The sport of American football dates to the 1860s, but helmets did not become mandatory until 1939 for college players and 1943 for National Football League (NFL) players. In the early days of American football, the sport was even more violent and dangerous than the modern version. It was estimated there were 18 football fatalities in 1904, the majority of which were high school students. The fatality and injury rate led to an interest in safety precautions. Football helmets originally were made of soft leather, but they gradually began to be made of harder leather with more padding to offer head protection throughout the 1920s and 1930s. By 1949, stronger plastic helmets were the norm.
More about the history of football:
- The first team logo painted on a football helmet was the Los Angeles Rams' horns, which were introduced in 1948.
- US President Theodore Roosevelt was a major advocate of football reform and helped get changes — such as permitting the forward pass — added to the official rules.
- The first professional football player was William "Pudge" Heffelfinger, who was paid $500 US Dollars (USD) to play in an 1892 game.