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    Rams Helmet hits top 5

    Design is important in headwear deliberation

    By Chris Colston and Scott Boeck, USA TODAY

    (Editor's note: USA TODAY wants to know what your favorite and least favorite NFL helmets are, past and present. Make sure to vote in the semifinal round as we narrow each field to eight finalists. Come back to nfl.usatoday.com on Sunday to render your final votes for best and worst helmets. Results will be released in the March 1 issue of USA TODAY Sports Weekly.)
    While there is no arguing the glory and glamour of an NFL football helmet, determining the most attractive design is very much subject to debate.

    As a child, San Diego center Nick Hardwick loved Cincinnati's headgear. "I thought all those stripes were cool," he says. "But I still can't figure out how they get them on there. Are they decals or is it paint? That would be a lot of decals to put on each week." (They are decals.) But Chicago guard Ruben Brown says the Bengals' design is the ugliest in football history. "They can do way better than that."

    Donovan Moore, founder and president of The Society for Sports Uniforms Research (www.ssur.org), has spent plenty of time pondering that debate. He has compiled his list of the top five NFL helmets of all time — and the five worst. "Although I've been following logo and uniform trends for over 33 years, I'm not much of a traditionalist," he warns. "I'm of the mind-set that the older styles aren't always the better styles."

    SSUR's top 5 NFL helmets all time ...

    •Minnesota Vikings (1985-present). The Vikings have had this basic design since 1961, and the minor tweaks they have done over the years — most notably changing the face mask color to purple in 1985 and finally matching the helmet paint color with the uniforms in 2002 — have made these almost perfect.

    •Philadelphia Eagles (1996-present). These "winged" helmets have been one of the best (and more recognizable) designs in the NFL and were significantly improved when owner Jeffrey Lurie introduced "Midnight Green" in 1996.

    •Washington Redskins (1965-69; 2002 home games). These dark burgundy and old gold classics, with the spear on the side, were brought back in 2002 as a throwback look. They should be brought back permanently — but with burgundy face masks.

    •St. Louis Rams (2000-present). According to historical records, the Rams' horns were the first actual logos that were painted on helmets — back in the days of the Cleveland Rams. The new metallic gold introduced in 2000 makes the horns look even more stylish.

    •San Diego Chargers (1988-present). So many people want the Chargers to revert to their collegiate blue (aka powder blue) uniforms — even their players. Says Hardwick, "I don't care much about helmets. I do want to get one of our throwback helmets though. I want to give it to my dad. That's the coolest helmet in football." But SSUR believes the current navy looks better.

    ... and the 5 worst

    •Buffalo Bills (2002-present). The basic logo, introduced in 1974, isn't too bad. It's the forcing of the additional colored stripes of navy and nickel into the traditional royal blue and red that makes this design so hard to stomach.

    •Baltimore Ravens (1999-present). This logo is too busy. The B within the raven's head just looks forced, and the overall style should be streamlined.

    •Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976-96). I'm all for new and exciting color combinations, but this inaugural color scheme of orange and red? Ugh. It's a good thing "Bucco Bruce" is retired.

    •Oakland Raiders (1964-present). This logo is a big favorite of traditionalists, but what is the appeal of a smirking "Race Bannon" (of Jonny Quest fame)? The Raiders could modernize this logo without losing too much of the tradition. Black face masks would help, too.

    •New York Jets (1964-77; 1998-present). Another example of style vs. tradition. This current "retro" logo has too many elements incorporated into it, and none of them has anything to do with actual jets.

    Steelers' logo a one-sided affair

    Especially after Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XL, the sporting public was bombarded with Steelers-this and Steelers-that. They've won five Lombardi trophies, but one question still remains:

    Why is Pittsburgh the only NFL team to have its logo on one side of its helmet?


    Pittsburgh had been using gold helmets with black numbers on the sides when Cleveland's Republic Steel contacted the team in 1962 and asked if the team would be interested in using its Steelmark logo. It made sense; here was a team called the "Steelers," and this was great product placement for the company.

    "They thought it was a great idea," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney says, "but we weren't sure how it would be received." The Rooneys liked the logo — a white circle featuring three hypocycloids: one blue, one red and one yellow — but weren't committing to the idea. "We had to go through an approval process," Rooney says. "And then we weren't sure about the union. We're a big union town."

    By instructing equipment manager Jack Hart to put the logo on only one side, they were saying, "Hey, look, this isn't necessarily permanent yet."

    The 1962 Steelers went 9-5, their best season to date. They wanted to do something special for their first postseason game so they changed the helmet color from gold to black, which made the logo stand out beautifully. Because of the team's success and the positive feedback of the new look, the Steelers decided to leave it that way for good.

    "It got to be a unique thing," Rooney says, "so we stuck with it. Today, I tell most people we did it just so you'll ask the question."

