NFL to allow teams to use multiple helmets, opening door for more throwback looks
Given the upcoming NFL season's marquee matchup, the league's new rule to enliven uniform variety comes a year too late. Nevertheless, uniform fashionistas – and most casual funs plus a lot of players – will be happy to learn that alternate helmets are returning.
USA TODAY Sports obtained a memo the league sent to its 32 member clubs Thursday revealing that the NFL has revised its uniform policy "to allow for one alternate color helmet to be added to each club’s uniform closet commencing with the 2022 NFL season."
The secondary helmet may be used with classic, alternate or Color Rush uniforms provided it's historically accurate as it pertains to older uniforms and/or uses a logo "from some point in the club’s history."
Clubs must signal their intent to use alternate helmets by July 31 of this year. The deadline for teams to overhaul their uniforms entirely for 2022 has already passed.
Tom Brady wears the Patriots' throwback uniform in 2009. (Photo: Winslow Townson, AP)
Clubs formerly had the option to use such alternate helmets, but the NFL did away with them after the 2012 campaign in the name of player safety, believing it was in players' best interests to have one properly fitted helmet throughout the season. Thursday's memo stresses that alternate helmets must be fitted identically to a player's primary helmet while being made available in training camp. Players should also practice in the new helmets "at a minimum during the week leading up to the game in which they will be used."
Tom Brady, of course, has been around long enough to have worn New England's famous "Pat the Patriot" helmet, the white dome with the minuteman snapping the ball. The Patriots featured it in their first Super Bowl appearance in 1986, a 46-10 loss to the Chicago Bears.
However the timing of this change means Brady won't be wearing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' original "creamsicle" threads with the white "Bucco Bruce" helmet on Oct. 3 when he plays his first game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Other teams that stand to benefit from the new rule include the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles, whose fans love the team's former Kelly green look.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven't worn their original uniforms since the 2012 season. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)
It will also be worth monitoring if this gives the Cincinnati Bengals an opening to go with white helmets and black stripes to complement their all-white tiger alternate unis. The Seattle Seahawks, who have never had a throwback option, could also benefit now that they can use the silver helmets first donned in 1976 … when they were expansion brethren of the Bucs.
The Houston Texans, who came into existence in 2002, are the only team that has not undergone a uniform change during their NFL history.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
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