An early design of the football helmet was invented in 1869, when George “Rose” Barclay, a Lafayette College halfback, began wearing straps and earpieces to protect his ears. Some accounts attribute the special helmet’s invention to James Naismith, while others attribute it to Joseph M. Reeves, a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy who wore a moleskin protective helmet during the 1893 Army-Navy game.
During the 1920s, football helmets were commonly utilized. These leather hats included some cushioning on the interior but offered minimal protection. While the helmet was intended to protect the head, earlier helmets lacked a face mask, resulting in a high rate of injuries.
The first plastic helmet was not commercially available until 1939. The Riddell Company of Chicago developed the first plastic helmet, thinking it to be safer than the leather choices worn on the field. When a collision occurred, the plastic frame retained its form and featured additional padding and cushioning for further safety. Additionally, the plastic helmet came with a plastic face mask that covered the whole head. Leather helmets were mandatory in the NFL in the mid-1940s. The NFL would not adopt the plastic helmet officially until 1949, bringing the age of leather helmets to an end. By the mid-1950s, single face bars had been added to helmets, and the radio helmet had made its debut.
Riddell enhanced the protection and design of football helmets during the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s, the company’s distinctive helmet shape with, crisp face mask lines, circular earholes, and the rounded dome had become an icon.
The company created the Revolution helmet in 2002 in response to a study of head injuries. The revolution was Riddell’s first major redesign in 25 years, and the company sold 750,000 helmets as of 2007. Schutt Sports announced the debut of the Schutt ION 4D next-generation football helmet in 2007, in response to increased demand for a safer football helmet. NFL players are now permitted to choose their helmets for any reason. It might be for security, nostalgia, or just aesthetic reasons. However, all helmets must be authorized by the National Operating Committee for Athletic Equipment Standards (NOCSAE).