Countdown to the 2014 NHL Winter Classic: 4 Days

The most iconic part of a Michigan football uniform is the “winged” football helmet. Fritz Crisler brought the design with him from his previous tenure as head coach at Princeton University. There’s a reason why Crisler used his rationale for the design of the winged helmet: The distinctive helmet would also have practical advantages on the field. Crisler figured the helmet would help his halfbacks find receivers downfield. “There was a tendency to use different colored helmets just for receivers in those days, but I always thought that would be as helpful for the defense as for the offense.” The new helmet made its successful debut in the 1938 season opener against Michigan State.  The Wolverines defeated the Spartans 14-0 behind two touchdown runs by sophomore Paul Kromer to gain their first win over Michigan State in four years. Since then, this helmet design has been synonymous with Michigan athletics. The only other teams to use the “winged helmet” in Division I are Princeton and Delaware. Even the design of the helmet has branched out to other sports. If the sport has a helmet, it has the same design as the football helmet, be it hockey, baseball, softball, or lacrosse. During Red Berenson’s fourth year as head coach of the Michigan men’s hockey team, he decided to switch the players’ solid white hockey helmets to the winged helmet design before their best-of-three playoff series against Bowling Green. Like Crisler, the switch of headgear stopped their opponent dead in their track. Eventually, Bowling Green won the series, 2-1.

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