New Arkansas Helmets Designed to Prevent Concussions

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - AUGUST 31:  Head Coach Bret Bielema of the Arkansas Razorbacks on the sidelines during a game against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at Razorback Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Ragin Cajuns 34-14.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Maybe it wasn't all bluster.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who has made news the past two seasons with his vocal lobbying for player safety, announced on Twitter that the Razorbacks would be wearing new "Speedflex" helmets from Riddell that are designed to help prevent concussions:

Here's a transcription of the small text in the photo:

The Speedflex's unique shell design is engineered to disperse energy and reduce the risk of trauma, while Riddell's InSite Player Management Softward alerts the sideline to significant, single or multiple impacts that possess attributes that may result in a possible concussion.

Structurally, the helmet is designed to withstand hits in a way that reduces trauma. Perhaps as importantly, it purports it can help alert coaches and trainers on the sideline when a potential concussion has occurred—even if it's unbeknownst to the player—which would, in turn, keep players from re-entering the game with their brain at risk.

Bielema and Alabama head coach Nick Saban were at the vanguard of the proposed "10-second run-off" rule this offseason, trying to slow down the tempo of college football by forbidding teams to snap the ball with more than 25 seconds on the play clock.

He explained his rationale to Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated:

I always make the guarantee when I'm in the parents' home. I say I can't guarantee playing time or a degree, but I'm going to guarantee that I'll help you get both. And the second thing I can guarantee is that I'll always look out for the safety and the well-being of your son. When you're halfway across the country, that means something. It means you're going to look out for their safety.

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The proposed rule was wildly unpopular among other college football coaches and was not passed by the NCAA's rules committee. Though we are all on the same team here—i.e. we all want football to be safer—the 10-second rule got mired in such jumbled rhetoric that its passage would have been next to impossible.

Bielema took heat not for wanting to make the game safer but for the way he went about it. By invoking the death of a California defensive lineman, Ted Agu, in his argument, he came off Machiavellian and unfeeling in the pursuit of getting his way.

Actions speak louder than words, and pioneering a new brand of helmet technology is a meaningful, vocal statement.

If it works, hopefully the rest of the nation will catch up.

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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