    Crash helmets not a bad idea

    Thurman Thomas' lost helmet is one of the most memorable headgear gaffes of the modern era. But it is by no means the only one. A look at some of the more memorable helmet incidents of the last 10 years:

    Game date: Nov. 23, 1997

    Scene: Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte head-butts a padded wall behind the end zone hoping his helmet will protect him after scoring on a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter against the New York Giants.

    Result: Frerotte suffers a sprained neck and misses the rest of the game. "It was a stupid thing to do," he said. "I've butted heads with people many times."

    Game date: Nov. 4, 2001

    Scene: New Orleans Saints tackle Kyle Turley rips the helmet off New York Jets safety Damien Robinson and throws it downfield. Turley attacks Robinson after he grabbed the face mask of Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks and twisted it.

    Result: Turley is ejected and fined $25,000 for conduct detrimental to the team. The penalty ends the Saints' final chance to tie or win the game and they lose 16-9.

    Game date: Sept. 8, 2002

    Scene: Cleveland Browns linebacker Dwayne Rudd draws an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for throwing his helmet in celebration after he assumes the Browns had beaten the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Result: The penalty sets up a game-winning 30-yard field goal by Morten Andersen with no time remaining to hand the Browns a stunning 40-39 loss.

    Game date: AFC Divisional playoff, Jan. 15, 2006

    Scene: Indianapolis Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt misses a game-tying 46-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Result: Vanderjagt slams his helmet to the turf and receives a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty to add insult to injury as the Colts lose 21-18


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    One of my favorites (apart from the Rams 65-72 blue helmets, white horns -- "Yeah, baby!" [-A. Powers]) ... is the gorgeous burgundy helmet of the Redskins with a diagonally placed spear-and-feather on each side: elegant, classic.

    :1: Thanks, Wraith.

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    As for some of the most "recognizable" helmets, according to the article (saying that of the Eagles' helmet), what could be more recognizable than the Rams 65-72 white horns over navy blue?!?

    See current avatar, Tommy Mason, ca. 1966.

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    Morons. The cleveland rams never wore horns on the helmets. they were in LA when fred gehrke painted on the horns in 1948.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    True fact, GC! Both on horns beginning in LA and the designer/creator, F. Gehrke.

    'Goes to show you how much research some of today's writers do before they open their mouth -- er, laptop.

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    Hmmm, well, I made a mistake myself: Mason was on the Rams roster from 1967-70, not '66.

    Another of my favorite helmets: Detroit Lions -- sort of 'Regal'.

    Classics that I enjoy (mid 60's on): Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore / Indy Colts, Philly Eagles.

    Dislike:
    GB Packers,
    TB Bucks (early),
    SF Goldies,
    B. Ravens.

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    The Colts design is a classic as well. I would like to see a Colts/Rams Superbowl just for the old school look!

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    A problem with some of the so-called 'Authentic' replicas (even a few that are "licensed" by the NFL), is that the detail on the helmet is not quite correct.

    Example: the Redskins design I mentioned above, burgundy helmet with spear-and-feather, there are several on the internet that show the spear much TOO LARGE, thus taking away its classic and true style. It's a shame.

    I remember when I was an early teen, 40 yrs. ago, and ordered the mini-helmets that came with a stand in the form of goal posts, you'd get a sheet of decals, one for each team, to place on the plastic helmets (each helmet about 2" diameter). Those mini helmets also had a blocky look to them, but were nice as collector's items.

    Well, I used to build model planes and had Testor paint to hand paint the white horns on the Rams helmet because, understandibly, the decal displayed a very incorrect shape!

    Fortunately, the blue color was real neat and the end result was my Rams helmet looking quite sharp. 'Took me at least two hours to ... oh! so carefully ... make those white horns look 'L.A. Rams', whichever angle they were seen from.

    :1:

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    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    :up: MoonJoe, that would be GREAT!

    You mean the Rams white / blue unis, right? The Colts seem to have kept their design and colors basically the same since the Unitas era of the 60s. I think only their face masks are noticeably different.

    We'd have to go throwback four decades to match that scenario: one of those games was the very last game of the 1967 season, a MUST win for both teams, the Baltimore Colts and us at the LA Coliseum.

    We won big, 34-10, and advanced to the playoffs. Colts went home.

    What a classic! :1:

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    The Arizona Cardinals have got to have the worst looking helmet in the NFL hands down. Can't believe last year's "angrier look" is the best they could come up with.

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    Dont forget about those pathetic seacrow helmets, thier disgusting they make me want to puke every time i see them.

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    I don't know, the Browns are pretty pathetic. Not a damn thing on them!
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    Good link to many a head-on, helmet history:

    http://www.helmethut.com/

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    :clanram: A nice little article on Fred Gehrke and his Rams design for our helmets:

    http://www.helmethut.com/ramhorn.html

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    Re: Rams Helmet hits top 5

    The Seahawks color scheme is the worst in pro sports. Absolutely hiddeous!

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