Riddell Helmets Will No Longer Be Official NFL Gear

The team at Riddell was dealt a big blow this week when NFL officials decided to end the company’s official deal with the league.

In 1989 Riddell was given rights as the official helmet manufacturer for the NFL after a bunch of other helmet manufacturers went out of business. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy announced on Thursday night that the league recently renegotiated the deal to have it end when the 2013 season draws to a close.

In a statement to ESPN.com on Thursday Riddell said:

“We are proud of our relationship with the NFL. We are also very proud of the fact that year after year a majority of NFL players choose to wear Riddell helmets — a true testament to our relentless efforts to protect athletes. While it is accurate that our current NFL agreement will expire next year, we look forward to a continued positive and productive relationship with the NFL in the future. We are confident that we will continue to be the helmet of choice of our nation’s elite football players.”

Sports Illustrated says commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that the NFL had to “use quite a bit of leverage” to end the deal.

The NFL is currently embattled in concussion lawsuits and claims that have tarnished its image. Officials realized that selling exclusive branding rights to one helmet company over another could lead to more questions about its ability to protect players.

While NFL players can wear any helmet they choose, only Riddell was allowed to display its name on the helmet’s nose bumper. One-third of NFL players wear helmets from other manufacturers. Other popular choices among NFL players include, Schutt, Xenith and Rawlings.

Riddell pays for the rights to display their name on a players helmet bumper. The company sells regular-size and mini helmets with league logos. Those helmets are often used by autograph collectors.

The NFL recently reached a $765 million settlement with players over concussions. However, Riddell is still being sued. Player claim that the helmet manufacturer made various claims about the safety of their helmets that simply were not true. Riddell in a recent filing revealed that it has product liability insurance.

Do you think opening up the field to a larger number of NFL helmet suppliers on a non-exclusive basis is a smart decision?

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