The NFL has returned alternate helmets in 2022: Ranking all 13 from best to worst (2023)

For the first time in a decade, the NFL is permitting teams to add a second helmet to their uniform inventories. This enables some clubs to celebrate their heritage with throwback looks, while others take a different route by introducing an entirely new crown to their repertoire.

(Following the 2012 season, the league had limited each team to one helmet – the rationale being that players were better protected by one piece of properly fitted headgear. That rule meant only teams like the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, for example,could affect a retro look, needing only to swap out helmet decals. Squads opting to use alternate helmets must ensure each player's is the samemodel and size as his primary helmet, and it must be worn in practice preceding games when it's used.)

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The rollout began in Week 4, the Bengals unveiling their long-anticipated"White Bengal"ensemble on "Thursday Night Football."It was a spectacular alternative for a franchise thathad worn orange lids for the balance of its 55-year existence.

But don't expect all the new reveals to go so well. Here's a ranking of the 13 teams that will be using the extra helmet option in 2022, one of them a double dipper:

1. Cincinnati Bengals

They debuted their black and mostly white Color Rush uniforms in 2016. Now, the white helmet with the black tiger stripes has finally completes that "White Bengal" presentation as a nicely distinguished substitute for a team that had been doing little more than mucking up its primary jerseys with unnecessary swatching and such for nearly 20 years. A record 67,260 fans filed into Paycor Stadium last week to celebrate the whiteout theme.

2. New England Patriots

No matter how you feel about this team – and most fans are on one end of the spectrum or the other – most seem to universally prefer the white "Pat Patriot" helmet that dates to New England's AFL days. Joyously, it will return this Sunday– and perhaps dually commemorate rookie QB Bailey Zappe's first start.

3. New Orleans Saints

The NFL has returned alternate helmets in 2022: Ranking all 13 from best to worst (1)

They broke out their new black helmets for last weekend's game in London. Largely a reversal of their familiar domes, the alternates have black shells with the signaturefleur-de-lis logo in gold on the side with a stream of smaller ones in a tapering pattern down the center line – similar to the feathers used by the Seattle Seahawks. A pretty sharp look for the Saints, who have almost always looked cleanin their various combinations of "old gold," black and white ... that 2002 experiment with golden jerseys notwithstanding.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Their throwbacks don't rate the acclaim of New England's– perhaps it has something to do with trailing the Patriots by six Lombardi Trophies, including the Super Bowl 51 gift– but Atlanta's original red helmets are pretty slick. The Falcons hadn't been able to do more lately than slap their original logo on the black helmets, calling back their briefly successful 1990s era, which included the franchise's first Super Bowl loss following the 1998 campaign. But the red helmswith the black, white and gold striping truly evoke the past. This original scheme was devised as a way to pay tribute to the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. It returns in Week 6.

5. New York Giants

We had to double check on this one, as they'd been using the block "GIANTS" logofor several years. This past weekend, they resurfaced their Lawrence Taylor-era blue jerseys with the retro logo as well– which was affixed to a new helmet with a slightly darker shade of blue than what the G-Men typically wear.

6. Washington Commanders

Their alternate uniforms topped with a black helmet might be the least objectionable aspect of their botched rebrand. Fielded for the first time in Sunday's loss at Dallas, the military stylization of the uniform and the D.C. flag on the shoulders are nice details. The black helmet itself is unique as the team's new "W" logo sits on the forehead with the players' jersey numbers on the sides. Frankly, the Commanders should've made this their new primary uniform given it would have further distanced the team from its burgundy and gold color scheme – which only serves as trim on the black kit– that many feel still inextricably links the franchiseto its controversial former name.

7. Dallas Cowboys

Shocker, Jerry Jones is going to market you something (sort of) new.In Week 17, Dallas will wear a white matte helmet with its iconic star logo, the one bordered by white and blue outlines.

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7a. Cowboys, part II

Bonus: If you're a fan of the throwback look Dallas has often featured on Thanksgiving in the past, welp, that's also back for Turkey Day this year– differentiated by the star logo on the helmet stripped of outlines.

8. Houston Texans

Their new "Battle Red" helmet will debut in Week 9 against the Eagles and mark the first time the Texans have worn anything other than their "Deep Steel Blue" headgear in the franchise's 21-season history. Unfortunately, this aligns with the team's generally unimaginative look.

9. Philadelphia Eagles

If you weren't paying close attention, this might almost go unnoticed. But they'll use black helmets – to be worn with their black jerseys and pants – in Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers ... not that black headgear deviates much from the Eagles' standard"Midnight Green." But be patient, Philly fans, owner Jeffrey Lurie pledged earlier this year that the beloved Kelly Green helmets (and uniforms) will return in 2023 ... after Nike's had time to get the color fabrication just right.

