Tag Archives: gazoo helmet

Kelso, Mark “The Great Gazoo”

Cards: ProSet 1989, Score 1990, Upper Deck 1993
Acquired: Canton Acquisition 2012

Mark Kelso always looked like a little kid out there playing football. As the first player to wear a ‘ProCap’ helmet, he was actually over 20 years ahead of the game and its current state in regards to concussions. Mark began wearing the helmet after his first concussion in 1989, when he was diagnosed with migrane syndrome and although it looked quite ridiculous, the helmet with its extra level of padding probably helped Kelso sustain his playing career another 5 years (primarily) for the Bills.  The helmet earned him the nickname ‘The Great Gazoo’, (after the alien from the “Flintstones” TV series, who wore a helmet similar in shape,) and constantly was pointed out and circled by TV commentators- only endearing him to Bills fans further.

Mark Kelso was a safety drafted in the 10th round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1985 out of William & Mary. The Eagles were stacked at the position, so the smaller Kelso standing at 5’11”, 177 found himself in a numbers game and unable to crack the squad. The Bills picked Mark up and he soon became a fixture at free safety for the Bills by the 1987 season. A ball hawk, Kelso always happened to be at the right place, at the right time in the Bills defensive scheme. In 1987 he recorded 6 picks, and recorded 2 fumbles- one of which he returned for a touchdown. He quickly followed the season up in 1988, recording a career high 7 interceptions, for a league leading 180 yards and a touchdown. Mark wasn’t done as he bookended the two season in 1989 with another 6 picks and 2 fumble recoveries. Teams began to throw away from Mark by 1990, respecting his abilities. Over those next two years he’d have back to back 2 pick seasons, before returning to form one more season in 1992 with 7 more interceptions. Mark was truly unsung over his career with the Bills, and while he did post stellar numbers at Free Safety, he received no Pro Bowl nominations or attention for his numbers outside of the AFC East, outside of winning the Byron “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year award in 1993 for community development.  Sadly, the ProCap retired with Kelso. It did not catch on because either the perception it was unattractive and/or the helmet makers told players that it would void the warranty of the regular helmet since the ProCap was a ‘stick on’.

Mark has continued to be involved in serious discussions and development of helmet wear to reduce the risk of injuries in pro football and has made his home in Buffalo. He has also done radio color commentary  for Bills games, and is involved with coaching and management of youth sports teams. Oddly, this is the first autograph in the collection where a player inscribed “God Bless” on the card, as opposed to a bible verse.

Part of the ‘Canton Acquisition’, a small collection of autographed cards I acquired from a friend of mine who had fallen on hard times, I found it hard not to justify the purchase. A few of the cards were from players I already had, and after verifying the autographs, I went ahead and made a deal to preserve them from falling into the hands of somebody who might just resell them again. It is a tricky slope, because I am not fond of people who sell or buy autographs, but I felt in this extra ordinary case, the situation was justified. I was disappointed that when I asked the seller about these autographs, he didn’t have any fond memories of the players or why he wrote them- other than the fact that had been doing this in the hope of passing it down to his son.

G/Gs 99/95     Tac  N/a   Fum 8  Sac 0  Int 30    Yds 327    Avg 10.9     Td 1    Lg  78t

Cecil, Chuck

Card: Topps Stadium Club 1992
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1995

Hard hitting Cecil came from the Cardinals to replace former defensive back Bo Orlando in 1995, and played for the Oilers for one season. He retired due to numerous concussions. After a few years away from the NFL as a color commentator at the college level, Cecil returned to the league as an assistant with the Tennessee Titans for Jeff Fisher.

In 2009, he took over for popular defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz,  while Chuck had to deal with man-mountain Albert Haynesworth jumping ship to Washington. The had a difficult year defensively as the Titans suffered a 59-0 shellacking to the New England Patriots.  Cecil later was fined $40k for being caught on camera giving the middle finger to the referees during a contested game against the Denver Broncos in 2010.

In his career, Cecil made one ProBowl while with the Packers and was a favorite of the All Madden Team. He was also recognizable for his oversized ‘Gazoo’ helmet he wore to protect against further concussions. Despite his reputation as a hard hitting free safety, Chuck did more damage to himself, sustaining bloody noses and concussions on a regular basis, all for forcing 1 fumble in 445 tackles. A 2009 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Chuck’s 100 yard interception return was voted the greatest Wildcat play of all time.

G/Gs  95/61    Tac 445  Sac  0  FF  1
Int 16  Yds 235   Td  1  Lg 33