DATELINE 1907 – Helmets, Broken Noses and Pretty Boys

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Brian Meehl is the author of Blowback ’07 (MCP Books, November 1, 2016) and this article is the sixth in a new series discussing the radical changes in football from the 1905 to 1907. 

Football introduces the first head protection: the “nose guard.” Who needs a helmet when players grow their hair long for all the skull protection they need.

BB07 #6OK, if 1907 players fear a broken nose more than a broken head, are they dumb pretty-boys, or just plain tough? You be the judge.

  • The “starting 11” means just that. You play both ways, offense & defense.
  • Substitutions? Sure, but if you leave the game, you’re done, like in baseball. The only exception is if an injury takes you out, then you can come back in.
  • Then there’s the original meaning of “pass interference.” Receivers run downfield. The pass is thrown. All but one of the receivers knock down and take out the d(effensive)-backs so the last man standing, the designated receiver, can catch the ball. Not only was it rough, it was legal.

How tough were the Carlisle Indians in 1907?

  • 2, they played Susquehanna and “scalped” them 91-0.
  • Three days later, Oct 5, Carlisle played Penn State. OK, the Indians were a little tired; they were behind 5-4 at the half. But Penn State petered out. The better trained and nail-tough Indians went on to win 18-5.

Next: Pop Warner, his most infamous trick play, and his mantra: “There’s no rule against it.”

Brian's B signature copy





Brian Meehl HeadshotBlowback 07 BookcoverBrian Meehl has published four novels with Random House: Out of Patience, Suck It Up, Suck It Up and Die,and You Don’t Know About Me. His books have garnered a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Blue Ribbon from the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books and starred reviews in Publishers Weekly. In a former incarnation, Meehl was a puppeteer on “Sesame Street” and in Jim Henson films, including “The Dark Crystal.” His transition from puppets to pen included writing for television shows such as “The Magic School Bus” and “Between the Lions,” for which he won three Emmys. Meehl lives in Connecticut and is writing Blowback ’63 and Blowback ’94. For more information about this author and his exciting books, please visit and/or

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