The Helmet Project

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The Helmet Project is a website which illustrates the evolution of the gridiron football helmets since 1960. This year was chosen as a cut-off point as hard-shell helmets had fully replaced obsolete leather headgear by this point, plus there are very few color photographs that illustrate football helmets from before then. Charles Arey of Atlanta, Georgia designed the site and continues to maintain it.



THP began in 1999 covering NCAA college football, and has since expanded to cover the NAIA, National Football League and NFL Europe, Canadian Football League, Arena Football League and af2, and Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Defunct professional football leagues such as the WFL, USFL, and XFL have also been added.

Not included are the women's football leagues, minor indoor football leagues, semi-pro leagues, or high school football. Several similar websites have been created by fans of THP to cover these leagues:

  • The Georgia High School Helmet Project [1].
  • Helmets, Helmets, Helmets [2].
  • Hoosier (Indiana) High School Helmet Project [3].
  • Michigan High School Helmet Project [4].
  • Pennsylvania High School Helmet Project [5].
  • Ohio High School Helmet Project [6].
  • Tennessee High School Helmet Project [7].
  • Winnipeg High School Football League's Helmet Project [8].
  • California High School Helmet Project [9].
  • European leagues [10].[dead link]


All helmets are illustrated in 160x106 pixel GIF's. In all instances, the illustrations are in three-quarters profile of the left side of the helmet. This has created problems in instances where a team uses logos on the right side only (i.e. Pittsburgh Steelers).

All helmets were drawn from a standard template, which shows a full facemask style in use since the 1980s. This design has been criticised for not correctly illustrating the style of face guards in use before then. Arey has responded that he is more interested in correctly illustrating the color of the facemask than its shape, which was often seen in several different configurations simultaneously depending on the equipment manufacturer as well as the player's position and personal preference. (Example: Quarterback Joe Theismann's use of the single bar facemask throughout his career, even though it was usually worn only by placekickers by this point.)

Facemask issues notwithstanding, Arey often requires photographic evidence, or preferably a copy of the actual logo and stripe pattern, before adding a design to the website. Helmets that Arey is unable to illustrate are denoted by a blank helmet with a question mark or plus sign depending on how much information Arey requires to correctly illustrate it. In many instances, low-resolution scans of pictures illustrating helmet designs that Arey is unable to reproduce are included in a separate section.

The Helmet Project in other media

Arey authorizes all non-commercial use of his artwork, as well as their use in college media kits and game programs. As such, Arey's illustrations are widely seen on football related websites and publications. [11] [12] [13] [14][15]

Arey's artwork also was used for a special glossy section of the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia (ISBN 1-4013-3703-1) though the designs were modified to illustrate appropriate face gear for the era. Arey's designs were also used on the front and back cover in unmodified form.

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