and uniform department since.
This look has seen some excellent seasons from 1965 to 2002, routinely pulling off winning seasons as well as three Super Bowl victories while splitting time between Oakland and Los Angeles, where the team had played between 1982 to 1994.
And to think Raider Nation could’ve been Senor nation. If you’re familiar with the NFL landscape, you could only imagine what the black hole would’ve looked like for the Oakland Senors.
This team is on the move, playing 2019 at the O.Co Coliseum before moving on to greener pastures (sort of) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Whether they’re the Oakland Raiders, the Los Angeles Raiders, or the Las Vegas Raiders, the team’s identity tends to follow, which wasn’t the case for neither the Baltimore Ravens nor Tennessee Titans, both of whom adopted new identities in their new cities.
Not the Raiders; the helmet is simply timeless and too perfect to be manipulated in any way, shape, or form.
Well, I’ll be honest, the Raiders typescript annoys me but I can live with it. Okay, I’m picking nits at this point. One of the best helmets in football, hands down.
As stated above, other than the little nits I picked about the team’s typescript on the helmet logo, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the look, and a lot about the helmet to love. For someone who’s a traditionalist, and I’ve said this in many other posts, the fact things have been identical for the past fifty-plus seasons links old school fans to new school fans, current players to former players, and even the team’s bleak era between 2003 to 2015 to the team’s winning ways between 1965 through 2002.
It’s identical to the timelessness shown with looks like the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, and others who have followed the path of tradition, and continue to link fans of all ages and teams of all eras, through the good and the bad.
My only hope is that the Raiders continue, through winning and losing seasons, continue to at least use a winning helmet throughout. It’s one of the greatest helmet histories in the NFL.