2022 will mark the return of alternate helmets after almost a decade, and 13 teams are taking advantage: the Bears, Bengals, Cardinals, Commanders, Cowboys, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jets, Panthers, Patriots, Saints and Texans.
The NFL revised its previous one-shell policy on helmets last June, allowing teams to use one alternate helmet look starting with the 2022 season. Fans have been asking for alternate looks for years, and with this policy the league appeases them. The rule change should help build excitement for the upcoming season and allow for more flexibility in how the clubs showcase their uniforms.
The one-shell rule was originally put in place due to concern that brand-new helmets worn only occasionally would not be as safe as the usual ones because they would not have been worn in enough to conform to the players' heads, which can be less safe. To address these concerns, the new allowances for alternate helmets mandate that alternate helmets must be made available starting during training camp, and fitted to players at the same time as the standard option. In addition, players will be required to wear the alternate helmet in the week leading up to any game in which the team is wearing them, to ensure the helmet was been worn in enough to adequately protect all players.
With the safety issues accounted for, teams are now free to bring back uniforms from sometime in their history, or create a new look that has never been seen before. Teams can use the rule to showcase a throwback helmet from some period of their franchise history, which the Cowboys, Falcons, Giants and Patriots will be doing.
Or, teams can unveil a unique look that is completely new for the team, which 10 teams have chosen to pursue. By far the most popular style of alternate helmet has been an all-black design, which the Cardinals, Commanders, Eagles, Jets, Panthers and Saints will be wearing. The other alternate helmet looks include an orange helmet for the Bears, a "White Bengal" aesthetic for the Bengals, a white and navy look for the Cowboys, and a "Battle-Red" helmet for the Texans.
The Texans and Bengals will be wearing their alternate helmets for Back Together Saturday, the official kickoff of the 2022 NFL season on Saturday July 30.
The only regulations on the permitted designs are that the helmets must include a logo from some point in the club's history instead of creating a new one, and that if the helmet is a throwback, it must be historically accurate in colors and design to match the corresponding throwback uniform.
With the season quickly approaching and the hype growing, the NFL is celebrating the return of the alternate helmets by releasing behind-the-scenes footage of the creation of these new shells at Riddell's factory in Ohio.
All alternate helmets are available on NFLShop.com/AlternateUniforms.