Hi Doc,

Why are the Cowboys so fond of Dymo-taping a player's name to the outside of his helmet? This has been going on for decades! No other team seems to find this necessary. Isn't there a more elegant way of identifying a player's helmet? My Niners, like the Cowboys, don't number their helmets, but they don't have to resort to freakin' DYMO TAPE! Are my Niners just BETTER than the Cowboys?

--Thanks Greg,  Los Angeles


Dear Greg:

You certainly bring up an interesting observation about the Cowboy's long standing use of Dymo tape, but be careful not to throw stones at them from the Niner's side of the field. Your Niners, at least until a couple of years ago, still use Dymo tape although it is applied to the inside of the helmet. Many teams still use Dymo tape for helmet identification and it is usually on the inside of the helmet shell. Helmet identification is necessary for two reasons -- first to help the player or equipment manager locate a specific helmet when it has been grouped together with other helmets (players tend to throw helmets in a pile at practice while taking a water break) and second to provide identification for helmets after they are returned from the reconditioner prior to the start of a new season (NFL teams usually use a helmet for two years before replacing it). Teams that use exterior helmet numbers also use some type of identification on the inside of the helmet because the exterior numbers are removed during the reconditioning process. Over the years many different methods have been used to put a player's number on the helmet. The 1960s Packers teams used to paint numbers on the rear of their helmets using a military type stencil. To put player numbers on the outside of their helmets the 1960s Eagles and Steelers (yellow helmets) used a waterslide decal material (also used in decals for model airplanes and trains) rather than the conventional thicker vinyl decal material used by most teams with exterior numerals. The early Falcon teams from the late 1960s and early 1970s used an extremely wide (3/4") Dymo tape on the rear of the helmet that reflected the player's number but not their name. The 1958 Colts and the early 1960s Browns used a magic marker to write the player's number on the outside (rear) of the helmet. The original Dolphin helmets (late 1960s) had the players name written in the rear suspension webbing. For preseason camp in the throwback era of the 1950s through the 1970s most teams would write the players name on strips of wide athletic or ankle tape and put these crude nameplates on both the front and rear of the helmet. This helped the coaches identify the voluminous number of rookies and new players used in those earlier training camps when teams did not have to pay player salaries in the preseason. The Bronco's equipment manger put John Elway's number in seven hidden areas of his helmet not for normal identification purposes but to help distinguish it from the fraudulent copies that were being sold as his actual game worn helmet.

With no disrespect intended to your point about the progressive Niners I thought you might enjoy the attached picture of the famous Niner QB John Brodie in a 1962 game that has his name written in a tattered piece of adhesive tape on the back of the helmet.

Dear Dr. Del Rye,

A couple of days ago I saw a NFL CLASSIC broadcast of the Oakland Raiders and the Baltimore Colts 1977 playoff game, also known as The Ghost to the Post. I noticed that the center for the Colts was wearing a BIKE helmet. It caught me by surprise because I didn't think that the BIKE helmet was introduced until later. When was the BIKE helmet introduced?

This is a great site, keep up the good work. James, Oakland, CA


Dear James,

The original "Air Power" helmet manufactured by Bike Products was initially field tested in actual college games during the 1976 season. The helmet was then made available for general use starting in the 1977 season. To address the many questions we have received regarding this helmet and its relationship to the recently introduced Bike "Pro Edition" helmet allow us to provide the following background information:

In the late 1960s a University of Michigan neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Schneider starting working on a design for a new type of football helmet that used an inflatable air bladder for protection rather than the conventional suspension webbing technology which had been the existing standard for more than 30 years. Dr.Schneider's inspiration for this project was to help reduce the growing volume of serious football related head injuries, which he experienced first hand via his medical practice. In order to provide needed funds to help complete this project Dr. Schneider sold the design rights to Southern Athletic Co., which was located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Southern Athletic Co. manufactured protective sports equipment such as protective padding and the "Bike" athletic supporter. In the early 1970s Southern Athletic Co. was acquired by Kendall Corporation, which was a large medical supply company that also produced sports related medical supplies such as medical tape. Kendall moved their sports related medical supply division into the newly acquired Southern Athletic Co. facility in Knoxville and as a result of combining these two entities Bike Products was formed. Development for Dr. Schneider's original helmet concept continued at Kendall's medical laboratories in Barrington, Illinois and also at the University of Michigan. Upon completion the new helmet was named "Air Power". It would be manufactured by Bike Products (still owned by Kendall Corporation) in Knoxville, and as originally stated, made available for general use for the 1977 football season. The helmet's outer front sweatband reflected the company's name "BIKE" rather than "Air Power" which was the helmet model name. Colgate Palmolive subsequently purchased the entire Kendall Corporation but this acquisition had virtually no operational impact on the Bike Products division other than having new corporate ownership. In 1986 Kazmaier & Associates purchased the Bike Products division from Colgate Palmolive and things began to change for the "Air Power" helmet. Dick Kazmaier who was the owner of Kazmaier & Associates. (and also the 1951 Heisman trophy winner from Princeton University) wanted to eliminate the high degree of product liability exposure related to football helmets from the rest of the Bike protective product line. At the time of purchase from Colgate Palmolive Kazmaier & Associates created a separate new company for the helmet products previously produced by Bike Products and called it Athletic Helmet Incorporated or "AHI". His intention was to sell off the newly formed AHI company and keep Bike Products Company, which no longer would be involved with football helmets, and their related product liability exposure. For the first time since its introduction 10 years earlier the "Air Power" helmet's outer front sweatband now reflected the name "AHI" rather than "BIKE". Within the first six months of acquiring it Kazmaier sold off the AHI helmet company to a group of investors led by Schutt Sports Group who also owned a company that manufactured facemasks in Litchfield, Illinois. The "Air Power" helmet's outer front sweatband was slightly modified to read "AhIR" which cleverly reflected both the AHI company name and, by ignoring the lower case "h" that was combined with the upper case "A" in the "AhIR", also reflected the "AIR" model name. In 1994 after the lease expired on their Knoxville manufacturing facility the AHI helmet company moved its manufacturing facility to Salem, Illinois which was in close proximity to their Schutt facemask manufacturing facility in Lytchfield, Illinois. Concurrent with this move the company changed the name of the helmet company to Parkview Manufacturing. They later dropped the Parkview Manufacturing name and folded both the facemask and helmet companies into Schutt Sports which is how it currently exits.

