Crack in Mahomes’ helmet could lead to new safety standards

KSHB 41 (Kansas City)

February 8, 2024

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — People working inside an office building in Overland Park, Kansas, play a role in what happens on the field during every Super Bowl.

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) publishes standards on what a piece of athletic equipment has to do and how it should be tested. A third party named Safety Equipment Institute certifies products that like football helmets, lacrosse balls and much more meet NOCSAE’s standards.

“I think there’s no question that compliance with our standard makes the sport safer,” said NOCSAE Executive Director Mike Oliver.

He believes Super Bowl LVIII will be leaps and bounds safer than Super Bowl I. Increased safety is partly because of how NOCSAE standards have evolved over the past 50 years, but also thanks to new rules, fewer full-contact practices and independent neurologists on NFL sidelines to diagnose concussions almost immediately.

Oliver watches NFL games as a fan first, but when something like Patrick Mahomes’ helmet cracks against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wildcard Playoff game, Oliver puts on his NOSCAE hat. Last week, he got an update from Biocore, which is testing Mahomes’ helmet. Depending on the results of the research, NOCSAE may issue updated standards for helmets. Currently, every helmet in the NFL must meet NOSCAE regulations.

Oliver pays closer attention to the big hits where no player gets hurt.

“You see that and you go, ‘Ok the helmet can do a really good job. How do we make sure it does that every time?’ That’s the really difficult thing,” Oliver explained.

NOCSAE is working with the NFL to create safety standards for shoulder pads next. So it’s possible Super Bowl LIX will have an extra layer of safety thanks to the nonprofit in Overland Park.

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