Dear Dr. Rye:

When did the Redskins first wear the feather logo on the back of their helmet?



Dear Louis:
Although it is widely believed that the team first wore the famous feather logo starting in the 1959 season, this is not true. The Redskins actually introduced the feather helmet during their final two home games in December 1958. The fact that the team changed helmet styles during rather than at the beginning of a season is quite an oddity and reasons for it remain a mystery. If anyone can furnish more information on this matter we will happy to publish it in a future column.


Dr. Del:

Please provide some information on the evolution of color changes for the coated metal facemask.



Dear Carl:
The original 1940s Schutt steel facemasks were brown in color. They were coated in actual rubber sap which provided a soft spongy coating. The brown color was derived naturally from the cured rubber sap and not otherwise chosen (Schutt did feel that the brown color nicely complimented the leather helmets of that era). When Schutt switched the coating to a harder material  in the 1950s they used brown dye to match the color of the original 1940s facemasks. In the late 1950s a study determined that the most practical color for the facemask would be gray because it reflected the least amount of sun glare. As a result of this study the color of facemasks were changed from brown to gray starting in the early 1960s. The steel coated facemask went through several design changes during the 1960s but remained gray in color until the 1974 season. The San Diego Chargers were planning to change the style their uniforms for that season and they had an artist draw up several potential new designs. One of the drawing depicted a dark blue helmet with a yellow/gold facemask. Although they liked the look of the new uniform the Charger's management laughed when they noticed the color of the facemask. They figured that the artist was probably not a follower of the sport and thus did not know that facemasks were only available in gray. After the laughter subsided the Chargers thought that maybe they were on to something. They approached both Riddell, who distributed the Schutt facemask at that time, and Dungard, who produced a competitive line of facemasks, inquiring about the possibility of producing team colored facemasks. Initially Riddell, without checking with their supplier Schutt, told the Chargers that this could not be done. Dr. Dunning, the president of Dungard, thought it was a great idea and agreed to do it. The 1974 Chargers started the preseason by using primarily yellow colored Dungard masks and shortly thereafter Schutt also decided to produce team colored facemasks and soon a new trend was started throughout the league.