I truly love the Helmet Hut site. Very informative! I have questions I hope you can answer about helmet reconditioning. How do the NFL teams today recondition helmets during the season? If a helmet gets really marked up during the season, will they repaint it and redecal it? When does a helmet get repainted today? And what constitutes helmet 're-certification'? Thanks DOC!


Dear Rich:

It's a most appropriate time of the year to ask this question. NFL teams use an independent reconditioner such as Riddell All American or Circle Systems to fully recondition and recertify their helmets after each season. During the season the teams use their own equipment staff to clean and repair the helmets as needed. The once a year full reconditioning process consists of cleaning the shell and interior padding, replacing all hardware such as screws and nuts, replacing the mask if the coating is chipped off and metal is showing. Painted helmets are repainted and if the helmets are not painted to start with then the color impregnated shell is buffed and polished. Some teams have the outside reconditioner restripe and decal the helmets and some teams have the helmets returned to them without requesting those services. Each helmet shell is inspected for cracks, and all interior padding is tested for leaks. Approximately 10% of each teams helmets are stress tested in the lab using standardized testing procedures standardized by the NOC-SAE certification board. Once the helmet has successfully passed all of the aforementioned inspections and testing then it is recertified for the next season by placing a date stamped sticker inside the helmet. During the season teams use different levels of care to maintain their helmets. The Carolina Panthers are an example of a NFL team that does an exemplary job of maintaining their helmets during the season. After each game their equipment staff cleans the inside of each helmet with a disinfectant spray. Exterior marks are removed using a special cleaner and decals are replaced if they are torn. Helmets are inspected for any defective parts which are replaced as needed. Finally each helmet exterior receives a coating of "Future" liquid floor wax which renews the exterior surface shine. The equipment assistant puts a white cotton sock on his hand and dips his hand in a container holding the liquid wax and then makes one swipe over the exterior helmet surface to complete this task.

in regards to one of the questions posted on Jan. 7th concerning the Chiefs helmet with the white center stripe. I believe I recall that Marty Schottenheimer would have these put on the offensive linemen's helmet in training camp. With each session being filmed, his goal was to watch the film to determine the direction of his linemen's heads on each play. I'm almost sure I had read that in The Kansas City Star. (This is from the owner of the Ed Podalak helmet....) Keep up the great work....

Dear Sir:
You are right on regarding this subject. Your answer was further supported by Chris Willis of Athletic Decals Inc. who produces the decals for the NFL helmets. ( I wonder how the Notre Dame teams from the 1950s with their cross striped helmets were able make similar determinations regarding their linesmen.)

I noticed in the early 70's that a lot of quarterbacks did not wear shin straps. I remember Kilmer, Bradshaw, and a few others. Who started this fad and why?

Dear Sir:
Allow us to offer a simple explanation to your question and ask our loyal readers to submit their own opinions to your question. When fitted properly with a suspension helmet the chinstrap is quite snug against the chin. It is very difficult to fully open your mouth when the chinstrap is buckled on tight. This would also make it difficult to call plays and yell signals at the line of scrimmage. A very common image during that era was the quarterback unsnapping their chinstrap while they were calling the play in the huddle. The quarterbacks you refer to also preferred to call signals at the line without the hindrance of the chinstrap buckled up.

I am under the impression that the Oilers used the powder blue derricks from 75-80 then the royal blue from 81-96, but I have seen decals conflicting with this. I have also seen derricks "in between" these 2 colors. I have a 1986 authentic helmet that has the "in between" color------a lighter blue but not royal or powder. I have a close-up of Campbell from 1980 from the Sporting News, and there is no clear border on the edge of the decal--it is red clear to the edge...which is authentic? As you can see I am very picky, and becoming frustrated with so many variations. There is a game used helmet on ebay now that has that "in between" blue---can you elaborate??


Dear Mark:
We certainly understand your frustration regarding the variations with a team's decal color or design. The main reason for these variations is due to the numerous decal suppliers a team would use over a period of time. Also the helmets were not marketed to the public until the late 1980s which meant the NFL and NFL properties did not regulate designs and color changes as closely as they do today. It is also very hard to determine color shades simply from photographs due to lighting variations. The conventional Oiler decals used in the early 1980s had a Columbia blue and red derrick with a clear edge. In the case of Earl Campbell here is a likely scenario: Unlike most of his teammates Earl used a helmet that was manufactured by Rawlings. At the start of each season the Rawlings's sales rep provided him with a helmet that was striped and decaled in the Rawlings factory. It is very likely that Rawlings used a different decal supplier than the Oilers equipment manager used to decal the majority of the team's other helmets which were manufactured by Riddell. Thus you would see a difference in the decal used by Earl Campbell and those used by the rest of the team. Perhaps if you look at a picture of Earl's helmet from later in that same 1980 season you will find that the original Rawlings supplied decals have been replaced with the conventional team decals with the clear edge assuming that the original decals needed replacement. We recommend that you have fun with the inconsistency of team markings -- after all if decals and women always made logical sense what would men have to talk about?