Rams 1950s

Bob Carey
(Game Worn)

Some look at artifacts of history and see something less than a treasure to be sought, appreciated, and yes, in the truest sense of the word, treasured. Helmet Hut recently had the privilege of appreciating and treasuring a game worn, Los Angeles Rams helmet from the mid-1950’s, truly a rarity.

The beautiful clear shell Riddell helmet is well preserved, with the glued and pressed-on clear supports which were utilized to bolster the holes that were drilled into the shell, very visible. The supports, vestiges of the 1950’s, served to provide added strength for both the drilled holes that would often tear the relatively weak Tenite plastic, and better hold leather bindings that were used to attach face masks. These support points are even more noticeable in the helmet’s aged state.  Below are actual photos from the Riddell factory as these supports were applied.

This beautiful piece of National Football League history has a pedigree, one that can be traced to the handwritten number 88 inside of the shell. Marking its owner as one of the finest overall athletes to enter the NFL, we can go back to the comment made by his Michigan State College head coach, Biggie Munn who called Bob Carey “the greatest all-around athlete I’ve ever seen or hope to see." In a world filled with hyperbole, Carey’s standing in the history of Michigan high school, Michigan State, and Big Ten athletics is barely conveyed by the description given by Munn, himself a College Football Hall Of Fame member. At Charlevoix, Michigan High School, both Bob and his fraternal twin brother Bill led the 1945 team to a record setting unscored upon and undefeated season. The Carey brothers entered Michigan State, became part of some of its best football teams [see HELMET HUT  http://www.helmethut.com/College/MichState/MIXMSU4755A.htm ] and then excelled in all forms of athletics. While Bill earned five varsity letters, the 6’5”, 215 pound Bob became a national phenomenon.

All American end Bob Carey number 88 was a Consensus All American end at Michigan State in 1951

Carey won three letters in football, completing his senior season in ’51 as captain and a Consensus All American end. Three letters as a three year starting center on the Spartan basketball team, and an All American honor in track and field as the Big Ten’s best shot putter readied him for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams as their 1952 first round draft choice. Wearing number 89, Carey did not disappoint, catching thirty-six passes for 539 yards as part of the Rams great receiving core that included Elroy Hirsch.

Carey’s career was interrupted in what would have been his second pro season when he entered the United States military for the Korean War. He missed 1953 as well, but returned in ’54, now assigned number 88, to catch five passes before being felled with a severe knee injury. He spent the 1955 season helping his friend Dan Devine as part of the latter’s inaugural Arizona State staff, tutoring ends, and working to overcome his own injury. Ready for the 1956 season, Carey was used in a limited role, and decided to retire. He made a brief re-appearance in ’58 as a member of the Chicago Bears, seeing action in every game but one, but only snaring one reception, thus ending his NFL career for good. He retired to a life of business, family, and scouting for the NFL before unfortunately falling victim to a fatal illness at the age of fifty-eight.

Though the original paint beneath the clear shell has faded, the separately applied, one inch impregnated navy blue center support strap has held up quite well. The hand-painted touch of yellow on the anterior of the center strap still holds its color, a very nice addition that was done to maintain the shape of the Rams V horn after the application of the blue center strip.

The single bar mask, typical of what ends like Bob Carey wore for the sake of ball visibility, too has held up to the years nicely. Though Carey’s professional career was limited by losing prime years to active military service and then injury, his helmet has lived on, reminding all fans of the greatness of the era.