College Football Coaches Likely To Be Hired In The Nfl 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

In 1929, John Tate Riddell started his company armed with the vision of providing better sports equipment to athletes. And such an idea has proved very beneficial not only for JT Riddell but also for the players as his concept has spawned the country’s leading manufacturer of football headgear.

Removable Cleat— The history of Riddell football helmets all started with the removable cleat. This design was created by Riddell while 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 head coaches felt the need to develop the current leather-fit footwear for their teams. With the arrival of monsoons, such conditions necessitate changing cleats and installing longer mud cleats to accommodate that variable. The process is time-consuming, not to mention that even the cobbler in charge of such work was hired by the university as he could not complete all the footgear in time for the game. The invention of the removable cleats was widely welcomed and began a series of innovations that laid the foundation for the history of Riddell football helmets.

Ten years after the company’s founding, Riddell created the fist plastic suspension headgear. This achievement caught the attention of the government as it would certainly benefit the brave men of World War II. This is one of the greatest marks in the history of Riddell football helmets.

With defense being the main goal, it’s hard to believe that helmets instead of pads were the last thing in pro football. The former wasn’t even mandatory in football—that is, until 1939 when the NFL mandated players wear such protective headgear. Before the dawn of plastic helmets there was leather. Players can be protected from impact but not from heat—air can hardly circulate inside.

Evolution is inevitable; The same applies to the history of Riddell football helmets. The RT-2 was the first helmet the company produced and sold to the public. The helmet model was created in 1946, a year after JT Riddell’s death. The RT-2 was a three-piece shell using Tenite II with cotton web suspension for the head and neck. Said suspension introduces a pocket of air between the helmet’s head and shell. Although Riddell was never able to actually see the evolution and expansion of his company, he always lived in every noggin he protected, whether it was affiliated with an amateur or a professional football player.

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

The history of Riddell football helmets includes the TK-5 and PAC-44 models. Both shared the same shell design as the RK-4. The difference depends on the inner cushion. TK-5 was originally a cotton pillow. However, it was modified with the interior of the RK-4 being made of cotton and nylon. For PAC-44, the same was tagged and meant for youth. It featured an interior air cushion made from vinyl.

Since these pioneers, the company has progressed along with the game. With ‘firsts’ like web suspension, air cushion interiors and self-contained inflation head gear, it’s really hard to picture a sports equipment scene without a Riddell.

This is the history of Riddell football helmets…until now. With creative minds constantly generating new ideas, it’s easy to tell that another touchdown is within reach.

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