10. Carolina Panthers

If you're sensing a proliferation of black helmets and feeling like you're getting transported back to the 1990s– when it seemed like professional sports teams across the spectrum wanted to add black to their uniform palettes– then, yes, you're correct. Add the Panthers, who are essentially subbing matte black for silver, with the big reveal coming for Week 10's Thursday night matchup against Atlanta. Similar to Philly, Carolina will go all black that night.

11. Chicago Bears

For the first time in their 103-season history, the Bears will wear a helmet that isn't navy blue. Unfortunately, what you'll witness in Weeks 6 and 8 is an orange helmet as uninspired as the Texans' "Battle Red" alternate ... and it's probably worse as a player if you resemble the headless horseman.We'd suggest sticking with the pleasing winged throwbacks and/or bringing back the white "C" logo from the Butkus and Sayers years on occasion.

12. New York Jets

They're also going to sport matte "Stealth Black" three times this season, the team's recently changed logo switching from white to green. Who asked for this? Great question. They should take a cue from the crosstown Giants and bring back the highly preferable 1980s and '90s logo in some form or fashion.

13. Arizona Cardinals

Continuing the theme from the Bears, Jets, Panthersand Texans – meh. In fairness, maybe Arizona's black helmets that will be paired with both of the Cards' alternate black jerseys– yes, they have two– are a slight improvement. But that's to be expected when you have the league's worst uniforms. Back to the drawing board ...


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.


The NFL has returned alternate helmets in 2022: Ranking all 13 from best to worst? ›

In the 2021 offseason, NFL announced that teams could have two different helmets starting in 2022. 10 teams will have new alternate helmet look for the 2022 season. They include the Bears, Bengals, Cardinals, Commanders, Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, Jaguars, Saints and Texans.

What 13 NFL teams have alternate helmets? ›

The new (or old) helmets are listed in order from best to worst.
  • New England Patriots. The Patriots' beloved throwback helmets (and uniforms) will be making their long-awaited return this season. ...
  • Atlanta Falcons. ...
  • Cincinnati Bengals. ...
  • Dallas Cowboys. ...
  • Carolina Panthers. ...
  • New York Giants. ...
  • Philadelphia Eagles. ...
  • Arizona Cardinals.
Jul 25, 2022

Which NFL teams have alternate helmets 2022? ›

In the 2021 offseason, NFL announced that teams could have two different helmets starting in 2022. 10 teams will have new alternate helmet look for the 2022 season. They include the Bears, Bengals, Cardinals, Commanders, Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, Jaguars, Saints and Texans.

What 12 NFL teams have alternate helmets? ›

NFL Teams Debuting Alternate Helmets, Jerseys for the 2022 Season
  • Cincinnati Bengals. A deal's a deal. ...
  • New York Giants. The 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒕 is nothing without the 𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒕 ...
  • New Orleans Saints. New Helmet Drop…. ...
  • New England Patriots. ...
  • Arizona Cardinals. ...
  • Chicago Bears. ...
  • Atlanta Falcons. ...
  • New York Jets.
Jul 12, 2022

Why did the NFL get rid of alternate helmets? ›

In 2021, the NFL approved rule changes allowing alternate helmets with throwback uniforms. The use of a second helmet was dropped in 2013 over concerns that wearing more than one helmet might not be safe for players.

Why don't NFL teams have alternate helmets? ›

The league in 2013 banned the use of alternate helmets, citing safety concerns among players. The league relaxed the rule in 2021, however, giving teams a July 31 deadline to inform the league whether it would have Color Rush, alternate or retro jerseys, starting with the 2022 season.

What NFL teams will have alternate helmets in 2023? ›

The Browns, Broncos, and Colts also appear set to introduce alternate or throwback helmets this season. Andrew Lind of also reported that we will see at least three other alternate or throwback helmets this season for the Browns, Broncos, and Colts, although we don't know what they will look like.

How many times can NFL teams wear alternate helmets? ›

The NFL sent a memo to clubs Thursday announcing that it will allow teams to wear two different helmets beginning in the 2022 season, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Pro Football Talk first reported the news. The NFL previously permitted teams only one set of helmets for safety reasons.

What NFL team has never changed their helmet logo? ›

Because of the interest generated by having the logo on only one side of their helmets and because of their team's new success, the Steelers decided to leave it that way permanently. Today's helmet reflects the way the logo was originally applied and it has never been changed.

Will the Chiefs have an alternate helmet? ›

— Many have wondered whether the Kansas City Chiefs will bring in a new look for the 2022 season such as possibly all white or yellow helmets. The answer is no.

Are Chiefs doing an alternate helmet? ›

The Chiefs are the only franchise in the NFL to never wear an alternate uniform, but a third jersey or different color helmet may be entering the picture.

