As if the NFL hadn’t already generated enough controversy regarding the manner in which the concussion problem has been handled, the league has created even more concern via an ongoing helmet testing program.
Peter Keating of ESPN The Magazine details the criticism, which has caused one manufacturer — Xenith — to withdraw from the program.
It’s a confusing situation, but as best we can tell the concern arises from the fact that the testing focuses only on the impact of direct hits to the helmet at high speeds, ignoring the more common banging of the head via less obvious, but more frequent, impacts.
The involvement of David Viano and Elliot Pellman in the program also has raised eyebrows, given their assertion more than five years ago that there is “no evidence” of “widespread permanent or cumulative effects of single or multiple [concussions] in professional football players.” A month later, they contended along with three others that a return to play after suffering a concussion “does not involve a significant injury either in the same game or during the season.”
With the results of the testing certain to pit helmet manufacturers against each other, it’s critical for the league to ensure that the process cannot be legitimately criticized by those whose helmets don’t compare favorably. And that’s what seems to be happening.
Except for the folks whose helmets apparently are holding up well. “We are very comfortable with the testing,” Dave Arment, Riddell’s CEO, told Keating.
Keating might want to ask Arment any follow-up questions now, while Arment can still hear over the sound of the cash registers.