NFL Ends Official Helmet Partnership With Riddell
Riddell will no longer be featured as the official helmet of the NFL following the conclusion of the 2013 season.
According to ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell, the NFL and Riddell have confirmed that the partnership will expire at season's end.
Riddell released the following statement in the wake of the NFL's announcement, via ESPN.com:
We are proud of our relationship with the NFL. We are also very proud of the fact that year after year a majority of NFL players choose to wear Riddell helmets -- a true testament to our relentless efforts to protect athletes. While it is accurate that our current NFL agreement will expire next year, we look forward to a continued positive and productive relationship with the NFL in the future. We are confident that we will continue to be the helmet of choice of our nation's elite football players.
Rovell reports that the NFL agreed to make Riddell the league's official helmet provider for an indefinite period back in 1989 and "had to use quite a bit of leverage" to retire the deal. Since it agreed to become the official helmet of the NFL in the late 1980s, Riddell has been the only company allowed to have its name appear above the facemask.
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The league's recent emphasis on player safety and increased concussion awareness has forced the NFL to reconsider offering branding rights to one particular helmet company, according to Rovell. Essentially, it's not wise for the league to suggest that one helmet is better or safer than another when it comes to sustaining hits to the head.
While Riddell is clearly the big loser in all of this, it doesn't appear that the league's breakup with the well-known helmet producers will have much of an impact on the field. The players are still going to wear what feels most comfortable to them, and for many, that happens to be Riddell.
Rovell points out that today's NFL players can wear whichever helmet brand they choose so long as it complies with league standards.
According to Rovell, roughly two-thirds of the league currently wears Riddell helmets.
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