On Thursday, NFL teams learned that beginning in 2022, they’ll be able to use alternate helmets. Their use hasn’t been allowed for a number of years — even when teams were wearing throwback (as shown in the above photo from a Kansas City Chiefs-Oakland Raiders game from 2009) or Color Rush uniforms.
But it hasn’t been because the NFL was living up to its reputation as the No Fun League. Instead, it’s had to do with safety. In the hope that it would help prevent concussions, the league hasn’t allowed alternate helmets so that players wouldn’t switching from one helmet to another during the season.
Under the new rules — first reported by NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk — the league is making sure that the alternate helmets will be just as safe as the normal ones.
Teams can pair the second helmet with alternate, throwback or Color Rush uniforms, so long as they follow all league policies on ensuring that all alternate helmets are properly fitted, and that all players are provided with sufficient opportunity to wear the alternate helmets in practice prior to wearing them in a game.
The alternate helmets will have to be exactly the same make, model and size as each player’s normal helmet. They will have to be fitted for each player simultaneously with their normal helmet at the beginning of each season — and will have to be worn during practice during the week leading up to each game in which they will be used. Finally... from the beginning of the season, alternate helmets must be available for every player on each team’s roster.
The NFL believes that these rules will eliminate the potential safety concerns of alternative helmets — and still allow fans to sometimes see their favorite teams with an entirely different look.
Teams must inform the league of their intention to use alternate helmets in 2022 before the end of July.