NFL, NFLPA prohibit use of 10 helmet models after lab testing

Why Tom Brady will have to switch helmet models if he wants to play in 2019

The NFL, with the cooperation of the NFL Players Association, has prohibited players from wearing 10 models of helmets that performed poorly in laboratory testing of impact absorption, the league said.

Six helmets were immediately prohibited, while four of them were still allowed only for players that used them in the 2017 season and are prohibited for new players.

As noted by Jenny Vrentas of SI.com, that group includes the Riddell VSR4 helmet that has been the preferred helmet of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over the course of his career.

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowler and 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, announced on Instagram he is retiring following a 15-year career. The banned models are manufactured by Rawlings, Riddell, Schutt, and SG. Rawlings no longer makes helmets.

Laboratory testing showed that the VICIS Zero 1 models of 2017 and 2018 rate best for player safety. Other factors, in addition to the ranking, should be considered by players when choosing a helmet, including fit, comfort, durability, player position and the player's medical history.


A spokesman said the NFLPA had no comment beyond what was reported in Monday's helmet press release.

Around 200 players wore one of the 10 banned models in 2017, according to National Football League executive vice president of health and safety initiatives Jeff Miller.

"And we've begun to see that over the last couple of years, players [are] moving from helmets that rank in the poorly performing areas to those that are ranging closer to the top-performing helmets. We are encouraged this is an important step for better player safety".

"The objective of the continuation to rank helmets and the joint decision with the players' association to prohibit is to increase that movement into better performing helmets".

On its poster for the players, there is also this warning: "No helmet system can completely protect against serious brain and/or neck injuries a player might sustain while participating in football".

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