Nebraska Football Helmet – A Story

Since the 1960s, Nebraska has maintained a very consistent football helmet design. They have always had a very conservative design; they never had a flashy or unusual design, even for a special occasion like a Bowl Game. In 1960, Nebraska had a red helmet with a white stripe and the player’s number on the side (ex. 22). In 1961, it seems, the powers that be perceived that even that design was too colorful and action-packed and instead opted for a white helmet with black numbers on the side. The design of this Nebraska football helmet is the simplest you can get for a football helmet. In 1966 the numbers changed to red and a red vertical stripe appeared on the helmet for the first time. The white background and red stripe have never left the helmet since.

The red numbers only lasted one regular season before they were eliminated entirely. Instead of having the player’s number on the side of the helmet, the letters “NU”, they made their way to the helmet for the 1967 Sugar Bowl game and stayed for 2 full seasons. During the third season with this helmet design (1969), a “100” decal appeared on the front of the football helmet. It was shaped like a soccer ball in blue with white numbers outlined in red. The “100” marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

From 1970 to 1981, the Cornhuskers kept the exact same design. The helmet had a white background, a red vertical stripe and the letter “N” replaced “NU”. This football helmet looks a lot like today’s design with one exception. In 1982, the team switched from the basic gray face mask to the red face mask. For nearly 30 years, the exact same design has remained. The “N” is as clear as you can get. It has no serif and looks like the capital “N” of your basic Arial font that you could type in any word processing program. It probably fits well into the program’s image as a hardworking Midwestern school where they like to run the ball in the middle. In many ways it is the antithesis of some of the more flashy designs in schools like Oregon, Maryland and Boise State. There isn’t even an eye-catching logo like the Texas Longhorn or the Florida State spear. By looking at this football helmet, you can begin to understand why the cold weather, the Big Ten’s Rust Belt schools were quick to admit the Cornhuskers for full membership in the conference in 2010.

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