The Daily Helmet: A Special Steelers Helmet Lost Ticket Stubs And Bucco Bruce

The Daily Helmet

Trophy Case Helmet

Justin Strzelczyk replica helmet on display at West seneca West High School (NY)
Justin Strzelczyk replica helmet on display at West seneca West High School (NY)

Back in the fall of 2017 the coach that had generously gave me some of his team’s hemet rejects, asked me to make a custom Steelers helmet for the school’s trophy case. West Seneca West alum Justin Strzelczyk played nine seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1990-1998). After he was waived by the Steelers things started to get dark and sadly he died in a car crash, colliding head-on with a tanker truck while driving on the wrong way of the highway, evading the police that were in pursuit. He would be an important part in Bennet Omalu’s study of athletes brains and the impact of head injuries later in life, specifically with impact of CTE. Justin also was portrayed in the 2015 film Concussion.

As part of the 50th Super Bowl celebrations, school’s were awarded plaques honoring alumni that had participated in a Super Bowl. They were awarded one for Justin who played with the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. The custom helmet was a piece that would be placed beside this award.

On a lighter note, Justin also had a role in Adam sandler’s Lonesome Kicker Video, stealing the special kicking shoe made for kicking in the snow.

The Lost Art Of Ticket Stubs

It saddens me that the days of printed tickets are now behind us. Many teams have gone digital or hand out season ticket cards for members. I remember getting tickets to a game for my birthday and having the the ticket with the opponents helmet printed on it in my hand, months before the game. Later as a season ticket holder, one of the more exciting times of the year was getting the ticket package in the mail and seeing what all the game tickets looked like. Now you get a glorified gift card. What fun is that? Luckily over the years I was able to save the majority of my ticket stubs, keeping them in an old photo book. That book was getting old and crusty, though and the plastic pages were starting to have trouble holding the tickets and other mementos I had kept in it. Now that ticket stubs are going extinct, I highly recommend displaying them. You can frame them or even put them under plexiglass on a table or seal with polyurethane , so all your guests can see. If your stub collection is lacking, you can always buy complete set of unused ticket stubs on eBay and display those!

The lost ticket Stubs

For as many ticket stubs I’ve saved over the years, I still am missing two crucial stubs from my childhood.

On November 29th 1987, I would attend my very first NFL game. My Grandfather agreed to take me to the game, only we didn’t have tickets. Instead we went through a gate where my uncle’s brother-in-law worked and pretended to hand him tickets and breezed through the gate, finding an empty seat and watching the game. I do have the program from the game, although I lost the cover at some point along the way, but sneaking in deprived me of a ticket stub for the game. I’m hoping to find one on eBay sometime so I can make things right.

The other ticket stub I somehow don’t have is from the infamous Clint Malarchuk neck injury game (Warning: Graphic). Where I come from, almost everyone claims to have been at the game where as I recall was not exactly full. Either way, I was there. I was sitting with my uncle up in the famous orange seats of The Aud, when there was a collision on the far side of the ice from where we were sitting. My uncle pointed out the blood on the ice, but from so high up and in an arena without a replay board, we were not really aware how serious of an injury it was until the car ride home. I have program (with the cover!) from the game, and a few weeks ago I convinced myself that the stub was hidden somewhere in the pages of the game program. Unfortunately, this was not the case. My uncle said he will be giving me all of his ticket stubs, so maybe when I get those this game will be included.

Return Of The Whale?

For the second time this season, the Carolina Hurricanes donned their Hartford Whalers Throwbacks. A bittersweet pill to swallow for original fans of the Whale. On one hand it is nice to see what is arguably the greatest logo in the history of sports back on the ice where it belongs, but it just seem right for a franchise that put an end to that logo to pull them out for a marketing opportunity or to sell merchandise. I love that logo and although, I was not a Whalers fan, I used to love going to their games when they came to town to play the Sabres. The logo, the green jerseys (way better than the blue they later wore) and the fact that a major sports team played in a city like Hartford. Like the Oilers and other now defunct teams, it just sucks that the business of sports has taken these great uniforms and logos away from us. Here is the real Whalers playing the Boston Bruins in the 1991 Adams Division semi-final:

What I watched: This Week In Football

One of the casualties of 24/7 sports coverage was weekly highlight shows. There was a time, when most people only saw games their own teams were not involved in on weekly highlight shows. This Week In Football is one of the best. Fantastic, NFL Films Footage and great hosts like Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshire that made for some great television, that just isn’t seen anymore today. Plus they had the most amazing set in the history of television! Sadly, you won’t be seeing any of these shows, that originally aired from 1967-1975. Early on, ESPN Classic would air them (which are available on YouTube with 1999 commercials included. Very weird mix of nostalgia.), but since then they are nowhere to be found, including on the leagues own network, which is more interested in 24/7 analysis and re-runs of analysis by it’s crew of former players and coaches. When the network first debuted, I was under the impression that the football network would actually air football. They have the whole NFL Films vaults at their disposal and they would rather analyse the same thing over and over and over again. If they won’t show highlight films and classic games there, then they should come up with a subscription service where we can watch. I won’t hold my breath. Luckily YouTube has a lot to offer and you can watch TWIPF for almost any week and any season. Here is an episode from 1969 that aired on ESPN in 1999. If that makes sense.

Helmet Of The Day:

1976-1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the league with the flashiest uniforms in the history of the league. Bright orange and red uniforms with a swashbuckling pirate on the helmet with a blade in his mouth. The uniforms were perfect in my eyes. The team, of course was not. Losing every game their first season and extending the streak to 26 games in 1977. They were able to win in the uniforms and in 1979 and 1981 they won their division, nearly going to the Super Bowl, losing the NFC Championship in 1979. The uniforms while they were worn, though, were largely the butt of jokes. Many people (idiots) thought the uniforms were gaudy and ugly (they are neither). This led to the Bucs deciding on a change, abandoning Bucco Bruce and the amazing Creamsicle uniforms in the past. It was only a decade later that people started to come to their senses and start to miss Ol’ Bruce. The pewter pirates post-Bucco just didn’t pop like the orange red and white did of the Bucco era and let’s not even talk about what they wear now. With people longing for the days of Bruce, the Buccaneers donned the Creamsicle uniforms again from 2009-2012 as a alternative throwback. The Bucs did it right too, painting the field in classic colors and a two-bar helmet! If only the so-called two helmet rule didn’t put an end to that.

What do you Think? Discuss.