By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Throughout its history, the NFL has not really treated player safety with the utmost seriousness. Whether it was fighting retired players in court, whether it was gently urging ESPN to bail on a concussion documentary project, or whether it was any number of questionable decisions regarding brain health, the NFL’s history of limiting concussions has been … spotty.
It’s always been strange, then, that of all the rules to strictly enforce, the NFL has banned teams from wearing different helmets during a season. It was a rule instituted in 2013, aimed at limiting risk for concussions by banning players from wearing a helmet that is not broken in.
That rule, though, may be changing.
Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch fame tweeted Wednesday that the league is considering a change to the rule for the 2021 season.
UPDATE: NFL spox @NFLprguy tells me: "There will be no change [to the one-shell rule] for the 2020 season. There are ongoing discussions for a potential change for the 2021 season, but no decisions have been made." https://t.co/GTQAXGP5GM
— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 25, 2020
Considering legal helmet-to-helmet contact and subconcussive blows to the head remained and still remain a much greater issue for NFL players with regard to brain safety, the institution of a ban on alternate helmets never made the most sense.
“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,” the official recommendation said. “The committees believe that a cautious approach to the changing of helmets is an important best practice for player safety.”
Despite that rule, players were allowed to try different helmets during a season, and traded players or players who were cut and then signed with other teams obviously got new helmets with their new teams. Nevertheless, alternate helmets were outlawed.
The topic arose because Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians mentioned a potential rebirth of the creamsicle throwbacks when talking with Dan Patrick.
“I think once the helmet rule changes next year, we might have some creamsicles and some throwbacks, which I think are the best uniforms in the league,” Arians said.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) March 25, 2020
Such a change would impact the Bucs and would seemingly also impact the Patriots. New England had to ditch the famed Pat Patriot throwback look in 2013, after wearing the red jersey/white helmet combination for the four seasons prior to the rule being instituted. The Patriots already have a uniform tweak in line for 2020, but if the rule is lifted, a Pat Patriot return would seemingly have to be in the works for 2021.
So, for anyone yearning for a return of Pat Patriot, Bucco Bruce, or any other great throwback … you may have your wishes granted in 2021.