KC running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is among the NFL players who are wearing the new Riddell Axiom helmet, which provides an unusually wide field of vision. But if you look at the photo shown above, you can see that Edwards-Helaire has chosen to obstruct his view slightly by adding two thin lines of white tape to his visor.
If you didn’t know better, you might think that the lines are just a reflection or glare, but they’re actually an aftermarket modification to the visor. You can see lots of additional views here:
It turns out that Edwards-Helaire has been doing this since the preseason, but I only became aware of it a few days ago, when Twitter-er @TheTDJ brought it to my attention. It almost looks like the two lines are meant to simulate the old EG facemask.
Another Twitter-er, @FB_Helmet_Guy, provided this explanation:
Fun fact. Clyde Edwards-Helaire put thin white vertical tape strips on his visor to mimic the real vertical metal bars found on many facemasks. He said it helps him to make cuts, as he uses the vertical bars as a reference point when playing. pic.twitter.com/bDe7gfACxY
— FB_Helmet_Guy (@FB_Helmet_Guy) October 3, 2022
I couldn’t find any corroboration of that claim, so I contacted the team and asked if I could interview either Edwards-Helaire or the KC equipment manager. A team spokesman confirmed that the info in @FB_Helmet_Guy’s tweet is correct but said that the team didn’t want to discuss it in greater detail.
I also contacted Riddell. They said Edwards-Helaire is the only player they’re aware of who does this, and then they added this:
Our perspective is that players are particular about their uniforms, footwear, and equipment. We welcome modifications that are compliant and provide greater personalization if they don’t alter the fit, form, or function of the helmet in this case.
Anything in your field of view (e.g., lines to mimic an EG facemask or otherwise) will obstruct your vision. However, with the Axiom, you don’t have the upper or side cage/wire construction that other helmets have, so as a result you still have a superior field of view. We will introduce more facemask styles for next season, which will also help players further customize their look.
Interesting. When I interviewed the Riddell folks about the Axiom back in February, I actually asked if some players might have trouble adjusting to the helmet’s wider field of vision:
Uni Watch: Is [the wider face opening] something players are almost going to have to relearn? Like, is this going to be something like a new tool in their toolkit, and they’re going to have to learn how to use it in order to take advantage of this new scope of vision?
Thad Ide, Ridell VP research and product development: I think the answer is yes. And I think the answer is yes to a lot of the features on the Axiom helmet, because there’s a lot of different things going on here. And they’re all purposeful and I think they’re all executed really well, but players will have to get used to them.
So in Edwards-Helaire’s case, getting used to it means simulating the vertical facemask bars that he used to use to help get his bearings and orient himself. Fascinating! (Interestingly, Edwards-Helaire’s previous facemask had two vertical bars on each side, but he apparently doesn’t feel the need to have two strips of tape on each side.)
Meanwhile, between his compressed NOB lettering in the back and the two white lines in the front, Edwards-Helaire is among the league’s more uni-unusual players, both fore and aft.