NFL's Decision to Ban Riddell VSR-4 and Schutt Air Advantage Helmets Explained

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 28: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a 43 yard touchdown  reception during the second quarter in the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers | Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Much has been made of the NFL's new helmet rule in the wake of Antonio Brown's latest hissy fit, as the league is preventing Brown from wearing the Schutt Air Advantage helmet he had worn for his entire career.

Brown, along with fellow stars Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Larry Fitzgerald, is one of a handful of players who will no longer be allowed to wear either that Schutt model or the Riddell VSR-4 next season.

The Air Advantage was a lightweight model marketed heavily towards speedy skill position players. However, Schutt stopped making the Air Advantage in 2011 because “current helmet technology had moved past it."

That model, along with the Riddell VSR-4, used traditional foam padding, rather than the Thermoplastic Urethane Cushioning, or TPU, that was used in other helmets. TPU has been proven to absorb more impact than foam padding, and most certified helmets used TPU in some form or fashion.

In the leagues' ongoing quest to improve player safety, any helmet that did not reduce head impact severity, like Brown's old model, was made redundant.

While Brady, Rodgers, and Fitzgerald appeared to have made the switch relatively easily, Brown is going down kicking and screaming to keep his old helmet.