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Iowa Football Helmet – A History
The modern era of University of Iowa football helmets began with a yellow helmet, gray mask, black vertical stripe and black numbers on the side. This design was used until 1964 and was brought back in the 2010 game against Ball State to commemorate the 1959 Rose Bowl champion Hawkeye team. The first major change came in 1965 when the numbers on the side were replaced by a black “I” with a white circle and a thin black outline in the logo patch. However, this logo did not last long. In 1966 the “I” was removed and the helmet was just solid yellow with black and white vertical stripes.
In 1971, the logo returned with a large soaring eagle on a black background. The eagle had a lot of shade. Since the background was now black, the vertical stripes changed to a single yellow vertical stripe. It was the second time the logo lasted only one year. In 1972, the logo was changed and all shading was removed. The eagle was bright yellow and its claws were similar but slightly altered and stronger. In 1974, Iowa decided to favor a solid design again and returned to a solid yellow helmet; this time with only one black stripe without the white stripe outline as it was in the late 1960s.
The year 1977 marked another shift. As was popular at the time, the Iowa name in italics was applied to a yellow helmet with a black stripe. The Iowa decal was black, but with a black outline. When face masks of different colors were available, Iowa’s uniform designers decided that a black mask would fit the design perfectly. The design overall looked quite sharp as black and yellow are some of the easiest to read and see from a distance (the billboard industry knows this and often uses this scheme when trying to get your attention).
The current Iowa football helmet has been in use for over 30 years, believe it or not. The black helmet with a yellow stripe and Hawkeye head graphic was introduced in 1979. This is one of the most memorable logos in college sports and immediately catches your attention with the beak, eye, head and the part that stretches from the eye towards the body. . High schools and other teams use this popular logo. Since 1979, there have been several instances where the Hawkeye football team has worn a different helmet. At least twice, they wore black helmets to mourn the victims of a campus shooting or the parents of a player. They also wore a gold helmet once in 2004 to celebrate Kinnick Stadium’s 50th anniversary.
The last interesting feature of the Iowa Hawkeyes football helmet is the letters “ANF” which are located on a small decal on the back of the helmet. This was worn in the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s. Many people wonder what those letters stood for when they look at historical photos of the Hawkeye team. “America Needs Farmers” is what ANF stood for and was meant to support struggling farmers. In 2011, they continue the special America Needs Farmers Days, where farmers are invited and paid tribute to. It makes sense when you think of Iowa as the corn and soybean farming capital of America.
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