KC running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is among the NFL players who are wearing the new Riddell Axiom helmet, which provides an unusually wide field of vision. But if you look at the photo shown above, you can see that Edwards-Helaire has chosen to obstruct his view slightly by adding two thin lines of white tape to his visor.
If you didn’t know better, you might think that the lines are just a reflection or glare, but they’re actually an aftermarket modification to the visor. You can see lots of additional views here:
It turns out that Edwards-Helaire has been doing this since the preseason, but I only became aware of it a few days ago, when Twitter-er @TheTDJ brought it to my attention. It almost looks like the two lines are meant to simulate the old EG facemask.
Another Twitter-er, @FB_Helmet_Guy, provided this explanation:
Fun fact. Clyde Edwards-Helaire put thin white vertical tape strips on his visor to mimic the real vertical metal bars found on many facemasks. He said it helps him to make cuts, as he uses the vertical bars as a reference point when playing. pic.twitter.com/bDe7gfACxY
— FB_Helmet_Guy (@FB_Helmet_Guy) October 3, 2022
I couldn’t find any corroboration of that claim, so I contacted the team and asked if I could interview either Edwards-Helaire or the KC equipment manager. A team spokesman confirmed that the info in @FB_Helmet_Guy’s tweet is correct but said that the team didn’t want to discuss it in greater detail.
I also contacted Riddell. They said Edwards-Helaire is the only player they’re aware of who does this, and then they added this:
Our perspective is that players are particular about their uniforms, footwear, and equipment. We welcome modifications that are compliant and provide greater personalization if they don’t alter the fit, form, or function of the helmet in this case.
Anything in your field of view (e.g., lines to mimic an EG facemask or otherwise) will obstruct your vision. However, with the Axiom, you don’t have the upper or side cage/wire construction that other helmets have, so as a result you still have a superior field of view. We will introduce more facemask styles for next season, which will also help players further customize their look.
Interesting. When I interviewed the Riddell folks about the Axiom back in February, I actually asked if some players might have trouble adjusting to the helmet’s wider field of vision:
Uni Watch: Is [the wider face opening] something players are almost going to have to relearn? Like, is this going to be something like a new tool in their toolkit, and they’re going to have to learn how to use it in order to take advantage of this new scope of vision?
Thad Ide, Ridell VP research and product development: I think the answer is yes. And I think the answer is yes to a lot of the features on the Axiom helmet, because there’s a lot of different things going on here. And they’re all purposeful and I think they’re all executed really well, but players will have to get used to them.
So in Edwards-Helaire’s case, getting used to it means simulating the vertical facemask bars that he used to use to help get his bearings and orient himself. Fascinating! (Interestingly, Edwards-Helaire’s previous facemask had two vertical bars on each side, but he apparently doesn’t feel the need to have two strips of tape on each side.)
Meanwhile, between his compressed NOB lettering in the back and the two white lines in the front, Edwards-Helaire is among the league’s more uni-unusual players, both fore and aft.
Or you could simply not wear a necklace when playing. Just sayin’
Very strange not seeing the bars of the facemask surrounding the entire face opening of the helmet. Will take some getting used to if that becomes the norm.
it’s like the 60s
I like the helmet/facemask integration of the Axiom…much more than one of its’ “ancestors”:
That magazine looks like it is from the 1960s, not the 2000s.
The “no more concussions” line is crazy though and feels just as antiquated. It is almost as if they don’t understand a concussion can happen regardless of how great the helmet is. It can limit the force of impact to the head, but can’t prevent the sudden, violent stops which lead the brain to smack around inside the skull.
CEH. So fascinating! Must be so position dependent! My first visual reaction was “He wants to be Deion Sanders!” Deion had the vertical bars as a defensive back for a cool look, but if he ever went on offense, new helmet with a different face mask without those bars because they clashed with his needing to see the ball to catch it. WR ≠ RB ≠ DB!
I remember this so vividly. I think I also remember hearing that Deion would’ve just worn the same helmet, but that the team requested him have a better field of vision to play receiver, but he wouldn’t give up his look on defense so they had to have 2 helmets for him. His timing was poor though, because the stigma of a receiver having the EGOP mask disappeared almost immediately after he retired, and tons of wideouts have worn it since haha
I wish I had a link, but I saw somewhere that Edwards-Helaire said the reference point is that if a defender is between the two bars, he knows he needs to ‘make a move’ (ie. juke, spin, etc.) and if the defender is outside of the bars he needs to ‘turn on the burners’ to outrun the defender.
