Football helmet
A football helmet is a protective device
American football protective equipment
American football protective equipment consists of equipment worn by football players for the protection of the body during the course of football games. Basic equipments worn by almost all football players include a helmet, shoulder pads, gloves, shoes, and thigh and knee pads...

 used primarily in American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 and Canadian football
Canadian football
Canadian football is a form of gridiron football played exclusively in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play long and wide attempting to advance a pointed prolate spheroid ball into the opposing team's scoring area...

. It consists of a hard plastic top with thick padding on the inside, a face mask made of one or more plastic bars, and a chinstrap. Some players add polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

 visors to their helmets, which are used to protect eyes from glare and impacts. Helmets are a requirement at all levels of organized football, except for non-tackle variations such as flag football
Flag football
Flag football is a version of Canadian football or American football that is popular worldwide. The basic rules of the game are similar to those of the mainstream game , but instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier to end...

. Although they are protective, players can and do still suffer head injuries such as a concussion. Each position has a different type of face mask to balance protection and visibility.


One of the first instances of football headgear dates to 1896
1896 in sports
-American football:College championship* College football national championship – Lafayette Leopards and Princeton Tigers -Association football:England...

 when Lafayette College
Lafayette College
Lafayette College is a private coeducational liberal arts and engineering college located in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. The school, founded in 1826 by James Madison Porter,son of General Andrew Porter of Norristown and citizens of Easton, first began holding classes in 1832...

George "Rose" Barclay
George Barclay (baseball)
George Oliver Barclay was an American football and baseball player. He played Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and later the Boston Beaneaters. He was also an early professional football player-coach for the Greensburg Athletic Association. He was nicknamed "The Rose" for his...

 began to use straps and earpieces to protect his ears. Many sources give credit for creation of the helmet to James Naismith
James Naismith
The first game of "Basket Ball" was played in December 1891. In a handwritten report, Naismith described the circumstances of the inaugural match; in contrast to modern basketball, the players played nine versus nine, handled a soccer ball, not a basketball, and instead of shooting at two hoops,...

. Additionally, other sources credit the invention of the football helmet to U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman
Navy Midshipmen football
The Navy Midshipmen football team represents the United States Naval Academy in NCAA Division I-A college football. They are a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision independent school and coached by Ken Niumatalolo since December 2007...

 Joseph M. Reeves
Joseph M. Reeves
Joseph Mason "Bull" Reeves was an admiral in the United States Navy, who was an early and important supporter of U.S. Naval Aviation...

 (later to become the "Father of Carrier Aviation"), who had a protective device for his head made out of mole skin to allow him to play in the 1893 Army-Navy game
Army-Navy Game
The Army–Navy Game is an an American college football rivalry game between the teams of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. The USMA team, "Army", and the USNA team, "Navy", each represent their services' oldest...

. Later helmets were made of padded leather, and resembled aviators' helmets or modern day scrum cap
Scrum cap
The Scrum cap is a form of headgear used by rugby players to protect the ears in the scrum, which can otherwise suffer injuries leading to the condition commonly known as cauliflower ears....

s. In professional football, at least, they were also optional. Some National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 players, notably Hall-of-Famer
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 Bill Hewitt, played all or most of their careers without a helmet.


The 1920s marked the first time in the sport of football that the idea of protection and a helmet started to be used. These helmets were made of leather and had padding and cushioning on the inside. Although better than no helmet at all, the helmets used in this time were almost completely useless. These particular “Leather Lids” absorbed a lot of heat making it very uncomfortable to wear.[1] The helmet barely protected the player from a full contact hit because there was not enough padding. The huge problem with this early helmet was that it had no face mask at all. Players had their full face exposed at all times while being tackled at full speed, making injuries very prevalent. 1917 marked the first time that helmets raised above the head to try and direct blows away from the top of the head. This technique started to be used because too many players got critically hurt because the padding used was not thick enough to protect from the devastating blows. Ear flaps also had their downfall as they were not created for ventilation and manufacturers realized the problem with communication on the field[1] One of the biggest innovations of this early 1900 period came in the form of hardened leather.

