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. Only partial information has thus far been found pertaining to helmet designs used during these games.

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 unclear).

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.


ALABAMA VIPERS

2010

ALBANY EMPIRE

2018 - 2019

ANAHEIM PIRANHAS / LAS VEGAS STING

1995 - 1996 1997 - 1998
LAS VEGAS STING ANAHEIM PIRANHAS

ARIZONA RATTLERS

1992 - 2008; 2010 2011 2012 -
(home games)
2012 - 2016? April 14, 2012
(road games)
*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

2019

AUSTIN WRANGLERS

2004 2005 - 2007

BALTIMORE BRIGADE

2017 (1st three games) 2017 - 2019

CAROLINA COBRAS

2003 (game #1) 2000 - 2003 2004

CHARLOTTE RAGE

1992 - 1993? 1994? - 1996

CHICAGO BRUISERS

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.


CHICAGO RUSH

2001 - 2008; 2010 2008 (some games); 2011 - 2013

CINCINNATI ROCKERS

1992 1993

CLEVELAND GLADIATORS / LAS VEGAS GLADIATORS / NEW JERSEY GLADIATORS / NEW JERSEY RED DOGS

1997 (early season) 1997? - ? 2001 - 2006
NEW JERSEY RED DOGS NEW JERSEY RED DOGS NEW JERSEY GLADIATORS/
LAS VEGAS GLADIATORS
2007 2008; 2010 - 2017 June 16, 2017 only(?)
LAS VEGAS GLADIATORS CLEVELAND GLADIATORS CLEVELAND GLADIATORS

There may have been some other helmet designs used by this team during the period when it was known as the Red Dogs - supposedly the logo was slightly different during the last year or two, and a switch to black facemasks is reported to have occurred by at least the 2000 season. The first design shown above was in use during at least the team's first game in 1997 (at Anaheim) but the next design was in use by at least game #6 (at Nashville). Photographs of any of these alleged other variations would be greatly appreciated.


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.


COLORADO CRUSH

2003 - 2008

COLUMBUS DESTROYERS / BUFFALO DESTROYERS

1999 - 2003 2004 2005 - 2006
BUFFALO DESTROYERS COLUMBUS DESTROYERS COLUMBUS DESTROYERS
2007 - 2008 2019
COLUMBUS DESTROYERS COLUMBUS DESTROYERS

CONNECTICUT COYOTES

1995 1996

DALLAS DESPERADOS

2002 - 2008

DALLAS TEXANS

1990 1991 - ? ? - 1993
*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 abandoned in either 1992 or 1993.

*1 The stripe sequence on this helmet runs (from left to right) blue-white-red (at least during the 1990 Arena Bowl game).


DALLAS VIGILANTES

2010 2011

DENVER DYNAMITE

1987 - ? ? - 1991

One of the league's four original teams, the Dynamite played in 1987 and from 1989 through 1991. The team may have had one or two other helmet variations besides those shown here.


DETROIT FURY

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

GEORGIA FORCE

2002 (approx. 1st
eight games)
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

1994

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

IOWA BARNSTORMERS

2010 - 2014

JACKSONVILLE SHARKS

2010 - 2011 2012 - 2016 2014 - 2015?
(some games)

KANSAS CITY COMMAND / KANSAS CITY BRIGADE

2006 - 2008 (Brigade);
2011 - (Command)
2012

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

1988

LOS ANGELES KISS

2014 - 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

1996

NASHVILLE KATS

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

1988

NEW ORLEANS NIGHT

1991 - 1992

NEW ORLEANS VOODOO

2004 - 2005; 2007 - 2008;
2011 - 2015

This team did not play in 2006 due to repercussions from Hurricane Katrina.


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

2010

OKLAHOMA WRANGLERS / PORTLAND FOREST DRAGONS / MEMPHIS PHARAOHS

1995 - 1996 1997 1998 - 1999
MEMPHIS PHARAOHS PORTLAND FOREST DRAGONS PORTLAND FOREST DRAGONS
2000 - 2001
OKLAHOMA WRANGLERS

ORLANDO PREDATORS

1991 - 1997 1998 - 2000 2001 - 2002
2003 - 2008; 2010 2015 only? (some games) 2011 - 2016

PHILADELPHIA SOUL

2004 - 2008; 2011 2012 - ? 2012 -
2018? - 2019

PITTSBURGH POWER

April 6, 2012 2011 - 2013 2014

PORTLAND STEEL / PORTLAND THUNDER

2014 2015 2016

Team was named 'Thunder' in 2014 and 2015, and 'Steel' in 2016.


SAN ANTONIO FORCE

1992

SAN ANTONIO TALONS / TULSA TALONS

2010 - 2011 2012 - 2014
TULSA TALONS SAN ANTONIO TALONS

Beginning in 2012 this team used a new logo (as shown in the photo below). I have been unable to locate a copy of the artwork for this design.


SAN JOSE SABERCATS

1995 - 2008; 2011 - 2012 - 2015?

SPOKANE SHOCK

2010 - 2012? 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.


UTAH BLAZE

2006 - 2008; 2010 2011 - 2012 - 2013

WASHINGTON COMMANDOS

1987; 1989-1990

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.


WASHINGTON VALOR

2017 - 2019