Do any NFL teams have matte helmets? ›

Dallas Cowboys

In Week 17, Dallas will wear a white matte helmet with its iconic star logo, the one bordered by white and blue outlines.

Do Cowboys have 2 alternate helmets? ›

By the time the NFL season is over, only one team will have worn TWO different alternate helmets this year and that team is the Dallas Cowboys.

What NFL team has chrome helmets? ›

The Texans new red chrome helmets are absolute fire -

What teams don t have an alternate helmet? ›

Still, not many teams have taken advantage of this golden opportunity. Teams embracing helmets from days gone by include the Cowboys, Giants, Patriots, and Falcons. (The Bucs will bring back their white helmets and the Seahawks will return to silver helmets in 2023.)

How much does an NFL helmet cost? ›

NFL Price Guide
Riddell NFL Authentic Full-Size HelmetRiddell NFL Speed Full-Size Replica Helmet
Unit Price for 1 to 2 units:$239.50Unit Price for 1 to 2 units:
Unit Price for 3 or more units:$226.75Unit Price for 3 or more units:

How many helmets does an NFL player use in a season? ›

Ever since the 2013 season, the National Football League has had a rule in place that effectively limited teams to using only one helmet shell a season.

Did the NFL ever play without helmets? ›

In fact, up until 2007, all NFL players had to wear Riddell helmets due to an agreement between them and the league. But this has since changed and players can wear any helmet they want, so long as it meets the league's safety requirements.

Can NFL teams wear alternate helmets in the playoffs? ›

The NFL outlawed the use of alternate helmets beginning in the 2013 season. This has had impact on some teams wanting to wear their throwback jerseys while other teams are not affected by the limitation.

Why are NFL players wearing weird helmets? ›

What is the Guardian Cap? The Guardian Cap is a soft, padded outer shell that is worn around the outside of players' helmets. The NFL says that they can reduce concussions by up to 10% if one player involved in a collision is wearing one of them and up to 20% if both players involved in a collision have them on.

Will all NFL teams get new helmets? ›

Several NFL teams are getting new uniforms and helmets for the 2022 season while others are making changes to current sets. The biggest change is the NFL dropping its one-helmet rule; many teams have added an alternate helmet this year with more sure to come.

What NFL team is getting new uniforms 2023? ›

After 18 seasons in their most recent uniforms, the Arizona Cardinals will have a new look for the 2023 season. The team unveiled three new uniforms on April 20, less than a week before the start of this year's NFL Draft.

How many helmets do NFL players have to choose from? ›

The rule limits a team to one set of helmet shells, but the team can change the way that shell is decorated. For example, when the Bears wear their “Monsters of the Midway” throwbacks, those are the exact same helmets they usually wear.

Do NFL players get new helmets after every game? ›

Do NFL Players get a new helmet every game? No, the league does not provide new helmets for each game. Players are only allowed to wear helmets that are approved by the NFL. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment certifies the helmets.

What is the lifespan of an NFL helmet? ›

Football helmets should be replaced no later than 10 years from the date of manufacture. Many helmets will need to be replaced sooner, depending upon wear and tear.

Why can't the Bills wear red helmets? ›

According to WGR550's Sal Capaccio, NFL rules state that the Buffalo can't use the red helmet because 1) It clashes with their red color rush jersey, and 2) the helmet can't pair with their throwbacks because those use standing buffalo while the modern buffaloes charge full steam ahead.

What is the NFL rule for removing helmet? ›

The relevant rule is Rule 12-3-1(h): There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct. … Such acts specifically include … removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play or the end zone during a celebration or demonstration, or during a confrontation with a game official or any other player.

What is the only NFL logo facing left? ›

The Philadelphia Eagles logo is the only NFL team logo facing left.

What is the oldest NFL logo? ›

The oldest logo in the NFL, which is still being used belongs to the Dallas Cowboys.

What is the oldest NFL helmet logo? ›

In 1948, the Los Angeles Rams were the first NFL team to put logos on their helmets; the basic "ram's horn" logo on the helmet has remained mostly the same, except for color, ever since.

What is the Eagles alternative helmet? ›

The Eagles will wear a brand new black alternate helmet in 2022 while waiting for the Kelly Green helmets to be ready for the 2023 season. On Friday, the team offered a glimpse of the new helmet. Your exclusive first look at the all-new alternate black helmet for the 2022 season.

Do the Steelers have alternate helmets? ›

The Steelers have used this alternate helmet to their advantage before as they wore an all-yellow design with a throwback uniform. Those were some nice alternate uniforms and the yellow helmet just made it look even sharper.

Why is Patrick Mahomes helmet so different? ›

Mahomes' helmet, the Riddell SpeedFlex, is bigger than the average NFL helmet. The helmet is specially designed to help protect against concussions and other head injuries. Mahomes plays the quarterback position, one of the most targeted positions on the Gridiron.