1939 marked a new era in the football helmet history. The Riddell Company from Chicago, Illinois decided to start manufacturing plastic helmets because they felt this would be a safer material for football players to wear. This material was found to be more effective because it held its shape when full collision contact occurred on a play. These helmets were also much more comfortable and had more padding to cushion the head on a big hit. Included with the plastic helmet came the plastic face mask and finally a helmet that would protect the entire head. “By the 1950s almost every player in the NFL wore a helmet made of plastic.”[2]

By the mid 1940s
1930 in sports
-American football:NFL championship* Green Bay Packers win the National Football League title with a record of 10–3–1College championship* College football national championship – Alabama Crimson Tide and Notre Dame Fighting Irish...

, helmets were finally required in the NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. They were still made of leather, but with improved manufacturing techniques had assumed their more familiar spherical shape. By the 1950s
1950 in sports
-American football:* NFL Championship – Cleveland Browns win 30–28 over the Los Angeles Rams* Oklahoma Sooners – college football champions.* Coaches Poll established to rank top 20 American college football teams-Association football:...

, the introduction of polymers brought the leather helmet era to an end. The face mask was also recommended for players by the NFL in 1955, reducing the number of broken noses and teeth, but also necessitating new rules prohibiting opposing players from grabbing the face mask. The player who gave the NFL the inspiration to develop a penalty for grabbing the face mask was former Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions defensive back Dick "Night Train" Lane. Lane would frequently tackle opposing players by the face mask, before there was a rule in place. Grabbing the face mask results in a 15-yard penalty. The NFL rule was changed prior to the 2008 season, eliminating the 5-yard penalty for unintentionally grabbing an opponent’s face mask. The Los Angeles Rams
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams are a professional American football team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are currently members of the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Rams have won three NFL Championships .The Rams began playing in 1936 in Cleveland,...

 were the first NFL team to put logos on their helmets, and as of 2011 the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 are the only NFL team not using any form of primary logo on its helmets.

The helmet used in today’s game of football made its way to markets in the 1990s. Today helmets are made of a hard plastic called polycarbonate. The inside of the helmet is layered with vinyl and foam padding. [1] This new technology used for football has an incredibly dense amount of padding and can withstand sizable force directly to a player’s head. This new age plastic is used for car bumpers as well which makes it very durable and tested. Helmet sensors have recently become a big phenomena in football. “What looks like six marshmallows stuffed between the helmets padding and the outside shell are actually foam-encased sensors that measure the acceleration of a player’s head during a hit. They determine magnitude, direction, location on the head, duration and the time of impact”.[2] Upon impact, the sensor immediately assesses the collision…anything above 100 Gs is a sign to look for concussion. It is known that some players will experience up to 2,000 of these potential concussion blows each season. As the player is returning from this blow, the data is sent to a central computer which then breaks down the information and puts it on a screen for team doctors to observe. New rules have been implemented which instruct that any player who has a particularly high reading of force needs to be taken off the field and examined before they can play another down.

In 2002
2002 in sports
2002 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.-Alpine skiing:* Alpine Skiing World Cup** Men's overall season champion: Stephan Eberharter, Austria** Women's overall season champion: Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria-American football:...

, American football equipment manufacturer Riddell
Riddell is an American company specializing in sports equipment for American football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track and field, tennis, volleyball, National Football League, NCAA Football and wrestling. It is headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois.The company was started...

 released a new design of helmet called the Revolution. The newer design was released in response to a study on concussions. The design is becoming more popular in the NFL and NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

, being used by notables such as Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning
Peyton Williams Manning is an American football quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League . Manning holds the record for most NFL MVP awards with four. He was drafted by the Colts as the first overall pick in 1998 after a standout college football career with the...

, Dwight Freeney
Dwight Freeney
Dwight Jason Freeney is an American football defensive end who currently plays for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He played college football at Syracuse University.-Early years:Freeney attended Bloomfield High School...

, Casey Hampton
Casey Hampton
Casey "Big Snack" Hampton, Jr. is an American football nose tackle who currently plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League.-Early years:...

