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Tom Brady in creamsicle? NFL makes long-awaited change to alternate helmet policy

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Welcome back Pat Patriot. It's good to see you creamsicle Bucs.

The NFL has made the long overdue decision to allow teams to wear throwback helmets in addition to their throwback uniforms, reversing a years-long policy prohibiting alternate helmets. The league sent a memo to teams Thursday outlining the new uniform policy. 

"The league has revised the 2018 uniform policy to allow for one alternate color helmet to be added to each club’s uniform closet commencing with the 2022 season," the memo reads. 

What does this mean? 

It means that we'll almost certainly see the return of the gaudy/fantastic creamsicle Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniforms of the Vinny Testaverde era. The Silver Seattle Seahawks helmets of the Steve Largent days will surely make an appearance. 

And though the New England Patriots would likely prefer to pretend that there wasn't a time when they were the laughing stock of the league, the lure of bringing back Pat Patriot will surely be too strong to resist. 

FOXBOROUGH, MA - CIRCA 1990:  Irving Fryar #80 of the New England Patriots in action during an NFL game circa 1990 at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Fryar played for the Patriots from 1984-92. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Irving Fryar represented one of the few bright spots of the Pat Patriot days in New England. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Why did NFL just now make this call?

Everybody wins with the new policy. Longtime fans love the nostalgia of throwback looks. The NFL and its teams love selling gear to those fans. So why did the league just now make the seemingly no-brainer decision? It used to prohibit alternate helmets under the heading of player safety. 

From a 2013 league memo with the subject Throwback Uniform Helmets:

"Our Head, Neck, and Spine Committee, chaired by Drs. Hunt Batjer and Richard Ellenbogen, and the Player Safety Advisory Panel, chaired by John Madden and Ronnie Lott, have recommended that players no longer wear different helmets as part of a “Throwback” or "Third" uniform. ...

"The committees believe that a cautious approach to the changing of helmets is an important best practice for player safety."

While the NFL should be applauded for almost any effort in the name of player safety, that reasoning seems a stretch. Why would a secondary helmet with a different look be inherently less safe than a primary helmet? The look of the helmet is throwback. The technology in the helmet is presumably not. 

The news comes a bit late for the Bucs to celebrate their Super Bowl season in creamsicle. The policy won't be applied until 2022. Why? Because the NFL. So if Bucs fans want to see Tom Brady donning a swashbuckling pirate on his dome, he'll have to extend his stay in Tampa until at least 2022. 

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