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NFL testing various helmet models

As part of the league’s effort to provide better protection to the contents of the skulls of its players, the NFL has launched a program to test the various types of helmets.  The goal is to obtain data regarding the performance of the helmets, and to share that information with the players and with the helmet manufacturers.

According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the first wave of testing already has been conducted on helmet models made by five different manufacturers:  Adams, Gladiator, Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith.  The league provided the results to the manufacturers last week, and a second wave of testing possibly will be conducted on models resubmitted by the manufacturers.

After the second wave of testing, the results will be made available to the players.

“It’s part of a multifaceted plan to address concussions and player
safety,” NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told Maske.  “The Commissioner believes if players are given the proper
information, they can make good choices about their equipment and
safety.”

Testing was conducted by subjecting the helmets to front, side, and rear impacts at different speeds. 

David Halstead, technical director at the Southern Impact Research Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, explained to Maske the goal of the testing.  “What I don’t want this to be used for is to say, ‘This is the best,’” Halstead said.  “I don’t think the testing determines that.  What I think
it can be used for is to say if you’ve had two concussions from front
impact hits and you’re wearing a 10-year-old helmet, you can look at it
and say, ‘These three helmets perform sign[i]ficantly better on front
impact.  Why don’t you wear one of those?’  If you’ve had concussions
from rear impact, see what helmets perform better in that situation. 
That would be a good outcome from this.”

That sounds good, but the reality is that the helmet manufacturers will spin the results in an effort to get more players to choose their helmets.

Still, the best possible outcome from this exercise would be to give the players data on which helmet decisions can be based.  It’s a far better strategy than simply picking the helmet that the player thinks looks the coolest.

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19 Responses to “NFL testing various helmet models”
  1. bgdabengal says: Dec 25, 2009 11:41 PM

    Ochocinco got the best helmet!!

  2. Route36West says: Dec 25, 2009 11:44 PM

    You forgot to say Brain Westbrook is wearing 1 of those new helmets. O ya and that he had 2 concussions and how you think he shouldnt play and that the eagles are making a mistake and that he should/will retire and that he really isnt going to play that the Eagles are just using him as a decoy and that hes scared to play and that hes brittle and that hes the 2nd coming of Ricky Watters”For who, For what”
    I mean you have said it so many times already whats 1 more gonna hurt. Idiot.

  3. wwwmattcom says: Dec 25, 2009 11:48 PM

    High schools have been on this subject for years. There is no BEST helmet, just proper “form” and keeping the head out of the game. BUT this will cause a helmet revolution with new styles. No one helmet wins out, but there will be different styles that pass the mirror test. Look out, here come some crazy helmets.

  4. Favre On HGH says: Dec 25, 2009 11:49 PM

    What I think it can be used for is to say if you’ve had two concussions from front impact hits and you’re wearing a 10-year-old helmet, you can look at it and say, ‘These three helmets perform sign[i]ficantly better on front impact. Why don’t you wear one of those?’ If you’ve had concussions from rear impact, see what helmets perform better in that situation.”
    _________________
    Then you will just leave the side without advanced protection open.
    Why not take results and combine the best side, front and rear protection into a single helmet?

  5. IStateYourName says: Dec 26, 2009 12:14 AM

    It would be cool if they figured out that the best helmet would explode on contact, kind of like a Nascar wreck, absorbs the energy that way or some theory like that.

  6. Michael LaRocca says: Dec 26, 2009 12:57 AM

    Are they testing the Troy Aikman “don’t wear a” Helmet? That’s how I always played, and you don’t see kdytgvm,swowegbnll@#%

  7. R. D. says: Dec 26, 2009 1:41 AM

    This sounds stupid but if you you put something like a couple inches of a material LIKE corragated cardboard over the back of a helmet you could absorb a great deal of the energy and slow down the bounce.

  8. spyboots says: Dec 26, 2009 2:24 AM

    The helmet protects the skull but can’t keep the brain from rattling around inside the skull.

  9. kazkal says: Dec 26, 2009 3:39 AM

    I thought the teams supplied the helmets?

  10. JagsFan says: Dec 26, 2009 4:48 AM

    Schutt DNA= Best helmet

  11. rjwill says: Dec 26, 2009 8:17 AM

    I wonder if they keep track of which brand/model helmets players with concussions wear. I know a lot is up to the person who gets hit but there could be some useful data there.

