NCAA.com put out an interesting editorial about the evolution of the football helmet that can be found here. This is in part due in my estimation to the current buzz (one might go so far as to describe it as hysteria) about concussions in contact sports, particularly football. I have always found this an interesting evolution.
Long gone are the days of strapping on your leather helmet:
In the 50's and 60's, the helmet evolved into, basically becoming a metal then hard plastic version of the leather helmet with the addition of a rudimentary face mask (which was really just a bar at first):
Gradually, the helmet's face mask itself began to evolve:
Combines with new space age style lightweight plastics and foams, the helmet mask ultimately became a type of full, goalie style face mask (This little number costs just under $1000 to purchase new):
Ironically, being a military history major, the football helmet evolution followed the pattern of design that helmets worn by knights in the middle ages followed:
One wonders, with the fixation America has with keeping kids encased in bubblewrap and plastic McDonald's playground equipment and the coming of more finesse styles of high octane offensive schemes, if football will begin to get less physical and not more physical, thereby rendering a football helmet that becomes more ceremonial as well. Or, at the least, a facemask that hinges up and is not fixed like the classic jousting knight.
Food for thought...