Hi Doc,

A few quick questions: How does one pronounce the names of these helmet manufacturers?

Riddell: is it "ry-DELL"? "RIDdle"? "ra-DELL"? or what?

Schutt: is it "shut"? or "shoot"?

One last thing: I hear a lot of reference to AIR as a brand name. Isn't AIR just a type of Schutt helmet, or are they different companies? Or did they merge at one time to become the same company? Thanks!

--Love the website, and I had fun answering the contest questions!

--Greg,  Los Angeles


Dear Greg:

Here are the correct pronunciations for Riddell and Schutt:

Down South:    RIIIIIII - dill  /  SHAW- ow - it

Up North:        RYE - del  /  CHUT

Out East:          RAH - del  /  SHAT

Out West:        raaaaa -DELLLLLL duuude  /  SHHHHH - ahhh - tahhh

"Air" is a trademark that refers to a helmet model series that is currently manufactured by Schutt Sports in Litchfield, Illinois. Before it was acquired by Schutt the "Air" helmet was manufactured by A. H. I. (Athletic Helmet Inc.) in Knoxville, Tennessee. This helmet was originally manufactured by Bike Athletic Company also in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Could you tell me what other models besides the WD-1 model that were made during the 83-85 USFL years? I am in the process of trying to complete my game used USFL collection and the only one I am familiar with is the WD-1. I don't want to make the wrong purchase if you know what I mean. Any help would be great.

Thanks, Jim S.

Dear Jim:

In addition to the "WD-1" model which had a padded non inflatable air cell protection system Riddell produced two other models during the existence of the USFL. One model was called the "M-155" and it had a combination fluid and padded inflatable air cell protection system. This model provided maximum protection but it was not very popular because it was much heavier and more uncomfortable than the other types of helmets. The other model was called the "AF-2" and it had a padded inflatable air cell protection system in the crown and temple areas and a padded non-inflatable air cell protection system for the rest of the helmet. This helmet was popular for players who had a narrow shaped or hard to fit head. Another popular helmet during this period was the "Air Power" model series made by Bike Athletic Company. The Bike helmet is virtually the same type of helmet that today is known as the "Air" helmet currently manufactured and marketed by Schutt Sports.

Hi Dr. Del Rye

What's the story regarding the helmets I've seen worn this year with what looks like a more internal padding, or at least a larger shell? They have a sideways U-shaped indentation around the ear holes that gives them away. And did the NFL begin to add an extra bar to most of its facemasks in the 1980s? Your 1980s Jets Helmut page (http://www.helmethut.com/1980jet.html) has an example of what I mean--the extra bar mounted above the third horizontal bar from the bottom. I think virtually all helmets today (with the exception of those worn by some kickers) have that extra bar.

Thanks--great site, by the way!


Dear Ed:

The helmet you are asking about is called the Bike Pro-Edition made by Bike Athletic Co. in Knoxville, Tennessee. This helmet should not be confused with the "Bike" helmet from the 1980s which is currently manufactured by Schutt Athletic under the name "Air". The new "Bike" helmet was introduced in 1999 and touts itself as "the most revolutionary innovation in football helmets in the last 25 years". The helmet is reported to be significantly lighter, better ventilated and more comfortable than any other helmet. The helmet shell is designed to better conform to the head contours, which gives the helmet its unique look while supposedly providing improved deflection. Critics of the helmet claim that it trades safety for comfort and that it just barely passes minimum industry (NOC-SAE) safety standard requirements. This new helmet company was started by Dick Kazmaier who won the 1951 Heisman Trophy while playing for Princeton. Schutt redesigned their facemasks for the 1980 season to include an additional horizontal bar located just below the existing bar that protected the mouth area. Many players disliked this new feature and returned to their pre 1980 style mask. In order to placate the unhappy players Schutt eventually offered mask both ways -- with ("standard") or without ("single wire") the additional horizontal bar. Many of the current era players including Randy Moss, Peyton Manning, Chris Chandler and Drew Bledsoe choose not to wear the additional horizontal bar on their mask.


Why do some Dungard masks have slotted holes in the upper mount and others have holes designed for the "Free Mount" design? Did some Dungard masks require straps at the top instead of the direct mount? A good example of the slotted design is Morton Anderson of the Giants. He uses straps a the top mount location.