Sounds logical to me.
I stopped wearing goggles at rec basketball games because my vision was limited by them: I would never see screens coming up from behind (teammates being too lazy to call them anyway) because of the frame of the glasses. So I now play without them: better playing blurry than with a too limited view. That Edwards-Helaire on the other hand wants to focus on different areas of the field by adding the vertical lines makes total sense to me. Football is not basketball where a view of the total (and much smaller) playing area is needed all the time. Football is much more focussed towards going forward only.
…the team didn’t want to discuss it in greater detail.”
What a strange thing to clam up about, no?
I was thinking maybe they didn’t want to get too specific because it might compromise a competitive advantage, or something along those lines.
Or maybe it was just “Eh, we can’t be bothered setting up an interview about such a picky little thing.” (I get that a lot.)
It’s a little thing, but seeing my handle on the site and knowing I might’ve helped contribute to a post has me on cloud nine this morning.
Love you nerds
Hi, Tyler! So you’re @TheTDJ? Thanks so much for bringing this one to my attention — I love this topic! Wouldn’t have known about it if not for you.
Yep! Happy to contribute.
Very happy to see the photo link to Emmitt Smith, my fave! As soon as I understood what this post was about, I was thinking about Emmitt. He’s gotta be the most iconic player to wear that facemask.
Emmitt might be #2, but there’s a reason why the EGOP mask is still colloquially called ‘The Deion’ by a large swath of current and former players.
These Axiom helmets look so weird. It only took me a decade to adjust to all of the Transformers heads that are out there now. I couldn’t believe it when the day came that I thought Brady looked weird in the old Riddell.
Huge helmet nerd here. I’m still a fan of the traditional facemasks that the Schutt helmets offer followed by VICIS masks. I have never liked any of the newer Riddell helmets from a visual standpoint. I always liked facemasks with minimal gap between the top bars and the bottom cage. Think of what Denzel Perryman or Khalil Mack wear. Looks “meaner” to me.
The Axiom will probably never grow on me but it does look 100% better with the visor. I find it interesting that the OL you see wearing the Axiom in college don’t wear the visors but the position players do. Haven’t seen too many NFL OL wearing it.
One thing to keep in mind with the Axiom is this is the first model. They first had the Revolution, then Revolution Speed and now the Revolution SpeedFlex. I’m sure Riddell is already working to improve the Axiom and happy to see they are adding more masks. You wonder if they add some sort of top bar for those who want it? JJ Watt loved it but hated the mask so he isn’t wearing it. I’m sure Riddell took his criticism and used it to keep working.
Going to be one of my biggest off-season equipment interests to see what they roll out.
For what it’s worth, Edwards-Helaire’s old mask doesn’t REALLY have two bars on either side of it for him to emulate, what you’re seeing is the full vertical sidebar that all helmets prior to the Axiom have, the same bar on Emmitt Smith’s mask that bends down and creates the low horizontal bar across his chin. A few newer facemasks DO have two EG bars, like Jalen Ramsey’s and Von Miller’s custom masks
I’m disappointed in the lack of Grandmaster Flash reference in the title of today’s post.
“White Lines: Something of a Phenomenon, Baby”
Melle Mel says, “Don’t do it.”
I’m disappointed that there are more helmet/facemask nerds chatting today than math/probability nerds. What a sight– that White Sox run this season! Most incredible– achieving .500 at every step between 13-13 and 23-23. Most beautiful– finishing just right, at 81-81.
As a White Sox fan who had so many hopes for that season, that Chris Kamka tweet on the Sox being at .500 is both sad and very interesting.
Another interesting .500 fact: The White Sox, since July 26, 1932
I’d say this is the definition of sports mediocrity and the bane of White Sox fans everywhere
It’s been a while since I’ve uttered an “Oh Wow” out loud after reading something, but I just did with the CEH helmet article… well done. That was illuminating.
So glad you liked! I have to say, I think this one is peak Uni Watch. I was sooooo into this one myself!
This doesn’t directly answer your question about how often the White Sox were .500, but I did see a tweet that for the full season, they were always within 5 games of being .500, good or bad.