Vintage Prototype Discovery

1979 St. Louis Cardinal "ridge" trim
By now most of you have heard that the Arizona Cardinals have altered their helmet logo this season to reflect a meaner or more fierce looking cardinal head profile (see picture). The previous design had been virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1961. Helmet Hut has recently discovered that the Cardinal organization had contemplated at least one other design change as early as 1979. The somewhat radical Cardinal prototype design pictured here was obtained from a former Cardinal executive when the team was based in St. Louis.
In the late 1970s the team asked their cross-town neighbors, Rawlings Sporting Goods, to prepare a helmet featuring a new team design. Rawlings cleverly taped off around the rim surface of their recently introduced model HND-9 "Ridge" helmet and painted a contrasting cardinal red border. The factory started with a blank shell and painted the border prior to assembling the padding and jaw pad hardware which gave the completed helmet a clean looking factory finish.
We think that this 1979 prototype design was pretty sharp. An appropriate trim color was creatively added to their helmet without disturbing the clean and handsome look of the original helmet design. The only problem with this prototype design was that the Rawlings "Ridge" helmet lasted only a few years -- it would have been a manufacturing headache to try to implement this design on a conventional smooth surface helmet such as the Riddell model.
We also support the new Cardinal logo. They have improved a long standing design, a more fierce look makes perfect sense for a football logo, without destroying the integrity of the traditional design. Unlike some other teams over the past years (we will not mention the Lions, Eagles, Giants, Patriots, Chargers, Broncos and Bengals) the Cardinals have always been careful about senseless changes. They are the only NFL (or AFL) team that has never had their facemask color coordinate with official team colors and consequently their helmets have always looked gloriously "old school." The Cardinals have maintained the same understated and classy black 1.5" block font style player numerals on the back of their helmets for more than 30 years. Only the Raiders, another team proud of their tradition, can correctly claim that same distinction.
The Cardinals are our type of team. They have improved their helmet design while still respecting the history of their past look. And now it can be said that they have been carefully working on that improvement for more than the past 25 years!

2005 Arizona Cardinals