Football helmet: style or substance?
Published: Friday, October 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, October 1, 2010 01:10
The football helmet is a very unique piece of athletic equipment; it obscures a player's face, yet gives him an identity.
Peyton Manning never looks quite the same without his Riddell Revolution helmet on; the same can be said for LaDainian Tomlinson's Schutt DNA lid with the dark visor.
The Revolution and DNA happen to be two of the five models used by the UNC football team. The Bears also use the XP and ION models from Schutt, as well as the Revolution Speed model from Riddell.
"This year, we cycled out all the helmets that were considered unsafe," said Mookie Maves, the University of Northern Colorado's equipment manager. "We've got the top helmets out there right now."
With the recent spike in football-related head injuries, safety has become a top concern in designing new helmet models.
"Coach Downing set it up this year where every one of our helmets is, not concussion-proof, but is very safe," junior quarterback Dylan Orms said.
Being designed to prevent concussions is not the only safety feature of new helmet models.
"If I was to get hurt, I think it has some kind of capability where they can slip it off really easily," Orms said.
Maves said that, unlike their coach, many of the UNC players are not concerned with safety when choosing a helmet.
"They care about their looks," Maves said. "They want to get the old-school looking type of shell, and that's the XP from Schutt."
Despite the classic look of the XP, it is designed for safety.
"It has the same inside of the Schutt DNA, which tested really well for safety," Maves said.
One player more concerned about how his helmet looks is sophomore wide receiver Jace Davis.
"I'm not going in there banging with all those linebackers and stuff," Davis said. "I think I'll be fine."
However, in the trenches, helmets do tend to get beat up, with one defensive lineman's standing out as being the worst for the wear.
"The worst I'd say is probably Nick Hernon," Maves said. "If you point him out on the field, he'll have the most beat up helmet out there."
In addition to the five different helmet shells, the UNC football team also has roughly 20 different types of face masks available for use. Maves said the Bears started the season with about 250 total face masks available to the team.
"Once they get bent, they're pretty much wasted," Maves said.
Maves said some players, especially defensive linemen and fullbacks, need to change their face masks every three weeks or so.
Regardless of position, all football players know one thing about their helmet: never lose it on the sidelines.
"That's one thing I never forget," Orms said.