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What Do the Stickers on Football Helmets Mean?

author image Daniel Bradley
Daniel Bradley is a health, fitness, sport and nutrition expert in Philadelphia, Pa. He began writing professionally in 2007 and has contributed to the Mid-Atlantic American College of Sports Medicine Chapter's Research Panel. Bradley is a certified ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and an outdoor fitness instructor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science with a physical therapy concentration from West Chester University.
What Do the Stickers on Football Helmets Mean?
A football team looking down in huddle position. Photo Credit Chabruken/Stone/Getty Images

When watching a game, you may have noticed various stickers beyond team emblems on football players' helmets. These stickers have different meanings depending on what kind of sticker it is. These stickers can be for player achievements, for officiating or team use and for commemorative purposes.

Pride Stickers

Sometimes, football teams like to decorate their helmets with pride stickers. These take various designs and usually relate to the team or school. Popular from youth football to college, pride stickers give players a chance to show others how well they have been playing throughout the season. There might be different stickers for offensive and defensive achievements, so players on the same team could have two different types of stickers. An example would be hammers for defensive achievements and stars for offensive achievements.

Pride Sticker Origins

According to "USA Today," Ohio State coach Woody Hayes and trainer Ernie Biggs are the accepted forerunners of the tradition of the pride sticker. They started awarding team stickers to their players in 1968. There is debate over who started the idea, but Hayes and Biggs are known for popularizing the concept.

Green Sticker on NFL Helmets

In NFL games, you may have noticed a bright green dot on one or two players' helmets. According to NFL rules, this is a sticker that marks the helmet that is linked up with a two-way microphone radio set, so the coaching staff can communicate with an on-field player. The quarterback on offense and the defensive captain or play-caller are linked up with communicators in their helmets. The green sticker must be worn for the helmet linked with the radio as instated by NFL rule in 2007. Only one player per team at a time can have a helmet with a radio in it on the field.

Commemorative Stickers

Sometimes, players will have a black sticker with a number or initials in it. This usually indicates the number or initials of a deceased player, coach, announcer or other individual who was close to the team, community, school or important to the sport itself. Examples include NFL players wearing "GU 63" after the death of Gene Upshaw and Mississippi State University players wearing "36" on their helmets in honor of late teammate Nick Bell.

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