, and Brady Quinn
Brady Quinn
Brayden Tyler "Brady" Quinn is an American football quarterback for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League. Quinn was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played college football at Notre Dame.-Early Years:Brayden Tyler "Brady" Quinn was born on...

Concussion Awareness:
Andrew Tucker, responsible for reporting on all the information the committee had gathered about concussions and football helmets, informed the panel that Major helmet manufacturers informed them their products had not changed substantially in many years. Their products were adequately protecting players from catastrophic brain injuries but there was no stimulus for innovation to decrease the risk of concussion.[1] The man that would attempt to make this new method occur happened to be Vin Ferrara, a former Harvard quarterback who happened to come upon the discovery with no intentions of actually doing so. One night, Ferrara was looking for an aspirin when he saw a squirt bottle for sinuses and as he pumped it and then punched it, he realized that the bottle withstood the blows of different forces the same. Ferrara immediately came up with the idea to incase the helmet with various pockets of bubbles, filled with air, in order to cushion the number of blows a football player received.
'Research History of the Football Helmet:
Neuroscientists took the problems of this testing into their own hands and came up with an effective tool to test newly manufactured helmets. Specialists at Ohio State University launched baseballs from air cannons in order to simulate a kick or blow to the head such as a tackle. Even though this method was used to test face masks, this also left many people in awe of the force that these helmets could withstand. The study reported that the helmets could withstand 2,500 Newtons or about 562 pounds of force. This method of testing was the hardest ever done to a helmet previously as the last test was 2,439 Newtons and 548 pounds of force.[1]

The helmet will sometimes be wrenched from a player's head in the jostling of a play and leave the player vulnerable to injury. Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

for January 15, 2007, includes a couple of photos of Jeremy Shockey
Jeremy Shockey
Jeremy Charles Shockey is an American football tight end for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the New York Giants 14th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft...

 of the New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. They are members of the South Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League ....

, continuing to push for extra yardage in a playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are members of the East Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, despite having lost his helmet during the play. The NFL implemented a rule change from the 2010 season
2010 NFL season
The 2010 NFL season was the 91st regular season of the National Football League.The regular season began with the NFL Kickoff game on NBC on Thursday, September 9, at the Louisiana Superdome as the New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV champions, defeated the Minnesota Vikings 14–9.Tom Brady,...

 causing the play to be whistled dead when the ball carrier lost his helmet.

In 2007
2007 in sports
2007 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.-American football:* February 4 – Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 to win Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The win was the Colts' first Super Bowl Championship since their 1970-71 team, when...

, Schutt Sports announced the arrival of a next generation helmet, the Schutt ION 4D. This next generation design was in response to the demand for a safer football helmet. The design includes an integrated face guard. This new face guard design features shock absorbing "Energy Wedges" that reduce the force of impacts to the face guard. College Teams wearing the helmet include Air Force Academy
Air Force Falcons football
The Air Force Falcons are a college football team from the United States Air Force Academy, located just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The team competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA Division I and the Mountain West Conference.-Style:...

, Penn State
Penn State Nittany Lions football
The Penn State Nittany Lions football team represents the Pennsylvania State University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big Ten Conference. It is one of the most tradition-rich and storied college football programs in the...

, and Virginia
Virginia Cavaliers football
Virginia Cavaliers football is a college football program that competes in the NCAA Division I-FBS and the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference...

. Many of the New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 wear the ION 4D design including Brandon Jacobs
Brandon Jacobs
-New York Giants:Going into the 2006 season Jacobs stated that he studied film of famed power running back Eddie George in an effort to refine his running style. George, like Jacobs, was a large, power running back. In the 2006 season, Jacobs carried the ball 96 times for 423 yards and nine...

NFL rules state that all helmets with a headset in them must have a visible green dot on the back. A few times in 2006
2006 in sports
2006 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.-American football:* January 2, Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State 34-20 Notre Dame* January 2, Sugar Bowl – West Virginia 38-35 Georgia...

 the holder on the field goal attempt was told to pull up and throw or run at the last second because of a change the coaches saw on the field. This gave teams an "unfair advantage" in the eyes of the NFL. The new rules let each team know who is wearing a headset and who is hearing the plays being called.

