In 1956, two Ohio inventors, John Campbell
and George Sarles, approached Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns with a radio receiver they had developed. The two theorized that the radio could be placed in
a helmet to help Brown communicate with his players on the field. In doing so, Brown would eliminate the delays caused by
his utilization of substitute players who ran the plays from the sideline to the huddle.
the idea and agreed to put the radio receiver into quarterback George Ratterman’s helmet but insisted that the plan
be kept a secret and thoroughly tested before ever being used in an actual game. The radio was carefully mounted into the
helmet and, using the seclusion of a wooded area behind Campbell's home, the pair proceeded to test the unit. Sarles retreated
to the woods with the helmet. The signal became weak and communication broke off. When Sarles did not return, Campbell set
out to find his partner. Soon thereafter, he spotted Sarles talking with a police officer who had intercepted the signal.
Fortunate for Sarles and Campbell, the officer was a Browns fan and agreed to keep the discovery under wraps. Nonetheless,
the pair changed the frequency on the unit.
The helmet was first used, to perfection, in an exhibition game against
the Detroit Lions. However, the Lions coaching staff began to notice that Brown was not using his usual substitutions for
play calling. Shortly after halftime, one of the Lions’ assistants spotted the hidden transmitter that set behind a
wooden light post on the sideline.
News quickly spread throughout the league and other teams scrambled to devise their
own units, none of which proved as effective as the Sarles-Campbell invention. The Browns used the helmet in three more games
before NFL Commissioner Bert Bell outlawed the use of the device.
In 1985, John Campbell donated the headgear to the Pro Football
Hall of Fame. Ratterman’s helmet is now on display in an exhibit with other recent innovations, including a modern day