As training camps got underway late last month, the NFL shared pictures on Twitter revealing all the new alternate helmets that would make debuts on the field this season. The graphic showed 13 teams with either throwbacks or alternates.
This offseason, the NFL changed a rule to allow teams to add a second helmet to their uniforms, eliminating the so-called “one-shell” rule. Since the 2013 season, teams were only allowed one helmet during the season. This change came from a recommendation by two league panels, the Head, Neck, and Spine Committee and the Player Safety Advisory Panel. As the memo says, teams were still allowed to change or remove decals (logos, stripes, etc.) and change the colors of facemasks.
With the evolution of helmet technology over the past nine years and a better understanding of what keeps a player safe, the league scrapped the rule at the Annual League Meetings this spring. Or, if you want to be cynical about it, the league wanted to make more money off merchandise sales, and new helmets would help the cause. Either way, the league opened the floodgates for teams.
The Vikings are ignoring the new rule and staying out of the fray, at least for this season.
Most teams with new lids chose to create helmets that have never been a part of their uniform history. Some of them make sense, like the Cincinnati Bengals’ white tiger look or the Carolina Panthers’ new black helmet. The New Orleans Saints wore a black helmet during the 1969 preseason before the NFL made them keep the gold helmets they’ve worn forever. The rest are either uninspired, slapping the same logos on a different color, or all-black uniforms – the worst of trends.
The Vikings’ decision to stick with one helmet was the right one.
Sure, it would have been easy to stick the decal on a yellow helmet and call it a day. Maybe they could introduce yellow pants while they’re at it. If they went that route, they’d be ignoring the big, cheesy elephant in the room to our east. They’d end up with two uniform elements with the same basic look as the Green Bay Packers. I wouldn’t take fashion advice from my fiercest rival.
Thankfully, they didn’t choose to wear a black helmet while adding jerseys and pants. That would have gone against more than 60 years of team tradition. The only black element a Vikings uniform has ever had is their current facemask.
A black Vikings uniform would fall under what Uni Watch (one of my daily reads) callsBlack for Black’s Sake, or BFBS for short. Essentially, when a team adopts a black uniform because it looks sleek. The prime example is the Arizona Cardinals, who have two different black jerseys for some reason. Yet, there are zero black cardinals in nature. On the opposite end, the Baltimore Ravens or Carolina Panthers should have black uniforms, given the color of their mascots.
The Vikings should continue to embrace its unique color set and not dilute that look by adding black to the wardrobe.
As the tweet at the top shows, four teams decided to go the throwback route with their second helmets. Three of those teams — the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and New England Patriots — are using designs that they have worn as a throwback before the existence of the one-shell rule. This is the first time the Giants will wear this uniform as a true throwback, though New York’s Color Rush uniforms are based on the same era and design.
If the Vikings jump on the second-helmet bandwagon next season, this is the approach they should go. The last time the Vikings wore a throwback uniform was in 2011 when they wore the franchise’s original garb set with mismatching purples between the helmet and jersey. It’s a great look with clean stripes that I wish we could have seen over the last decade, even if it meant using the modern, matte helmet.