NFL, NFLPA ban 10 helmet models after failing testing

Shutdown Corner

Ten helmet models are prohibited for use by NFL players, six of them immediately, after they failed annual laboratory safety testing,  the league and NFL Players Association announced Monday In a joint release.

A poster with the results, from best to worst, will be in every NFL facility, and shared with players, equipment managers and medical personnel.

It’s the first time certain models have been banned

“In previous seasons, NFL players could choose any helmet as long as the helmet passed current National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) certification standards,” the release read. “The prohibited helmets perform poorly in laboratory testing, have been discontinued by the manufacturer, or were produced by companies no longer manufacturing football helmets.

“Six of these helmets are prohibited immediately. The other four may be worn by players who were using them in 2017, but may not be adopted by new players.”

In all, 34 helmet models were tested; a survey showed that one of the 34 are used by at least 98 percent of players in the NFL. The study aims to determine which helmets best reduced head impact severity in laboratory conditions, which simulated concussion-causing impacts that players may sustain during games.

Variables like rotational velocity and acceleration are used in testing, which was conducted by an independent lab, Biokinetics Inc. in Ottawa, Canada.

Quarterback Alex Smith, now with Washington, wore the Vicis Zero 1 helmet last year with Kansas City. The helmets tested best in laboratory testing commissioned by the NFL and NFLPA. (AP)
Quarterback Alex Smith, now with Washington, wore the Vicis Zero 1 helmet last year with Kansas City. The helmets tested best in laboratory testing commissioned by the NFL and NFLPA. (AP)

Which models are prohibited?

Rawlings brand models did particularly poorly, and a footnote at the bottom of the poster notes that all Rawlings models are prohibited for NFL player use; the company stopped making football helmets over two years ago.

Other models on the prohibited list include the Varsity and 2.0 by SG Helmets, the Schutt Vengeance Z10 204100 (the 204101 is in the yellow, or acceptable group), Air XP Pro and Air XP, and the Riddell VSR-4.

Which models did best?

The Vicis Zero 1, both the 2017 and 2018 versions – players haven’t gotten to use the 2018 model yet – scored best.

Several Kansas City Chiefs players, including quarterback Alex Smith and receiver Chris Conley, wore the Zero 1 last season. Chiefs beat writer Terez Paylor wrote about the helmets and Vicis, the Seattle-based company crafting them, last year. Smith was so convinced of the technology the company uses – the helmet has an outer shell that Vicis says acts like a car bumper on impact – that he became an investor.

None of the helmets eliminate concussions and traumatic brain injury, of course, but any improvements should be seen as welcome ones.

The NFL and NFLPA released this posted on Monday, with the results of safety testing done on numerous helmets. The bottom 10 are prohibited. (NFL/NFLPA)
The NFL and NFLPA released this posted on Monday, with the results of safety testing done on numerous helmets. The bottom 10 are prohibited. (NFL/NFLPA)

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