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Saturday, January 15, 2011
F.T.C. to Investigate Football Helmet Manufacturer Riddell

The Associated Press reported on Friday that the United States Federal Trade Commission is looking into potentially misleading and deceptive trade practices by football helmet manufacturer Riddell. Riddell is the official helmet manufacturer of the National Football League.

According to the AP article, the F.T.C. is concerned about statements on Riddell's website stating that "research shows a 31 percent reduction in the risk of concussion in players wearing a Riddell Revolution football helmet when compared to traditional helmets." According to United States Senator Tom Udall (New Mexico) -- who wrote to the F.T.C. requesting an investigation -- there is little evidence supporting Riddell's safety claims. For its part, Riddell released a statement calling the allegations "unfounded and unfair," and welcoming any scrutiny.

The AP interviewed Professor Stephen Ross, director of Penn State's Institute for Sports Law, Policy and Research, for its story, who noted that "the commission has several options if it decides to pursue action against companies, including a cease-and-desist order."

For more on this story, see the Associated Press's report here.


The study that Riddell is referring too was published in 2005 by the journal of Neurosurgery. Unfortunately, there were many flaws with the study. First, one of the authors was the vice president of research and product development for Riddell. Second, the subjects receiving the new helmet were neither randomly selected nor controlled. In addition, the group wearing the new helmets were significantly older than the players wearing the older helmets. Studies have shown that younger athletes may be more prone to concussions than older athletes. Finally, the only information provided about the other helmets are that they were NOSCAE approved. It's your guess as to how old the helmets were in the study, combined with inconsistent reconditioning practices, make this study a good starting point to compare these new helmets to other new helmets on the market. it may be more difficult to base broad marketing claims upon. Below is the reference to the original study if you care to look.

Collins et al. (2005). Examining concussion rates and return to play in high school football players wearing newer helmet technology: A three-year prospective cohort study. Neurosurgery, 58 (2). 275-286.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 1/17/2011 9:04 PM  

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