The demise of the one-shell rule has opened the door for NFL teams to reintroduce period-accurate throwback uniforms. It's also led at least a couple of franchises to debut alternate helmets.
New Orleans joined Washington in this regard on Thursday, announcing the team will wear an alternate black helmet at some point in the 2022 season. Longtime star Cameron Jordan modeled the helmet in a photoshoot for the team:
The new helmet looks much like New Orleans' standard shell, except the team has reversed the colors of its primary elements. The shell has shifted from gold to black, while the Saints' fleur-de-lis logo swaps black for gold.
The most notable secondary detail is the omission of the team's traditional three-stripe appearance. Instead of reversing the colors of the stripes on the new alternate helmet, New Orleans has instead removed it in favor of a triangular graphic pattern made up of -- you guessed it -- tiny gold fleur-de-lis logos.
It's a look that will be familiar to those residing in the Pacific Northwest.
Gradients first came to the league with Seattle's 2012 rebrand, in which the team dropped its blue-dominant look (which went by a variety of titles, including "steel," "Seahawks" and "Pacific" blue) of the 2000s for its current navy, grey and "action green" color scheme. That included a new navy helmet with an interesting approach to striping, placing a triangular texture pattern featuring Seattle's new feather graphic down the center of the helmet, narrowing as it moved from front to back.
Cleveland joined the textured pattern wave with the inclusion of a carbon fiber pattern in its brown helmet stripes in 2015. The team dropped the pattern with its 2020 uniform changes.
2022 will be the first time since the 1969 preseason that New Orleans will wear a helmet that isn't gold. The Saints have tweaked their shade of gold and the appearance of their fleur-de-lis logo over the years, but have always stuck with the same basic concept -- until now.