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Bears, Cards Join NFL Alternate-Helmet Bandwagon

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Never a dull moment in the NFL, where two more teams — the Bears and Cardinals — unveiled new alternate helmets yesterday, thereby becoming the latest clubs to take advantage of the one-shell rule’s demise. Let’s go one team at a time, shall we?

The Bears

The Bears got things started yesterday announcing a new orange helmet, which will be worn with the same orange alternate jersey that they’ve been wearing since 2018. Here’s a before/after comparison of how that uni combo will now look:

On the plus side, the helmet now matches the jersey; on the down side, the navy socks now look out of place. Wouldn’t orange socks make more sense? Then again, the Bears did wear orange helmets, orange jerseys, and navy socks in 1933, so I suppose you could say that the new look has some historical precedent.

This uniform will be worn for two October games this season: at home against the Commies on Oct. 13 (a Thursday-night game) and on the road against the Cowboys on Oct. 30 (the day before Halloween — perfect for an orange helmet). You can see lots of additional pics of the helmet here and here.

The Cardinals

A few hours after the Bears’ unveiling, the Cardinals made their own announcement, revealing a new BFBS helmet. If you view it up close, you can see that the black shell is impregnated with red metallic flake, which helps a bit (and is similar to the color-shifting black/turquoise helmet that the Jags wore from 2009 through 2012):

Remember, the Cards inexplicably have two different awful BFBS uniforms — the standard BFBS alternate jersey (which has white numbers and is worn with white pants) and the BFBS Color Rush design (red numbers, black pants). The new helmet will be worn with both of those uniforms and will modestly improve both of them, at least in terms of chromatic consistency, but this team is still an aesthetic train wreck and badly needs to blow everything up and go back to the drawing board. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a black cardinal? (Yes, I know, I know — hahahaha, glad we got that joke out of the way.)

The team didn’t bother to post any full-uni photos, but you can see more pics of the helmet by itself here.

The new helmet will be worn three times in 2022: on Aug. 21 against the Ravens (preseason, standard BFBS alt), on Oct. 9 against the Eagles (standard BFBS alt), and on Oct. 20 against the Saints (Thursday night, CR).

We’re now up to 13 NFL teams that have unveiled alternate helmets for 2022 (six of which are black alternates). In addition to the Bears and Cards, the other 11 are the Falcons (red throwback), Patriots (white throwback), Saints (black alternate), Commanders (black alternate), Texans (red alternate), Panthers (black alternate), Giants (navy throwback), Cowboys (white throwback), Jets (black alternate), Bengals (white alternate), and Eagles (black alternate).


ITEM! Final Pin Price Cut

I’m determined to get the rest of the Uni Watch Pin Club inventory out the door. With that in mind, I’ve cut the prices one final time — the remaining pins are now just $1 apiece, plus you can get one free pin for every three you order. So that’s four pins for $3, eight for $6, and so on. Full details here.

June 2020, August 2020, and August 2021 sold out yesterday, and the following designs are almost gone as well:

  • February 2020 (Presidents Day) SOLD OUT
  • October 2020 (jack-o-lantern goalie) SOLD OUT
  • January 2021 (curling) SOLD OUT
  • May 2021 (Uni Watch baseball cap) SOLD OUT
  • Basic winged stirrup pin (not shown on the chart above) SOLD OUT

While we’re at it, we now have new Naming Wrongs shirts for the Bengals’ stadium, as seen here:

If you like referring to the building as “PBS,” we have shirts available in black, grey, white (to go with the team’s new white alternate helmet), and orange (sorry, no short-sleeve available in orange). If you prefer the full “Paul Brown Stadium” name, we have black and orange (again, no short-sleeve in that colorway).

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Today’s Ticker is available here.

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Our latest raffle winner is Steve Haller, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks again to Ed Zelaski for sponsoring this one. — Paul

Comments (62)

    The Chicago Bears orange helmet had the feel of an April’s Fools Day joke, so that can’t be a good sign.

    The Bears generally have had the feel of an April Fool’s Day joke since 1985, so hey, wear what fits your team’s character.

    The balance is off with that Bears uniform. They need to inverse the socks and go full orange to make it work. The blue socks just balance well with the helmet with the old design.

    Based on Schefter’s tweet this morning, also seems like the Cowboys will be turning their white shell into a new alternate helmet with the modern day logo on it. My guess is they’d wear it with the color rush uni, and maybe with the blue jersey/white pant combo they’ve been wearing lately.

    That’s a good spot, they’ll use it in both throwback and modern day logo unis as well.

    That’s cool, just as long as they keep the solid blue star for the throwbacks, and preferably wear them on Thanksgiving. Changing helmet decals thankfully is possible

    I’m hoping if they do switch the logos for the modern day unis they switch the striping to go blue/silver/blue instead of the same blue/white/blue so it matches the pants

    The “C” looks too skinny on orange helmet. Wish they had gone with the bear logo instead; would have broken up all the orange of helmet/jersey.

