Unitas - 1956
The historical significance of this unique style helmet could only be
surpassed by the future accomplishments of a certain rail thin, crew
cut rookie quarterback who preferred high top cleats and wore courage on his
shoulder and number "19" on his sleeve.
The original Baltimore Colts of the All American Football Conference
(1946-49) wore silver helmets with a green center stripe until the franchise
folded after its first season as a new member of the NFL in late 1950.
The defunct Dallas Texans (formerly NY Yanks) were moved to Baltimore in 1953.
The new Colts also wore white helmets with a blue center stripe during their
inaugural season. A dark blue helmet with a white center stripe and team logos
(matching white horseshoes located on the backside of the helmet) was
introduced in 1954 and used again in 1955.
By signing rookies John Unitas and Lenny Moore for the 1956 season the
Colts found the missing pieces needed for their future world championship
teams of the late 1950s. Perhaps this also was the motivation for the team to
return to its original 1953 white helmet (and blue center stripe) for the 1956
season. The popular rear horseshoe logos (changed to blue) were retained from
the prior two years. Ironically, the horseshoe logo placement at the rear of
the helmet made it more visible to opposing players who seemingly were in
constant pursuit of the dashing Mr. Moore.
This 1956 John Unitas authentic reproduction Riddell "RK" helmet reflects
the unique "one year only" style that coupled the white helmet with the rear
placement horseshoe logos. In 1957 the team revised their entire uniform
including moving the horseshoe logos to each side of the helmet and replacing
the existing sleeve stripes with "UCLA" type shoulder stripes. Another
interesting feature of this helmet is the unique blue colored, single bar
plastic face mask. After the 1956 season the team used plastic face masks that
were standard gray only. The 1950s era leather chin strap and 6 point
suspension complete this helmet and make it virtually identical to the one
"Mr. Quarterback" used at the beginning of his legendary pro career.