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American Football History
Football Equipment

Makers of early leather football helmets?


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August 31, 2007 7:26PM

History has recorded that Navy Cadet Joseph Reeves was the first player to wear a helmet. In 1893, just before the annual Army-Navy contest, a doctor informed him that another shot to the head might cause death or permanent damage. Reeves asked an Annapolis shoemaker a make a leather cap to protect his head during the game. Mass production of football helmets started in the late 1910s. Two companies, Spalding and Rawlings, started making helmets with straps of fabric in a crossing pattern inside the helmet that acted as sort of a suspension system. This helped soften the blow by distributing the impact force in a more even fashion, and also provided ventilation to the head to keep the player a little cooler. Riddell Company patented the first plastic football helmet in 1939.