    An orange Chicago Bears helmet is truly abhorrent to me and would be made even more of an eyesore if it had their bear logo on it, but I do wonder if swapping the C colors (black outline, white body, as used in the jersey numbers) would solve its’ thin appearance.

    Navy blue, not black. But as to your point, I don’t think anything could save an Orange helmet for the Bears.

    That would make sense, since the reason for the orange and blue colors is because George Halas attended Illinois, and wanted to use the colors for the Bears.

    I thought orange helmet with either the white or blue jerseys would work better than with the orange.

    Feel like this is exactly what Paul warned us about when the one shell rule was lifted.
    Also, I can’t remember which new helmet announcement it was, but one of them said it was for the 2022 season. And it wasn’t the Eagles who we already knew were just doing the black for one year. I get the feeling for a lot of these teams the alternate helmets aren’t going to be like the alternate jerseys that sort of have to stick around for a certain period of time. I’m wondering if we’ll see some teams with new alternate helmets over multiple years.
    Aside from the throwback sets, which intentionally reference past design that we already are familiar with, the rest of these alternate helmets just seem to serve to dilute the team branding. Considering how often teams are graphically represented by their helmets, and now those standard helmets hold far less meaning to their brand and identity.

    I think I read the black Cardinals helmet added some 3D effects to the logo. Is that new, or did the old helmet have it also?

    Regardless, I’m surprised how much I like the new helmet, though their uniforms, black or otherwise, are awful.

    Yeah, you can see it in the posted pictures, the feathers on the logo have a simulated texture or something to them. What’s also interesting in the photos is that Kyler Murray is wearing a left facing Cardinals logo pin. Stuck out to me in light of the recent uni-watch coin feature.
    Default facing for the Cardinals is right. So would the left facing pin logo be due to a convention that pin logos should be facing the center of the wearer? That would be my guess.

    It looks nice. Really makes the logo pop. In my opinion—-

    Panthers: logical move to a black helmet, horrible execution

    Cardinals: unnecessary black helmet, but well executed

    The Cardinals have specified that their logo face left on left-facing applications…been this way for decades now:


    I’m sure Kingsbury had some influence with the metallic red flakes on the Cards new helmet. I attended a rival Big 12 school in the early 2000’s when Kingsbury was QB at Texas Tech and they wore helmets with what we referred to as “bass boat glitter” on them. See this link beginning with the year 2000.


    I absolutely love the metallic flakes. They look so good shining in the sun. The old Jags helmet is still one of my favorites.

    The Bears helmet looks glossy in the full uni pics, but it looks matte in the helmet only pics. Which one are they wearing?

    Cardinal coincidence? Believe it or not, we just returned from Hawaii where we spotted a very cool bird with a red head and black and white body. Turns out that it’s a Yellow-billed Cardinal.

    For what it’s worth, there actually is a bird native to the North American Southwest that is commonly called the “black cardinal” (although it’s not true cardinal):


    orange socks with all that orange would not look better. having the navy socks provides good contrast. teams that wear red and black should never have red socks. the same goes for orange and navy. as long as the pants are white or the lighter color, the socks should be the darker color.

    maybe if they wore white jerseys and pants and the orange helmet, that’s the only time orange socks would work for them.

    “…maybe if they wore white jerseys and pants…”
    If that combo won’t be their road standard, I’d love to see that as an alt.

    I really like this black Cardinals helmet. Love the red metal flakes. And IMHO the Cards don’t qualify as a BFBS team, since black is one of their colors. With that said, they do have possibly the worst uniforms in the NFL. However, I hope when they finally get around to updating them they don’t change their helmets.

    The Cardinals are definitely a BFBS team, whether their trim color is black or not.


    So teams were given an unprecedented chance to create alternate helmets to be worn on the field. And so far, literally not one team has done anything other than change the shell color (and 2/3rd of them black, how original!).

    Like seriously, what even is the point if you’re just going to be boring, lazy & pointless about the whole thing?

    Complete failure.


    The Commanders have a different design on their black helmet than they have on the burgundy helmet. link

    The NFL inexplicably allowed the Broncos to poach the Bears’s color scheme (navy blue and deep orange) several years ago, so it’s appropriate that Chicago is starting to emphasize orange in their uniforms.

    I could be color blind but The Bears blue is nearly black – at least the on-field duds. The Broncos are clearly in blue territory. Matchups between Cincy and Cleveland to me appear to be the NFL’s biggest “they look like the same team from up here in the stands” problem..

    There’s a theory behind the orange helmet from the Bears. George Halas graduated from Illinois and thus the team’s color scheme. There’s a thought circulating that this helmet is actually a further nod to his alma mater since the Illini typically wear an orange lid. However the orange top might leave more questions than answers since usually Illinois wears a navy jersey. Just an idea that’s being circulated.

