Unless you pay too much attention to heads of football players in the NFL, you may not have noticed that there are several different types of helmets out there.
I'm not just referring to the style of face mask either, but the actual helmet.
One would think that there is an industry standard for helmets; that even though some are shaped differently (aerodynamics) that they all provide roughly the same protection.
If you assumed that, you'd be wrong.
Recently, Virginia Tech professors conducted a study on 10 different football helmets and their findings were all across the board.
Of the 10 helmets, only one (the Riddell Revolution Speed) received a five-star rating and two of the more popular designs in the NFL, the Riddell VSR4 and Adams A2000 Pro Elite, received one-star and no stars respectfully.
Since the NFL is now at the forefront of concussion prevention and awareness, shouldn't the league take the initiative and require players to wear the Riddell Revolution Speed helmet?
I understand why (until this study was done at least) the league allowed players to decide what brand of helmet they would wear. To me it's similar to letting them choose their own spikes—endorsement deals and just wearing what the player feels comfortable in.
However, the league isn't facing an ankle epidemic. Concussions are the most common injury in the NFL today and the more we learn about the lasting effects, the scarier they get.
Plenty of NFL alumni are being diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer disease in their mid-40s (the national average is 65 years or older) because of repeated blows to the head that they received in their playing days.
Commissioner Rodger Goodell needs to take a long hard look at this study and decide what is best for the players.
I can see the NFL not wanting to endorse one helmet without getting paid by Riddell, though they should honestly think of the players instead of money when it comes to something like this.
At the very least, they can take a look at what makes the Riddell Revolution Speed so safe and set that as the standard if you want to make a helmet for the NFL.
After all the league has done this before with face masks. They required that all players wear them, and then as studies provided more information they adjusted the rules about the masks to make everyone safer.
For instance, Joe Theisman was the last of the quarterbacks to wear the one-bar face mask. After that it was only permitted to be worn by kickers, but that soon gave way as well and the one-bar masks aren't allowed in the NFL anymore.
Right now the league is way behind the times in concussion prevention but mandating only five-star helmets or at least the handful of four-star helmets from the Virginia Tech study would be a huge step in the right direction at concussion prevention.
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