One of the best decisions the NFL made over the last few years was the elimination of the “one-shell rule,” allowing teams to wear an alternate helmet for the 2022 season and beyond. The alternate helmet has paved the way for teams to return to classic throwback uniforms and attempt unique alternate uniform combinations this season.
Teams have definitely taken advantage of the alternate helmet, as 13 have already revealed a new helmet for 2022 — and potentially up to 15 teams are going to have a second helmet this year (per Uni Watch). Of the 13 teams, four will be bringing back throwback helmets to wear with their throwback jerseys while the other nine have revealed alternate color helmets to pair with their current alternate uniform sets.
More throwbacks will be coming for 2023, as the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be bringing back their Kelly green and orange creamsicle uniforms, respectively. The entire league could have alternate helmets by the 2023 season, but let’s rank the ones that have been revealed thus far.
For these rankings, there will be two separate categories: throwback and alternate.
4. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons brought back the classic red helmet, originally worn by the team in its inaugural season in 1966. The 1966 throwback uniforms will finally have the helmet to go with it, which features a gray face mask with the throwback Falcons crest logo trimmed in white. The red helmet also has a black stripe down the middle of the helmet trimmed in white and gold.
Atlanta will have an authentic look with these helmets paired with the Falcons’ original jerseys. The Falcons throwbacks were already sharp, but this completes the set.
3. New York Giants
The Giants used the alternate helmet to their advantage by bringing back the 1980-1990s helmets and the home uniform combination to go with it (worn from 1980 to 1999). Instead of the lighter blue helmet the Giants used with their color rush throwbacks, New York went back to the navy helmet with a white face mask and a scarlet red stripe.
New York also went back to the red and blue trim on the home throwbacks, a classic look that has become appreciated over time. These are one of the cleanest uniforms in the sport, ones the Giants should keep around for a long time.
2. New England Patriots
The Patriots brought back their popular red jerseys they wore for nearly three decades along with the white helmet they wore with them. These jerseys are a simple red with blue and white stripes across the red sleeves. The white numbers are bold with a blue outline and a crisp white pants to bring back the nostalgic feel. The Patriots have wanted to bring these back for years.
Even with the impressive throwbacks returning, “Pat Patriot” may be the most anticipated.
1. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys didn’t make a major announcement regarding the return of their throwback helmets. There wasn’t even a tease they would return, showcasing how popular the 1960s helmet is in Dallas.
The white helmets were the the first color of the Cowboys, worn from 1960 to 1964 with a white and royal blue jersey with stars on the shoulder. The Cowboys would honor the original uniform on Thanksgiving Day from 2004 to 2012, before the tradition was stopped thanks to the “one-shell rule.”
This was one of the nicest throwbacks in the NFL. Only fitting Dallas would bring the uniform combination back for a traditional day on the calendar.
Kudos to the Bears for trying something new with their excellent orange alternate jerseys, but this may be a little too much orange. The orange jerseys were excellent with their original helmets and the uniform combination didn’t need a major altering.
This is the first time the Bears have worn a helmet that isn’t navy blue. These helmets are basically an inverse of the navy blue helmets as the logo is navy blue (instead of orange) with a white keyline, and the facemask is navy blue.
These may be judged better on the field, but altering with an orange alternate jersey — and uniform combination — that withstood the test of time is a risk.
New Orleans eliminated it’s three-stripe appearance on its helmets and reversed the colors of its primary elements with this alternate black helmet. The shell switched from gold to black while the logo goes from black to gold.
Instead of the three-stripe look, the Saints decided to have a triangular design with tiny gold “fleur-de-lis” logos. New Orleans appears to be wearing this with the color rush 1975 away jersey throwback, but these would probably look much cleaner on the traditional home uniforms.
Good thing about these helmets. the Saints can wear them with every different uniform combination.
7. New York Jets
The Jets revealed a stealth black helmet that will be worn for three games this season, a good look with the black alternate uniforms. The logo will be in forest green, which includes a chrome green face mask with a white keyline.
New York’s black helmet — the first one in franchise history — works great with the uniform.
For a team debuting brand new uniforms (and a new name), the black alternate helmets may be the best ones in Washington.
Washington has never worn a black uniform in its history, but the helmet with the uniform combination is sharp. The D.C. flag patch on the sleeve is an amazing touch, as well as the numbers on the black helmet.
Since Washington was the first team to debut the alternate helmet, the all-black jersey and pants combination with gold numbers work.
The Cardinals debuted these excellent black helmets that will be worn with their alternate black uniform and their color rush uniform. These helmets will look strong with both uniform designs.
Arizona can wear the alternate uniforms with black or white pants, giving a fresh look when the Cardinals do wear them. The look is solid with the white numbers and the helmet meshes well. As for the color rush uniform, the panels on the arms are red instead of white, with different color numbers (red) and black pants (instead of white).
With this helmet design, the Cardinals complete their black alternate and color rush set. Good job by Arizona here.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are only wearing the black helmets for one year (before switching to Kelly green), and the franchise was smart by not getting too flashy with this design. All the Eagles did was switch the midnight green helmets to black, with a sleek look and no midnight green outline.
The Eagles can wear these with the all-black alternate uniform combination that debuted in 2014 (black jerseys have been worn since 2003). Philadelphia can also wear the helmets with the white jerseys and black pants, as the Eagles wore black pants with the white jerseys for the first time last year.
These helmets were made for prime time, even if they are a one-off.
3. Houston Texans
The Texans “Battle Red” alternates are one of the underrated uniforms in the NFL — and Houston finally has a red helmet to go with the jerseys. These uniforms aged gracefully since they made their debut in 2005. These uniforms have been worn with red pants, blue pants, and white pants and have worked well with each.
Houston didn’t change much on the helmet, keeping the dark blue face mask to go with the “Battle Red” color. The “Battle Red” jerseys and white pants will be worn with the helmet, the first change of the team’s helmet since the franchise debuted in 2002.
No photos of the uniforms with the helmet have been unveiled, but this is a clean look that will be popular in Houston.
2. Carolina Panthers
Carolina went outside the box with these helmets, but they look excellent with the all-black uniform combination. Debuting an all-black uniform combination for the first time, the Panthers unveiled a black alternate helmet with the Panthers logo outlined in baby blue. The stripes on the helmet will also be baby blue, a fresh look for a team that has worn a silver helmet since its inception in 1995.
The helmet is perfect with the black home jersey and alternate black pants, worn with black socks and black shoes. Black over black over black with a light blue trim — somehow the Panthers upgraded their home uniforms (which are one of the best in the NFL).
The Panthers crushed this uniform design.
The Bengals teased a white helmet to go with their white road uniforms since the “one-shell rule” was lifted. Cincinnati finally revealed the white tiger helmet, even if the Bengals didn’t unveil what uniforms they’ll pair the helmet with (take a guess).
Cincinnati just replaced the orange color on the helmet with white, with the only orange on the helmet being the Bengals’ logo on the front. The “White Bengal” helmet is a simple change and goes perfect with the all-white color rush uniform the team wears.
The stripes and nose bumper on the helmet match the uniform. The full uniform set doesn’t need to be seen to understand how perfect this uniform will look — which will be the only one of its kind in the league.