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The Best NFL Helmets Ranked

Best NFL Helmets Ranked Featured Image

It’s the offseason… And because our first taste of football is still months away, we decided to turn our attention to a huge part of the NFL fashion.

Keep in mind that this list is subjective – everyone’s tastes are different.

Best NFL Helmets

#32 Jaguars

It seems like the painter was painting gold all the way through the Jaguars’ helmet and got a better job offer to design the Vikings helmet. This helmet is awful. Was there an issue where the owner wanted one thing, and the design team wanted something else – and this was their idea of a compromise? It doesn’t help that the colors change at an asymmetrical portion of the helmet.

#31 Redskins

The logo, the name, the color scheme – there is so much to dislike about the Washington football team’s helmet design. The red is too dark compared to the bright hue of the yellow, and it just feels like there’s too much going. This helmet, like the team’s name, needs a redesign – promoting the alternate helmet to primary would be a good start.

#30 Cardinals

At face value, the Cardinals’ helmet isn’t all that bad. The pure white is nice, and the Cardinals design is simple but effective, even if it’s a little reminiscent of another Cardinals team in St. Louis. The issue we have with this helmet is that it’s a clean and pristine helmet for a city out in the desert, which doesn’t really seem to jive. In fact, the helmet design is a little too tame for a place as awesome as Arizona.

#29 Colts

We know this design has been around for forever, and is one of the more beloved designs in all of football. But every time I watch a Colts game, my girlfriend thinks I’m watching Below Deck: Sailing Yacht. The blue and white color combo is just not a very intimidating football color – it’s more suited to hockey. This helmet does look clean, but we’re just not really fans of white helmets.

 Read about our top football helmets here.

#28 Falcons

The Falcons’ helmet doesn’t look bad per se, but it does look like it’s getting a redesign in a year or two. It’s just got too much going on, and the red and black is slightly uncreative, even if the logo is pretty menacing. Our biggest issue with this helmet is that, of all the bird teams, it has the weakest logo. Fans hoping for a change might be in luck, as Atlanta recently announced a jersey redesign.

#27 Rams

I love the Rams helmet design. It doesn’t tell who you the Rams are, it shows it. Our biggest grip is that L.A. introduced a new, highly divisive logo this past summer, and we are likely to see a change in helmet design. If whoever designed the Rams’ new logo is also designing the helmets, we’re not holding out much hope.

 Here is our best youth football helmets guide.

#26 Lions

The Lions design isn’t bad – we like the blue colored stripe and the color scheme is definitely unique for the NFL – it’s just that the Lion engraved on the side looks more like a puppy trying to climb a couch with Detroit’s recent string of games. We like the silver and blue, but we wonder if this helmet wouldn’t benefit from more white accents, like around the stripes and facemask…

#25 Jets

The Jets’ old look was pretty tame yet classic, with nothing too fancy or fantastic going on. The millennial update is a little too “modern” for our liking, and the gang green has never suited this writer’s tastes. The font of the “Jets” is a little too Arial and not enough Times New Roman, so the helmet overall doesn’t have that classic feel that the Giants helmet has. Also, the football in the logo adds nothing to the logo itself.

#24 Panthers

The logo itself is fiercely designed, and actually doesn’t look half-bad, especially compared to some other Panther teams (see: Florida). But there’s something about the color scheme that doesn’t quite sit right, and the helmet doesn’t espouse any time of branding – or what it means to be a Carolina Panther – which is tame compared to the logo.

Check out our review of the most recommended helmets for safety.

#23 Buccaneers

The super-sized Bucs logo on the side of the helmet seems too cartoony and out there for the NFL: the “No Fun League”. The design isn’t bad, but it stands out in the wrong way compared to many of the other helmets in the NFL, which suggest authority and intimidation.

#22 Titans

The Oilers’ old helmet was oh so cool, but this one is just okay. There’s a little too much blue on this helmet, with the background and logo both containing different shades. However, the logo is a tribute to Tennessee, which adds a nice touch.

Here is a list of good football helmets that we recommend.

#21 Broncos

Major props to the Broncos’ designer for designing a mean, angry bronco that doesn’t look super cartoony and corny. The orange and navy complement each other so well, and the mane on the bronco brings to mind speed and agility.

