Dear Dr. Delrye:
In many photos from the 1950s you can
see that some players wore facemasks and others didn’t. Was this left up to
each player or did the teams make the decisions regarding the use of a mask.
Great new additions to the site lately, thanks.
Alvin, Miami, OK
We have had many positive responses in regards to some of the new helmets that have been shown in the past two months. It is our pleasure to bring them to our viewers. In 1954 the National Football League made it mandatory that all players wear some type of face protection. Within that decision was the provision that players already in the league could continue to play without a mask if they chose to do so. For the players entering the league and those choosing to wear a mask, the options were limited. Each player chose his own mask and if you look at photos of the 1950s, it is evident that the style and size of mask varied greatly, not only from team to team, but among players on the same team. One of our new addition helmets is an authentic reproduction of the one sported by the great 49er quarterback Y.A. Tittle. For approximately a two year period, thick, wide single bars made of Lucite plastic were worn. Occasionally shattering upon impact, they quickly fell out of disfavor but the Helmet Hut Y.A. Tittle helmet demonstrates this unique mask with the addition of what appears to be kitchen cabinet hardware. The 49er trainer rigged up the handle-type attachment in order to provide protection for Y.A.’s broken cheekbone. Typically, the players would confer with the trainers and equipment men and come up with a mask that suited their needs.
Hello Helmet Hut,
Great site, I go there everyday! Here’s a question for you. I understand Helmet Hut is a cyber Helmet museum that focuses on the rich history of football (both college and pro) through helmets. Spanning back through the decades, we can see helmet transitions from team to team and player to player. I understand that it would be nearly impossible to represent every college under your NCAA section, but you have neglected one NFL team-the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, you can argue that the Bucs don’t have much of a history. Entering the league in 1976, the Bucs lost their first 26 games (into 1977) and were immediately labeled “the laughing stock of the NFL”. Outside of a few playoff appearances in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Bucs had consistently been the “doormat” of the NFL, both in the front office and on the field. It wasn’t until the late 1990s and into the new century that the Bucs finally got respect and, as everyone knows, finally won a Super Bowl in January 2003. They’ve since changed helmets from the dismal days of old, but the Buccaneers deserve representation on Helmet Hut! Perhaps a Leroy Selmon, Rickey Bell or Doug Williams helmet from the late 1970s. I know they really don’t have much history behind their old helmets (except that everyone thought they had a “wimpy/feminine” color scheme), but for those of us in the Helmet hobby that relate to the decade of the 1970s, you have to represent them! I’m not a Tampa Buccaneers fan, but rather, a fan of 1970s NFL. So I’m kindly asking Helmet Hut to complete their NFL section, and include the Bucs! Who knows, in 10-15 years, I may ask Helmet Hut to include Jacksonville, Carolina, and Houston! Keep the awesome work!
I was told by one of my associates
at work that the NFL Players Union was formed because of concerns that
certain injuries were related to the helmet and/or mask. Is there truth to
Harold Small, San Diego
Dear Mr. Small,
I think its more accurate to state that the genesis of the NFL Players Union was formed because of an issue related to the facemask. Our previous question in this column indicated that players and equipment men utilized some ingenuity in coming up with facemask protection. Allow me to refer you to both the New Additions and NFL Washington Redskins locations of the Helmet Hut website. You will see a beautiful authentic reproduction of the 1958 Washington Redskins helmet worn by running back Johnny Olszewski, “Johnny O”, the last man to wear the numeral zero in the NFL. This former number one round draft choice of the Cardinals had been traded to the Redskins for the 1958 season and Johnny O chose to have two single bars placed on his helmet for nose and mouth protection. This unique look was seen a number of other players in the mid to late 1950s. In 1955, the commissioners office had ruled that only single bar masks could be used. This angered a number of players who sought a bit more protection and with many of the single bars being made from what was proving to be “breakable” Lucite plastic, quite a number of players were up in arms about this ruling. The team captains of the twelve NFL teams corresponded and met throughout the off-season of 1956 and exchanged letters throughout the season in order to solidify a common position regarding what they considered to be an unfair and arbitrary ruling. The week of the NFL Championship game between the Chicago Bears and N.Y. Giants, the team captains met with Commissioner Bert Bell and resolved the issue. The ruling was revoked and the players were then allowed to use double bar and “birdcage” type protection. Thus, was born the start of the players union.