Head injuries are a hot-button issue in football. A number of products, like the Reebok CheckLight and Riddell's Insite Impact Response System, help identify and rate the severity of concussive hits. Start-up company Unequal makes a military-grade composite padding that disperses impact forces. Now football helmet market leader Riddell has come out with the SpeedFlex.
The SpeedFlex is similar to the helmet players wore last season, with one major difference. It features a large, compressible cutout panel in the crown, part of the Flex System, which is designed to reduce impact force transfer to the wearer. The panel can depress up to a quarter of an inch, according to an ESPN interview with Thad Ide, Riddell's senior vice president for research and development.
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The new helmet also features a composite energy management system designed to absorb impact energy and a new ratchet-style retention system, replacing the snap-in system previously included in football helmets.
"Veteran NFL players were surprised that their chin-strap snaps weren't all that different from the ones they were issued in fifth grade," Ide told ESPN. "So we took that to heart and tried to come up with something better."
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