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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Okay, I admit it, I have a weird fascination with football helmets. I began collecting helmets and restoring them as NFL helmets of some of my favorite players.

Some of the things I learned is back in the day (1960's?), several well known companies were producing helmets for the National Football League: Wilson, MacGregor, Rawlings, and the all time favorite of the league, Riddell.

George "Papa" Halas had a working relationship with the Wilson Sporting Goods Company, located in Chicago, and his teams wore Wilson helmets almost exclusively.

As a senior quarterback at Notre Dame, Paul Hornung wore one of the last leather helmets which was produced by MacGregor. There is an exact autographed replica on eBay currently and the asking price is over a thousand dollars.

Over the past 30 years or so, Wilson, MacGregor, and Rawlings found they couldn't compete with Riddell, and they have all ceased producing helmets.

Actually, MacGregor purchased the Riddell name in the early 1980's but only owned it for three years.

Today, Riddell has one main competitor, Schutt, which has made significant inroads in the last five years, both in college and NFL ranks.

I have observed that many of the players today wear helmets that reflect the helmets they wore in high school and college. When I started my hobby, the Riddell VSR-4 was the principle helmet of the NFL, worn by such greats as Brett Favre and Dan Marino.

This season I became much more aware of the new Riddell Revolution Series helmets that have been available since 2002.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wore the Riddell VSR-4 until this season's concussions. Much ado was made by the media when it was made known that Rodgers had switched to a new helmet, but nobody would tell me exactly what Aaron was now wearing, so I did some online investigating of my own after closely looking at the helmet in the Giant/Packer game.

I concluded that the helmet he has now chosen to wear is the Schutt Air XP. The one distinctive feature is the indent line from the back of the helmet to the ear hole. Other than that, the shape is still very similar to the VSR-4.

After further investigation, I found that this is the same helmet that is worn by Eli Manning of the Giants.

According to the Schutt company:

The Schutt AiR XP Adult Football Helmet offers high tech TPU cushioning in a traditional football helmet shell. Now you can get the look and feel of a classic dome helmet shape with the superior protection and comfort of a TPU cushioning system. Get a perfect fit right out of the box with the inflatable SUREFIT Air Liner system. Look toward the AiR XP if you want a helmet the looks small but packs the biggest protection of any traditional style shell helmet on the football field.

Another interesting tidbit: Riddell just won a dispute with Schutt over the patent for the air liner system.

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