October 1st 2001

Why on the Redskins decal does the Indian seem darker on most? I have one or two that are light does it mean something?

Dr. M L E W

The Redskin's Indian head logo was introduced by coach George Allen for the 1972 season and it is still being used today but it has seen many changes over the years including the one you have noticed. Changes to team's logos usually occur for two reasons -- either it was a direct request made by the team (or the league) or it was unintentionally changed by the decal manufacturer during a new production run and not noticed by the team hence it became the new logo standard. These decal manufacturer related changes or errors are usually minor such as a slight color variation or elimination of some of the minor detail in the logo. However they sometimes can be significant as related in the following true story:

Helmet Hut just completed a project for the Dallas Cowboy's and their future hall of fame museum. (details and pictures to follow soon). In the process of producing authentic Cowboy reproduction helmets for this project Helmet Hut discovered that their current "star" logo had one point longer than the others and that the "star" was no longer geometrically symmetrical. Evidently this was caused when a new decal vendor redrew the logo on the computer and botched the design. It went unnoticed for approximately the last five years -- check out a recent Cowboy game picture and depending on how the logo was applied one of the points of the star will be longer than the others. Helmet Hut alerted the team of this situation and the team immediately corrected their logo in time to defeat the Redskins on a recent Monday night game. Perhaps their performance decline over the last few years can been related to their "star" being out of kilter!

Now lets get back to your observation regarding the Indian head. The Indian head was lighter or more red colored when it was initially introduced. It was changed from a red to brown hue in the late 1970s and has remained that color to this day. The ring around the Indian head has also changed. During the George Allen era the ring was a deep yellow color. During the Joe Gibbs era the ring was changed to a lemon yellow shade. The current ring around the Indian head is a "green bay gold" yellow. The feathers on the current logo are significantly shorter than they were in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982 there was a one season change that had the Indian feathers curve around the ring of the Indian head rather than hang vertically. This change was made to make the decal easier to apply to the helmet without creasing. When a more flexible vinyl was introduced the next season the team returned to the vertically positioned feather design.

Hello, I have a question that I am hoping you can help answer. I have recently started to collect game used NFL and NCAA football helmets. I picked up a game used Pittsburgh Steelers helmet not long ago with number 79 on the front and back of the helmet. The man that I got the helmet from said that he did not know who wore the helmet, and that it was from the 1990's. I have researched who wore 79 for the Steelers and came up with 3 players in the 1990's. My question is this, do you know of a way to date a helmet? I have looked inside of the helmet and there is some writing under one of the ear holes but I can not make out what it says. There are a couple stickers inside the helmet, but none have dates. It is either from 1990, 1995, or 1997 as those are the only years that the Steelers had a number 79 on their squad. Any suggestions on how I might be able to determine what year this helmet is from and therefore determine who wore it? Thanks in advance for your reply.


There is a dime sized date stamp engraved inside each modern era Riddell helmet shell that indicates its production month and year. This date stamp is located in the crown area under the top padding. For Riddell models "WD-1" and "VSR-1" the top padding can be easily removed so that the date stamp can be viewed. For Riddell models "AF-2," "VSR-2," "VSR-3" and "VSR-4" the top padding should not be removed by anyone other than an authorized reconditioner because the top padding is attached to the shell by a factory installed air valve which is not easily reattached once removed. Rather than trying to remove the top padding that is attached to the shell by an air valve you can instead push back the top padding until the date stamp is revealed. You will most likely need a magnifying glass to read the date stamp.

Question for you. What do you know about the All-American helmet? I've seen pictures of Howie Long and Joe Klecko of the Jets wearing them. Looks like a Riddell helmet from the pictures. Just curious. By the way, I just bought one on ebay but haven't received it yet.


The helmet you are referring to was originally manufactured by Gladiator until 1985. In the late 1980s Riddell was purchasing competitor helmet manufacturing companies such as Maxpro and Gladiator. They were also buying independent helmet reconditioning companies around the country and folding them into their original purchase of the "All American" reconditioning company in Elyria, Ohio. Evidently their strategy was to control the marketplace by buying out the competition in both the helmet production and reconditioning businesses. The Gladiator helmet design purchased by Riddell was unique because it had an interchangeable (for different head sizes), one piece, clover shaped, permanent air filled pad system which attached with Velcro to a similar shaped one piece padded liner. The liner was attached to the helmet shell by also using Velcro. The original Gladiator model had a similar system but used fluid rather than air in the permanently filled padded pockets. This technology was attractive to players who wanted an air or fluid filled system but did not trust the reliability of the air valve inflation system required by other helmets in order to adjust for head size. To adjust the fit of a Gladiator padded system a player would simply switch out the interchangeable one piece pad until the right size was realized. After purchasing the company Riddell replaced the "Gladiator" markings on the helmet with the "All American" label which helped to promote their expansion into the equipment reconditioning business.

Your assertion that helmet logos became common in the wake of the NFL's 1961 national TV contract prompted me to wonder how the famous Green Bay Packer "G" came about, and whether it predates the apparently identical "g" on the University of Georgia helmets. Who was responsible for its design? Also, does the design of the spear on Florida State helmets match that of the late 60s Washington Redskins? And are there other examples of college helmet logos taken from or adopted by pro teams?


