Who’s Number 1? The 2019 NFL Helmet Rankings

Now that the NFL Draft is finished and the season has officially begun, it’s time for the 2019 version of the NFL helmet rankings from 32 to 1.

If you haven’t done so yet, feel free to check out my 2019 jersey rankings which can be viewed here.

Some might be asking why I bother to update my rankings annually, and one reason for such updates is because teams change helmets every single year.

For example, in 2017 the Los Angeles Rams retired the gold ram horns in favor of white and ram horns.

In 2018, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans mixed things up for better and worse.

This season, the New York Jets revived an updated kelly green, known as Gotham green, helmet shells.

Therefore, it’s time for yet another ranking.

 

Tier V: In Need of Complete Rebrand

32: Tennessee Titans

 

 

 

The Titans clock in at 32 due to the helmet’s close resemblance to division rival Houston Texans, a team that ironically succeeded the old Houston Oilers, predecessors to the Titans. I cite both a) lack of creativity and b) persistence of the team’s infamous flaming thumbtack logo.

 

31: Arizona Cardinals

 

 

 

In previous articles I criticize the Cardinals and the fact they’ve never possessed a great helmet. The problem is the helmet has only regressed since the team’s 2005 rebrand.

 

Tier IV: History Has Better Options

30: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs’ helmet resembles something out of arena football. The logo is too big for the helmet and the chrome grill was a short-lived fad in the late-2000s and early 2010s. It’s far outdated.

 

29: Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons rebranded their helmet back in 2003 with an italicized cartoonish logo of a flying falcon. Supposedly, the falcon was supposed to look fiercer and also resemble the letter ‘F’ in a better manner.

 

28: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were forced to change helmet logos prior to the 1999 season. The far-dated cartoonish helmet logo has long played second fiddle to the tea’s original shield logo from 1996-1998.

 

27: Denver Broncos

The Broncos’ primary helmet logo is a far outdated design from 1997. The team’s timeless ‘D’ logo has returned for the team’s color rush and maybe the team will make a full-time switch if fan demand calls for it.

 

26: Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins retired their iconic leaping dolphin logo for a sleeker design in 2013. Its successor has been popular with neither Dolphin fans nor the NFL universe. The upside is the 1966 throwback helmets have returned to circulation, which the team may wear up to three times per season. Like Denver, the Dolphins may eventually revive the old helmet full-time.

 

25: New England Patriots

The Patriots retired the Pat Patriot look following the 1992 season and opted for silver helmets with a new logo known as Flying Elvis. Problem is, a team named the Patriots decided it was a good idea to add silver to a look that was once exclusively red, white, and blue.

 

24: Philadelphia Eagles

Yet another timeless look was retired following the 1995 season when the Eagles abandoned kelly green and silver in favor of midnight green and a new primary logo. While the primary logo has been a hit with fans, the midnight green and metallic silver also saw the debut of black, which takes the team even further from their traditional kelly green and silver. The kelly green helmet returned in 2010 as an alternate but was re-abandoned when the NFL mandated the single helmet rule in 2013. However, there have been rumblings of a potential return of kelly green.

 

Tier III: I Can Live With it

23: Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have had a near-identical helmet design since their inception in 1995.  The lack of Carolina blue has always prevented the helmet from standing out in uniqueness and identity and has rather blended in with the rest of the league. Ditto for the team’s jerseys.

 

22: Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks debuted with one of the greatest helmets of all-time and while the current helmets aren’t the worst, they carry elements of a college/arena look. The reason they’re not lower is due to the team possessing a near-identical logo since their inception.

 

21: Jacksonville Jaguars

This is a case where the logo is too small for the helmet, as if someone messed up an order somewhere. The 1995-2012 helmet logo fit the helmet in a greater manner.

 

20: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ helmet is unique in the fact its logo is the only one consisting of stripes. The downside is and has always been the orange, which many old school fans realize is a knockoff of the Cleveland Browns, as evidenced in the team’s 1968 inception.

 

19: New York Giants

The lowercase ‘ny’ logo might be historic, but the old script GIANTS first appeared on the team’s color rush helmet. Since then, there has been a clamoring for the return of the script GIANTS logo, which the team retired after 1999.

 

18: Houston Texans

The team’s logo resembles the Flag of Texas, which is an amazing design, but the team marketed white helmets prior to the team’s 2002 debut. No one is sure why the team abruptly dropped the white in favor of blue, but the white would’ve created a link with the team’s predecessor, the Houston Oilers.

 

17: New York Jets

The Jets introduced Gotham green along with a brand new helmet logo. While I’m a fan of the green, I was hoping for a complete return of the old logo featuring the futuristic jet. I’m not complaining ,though.

Tier II: Cusp of Greatness

16: Minnesota Vikings

The purple shells and even updated logo are amazing, but the black facemasks have created a gripe. Black doesn’t appear anywhere else on the look or even in the official color scheme.

 

15: New Orleans Saints

The Saints’ fleur-da-leis logo has been in existence since the team’s debut in 1967. Since then, the helmet has undergone just one minor redesign.

 

14: Los Angeles Chargers

I love everything about the Chargers’ helmet except for the navy blue that still persists in the logo’s outline. A recent Twitter post has shown a potential switch to yellow facemasks in the team’s promo video when the team announced a jersey switch to the powder blues.

