Semi-OT: The winged helmet thread

Submitted by oriental andrew on February 9th, 2011 at 12:05 PM

NOTE: People couldn't view the images when hotlinked from Helmet Project (, so I copied them all over to imageshack.  Let me know if you're still having issues.

Saw a piece on Pat Devlin's draft prospects (remember him?  Former 4* QB who originally committed to PSU, but transferred to Delaware after 2 seasons, following the Joe Flacco model) and saw his Blue Hen winged helmet.  Made me wonder which college teams are currently sporting these helmets.  So, thanks to wikipedia and the Helmet Project,  I've put together a summary (with images!) of all winged helmets currently used in college today, as well as some historical helmets (ie, no longer used or from defunct teams).  Don't know if I've missed anything while scanning through Helmet Project, but should be as comprehensive a list back to the 1950's as you'll find.  

For additional reference, you can always check out the excellent write-up on the history of Michigan's winged helmet at the UM Bentley Historical Library website.  And because I know some Sparty-sympathizer will bring it up, there is also an unofficial "Official" history of the winged helmet courtesy of Spartan Jerseys (and unlike UM teaching notre dame to play football or our marching band teaching ohio state's how to spell, msu just used it before UM; UM drew no inspiration from them.  If anything, Michigan "inspired" msu to STOP using it after a 50-0 beatdown.).  

Fyi, there are 3 teams in the list called the Wolverines (UM, Grove City, and San Bernadino Valley).  

Div 1 FBS:

University of Michigan  

Div 1 FCS:

Delaware Blue Hens

Princeton Tigers

Div III:

Grove City College (PA) Wolverines

Gustavus Adolphus (MN) Golden Gusties

Middlebury College (VT) Panthers

Nichols College (MA) Bison


San Bernadino Valley (CA) Wolverines


No longer used:

Graceland College (IA) Yellowjackets (NAIA )

Alfred State (NY) Pioneers (JuCo, ?-2009)

Carleton College (MN) Knights (DIII, ?-2000)

Averett College (VA) Cougars (DIII, 2002)

Olivet (MI) Comets (DIII, 2002-2004)

Franklin (IN) Grizzlies (DIII, 1991-1999)

William Paterson (NJ) Pioneers (DIII, 2003-2004)

Southwest Baptist (MO) Bearcats (DII, 2005-2007)

Pace (NY) Setters (DII, ?-2005)

Maine Black Bears (DI-AA, 1951-1975)

British Columbia Lions (CFL, 1950s-1961)

Philadelphia Eagles (NFL, 2007, special throwback helmet)


Defunct teams:

Connecticut Coyotes (Arena, 1996)

Blackburn College (IL) (?-1999)

St Peter's (NJ) (1999-2002, 2005-2006)



February 9th, 2011 at 12:13 PM ^

Don't forget the version of our helmet in carbon fiber form (for whenever we ditch Adidas and go back to Nike).  I hear it's already in the works, per league source.]



February 9th, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

The Philly helmet is winged, but not exactly Michigan's design. If I remember the game correctly (it was against the Lions), there was one thick stripe down the middle, not 3 skinny ones like we are used to. Also, the wings were a slightly different shape. 

Found a picture:

Philly winged helmet


February 9th, 2011 at 3:51 PM ^

is not just any random guy.

That is Jon Falk, our legendary equipment manager (or Director of Equipment Operations).

He's been a cornerstone of this program for almost 40 years.  In fact, he just wrote an excellent book on his tenure here:  If These Walls Could Talk.

So, no, "this guy" does not do him justice.  It's like saying "that coach" when referencing Bo.


February 9th, 2011 at 4:06 PM ^

...bit is malarkey. See this comment of mine from the last time this issue came up.

The difference between Michigan's winged helmet and the MSU helmet is that Michigan used the Spalding FHS model, the only model to have wings and three vertical stripes running front-to-back. The other difference between Michigan and all the schools that painted portions of their helmets (wings, stripes, etc): Michigan kept the paint scheme after the transition from leather to plastic helmets.

So, not the first, but when Crisler introduced painting the winged section and the stripes, it was unique and the decision to retain the paint scheme when there were no sections to paint anymore has made the Michigan helmet iconic.