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Iowa Football Helmet – A History
The modern era of University of Iowa football helmets began with a yellow helmet, gray face shield, black vertical stripe, and black numbers on the side. This design was used until 1964 and was brought back once in 2010 in a game against Ball State to commemorate Hawkeye’s 1959 Rose Bowl winning team. The first major change came in 1965 when the numbers on the side were replaced by a black “I” with a white circle and a thin black outline in the logo spot. This logo, however, did not last long. In 1966 the “I” was removed and the helmet was just solid yellow with black and white vertical stripes.
A logo returned in 1971 with a large soaring eagle on a black background. The eagle had a lot of shadow. Since the background was now black, the vertical stripe changed to a single yellow vertical stripe. It was the second time that a logo lasted only one year. In 1972 the logo was changed and all shading was removed. The eagle was solid yellow and its talons were similar but slightly modified and thicker. In 1974, Iowa again decided it as the solid design and reverted to the solid yellow helmet; this time having only one black stripe with no white stripe outline as they did in the late sixties.
The year 1977 marked a new turning point. As was popular at the time, the name Iowa in cursive was applied to the yellow helmet with a black stripe. The Iowa sticker was black but outlined in black. As masks in different colors became available, uniform designers in Iowa decided that a black mask would work well for this design. The overall design looked quite clean as black and yellow are among the easiest colors to read and see from a distance (the billboard industry knows this and often uses this scheme when she is trying to get your attention).
The current Iowa football helmet has been in use for over 30 years, believe it or not. The black helmet with a yellow stripe and graphic Hawkeye head entered service in 1979. It is one of the most memorable logos in college sports and immediately catches your eye with the beak, eye, head and the part extending from the eye towards the body. . High schools and other teams have used this popular logo. There have been a few occasions since 1979 where the Hawkeye football team has worn a different helmet. At least twice, they’ve worn all-black helmets to mourn campus shooting victims or a player’s parents. They also wore a gold helmet once in 2004 to celebrate Kinnick Stadium’s 50th anniversary.
A final interesting element of the Iowa Hawkeyes football helmet was the letters “ANF” which were placed on a small decal on the back of the helmet. It was worn in the mid to late 80s and early 90s. Many people wonder what these letters stood for when looking at historic photos of Team Hawkeye. “America Needs Farmers” is what the ANF stood for and it was meant to support struggling farmers. Even in 2011 they continue to have special America Needs Farmers days where farmers are invited and honored. This makes sense when you think of Iowa as America’s corn and soybean growing capital.
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