We cover some pretty small details here at Uni Watch — belt buckles, shoelaces, wedding bands. But until now, I don’t think I’ve ever devoted an entry to the topic of facemask clips.
Some quick background: Back in the day, facemasks used to be screwed directly into the helmet shells. Then came the development of facemask clips, which made it easier to swap masks in and out and also, crucially, provided a bit of a “give” upon impact, helping to disperse the force of a blow.
I’ve been aware of facemask clips for almost as long as I’ve been watching football, but I’ve never given any thought to the different brands or designs. That changed when I recently received a note from longtime Uni Watch contributor/pal Michael Princip. As you may recall, he’s an industrial engineer who’s the lead designer on Schutt’s new F7 helmet. He’s also a helmet collector, and he was excited to tell me about one of his latest projects:
I thought you might be interested in a helmet DIY project I’ve been working on. Back in the 1980s, the original Shockblocker clips were introduced (or as I call them, Zide clips, because they were designed by a guy named Robert Zide). These were the first version of what would eventually become the current and more popular shockblocker clip.
That first version was monstrously big but simple in design, with surgical tube used as the shock absorber. A lot of NFL players wore them, including practically the entire Buffalo Bills team They’re very hard to find these days, and when you do, they’re very expensive. I had some royal blue 3D printer filament, so I decided to make my own clips.
Okay, let’s go one thing at a time. First, here are some photos of NFL players wearing the original Shockblockers. Sure enough, they’re huge, just as Michael said. For some reason I never really noticed them until now (click to enlarge):
Michael also sent me some scans of the December 1983 issue of Pro Football Athletic Trainer (“The biannual publication of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society”). It includes an article about the then-new Shockblocker. Unfortunately, the scan, which wasn’t done by Michael, cuts off part of the page, so the article is hard to read, but you can still glean a bit of information from it (click to enlarge):
Here’s the patent for the original Shockblockers (which has since expired). Michael used the patent drawings as a guide for creating his 3D-printed verisons (click to enlarge):
And here’s how his clips look on an old Seahawks helmet from his collection (click to slightly enlarge):
Not bad! What should we call this — the Princip Clip? The PrinClip? By any name, it’s very cool. Thanks for sharing this one with us, Michael.
StripeRite update: The second batch of StripeRite socks (shown at right) is now on sale for only $10/pair, including shipping (a big discount from the usual $16.50/pair). You can also get the third batch at the regular price, although quantities are dwindling. The first batch, alas, is now sold out.
Baseball News: Looks like the Phillies are overhauling their outfield turf. … New field for the Royals, too (from Spencer Davis). … Derek Jeter, now running the show for the Marlins, says it’s fine if any of his players want to kneel during the national anthem. … New alternate uniform for the Orix Buffaloes.
NFL News: The Eagles will go mono-white for tonight’s game in Carolina. … The Panthers, meanwhile, will go mono-blue and will also add a “51” memorial decal for Sam Mills (thanks, Phil). … Lots of high schools poach NFL logos for their football teams, which is lazy and unethical. But the town of Shelbyville, Ill., takes things a step further by putting the Rams logo on their water tower (from Eric Bangeman).
College Football News: New mono-red uniforms for Eastern Washington (from Alex Bruder). … Albright College, a D-III school, cut a player for kneeling during the national anthem. … A Florida player walked out onto the field in this weekend’s gator-print uniform accompanied by a real alligator (thanks, Phil). … In a vaguely related item, the gator-print uniforms prompted this humor piece on rejected Florida uniforms (from Eric Juergens). … Here are this week’s uni combos for Troy, Miami of Ohio, Vanderbilt, Air Force, and Incarnate Word. … Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that Miami would be wearing their mono-BFBS alternates this weekend against Georgia Tech, but that’s no longer the case. Details here (from Javier Davalos). … NC State will wear “J.R.” helmet decals this weekend in memory of Johnny Roseboro, the father of player Darian Roseboro, who passed away this week (from James Gilbert). … Colorado State’s flag-based uniform has been a big hit at retail (from Frank Naqvi).
Hockey News: Latest reason not to waste money on overpriced polyester shirts: The new NHL authentics have this completely annoying plastic Adidas button on the front. “Can’t figure out how to get it off,” says John Bub. Several folks on Reddit have already addressed that. … Here’s a retrospective look at the Oilers’ uniforms through the years. “The way the uniforms transition from one to the next underlines how ugly the navy blue looks compared to the previous lighter shade (not to mention how bad the orange jerseys are, in general, compared to the blue ones),” says Matt Walthert. … A hockey club in Houston has done a straight-up poaching of the Wild’s logo (from Ed Hughes). … ECHL teams will wear Marvel superhero-inspired uniforms this season.
NBA News: NBA headbands now have subtle Nike logo creep. They still have the NBA logo, although many players appear to be wearing it on the back, or inside-out (from Mike Chamernik). … Uniform designer/historian Todd Radom has done a great piece on the visual legacy of the ABA. Highly recommended. … Grizzlies PG Mario Chalmers had a small hole in the back of his jersey during last night’s preseason game against the Rockets (from @HitTheGlass).
College Hoops News: One of UNC women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell’s former players sent her quilt made from UNC T-shirts (from James Gilbert). … Also from James: Pretty good article on the company that made UNC’s championship banner. … Whoa, check out this shot of a 1980s game between WVU and Youngstown State with both teams going untucked and YSU wearing SNOB! (Great find by Robert Hayes.) … Michigan State has added a memorial patch for former coach Jud Heathcote, who died in August (from our own Kris Gross).
Soccer News: Dynamo Dresden will wear an anti-racism slogan instead of their usual jersey ad (from Ed Żelaski). … Thought-provoking note from Omar Jalife, who writes: “I was at the U2 concert in Mexico City last week and saw this U2 T-shirt, which mimics Pumas UNAM’s (soccer) jersey. Obviously, the U2 number and Joshua tree below it are not in UNAM’s jersey, but the main point I want to make is that people are so used to advertisers on our soccer jerseys that even a bootleg T-shirt maker felt the need to add all the ads. Could this shirt accomplish the same effect without the ads? Of course it would, but now there’s a mindset that ads are part of the design itself. I just hope it doesn’t end like that in the U.S. sports.” … Here’s what appears to be a pretty comprehensive index of soccer team crests (from @_VToasty_).
Grab Bag: Love these photos of German bowling alleys (from Jon Solomonson). … The Virginia State Police issued a statement affirming that on-duty officers should not cover the name tags on their uniforms. Several officers had covered their name tags during a recent pro-Confederacy rally. … The Boy Scouts will now allow girls to join, which will likely result in some uniform adjustments. … Here’s more on the U.S. Army’s revival of the old “pinks and greens” uniforms (from @RollinDeathStar). … Pinktober jerseys this weekend for Akron volleyball (from Jim Vilk).