Monday, September 26, 2005

Nice Helmet

I spent much of yesterday doing my duty as a decadent, lazy American. I sat on my ass for most of 10 hours watching football.

(For our foreign readers, that’s the game with the oblong, brown ball. Fútbol americano. Not that silly kicking game you all obsess over.)

Thinking about yesterday’s games, I could post a diatribe about the shameful roughing-the-passer call against the Chargers for hitting Eli Manning solidly, but cleanly, in the second quarter last night in San Diego. Or about the ridiculous THREE tries it took the Eagles on Sunday afternoon to even get the opening kickoff right because of their embarrassing offsides penalties during the first two attempts.

But comment on these things, I will not. Instead, let me cover a more heady issue.


It all started as when I was a kid, growing up in the 1970s with NFL sheets. NFL drapes. NFL pajamas. All of them with team helmets.

My misspent youth was wasted neither on video games nor pre-criminal mischief (except for that one egging incident—sorry Tau Kappa Epsilon), but on contemplating NFL headgear.

Sure, there are some bad helmets in today’s game. But most teams have changed their logos over the years and settled on one that at least is not embarrassing. The Jaguar, the Panther, and the Raven are each a bit silly, but not humiliating to wear.

Overall, today’s helmets are all in about the same category. They have made the Bronco’s pose more menacing, the Eagle’s wing better defined, and the Cardinal’s profile meaner. Now everyone feels that they are at least in the same league.

Not the case back in the day. From the late 1970s into the early 1980s, three distinct categories emerged in my little boy brain: the classy helmet, the cool helmet, and the stupid helmet.

There were the elegantly simple. Examples: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers. Nothing fancy here—a letter said it all. Classy.

There were the eternally awesome. Example: San Diego Chargers. A single lightning bolt—a symbol said it all. Cool.

Then there were the horrid. The inconceiveable. The downright stupid.

Take the Patriots. Unlike today, they were an embarrassment. Their play bested only one thing: their headgear. To make things worse, they represented a whole REGION—not just a city or a state—so at least five states were “represented” by a comically bad helmet.

Maybe it was my childish point of view, but their logo in the 1970s—a hunched patriot—looked like nothing more than a waiter at Long John Silver taking a dump, smirking, and grabbing his turd.

Exhibit B: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ahh, the team that could not buy a win well into the 1980s. If you ever wondered why they were not-so affectionately called the “Suck-aneers,” examine this helmet—an enormously gay pirate, biting a saber and coyly winking.

Maybe they were going for “Grrrrrrr,” but what they got was “Toodle-oo!! Has anyone seen the trolley??”

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Unless you actually want to win football games. In which case, gentlemen, just say no to the homoerotic headgear.


At September 26, 2005 9:51 PM, Blogger Tom replied to my musings ...

Tampa Bay's old logo is my favorite. It may be the worst judgement ever made in the history of professional sports (or possibly second to the ChiSox wearing shorts). Just imagine somebody looking at that and saying, "Yes, this is the image we want people to conjure up when they think of our team."

Who knows? Maybe they were just trying to distance their mascot from that of the Raiders in any way possible. Maybe they wanted more of a "Pirates of Penzance" look.

And in the defense of my poor, hobbled Eagles and their embarrassing kickoff fiasco, my theory (and it would seem the local media's) is that David Akers' hamstring injury was preventing him from getting to the ball in the time he usually takes, and that's why they kept going offside. And then the third one that went out of bounds, well, that was kicked by a guy who usually is a long snapper. They may have said this on TV, but I like to turn down the TV and put on the local radio guys, so I don't know.

At September 27, 2005 7:11 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that the offsides players were probably not just sloppy or lacking focus--as the brilliant TV announcer (cannot recall who) declared--but most likely were off on their timing because of Akers' last-minute slow stepping each time.

That said, this does not forgive the Eagles. Even if Akers did not have the self-discipline to stay out of the game after his first kick and help his team, the coaches/trainers should have sat his ass down. He may have won the game at the end, but his lack of good judgment makes him much less the brave hero than some are casting him as.

And every team should have a backup kicker who can kick. On a short roster, you do not want two good kickers--I get that. But I used to kick for fun back in thhe day and it is not rocket science for a non-kicker to kick a short field goal or even a kickoff with just a bit of practice.

The Eagles pulled this one out, but if they keep making decisions like these they will return to Turkey status.

-- d.a.


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