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In Which Optimus Prime Suits Up for the Giants

Filed Under: NFL, NHL, Helmets, Facemasks/Visors, Rugby, Equipment Managers




The science fiction-ization of NFL headwear continues. Yesterday it was LaDainian Tomlinson’s facemask; today it’s the gonzo helmet design worn by Brandon Jacobs, Amani Toomer, and several other Giants players during their game against the Jets on Saturday night.


I confess that I totally missed the boat on this one until yesterday afternoon, when ESPN.com photo czar Sean Hintz (the man who deserves the lion’s share of the credit for my Bill Buckner scoop last year) asked me about it. Apparently ESPN.com designer Matthew Walker had mentioned the helmets to Sean, and Sean in turn went and found the two photos I linked to above, which pretty much blew my mind. I mean, I’ve been saying for years that uniform design is showing more and more of a comic book superhero influence, and this is probably the best (or, if you prefer, worst) example yet of that trend.


Fortunately, Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba is a longtime friend of Uni Watch, so I e-mailed him and quickly got a reply. “That’s the Schutt Ion,” he wrote. “It’s a brand-new helmet that’s the next evolution of the DNA.” When I asked if any other Jints players were wearing it besides Jacobs and Toomer, he provided the following list: Shaun O’Hara, Grey Ruegamer, Guy Whimper, Jay Alford, Marcus Bell, and David Diehl.


You can see Diehl wearing the Ion here, in a photo from the Giants’ previous game against the Ravens. The weird thing is that Jacobs is also in that photo, and he’s not wearing the Ion there. Once I started looking at more photos, I found that Jacobs didn’t even wear the Ion for the entire Jets game — you can see him wearing a conventional helmet here and here. More intriguingly, I found no mention of the Ion on the Schutt web site.


So is the Ion (which, incidentally, appears to have a rather innovative facemask mounting system) just a developmental prototype? Are the players just trying it out for a few plays here and there? “Brandon was giving it a test drive,” said Skiba. “It’s in the testing phase, but it’s NOCSAE-approved for field use. We will wear it in the regular season.” So get set to see plenty more of the weirdest-looking helmet to appear on an NFL gridiron since the days of Willie Lanier.


courtesy of uniwatchblog.com

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