In the late 1990s the Bike Athletic company, still owned primarily by Dick Kazmaier, realized that their ten year non compete agreement in the football helmet industry with AHI (now Schutt Sports) had expired. Bike subsequently formed a business relationship with Southern Impact Research Center located in Knoxville, Tennessee and Lexington Safety Products located in Lexington, Kentucky. Southern Impact Research Center, whose core business is a helmet industry (NOCSE) safety testing center, recently completed and patented a new football helmet design. Bike "arranged" for Lexington Safety Products, whose previous core business was manufacturing Equestrian-riding helmets, to acquire the market rights for the new helmet design from Southern Impact Research Center. Bike entered into an agreement with Lexington Safety Products to market this new helmet -- being careful to once again avoid ownership of a helmet producing company perhaps reflecting a repeated desire to insulate itself from future product liability exposure. In 1999 Bike started selling the new helmet design naming it the "Pro Edition". For the fist time since 1986 a football helmet is being sold with the "BIKE" name positioned on its outer front sweatband. Over the past two years the "Pro Edition" helmet has far exceeded initial sales projections and has captured a significant percentage of the football helmet market previously controlled by Schutt and Riddell. Unfortunately for Bike Products it has recently found itself without a helmet line to market. It has been reported that due to its unexpected and unplanned rapid growth Lexington Safety Products encountered severe cash flow problems and was forced to declare for bankruptcy in 2001. The future rights to both produce and market the successful "Pro Edition" helmet were acquired by Adams Corporation in a bankruptcy auction on December 19, 2001. In a seemingly apparent twist of fate, Bike Products, as a result of its efforts to distance and insulate itself from the actual business of helmet manufacturing, has also lost its marketing rights for this successful new helmet. Starting in the 2002 season the outer front headband for the "Pro Edition" model helmet will display the "ADAMS" company name.





Dear Kevin:

As you suggest the date stamp for the "PAC-3" helmet will also be found in the crown of the helmet shell. The shell for the "PAC-3" is virtually identical to the later model "WD-1" shell except that the "PAC-3" shell has an additional hole drilled in the front center ridge which helps to attach the strip of padded cubes that protect the forehead area. The "WD-1" uses a different type of forehead pad that is held in place by a pocketed sweatband and does not require a screw hole in that area.


Back in the late 80's / early 90's there was a player on the Bills whose helmet was covered with what appeared to be exterior padding. His helmet looked HUGE! Who was that and what was the story with this helmet? Hadn't exterior helmet padding already been known to cause neck injury by that time?


Dear Sir:

You are referring to a product called the "Procap Eliminator" and it is manufactured by Protection Sports Equipment which is located in Edinburg, PA. The product is basically a protective cap that attaches over a conventional helmet with six Velcro strips. The cap comes in several team colors and it can also be painted in any color using flexible type paint. It can be further decorated with conventional team decals and stripes. The cap has a center layer of softer padding surrounded by a top and bottom layer of harder, slick surface plastic material (similar to a modern flexible car bumper). The harder slick outer surface helps to deflect a collision similar to a conventional helmet shell and the harder slick inner surface is designed to break free of the helmet shell in the event of an extreme collision while absorbing the force of the collision as it becomes dislodged. This concept is quite different compared to the older style padded helmets form the 1960s and 1970s that had a softer outer surfaces that tended to grab and result in serious neck injuries while the underside of the padding was permanently glued and sewn to the surface of the helmet shell. Mark Kelso (Bills) and Steve Wallace (49ers) were the only two NFL players known to have worn the "Procap Eliminator" during actual league games. When it was suggested that Steve Young try this cap to help reduce the chance of future concussions he remarked that he would first retire before wearing the unusual looking device. Apparently there is less vanity in the high school and college ranks where this product is worn by many players who have suffered previous head injuries while wearing only the conventional protective helmet. This product is not endorsed by Riddell and Schutt has not taken an official position regarding its use. NFL trainers are reluctant to recommend its use without endorsement from the helmet industry.