File:Winged helmet.jpg

A miniature replica of the Michigan Wolverines football helmet

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]

File:M.S.C. 1933 Winged Helmet.jpg

A full-size replica of the 1933 Michigan State gold and black winged helmet

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[1] 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.[1]

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."[2] 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.[2]

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.[1] Princeton abandoned the design after Crisler left in 1938, but in 1998, resurrected the winged design (in orange and black) for the Princeton Tigers.[3] The University of Delaware's football team, an FCS program has been using the winged helmet design continuously since 1951.[4] Several high school teams across the country have also adopted the design.

Colleges currently and recently using the winged football helmet[edit | edit source]

Kevin Grady of Michigan in the winged helmet

Division I FBS[edit | edit source]

Division I FCS[edit | edit source]

Division II[edit | edit source]

Division III[edit | edit source]

Junior colleges[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.