Dear Dr. Del Rye,

I hope you can give me the information I would like. I really like the Helmet Hut site and go to it regularly. I read all of the old letters in this section and noticed a photo of a very different kind of face mask. I think it is very unique. It is the one with the June 21, 2002 letter about the Marietta masks. Can you tell me something about it please? Keep up the good work. Thank you very much.

Jerry Blum

New York, N.Y.


Dear Mr. Blum,

As always, the HELMET HUT staff appreciates the inquiry and kind comments. The June 21, 2002 column can be found at the link:                [  ]. Though Marietta first made this mask, as modeled in the article photo by Pittsburgh Steelers’ great Ernie Stautner, it was better known and sold through the Wilson Company. This specific mask was marketed as the Wilson “Fa-Saf” (think “face safe”) face mask, model number F2822 which was available from the late-1950’s to the late 1960’s.



This unusual looking mask was a combination rubber-plastic that was chosen by some individuals on specific teams, but was never so popular that it was chosen as the primary mask for any college or professional team that our research has located. It offered a good deal of protection, relative to Wilson’s standard two-bar F2812 nylon mask but was infrequently seen on the field. Your close observation made for an interesting question, thank you.

Dr. Del Rye



Hi... Awesome site..

I'm an English guy who's followed football since the early 1980s.
On this side of the pond there are a growing group of "ole skool" guys like me who like all of you! Just love football from decades gone. Some of your answers relate to questions asked about the painting of helmets during the 70s and 1980s?
My question is. Why in a sport that's awash with millionaires! Skyhigh player salaries etc.... Would teams bother to re-paint their shells? I recall watching superbowl XXlll and noticed that Joe Montana's helmet had obvious signs of a recent re-spray? Obvious by the rivets being gold and an amount of visible over spray on the back? My collection is growing - and long may it continue!


Paul - Huddersfield, England. UK


Dear Paul,

It truly is a pleasure having a HELMET HUT reader “across the pond.” We at HELMET HUT are pleased that you are enjoying your ever growing helmet collection. We know the feeling! As a relatively new fan to American football, you chose a wonderful game to place your focus upon. Super Bowl XXIII, played on January 22, 1989 in Miami, has garnered the title as the greatest of all of the Super Bowls on numerous fan polls. The excitement of Joe Montana throwing the winning pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left on the clock after driving the ball from their own eight yard line remains an all time classic. Unfortunately, there was no photo(s) included with your inquiry but I believe our HELMET HUT staff can provide one that illustrates your point.


We obviously cannot view the back of the helmet shell where over spray perhaps would be clearly noted, but please view that the rivets that are visible on the helmet are gold as is the shell. The wear on the helmet finish to both the rivets and shell displays the coloring underneath. While the gold color on the rivets may be a result of painting over the original factory finish, or may be an original gold color of the rivets themselves, also see the photo below of the Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert for further information. 

Though the photo is not taken from as close a distance as the Joe Montana shot, the rivets in Hebert’s gold helmet too, are gold. Unable to reproduce another photo of the Jet’s Ken O’Brien, our staff did conclude that the rivets in his green Jets helmet were in fact a matching green. During the 1980’s many if not most of the helmets provided by Riddell, had rivets that matched the color of the helmet shells and I believe this is what is visible at least in the photos provided here. With that explanation given, let us now assume that your observation is entirely correct and Montana’s helmet among many others, was sprayed for “reuse” rather than having a new helmet issued. Why would a player wish to have a repainted and/or reconditioned helmet in a game situation when the money is certainly available to provide for a new head gear? Simply put, players become very much attached to their helmets.
HELMET HUT’S previous feature on former Chargers great Charlie Joiner  [ ] speaks volumes to this as he wore a suspension helmet manufactured in 1974, one in a long line of suspension helmets he wore throughout his entire football career, until his retirement in 1986. The comfort of the fit, the confidence in its performance, having any specialized additions such as additional protective concussion padding or specialized clips for a face mask are all features that make a player very hesitant to part with a helmet he is comfortable with. Thank you very much for your query and we hope that you can get your fill of “American football” half way around the globe from us.


Dr. Del Rye


Dear Dr. Delrye, 


Ever since I grew up watching NFL & AFL games in the 60's as well as college games, there was one thing that fascinated me that I do not see anymore:  the neck rolls worn by HOF's such as Willie Lanier & Gene Upshaw (double neck rolls for Upshaw).  Players from high school to the pros wore them looking as warriors going to battle.  I know that they have some type of neck protection now, but they do not look as good as the ones worn at that time.  Were they deemed unsafe as we went into the 90's?



The HELMET HUT staff appreciates the question about neck rolls, a piece of equipment seen on players at all levels, since the early 1960’s. I have chosen players from the pros, college, and high school fields to illustrate your inquiry. As per your observation, note the neck roll worn by Chiefs’ great Willie Lanier.


A bit different is the neck roll displayed in the photo of baseball star Roger Clemens. The former Spring Woods High School (Texas) defensive end is wearing a roll that is round as compared to the one worn by Lanier.



This Texas A&M Aggie defender demonstrates a roll that was in widespread use throughout the 1980’s. Simply stated, the knowledge of head and neck related injuries brought a change in the use of this piece of equipment. Once seen as necessary to prevent serious injury, increased information related to on-the-field injuries brought about its elimination. If you review the series of articles from February through December of 2004 in the HEMET NEWS section [] there is an extensive explanation of the mechanism of injury caused by a variety of factors. While the construction and material of the helmets was a factor, the primary cause of catastrophic on the field injury was and still is caused by improper contact technique. Until the research findings of the mid-1970’s, most coaches, players, and doctors believed that the most effective and safest way to tackle or block was to lead with the forehead or face, and make first contact with the head and neck in an extended position. The expression “Bow your neck” is related to looking up, achieving contact, and driving through the opponent with the face and forehead in the lead. The goal however was to prevent excessive extension as it was believed that forcing the head and neck too far towards the rear was the primary cause of “snapping” the cervical spine or producing dangerous forces. The neck roll did in fact prevent extension past a specific point or angle and almost every coach who toiled on the field between 1965 and 1975 was convinced that the roll helped to keep players safer, avoided “jammed necks,” and was protective.


The work of a number of orthopedists changed the entire industry and the rules from high school to college, with a concomitant decrease in fatal and crippling head and neck injuries. It was realized that excessive flexion, or the forward bending of the head at the moment of contact, produced a very dangerous series of events, well summarized in the HELMET NEWS articles. The neck roll of any shape or size, that limited extension of the neck, produced more flexion position contacts, thus endangering the players wearing them rather than protecting them. As this knowledge spread, manufacturers, administrators, and coaches called for the removal of the standard neck rolls and by the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s, few were in use. Once the neck roll was used less frequently, many of the players appeared “less armored” but research has indicated that they were certainly much safer. Thank you very much for this interesting question.

Dr. Del Rye