Who says work related emails don't pay off? Here's a very interesting take on NFL helmets from the eyes of a graphic designer. His summary: The Bengals have the best helmets. Period.
Penalty! Unnecessary Blandness! Redesigning the Worst NFL Helmet Graphics BY Ken CarboneMon Nov 9, 2009 at 2:26 PM
The conservative columnist George Will once said football combines the two worst things about America: violence punctuated by committee meetings. As a designer who occasionally gets caught up in the fury of the game, I'd like to add graphic design to what's wrong with football.
With the help of Skycam I spend as much time enjoying the color, patterns and graphics that add to the spectacle of the sport, as I do enjoying a deftly-completed pass. Now that the Yankees have won the World Series and the season shifts from batting balls to banging heads, I've been musing about NFL helmet design. For inspiration (and some truly bizarre helmet design), I visited the Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Created centuries ago, these designs (left) are more about shock and awe than waging battle but are truly extraordinary.
Today's high-tech helmet with its wireless headset and polycarbonate visor has come a long way from the padded leather ones of yesterday. It not only serves its essential protective function but is also a gleaming sign for a team's brand. Yet in many cases the graphics are blunt and formulaic, usually involving slapping the team's primary logo on both sides of the helmet.
This bilateral approach is sometimes successful for teams such as the Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles. Horns and wings usually come in twos making these symmetrical designs feel natural.
The Dallas Cowboys' blue star on a silver field is crisp and a clear reference to the Lone Star state. As for simplicity, I guess the Cleveland Browns score highest. They use no logo at all but why do the Browns have orange helmets?
However, the absolutely best team helmet belongs to the Cincinnati Bengals. The tiger stripe pattern embraces the whole spherical form. There is nothing else like it in the NFL. It looks fierce from any angle and boldly breaks from tradition.
Among the weakest designs are the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers , whose visually complicated logos become a graphic mess when televised and, I imagine, even if you're sitting on the fifty-yard line. At the very the bottom of the list are the New England Patriots. The Patriots' helmet is plastered with their logo, which comes dangerously close to looking like a wind-swept John Kerry dressed up like a Minute Man. If there was ever a time to go with the obvious this is it. Why not really play the patriotic card and star and stripe the helmet?
Read the rest and check out his helmet redesigns in the link to the blog.