 

13: Washington Redskins

Name and logo controversy aside, the team’s burgundy color is unique among NFL circles featuring a logo that has stuck around for almost fifty seasons.

 

12: Cleveland Browns

The team’s logoless helmet is one of the most recognizable in sports. The drop is due to the feathered pattern on the team’s helmet stripe. This might be changing come 2020 when the team rebrands.

 

11: Detroit Lions

The Lions ditched their infamous black accents prior to 2017 and have thankfully never looked back. The old Honolulu blue/silver combo appears to be here to stay.

 

Tier I: Never Change

10: Buffalo Bills

The Bills dropped their red shells prior to 2011 and returned to white full-time while keeping the charging buffalo look. An all-around excellent design.

 

9: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have held steady since the 1960s with the black shells and unique one-sided logo.

 

8: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have kept the ‘SF’ within an oval logo since adopting it and have since revived the brighter red in 2009.

 

7: Chicago Bears

Navy and burnt orange have been a staple and excellent color contrast for the Bears since the 1960s with the helmet remaining the same ever since.

 

6: Green Bay Packers

Yellow and green evoke the colors of summer fading to fall in the northern US with a helmet that has remained the same for decades.

 

5: Los Angeles Rams

Returning to both white and yellow ram horns catapulted the latest helmet design into the top five. The team is said to debut a new design come 2020 or 2021, so we’ll see if it sticks. Also, the helmet logo design has been in place for 72 seasons, longer than any other NFL team.

 

4: Oakland Raiders

The Raiders silver and black has remained over the course of two different cities and word has it nothing is changing.

 

3: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs kept the same helmet shells since relocating from Dallas to Kansas City prior to 1963. Only the helmet logo has changed.

 

2: Indianapolis Colts

Nothing speaks of luck better than the team’s horsehoes, which have been part of the helmet since the 1950s.

 

1: Dallas Cowboys 

Is anything ever going to top the lone-star? While the masses have mixed feelings, nothing is more recognizable in North American sports.

 

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10 comments

  1. Say, what makes a great helmet?  Is it just the logo design and the colour scheme?  I’m assuming that the helmuts must all conform to standardised dimensions, yes?  So their physical design remains the same but it’s their exterior cosmetics that is being talked about here, no?

    I actually liked the Arizona Cardinals helmet, they tend to stand out to me more because their almost minimalist style compared to the other ‘in your face’ helmut logos.

    Go on, say something positive about the Arizona Cardinals helmet.  If they keep changing their names and lacking identity, should be interesting to see a an article showing their helmet changes through the years.  Will love to see that article if you write one up! 🙂

    1. For me, helmets that stand the test of time makes them untouchable. Such as the Colts, whose horseshoe design has been here since the 1950s or the Rams, who’ve had ram horns since 1948. The Browns’ logoless look is simply iconic while Dallas’ lone star logo is recognized worldwide by both football fans and non-football fans. I really can’t say anything good about their helmet, but I do have an article regarding their helmet history: Arizona Cardinals Helmet History

      1. Good read! Do they lack long time followers? Is that why they readily change name, identity, logos? I wonder whether their helmets have an appeal as collectors’ items because they’re discontinued flash-in-the-pans.

        Rams deserves awards for their design. The curve of the horn blends in with the helmet’s. Brilliant.

        Thanks for the interesting reads!

        1. I wouldn’t say any one NFL team lacks followers, but a few like the Jaguars have far smaller fan bases than say, the Cowboys, so rebrands are used to increase awareness for such teams, but as I’ve implied in the article: for many teams, this can and will backfire. Brilliant and timeless logo for the Rams! The oldest in the NFL.

  2. Definitely an interesting take on helmet designs. I sort of like my Jaguars design other than the logo as you said could be bigger. I hate the browns matt colored no logo helmet and would have put it in at 32 and probably the Falcons at 31 but most of the designs are fairly spot on. Denver D is a nice helmet but needs a few updates to beat our the Bronco in terms of recognition and subliminal branding. I would have put them a little higher on the list but think the wrong blue is being used to accent the orange, they look to much like a 76 ball and not enough flash.

    1. Hi, Andy, I was a huge fan of the Jags’ old logo, which I felt was a perfect fit. That logo never should’ve left, even if it was a bit cartoonish. What catapulted the Browns into the top 15 was their timelessness with a helmet shell that’s been exactly the same since the team was founded other than numbers invading the sides for a year. I always give points to helmets whose shells and logos have hardly changed, except Arizona, perhaps. 

  3. Hi! Thank you very much for this list! Yes, every year NFL teams change their helmets and this list needs to be updated.

    In my book I would place Denver Broncos’ helmet in place number 1 and New England Patriots’ helmet in place number 2. But that may be because of my personal preferences, lol. But I still appreciate this list. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Henry. I think a lot of it boils down to personal preferences. For me, I have a bias toward tradition, as I always feel many times an update backfires. There are exceptions, though. 

  4. Dallas Cowboys its all about The Silver Star Nation, Texas Football and The Lone Star State Of Texas where Football is King , From jhoss here of The West Texas Panhandle USA.

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