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SBD/Issue 72/Leagues & Governing Bodies
NFL Tests Helmets To See Which Protect Best Against Concussions
Published December 28, 2009
|Final Results Of Helmet Tests
Are Expected In March
TESTING QUESTIONED: In N.Y., Alan Schwarz reported the NFL’s new helmet safety standards being developed are “raising familiar questions of faulty science and conflict of interest.” The development of a new helmet-testing protocol, amid the league's “tangled web of industry relationships and using data long believed to be incomplete, is drawing criticism from rivals of the league’s official helmet sponsor and some of the few outside experts aware of the plan.” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello in an e-mail said the league through testing aims “to continue to learn as much as possible about the protective qualities of helmets, to share the information with the manufactures and others.” However, helmet manufacturer Schutt CEO Robert Erb said that he is “concerned with ties among Riddell, the league, its concussion committee and one of the two labs currently used for testing helmets, Biokinetics and Associates of Ottawa.” Riddell has been the NFL’s official helmet sponsor since ’89 and outfits about 80% of the players. The sponsorship deal “mandates that the brand names of non-Riddell helmets be taped over so they cannot be seen on television.” Erb said too many of the doctors and technicians now involved with the NFL’s testing protocol “have a vested interest in Riddell looking good.” But Riddell President Dan Arment said, “I don’t think that anyone would compromise any part of their business by acting in any sort of a biased way” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/24).