Also, a more recent addition to the football helmet is the visor or eye shield, which is affixed to the face mask to protect players from glare or eye injuries, such as pokes. It is believed that the first player to use a protective visor in an NFL game was Mark Mullaney
Mark Mullaney
Mark Alan Mullaney is a former professional American football defensive end in the National Football League. He was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1st round of the 1975 NFL Draft. At 6'6", 246 lbs...

 of the Minnesota Vikings in 1984, in order to protect a healing eye injury. Top manufacturers of visors are Nike
Nike, Inc.
Nike, Inc. is a major publicly traded sportswear and equipment supplier based in the United States. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area...

, Oakley
Oakley, Inc.
Oakley, Inc., based in Foothill Ranch, California, makes sport equipment including sunglasses, sports visors, and ski goggles, as well as watches, clothing, bags, backpacks, shoes, prescription glasses, football and hockey eyewear, Golf gear and other accessories...

, and Under Armour
Under Armour
Under Armour is an American sports clothing and accessories company. The company is a supplier of a wide range of sportswear and casual apparel mainly focusing on hi-tech sportswear for professional athletes...

, with Leader
A leader is one who influences or leads others.Leader may also refer to:- Newspapers :* Leading article, a piece of writing intended to promote an opinion, also called an editorial* The Leader , published 1909–1967...

 being the first to come out with a visor/shield for former Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 quarterback Jim McMahon
Jim McMahon
James Robert "Jim" McMahon, Jr. is a former American football player. He played college football at Brigham Young University, where he was a two-time All-American and later in the professional ranks with the Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona...

. While Mullaney and McMahon's visors were tinted, most of the earlier visors were clear or smoked, but they are now offered in myriad styles ranging from blue, gold, black, rainbow, silver, or amber. High-school and pee-wee leagues prohibit all but clear visors. This rule was enacted so that training staff and coaches can easily view a player's face and eyes in the case of a serious injury, to discern if the player is conscious. The NCAA banned the use of tinted visors for the same reason, and the NFL has followed suit as well. However, players with eye problems may still obtain special permission to wear tinted visors, some notable examples being LaDanian Tomlinson and Chris Canty.

One-bar face masks

The one-bar face mask has been illegal in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 since 2004
2004 NFL season
The 2004 NFL season was the 85th regular season of the National Football League.With the New England Patriots as the defending league champions, regular season play was held from September 9, 2004 to January 2, 2005...

, but a grandfather clause
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

 allowed players who wore the mask prior to 2004 to continue to do so for the remainder of their careers. No current NFL player currently wears such a face mask; the last player to do so was Scott Player
Scott Player
Scott Darwin Player is an American football punter who is currently a free agent. He was signed by the Birmingham Barracudas as a street free agent in 1995...

, who last played in the NFL in 2008.

Typically, by the mid-1980s only placekickers and punters wore the one-bar face mask, a notable exception being Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins are a professional American football team and members of the East Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team plays at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, while its headquarters and training facility are at Redskin Park in Ashburn,...

Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 Joe Theismann
Joe Theismann
Joseph Robert "Joe" Theismann is a former quarterback in the National Football League and Canadian Football League . He achieved his most enduring fame in his 12 seasons playing for the Washington Redskins, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler and quarterback of the winning team in Super Bowl XVII...


The one-bar had two different variations. The standard one-bar was made from nylon or other hard plastic and was bolted to both side of the helmet just in front of the earholes. There was a "snub" version that did not extend as far out in front of the helmet as the standard.

Face masks for football helmets today are multibar. The multibar facemasks are made of a number of materials including titanium, stainless steel, and most commonly carbon steel. Each face masks is coated with Polyarmor G17 a powder coating that is resistant to impact and corrosion. The Polyarmor is a thermoplastic coating used on a number of surfaces. While some organizations purchase new face masks every season, others have their equipment reconditioned.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.