The winged football helmet is a helmet bearing a distinctive two-toned painted design that typically has sharp outward curves over the forehead forming a wing. It is worn by many high school and college American football teams, most popularly by the University of Michigan Wolverines.
History[edit | edit source]
Famed football coach Herbert "Fritz" Crisler is credited with first painting the winged helmet in school colors. In 1935, while head coach at Princeton University, Crisler ordered stock helmets bearing leather wings out of the Spalding catalog, believing the design to have practical advantages on the field In 1938, Crisler became head football coach and athletic director at the University of Michigan, where he added maize and blue coloring to the stock design. These helmets made their debut at the Wolverines' 1938 season opener against Michigan State and have been worn ever since. It has become an icon of Michigan's football program, which held it exclusively for more than sixty years.
Crisler once recalled his rationale for the design: "Michigan had a plain black helmet and we wanted to dress it up a little. We added some color and used the same basic helmet I had designed at Princeton." There was one other consideration. Crisler thought this unique helmet could be helpful to his passers as they tried to spot their receivers downfield. "There was a tendency to use different-colored helmets just for receivers in those days, but I always thought that would be as helpful for the defense as for the offense," said Crisler.
While the Wolverines have traditionally and historically held a claim to the winged helmet as their own, several other organizations have employed similar or identical designs. Michigan State began wearing a variation of the winged helmet before 1938, predating the Wolverines and continuing until 1948. Princeton abandoned the design after Crisler left in 1938, but in 1998, resurrected the winged design (in orange and black) for the Princeton Tigers. The University of Delaware's football team, an FCS program has been using the winged helmet design continuously since 1951. Several high school teams across the country have also adopted the design.
Colleges currently and recently using the winged football helmet[edit | edit source]
Division I FBS[edit | edit source]
- University of Michigan (maize and blue)
Division I FCS[edit | edit source]
- Saint Peter's College, New Jersey (blue and white), before it dropped its football program in 2007
- Princeton University (orange and black) 
- University of Delaware (royal blue and gold) 
Division II[edit | edit source]
Division III[edit | edit source]
Junior colleges[edit | edit source]
- Alfred State College (through 2009 season) 
- Hutchinson Community College Worn through 2006 season, White as base color, Black as color of wing
- San Bernardino Valley College 
References[edit | edit source]
- "University of Michigan Football: Michigan's Winged Helmet". University of Michigan Athletics History. Bentley Historical Library. 2006-04-10. http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/helmet/mhelmet.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Michigan Winged Helmet, Michigan Tradition: Athletics Website
- Princeton Football -- Tiger Uniform & Helmet
- Delaware Blue Hens Football
- Southwest Baptist University Football
- Grove City College Football
- Gustavus Adolphus College Football
- Middlebury College Football
- Nichols College Football
- Alfred State football
- San Bernardino Valley College Football, photos
[edit | edit source]
- Michigan's Winged Helmet -- Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan Athletics History