Michigan Winged Helmet

One of the most recognizable symbols in college football, Michigan's famed winged football helmet dates back to 1938, when Fritz Crisler arrived from Princeton University with his penchant for detail and style.

"Michigan had a plain black helmet and we wanted to dress it up a little," Crisler recalled. "We added some color (maize and blue) and used the same basic helmet I had designed at Princeton."

There was one other consideration. Fritz thought this unique helmet could be helpful to his passers as they tried to spot their receivers downfield.

"There was a tendency to use different-colored helmets just for receivers in those days, but I always thought that would be as helpful for the defense as for the offense," offered the former Wolverine football coach and athletic director.

Indeed, Crisler was right on target with his assumptions. From the 1937 to 1938 seasons, Michigan nearly doubled its passing yards, cut its interceptions in half and improved its completion percentage.

Since its debut on October 1, 1938 when U-M upended Michigan State, 14-0, this long-standing symbol for Michigan has served as the helmet design for the ice hockey team, while the catchers for the baseball and softball teams, field hockey goalies and the crew team also display Crisler's handiwork.

Beginning in the 2012 season, the men's lacrosse team became yet another squad that uses the winged helmet look, as the teams game helmets feature the iconic design.

Michigan's Winged Helmet (from Bentley Historical Library)