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NFL’s long-awaited alternate helmet bonanza has been shockingly bad so far

The end of the NFL’s one-helmet rule was long overdue. The safety explanation never made sense, considering there are college programs that wear a different helmet every week. The policy also prevented teams from being creative with alternate uniforms, which in turn denied the league the ability to tap into new revenue streams.

The league finally rescinded the rule last summer to take effect this fall. The expectation was it would lead to a wave of throwback looks and new-school concepts.

Instead, we’ve gotten a bunch of blah. And a lot of black.

The Cowboys and Patriots deserve kudos for bringing back classic helmets. The Bengals’ white look is genuinely cool. The Falcons and Giants did OK with their throwbacks. But everyone else? Come on.


The Texans’ red helmet is too much. The Bears’ orange helmet has its heart in the right place, but falls short. The Buccaneers say they won’t bring “Bucco Bruce” back until 2023 because of global supply chain issues.

The Eagles will also wait a year to finally bring back their kelly green helmets, instead giving us a black helmet no one needed. They’re joined by the Cardinals, Commanders, Jets, Panthers and Saints with black looks. I guess it’s 1998 again. And who knows what crappy reveal is coming next.

It is surprising how uninspiring the NFL has been as a whole. Some of it is understandable. The Jets can’t go back to white helmets. If they did, they would remind people how dumb their change was in the first place. Ditto for the Rams and their old navy-and-white look. But the league can do better.

Create new emblems. Or Borrow them from other teams. How cool would it be, for instance, for the Giants and Jets to wear the Yankees’ and Mets’ versions of the interlocking “NY” on their helmet for a game? The Lions should definitely consider wearing the Michigan wing helmet look. And on and on.

The NFL rarely allows room for creativity and diversity with uniforms. It’s disappointing to see the league collectively fumbling the ball away on the rare occasion an opportunity presents itself.

James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.