When we recently asked why he continued wearing a
vintage 1940s -- 1970s technology suspension helmet right up until his
retirement in 1986, the soft spoken Charlie Joiner replied "I just don't like
unnecessary change." "It wasn't because of the way it looked or even that it
offered more or less protection than a more modern helmet -- it just felt
comfortable when I first wore it and I never saw a reason to change something
that I felt comfortable with."
Could this be the secret to the longevity of Charlie's "Hall of Fame"
career? Did he continue to play professional football at the highest level,
year after year, for 18 straight years because he felt "comfortable with it"
and saw no reason to pursue another career? Charlie Joiner is a "Helmet Hut"
type of guy -- a guy who lives the philosophy "if it isn't broke, don't fix
If Charlie was the commissioner of the NFL we might be able to get to know
our local team again because players would play longer and not jump from team
to team like they now do. The current style Detroit Lion helmets would not
have excessive black and white trim because their classy and understated 1961
helmet style was already perfection. We certainly would not have to
endure watching every home team running through a silly generic, laser light
and smoke filled entrance tunnel prior to each game -- what does that add to
our once character filled game. Gosh, if Charlie Joiner were commissioner
then the game ball still may still be stamped "The Duke" -- why did
someone need to remove that little bit of class from our game? Help us
Charlie, the NFL doesn't get it.
Charlie Joiner's Riddell "TK-2" helmet is stamped with a 1974 manufacturing
date. His player numerals reflect the style that the team wore during their
heyday in the early 1980s when they beat the Dolphins in the famous overtime
playoff game. Although this helmet was originally molded in an impregnated
navy color the helmet has been subsequently painted in the slightly lighter
shade of "Charger Blue." The classic style (thanks again Charlie) "BD-9"
facemask has been painted to match his teammate's vinyl dipped variety (check
out Dr. Del Rye's 4/30/2002 column to read about the Charger's involvement in
the evolution of team colored facemasks). The well worn Charger bolt
decals seem to appear slightly larger than those seen on other Charger helmets
from this era. This is due to the fact that Charlie's size 7, smaller than
normal head, required a median size shell while most other players wore a
large size shell. Charlie had the original factory installed "Wildcat"
sweatband removed to give the helmet the same feel of his original 1969
Houston Oiler suspension helmet with its small inconspicuous nose snubber.
Thanks Charlie for helping to keep much of football's special
character alive well into the late 1980s. We very comfortable to include you
as one of our "Helmet Hut Heroes" and you can also count on that never