    2 THUMBS DOWN FOR THE CARDINALS! Another BFBS piece of junk. Can they just get new uniforms already?!?!

    Technical note: As I’m making up my mind how to view the new website, one thing I’m trying is changing my Uni Watch bookmark to bring up the list of daily ledes rather than just going to main site, which becomes kind of a blur among all the uniform reveals (a lot of which I get through social media, anyhow), ticker entries and whatnot.

    Here’s the link to just see a list of the ledes: link

    Paul, I’m wondering if it might not be worth your while in the lede to have a list of links to the other stories you put out through the previous day. That way, the lead is still a one-stop shop for those of us who still just like to check in once daily so that we don’t miss anything.

    I point this out because I do really like the Ticker link being there. I can see it being the kind of thing where, sometimes, I click through to the Ticker if I have a little more time to read, but other times, I forgo it.

    Thanks for the feedback, Dan. Keep in mind that, by coincidence, the first week of our new format has been a v-e-r-y busy time for new unveilings. Didn’t plan it that way! More uni-sedate periods will no doubt result in less of the “blur” you refer to.


    (one million 12-year-old boys in unison: “AWESOME!”)

    Of course The Cards went black. Uggg. They’ve needed a red lid for eons – and this was that opportunity. Oh well.

    I miss the days of the white accented with red Cardinal Uniforms. Without any black.

    Makes you think back to 1947…the last time the Cardinals won a championship.

    That Bears uniform bears (ugh) a striking resemblance to the Bengals and Browns. George Halas must be rolling in his grave…

    I was thinking along those lines. The bengals used a VERY similar number don’t to the bears on their new unis, making them very hard to distinguish without the helmet. And the browns have a basic (plain) orange lid, making a trifecta of mid-west/Great Lakes teams that are all morphing into each other, yet that part of the country really loves their regional rivalries. People gotta be bummed about this.

    Both these helmets look nice. I’m a middle aged man and even I like a change of pace now and then as long as it isn’t gaudy and these aren’t. BTW, seriously, the BFBS stuff is getting old…

    Bears’ helmet is hideous. Cardinals’ helmet is nice. Never thought I’d say that.

    FWIW, there’s a bird in the southwestern US called a Phainopepla that I’ve heard described as a “black cardinal”: link

    They are fairly common around Phoenix.

    While there may be “black cardinals”, it just feels like a retcon for why the football team went with black.

    They went with black because it was the “cool” thing to do in sports, and even then, when THEY did it the fad had already begun dying down.

    It’s like when the Mets went with black; they did it because it was the marketing “in” thing to do, even though the official explanation was that the black stood for the shadows of the skyscrapers in New York. Because that was just pure drivel, some fans started rationalizing black as a Mets color because “the old NY Giants used black, and the Mets took elements from them, so black is technically a team color.”

    Except that the Mets had always claimed since ’62 that they took blue from the Brooklyn Dodgers and orange from the NY Giants. They never mentioned black, and claiming that they used black because it was a Giants color was simply not true.

    It feels the same way with the Cardinals and black uniforms.

    Well said. It works even less well/more poorly for the Cardinals, who were named for the color of the shirts they wore, which they took from the University of Chicago way back when. This is more like when the Blue Jays or Reds added BFBS.

    Never has the “Professionals built the Titanic; an amateur built the Ark.” vibe been stronger with all of these “new” helmets. Our comm-uni-ty could make better, more creative, more imaginative helmets for every NFL and NCAA program in a heartbeat for a fraction of the story telling nonsense that comes out of Swoosh Central Station.

    Now if you will excuse me, there are some kids playing on my lawn…

    I smell a contest. Design alternate helmet for an nfl team, only rule is it can’t be a straight color swap. I accept the saints, for example as a “new design”, and I would accept the jaguars gold/black ombré as a new design, but not the cardinals, or cowboys.

    I think if the Bears go with tan pants it might at least work as a faux-back type concept.

    Otherwise, put me in the camp of “did anyone really ask for orange helmets for the Bears?”

    I really don’t like the orange helmet and I will only accept it with white or navy jersey. Please don’t orange color rush the bears.

    I find it strange that we heard that throwbacks were a problem for teams this year due to supply chain issues, but then all of a sudden there are half the teams able to either bring out a throwback or a ghastly “alternate” helmet. This is turning into the ultimate “be careful what you wish for” moment.

    The supply chain issues were more about jerseys, not helmets. Most of the new alt helmets are being worn with jerseys that were already in production.

    So I guess the Bears won’t be wearing their 1936 throwbacks any more. I really liked those uniforms

    They wore the orange and the throwback last season, so I don’t see any reason why they can’t also do so this season.

    I’m more bothered by the Bears socks not being white on the bottom than the helmet. I could have predicted the orange helmet. A bear’s head logo would have made this a little more novel, that took no thought. But the socks always completed the Bears’ look. This looks wrong.

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