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Let’s Talk About the Buffalo Bills’ Red Helmets

Paul here, just letting you know that my Premium article over on Substack this week is a deep dive on the Bills’ red-helmet era. Like the other deep dives I’ve recently done, this one is filled with obscure fun facts, great vintage photos, NFL Style Guide content, and more.

You can access the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack (which will also get you access to my complete Substack archives, and will also get you my upcoming NFL Season Preview, which will be published on Sept. 5). My thanks, as always, for your consideration and support!

I’ll have another Premium article next Wednesday, and then I’ll go back to running the blog next Friday, Sept. 1. Enjoy the rest of your August!

Comments (8)

    As I noted in the comments on Substack, the Bills’ 1994 “throwbacks” were so much worse than just putting a white standing buffalo on their red helmets; they not only failed to replicate a period-appropriate jersey, they managed to come up with jerseys with sleeve stripes that had never been worn before or since!

    Here are what the Bills could’ve done, jersey-wise:
    1960-61 – Detroit Lions surplus unis w/helmet TV numbers (given they would be virtually identical to the Lions’ throwbacks, this was an easy pass)
    1962-63 – UCLA stripes (though the similarity to the Pat Patriot throwbacks would make this one an unlikely choice)
    1964-72 – Inverse Northwestern stripes – what they should’ve worn, period. Later throwbacks would go back to this period (though the Nike-era throwback simplifies the stripes a bit)
    1973 – Inverse NW stripes with red being the main color on the white jersey (the blue jersey was otherwise unchanged). This was also when the Bills started wearing blue pants with the white jerseys. The charging buffalo replaced the standing buffalo in 1974, and the uniforms from 1975 onward (helmet aside) was largely what they were wearing in 1994, just having truncated the double-stripe sleeve pattern to a single-stripe pattern as sleeves shortened in the mid-80s (and dumping the blue pants around that same timeframe).

    I loved that ’94 “throwback.”

    One of my favorite looking Monday Night Football games was when the throwback Broncos with orange helmets matched up against those Bills unis.

    The answer to the Bills’ red helmet is always, yes that should be their standard helmet, matched with the current uniform. With the standing buffalo design as a once a year throwback option.
    Using the white helmet they just sort of look like the Colts but with a little red trim. With 32 teams there is no reason for multiple teams to have the same helmet/jersey/pants color combos. The Colts own (figuratively) the white helmet and blue jersey look. Why would the Bills want to be so similar to the Colts when they could own an easily identifiable look with the red helmet. Not to mention that was their design during their most successful period in the NFL.

    The Bills’ red helmet era was distinctive and interesting, and aesthetically, totally inferior to either white helmet era, particular their modern look. Heavy subscribe to Paul’s Red Team vs. Blue Team theory: you gotta pick one, and they are blue. Paired better with white helmets & pants, not red. (The Pats should step back off that turf and be the red team in that division, BTW.) Large swaths of primary red & blue should never be worn at the same time by anyone over 12. That goes for YOU, Cubs, Rangers, etc.

    While I somewhat agree that the Bills should be a red team (should have been way back in 1960 so the Patriots could have started out blue), I have no problem with them being like the Texas Rangers.
    I’m almost 12×5, and I have no problem dressing in large swaths of red and blue. You don’t have to choose.

    I read many years ago, that they changed to red to differentiate themselves from the rest of their division opponents. At one point, the Dolphins, Patriots, Colts and Jets ALL had white helmets (70’s/80’s) and they played half of their games against them, so it made sense to standout.

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