Light Helmets Won’t Sell Its Helmets To NFL Players
In a somewhat unexpected move that drastically limits the market for its product, Light Helmets, the Carlsbad, CA– based manufacturer of football helmets and flag football headgear, is making a strategic move by banning the sale of all of its products to NFL teams.
Why? A statement by COO Justin Bert explains:
“The NFL continues to deny numerous requests from Light Helmets and others to release the on-field data reflecting actual concussions by helmet type and number of plays and all in-lab test results and ranking analysis related to its annual NFL Helmet Poster.
“It is also concerning that several employees of the NFL’s exclusive testing lab, Biokinetics, which analyzes all competitive helmets, are listed as inventors on no less than five Riddell patents,” the statement continues. “Light Helmets will no longer support, cooperate or participate in any activities related to the NFL until the failed testing methodology is addressed, on-field and in-lab test data is released, and overt conflicts of interest are eliminated.”
“With the many rules changes to reduce injuries, the vast sums of money spent on testing, grants and the associated PR, it’s remarkable that concussions actually increased in the NFL in 2019,” adds Light Helmets CEO Nicholas Esayian. “What is more concerning is how the NFL refuses to release the number of concussions by helmet per number of plays to validate its testing. It only makes sense to validate the effectiveness of your testing with how those helmets performed on the field. We have asked for that data, and we were denied.”
The number of helmet manufacturers has continued to decrease, with only Riddell, Schutt, Xenith and Light manufacturing hard football helmets, with another company, Vicis, recently becoming insolvent and its assets acquired by a capital partner of Schutt.
According to Light Helmets, Biocore is the NFL consultant for the development of the helmet testing methodology and actual helmet evaluations. Biocore employs Canadian based lab, Biokinetics, to execute an evolving test protocol, which is then evaluated by Biocore, the NFL, NFLPA and others. The trouble with this, says Light Helmets, is that at least two of Biokinetics employees are indeed listed as “Inventors” on Riddell’s helmet patents.
“This is a clear conflict of interest,” stresses Esayian. “In any other business, if there were a documented connection between an independent test lab and one of the companies’ products being evaluated for the test, it would be considered a conflict of interest.’
Light Helmets is urging the NFL to take several steps that it says would remedy these issues:
- There should be multiple consultants contracted that are encouraged to propose their own standards for helmets.
- The consultants’ methodology should be measured against how the helmets actually perform on field and that field data should be shared and be made public.
- None of the consultants should have any current or prior financial or strategic relationship with existing or proposed helmet companies.
- Redirect grants which have not been effective in bringing new technologies to the field to facilitate the multiple vendor testing protocol.