NFL throwback helmets thrown back to drawing board amid safety concerns
The Bucs may not be the only team to buck tradition and pass on the throwback uniforms. Turns out the change was strongly recommended by the NFL, who does not want its players changing helmets at any point during the season as this apparently constitutes a concussion risk.
Shortly after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they would not wear throwback uniforms this season, Vinny Testaverde fans like myself were in an uproar. The NFL quickly stepped in and released a statement to ProFootballTalk backing the move, saying they had asked teams to not let players wear multiple different helmets.
"Our Head, Neck, and Spine Committee, chaired by Drs. Hunt Batjer and Richard Ellenbogen, and the Player Safety Advisory Panel, chaired by John Madden and Ronnie Lott, have recommended that players no longer wear different helmets as part of a ‘Throwback’ or ‘Third’ uniform," the NFL memo said. "Our office supports this change and has reviewed it with the chairman of our Health and Safety ownership committee, Dr. John York, who concurs with this recommendation."
But wait, you say, did the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears not wear throwback uniforms this past weekend? Indeed they did. But the players still used their regular helmets, modified with decals. "The outside of the helmet can be modified by removing or replacing decals, as long as it does not affect the integrity of the helmet," league spokesman Brian McCarthy told NFL.com.
As long as the regular helmet and the throwback helmet are the same color, teams can get cute with decals. If they are not the same color, the team must anachronistically wear its regular helmets with the throwback uniform. Or, like Tampa Bay, not wear throwback uniforms at all.
The Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers were all planning on wearing differently colored throwback helmets this season. No team other than the Buccaneers has announced cancellations or changes to their throwback uniform plans.