The Lombardi "R"


1970 Preseason Husky
(game worn)

When Lombardi came to Washington in 1969 after a one year sabbatical, there was a buzz in the air to say the least.  Much change was expected after 13 consecutive non winning seasons, but the first major change was an accident.   Sand Knit was the predominate manufacturer of the Redskins jerseys from 1957 to 1968.  Vince Lombardi's brother in law was a sales rep for Rawlings, so out with the losing tradition and in with new jerseys from Rawlings, but just days before the season a serious issue was discovered. 

For a decade the Redskins had always worn dark burgundy jerseys with a burgundy or dark plumb colored helmet.  After opening the boxes there was going to be a serious fashion faux pas, the jerseys were the wrong color.   All helmets were quickly taken in the back equipment room stripped of their 9 part spear decals and spray painted the new lighter color of cardinal.  Letís face it, with just days to go, it was much easier to paint the helmets than to change the color of the jerseys.  This was also the first and only year they used the single part multi colored spear decal.  Looking closely at this featured helmet, you can still see the cardinal color paint from the previous year. 

 

Danny Pierce was the last player to strap up this wonderfully preserved RK husky helmet in the 1970 pre-season.  The 1970 pre-season was also the last time the Redskins used the spear era rear 1" white player numbers.   Cardinal 1.5" numbers were used at the start of the regular season and continued for the existence of this helmet design. 

 

The in-laws may have unintentionally changed the helmet color in 1969 but Lombardi changed the design completely in 1970.  He wanted to bring the prestige and look of his championship Packers to the Washington Redskins.  Sadly his illness prohibited him from every coaching while this helmet style took the field.  The design only lasted two years.  Thanks Jim.