Before There Were Helmets

NFL Leather HelmetPacker fans are among the very few who can tell other fans, “Please… our team was playing with leather hats before your team was even born.” This series of articles will take a look back at the men who made the Packers great before most teams even existed.

It wasn’t until 1943 that the NFL required use of helmets. Prior to that most players chose to don leather helmets to absorb some of the shock, but many players still knocked bare skulls with the other team.

In this series, we’ll look at the Packer player who made the Hall of Fame with just a leather hat protecting their noggin.

The leather hat era of pro football was a fascinating time. Professional football was in its infancy and struggling to keep its feet. Players would jump from team to team depending on which team was offering the highest salary (and they didn’t even wait until the end of the season to do it). Colleges were locking horns with the NFL about the practice of using college players that were still enrolled, causing the college to miss out on a lot of football talent. And, salaries were rising dramatically as teams raced to draw the best football talent to their organization.

As the NFL struggled along the highway of history, it left many broken teams along the roadside. Teams like the Decatur Staleys, the Rock Island Independents, the Akron Professionals, and even the Canton Bulldogs (home of the NFL Hall of Fame) were left behind.

As, one by one, teams fell by the wayside, two strong teams emerged to lead the NFL and help it gain stability and momentum. One of those teams was the Green Bay Packers.

Who were the men that made up this nucleus around which all the other teams gathered? Who were the men that kept the NFL alive when it looked as if it would die a horrible death? Who were the men that made green and gold flow through the veins of an entire state and eventually spread world wide?

Let’s take a look…


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