It’s the NFL offseason. Not the fun, free-agency-is-cooking, draft-takes-are-coming part of the offseason, either.
The middle of summer marks the final weeks of vacation before teams convene at training camp at the end of July. Players, coaches and executives haven’t abandoned their duties, but they’re still focusing more on family time and beach trips than setting depth charts. With the flow of football news slowing to a trickle, it’s time to debate the stuff that doesn’t really matter and ultimately has no objectively correct answer.
That’s right. We’re ranking helmet designs.
Most of the league’s helmets are pretty good. This is what you’d expect from a multi-billion-dollar operation with access to top-tier designers. Roughly everything from 25th place onward is nice enough to arguably be a top-10 entry.
The 2022 season will be the first year in roughly a decade where teams are allowed to wear an alternate helmet. This means we’ll return to classics like New England’s stunning Pat Patriot throwbacks. But for this ranking we’re only using standard designs, which means several franchises are putting up their second-best (or worse) selections.
Where did we land? I’m glad you asked:
32 Tennessee Titans
Extreme create-a-team vibes remain for a team created in 1999. Only the three small stars in the logo connect any of this to the Titans’ actual identity.
31 New England Patriots
A genuinely terrible rebranding in 1993 that’s persisted for nearly 30 years. If you’re gonna roll with this stupid idea, you might as well go all out and bring back the Flying Elvis shoulder logos.
30 Denver Broncos
The old Broncos logo with the fully-realized horse and the capital D? Damn near perfect. The beginner photoshop ode to the old Reebok logo that replaced it? Awful.
29 New York Jets
The Jets’ new helmets attempt to straddle the line between their past and the design that replaced it through the 80s and 90s. The result is a compromise that pleases no one. Yep, they’re the Jets all right.
28 Washington Commanders
The Commanders have bigger problems to worry about than getting their helmet right. It’s fine.
27 Houston Texans
Yes, this certainly is the helmet of an expansion team from the 2000s.
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneer Bruce will likely return this season. He’ll serve as a stark reminder this team should never given up creamsicle orange.
25 Miami Dolphins
Another instance of fixing something that wasn’t broken. We all agree the Dolphin in the little helmet was much cooler than the sleek cousin who now dots Miami’s domepieces.
24 Jacksonville Jaguars
They got rid of the gradient color black/gold background, and for that we are thankful.
23 Seattle Seahawks
We continue the theme of “inoffensive designs made worse by a superior throwback.” These are completely fine but the thicker hawk with the green stripe was better.
22 Baltimore Ravens
Purple on black. A subtle message that Baltimore hates the colorblind.
21 Carolina Panthers
It’s gonna look a lot better when we start appreciating 90s aesthetics again.
20 Arizona Cardinals
19 Kansas City Chiefs
Between the red and white of the helmet and the yellow accents in the uniforms, all the Chiefs need is some green to complete the full complement of hot-dog-topping colors.
18 New York Giants
Now we head into a stretch filled with great, mostly-simple designs. New York has fluctuated between “GIANTS” and “NY” but the scheme and underline remain the same. Very nice.
17 Philadelphia Eagles
A great helmet docked points for no longer being Kelly green.
16 San Francisco 49ers
An old-timey-saloon look for a team named after the Wild West gold rush that populated the area. Of course, by that logic, a team on the moon would have to be called the 69ers, right? (Elon Musk, please do not steal my joke)
15 Minnesota Vikings
It takes a minute to realize these are flattened Viking horns. Then you realize they kinda rule.
14 Buffalo Bills
Clean in white, but outshined by the 1990s, Marv Levy-era red helmets that looked a little bit better.
13 Los Angeles Rams
So much better in blue and yellow than it was in the blue and white redesign. I’m not sure the texture-providing swirl lines are an improvement, though.
12 Cleveland Browns
A simple look that blends seamlessly with an under-used color palette. Cleveland’s flirted with helmet logos in the past but wisely demurred.
11 Indianapolis Colts
A timeless look that works great with the team’s shoulder stripes. You can easily make a top 10 case for them.
10 Green Bay Packers
Old school logo, old school franchise.
9 Cincinnati Bengals
8 Chicago Bears
Whether we’re talking about the Maroons or the Bears, that lemon-shaped C means Chicago.
7 Detroit Lions
Silver and Honolulu blue with an instantly recognizable logo. The Lions haven’t won a playoff game since the first Bush administration, but they’ve looked good in defeat.
6 Las Vegas Raiders
The sigil of a fanbase that wishes for nothing more than your demise.
5 Dallas Cowboys
4 Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are a disaster of a franchise, but they’ve long held the cold comfort of one of the best looking logo/color scheme combinations in pro sports.
3 New Orleans Saints
Black and gold is a great combination and the fleur de lis is a lovely nod to New Orleans. Again, simpler is better.
2 Los Angeles Chargers
Every version of this helmet rules. Navy blue background? Awesome. White helmet, yellow bolt, and a powder blue highlight? Yes, please. Uniform number on the side? Not cluttered, just great.
1 Pittsburgh Steelers
They took the logo of the industry that built their city and flipped the association from steel mills to Terry Bradshaw. The day they change it is the day Pittsburgh burns to the ground.