Today's Old School Design column takes a look at a true slice of sports design history. We all remember the USFL, taking on the NFL, signing players like Herschel Walker and Jim Kelly. It is a shame that the USFL only lasted a few years, because it featured some truly great logo, uniform and helmet designs in its short existence.
The helmets pictured above were from the mid 1980's and were created by a company called Orange Products. All of us remember collecting these gumball helmets for our favorite NFL teams, but these USFL examples are much less known. The set includes some classic teams like the New Jersey Generals, Oakland Invaders, Arizona Wranglers, Denver Gold, Michigan Panthers, Washington Federals and many others. These helmets showcase some of the classic logos and color combinations that made the league famous.
These helmets were a part of a special project that my Dad and I worked on in the mid 1980's. This project was an early look at my future as a sports products designer. We ordered several sets of these helmets from the manufacturer and my Dad hand crafted a set of shadow boxes to display them in. We made a dozen or so of the sets and would sell them at craft shows and at sports collectibles events.
I don't remember making much money off of them, but really enjoyed the time spent with my Dad and the creative energy we both put into the project. I knew then that my future was in the sports products business.