Shutdown Mailbag: What’s the worst helmet of all time?

Shutdown Corner

Mailbag time! Here's where you get to hit us up with your letters on anything and everything football. Love, hate, it's all on the table. You can jump in on the action via email at or by finding me on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

Before we begin, a thought: Meteor Games are almost always fun. (Meteor Game: You hate both teams so much you're rooting for a meteor to hit the stadium. But not really, because that would be sad. Example A: Yankees-Red Sox.) Thursday night brought us our first Meteor Game of the season: Patriots versus Jets. I would love to see both these teams lose every one of their games, even the times when they play each other, but for vastly different reasons: the Jets because it would be great to watch the entire fanbase and media contingent combust, and the Patriots because they're the Patriots and therefore awful. The best kind of Meteor Game is one in which it appears neither team wants to win, and that's what we had Thursday night: a symphony of semi-competent suck. It was glorious. Anyway, what's your Meteor Game? Cowboys-Redskins? Packers-Bears? Let us know in the comments.

And now, your letters:

Can you tell me why in the world the Jags spray painted the front of their helmets? Looks really stupid and cheap.
-Jerry Wayne

The Jags painted their helmets because they wanted to look EXTREME, Jerry! Wait, check that: EXXXXTREEME!!!! Jacksonville's doing its best to distract the rest of us from the fact that their so-called "football team" is actually a horde of department-store mannequins dressed in full pads. Either that, or the helmets are actually all gold but the players have tried to drown themselves face-down in vats of tar. Which are readily available around NFL locker rooms, as you know.

Anyway, where does the Jaguars helmet rank among the worst in NFL history? Let's consider some of the other candidates:

Washington Redskins: Right off the bat we're going with controversy. Yes, the Redskins helmet is an established NFL classic. But considering the fact that the name of the team may not be here in 10 years, this helmet might well end up looking as horribly dated as those old racist cartoons (SFW, but think before you click) of the 1940s.

Baltimore Ravens, early version. This is what the Ravens' helmet looked like in the early days. More wings than a Sunday afternoon sports bar. It looks like an escapee from an old prog-rock album cover, or the product of a design-challenged focus group: "We need wings! And the team name! And wings! And a logo! And wings! And the Maryland cross! Is there room for more wings?"

Cincinnati Bengals, old school. We're eliminating all blank helmets from consideration here because they're uniformly (ha!) boring as hell. But the Bengals here at least made an attempt. A woeful, dull attempt. It's fitting that this fellow looks like he'll be quoting you insurance premiums in this helmet, because that's about the level of excitement this helmet provokes.

Miami Dolphins, new school. Sometimes you can try a little too hard. This Dolphins logo replaces the old dolphin-wearing-a-helmet-of-a-dolphin-wearing-a-helmet beauty. It's dumb, and it deprives us of sublime time-wasters like this.

New York Giants, 1970s. This weird, angular neon-esque font just screams "'70s." Shoot, you look at it and you can hear the trumpets of the old NFL Films themes. Also doubles as a roadmap of the Long Island Expressway.

New England Patriots, early edition. Couple problems with this one: first, that's so painfully obviously a sticker that you wonder why Pat Patriot's toes aren't curling up. Second, it just looks like a colonial coloring book page, or an old Marvel Comics panel. Though Pat Patriot on the Avengers would be awesome, I grant you.

That's our pick for the worst NFL helmets of all time. Got one of your own? Let us know.


Whoa there, slugger. Let's not get ahead of ourselves there. I'm assuming this was a bit of either irrational exuberance or sarcasm. Truth is, though, the Lions were a true surprise Week 1, and that's not just because we're amazed when the Lions can avoid actually eating their own cleats during the game. You'd think that a team with one of the greatest receivers in history and a Howitzer-armed quarterback might actually be able to win a few anyway; add Reggie Bush, who's now running like he's got a Kardashian after him again, and you've got the ingredients for a halfway decent team. In the NFC, "halfway decent" allows you to keep playoff hopes alive till maybe Week 12, but that's an improvement from predictions, which had the Lions eliminated from the playoffs in July.


Commercial break! Hey, are the Madden games too complex for you? Tired of trying to remember a thousand plays, blocking schemes, controller setups and display settings? Have we got the game for you. Take it away, Too Tall:

Football video games the way they were meant to be: one step up from a test pattern. If I had the power of time travel, I probably wouldn't use it to go right historical wrongs or invest in Coca-Cola for pennies a share. No, I'd probably do something stupid like take a copy of Madden 25 back to 1978 and blow those gamers' minds. It'd still be worth it.

(Got an old commercial you'd like to see here? Hit us up with the link.)


We've dumped on the Jags enough for one week. The fans have let us know it; apparently every single one of them sent us an email. (We got five emails. ZING.) So let's focus on that other perennial doormat. Like the Lions above, it's way too early to say that the Raiders will be anything other than "the team you pick against every week in your Suicide pool." Still, if Terrelle Pryor can keep it going this week, he'll be tremendous fun to watch. All he needs is to play an incompetent team, a team that doesn't have its feet under it, a team that won't be able to make adjustments on the fly and will give him the latitude to make a mistake or two.

So let's check the schedule. In Week 2, Oakland plays...

Jacksonville. Of course.

Well, that's just perfect, ain't it?


Without a doubt, sir. Though he's privately seething that Jim Harbaugh is hogging all that "absurdly angry '90s QB" spotlight these days.

Funny thing: you sometimes wonder if your memories play tricks on you, if someone like Jeff George was more (or less) than the halfway decent, serviceable, enough-big-plays-to-hang-around quarterback that you remember he was. And then you go look at Football Reference's list of comparable quarterbacks for George's career — Bernie Kosar, Tommy Kramer, Steve Bartkowski, Bobby Hebert, Jon Kitna — and you realize your memories are absolutely correct.


Before we make yet another Jacksonville joke, we're out. Remember, you can always join in the festivities via email at or on Twitter at @jaybusbee. Also check us out on the Shutdown Corner Podcast, your twice-weekly audio dose of football goodness. Enjoy your Sunday, everyone!

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