Arena Football League (1987 - 2019)
The Arena Football League announced on October 29, 2019 that it would suspend operations; on November 27, 2019 the league filed for Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy, signalling the demise of the league. AFL had operated each year from 1987 through 2019, with the exception of 2009. Below are known historical helmet designs for the AFL's teams; it is entirely possible that other designs exist, particularly during the earliest years (from which information is relatively scarce) and from the last few years (when short-lived designs may have gone unreported). Teams that relocated during their existence are listed under the last name used by the franchise.
EXHIBITION GAME TEAMS
Once the rules of the Arena Football League's brand of indoor play had been established two exhibition games were played to test the viability of the game and to expose the concept to the public. Information for the teams appearing in these two games has been elusive, but three of the four helmet designs have apparently been clarified.
|April 27, 1986 "Test Game" at Rockford, IL|
|"CHICAGO POLITICIANS"||"ROCKFORD METROS"|
Below is a photograph from the "Test Game". The "Politicans" used helmets that were apparently identical to those used by the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, except that a circular decal with the word "ARENA" has been placed over the star on the side of the helmet. There exists video that even shows the points of the star sticking out from under the circle, which is not quite large enough to entirely cover it (see 1:25 at https://twitter.com/ArenaFootballTV/status/1291562260888879109 ). More than one person has reported to me that these helmets were actually acquired from the Cowboys somehow (whether purchased, donated, or borrowed is unknown).
The appearance of the "Rockford Metros" helmets remains unclear; it has been variously reported to me that the helmets were either black or maroon, and again it has been stated that these helmets were acquired from an NFL team (either the Washington Redskins or the Pittsburgh Steelers) and that the helmet decal was altered by placing a new one over the NFL team decal. One visitor to the website reported that the below logo was taped over the circular portion of the Redskins logo:
It does appear to me that the helmet photograph above has a light-colored shape on the side consistent with the logo worn on the Washington Redskins' helmets (circle with attached "feathers'). However, the uniform visible in this video: https://twitter.com/ArenaFootballTV/status/1291562260888879109 at about the 1:00 minute mark appears almost unambiguously black rather than maroon, which would seem to run contrary to the hypothesis that these uniforms and helmets were acquired from the Washington Redskins. It also appears to me that the logo on these helmets is slightly smaller than those worn by the NFL team.
|February 27, 1987 "Showcase Game" at Chicago, IL|
|"CHICAGO BRUISERS"||"MIAMI VISE"|
Video from this game has also been uploaded to youtube, enabling me to add these two historical designs to the website. The clearest views that I noticed of the Miami Vise's helmet design occur at about 17:38 and 37:01 of the video; a rather typical "ancient battle helmet" logo is visible within the white oval-shape. The lingering uncertainty about this design is whether or not the white oval-shape has around its perimeter a gold or yellow border; I have depicted it above without one, but cannot say that this is definitely correct. At 1:55:43 a "dotted border" is suggested around the oval, but I think this is probably just light reflecting off raised parts of the decal which is not resting perfectly "flat" upon the curved surface of the helmet shell.
|2018 - 2019|
ANAHEIM PIRANHAS / LAS VEGAS STING
|1995 - 1996||1997 - 1998|
|LAS VEGAS STING||ANAHEIM PIRANHAS|
|1992 - 2008; 2010||2011||2012 -|
|2012 - 2016?||April 14, 2012|
|*see note 1 below||*see note 2 below|
*1 During the early part of the 2012 season the logo has been worn on the right sides of the helmets only, with the left sides remaining "blank".
*2 Worn during a game at Iowa.
ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACKS
|2004||2005 - 2007|
|2017 (1st three games)||2017 -||2019|
|2003 (game #1)||2000 - 2003||2004|
|1992 - 1993?||1994? - 1996|
|February 26, 1987||1988||1987; 1989|
The Bruisers were one of the league's four original teams in 1987. The team (or at least a team by the same name) also participated in the February 26, 1987 "showcase game" against the "Miami Vise"; during this game only the first helmet design shown above was used.
|2001 - 2008; 2010||2008 (some games); 2011 - 2013|
CLEVELAND GLADIATORS / LAS VEGAS GLADIATORS / NEW JERSEY GLADIATORS / NEW JERSEY RED DOGS
|1997 (early season)||1997 - 1999||2000|
|NEW JERSEY RED DOGS||NEW JERSEY RED DOGS||NEW JERSEY RED DOGS|
|2001 - 2006||2007||June 19, 2015|
|NEW JERSEY GLADIATORS/
LAS VEGAS GLADIATORS
|LAS VEGAS GLADIATORS||CLEVELAND GLADIATORS|
|June 16, 2017 only(?)||2008; 2010 - 2017|
|CLEVELAND GLADIATORS||CLEVELAND GLADIATORS|
This franchise was originally based in East Rutherford, NJ as the New Jersey Red Dogs; the team name was changed to Gladiators in 2001. The team relocated to Las Vegas, NV in 2003, and again to Cleveland, OH in 2008.