  12. bluestree says: Dec 26, 2009 8:29 AM

    There is a limit to what a helmet can do. When players collide, the head stops but the brain keeps going, slamming against the inside of the skull. Helmets can’t stop that from happening.

  13. Greg from Louisiana says: Dec 26, 2009 9:14 AM

    I wanted to remember which side I got hit from but I got a concussion and don’t remember a thing……
    I had no idea there were that many competing helmets. Maybe they should generate some stats to see which brand is involved in the most concussions as a percentage. Heaven knows they are generating a whole bunch of other more useless stats these days.
    The only way one can keep the brain from rattling around is controlled deceleration and to do that the helmet shell might have to be softer rather than stiffer.
    Personally I want better helmets so players can hit like banshees. Bring on the Gladiators!

  14. stanjam says: Dec 26, 2009 9:37 AM

    The brands do not matter, it is the specs. Why on Earth are these guys wearing a hard shell helmet? It does no good at all! In fact, all it does is give the wearer a sense of invulnerability, and give him a weapon to use on the field! Put him in a softer helmet and the incidences will go down.
    Studies have shown that motorcycle helmets do help keep the skull from cracking at lower speeds. However, they increase the likelihood of a rider dying from impact, as all that energy is transferred to the neck, which breaks in those same impacts! A hard helmet is stupid. Sure, you have some padding on the inside which absorbs some force, but the hard shell also gives the user the ability to lead with that head, because it is hard, and they will lead with it. Make the outer shell out of a softer material that absorbs impact. Not real soft, but enough so that the player is less likely to think of the helmet as a weapon. Also, the helmet should be designed to break on hard impacts, distributing the force across the helmet, and not transferring the energy down into the brain and spine. It can be done, but will mean a complete redesign of the helmet, and the older helmets will need to be removed completely from the game.

  15. daffy87 says: Dec 26, 2009 10:28 AM

    I’m all for searching for better design and technology to keep players safe, but there isn’t going to be some magic fix where nobody gets hurt….football is a violent sport and people are going to get hurt playing it as long as people play it. Everybody who suits up knows this. But if they can design new equipment to help minimize injuries and the seriousness of them, it is a great thing. Better to do this than make a ton of new rules and kill the game.

  16. NFLMMAfan says: Dec 26, 2009 11:25 AM

    stanjam, you are the only one here with enough brains to understand both the problem with hard outer-shell helmets and the solutions.
    The hard shell injures other players on the field.
    The owners and league want to keep the “thud and crack” sounds in the game to make the game more marketable, thereby selling more tickets and beer.

  17. st.michael says: Dec 26, 2009 11:47 AM

    “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be tranferred from one object to another.
    If you can find a helmet that can destroy the energy of a speeding safety or a blitzing linebacker; you will not only have the “best” hellmet, you would have finally disproven one of the empirical laws of physics.

  18. wwwmattcom says: Dec 26, 2009 1:26 PM

    I have experimented with the Schutt DNA, the Riddell Revolution and the newest helmet to hit the market, the Xenith. All helmets have allowed a concussion. There is no best helmet. There are just people who are more susceptable to concussions than others, and in the NFL the body is a bullet and no helmet can prevent a concsussion. What about the old Mark Kelso helmet. The Kazoo. Just add foam padding around the outside of the helmet. OR Get rid of pads altogether!! That would be so exciting.

  19. Nuckinfutz says: Feb 16, 2010 10:31 AM

    The soft shell helmets, including the Kelso “Kazoo” helmet cap, run contrary to the design of the modern football helmet. Helmets are designed hard and rounded to deflect the blow. When two hard rounded helmets collide, the helmets will usually glance off of each other. A soft shell helmet will stick against surfaces that it comes in contact with, and transfer the energy into the neck area. That is the perceived downside to a softer helmet. The use of the helmet caps, and the old soft foam padding on the outside of the helmet was discouraged because of the fear that it was just as likely to increase catastrophic neck injuries as it was to decrease concussions.
    Motorcycle and bicycle helmets are designed for one impact. They absorb the impact by shattering. This is an effective meathod, but not practical in football where there are multiple impacts in every game .

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