In somewhat of a landmark decision, the NFL has elected to end its official deal with helmet maker Riddell starting next season.
Following the end of the current 2013/14 season, Riddell will no longer hold exclusive rights to be the official helmet of the league—a title the brand has held since back in 1989. Now, this doesn’t mean Riddell helmets can’t be used in the NFL, but rather that the company won’t get preferential branding rights over another helmet maker. In other words, the NFL is trying not to play favorites as it deals with the increasing focus on concussions and other head injuries.
You see, just like Nike is the only sportswear brand to hold exclusive branding rights when it comes to uniforms and cleats and such, Riddell, as the official helmet sponsor of the league, is the only helmet brand allowed to visibly advertise its name and logo. But all that changes with beginning next season.
According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, "roughly two-thirds of the league uses a Riddell helmet, and on that nose bumper plate it says Riddell. If you use another brand you can’t say it so, they just didn’t want one helmet brand to have an advantage over another, especially given the scrutiny on head protection, head injury, and, you know the lawsuits that have been going on.”
Here’s what Riddell had to say about the NFL’s decision:
"We are proud of our relationship with the NFL," Riddell said in a statement to ESPN.com. "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."