CLEVELAND THUNDERBOLTS / COLUMBUS THUNDERBOLTS
|1991 - 1994|
The franchise was based in Columbus, OH for its first year (1991) before moving to Cleveland. This is the only helmet design that I am aware of the team having used.
|2003 - 2008|
COLUMBUS DESTROYERS / BUFFALO DESTROYERS
|1999 - 2003||2004||2005 - 2006|
|BUFFALO DESTROYERS||COLUMBUS DESTROYERS||COLUMBUS DESTROYERS|
|2007 - 2008||2019|
|COLUMBUS DESTROYERS||COLUMBUS DESTROYERS|
|2002 - 2008|
|*see note 1 below|
This team lasted for four years, 1990 through 1993. White helmets were used the first year before a switch to red was made in 1991; during at least 1991 the helmet logo (an outline of the state of Texas with the state flag draped across it) had a set of four white "streaks" or "motion lines" extending towards the back of the helmet, but these were apparently abandoned in 1992.
*1 The stripe sequence on this design runs (from left to right) blue-white-red (at least during the 1990 Arena Bowl game).
One of the league's four original teams, the Dynamite played in 1987 and from 1989 through 1991.
|2001 - 2004|
The stripe sequence on the Fury helmets may have been different or absent during the first year or two of the team's existence.
FLORIDA BOBCATS / MIAMI HOOTERS / SACRAMENTO ATTACK
|1992||1993 - 1994||1995|
|SACRAMENTO ATTACK||MIAMI HOOTERS||MIAMI HOOTERS|
|1996 - 1998||1999||2000 - 2001|
|FLORIDA BOBCATS||FLORIDA BOBCATS||FLORIDA BOBCATS|
|2002 (approx. 1st
|2002 - 2003||February 8, 2004;
February 22, 2004
|*see note 1 below|
|2004 - 2008; 2011 -|
*1 The Force switched from blue facemasks to black ones by at least the ninth game of the 2002 season, and possibly earlier.
FORT WORTH CAVALRY
GRAND RAPIDS RAMPAGE
|1998 - 1999||2000 - 2006||2007 - 2008|
HOUSTON THUNDERBEARS / TEXAS TERROR
|1996 - 1997||1998 - 2001|
|TEXAS TERROR||HOUSTON THUNDERBEARS|
This franchise was based in Houston through the first five years of its existence; in 2001, the league assumed ownership of the team and made it play a schedule consisting entirely of road games. The team was one of four teams disbanded in late 2001 when the league contracted.
INDIANA FIREBIRDS / ALBANY FIREBIRDS
|1991 - 1997||1998 - 2004|
|ALBANY FIREBIRDS||INDIANA FIREBIRDS|
|2010 - 2014|
|2010 - 2011||2012 - 2016||2014 - 2015?
KANSAS CITY COMMAND / KANSAS CITY BRIGADE
|2006 - 2008 (Brigade);
2011 - (Command)
LAS VEGAS OUTLAWS
|2015 (game #1)||2015 (games #2 & #3)||2015 (games #4 - #18)|
|*see note 1 below|
*1 The Outlaws are credited with a 5-12-1 record in 2015 but the "tie" game (a scheduled July 25 home game vs New Orleans) was actually not played.
LOS ANGELES AVENGERS
|2001 - 2002||2003 - 2008|
LOS ANGELES COBRAS
LOS ANGELES KISS
|2014 - 2016||2015? - 2016|
MASSACHUSETTS MARAUDERS / DETROIT DRIVE
|1988 - 1993||1994|
|DETROIT DRIVE||MASSACHUSETTS MARAUDERS|
MILWAUKEE MUSTANGS (1994 - 2001)
|1994 - 2001|
MILWAUKEE MUSTANGS / MILWAUKEE IRON (2009 - 2012)
|2009? - 2010||2011 - 2012|
|MILWAUKEE IRON||MILWAUKEE MUSTANGS|
MINNESOTA FIGHTING PIKE
|1997 only(?)||1998? - 2001||2005 - 2007|
Following the 2001 season, the Nashville Kats franchise was sold and relocated, becoming the Georgia Force. When the AFL admitted a new Nashville Kats franchise in 2005, it was allowed to assume the historical records of the earlier Kats franchise (1997-2001).