David Wangerin

We are sure that Packer coach Vince Lombardi had a major impact in the creation of the famous "G" logo. Remember that upon his arrival to the Redskins in 1969 he promptly replaced the Redskin spear helmet with the Packer-like Redskin "R" helmet design that was used in the 1970 and 1971 seasons. I would think the Packers also used a local artist to help develop the design. The Packer "G" was originally designed for the purposes of the helmet decal and it did not exist prior to that as the teams logo for stationary and other promotional needs. The original team logo was a drawing of a high stepping running back set against a silhouette of the state of Wisconsin that was encircled by the outline of a football. The Packer "G" predates the Georgia "G" by a few years. The Georgia "G" was first used in the mid 1960s.

The Florida State spear logo was designed in the spirit of the original Redskin spear logo but when compared to each other they are quite different. The front arrowhead section of the FSU spear has jagged edges compared to straight edges with the Redskin spear. The shaft of the FSU spear is significantly wider while the shaft of the Redskin spear is significantly longer extending to the rear ridge of the helmet. The feather on the FSU spear curves towards an almost parallel plane with the shaft while the feather on the Redskin spear is virtually straight and remains almost perpendicular with its shaft. The FSU spear is red and white compared to the Redskin spear which is gold and white. Compare the Florida State and Redskin helmets pictured on the Helmet Hut website and you will be able to see these differences.

We do not know of any NFL teams that based their helmet logo on a design from a college team. The original Atlanta Falcon helmet was colored and striped in the spirit of the University of Georgia helmet. As a wise afterthought the Falcons added gold stripes to also give recognition to (and not offend) the Georgia Tech faithful. The following is a quick list of colleges who have current or past helmet logos that approximate or are in the spirit of a current or past NFL logo:

Ball State - CARDINALS (1963)

Bowling Green - BROWNS (1961)

Central Michigan - REDSKINS (1969)

Colorado State - RAMS (current)

Cornell - BEARS (1962)

Eastern Michigan - EAGLES (1960)

Florida State - REDSKINS (1969)

Georgia - PACKERS (1961)

Grambling - PACKERS (1961)

Illinois - GIANTS (1980)

Kent State - CHARGERS (1985)

Louisville - CARDINALS (1963)

Rice - EAGLES (1960 & current)

Syracuse - BROWNS (1961)

Utah - REDSKINS (1970)

Western Michigan - BRONCOS (1963 & current)

Wyoming - BRONCOS (1963)

Dr. Del Rye:

I remember seeing the Riddell Micro-fit helmet in the early 70's. Could you tell us how this helmet evolved from that particular model to what it has become today? I'm also curious if other manufacturers produce similar helmets using the same principles found in the micro-fit design. I appreciate any information you could share with us.


Bear, DE.

The Riddell model "HA 91" and "HA 92" (extra large) fluid/air filled cell helmet was introduced in 1968. Over the years this model has been slightly modified by basically changing the front forehead pad and has been reintroduced as new models "Micro Fit" in the 1970s and "M-155" in the 1980s. While this new helmet technology provided significantly more protection to the head area than the traditional cloth suspension helmet the new helmet design also created new problems. The fluid/air filled helmet weighed significantly more than the suspension helmet. This resulted in additional neck strain type injuries especially for younger players in high school and college whose neck muscles were not as developed as the professional players. Most players, especially those who played positions that relied more on speed than strength, complained that the new helmets were uncomfortable and reduced their speed because of the additional weight. The new helmets also needed to be individually inflated to fit to fit the head shape of the player who wore them. Defective air valves and improper inflation techniques often resulted in poorly fitted helmets that compromised the additional protection benefits provided by the new helmet technology. These problems led to the development of a new helmet -- the model "PAC-3" which was introduced in the mid 1970s. The "PAC-3" employed a similar cell padding concept as used in the original "Micro Fit" helmets with two major differences. The heavy fluid was removed from the protection cells and the new "air only" padded cells were pre-inflated and permanently sealed at the factory. Rather than inflating the cells to fit a player's head shape the pre-inflated air cells were manufactured in various sizes that could be easily removed, switched out and reattached to the helmet shell once the proper fit was realized. The "PAC-3" helmet was a huge success and a version of this helmet is still worn by players today. Not unlike the original "HA-91" model the front forehead pad was modified for the "PAC-3" helmet and it was reintroduced in the 1980s as a model "WD-1" which is being used today. Improvements to air valve technology led to the reintroduction of the inflatable air cell concept in the 1980s. The resulting model "AF-2" was basically a combination of "PAC-3" type pre-inflated air cells with an inflatable air cell to protect the crown area of the head. Riddell next introduced the "VSR-1" in the late 1980s followed by the "VSR-2," "VSR-3" and the "VSR-4" which is the current model. The progression of "VSR" models were basically differentiated by the quantify of inflatable air cells contained in the helmet. For example the "VSR-1" model had one inflatable air cell compared to the "VSR-4" model which has four.

The most notable competitive model to the original "Micro Fit" helmet was the Gladiator model "GHH" which was introduced in the early 1970s. The Gladiator model "GHH" was a two piece system which included a one piece, clover shaped liner pad attached to a one piece, similar shaped, permanently sealed fluid filled cell system. The liner and cell system both attached to the helmet shell by Velcro could be easily switched out for fitting requirements. The Gladiator model offered the same protective benefits as the Riddell "Micro Fit" system without the problems associated with Riddell's original air valve system. In the 1980s Gladiator removed the heavy fluid from the cell system and changed it to an air only system much like what Riddell had done to their original "Micro Fit" helmet.