By Dr. Ken


Marking myself as an old-fogy and perhaps too conservative for the times, I would once again call for a bit of simplicity in the design of football helmets specifically, and uniforms in general. The NFL’s use of what they are terming “Legacy” uniforms, especially some of the original American Football League team uniforms being worn in honor of the AFL’s 50th Anniversary, are a step in the correct direction. I will be the first to point out that there are numerous flaws in many of the uniforms; striping that is too wide, colors that are a shade “off” of the original, shoulder stripes that today’s manufacturers refuse to bring all the way around the joint and under the armpit and yes, I could go on for a paragraph or two. However, almost all of these uniforms, even with the imperfections, even with serious errors, are better than the majority of the modern NFL uniforms. The maligned Denver Broncos uniform of 1960-’61 is an improvement over the current Broncos uniform with its piping, swirls, and distracting additions. Needless to say, the modern players seem compelled to “disrespect” the unique vertically striped socks by twisting them so that they appear on some to be diagonally striped. Even what appears to be a jersey that is a shade too yellow and lacking in the original “mustard brown” hue is set off beautifully by the simple brown helmet with white center stripe and identifying numerals on the sides.


Simplicity has a place in today’s sports environment. Looking at college helmets of the past HELMET HUT has presented a number of simple designs that immediately let the observer know which university the specific player is representing. The Iowa helmet from the 1977 and 1978 seasons [http://www.helmethut.com/College/Iowa/IAXXUI7778.html ] is simply stated and clear, with no mistakes regarding the identification of the team.



I recall the President of Division 1 AA Hofstra University on Long Island stating that he wanted the helmet, jersey, pants, and any other visible football related attire to be emblazoned with the school name. A former Hofstra player, President James Shuart shepherded the growth of what had been a small commuter college into a highly respected, nationally known academic bastion of excellence, complete with law school and the building of a new medical school. He believed that football was an economical and obvious way to spread the name of the school he loved and the uniforms of the late 1970’s through his reign into the early 2000’s demonstrated this philosophy.


There have of course, been attempts, to “keep it simple” while trying to definitively identify the university’s team that perhaps became a bit complicated. Hawaii had an exciting football tradition for decades before those on the mainland discovered the Rainbow Warriors. With transfer rules rather lax and players able to withdraw from large schools and immediately play at Hawaii until the more standardized NCAA rules put into effect in the 1970’s, the junior college and major conference schools were certainly aware of the type of ball played there. The helmets for a number of years, were a simple gold but one would not have identified the headgear with the proud Warrior squads. They switched to white but when using what was felt to be a definitive identifying decal, the 1974 team had something recognizable, but not particularly simple.


There’s a warrior, there’s a rainbow, and there’s an “H” so yes, one might immediately point and say, “Hawaii!” but a simple design it is not.


If one takes the time to peruse the HELMET HUT COLLEGE section, they will view a number of simply stated, beautiful designs, some as simple as Penn State, some with a more identifying theme like Iowa, but all associated with the wonderful teams and great play of their favorite schools and specific teams.