There is fantastic history for just about every team in the NFL, save the most recent ones. With a team like the Denver Broncos, that history runs more than a half-century deep. When talking about Broncos helmet history, there is more ground to cover than you may realize.
In this guide we will look at both the helmets and Denver Broncos helmet logo history. There is a lot of ground to cover, including the history of football helmets, in general. When all is said and done, you will have a great understanding of the history of one of the NFL’s best franchises.
Football Helmets History
The first use of football helmets goes back more than a century. The first football helmet was used by George “Rose” Barclay in 1869, then the Lafayette College halfback. He wore straps with earpieces in order to keep his ears protected. James Naismith gets the credit, however, wearing a moleskin headpiece during the 1893 Army-Navy game.
By the 1920s, the helmet was being widely implemented. Most helmets were made of leather and had some padding on the inside. Even still, there was very little protection. In those days, the facemask didn’t exist. In 1939, the first plastic helmet was used. It could hold its shape better and was also able to make use of a facemask to provide facial protection.
In 1949, the NFL officially mandated the use of helmets. The leather helmets were gone and single bars were added by the 1950s. Minor changes would continue to come over the next few decades. By the 1980s, the “modern” helmet came into use with the clean mask lines, rounded dome, and circular earhole.
Now, athletes have a huge array of helmets to choose from. They look almost nothing like the originals but are safer in every way. Players can find the right fit and protection regardless of their preferences.
Denver Broncos Helmet History
The Broncos kicked off their inaugural season in 1960. Since then, Broncos helmet history has had more than a few changes. Check out the complete Denver Broncos helmet history, including logos. There have been more changes in Denver Broncos helmet logo history than there have been for the helmet as a whole.
1960: Brown with Numbers
During this period in NFL history, everything was quite basic. The same went for the Broncos. Both the helmets and jerseys had nothing but numbers on them. The Broncos wore a very simple brown with white lettering on their initial helmets.
This is the simplest point in Denver Broncos helmet history because it was the fashion at the time. Thankfully, designs would progress from the simplest to something a little more creative and complicated.
1962: Orange with Blue Horse
Finally, a little color is added to Broncos helmet history. The Broncos began to wear orange in their socks and pants stripe with blue for the nameplate and numbers. The helmet became orange with a white stripe down the center.
The most important change and part of Denver Broncos helmet logo history is the implementation of the first logo. A blue, cartoonish bucking bronco would be added to the side of the helmet. Facemasks were still simple at the time and many teams like the Broncos had a simple grey one or two bar mask.
1962: Orange with White Horse
It wouldn’t take long for there to be another change in Denver Broncos helmet history. The helmet itself would largely stay the same, keeping that crisp orange for the shell of the helmet with the familiar white stripe down the middle.
The big change, however, came in the logo. Instead of the slightly cartoonish blue bronco, we were introduced to the “crazy horse.” This super cartoonish bronco – with knobby knees and an exaggerated jaw – took over, in a much brighter and contrasting white.
1967: Blue with no Logo
Another big change to the design scheme, though this one was more in the color scheme than anything else. The orange jerseys had been replaced by a simple royal blue with white numbers. The road jerseys had an orange sleeve to contrast the white, something the home jersey did not.
Gone was the crazy horse logo. Instead, Denver Broncos helmet history went back to the basics. The 1967 look was a simple royal blue shell with an orange and white stripe down the center. No numbers, no logo, no nothing on this one.
1968: “D” Logo
The change that set the tone for nearly 30 years of franchise history came in 1968. The uniforms underwent a huge change, with the classic orange, white, and blue home jersey as well as orange pants on the road.
But the biggest change in Broncos helmet history came with the addition of the “D” logo. An orange “D” with a white bucking and snorting bronco in the middle would become a staple of the franchise for almost the next three decades. The uniforms would undergo some tweaks but the helmet largely stayed the same.
1994: Throwback Horse Logo
[Picture of helmet]
In 1994, the Broncos would break out a retro uniform for the 75th Anniversary season in the NFL. They brought back the “crazy horse” white-on-orange look. The uniforms were slightly different, featuring a blue sleeve with large white numbers and a white stripe separating the blue and orange.
The helmet was basically the same as the 1962 version but with one minor change. The crazy horse remained virtually the same except for the fact that there was now a star where the eye was. A minor change but one that nodded to Broncos helmet history of more than 30 years prior.
1997: Modern Horse Logo
By 1997, the Broncos had completely revamped their uniforms. Gone was the popular “orange crush” of the Broncos, to be replaced by a burnt orange and navy blue palette. Hooked piping would run from the top of the jersey down to the knee of the pants to create a distinct look.
The biggest change came in the logo. This is the latest in big changes to Denver Broncos helmet logo history. The snorting “D” bronco was gone, replaced by a furious-looking bronco head, its mane streaming in the wind. White with an orange mane, this logo was meant to modernize the Broncos for the 21st century.
2001: Throwback “D” Logo
It wasn’t long before the Broncos were taking a look back through history. The “Orange Crush” look was one of the most popular in the NFL for decades and the team decided to pay homage by making it their uniform of choice in a throwback game on Thanksgiving against the Dallas Cowboys.
The uniform was verbatim the look they had worn throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with white pants, orange/blue striping, orange uniforms, and the royal blue helmet with “D” logo. It was a nice but brief leap back in time for the Broncos.
2009: Throwback Brown Helmet
For the 2009 season, the NFL recognized its history with some teams sporting AFL throwbacks. The Broncos played against the New England Patriots – wearing their white “Pat the Patriot” throwbacks – at home in their AFL 50th Anniversary throwbacks.
With a simple yellow jersey, brown pants with yellow striping, and black numbers, the look was a simple one. The helmet was a dark brown with white numbering on the side instead of the traditional logo that had been worn for the last 40 years.
Color Rush “D” Logo
In 2016, the Broncos yet again recognized their heritage with a little bit of “old meets new.” Around this time, the NFL introduced Color Rush uniforms for Thursday Night Football, and the Broncos brought out their latest look.
Both pants and jerseys were the bright orange of the “Orange Crush.” The helmet, sporting the orange snorting bronco “D”, had the dark navy of the modern look to contrast it. It was a great way to bring old times together with new for the Color Rush trend of the late 2010s.
For the time being, there doesn’t seem to be a major change coming. The Broncos’ look since 1997 has largely been the same aside from minor tweaks. The logo, color scheme, and even uniform layout are virtually the same. The Broncos have basically had two looks since 1968, showing the stability of the franchise.
The last time the franchise made a serious change, it resulted in a pair of Super Bowl wins. Given that the team has enjoyed its greatest success with these uniforms, it seems unlikely that they are going anywhere. The best thing to watch out for will be the throwback uniforms that the team wears every once in a while, including the references back to the famed “Orange Crush” era when the franchise was one of the best in the league during the 1980s and early 1990s.