What Teams Are Playing On Sunday Night Football Today The History of Riddell Football Helmets – Protecting Your Noggin Since 1939

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The History of Riddell Football Helmets – Protecting Your Noggin Since 1939

Back in 1929, John Tate Riddell founded his company armed with a vision to provide athletes with better sports equipment. And such an idea proved to be very useful, not only for JT Riddell but for the players as well, as from this concept of his came the leading manufacturer of football headgear in the country.

Removable Cleats— the history of Riddell football helmets began with the removable cleat. The aforementioned design was prepared by Riddell when he was still the athletic director and at the same time head of the football coaching staff for a certain high school located in Evanston, Illinois. It was 1922 when the head coach saw the need to develop the current leather footwear for his team. With the arrival of the rainy season, such a condition dictates the necessity of replacing the cleat and installing a longer sliding cleat to accommodate the aforementioned variable. This process is time-consuming, not to mention that the shoemaker in charge of such a task was also engaged by the university ergo who could not finish all the shoes by game time. The invention of removable cleats was openly welcomed and thus ignited a series of innovations that laid the groundwork for the history of Riddell football helmets.

Ten years after the company was formed, Riddell was a pioneer in the production of plastic headgear. This breakthrough caught the attention of the government, as it would certainly benefit the brave men of World War II. This is one of the best points in the history of Riddell football helmets.

With protection as the main goal, it’s hard to believe that helmets, and not pads, were the last to be accepted in professional football. The former isn’t even mandatory in football—it wasn’t until 1939 when the NFL mandated that players wear such protective headgear. Before the dawn of plastic helmets, there was leather. Players may be protected from concussions, but not from heat—air can barely circulate inside.

Evolution is inevitable; the same goes for the history of Riedel football helmets. The RT-2 was the first helmet the company designed and sold to the public. This helmet model was produced in 1946, one year after the death of JT Riddell. The RT-2 was a three-piece shell that used Tenite II with cotton mesh suspension for the head and neck. The mentioned suspension is a pocket of air between the head and the shell of the helmet. Although Riddell was unable to see the evolution and expansion of his company, he will always live on in every chest he protected, whether it was attached to an amateur or professional football player.

The next RT-2 was the RK-4. The latter resembles the shape of the RT-2, although the shell material differs. RK-4 is manufactured using a chemical called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene invented by US Rubber. The cotton webbing that was present in the RT-2 has been replaced with a combination of cotton and nylon. Both models featured regular 3-loop, 6-point suspension.

The history of Riddell football helmets includes the TK-5 and PAC-44 models. The two shared the same shell composition as the RK-4. The difference lies in the inner cushion. The TK-5 was originally lined with cotton. However, it was converted to the RK-4 interior, which was made of cotton and nylon. As for the PAC-44, it is marked and intended for youth. It had an internal airbag made of vinyl.

Since these predecessors, the company has progressed along with the game. With its ‘firsts’ such as web suspension, airbag interior and self-inflating equipment to name a few, it’s really hard to imagine the sports equipment scene without Riddell.

This is the history of Riddell football helmets…until now. With brilliant minds constantly formulating new ideas, it’s easy to say that another touch is within reach.

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