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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NFL Accused Of Rejecting Safer Headgear

The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles lineup across the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles lineup across the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The National Football League and its official helmet maker Riddell are facing lawsuits claiming they’ve been putting business before players’ safety.

The family of San Diego Charger Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year, along with more than 4,000 former players, say the NFL covered up the long term damage from the game to the brain.

The lawsuits also accuse Riddell of making inadequate helmets for years, and then exaggerating the benefit of its newer models.

An investigative report by Bloomberg News has found that the NFL rejected makers of safer headgear in favor of Riddell helmets.

A helmet attachment called ProCap has been shown to reduce the chance of concussion in collision. The NFL committee that deals with brain injuries issued memos warning players that they risked death by wearing it.

Bloomberg reported that the committee was being advised, in part, by an outside consultant who previously testified for Riddell.

The NFL is considering some rule changes to make players safer, such as penalties for runners who lower their heads to initiate contact in a tackle. And late last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proposed eliminating the kickoff.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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