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NFL bans six low-performing helmets as league attempts to battle ongoing concussion problem

Washington Redskins helmets sit on the field. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
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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.

“This is the first time we will be prohibiting helmets,” Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety, said in a conference call with reporters. “It’s an important step for player safety.”

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The ban will affect more than 200 players who wore helmet models that are now prohibited, according to the league.

Players previously were permitted to wear any helmet model of their choosing certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

“The prohibited helmets perform poorly in laboratory testing, have been discontinued by the manufacturer, or were produced by companies no longer manufacturing football helmets,” the league and union said in a joint written statement.

One manufacturer of several models on the list of prohibited helmets, Rawlings, no longer manufactures football helmets. Other manufacturers have advised players to use newer models of helmets that perform better in testing, according to the league.

Helmet models were evaluated and ranked based on 24 lab tests, according to the NFL and NFLPA.

“The goal of the study, as in prior years, was to determine which helmets best reduced head impact severity under laboratory conditions simulating concussion-causing impacts sustained by NFL players during games,” the statement by the league and union said.

Six of the helmet models will be banned immediately, the NFL and NFLPA said, while the other four can be worn this coming season only by players who wore them last season.

The announcement comes amid a push by the sport’s leaders to reduce the number of concussions suffered by players after data showed an increase last season in concussions.

At last month’s annual league meeting, owners approved a new safety rule that makes it a penalty for any player to lower his head and use his helmet to initiate contact with an opponent during a game.

The details of enforcement of the rule, hailed by NFL rule-makers as a significant change designed to take players’ use of the helmet as a weapon out of the sport, are being worked out and are to be completed at next month’s meeting of the owners in Atlanta. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and others said at last month’s meeting they expect instant replay reviews to be utilized to determine if a player should be ejected from a game under the new rule.

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