The modern era of University of Iowa football helmets began with a yellow helmet, a gray mask, a black vertical stripe, and black numerals on the side. This design was worn until 1964 and was recovered once in 2010 in a game against Ball State to commemorate the 1959 Rose Bowl Champion Hawkeye squad. The first major change occurred in 1965 when the numbers on the side were replaced by a black “I” with a white circle and a thin black outline in place of the logo. However, this logo did not last long. In 1966, the “I” was removed and the helmet was solid yellow with vertical black and white stripes.
A logo returned in 1971 with a large eagle flying over a black background. The eagle had many shadows. Since the background was now black, the vertical stripes changed to a single yellow vertical stripe. This was the second time that a logo only lasted one year. In 1972, the logo was changed and all shading was removed. The eagle was solid yellow in color and its talons were similar but slightly altered and thicker. In 1974, Iowa decided it again as the solid design and returned to the solid yellow hull; this time it only has a black stripe without a white stripe outline like they did in the late sixties.
The year 1977 marked another change. As was popular at the time, the italicized Iowa name was applied to the yellow helmet with a black stripe. The Iowa decal was black but outlined in black. As different colored face masks became available, Iowa uniform designers decided that a black face mask would fit this design perfectly. The overall design looked pretty sharp as black and yellow are some of the easiest colors to read and see from afar (the billboard industry knows this and uses this scheme often when trying to get your attention) .
Today’s Iowa football helmet has been in use for over 30 years, believe it or not. The black helmet with yellow stripe and a graphic head of Hawkeye came into use in 1979. This is one of the most memorable logos in college sports and immediately catches the eye with the beak, eye, head and part that is extends from the eye into the body. . High schools and other teams have used this popular logo. There have been a few occasions since 1979 that the Hawkeye football team wore a different helmet. At least twice they have worn an all-black helmet to mourn the victims of the campus shooting or the parents of a player. They also wore a gold helmet once in 2004 to celebrate Kinnick Stadium’s 50th anniversary.
One last interesting element of the Iowa Hawkeyes football helmet has been the letters “ANF” that are placed on a small decal on the back of the helmet. This was used in the mid 80’s and early 90’s. Many people wonder what those letters mean when they look at historical photos of Hawkeye’s team. “America Needs Farmers” is what the ANF stood for and was meant to support farmers in distress. Even in 2011, they continue to have special America Needs Farmers days where farmers are invited and honored. It makes sense when you think of Iowa as America’s corn and soy growing capital.