Dear Dr. Del Rye,
First I would like to say that I've been logging on to helmet hut for at least 2+ years. I like how the site continues to grow on an almost daily basis. I usually log on to the site at least once a day. It's a wonderful site. Keep up the good work. I hope you all have continued success. Now down to business. I can recall in the early 80's the Kansas City Chiefs entire football team (every position) wearing the Dungard Facemask. They were the only team that I could recall doing this. Was there a reason behind it? How long did the Chiefs use the Dungard as team?
Dear James:
Thanks for the nice words. You will hopefully enjoy a new regular column called "Talking Helmets with the Equipment Manager" starting this month. The first installment is an interview with the original Chief's equipment manager Bobby Yarborough and he actually speaks about Dungard face masks. In the late 1960s Bobby met the owner of Dungard, Dr. Dunning, at a trade show. Dr. Dunning sent Bobby every style of Dungard face mask to test. Bobby found them to be stronger, lighter and offered more facial area protection compared to other face masks. Bobby always gave the Chief players their choice of what type of face mask to wear but by the 1980s most of players were in agreement with Bobby's preference for the Dungard face masks. After 23 years of loyal service Bobby was fired in 1983 by new coach John Mackovic. John Phillips was hired to replace Bobby and he immediately scrapped all the team's Dungards and switched to Schutt. John had noticed that the Chiefs had suffered an unusually large proportion of neck strains compared to other teams. He attributed this phenomenon to the teams preference for the Dungards because they were directly bolted (without attachment clips) at the upper front of the helmet. This limited the face mask's ability to absorb shock transferring it instead to the players neck. In comparison the Schutt face masks used which used energy absorbing flexible clips at both the top and side attachment positions. To John's credit the Chief's neck strain type injuries were subsequently reduced after switching to the Schutt face masks.  


Dear Dr. Del Rye:
I have noticed in pictures of players wearing Riddell suspension helmets that the leather jaw pads seem to greatly range in thickness. Was this the result of excessive wear or shrinkage when the leather got wet or did they come in all different sizes?
Dear Eric:
Thanks for the technical question. Riddell produced four different size jaw pads, small, medium, large and extra large. It was critical to properly fit a player with correct size jaw pads to minimize the side to side movement of the helmet also know as wobbling. A player with a thinner face would usually require large or extra large size jaw pads while a player wider face would most likely use small or medium   size jaw pads. Unfortunately in the old suspension helmet era many players wore incorrectly fitting jaw pads because they would often just pick out a helmet that felt comfortable and bypass the equipment manger's efforts to properly fit the helmet. The proper fitting of jaw pads has been discovered to be so crucial that modern era vinyl jaw pads are now offered in several more sizes and stocked by actual thickness by inches.

Dear Dr. Del:
Can you describe how the stripes were applied to the 1964 and 1965 Houston Oilers helmets?
Thanks, John (AFL guy)
Dear John:
This is a very interesting question because it shows how creative the Riddell factory was in their glorious suspension helmet making days. The process started with a molded white shell (Riddell did not impregnate shells with color until the later 1960s). A three inch wide section was taped off down the center ridge of the helmet. The entire shell was then painted with "Oiler" blue. The tape was removed to reveal an unpainted four inch wide center ridge reflecting the original molded white color. Finally 3/4 inch wide red stripes were painted on each side of the slightly raised one inch wide center ridge. Based on viewing archival film of their manufacturing processes we believe Riddell used a preset template to paint these side stripes, otherwise, the helmet was taped off again as needed to complete this process. The resulting striping pattern reflected the colorful alternating white / red / white / red / white design.




 Dr. Del Rye,
As a longtime football fan I have certain teams and themes that are my favorites.  One of them is the 1969 college football season in which
some teams wore special decals on their helmets commemorating the centennial year of college football.  I want to know why only some teams wore these decals.  Why did some only wear the decals for certain games; for example national champion Texas only wore them four times; the opener at Cal, the Arkansas game, the Oklahoma game, and in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame.  My guess is these games were nationally televised.  Why did some only use one decal; for example Southern Cal's lone decal was on the left side, Nebraska's was directly in the front.  Each team's decal was color coordinated to match their colors, and was basically of the same design, yet Purdue's was totally different than all the others.  I'd like to see you replicate a college football helmet from this year with the "100" decal on it.  My recommendation is Southern Cal or UCLA.  Or Bama or Ole Miss.  Or Harvard or Princeton.  Or Michigan State or Purdue.  Keep up the good work.

Mike Marchesani

Dear Mike:
You have made some great observations regarding the 100 year anniversary of college football sticker. It appears that almost every team had their own version of this ceremonial sticker. Some teams such as the University of Michigan did not wear a sticker while others wore patches on their jerseys rather than helmet stickers. This event is probably one of the best examples of what happens when each schools is allowed to individually decide how to commemorate a country wide promotion or celebration. Needless to say, compared to the alternative -- a somewhat boring generic approach, we just love the character ridden interesting variations used to celebrate the 1969 "100" year anniversary of college football! Please enjoy the following pictures of helmets from that year:


          Houston                          Alabama                     Princeton                       Nebraska                        UCLA                            Texas