NEW ENGLAND STEAMROLLERS
NEW ORLEANS NIGHT
|1991 - 1992|
NEW ORLEANS VOODOO
|2013 - 2014||2004 - 2005; 2007 - 2008;
2011 - 2012; 2015
This team did not play in 2006 due to damaged inflicted upon the New Orleans Arena, the team's home-game facility, by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The team also was inactive in 2010.
At least one photograph has been found from an unknown year showing a VooDoo helmet with a stripe apparently similar to the one shown on the "2013-2014" design above, but with a purple stripe running through the middle of the red stripe.
NEW YORK DRAGONS / IOWA BARNSTORMERS
|1995 (game #1)||1995 - 2000||2007|
|IOWA BARNSTORMERS||IOWA BARNSTORMERS||NEW YORK DRAGONS|
|2001 - 2006; 2008||2009 (not used)|
|NEW YORK DRAGONS||NEW YORK DRAGONS|
|*see note 1 below|
*1 This design was to have been used in 2009 but was never actually used during a game, due to the cancellation of the 2009 season.
NEW YORK KNIGHTS
|1988 (1st game only(?))||1988|
The blue helmet stripe was absent during the Knights' first game in 1988 (at Los Angeles) but it was in place by at least game number 4 (at New England). It was reported to me many years ago that the first game was the only game during which the stripe was absent.
OKLAHOMA CITY YARD DAWGZ
OKLAHOMA WRANGLERS / PORTLAND FOREST DRAGONS / MEMPHIS PHARAOHS
|1995 - 1996||1997||1998 - 1999|
|MEMPHIS PHARAOHS||PORTLAND FOREST DRAGONS||PORTLAND FOREST DRAGONS|
|2000 - 2001|
|1991 - 1997||1998 - 2000||2001 - 2002|
|2003 - 2008; 2010||2015 only? (some games)||2011 - 2016|
|2004 - 2008; 2011||2012 - ?||2012 -|
|2018? - 2019|
|April 6, 2012||2011 - 2013||2014|
PORTLAND STEEL / PORTLAND THUNDER
Team was named 'Thunder' in 2014 and 2015, and 'Steel' in 2016.
SAN ANTONIO FORCE
SAN ANTONIO TALONS / TULSA TALONS
|2010 - 2011||2012 - 2013||2014|
|TULSA TALONS||SAN ANTONIO TALONS||SAN ANTONIO TALONS|
SAN JOSE SABERCATS
|1995 - 2008; 2011 -||2012 - 2015?|
|2010 - 2013?||2013? -||2013? - 2015?|
|*see note 1 below||*see note 2 below|
*1 Numerals are used only on the left side of this design; the right side features an "S" logo (as shown below).
*2 Numerals are used only on the left side of this design; the right side features an "S" logo (as shown below).
ST. LOUIS STAMPEDE
|1995 - 1996|
TAMPA BAY STORM / PITTSBURGH GLADIATORS
|1987 - 1990||1991 - 1992||1993 - 1994|
|PITTSBURGH GLADIATORS||TAMPA BAY STORM||TAMPA BAY STORM|
|1995 - 2008; 2010 - 2011||2012 - 2017|
|TAMPA BAY STORM||TAMPA BAY STORM|
TORONTO PHANTOMS / NEW ENGLAND SEA WOLVES / NEW YORK CITYHAWKS
|1997 - 1998||1997 - 1998||1999 - 2000|
|NEW YORK CITYHAWKS||NEW YORK CITYHAWKS||NEW ENGLAND SEA WOLVES|
|2000||2001 - 2002|
|NEW ENGLAND SEA WOLVES||TORONTO PHANTOMS|
While this team was known as the New York Cityhawks, both the gold and black helmets were used in both 1997 and 1998. I have received some film from various games confirming that the team used the gold helmets during a home game in 1997 vs Florida and during a road game in 1998 vs Grand Rapids, and confirming that the black helmets were used for a road game in 1997 vs New Jersey. I do not know what scheme was in place during these two years with regards to the usage of the two helmet designs, but it may have been a home-and-away scheme that was reversed in the second year.
|2006 - 2008; 2010||2011 -||2012 - 2013|
This team used the name Maryland Commandos during the 1989 season only. The team may have used another helmet design besides the one shown above at some point in its history; I would appreciate any photographs showing such a design. I received a report that the team used gold helmets briefly, but no supporting evidence was provided. The team did not play in 1988.
|2017 - 2019|