The NFL and NFL Players Association for the first time have banned specific helmets for use, saying those models performed poorly in its annual testing procedures or are no longer supported by their manufacturers.
Ten helmet models have been targeted for phaseout, six immediately and four by the start of the 2019 season. Approximately 200 NFL players wore one of those models in 2017, according to Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety initiatives.
The NFL has been ranking helmets, from best- to worst-performing based on laboratory testing, for four years. On Monday, teams and players received the 2018 rankings, which are topped by two models from VICIS, a company that was founded in 2013.
“Over the last few years, we’ve seen some dynamic changes in the helmet industry,” Miller said. “We’ve seen a number of new helmets enter the market from both new innovators, as well as new helmet models from incumbent companies, which means that there are a number of helmets for players to move to.
“And we’ve begun to see that over the last couple of years, players [are] moving from helmets that rank in the poorly performing areas to those that are ranging closer to the top-performing helmets. We think that is an important move, and we think that will improve player health and safety. And the purpose of continuing to rank the helmets, and the purpose of the joint decision to prohibit certain helmets this year, is to increase that continued movement into better-performing helmets.”
Thirty-four helmets were tested for the 2018 rankings. They came after a season in which NFL players suffered 291 concussions, the highest number on record. NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills called that number “unacceptable” and declared a “a call to action” in February to address it.
League owners agreed in March to a significant rule change that will threaten immediate ejections anytime a player lowers his helmet and initiates contact with another player. The kickoff is under heavy scrutiny after it was determined to cause concussions at five times the rate of an average play, and plans are underway to work with teams to address a spike in concussions caused during training camp scrimmages.
Dr. Jeff Crandall, the chairman of the NFL’s engineering committee, said the helmet testing recreated 24 conditions that typically occur on NFL playing fields. It measures “a number of accelerations and motions of the head,” Crandall said. Helmets are ranked on how they “manage the forces” that players most often come into contact with, he added.
The tests and new policy were carried out in conjunction with Crandall, Miller and Dr. Kristy Arbogast, who is co-scientific director and director of engineering for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an adviser to the NFLPA.
Kevin Dodd of Tennessee Titans placed on reserve did not report list after not reporting for training camp
Right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Phillip Supernaw were placed on the physically unable to perform list. Linebacker Rashaan Evans and receiver Michael Campanaro were placed on the non-football illness list. Defensive tackle Mike Ramsay was placed on the non-football injury list.
Dodd, a 2016 second-round pick, missed all of voluntary offseason workouts before being a limited participant during mandatory minicamp. He never gave a reason for his absence and declined to answer questions.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel wanted to give Dodd a clean slate after two disappointing seasons to start his NFL career. Injuries derailed his rookie season, but he hasn’t shown much when he has played. A 6-foot-5, 280-pound outside linebacker, he has one sack and 12 tackles in 18 games.
The Titans drafted Harold Landry in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft to give them much-needed depth in their pass rush, but as of earlier this offseason there was still hope within the organization that Dodd could be a contributor. Dodd hasn’t helped his cause.
Conklin is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the Titans’ Jan. 13 divisional playoff loss to the Patriots. He won’t be on the field to start training camp, and the optimistic goal is to try to get him back by Week 1. Conklin said he lost weight and attacked his rehab without any setbacks, but the Titans may need to prepare as if they will be without him to start the season.
Veteran reserve Dennis Kelly is expected to slide in at right tackle while Conklin recovers from his injury.
Evans’ designation isn’t expected to keep him off the field much during training camp.
Quarterbacks, rookies and players injured at the end of the June offseason program were due to report Sunday. Dodd and Conklin were included in that group. The rest of the Titans are set to report Wednesday.
Minnesota Vikings O-line coach Tony Sparano dies at age 56
Former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has died at the age of 56.
Since 2016, Sparano had served as the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, who confirmed his death.
“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “Tony was a passionate and driven individual who cared deeply about his family, and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. Tony’s presence within the Vikings organization will be deeply missed. We are only thinking of Tony’s family during this incredibly difficult time. We ask that the entire NFL and Vikings family keep the Sparanos in their thoughts.”
Sparano worked for nine NFL teams in his coaching career, including coaching the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011 and serving as Oakland Raiders interim head coach in 2014. He also had stints with the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers.
He had reunited with coach Mike Zimmer in Minnesota. The two coached under Bill Parcells with the Cowboys from 2003 to 2006.
Sparano was 32-41 as a head coach and took the Dolphins to his only playoff appearance during his first season in 2008.
Mike Evans of Tampa Bay Buccaneers gives $11,000 to aid family of slain man
On Saturday, he donated $11,000 to the family of Gregory Hill, who was shot and killed by a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office deputy in 2014.
Hill’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and after a two-week trial in May, a jury ruled in favor of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, saying Hill was 99 percent responsible for his death and the department 1 percent responsible. The jury awarded the family $4, $1 for each of Hill’s three children and $1 for funeral expenses. The family, however, received just 4 cents (1 percent of the $4 award).
When the 24-year-old wide receiver signed his five-year, $82 million extension in March, Evans said of his charity plans, “It’s hard to put into words. With my actions you’ll see it.” Last year, Evans and his wife, Ashli, also founded the Mike Evans Family Foundation, which gives scholarships to high school graduates coming from low-income situations and provides help to women and their families who are victims of domestic violence.
Gregory Hill was 30 when he was shot and killed by an officer responding to a complaint about loud music in 2014. After officers knocked on his garage and front doors, Hill opened his garage door. He was shot when he lowered the garage door and police alleged that Hill pointed a gun at the deputies. An unloaded gun was found in his pocket and tests revealed that his blood alcohol content was 0.40.
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