After decades of durable service, the football helmet seems to have reached its design limits. Ask any player in the NFL who has suffered a concussion and he'll agree. Ask Troy Aikman. Ask Steve Young. Better yet, ask Chris Miller, the former Los Angeles Rams quarterback who had to retire in 1995 because he'd been knocked silly so many times. Miller returned to the league this season with the Denver Broncos, only to go down on Nov. 22 with the sixth concussion of his career.
A new helmet, the Pro-Edition ($129.95), made by Bike Athletic Co. of Knoxville, Tenn., offers an alternative to the Riddell helmet, currently used in the NFL, and other models used at colleges. Weighing just 1.5 pounds, the Pro-Edition is about 30% lighter than its predecessors, which should help to reduce the impact of a collision. The manufacturer also says the Pro-Edition is more comfortable to wear, despite its larger size. The back of the helmet's outer shell more closely conforms to the back of the skull, improving fit, and larger ear holes help to increase ventilation.
Pros who wear the Pro-Edition helmet include Miami Dolphins linebacker and NFL Players Association president Trace Armstrong (he is not a paid endorser of the helmet), and Dallas Cowboys defensive back Darren Woodson. It was also used this season by players at Notre Dame, Michigan and Nebraska. For more information, check on the Web at www.bikeathletic.com.