I spent the entire fourth quarter trying to focus my nervous energy on something, anything other than Dallas's ongoing comeback. One of the things that I settled on was the Packers' helmets. Specifically one of the newer models.
Green Bay Packers strong safety Micah Hyde (33) celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)Riddell SpeedFlex. And yes, I kind of hate that I know the focus group-tested names of these helmet models. Almost as bad as keeping track of Nike's silly template names, but that's a subject for another post.
In any case, the SpeedFlex is easily identifiable by the hinged panel front and center. That hinge is supposedly part of the technology that will make the game safer (which is abject bullpucky, but whatever). Uni Watch did a piece on these helmets a couple years ago, and explains the purpose behind the hinge:
(T)he SpeedFlex's defining visual feature is a cutout on the crown, which creates a flexible panel designed to disperse the force of an impact. How flexible is it? Judging from a sample helmet that Riddell provided at Uni Watch's request, the panel definitely has some give -- if you push on it, it bends a bit(.)At least, it sometimes obscures the lower part of the cutout. The Packers' equipment managers interrupt the team's Braisher stripes.
Aside from its functionality(,) the flex panel also makes the SpeedFlex instantly recognizable, even from a distance, which no doubt pleases Riddell's marketing department (although the visual impact is diminished a bit if the helmet has center striping, because the stripe tape obscures the lower part of the cutout).
Let's take a closer look at that helmet Hyde is wearing:
You can also see it in the background, on Jake Ryan (#47):
The Packers' trademark stripes are cut at the hinge, creating a visible break that's identifiable even at a distance. Identifiable even in the blurry background of a photo.
At some angles, the gold shell under the stripes is clearly visible, emphasizing that break even more.
Green Bay Packers strong safety Micah Hyde (33) celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)Riddell's marketing department must be so proud.
But let's take a look at the other sideline; the Cowboys also prominently use Braisher stripes on their helmets. Here's how Dallas treats the hinge:
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) carries the ball during an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (Ryan Kang/NFL)The Cowboys run their stripes clear over the hinge without a break:
This diminishes the look of the hinge, putting the team's look above the helmet manufacturer's.
I don't often say this, but I vastly prefer the Cowboys' approach.