Exciting changes in NFL football helmets are taking place. According to Tony Egues, Head Equipment Manager of the Miami Dolphins, it is not unlikely for the future football helmets to be equipped with the Sideline Response System technology. The electronic readers of the Sideline Response System have the ability to measure the force a player is subjected to upon impact apart from providing vital signs during the game. The information gathered by these readers and the changes in NFL football helmets may prevent not just injuries but permanent disability and even death among the players.
During a recent meeting between team physicians and athletic trainers of the NFL and the NCAA, Mr. Egues presented what he foresees are the changes in NFL football helmets. He estimates that these changes will take place at a rapid pace, probably in the next three to five years.
For Mr. Egues the changes in NFL football helmets will be fueled largely by technology. The football helmets five years from now will be equipped with the Sideline Response System Technology which can measure body temperature and heart rate in real time. Currently, prototypes of these revolutionary helmets are being tested in the NCAA and on several high school teams.
Mr. Egues anticipates further that the changes will go beyond than merely monitoring the condition of the players in real time. For him, these changes may very well enable manufacturers to produce helmets tailored to meet the exact needs of each player.
As exciting as the direction the changes in NFL football helmets is going, Mr. Egues regards the Sideline Response System technology with a lot of caution. He admits that the technology is still at its infancy. He emphasizes that the welfare of the most precious commodity of the league, the athletes, is still the primary concern of the research. He assures the league, team owners and the players that they will incorporate the technology in the helmets only after it has been perfected. More importantly, he admits that incorporating the latest technology for the sake of technology is not necessarily beneficial to the league and the athletes. The relevance and necessity of the technology will still have to be established before it is incorporated formally into the league’s helmet design.
Mr. Egues expressed his fear of becoming too dependent on the technology. While the Sideline Response System has the ability to measure the force the player sustains during the game, human intervention is still necessary. Mr. Egues emphasizes that the team physician will be the one to decide, based on the data from the helmet, if the player needs to be pulled-out of the game and not the Sideline Response System.
These hesitations notwithstanding, Mr. Egues remains optimistic about the impending changes in NFL football helmets and he is not alone. The manufacturers are conducting their own research on how to improve helmet safety. Mr. Egues welcomes these independent studies by manufacturers. He notes that more research can only lead to better helmet designs.