The Fort Worth Independent School District has pulled and is replacing football helmets after an NBC 5 Investigation raised questions about the safety of older helmets still being used at schools in North Texas.
NBC 5 Investigates found players at more than a dozen local schools still wearing helmets that received poor ratings in new research from Virginia Tech University.
InvestigativeInvestigation Prompts Helmet Changes at Local School
Researchers compared helmet models to see which best reduced the chance of a concussion. NBC 5 Investigates found 20 DFW schools still using helmets rated at just one or two stars which are the lowest ratings.
Fort Worth ISD had only a tiny number of 1-star rated helmets left with just eight players wearing the Riddell VSR4 out of thousands.
Last week, NBC 5 Investigates asked the school district why they wouldn't replace the helmets with newer models. In a recent interview Fort Worth ISD Athletic Director, Kevin Greene, said he had not seen the Virginia Tech rating scale and wasn't familiar with the research.
On Friday, just one day after the first story aired, the superintendent wrote a memo to the school board that stated:
"While we have every confidence in the safety of the helmets that have been used in our program, we have removed and replaced one particular helmet, the Riddell VSR-4 of which concern was raised. We have done this in an abundance of caution and so that it is understood that we put the safety of our children first."
"As of this week, all of our schools use helmets that have been awarded a 4 or 5 stars rating."
Last week NBC 5’s investigation also prompted Northwest ISD to replace at least 100 low-rated helmets worn by freshman and junior varsity players at Northwest High School.
Riddell, the maker of the VSR4 helmet, says it was once the most advanced helmet in the marketplace. But today the company says it,"has programs in place to encourage those playing football to transition to new helmets that incorporate more advanced technology."
To see our NBC 5 Investigates Helmet Tracker from our smartphone app, click here.