August 1st 2001

Lanny T. from Atlanta,GA asks: In the early sixties how many of the 14 NFL teams (Eastern and Western conference) had logos painted on their helmets rather than using vinyl decal stickers?

Only four of those teams, Rams, Vikings, Eagles and Cardinals, used paint to create their helmet logos. The other teams, with the exception of the Browns who had no logo, used thin vinyl decals that could be removed and replaced whenever necessary.  To create the Rams logo a ram horn pattern was applied to both sides of a white molded helmet that was then painted blue. When the paint dried the  pattern was removed revealing the distinctive sixties white horn Rams helmet.

The Viking helmet was done in a similar process except that after the primary horn pattern was applied a small area in front of each horn was painted yellow. After the yellow paint dried a secondary arc shaped horn ring pattern was also applied. It was placed around the arc of each horn (with a small gap between the ring and horn) and within the area covered by the yellow paint. the entire helmet was then painted purple and after drying both the primary and secondary patterns were removed to reveal the famous white horn with  yellow horn ring design.

The Eagle helmet was done simply by first painting the entire helmet silver. After the silver paint dried the eagle wing pattern was applied and the entire helmet was  repainted Kelly green. After the Kelly green coat was dry the eagle wing pattern was removed and the beautiful Kelly green Eagle helmet proudly displayed its silver wings.

The Cardinal helmet logo was applied in a different way. The four color (including the white eye area) logo was painted directly onto a white helmet using a multi-part stencil technique. The only part of the helmet that was painted was within the logo area.

Jerry J. from Nashua, NH asks: I have pictures of older suspension helmets and a few of the helmets are shaped in a wider profile than the other helmets. can you explain this?

Prior to 1970 Riddell produced a slightly flared (around the ear hole) "RK" shell. It was made from three separate pieces - left half, right half, and center ridge. To create three different size helmet shells only the width of the center ridge was altered. The use of a wider center ridge resulted in the wide profile look your question refers to. Most players had a head size 7-1/2 or less and they used a shell that had a 1" wide center ridge. A few players had a head size of 7-5/8 through size 7-7/8 (examples: Jim Brown / Otis Taylor) and they used a shell that had a 1.5" wide center ridge. Only a handful of players had a head size of 8 or larger (example: Bubba Smith, Ernie Ladd) and they used a shell that had a 2" wide center ridge. Regardless of head size the left and right half of the helmet shell were only one size (which probably eliminated the need for additional costly molding equipment).The current era non flared helmet shells are one piece molds that come in four sizes - small, medium, large (most commonly used), and extra large.Today's medium shell size would approximate the size of the prior era's most commonly used "RK" shell (with the 1" wide center ridge).

Pete R. from Louisville, KY asks: What can you tell me about Dungard face masks which were worn by several players in the sixties and seventies such as Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese, and  Alan Page?

Dr. F. R. Dungard was a Cleveland area dentist. In the mid sixties he teamed up with the Kansas City Chiefs longtime equipment manager Bobby Yarborough with the goal of designing a better face mask. The subsequent introduction of the Dungard face mask was well received by both professional and college teams. If you review pictures of the Chiefs helmets that were used during the late sixties you will find that Mr. Yarborough had virtually all linemen, linebackers and several running backs outfitted in this new type of mask.

There were many differences between the Dungard mask and the traditional rubber coated steel rod tubular mask that was manufactured by Schutt Corporation and distributed primarily as a Kramer Co. product. The Dungard mask was cast from lightweight aluminum. Its pieces were bar shaped rather than tubular. The mounting hardware was significantly stronger than the Schutt brand which had an unfavorable reputation for its fragile and brittle gray plastic mounting clips. Also Dr. Dunning was the first metal face mask manufacturer to offer the product in a choice of team colors rather than standard gray. Unfortunately for Dr. Dunning his innovative mask was later found to have a major design flaw that resulted in it being decertified for competitive play. While the Schutt mask changed to an all plastic strap mounting system in the late sixties the Dungard mask was still mounted at the top by directly bolting the mask to the shell. The energy absorbing straps were used only for the side mounts. Trainers eventually discovered that this prevented the Dungard mask to better absorb direct hits and resulted in a to a disproportionate amount of neck injuries to the player who wore the Dungard rather than the Schutt mask.