Just How Regulated is the Quality of the Football Helmets?


Ian Whitfield

Football players can use football provided by the County or buy their own.

One of the biggest stories of the summer came from the football field. Antonio Brown made headlines during the off-season as he complained over and over again about the new helmet rules set by the NFL. LCPS has different helmet guidelines compared to the NFL, but follows a lot of the same safety precautions.  

High school football players in Loudoun County are provided helmets, but also are given the freedom to go and buy their own helmet. “Football players are allowed to pick their own helmets given it meets the NOCSAE guidelines,” said Dominion Athletic Director Dwayne Peters. NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) develops performance standards for protective equipment used in a variety of sports. All helmets purchased by LCPS players on their own must have a 5-star rated helmet by the Virginia Tech Rating System. “We use the Virginia Tech Rating System since they have been the longest lasting group who tests safety standards,” said LCPS Athletic Supervisor, Derek Farrey.  

“As long as the helmet is conditioned within the year and it has been approved, I am fine with it. I think everyone has their own brand and there are multiple types of helmets that fit all different kinds of heads,” said head football coach, Drake Woodard.

Dominion sends their helmets away to helmet manufacturer, Riddell, who tests them. All football helmets are required by the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) to be tested each year. Riddell provides testing that follows the NOCSAE guidelines. Helmets that are certified have a sticker placed on the back (must be the proper sticker corresponding to the current year) which clears them to be worn by high school athletes, and if they are missing the certification sticker the helmets are ineligible.

Helmets can be deemed ineligible if they fail to meet safety qualifications, do not meet all requirements on what each helmet must have as a part of its makeup, or if they have existed for over 10 years. “I think the helmet guidelines are very good. The fact they need to be recertified every year is great. I’m a big believer in that. I think the safety precautions taken with it are very good,” Peters said.  

Coaches for every team are required to go to specific trainings to help fit kids for their helmets and pads for the season. “All the players will come in and the coaches fit the helmets to the players. If players go out and buy their own helmet then the fitting is on their own but I much rather prefer they use our helmets so we can properly fit them,” Peters said.

Nearly all the Titan football players wear Revolution SpeedFlex helmets or Classic Revolution Speed helmets. Both of these helmets are legally allowed in the NFL based on the NFL helmet safety chart. The Revolution SpeedFlex helmet was in the yellow of the chart (still legal) while the Classic Revolution Speed helmet was in the lower end of the green. 

Football is not the only sport at Dominion who has helmet testing done. Lacrosse, baseball, and softball also have testing done. Lacrosse helmet testing is done annually at Riddell along with the football helmets. Baseball and softball have slightly different rules as they only have theirs tested every two years.

Loudoun County provides schools with a certain budget every year for helmets and equipment which is very helpful for teams that have helmets. “The helmets we use run about $400-475. Every year we lose around 3-5 helmets due to them aging out which requires these teams to have to replace them. We get discounts provided by Riddell, but if we did not have that discount we would be looking at $600-700 per helmet,” Peters said.the