Sport Innovation/Technology In NFL Helmets


Technology in NFL Helmets

Since July 2011 more than 300 players have joined the lawsuit against the NFL seeking compensation for damages incurred through concussions whilst playing (Vorro, 2011). Helmets were initially created to prevent skull fractures, however it is now known that users get more then skull fractures (Fung, 2011). As is, the long term damage a blunt force impact to the head can cause. The design of helmets have come a long way from no helmets, to the introduction of leather helmets, to the old military style helmets-with a lining of material between the shell and the head with leather ear pads (Machine Design, 2011), to the current polycarbonate shells and now beyond.

Within the new technology being incorporated into new helmet designs are air bladders that can be inflated to fit a player’s exact head shape. The bladders, like air bags are manufactured to hold the head steady during a collision. This enables the head to avoid bouncing off the interior of the helmet – the blunt force that can cause concussions (Beideman, 2010). As well as investigations into materials that exceeds the current polycarbonate shells in terms of strength, durability, and weight.

The NFL players are free to use any approved design within helmets. However it is estimated that within the past season 75% of the helmets used were made by Riddell, 23% by Schutt, 1-2% by Xenith and a handful by Adams USA (Machine Design, 2011). It is the top two companies within the NFL that are famous for their innovation within helmet technology. Below is a brief description of the current technology Riddell is marketing.

Riddell Helmets