At a time when the highest bidder can be the “official” anything and everything of the NFL, the NFL will no longer will have an “official” helmet.
Via multiple reports, the league will ditch its exclusive deal with Riddell after the 2013 season. Currently, players can wear any helmet that meets the basic requirements for safety. Only Riddell can plaster its name on the helmets — and only Riddell can sell helmets bearing NFL logos.
As explained by Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, the league has become “concerned about the implication of selling exclusive branding rights to one helmet company over another.”
It makes sense. The presence of the Riddell name, and only the Riddell name, becomes a not-so-subtle message to parents that the NFL suggests that football players use Riddell helmets. Which could prompt parents to choose Ridell helmets for the wrong reasons.
Though it’s unlikely that the NFL ever would find itself successfully sued for the implicit but obvious message that the NFL recommends Riddell helmet, it makes better business sense in the current climate to take a hands off approach to the gear that football players choose to put on their heads.
And the fact that the NFL would forgo the money-for-nothing arrangement that comes from letting the name “Riddell” or “Xenith” or “Schutt” appear on helmets underscores the gravity of the concussion issue — especially since the NFL will continue to endorse products that contribute to far greater public-health risks, like alcoholism and obesity.