Thanks, Jim

Dear Jim:

The original "T-Bar" Dungard aluminum mask was designed for "direct mount only" at the top of the mask. The two "T-Bar" versions such as the ones worn by Ed Podolak (2 bar -"T") and Alan Page (3 bar -"T") had a slotted shaped top mounting bracket so that the mounting bolts and ultimate drill hole positions in the bracket could be maneuvered laterally to match up with preexisting holes in the helmet shell. Although plastic-mounting straps could be threaded through this slotted bracket the mask was not designed for this type of attachment. In the mid 1970s Dungard introduced a new design that had "cage" type side frame bars that curved around the top front lip of the helmet shell and met at the top mounting position. A large round top mounting hole was drilled at the tip of each side frame bar. The mask was attached at the top position by using a mounting kit that included a set of custom designed plastic end caps, mounting bolts, washers and t-nuts. The end caps fit snug over the tips of the frame bar and reduced the size of the drill holes in the frame bar so that the bolt and washer could not slip through the larger frame bar drill holes. Some masks were attached without the end caps by substituting a larger headed bolt that would not slip through the frame bar drill holes. Morton Anderson wears this later version Dungard mask with the side frame bars. The round drill hole openings on the top mounting position of his mask have been modified by Ed Wagner, the Giant's equipment manager, to accept the modern era Schutt clear plastic mounting straps. This alteration was probably made because the original Dungard mounting kit is no longer available. Another possibility for his substituting mounting straps at the top position is for improved shock absorption which has proved to reduce neck injuries compared to the "direct mount only" method. Plastic mounting straps were originally introduced in the mid 1960s to allow quick access to a players face by simply cutting the mounting clips with a knife. The additional shock absorption benefits were not fully recognized until the late 1970s when helmet design testing became more prevalent. It is not widely known but just before Dungard went out of business they introduced a third series of masks called "The Super Mask". This mask was a vinyl coated rounded stainless steel bar mask that was significantly thinner than the Schutt mask of that era. Not many players wore this mask the most notable being Ken Stabler. This was the only Dungard mask that was designed to be attached to the helmet at both the side and top mounting positions using plastic mounting straps rather than the "the direct mount" method. As a result of your question HELMET HUT has recently sent the Giant's Mr. Wagner a Dungard mounting kit so that Morton Andersons's mask can be correctly attached. Hopefully by the end of the season you will find that the Schutt mounting straps at the top of Morton's mask have been replaced by the correct Dungard special clear plastic end caps.


Can you explain some of the changes Joe Namath went through in facemasks during his career? I'm especially interested in his change to the half-cage Schutt in 1973 after he returned from a separated shoulder. He ended up wearing that mask for the remainder of his career. Unless I'm wrong, he was the only player at the time wearing the Schutt facemask. Great site, very fascinating. I always paid attention to helmets; logos and facemasks but was happy to see a place dedicated to it.

Thanks, Mike K.

Dear Mike:

Broadway Joe started his career with the Jets wearing a plastic Riddell two bar facemask known as the "BD-9". He then switched to a Schutt vinyl coated steel two bar cage with strap attachments known as an "OPO". He wore this mask during Super Bowl III. The next season his cheekbone was broken and in order to protect more of his face he switched to a Schutt three bar cage with strap attachments known as the "JOP". He wore three different vintages of the Schutt "JOP" with strap attachments. In the first style the side frame bars started to curve or taper in at the top corners until they met each other at the bottom mid point of the mask. The next style had side frame bars that remained straight until the bottom point of the mask where they turned inward at an almost 90 degree square angles to meet each other at the bottom mid point of the mask. The last style had side frame bars that remained straight until the bottom point of the mask where they turned inward at curved or softer angles to meet each other at the bottom mid point of the mask. The mask that you refer to as the last mask he wore was originally introduced by Schutt in the 1950s. It was also known as a "JOP" but instead of strap attachments the mask was bolted directly to the helmet shell. This mask is sometimes refered to as a "cow catcher" style because the shape of the cage bars resembled the cage that used to be mounted on the front of trains to ward off livestock on the tracks. Joe had his mask modified by bending down the top horizontal frame bar which reduced the open or unprotected area in front of his eyes and slightly raised the lower portion of the lower three cage bars.