#20 Patriots

The Pats helmet isn’t flashy or anything. It’s just crisp enough, with a simple silver design with decal on the side. On its own, the helmet doesn’t necessarily convey a strong image. Although the red on the facemask is a bold touch, this helmet, overall,  just “does its job”, which is all that we can ask.

#19 Cowboys

Dallas’ logo might have been “iconic” 20 years ago, but, nowadays, it’s just a star. One thing that always bothered me about the Cowboys’ helmet is that the star decal often covers the vent holes of the newer Riddell helmets. You either love this helmet design (Cowboys fan) or you hate it (fan of any other team).

#18 Bengals

We actually dig the Halloween vibe we get from these helmets. The helmets look better without the entire uniform, because there’s too much going on overall with the Bengals’ kit. However, we can certainly appreciate that the Bengals are trying to do something different. If the Bengals returned to a more retro design with overall look of their uniforms, you would probably see this helmet higher on a lot of people’s lists.

#17 Dolphins

Miami has done a good job of reflecting the city’s eclectic vibe and culture in their helmet and logo. The entire design has that sweet retro-modern look, and while we think the dolphin itself could have been designed a little better, we’re still fans of this helmet, even though it’s white. The biggest drawback to this helmet is that the dolphin doesn’t have a lot of personality, owing in large part to the fact that he/she doesn’t have a face.

#16 Bears

The Bears’ helmet gets ranked highly on a lot of lists because, like the Cowboys, it has “iconic” value. And that is true, as this is as classic a look as any. But we can’t help but wonder if, taking away the history, there’s that much going on with this helmet.

#15 Vikings

The matte finish is great, and the colors all blend well together with a design that is memorable and unique, even if purple is not the most intimidating color. The Vikings have absolutely nailed this color scheme, and even made updates to the hue of the purple last year, as certain lighting conditions in stadiums made it appear like the helmet and uniform did not match.

#14 Steelers

I’ve never personally been a fan of the black-and-gold color scheme, mainly because it reminds me of the hated Boston Bruins. But the Steelers’ helmet does feature the most selection of color of any other team, and the bright gold stripe down the middle pops off in epic fashion.

#13 Texans

Props to the Texans, the other team in the Lone Star state, for doing something creative with the star. The red and navy complement each other surprisingly well, and the logo that makes an attempt to mimic Texas State is a nice touch.

#12 Giants

The Giants have a solid helmet, with a shiny blue finish that matches any of their jerseys well (white, red, blue). The NY logo is creatively designed, even if it’s a little simple. Overall, this helmet is a great example of less is more.

#11 Ravens

Ravens are by nature menacing creatures, and Baltimore has effectively recreated that feeling with this design and color scheme. The helmet is sleek, dark, and agile, just like a raven. And the Ravens logo itself is surprisingly well designed. We especially love the gold accents that give this helmet a little bit of prestige.

#10 Bills

Buffalo has a solid looking helmet with a cool retro-modern logo. The colors all complement each other brilliantly and make this helmet pop out on the football field. These helmets look even better in combination with the Bills’ jerseys, blue or white.

#9 Saints

The Saints’ helmet with the fleur-de-lis is a perfect encapsulation of the city. New Orleans has picked a nice shade of gold to complement the black, and the stripe down the middle as a flashy touch. However, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a world where the Saints can pull out white helmets with a gold decal and black trim, and how good that world would be.

#8 Browns

We don’t understand the hate around this helmet. This design has stood the test of time, and yes, maybe the color should be brown since they are the Browns, but the orange is a nice hue and the stripe down the middle is the perfect width.

#7 Packers

The “G” logo looks a little less exciting with Georgia and now Grambling State using it as their logo on their helmets. Nevertheless, this helmet has also stood the test of time, and still does a great job of representing the cheeseheads. The yellow is brilliant, and works so well with the Green Bay green – an unexpected but well-played color combination.

#6 Raiders

The Raiders’ logo is like the Los Angeles Lakers’ logo: there’s a certain mystique around it that, without which, would make these logos just plain ugly. Still, having a pirate on the side of your helmet is just plain badass, and badassery perfectly exemplifies the Oakland Raiders as an organization. Let’s hope they can maintain this image when they move to Las Vegas.

#5 49ers

The gold in this helmet stands out brilliantly, and the 49er logo just screams authority and class, which is what this franchise was when Bill Walsh was running it. We love the colours on the stripe down the middle, but we’re wondering if the helmet could look even cooler with a white or red facemask.

