July 10, 2001
Lou L. from Basking Ridge, NJ asks: Why did the Los Angeles Rams choose to return to wearing leather helmets in 1948 the same year they became the first NFL team to wear a team logo (rams horns) on the sides of their helmets? I have several pictures dating back to the period of the early 1940's through 1947 which show the Rams and other NFL teams wearing the more contemporary plastic shell helmets.
Actually Lou, if you look at pictures of any 1948 NFL game you will find that every team in the league wore leather helmets. In an attempt to reduce injuries the league outlawed plastic shell helmets shortly after the 1947 season ended. The league reversed this mandate after just one season after determining that it had no significant impact upon reducing injuries.
Robert S. from Danvers, MA asks: When did putting team logo's on helmets become popular with most teams in the NFL?
Bob, perhaps you recall that in 1961 the NFL signed its first exclusive contract with CBS to televise regular season games on network television. Prior to this historic agreement each team had negotiated their broadcast rights independently with the independent local television stations in their local areas. In an effort to enhance its image to a new national audience the league required teams to spruce up their uniforms. This included wearing team logos on their helmets and player numbers on their sleeves. The only NFL teams prior to 1961 to wear team logos on their helmets were the Rams, Colts, Redskins, Eagles and the Cowboys who were an expansion team in 1960. The only team in the league not to wear team logos on their helmets after 1961 were the Cleveland Browns who were given an exemption by the league.
Duke H. from Atlanta, GA asks: Most NFL players wear the same style face mask throughout their career. I have noticed a few players such as Bart Starr switching from a one bar to a two bar mask. Who do you think has worn the most different style face masks during their career?
Well Duke, one would certainly have to put Archie Manning at the top of the list of players who wore the most different styles during a career. Archie has worn a Riddell plastic single bar, Riddell plastic double bar, Schutt rubber coated steel two bar cage and three different angled versions of the Dungard rubber coated aluminum mask.
Tommy D. from Greenville, NC asks: I heard a rumor that the real reason the Buffalo Bills actually switched from their white helmets to red helmets in the early 1980's was to improve team performance. Please explain.
Tommy, you can file this one in the "strange but true category". Four of the five teams in the AFC East division including the Bills wore white helmets during this era. The lone exception New York Jets had also worn white helmets until switching to green in the late 1970's. The Bills' head coach Kay Stephenson, in his second year at the helm, felt that the teams unfavorable pass interceptions thrown statistics were partially due to the inability of the Bills' quarterbacks to immediately recognize the receiver from the defender on down field routes because both teams wore white helmets. On April 28, 1984 the team announced that it would be changing to red helmets. Oh by the way, the team interceptions thrown actually increased from 28 in 1983 to 31 in 1984 - so much for that theory coach Stephenson!