Jim Parker & His Lions

What draws a youngster to a particular team? What allows for a pre-teen to watch a specific team, good or bad in that one season, and find that it has called to him? What is the magic that a football team brings to someone that touches and remains with them for the rest of their lives? There is no doubt that as a man moves towards adulthood, there are “things” that grab hold and lock on, remaining important, inspiring, and a focus for positive action and emotion. For some, they are defined by their special team, a special season, or a special player. There is no denying that many of us drawn to the wonderful helmets featured here can wistfully recall moments related to the game of football, a football player, a football uniform, or a football helmet and these moments in some ways, become us.


In every conversation with or about Jim Parker, his passion and devotion to “his” Detroit Lions reflects all that is mentioned above. Jim was an award winning football player who used his 6’6” size, strength, and a personality as huge in its wit and intelligence as his physical presence, to upgrade the squad at Western Michigan. One would never have known this from Jim as his conversations revolved not around his personal achievements but instead the ongoing love affair he had with the Detroit Lions, the history of football, and specifically the football helmet. It began with a request, more accurately a plea to his understanding mother that she telephone the Detroit Lions offices and ask for a set of their leaping Lion helmet decals. Actually holding those decals opened up an entire vista that riveted Jim’s attention and affection on the Lions. That the Lions headgear "differed" from most other teams was obvious to Jim if no one else, in part because the hastily painted or repainted silver helmets almost always revealed that the facemasks too, received traces, if not a sizeable dousing of paint. That the Lions showed a slapdash approach to their helmets' upkeep and didn't bother to use masking tape or remove whatever mask was on each helmet before applying the new coat of silver paint, provided one more idiosyncrasy that was attractive. The deal was sealed for good when he attended the Lions training camp and had the “privilege and pleasure” of carrying Gail Cogdill’s helmet as the star receiver returned to the locker room after practice. Jim was irrevocably hooked on the Lions, Cogdill, and everything related to football helmets.


For some, there are fewer singular moments and the process is more insidious and gradual, but the result is the same. The development of a special bond between an individual and a team stems from many seeds and grows in numerous directions. Sometimes it’s an affection that’s handed down father to son or from grandfather to grandson. Sometimes it’s the glint of sunlight reflecting off of a silver helmet as one’s favorite receiver streaks under the thrown football and cradles it as he crosses the goal line. It might be a chance meeting on the beach or in a store with a known college player or professional star. Whatever it was for Jim Parker, whatever fired his motor and spirit to seek out this vintage equipment bag and game worn helmet from his favorite team, it lives in all of us who come to this little site called Helmet Hut.



Rest In Peace my dear brother......