The Mystery Of The Orange Helmets

I'll be the first one to admit that I love football fashion, going back to when I was a little kid and I collected those old Gatorade wide mouth bottle caps that featured the NFL helmets. There were more than a few times in class back in second, third, fourth, and maybe eighth grade that I wasn't paying attention in class when the teacher caught me sketching a new football uniform design.

I guess I was an early front runner of football "Project Runway," a show that I know about only because my wife and daughter watch it religiously.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the new union between Oklahoma State and Nike.

My good friends Wes Edwards, a fellow Chicago Cubs fan and equipment manager at Oklahoma State, Matt "Chief" Davis, as loyal and brutally honest Cowboy as you will find anywhere, and Justin Williams, who is a tell it like it is and firey contributor to any Cowboy football discussion, should know that my interest in equipment room happenings goes beyond being able to sneak a little barbeque out of the backroom on game days. I love good-looking uniforms, and particularly those in orange, black, and white.

I was caught at Texas last season tweeting a couple of hours before the Cowboys arrived at the stadium that they would debut the black helmets with white jerseys and black pants. I immediately learned that more than a few players follow me on Twitter, and the equipment staff along with football specialist Gavin Lang of Athletic Media Relations were unhappy with my "tweet" as the players learned before arriving of their uniform of the day.

It is now a running tradition and part of the Oklahoma State game day ritual and excitement for the players to learn of what the uniform combination is when they arrive at the stadium before the game. It is one that the players and equipment staff consider very important.

The players that helped select the uniform combinations in August keep it secret, the managers keep it hush-hush, and the result is an almost Christmas morning under the tree-like reaction when the team reaches the locker room.

I'm fortunate to be int eh locker room early, at both home and away games, to set up the radio equipment, and I get to see the unforms early. Now I get it, and have learned to keep my mouth shut knowing that if I don't I am spoiling part of the Cowboys game day experience. No one should do that.

I thought I had proven my loyalty, and in a way I guess I now have. I knew before the season about the carbon-fiber look helmet that made its debut in Kansas. I did not know about the equipment staff's unique and good looking change in design of the brand logo and the ancillary stickers on the helmet. It's a great looking lid.

However, I did not know of the orange helmets. Everybody had speculated and I had asked only to be told repeatedly there were no orange helmets. I'm around the equipment room, paying attention enough, and I had never seen orange helmets. Wes and company had told me they didn't exist.

So every time someone asked on this site and on the radio show, I would say no orange helmets. On Friday, the day before homecoming, while hearing me say on the radio, "I guarantee there are no orange helmets." that point that my friends in Wes, Chief, and Justin must have felt sorry for me, and really felt they could trust me.

I got a call on my cell phone while on the radio show. I went to commercial break and answered the call. They informed me that there were orange helmets and they were going to debut the next day.

But they said don't breath a word of it to anybody because while they had been sized for the helmets, this time they had not worn them during a previous Sunday practice and the players really had no idea they were breaking them out.

They had also not seen the "Pistol Pete" head logo that was going to be on the helmets. This was the big surprise!

Oklahoma State had not worn orange helmets since the first year of the Jimmy Johnson regime back in 1979, and those were the holdover burnt orange helmets of the Jim Stanley era. As for the logo, it is believed that Pete has never adorned the Cowboys helmets, and the brand logo has been used every game since the opener in 1973.

Those orange helmets had been stored in a secret area? Heck, Boone Pickens Stadium has lots of storage space, so that isn't that hard. Great lengths were taken to hide this new uniform item.

I don't like being caught in a lie, really not a lie but just being uninformed. I don't think those guys liked hearing me be so wrong and that is why they called on Friday. But I also appreciate what has been started here with the equipment staff and players, and it is an important part of their relationship. The equipment staff takes pride in their role and part of it is putting the team out there looking the best they can. They do.

Another part of it is the players being curious and anxious about what uniform combination, and maybe even a new addition, to it on each Saturday. I spoiled it once not understanding that new ritual. Others still try to spoil it and for what reason, I don't know. They really should quit trying and enjoy the suspense like the players do.

In the end, the uniform combination looked great. The players took pride in wearing the orange and the "Pete" made for a happy homecoming with a 31-10 win. I will inject my opinion, I hope as an option they have also created a new brand logo sticker for the orange helmets because I would to see what that looks like.

Welcome to Oklahoma State's football edition of "Project Runway." I think it is more fun than the real one and a lot more to the point on Saturdays.

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