The Bears will pair their orange jersey with a new orange alternate helmet for two games in 2022, marking the first time since the Bears’ helmets were made of leather that they will be any color but navy.
The orange helmet will feature a navy “wishbone C” outlined in white, along with a navy facemask and white nose bumper with the team name in orange. The Bears, who announced the new helmet Sunday, will pair it with orange jerseys, standard white pants and standard navy striped socks.
The uniform will be worn at home for “Thursday Night Football” on Oct. 13 against the Commanders and, just in time for Halloween, Oct. 30 in Dallas.
“We believe we have the best uniforms in sport, certainly among the most iconic,” chairman George McCaskey, a noted uniform aficionado, said in a statement. “So we’re not looking to overhaul it. We just want to make enhancements to the existing look from time to time, and we think this is a great enhancement. I’m very excited for this modification. I like that it’s staying within the traditional Bears look. We’re excited about them and hope the fans will be, too.”
The Bears made the move simply because they could. The NFL lifted its two-shell ban — which, for safety reasons, precluded teams from wearing two different helmets — starting this season. The Bears were the 12th NFL team to unveil an alternate helmet, with six being announced in the last week.
Still, choosing orange figures to annoy traditionalists — particularly when paired with the Bears’ promise of a “collectible NFT to commemorate the occasion” handed out at the Oct. 13 home game.
McCaskey’s grandfather, George Halas, chose the Bears’ original colors as an homage to his alma mater, Illinois. Now, for two games, the Bears will look just like the Illini — if you squint.
Adding an orange helmet was a surprising decision for the conservative Bears, whose classic uniforms have long remained unchanged and rival the Yankees, Dodgers, Steelers and others as some of the most iconic in American sports.
Then again, McCaskey has long defended the team’s use of orange.
The chairman, who used to work in the team’s equipment room, tends to the Bears’ uniform program with care. He keeps binders in his office of historical documents that show what the Bears wore and when. One binder showed a 1936 listing of NFL team colors. It said the Bears wore “orange and white.”
When the team brought back its orange jerseys in 2018 after a brief hiatus, McCaskey was quick to point out that the Bears wore orange jerseys 18 times from 1933-46 and lost only four of those games.
McCaskey, however, had declined to have the Bears wear matching orange jerseys, pants and socks for a “Color Rush” game years ago, saying it was “too much.”
If the Bears’ new helmets prove to be “too much,” at least there will be 15 other games this year. The Bears will wear their navy helmets with their three other jerseys: navy, white and a striped throwback.