Jacksonville  WFL

Express  - 1975
(game worn)

The World Football League was relatively short-lived and in the eyes of the sporting public, more “minor league” than a true threat to the National Football League. The WFL’s surprisingly heady start as the summer of 1974 rolled across the nation, exploded with charges of false attendance figures, an inability of many teams to meet their payrolls or pay for weekly services and suppliers, and dissatisfaction with the on-field product among fans and their television partners. There were of course vociferous and smitten fans who enjoyed the spirited play of the league and the commitment of most of the players who were willing to participate even though they were not being paid.  Helmet Hut has presented a comprehensive summary of the 1974 and ’75 WFL seasons with displays of the league’s beautiful helmet designs, a grouping that has remained popular even among younger fans who never saw the WFL in action [ see  http://helmethut.com/WFL/wflindex.html ].


The ultimate WFL collector’s item has been and remains, one of the helmets worn during the league’s 1974, and truncated 1975 seasons. With the failure of some of the teams to continue play through the entirety of their schedule in ’74 and the early termination of the ’75 season, there was little time to build a large equipment inventory, and some of the uniform components were seized as foreclosure items or to satisfy outstanding debts. Thus, the dearth of WFL helmets, as the signature item of any uniform, makes a game worn World Football League helmet a prized possession. One of these saw the light of day recently, as a World Football League collector stumbled across a beautifully preserved Jacksonville Express helmet on an internet sales site.

The fans of the WFL who have read the Helmet Hut summary of the Jacksonville Express 1975 season, [see http://helmethut.com/WFL/WFLExpress.html] know that the principal owner or Governor of the team, Earl Knabb was devoted to the sporting fans of Jacksonville and the city to an exceptional degree. There is little else to explain his motivation for taking up the challenge of providing professional football to Jacksonville after the disaster of the ’74 WFL Jacksonville Sharks [see http://helmethut.com/WFL/WFLSharks.html ]. With former University Of Miami and Sharks head coach Charlie Tate at the helm, former U of M All American and NFL veteran George Mira at quarterback, and 1974’s WFL MVP Tommy Reamon at running back, the Express was expected to have some firepower in this new incarnation of the league

The Express did in fact post a credible 6-5 mark when the league disbanded on October 22, 1975 and despite monetary losses, Knabb voted to continue to play out the schedule. With the league “dead” for the second time, the Express equipment, like those of all of the other franchises, was dispersed in a less than orderly fashion.

The attractive sunflower gold Express helmet was accentuated with a two-inch black center stripe and red flanking stripes. The Civil War era railroad train with the black and red team name was enclosed in a yellow football shaped oval outlined in black, a distinctive and immediately recognizable decal that was posted on both sides of the shell. These are nicely preserved on this well-worn, game used shell. The NJOP mask marks this headpiece as a lineman’s model and could have been worn by defensive mainstays and former NFL players like defensive end Don Brumm and tackle Carleton Oates, or a relatively new pro player like offensive guard Tom Walker.

The suspension webbing and internal structures of this Express helmet have survived the intervening thirty-nine years quite well, a testament to its original construction. Of course, those who were disappointed and saddened by the sudden evaporation of the World Football League, including all of the fans that held the Express as their favorites, wish that the league had the same longevity as this wonderful piece of WFL history.

If interested in any of these or more WFL helmets please click on the photos below.