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Today's Tidbit... That Thing On His Head
The image below came to my attention a few days ago. The version I saw on Helmet Archaelogy’s Twitter feed did not include the caption, but it only took a few minutes to determine that the guy with the thing on his head was Jacky Lee, who played for the Denver Broncos in 1964 and 1965.
I don't recall seeing the image before, but I have since learned it has floated around since being mentioned by UniWatch in 2008. Of course, I could not ignore this image, so I began searching to learn more about that thing on his head. The thing turned out to be a camera developed by General Dynamics, which built similar point-of-view systems for fighter pilots. I also learned that General Dynamics had plans to mount a camera on the helmet of a San Diego Chargers quarterback for a 1963 exhibition game. However, that does not appear to have happened, though they managed to mount the thing on Jacky Lee's helmet for at least a portion of a team practice in 1965. Other than those morsels, I could not find other information about this forerunner of GoPro devices.
While I did not find much information about the helmet-mounted camera, Jacky Lee's career story proved interesting and worth telling. Lee played college ball at Cincinnati and did well enough to be drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1960. He made the team, split time with veteran QB George Blanda, and helped the Oilers win the 1960 and 1961 AFL championships.
Entering the 1964 season, the Oilers had Lee, Blanda, and a 1963 draft choice, Don Trull, at QB, while the Denver Broncos lacked effective quarterbacking. Trying to promote competitive balance, AFL Commissioner Joe Foss arranged one of the more unusual trades in professional sports history. Referred to as the "Lend-Lease" deal, Houston exchanged Lee for 14-year veteran defensive tackle Bud McFadin, and Denver's first-round draft choice in 1964, despite Lee's rights reverting to Houston in 1966. Lee started ten games for Denver in 1964, but the Broncos released him before the 1965 regular season, though they brought him back when their starting quarterback suffered an injury in November.
Per the Lend-Lease deal, Lee returned to Houston in 1966 and was traded to the Chiefs during the 1967 season. Lee backed up Len Dawson for the next several seasons, starting two games when Dawson was injured and earning a ring when Kansas City won Super Bowl IV.
Lee retired after the 1969 season due to injuries but left the game as one of twenty players on AFL rosters all ten years of the league's existence. Not too bad for a guy who had to wear that thing on his head.
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