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Today's Tidbit... The NFL's First Face Mask?
I've previously written about the evolution of nose guards and face masks. Until now, I thought transparent plastic face masks first appeared in the early 1950s when Riddell produced one for Otto Graham, but a friend, Ron Pomfrey, provided the following image of a helmet John Woudenberg wore with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1940 to 1942. It is a great item!
Ron acquired the helmet and other items directly from Woudenberg, who claimed it was the NFL's first face mask. A claim like this sometimes comes down to how we define a face mask. For example, if not earlier, NFL players wore executioner's masks in 1931. Jay Berwanger, the 1935 Heisman Trophy winner, wore a birdcage face mask his entire career at Chicago, and enough college players wore birdcage face masks in the 1930s that face masking became a penalty in 1937.
Still, while I've seen references to NFL players wearing face masks before 1940, I have not seen example images. Does anyone have example images of NFL players wearing birdcage or transparent face masks before 1940?
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