LA Rams’ helmet logo wish: Bring back the classic curlicue
By Jay Blucher
The LA Rams had the most distinctive, iconic helmet in NFL history, hands down – with the instantly recognizable ram horns curling around the earhole of the helmet. It was even referred to as the “horn above earhole” design.
You can tell quite a bit about a team from the logo. The attention to detail. The color scheme. It’s a bit of NFL history. The LA Rams have plenty of history. From Cleveland to Los Angeles to Saint Louis and then back to Los Angeles. And that takes the team up to 2020.
You may have heard something about the NFL having a “one-helmet rule.” (Actually, the league doesn’t call it this – that’s just a shorthand term that’s been bandied about by fans.)
The rule about one helmet per team was put into place, theoretically, as a way to improve player safety. It sprung out of a recommendation by the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, and forbids teams from changing helmets during the season. A team may wear a throwback uniform, but the helmet must be the same one worn throughout a season.
And there has been recent talk of scrapping the rule altogether in 2021. Do you know what opens the door to start happening? Teams could start wearing their throwback helmets again. The return of the Rams curlicue!
Okay, to further complicate things, the rule doesn’t limit teams to one helmet design; it limits them to one set of helmet shells. A team may change the way the shell is decorated. Confused? They can swap out the side decals, add striping tape or say, change the color of the face mask from gray to black (or any color they want).
The helmet design of 2020 still has the horns, but they don’t curl above the earhole now. And the horn isn’t whole anymore. It’s been cut into two pieces. Designers say it’s been been “segmented.” Like so:
But there is something to be said about the classic horn design. It was revolutionary in its day, I miss the curlicue that wrapped around the earhole, like so:
That’s the original logo (1948) and the Rams have the distinction of being the first NFL team to ever put a logo on their helmet. (Further proof the NFL is a copycat league, eh?)
It was actually a Rams halfback by the name of Fred Gehrke, (Rams RB 1946-1949) who hand-painted yellow ram horns on all the team’s helmets, one by one (!). Gehrke had studied art in college and was actually an industrial designer in the off-season, back in the days when players had off-season jobs (and before big paydays became the norm).
His simple idea to paint a logo on the helmet caught on like wildfire and by the early 1960s, every NFL team had an artistic logo on the sides of their helmets, except one. (Q: Which team has never had a logo on their helmet? A: The Cleveland Browns)
So, if you recall, the Rams announced last year that there will be new designs in 2021 and 2022. And to this, I say, “Bring back the curlicue and let it swirl above the earhole again!”
(And, to this year’s Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bring back the pirate with the feather in his hat and the knife in his teeth to your logo, too)
So why do college teams get away with having so many different helmets? Because the NCAA has not adopted a similar rule, and many college teams now have multiple helmet sets. Remember when the University of Oregon Ducks debuted chrome helmets for their Rose Bowl appearance almost a decade ago? Alternate helmets are now a staple at many college-level programs, and indeed, have morphed into a recruiting tool!
If the NFL were to cancel the rule, teams could market their entire throwback uniform catalog.
And mix and match helmets with throwback uniforms. Ka-Ching! The merchandising dollars would flow.
Think Philadelphia Eagles sporting kelly-green uniforms again, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back to Creamsicle orange, and the Rams in horns above the earhole again. It could happen.