Today's Tidbit: Old-Time Football's Mane Event
It was not until the early 1890s that football players started wearing leather and wool head harnesses to protect their ears and head. With designs similar to today's wrestling headgear, head harnesses were the forerunners of the modern football helmet.
Before head harnesses arrived, teams wore colored and tasseled stocking caps to keep their heads warm and gain some protection. The best protection at the time came from growing the hair long, so players stopped cutting their hair during the summer to guarantee a full mane atop their heads by fall.
Newspaper and magazine cartoonists of the day often showed locks flowing from the heads of players in their illustrations, but as head harnesses increased in use during the 1890s and 1900s, the masses of hair, um, receded.
By 1912, the head protection tides had turned enough for Puck magazine to grace its cover with an illustration comparing the protective gear worn by players in 1892 and 1912. The long hair prominent on the player in 1892 was shorn and hidden beneath a padded harness/helmet by 1912.
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