#4 Chiefs

The hue of red here is just stunning, and we love the arrowhead shaped logo which is so emblematic of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have always used that retro-modern look which works so well for them, and the yellow trim and accents on the uniform just bring this helmet to life.

#3 Seahawks

The matte finish with the glossy stripe is a wonderful sight for sore eyes, and the aggressive use of the logo is a nice tribute to the indigenous to Washington State. On top of that, the Seahawk blue is a really unique shade.

#2 Chargers

The bright yellow lightning bolt highlighted in baby powder blue. The yellow facemask accenting the lightning. The pristine white background that tones all these bright colors. There’s so much to love about the Chargers’ helmet, which just pops out on the gridiron, even if the Chargers themselves are having a little trouble getting noticed in L.A.

#1 Eagles

The hue of the midnight green brings to mind “those football nights”, and the wing is a nice design that combines the spirit of the city of Brotherly Love with the physicality of the eagle. While these look great under Monday Night Lights, the Kelly Green helmets are out of this world.

The Evolution of the Football Helmet

The first helmet was fashioned in 1883, designed to avoid “instant insanity.” It first consisted of a mole-skin hat with ear flaps, and in the early 1900’s, soft-leathered helmets were introduced as optional helmets for players.

Many players did not want to play with the helmets, because of the leather material that made playing really hot and the ear flaps which made it difficult to hear the plays.

In 1905, this was rectified with the Zuppke Helmet, named after Illinois coach Bob Zuppke. This helmet was designed with holes in the ear flaps and ventilation holes in the crown to allow for more breathability.

In 1939, high school football coach John C. Riddell introduced the first plastic helmet, attaching a chin strap and an improved suspension lining that allowed for a more comfortable fit.

Then by 1943, helmets were made mandatory across the league. But these helmets were universally brown and boring, with the uniform color making it difficult to distinguish between the teams. And so, Fred Gehrke had the idea of painting a design on the helmet, which would become the Rams design.

The owners loved the design, and commissioned Gehrke to paint the design on every player’s helmets, at one dollar a piece.

These helmets were offering protection to the player’s ears and head, but no protection to the face. When Otto Graham was injured to the mouth during a game, Coach Paul Brown worked with the equipment manager to develop a makeshift face mask. 

The next offseason, all Cleveland players wore a facemask, with other teams quickly following suit.

The following year, Paul Brown added a transistor radio inside the quarterback’s helmet, to help the Coach deliver the play to the Quarterback immediately, as opposed to using substitute players to give out the plays.

Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, foam padding was added to the helmets, and an array of complex facemask designs was made available to the players.

By the 80’s, the football helmet had become a complex, highly-sophisticated piece of engineering equipment.

In 1985, almost 40 years after Paul Brown introduced radio transmitters, they were finally allowed into the NFL.

Protection has always been the primary factor in leading technological advancements to the helmet. Nowadays, the competition between Riddell, Schutt, Xenith, the three leading manufacturers in the helmet industry, is fierce – leading to major advancements for players.

Nowadays, helmets have all kinds of cutting edge technology in them, from TPU foam, which is flexible but will not wilt, and padding that helps absorb rotational acceleration, which is the primary cause of concussions. Additionally, there are already a wide variety of football protective equipment that every adult and youth players should get. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

There were 8 original teams in the NFL: Giants, Bears, Cardinals, Packers, Lions, Redskins, Eagles and Steelers.

If you are interested about college football teams,  check out our list of best college football helmets.

Up until 2020, there used to be six teams per conference in the playoffs, for a total of 12 teams.

The four winners of each division were automatically seeded 1 through 4, while two wildcard teams – teams that did not win their division but had strong records – are seeded 5 and 6.

The top two division winners were given a bye, with teams ranked 3rd and 4th playing at home versus the 5th and 6th ranked teams.

Now, seven teams from each of the league’s two conferences qualify for the playoffs, with only the number one ranked team receiving a place in the Superbowl.

Read this review to find out where you can buy NFL Jerseys online

It is not certain who invented the football helmet, but the invention is typically attributed to Joseph M. Reeves, who had a helmet made for him in 1893 after a doctor warned him that another blow to the head would cause “instant insanity”.

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