Rattlers using new helmets to make safety statement along with fashion statement

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By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
September 28, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- In football, the helmet is a statement. One of tradition. One of creativity. One of new beginnings. One of established identity.

So when first year FAMU head coach Willie Simmons and new equipment director Dakarai Calhoun set out to modernize the Rattlers' classic lid, it took some careful planning.

"He showed me a picture of the matte and I loved it and once we had a model brought in and we put the logo on it, we toyed around with some stripes," Simmons said. "We both fell in love with it."

FAMU's new matte orange helmet is an updated spin on an old classic, bringing a beloved standard into the 21st century.

But, it's not just the paint job that's new, it's also what's under the hood; a new technology from Ridell Helmets called Insite that makes the Rattlers new look just as much a safety statement as it is a fashion statement.

"Insite technology is a sensor inside the helmet that monitors contact, pressure on the head," Calhoun explained.

That information can help in identifying the most infamous injury in football; concussions.

"We want to make sure that we do our part to ensure the safety of our student athletes and with this new technology it gives us a chance to monitor one of the most severe injuries a player can suffer which is a concussion," Simmons said.

"When we have someone with a concussion or major head collision it'll go to alerts and it'll tell me, who and what player and you'll see a triangle that says hey you need to go check them out," said, demonstrating the new technology.

The technology has been around since 2013, but FAMU is the first collegiate program in our area to outfit any players with it.

"I wanted to get the technology to try them out with 14 of our guys, especially guys that have had concussions in their history
in the past to monitor them," said Calhoun.

And considering the more concussions you have the easier they are to obtain, having technology that can detect even the most minute of head injuries is a game changer.

However, players in "high impact" positions are also eligible to wear the helmet.

"Linebackers, tight ends, running backs, sometimes safeties and of course quarterbacks have a higher tendency of concussions because they're the most unprotected guys on the field because a lot of those hits are coming from the backside and they can't see," explained Simmons.

But no matter the advantages of the Insite or how many FAMU has, Calhoun says having a sturdy helmet is the ultimate protector.

"We can give you this technology bit if you're not properly fitted, say you may be a medium helmet and somebody gave you a large, you're definitely going to get a concussion," he said.

As the Rattlers look to emulate the stories of their past, they're also looking ahead to the future of the game, hoping to do their part in making sure football doesn't go out of style.

"I think for football to continue to flourish we've got to continue to invest dollars into technology," Simmons said. "Player safety is the biggest push in football right now from the recreational level to the professional level."

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