Black is the new black. At least in the NFL.
The NFL has given the green light for teams to play with alternate helmets in addition to their alternate uniforms this season. The rule change, announced in 2021, overturns a long-standing policy prohibiting the use of multiple helmets under the heading of player safety.
Now teams don’t have to mix and match their old threads with their modern caps. Several teams announced new helmets this offseason, with some like the New England Patriots bringing back fan-favorite retro options. Others, meanwhile, are definitely going dark. Whatever the route, it makes marketing sense for teams to drum up interest in the offseason while providing another gear proposition for fans with disposable income.
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Here’s a look at the teams that will play in alternate helmets for select games in the 2022 season.
Cardinals go ‘galactic black’
The Arizona Cardinals joined the celebration by announcing “galactic black” helmets with “red granite patches” on July 24. Quarterback Kyler Murray donned the helmets along with JJ Watt and Buda Baker in his first public appearance for the Cardinals since signing a $230 million extension.
The Cardinals will wear the new helmets in three games this season.
Bears turn orange
The Bears also announced new helmets on July 24, but took a different approach than the Cardinals. They also avoid backtracking. Instead, they’ll bring the trimmings of their standard gear to the fore and look determinedly at me with bright orange lids.
They will be paired with matching orange jerseys that are sure to stand out in the Oct. 13 and Oct. 30 games against the Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys.
White Tiger will debut in Cincinnati
It’s a new era of winning in Cincinnati. Bengalis are not ashamed of it. They announced on July 22nd the long-awaited debut of the white Bengal tiger look.
The helmets are expected to be paired with white uniforms to complete the look. When they will debut is unclear. Joe Burrow and Ja’Mar Chase are sure to make them look good when they do.
The planes go into stealth mode
The Jets have announced matte black helmets for the 2022 season that will be emblazoned with a dark green Jets logo that may prove difficult to spot from a distance. If so, it would align with the stealth fighter theme they’re going for. They will wear them on Oct. 30 against the Patriots, Nov. 27 against the Bears and Dec. 22 against the Jaguars.
Eagles running back Kelly Green
The Eagles passed up the chance to go back to the Randall Cunningham Kelly Greens in favor of a significantly less interesting shiny black helmet to go with black uniforms. Why? The Eagles won twice while wearing black in 2021. It’s an uninspired choice and a missed opportunity.
The good news is that Kelly Green will be back in 2023.
Cowboys are calling back the 60s
The Dallas Cowboys are definitely going retro in what was probably an easy decision for Starr. On July 21, they announced the return of the white shell helmet with the blue stars and stripes associated with quarterback Don Meredith’s teams of the 1960s.
They are expected to be paired with matching white and blue throwback uniforms and will be unveiled for their Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Giants.
The Giants are going back to the LT days
Speaking of giants, they also go the other way, just a bit more modern. They invited Lawrence Taylor to reintroduce the classic blue uniforms and Giants emblazoned helmets associated with the franchise’s glory days in the 1980s and early 1990s, when they won two Super Bowls under Bill Parcells. Good call. They will wear them on Oct. 2 against the Bears and Dec. 4 against the Commanders, two other franchises associated with the era.
Panthers turn black, naturally
The Carolina Panthers are getting on the dark train, unveiling an all-black helmet and jersey combo for the 2022 season. The look makes the most sense here, being the Panthers and all. They will make their Thursday night home debut against the rival Atlanta Falcons on November 10th.
Texans enjoy red
The Texans don’t have a lot of history to fall back on — they didn’t debut until 2002. So they’re going with a modern look, including bright red helmets, which the franchise describes as “the most significant change to the uniform.” The Texans call the look “Battle Red” and will do so on November 3rd against the Philadelphia Eagles.
New England is reviving the Pat Patriot
Given the opportunity, the Patriots made the simple and obviously correct decision. Like the cowboys and the giants, they went back. Pat Patriot is back, much to the delight of a fanbase that has been completely spoiled since he was originally retired.
The Patriots are bringing back the white helmets emblazoned with the Pat Patriot logo to go with classic red uniforms. The gear represents a darker, pre-Brady/Belichick era of New England football that wasn’t about winning. Still, it remains a favorite. New England did not initially announce which dates Patriot Pat would return.
Saints all in on black trend
Like much of their NFL brethren, the New Orleans Saints are using their newfound freedom to adopt black helmets. It’s an obvious, if not-so-interesting choice that fits naturally with their gold and black color scheme. The alternative – some kind of purple/yellow/green king cake monster – wouldn’t be pretty.
The Falcons look back at the Red Helmets
The Falcons are taking the comeback trail as far back as possible. On Oct. 16 against the San Francisco 49ers, the Falcons will wear red helmets that date back to the franchise’s debut season in 1966. The Falcons are most associated with the all-black look adopted during the Jerry Glanville era in the early 1990s. But old-school fans watched them wear red for decades. Red eyelids will go well with black shirts from the 60s.
Commanders are obviously not going back
The Washington Commanders revealed their alternate black helmets with jersey number logos back in February when they revealed they were the Commanders. Like most other reboot related things, they are fine. They avoided looking back for obvious reasons.