Why Tom Brady must switch to safer helmet next season

A year ago this week, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced that it was banning 10 helmet models because they did not meet laboratory testing and safety standards.

Six of the helmets were banned immediately, while four other models were given a one-year grace period. That period has now ended, and one of the league’s biggest stars will have to find new head protection.

Tom Brady uses helmet that’s now banned

The preferred helmet of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is now banned by the NFL and NFL Players Association. (AP)

One of the four helmets that got a one-year reprieve from being banned is the one preferred by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the Ridell VSR-4. According to a joint release from the NFL and NFLPA on Friday, by the end of the 2018 regular season there were 32 players wearing helmets on the prohibited list.

In a conference call with media, NFL vice president for health and safety initiatives Jeff Miller said that team equipment managers have been instructed to remove all banned helmets. If a player continues wearing a banned helmet and it’s found that the team knew about it or facilitated it, the team can be subject to league discipline.

It’s unclear what the discipline would be.

Numerous players switched to better helmets in 2018

Via the NFL/NFLPA release, after a poster was made available to players in each team facility highlighting the safest helmets and those that performed poorly in testing at an independent laboratory, numerous players made the switch to safer models.

“After issuing the poster, approximately 50 percent of NFL players upgraded to a better-performing helmet,” the league and union assert. Seventy-four percent of all players use a helmet in the highest-performing category, a 33 percent increase over the previous year.

Analysis of game concussions from 2015-18 showed that players who were wearing helmets in the highest-performing category had a lower rate of concussion than those who wear helmets in the lower-performing categories. It’s not clear what the exact difference is.

Ninety-nine percent of all NFL players wear one of the helmets included in the safety study.

VICIS, Schutt, Ridell make highest-tested helmets

The 2019 testing results show that the VICIS Zero1 (2018 model) and Schutt F7 LTD were virtually tied as the best-performing models in testing.

The Ridell SpeedFlex Precision Diamond and SpeedFlex Precision were just behind them. Here’s the poster that will be placed in every NFL locker room, listing the helmets by their performance in the testing:


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