The History of the Winged Helmet

The University of Delaware helmet design is familiar to fans nationally, and the Blue Hens' pride in wearing it reflects their strong connection to the development of the history of the game of football. Commonly known as the "Michigan helmet", the Blue and Gold headgear dates not to Ann Arbor but to Princeton in the early 1930s.

During football games at that time, both schools generally wore the same colored uniforms along with leather helmets. Princeton was coached by Fritz Crisler who used a helmet with a wing pattern on it that was manufactured by the MacGregor-Goldsmith Co. To enable his quarterback to distinguish downfield receivers, Crisler had the leather dyed in Princeton's black and orange colors.

When Crisler moved to Michigan in 1938, he used the same helmet but changed the color scheme to Michigan's Maize and Blue.

Crisler had on his team a young man named Dave Nelson who used the same helmet when he became head coach at Hillsdale College in Michigan, changing the color pattern to Blue and White. Nelson then brought the helmet with him to Harvard (in black and crimson) and later to Maine (in blue and white) in 1949.

Nelson arrived in Newark in 1951 and once again with him came the helmet to which he adapted the Blue Hens' blue and gold colors. By 1964, leather helmets were replaced by fiberglass and plastic helmets. Fellow Michigan graduate Tubby Raymond succeeded Nelson as head coach at Delaware in 1966 and continues today to use the same helmet design.


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