On October 3, 2010, the Cincinnati Bengals were driving down the field against the Browns in Cleveland. Carson Palmer dropped back in the pocket, found his target, Jordan Shipley, and fired. Just as the ball hit Shipley's hands, Browns safety T.J. Ward lowered his shoulder and planted it in Shipley's face, causing him to drop the ball and leave the game with a concussion. The Bengals lost that game by a score of 20-23. Ward was fined $15,000 and
Shipley didn't play the next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who also beat the Bengals by three points, 21-24. After sitting out the Tampa Bay game and the following bye week, Shipley was ready to go.
According to a Virginia Tech study, though, the entire injury could have been avoided.
The study showed that about 38 percent of the helmets worn in 2010 were low-rated models when it comes to preventing concussions.
According to Virginia Tech professor of biomedical engineering, Stefan Duma, 38 percent of the players wore Riddell VSR-R helmets which received just one star in concussion tests.
The Riddell Revolution Speed got a five star rating, but only about half of the players wore them. It's unclear as to which helmet Shipley was wearing when he was hit by Ward.
"All of these helmets protect you from skull fracture, so what we're doing is going to the next level and looking at how they protect you from brain injury," Duma said. "We're basing this analysis off a million impacts we've collected. We know how players are hit."
The NFL has cracked down on hits that can cause concussions lately. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed out a lot of fines in 2010 to players who violated the NFL's policy (most of them went to Steelers linebacker James Harrison), and there were talks about suspending players for illegal hits. The NFL is also implementing a new side line concussion test in 2011 in hopes that they can curb some of the long term effects of multiple concussions.
On the equipment side of things, Riddell Sports president Dan Arment hopes that the Bengals and all other teams take this and other studies seriously and move to the helmets that help players protect themselves from concussions.
"It is our hope that based upon this and other independent research, that players and teams at all levels will continue to migrate to the Revolution family of helmets," Riddell Sports president Dan Arment said in a statement.'