Head Games


The football world is so busy with the usual complaints—parity, showboating, blah blah blah—that the game’s biggest missed opportunity is once again flying beneath everyone’s radar. Uni Watch is referring, of course, to the Miami Dolphins’ helmet design.

Miami’s helmet, essentially unchanged since the team’s 1966 inception, features an illustration of a dolphin, which is shown wearing a Dolphins helmet of its own. This sets up what should have been a magnificent infinite regression: a helmet with a dolphin wearing a helmet with a dolphin wearing a helmet with a dolphin, and so on. Unfortunately, the team’s designer was too lazy or unimaginative to go this route and instead just put a big, boring “M” on the illustrated headgear, thereby blowing a chance to go down in uni design history.

A Dolphins spokesperson said he didn’t know who the original designer was, and seemed perplexed by Uni Watch’s line of questioning on the matter. “So what you want to know,” he said haltingly, “is why the dolphin on the helmet isn’t wearing a helmet with a dolphin?” When told he’d grasped the situation perfectly, he replied, “I have no idea.” Uni Watch’s inquiries as to whether the live dolphin that used to slosh around in a pool during the team’s home games ever wore a helmet, and whether such a helmet was adorned with a dolphin or an “M,” drew similarly unsatisfying responses.

The Raiders are the only other NFL team whose helmet design includes a depiction of a helmet, but their eye-patched logo character faces the viewer head-on, so the side of his helmet—where the infinite regression would take place—is obscured. Still, Uni Watch believes some team will eventually accept this design challenge, if not for aesthetic reasons then for competitive ones. The Bengals’ helmets, for example, are due for an overhaul, and the sight of a helmet with a bengal wearing a helmet with a bengal wearing a helmet with a bengal would no doubt have a mesmerizing effect on opposing players, which might just help Cincinnati change its perennially losing ways.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 28, 1999

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