Why is 16 on Chiefs helmets? ›

On August 12, 2022, Dawson's family announced that he had entered hospice care at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. He died on August 24, at the age of 87. The Chiefs wore a decal with the number 16 on their helmets for the entire 2022 season in honor of Dawson.

Will the Broncos have an alternate helmet? ›

With the NFL now allowing teams to wear a second helmet, the Denver Broncos plan on taking advantage of the new rule in 2023. The Broncos announced this week that they'll be wearing an alternate helmet for up to two games during the upcoming season.

Why do the Chiefs have Texas on their helmets? ›

This same logo was used on the Dallas helmets. The single star was placed to honor the Lone Star State of Texas where he still had a home.

Are light helmets banned from the NFL? ›


Will 49ers have alternate helmets? ›

Due to NFL's "one-shell" policy, which limits a team to one helmet color, the 49ers weren't allowed to wear the red helmet in 2022. However, that policy is being scrapped for 2022, which means the 49ers -- and any other NFL team -- can wear an alternate helmet starting with the upcoming season.

What is the most popular helmet in the NFL? ›

They are Riddell, Schutt, VICIS, and Xenith. These four brands dominate the NFL approved helmet list. There are currently 31 recommended models on the list, 13 of them are Schutt, 11 Riddell, 6 Xenith, and 1 VICIS model.

Can NFL teams have 2 helmets? ›

In today's edition of Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, we bring you NFL alternate helmets. The league adopted the one-shell rule in 2013, limiting teams to (obviously) one-shell they could use on game days, as a safety issue.

What helmet does Ezekiel Elliott wear? ›

Ezekiel Elliott's Riddell Axiom Helmet.

Why do Cowboys helmets have red stripe? ›

The helmet is part of the Cowboys' Salute to Service game, honoring Medal of Honor recipients.

Who has gold helmets in the NFL? ›

What's in a helmet? For the New Orleans Saints, it's a striking combination of a gold-and-black colorway and an iconic fleur-de-lis decal. No team's colorway is perhaps as iconic as that of the Saints, whose black and gold uniforms haven become woven into the very fabric of the NFL.

What NFL team has gold helmets? ›

The franchise has existed since 1967 and in the 54 years since then, the Saints have worn a gold helmet in every single game.

What NFL team has purple helmets? ›

vikings helmet logo | Minnesota Vikings Helmet Logo (2013) - Matte purple helmet, white and ...

What NFL team has a red helmet? ›

Houston is now the fourth team this offseason that has unveiled a new helmet. The other three teams are the Patriots (white helmet), the Saints (black helmet) and Falcons (red helmet).

What is the NFL one color helmet rule? ›

The rule was established in 2013 to improve player safety, requiring teams to have only one helmet color so players would practice and play in the same helmet. While teams will now be allowed a second set of helmets, they must be the same make, model and size as the player's primary helmet.

Do NFL teams have different helmets? ›

After the NFL's announcement in the 2021 offseason, 13 teams decided to bring back a second helmet to their uniforms. Eight teams created new alternate helmets to pair with their existing color schemes.

Do the 49ers have an alternate helmet? ›

Due to NFL's "one-shell" policy, which limits a team to one helmet color, the 49ers weren't allowed to wear the red helmet in 2022. However, that policy is being scrapped for 2022, which means the 49ers -- and any other NFL team -- can wear an alternate helmet starting with the upcoming season.

Who has the best helmet in NFL? ›

NFL Power Rankings: The 10 Best Helmets in the NFL
  • Green Bay Packers. 8 of 10.
  • Oakland Raiders. 7 of 10. ...
  • Dallas Cowboys. 6 of 10. ...
  • Denver Broncos. 5 of 10. ...
  • New York Giants. 4 of 10. ...
  • San Diego Chargers. 3 of 10. ...
  • New York Jets. 2 of 10. ...
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 1 of 10. ...

Is the NFL getting new helmets? ›

Several NFL teams are getting new uniforms and helmets for the 2023 season, while others are changing current sets. The NFL dropped its one-helmet rule last year, prompting many teams to add an alternate helmet, with more sure to come.

Why does George Kittle have a different helmet? ›

The Zero2 Trench is a version of the regular Zero2 but with an extra frontal pad. This unique pad is built to protect against the low-velocity impacts lineman experience every snap. Being one of the best blocking TEs in football, this helps cushion the blows that Kittle faces when blocking.

Do the Steelers have an alternate helmet? ›

The Steelers have used this alternate helmet to their advantage before as they wore an all-yellow design with a throwback uniform. Those were some nice alternate uniforms and the yellow helmet just made it look even sharper.


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