NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has launched the Helmet Challenge aiming to stimulate the development of a new helmet for players that outperforms, based on laboratory testing, all helmet models currently worn in the league.
Up to $3 million will be available in the challenge, including $2 million in grant funding to support of the development of a helmet prototype, and a $1 million award.
The challenge will culminate in May 2021 with applicants submitting helmet prototypes for testing in laboratory conditions that represent potentially concussive impacts in the NFL. Applicants will compete for up to a $1 million award.
“Helmet technology is advancing at an impressive rate. Yet, we believe that even more is possible,” said Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice president for health and safety innovation. “The NFL Helmet Challenge represents an unprecedented combination of financing, research, data and engineering expertise in an effort to create a more protective helmet.
“Innovation can be catalyzed if we engage with creative and talented people from across disciplines to attack this challenge together. In collaboration with the NFL Players Association, we are making changes on and off the field in an effort to improve protection for every player. Trying to ensure that players wear the best possible helmet is a substantial part of that commitment.”
In other NFL news, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro expects competition from Silicon Valley when the NFL’s television contracts come up for renewal.
The cable network’s $15.2 billion, eight-year agreement with the league for Monday night games runs through 2021. CBS, NBC and Fox and NBC have deals with the NFL that extend to 2022.
New media companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, DAZN, Hulu and YouTube could be among the bidders.
“I have no idea if they’re going to be interested specifically in ‘Monday Night Football,’ but I do believe that several new media companies are going to be interested in acquiring more NFL rights,” Pitaro said Thursday during a discussion at the Paley Center for Media.
“I still very much like ESPN’s hand, if you look at what we offer in terms of production expertise, in terms of the scale and scope, in terms of what we can do with the game, around the game, ‘SportsCenter,’ all of our original programming, how we can drive value for our league partners I think is really the differentiator.”