We’re gonna be talking about NFL helmets today, so let’s start with a quick recap of the league’s rules about helmet branding: Players can wear any safety-approved helmet they want, but Riddell is the league’s official helmet partner, and no helmet logo other than Riddell’s can appear on the field. So if a player is wearing a Riddell lid, it’ll usually have “Riddell” on the nose bumper. If the bumper has a team logo or is blank, that usually means it’s a Schutt, Adams, or other helmet brand. (And yes, I know many of you can identify the various helmet makes and models even without the clue provided by the bumper.)
That’s all straightforward enough. But here’s something I’d never thought about before: According to this fascinating story by Darren Rovell — which was published on Friday, although I didn’t become aware of it until reader Matt Savoie showed it to me yesterday — many players who wear Schutt helmets are also wearing Riddell chinstraps, complete with the Riddell logo printed on the strap.
I’ve written about chinstraps in the past, but I can’t say I pay close attention to them (well, except for enjoying the fact that the Chiefs’ and Chargers’ straps are uni-numbered). Frankly, it had never occurred to me that a player might wear a Brand X helmet and a Brand Y strap.
But it’s something the Schutt folks have apparently thought about quite a bit, and they’re none too happy about it. The weird thing, at least to me, is that Schutt isn’t complaining to the players (“Dude, if you like our helmet, don’t help out the competition by wearing their strap, ’kay?”). Instead, they’ve complained to the league. According to the article, last week Schutt sent the NFL a letter that included the following:
Schutt has brought to your attention several times the fact that a number of NFL players that wear Schutt helmets have been using Riddell-branded chin straps, which prominently feature the “Riddell” brand name. Schutt believes that the NFL has received pressure from Riddell to permit this practice to continue, and has agreed not to take further action in an attempt to appease Riddell. …
[T]o the extent that members of the public may believe there is some affiliation or connection between Schutt helmets and Riddell, those individuals may associate Schutt with injuries suffered by players wearing Riddell helmets.
That last bit is an obvious passive-aggressive “Fuck you” to Riddell — cute.
I called a few NFL equipment managers yesterday to ask about this, but none of them would talk about it. I figured that meant that the league had issued some sort of directive on this issue, so I started looking at photos of the Schutt-helmeted players, including those mentioned in Rovell’s article, to see if their strap preferences had changed last weekend. Keeping in mind that the photographic record is a lot more complete for some players than for others, let’s take a look:
• Eli Manning: Was wearing a Riddell strap for most of this season but appears to have switched to an unbranded strap two Sundays ago.
• Devin Hester: Has consistently been wearing a Riddell strap, including last Sunday.
• Darren McFadden: Has been bouncing back and forth. The Raiders had a bye last weekend, so he hasn’t played yet since Schutt sent their letter to the NFL.
• Brandon Marshall: Has been wearing a Riddell strap all year, dating all the way back to the preseason, until last Sunday. (Yes, I know the Riddell wordmark is hard to see in some of those photos, but trust me, it’s there.)
• Brandon Jacobs: Riddell all the way — until last Sunday.
So while the evidence isn’t consistent across the board, several players did modify their strap behavior last weekend. That, combined with the fact that nobody would talk to me about this (as opposed to just saying, “Really? That’s the first I’ve heard about it” or something along those lines), leads me to think some sort of edict came down from Mount Goodell last week.
Meanwhile, get this: As I was putting the finishing touches on this piece with the Eagles/’Skins game on in the background, I glanced up at the teevee and noticed, I swear, “Adams” printed on LaRon Landry’s chinstrap. Couldn’t find a confirming photo, but it was there. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Don’t think it’s allowed, either.
So now we have one more thing to fixate on each Sunday. Meanwhile, if anyone has insights into chinstrap preferences, I’m all ears.
Hoop-la: More new college hoops uniforms keep coming to light. The latest round: Ball State (here are the back and side views), Cleveland State, Kent State, Bucknell, and Sam Houston State, plus new BFBS alternates for Loyola-Chicago and Southern Illinois.
(My thanks to Lyndon Brooks, Norris Moran, Bob Stokas and Mark Kelly, Dylan Buell, and Aaron Wade for bringing me up to speed on these.)
Show/tell reminder: Remember, “Open Mic Show-and-Tell” at the City Reliquary on Thursday night. Bring one object of personal significance and talk about it for up to three minutes, or just come down and watch others while they show/tell. Doors at 7, showing/telling at 8. If you plan to participate, please drop me a line. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Washington football plans to go BFBS this Thursday. … Wanna see what a beefsteak event is all about? The Stevens Institute of Technology softball team is hosting a beefsteak fundraiser in Hoboken on Nov. 30. If you want tickets, contact Uni Watch member Jon McCue, who works for the Stevens athletic dept., at this address. … Mucho unhappiness over the new English rugby kits (with thanks to Anthony Tama). … Here’s the best look so far at the new Siena basketball uni (with thanks to Brian Klejsmyt). … If you still haven’t heard enough about the new NBA uni system, then you’ll want to read this (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … A little too small for me, and pricey besides, but still pretty amazing. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Check out the end zone at Wrigley! So messed up on so many levels. Even worse, they’ve painted the front sign the heinous color of death. … Oooh, check out Casey in his tattersalls — with his belt buckle way over on his hip to boot. … Looks like Dez Bryant’s pants were riding mighty low on Sunday (as noted by Maks Skuz). … Roy Halladay appears on the cover of MLB2K11. But as Dan Ulrich notes, they’re showing the stars on his jersey in red instead of blue. Why would they do that? … Dave Brett has put together a good site of old soccer videos. … New soccer kit for Spain, and I’ve gotta say I like those shoulder stripes, even if they are an adidas branding move (with thanks to Jeremy Richardson). … When the Rangers wear their third jersey, Henrik Lundqvist will wear this mask (gracias, Alan Kreit). … “The Omaha Royals (AAA affiliate of the KC Royals) held a contest to see what the name of the team would be when they move into their new park next spring,” writes David McGee. “Evidently, they got it into their heads that the ‘Royals’ wasn’t good enough. That new logo is impossible to read.” … Jonathan Wall, who works for the Canucks, says he saw this photo of Dave Andreychuk in the Buffalo press box last night. Anyone know what was going on there? … It’s college week on Jeopardy!, and last night one contestant wore a hockey jersey (screen shot courtesy of Jason Hillyer). … Leaving aside the question of Devin Hester’s chinstrap, I really like the shoes he was wearing last Sunday. Those little pennants on the heels are dynamite. … Paul Gaiser notes that Monday Night Countdown used an old-school Redskins logo last night. Not that it helped. … Hey, wait, did I just shower praise on Nike footwear a minute ago? … As I think we all know by now, Cam Newton’s uni number is 2. But the number on the back of his helmet is 102. Nathan Haas says he’s noticed this on several Auburn helmets. Now, like many college football teams, Auburn has several instances of multiple players wearing the same uni number, including 2. So does the other 2er have 202 on his helmet? … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Man U’s equipment staff apparently doesn’t keep a blood jersey on hand. … Memphis basketball wore blue at home last night (as noted by Paul Watson).