Invention of the Helmet -- George Barclay, Class of 1898
George "The Rose" Barclay from the class of 1898 was one of Lafayette's all-time great runners, helping lead the Leopards to the 1896 National Championship. His place in football history will forever be known as the inventor of the helmet.Barclay invented the first football helmet when the "threat of cultivating cauliflower ears" led him to have an Easton saddlemaker piece together three thick leather straps around his head during the 1894 football season. Also utilized by many of his teammates, Barclay's "head harness" gained notoriety at the Leopards' 1896 upset victory over Penn, which kept Lafayette's undefeated season intact en route to the National Championship.
Lafayette College is home to an incredibly storied and tradition-rich 23-sport intercollegiate athletics program. In addition to boasting four national championships and 64 Patriot League regular season and tournament championships, the Leopards have shaped the game of college football with the invention of the helmet, the invention of the huddle and the game's most played rivalry.
The Leopards' success extends well beyond the competitive venues, annually ranking among the nation's leaders in student-athlete graduation success rate and individual scholar-athlete honors.