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1964-66 Paul Hornung Game-Worn Packers Suspension Helmet
Certainly among the choicest game-used helmets ever offered is this mid-1960's Paul Hornung relic. The shell was made by Riddell and it's the RK-4 style that featured the mildly protruding ear contours. Hornung wore this style only sporadically early in his career. In fact, from 1957 through '62, most photos show him wearing the spherical TK-2 model. After a year involuntary 'sabbatical' in 1963, he returned to the Packers, and from 1964 to 1966 his preference was the RK-4 or RK-2 model. During this period, most photos show him wearing this model, although on brief occasions, he can be seen wearing the TK-2 sphere helmet. The outer shell is painted classic Green Bay yellow. The double-layered "G" decals are correct for the decade in terms of font style, mil depth and layered white-on-forest-green lettering. The low positioning of the "G" (well into the protrusion of the mold surrounding the top portion of the ear hole) is correct. As a matter of course, placement was inconsistent on Green Bay's decals and some actually abutted the top edge of the ear hole. The traditional Packer striping - green-white-green - is painted onto the shell, which was standard for the team prior to the middle '60's when bolt-on cages were forbidden, and vinyl striping came into practical use. The striping demonstrates the correct widths and color hues. As should be the case, the bolts located within the center striping were not painted over. The Packers were meticulous about this clean look for all of the exterior bolts, unlike other teams such as the Bears or Lions, who simply painted over them. The interior of the shell sports the RK-4, six-point suspension system (which preceded the twelve-point system) and was exclusive to all helmets prior to 1964. The back left suspension bolt has detached from the shell, and this may have been the reason for the helmet being withdrawn from active play. The leather jaw pads are intact and are vintage early '60's (based on double-sided dark leather), as is the earlier '60's version of the rubber crown donut, which is thicker. The gray snubber is present in the center of the helmet under the front lip; Hornung almost always can be seen wearing the snubber. Another interesting feature is the presence of the heavy-duty cushioned leather headband often worn by players who had large foreheads, or those who were prone to concussions or forehead bruising. Many Packers helmets of the period incorporated this feature, or sponge concussion padding which ringed the entire crown and upper extremities of the inner shell. Hornung was not necessarily concussion prone, but the shape of his forehead and vulnerability as a running back, made his a likely candidate for usage. There is a markered "5" in proper position on the shell's gray interior and remnants of an RK-4 rectangular sticker is still present in the lower back inner shell. There are other features linking this helmet to Hornung. It has the two-bar BD-9 facemask with the cursive "ell" Riddell stamp on its right base (which is standard for the early/mid '60's). Second, the interior boltage, support pad and slotted screws are all original and consistent with this period. As well, the angle of the mask is tilted slightly upward, and this was unique to Hornung. As a matter of policy, the Packers once stenciled a player's uniform number on the lower back of the outer shell. In Hornung's case, his number was a single digit, and it was stenciled only on the center stripe. Numerous photos exist of this placement - sometimes nearer the upper bolt, sometimes nearer the lower bolt; sometimes quite dark, sometimes lighter; but nearly always in black. The helmet is accompanied by a mid-'60's chin strap which is vintage Packers with remnants of green paint on the inside. Overall, an outstanding survivor of the Golden Boy from his glory days with Green Bay. It comes from the collection of a long-time restaurateur who obtained it from the Packers in the early 1970's.
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