College Football: Ranking the Top 7 Modern Football Helmets

David StuckyContributor IIJuly 21, 2011

College Football: Ranking the Top 7 Modern Football Helmets

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    With ESPN's Gregg Easterbook reporting about Virgina Tech's new study on football helmet safety, it seems like as good a time as any to evaluate the new crop of helmets that we will be seeing on television (and probably at your local high school) for the next decade or so. 

    Since we as viewers don't actually wear the helmets but instead only look at them, this evaluation will be based on style and not safety...because that's what really matters, right?

7. Riddell Revolution IQ

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    Pros:  This is a slightly modified version of the original Revo. The helmet that started the new age styling phenomena that we have been seeing on television for the past 10 or so years. 

    Therefore, most misgivings you might have had about its design have worn off. 

    Cons:  The wrap-around jaw protector thingy just looks silly.  It's like a combo between the Predator and those over-sized boxing headgear that celebrity women wear for their charity matches because they don't want to feel any pain whatsoever. 

    The rounded facemask piping near the temple just doesn't work.  And the multiple ear holes...why??  The kicker is the ridge down the center of the helmet, which makes the entire helmet look oblong.

    Overall:  Wasn't a fan of the original Revo and not a fan of this rendition.  I don't care how safe it is. I'm getting a concussion just looking at it! 

6. Riddell 360

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    Pros:  Got rid of the multiple ear holes from the Revo IQ and did away with that awkward curved portion of the facemask up by the temple. 

    The jaw protector portion of the shell is hidden better in this version due to the positioning of the lower mask and the plastic hinge connectors. 

    The center ridge down the middle of the helmet is less pronounced since it fades into the rest of the shell near the back.

    Cons:  Still with the over-sized jaw protector thingy? Just not the best look.  Also, If Riddell is trying to figure out how big and obnoxious they can make the plastic hinges that connect the mask to the shell, they are doing a pretty bang-up job. 

    It is because of these ridiculous connectors that the facemask looks like its sticking out from the shell about half an inch...weird.  Also, it's stupid expensive.  No amount of brain cells are worth $450. If they were, I'd sell mine on the black market.

    Overall:  Better styling than the Revo IQ but added too many quirky (what we can assume are safety-related) alterations.

5. Schutt DNA Pro+

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    Pros:  Finally a helmet on this list that hasn't resorted to putting an awkward looking center ridge down the middle of the shell. Now we're talking! 

    This facemask is eerily reminiscent of a NORMAL facemask, which is a nice touch.  No over-sized plastic facemask connector hinges either.

    Cons: Is it just me or does this helmet look sort of squished like an elephant stepped on it for a second?  It's not just this picture, it looks that way in others too. 

    I think it may have something to do with the illusion being created by the facemask, which extents an absurd distance behind the side edge of the shell.  The sloped, sliver-like ear holes aren't helping either.

    Overall:  Not terrible.  Probably the first helmet on the list I would actually be caught dead wearing.  Actually retains the look of helmets circa 2000 pretty well.  

4. Rawlings NRG Quantum

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    Pros:  Rawlings first real foray into the world of modern football helmets resulted in a pretty darn good model.  From the front, this helmet looks really clean, what with its traditional facemask design and smooth forehead section of the shell.

    Cons:  The double ear holes, though still a bad design, don't look as bad on this helmet for some reason. The ear/jaw portion of the shell comes to an awkward angle before heading back around the neck. 

    The center ridge on the back portion of the shell is dumb looking but still for some reason is not as dumb looking as it probably should be. 

    The over-sized white neck guard is too pronounced and really seems unnecessary (although I'm sure Rawlings would say that it is).

    Overall:  Not bad at all for a first try, Rawlings. I'd wear this.    

3. Schutt ION 4D

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    Pros:  Wait, am I watching a football game or someone playing Halo?  Looks like something out of Robo Cop.  May or may not come with a heads-up display and auto missle-lock features.

    Cons:  Wait, am I watching a football game or someone playing Halo?  Looks like something out of Robo Cop.  May or may not come with a heads-up display and auto missle-lock features.

    Overall:  I don't really know why I like this, but I do.  The forehead ridge is loud as crap but still sort of awesome.  The no-plastic-hinges-facemask-to-shell-connectors are odd but still cool, if only because they aren't the massive Revo ones. 

    The facemask looks futuristic, while maintaining classic styling.  Can't really put my finger on why, but I'd rock this.  I'm thinking there might be a Department of Defense contact in Schutt's future.   

2. Riddell Revolution Speed

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    Pros:  Improves further upon the Revo IQ and 360 (although the 360 is newer).  The center ridge on the shell is less pronounced than on the IQ.  There is only one plastic hinge connecting the facemask to the shell on each side, and it's very discrete, unlike the 360. 

    The facemask changed from that silly curved temple piping to a sharp angle, giving it a more aggressive look.  The facemask as a whole looks mean!  It has hard and sharp lines and doesn't appear as if it's floating in front of the shell like on the 360. 

    Cons:  That random angle on the back part of the shell is less than desirable, however not a deal-breaker.

    Overall:  As far as futuristic-looking new age helmets go, the Revo Speed is tops.  It does the best job of utilizing aggressive lines without being over the top. 

    My boy, Chris Cooley was one of the first players to rock this style so it can't suck. 

1. Schutt AiR XP

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    WINNER

    Pros:  Classic styling plus new age shock-absorption equals the perfect helmet.  This rendition of the classic AiR retains the same completely smooth, rounded shell and the identical facemask styling as its predecessor. 

    The indentation leading from the ear hole to the back of the shell is actually an improvement on the old design as well are the larger, symmetrically placed air holes on top. 

    Cons:  None I can see.

    Overall:  This is the newer version of the helmet I wore in high school, so I'm a little partial, but honestly, what's not to like? 

    There are no gimmicks to be found here.  As an added bonus, the smooth, round shell does not interfere with helmet logos or stripes like some of the other designs do.