While studying the team's plain brown leather helmets prior to the 1948 season
Ram's halfback and part time artist, Fred Gehrke contemplated a dramatic
change. As an experiment he took a helmet home and painted it blue and
added yellow/gold horns. The Ram's owner Dan Reeves loved the concept and
commissioned Fred to similarly customize the remainder of the team's helmets
paying him one dollar for each completed helmet. The stylized helmets were the
talk of the league during the 1948 season.
After the 1948 season ended the NFL ended a one year ban on plastic
shell helmets. In 1949 the Rams retired their leather helmets and
ordered Riddell "RT" plastic shell helmets complete with factory painted team
logos. The horn pattern used by Riddell was based on the helmet company's own
design. The "Riddell" version of the horn curved above the helmet's ear hole
as opposed to the original "Gehrke" design which curved below the ear hole.
The "Riddell" version of the horn also had knobby edges unlike the original
smooth edged horn. The team wore these helmets all the way to the 1949
NFL Championship Game where, unfortunately, they lost to the Philadelphia
In 1950 the Rams scrapped the "Riddell" horn design and requested that
the company use the original "Gehrke" inspired design that featured smooth
edged horns that curved below the ear hole of the helmet. Aside from some
minor variations in the width and contour of the horn the original "Gehrke"
design has remained in use for over 50 straight years including the 2003 team.
The color of the horn was changed to white from 1964 through 1972, back to the
original yellow/gold from 1973 through 1999 and finally to metallic gold in
2000 and remains that color in 2003. The horns were painted on the helmet
until 1972 when the team began using vinyl decals which is the method that has
been used since that time.
The pictured 1949 Los Angeles Rams authentic reproduction by Helmet
Hut is strikingly handsome in its full appointment of 1950s era leather trim.
The rarity of any "one year only" helmet style is highly coveted by helmet
aficionados and the unique 1949 style is no exception. True to every detail
including painted on, exact 1949 style horns this wonderful
helmet proudly reflects its rich heritage. The Ram's were the first team to
use team logos on their helmets and are directly responsible for giving the
football helmet its individual style and character that makes it so desirable
to dedicated football historians like Helmet Hut and its loyal readers.