In light of the recent discussions about player safety and how it relates to concussions and long term health, the Oakland Raiders, the NFL, the NFLPA, NCAA, and USA Football are stepping up their efforts to start at the source-- Youth football.
The issue of player health, especially concussion related health, reached an all-time high with the suicide of Former NFL great, Junior Seau. The discussion quickly turned to whether current and former NFL players would allow their own children play football. There were many who said they would not.
In response to this rising concern, and to show a commitment to player safety, a group of sports entities and equipment manufacturers has entered into an unprecedented partnership to create a youth football safety and helmet replacement program for youth in underserved communities. The initiative will remove helmets that are 10 years old or older and replace them with new helmets at no cost to the beneficiary leagues and will provide coaches with the latest educational information to help keep their young athletes safer and healthier.
The Raiders are one of six NFL teams chosen to participate in the launch of the program, which will also be piloted in the Gulf Coast region, Northern Ohio, and the tri-state region around New York City.
"We are delighted to work with the NFL on this innovative Helmet Replacement Program and we are thrilled that it will have a local impact," said Oakland Raiders Chief Executive Amy Trask.
The NFL, NFLPA, NCAA and NOCSAE have committed a combined total of approximately $1 million to the program in its first year. The pilot program is designed to provide valuable information on the state of youth football helmets, including the number of helmets 10 years old or older in use. As of 2012, NAERA members will no longer recondition or recertify any helmet that is 10 years of age or older. NOCSAE will collect the helmets when removed and use them for ongoing research programs.
USA Football, the Official Youth Football Development Partner of the NFL and NFLPA, will lead the execution of the program. Other partners in the initiative are the NFL, NFL Players Association, CDC, NAERA, NCAA, NOCSAE and the SGMA. Equipment manufacturers Rawlings, Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith are providing discounted helmets.
The effort, which begins this July, will provide nearly 13,000 new helmets to youth football players in low-income communities in 2012 as well as educate thousands of youth football coaches on vital health and safety issues.
"We are pleased to be part of this initiative, which will give children in underserved communities access to new helmets, and to reach coaches and parents with educational information to help protect young athletes from head injuries," said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. "This program is part of our focus on player safety at all levels of the game. We are proud to join with these well-respected organizations to make the Helmet Replacement Program a reality."
Leagues that receive helmets through this program will be required to have their coaches complete USA Football's Level 1 coaching course. Elements of the education component are as follows:
"Start with Safety":Concussion awareness, response information, featuring links to CDC content and resources
"Perfect Fitting": Helmet fitting information, including links to manufacturer-specific fitting resources
"Tackle Safety": USA Football's Tackle Progression Model and Levels of Contact information and videos
"Helmet Condition": Reconditioning and replacement information
To learn more or apply for helmets, visit www.usafootball.com/playersafety