The newly revamped committee met on Wednesday in New York to discuss issues related to concussions. The main issue was helmet design and how that could affect the concussion issue. There were representatives from all football helmet makers; Riddell, Schutt, Xenith being the major players, and from entities like NASCAR and the military. The NFL also included Protective Sports Equipment, the company developing a soft shell helmet with a flexible face mask that claims it can reduce forces better than traditional equipment.
The topics ranged in their all-day meeting (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent a couple of hours) from testing standards, to sensors/research at the NFL level, to my favorite topic – position specific helmets. Position-specific helmets should be produced and used. Statistics show DB’s and WR’s are far more concussed than any other position, and it’s not that there may be more of them on the field, it’s because of the speed at which they collide.
Most, if not all, agree that the helmet-to-helmet hits are a huge concern, and if that can be eliminated, then the chances of concussion would be greatly reduced.
Finally the best topic, I feel, was that the committee was in agreement that there should not be an “official” helmet of NFL. Since 1990 Riddell has had that distinction, even providing discounts to teams. The main obligation of the NFL, and you can see this on the field today, is that ONLY Riddell can have their name on helmets. Riddell will tell all of us that NFL players are not obligated to use their product and are free to choose whatever helmet they like, but that is just a blanket statement. Riddell has been able to corner the market at the highest level and use it to its advantages. The other manufacturers have different approaches and maybe not better, but are novel and may provide an advancement.
If the NFL changes its agreement with Riddell and allows all helmet makers to “officially” be on the field, it will signal a beginning.