Pat Patriot, R.I.P.? New NFL Safety Rule Forbids Alternate Helmets

Randolph CharlotinAnalyst IISeptember 19, 2013

Tom Brady and his fellow Patriots always looked great in the vintage uniforms and helmets.
Tom Brady and his fellow Patriots always looked great in the vintage uniforms and helmets.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers planned to wear the vintage orange creamsicle uniforms that featured the swashbuckling "Bucco Bruce" logo on a white helmet on September 29. But the white helmet would violate a new safety rule that limits players to wearing the same helmet for the season.

Does this mean New England can’t wear their vintage red jerseys with the white Pat Patriot helmet this season?

A recommendation by the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee forbids teams from changing helmets during the season for safety reasons. A team may wear a throwback uniform, but the helmet must be the same one worn throughout the season.

That leaves teams with two options: wear the vintage uniform with a present day helmet or change the logo on the current helmet to the vintage.

For a team like the San Diego Chargers, they can wear their powder-blue throwback uniforms and just change the decal (if necessary) on the helmet because the old-school look included a white helmet.

But the New England Patriots, which introduced the "Flying Elvis" logo with a new uniform in 1993, would either have to compromise the throwback look or never wear it again.

"Pat Patriot" was the creation of cartoonist Phil Bissell in 1960 when the Boston Patriots team was formed as a member of the American Football League. While the red jerseys were tweaked over the years, Pat Patriot remained the same.

Pat Patriot even survived a halftime challenge to his reign in 1979 when the home crowd voted by applause between Pat and a challenger. Pat was the overwhelming winner.

It wasn’t until 1993 that the NFL commissioned a Californian designer to create a new logo, giving birth was to the Flying Elvis.

Three Super Bowls have done little to diminish Pat Patriot’s popularity. Many fans prefer the minuteman in a three-point stance over the stoic profile that represented the Patriots during New England’s dynasty.

The same goes for the red jerseys juxtaposed against the current navy blue jersey. In a league with a majority of teams wearing blue (a dozen teams wear a shade of blue), New England’s red jersey stood out as one of just five teams that used red (The Houston Texans wear blue, but they do have a red alternate jersey).

The evidence of that popularity is on display at the Patriot Pro Shop, as there is a section of throwback apparel as well as throwback jerseys for popular players. For every four present-day Patriot items sold, one vintage Patriot item is sold, according to the Patriot Pro Shop. The vintage apparel and souvenirs aren’t going anywhere.

But will the throwback look ever make it back on the field? New England’s options would be the red jersey with either the Flying Elvis helmet or Pat Patriot on the silver helmet or not wear the throwback look, which the team has done annually for the past handful of years.

Pat Patriot on a silver helmet would be an anachronism, a classic symbol on a modern background that just isn’t natural and would be hard to accept in a new environment.

But it’s one of three options New England has since they can’t wear the identical throwback look from head to toe under the new rule.

Questions? Comments? Send to randolphc82@comcast.net.



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