September 1st 2001
In the early '60's we used Riddell Kra-Lite helmets with Schutt and
Riddell masks. In 1965 the team began using a few padded helmets that looked
rounded like motorcycle helmets. They were equipped with the Dungard masks.
My remaining brain cells think these rounded helmets were manufactured by
Bell. Are any still in existence that you are aware of? With the cost of
good condition Kra-Lites going through the roof, I've been looking for these
old helmets and masks but have come up dry. Any suggestions?
It sounds like you are describing a Macgregor helmet which had a rounded
and padded shell and was very popular in the 1960s. Macgregor sporting goods
quit making football helmets in the early 1970s. In the mid 1970s Bill Kelly
acquired the rights from Macgregor to manufacture and market the same style
of helmet under the name "Kelly" helmets. Mr. Kelly closed his helmet company
for good in 1984 due to the high cost of product liability insurance. I have
not heard of a football helmet made by "Bell" although you may be confusing
the name "Bell" with "Kelly".
Look for a 1968 Ole Miss Macgregor helmet that will be displayed on "Helmet Hut" in the very near future
It seems that most NFL teams from the 1960s and 70s predominately wore Riddell or Bike/Schutt helmets. Can you name some significant players from that period that wore helmets made by other companies?
Allow me to answer your question with the following list:
Gladiator - Pat Fischer / Lester Hayes / Willie Lanier
Kelly - Doug English / Mike Lucci / Billy Sims / Joe Washington
Macgregor- Irv Cross / Steve Grogan
/ Alex Karras / Greg Larson / A.Manning
Tom Matte / Gene Upshaw
Maxpro - Mel Blount / T.Bradshaw / J.Greene / Cliff Harris / J. Stallworth R.Staubach Charlie Waters
Rawlings - Bobby Boyd / T.Bradshaw / E.Campbell / Mike Curtis / T.Dorsett / Charlie Johnson / John Henry Johnson / J.Lambert / Bobby Layne / Jim Parker
Wilson - D. Butkus / M. Ditka / Charlie Krueger / Leo Nomellini / W.Payton
G.Sayers / Bob St. Clair / K.Stabler
I heard from an older friend that sometime in the 1950s a Los Angeles
Rams' linebacker named Les Richter ripped an opponent's helmet from
his head and that Richter proceeded to pummel the other player with
his own helmet. If this is so, could you answer these two questions: who
was the other player and what sort of punishment was meted out by either
Bert Bell or Pete Rozelle?
It appears that your friend has the portrayed the details of the infamous Les Richter incident somewhat differently than the actual account quoted as follows from the book "Great Teams' Great Years - Los Angeles Rams": "Richter turned into one of the NFL's premier villains in one celebrated moment during his rookie year. On a kickoff against Baltimore, Les decided to go after the Colt's monstrous Don Joyce. He not only flattened Joyce, he upset the huge lineman by making one of his famous remarks. Joyce gave Richter a shove as he got up, and before anyone knew what happened the two were engaged in a wrestling match. That's when Joyce jerked off Les' helmet and hit him over the head with it. The blow sent Richter to the hospital for the first time. Fourteen stitches were required over his right eye. And although he had taken the worst of it, he came out of that game as a marked man. "Dirty Les," they began calling him."
Greetings - I read your answer to the letter about helmet
profiles and the three parts (left, right, center ridge). As a Chiefs fan,
I noticed back in the '60s that some defensive players like Bobby Bell and
I believe Buck Buchanan had huge raised center ridges, maybe 3 or four inches
wide and a half-inch (at least) higher than the rest of the helmet. Was that
because of their head sizes or for some other reason?
The helmet ridge you referred to is actually a piece of foam padding which is covered in a sheet of synthetic leather then glued to the center ridge of the helmet and painted to match the helmet color. A player primarily wore this padding to provide additional protection after suffering a head concussion type injury. According to medical studies a player who has suffered a brain concussion is more prone to suffer reoccurring brain concussions compared to a player who has not had a similar injury. The Chief's Willie Lanier suffered a severe head concussion in the seventh game of his rookie year. After sitting out the next four games he returned to play wearing the exterior padded helmet which he wore for the remainder of his career.
In the early 1960s the entire Ohio State team wore Macgregor exterior padded helmets. The raised wide center pad was painted scarlet in contrast to the otherwise silver colored shell which gave the helmet a unique look (one of these helmets is exhibited on the "Helmet Hut" web site). Other college teams such as Iowa and Cornell exclusively wore exterior padded helmets in the early 1960s. Also the entire Oklahoma Scooner team in the late 1970s and early 1980s wore this type of helmet in practice sessions only. They chose to wear the conventional non exterior padded shell for actual games. Some other prominent professional players who wore the exterior padded helmet include Gene Upshaw (Raiders), Marv Hubbard (Raiders) Bob Brown (Eagles / Raiders), Tom Vaughn (Lions) and Daryl Sanders (Lions), Players stopped wearing the exterior padded helmet in the 1980s when it was discovered that although it provided additional protection against concussion type injuries it was responsible for causing neck injuries. When a player made head on contact with a conventional helmet the round shape and hard plastic surface of the shell allowed for the helmet to slide off or deflect the full force of the collision. The exterior padded helmet had the opposite effect as the crevice shape and leather like surface of the exterior pad caused the helmet to cling to or grab the object it was colliding with. Under these conditions the helmet would absorb rather than deflect the full force of the collision and transfer this force to a players susceptible neck region.