By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Last season, knowing his preferred model of football helmet was on death row, Patriots quarterback tried very hard to change. He ultimately switched back to what felt comfortable, though, en route to winning his record sixth Super Bowl.
Now, though, Brady won’t have that fallback plan, as the quarterback’s outdated Riddell VSR-4 model is officially considered contraband in the NFL.
ESPN’s George Seifert wrote Friday that the NFL eliminated the grace period that was afforded to players who were still using outdated helmet models last season. Any player who dares to wear such equipment going forward is subject to the wrath of Roger Goodell.
“If a team is found to have known about a player wearing a banned helmet, or to have facilitated the use of one, it will be subject to league discipline,” Seifert wrote, citing Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive VP for health and safety initiatives.
As Brady and the Patriots know all too well, subjecting themselves to the whims of league discipline is probably not the best course of action. (Counterpoint: Brady did get away with a clear helmet/uniform violation back in the preseason of 2016.) And so, it will be that an old dog will need to learn new tricks … or at least, will need to wear a different a helmet.
As previously noted, Brady did try to wear an updated, approved helmet last year when he went with the Riddell Precision Fit SpeedFlex. He said he liked it and that, though it required some acclimation, it was comfortable. But then he showed up in Detroit in Week 3 wearing his old dome protector. He went back to the new one for Week 4. He stuck with the new helmet through the Week 11 bye.
But when he took the field for Week 12’s game against the Jets, he was wearing his trusty old Riddell. He kept it the rest of the way.
Now, here comes the most useless information of all time. We’ll call this unofficial, in case my record keeping of helmet-wearing is somewhat inaccurate, but I do believe this to be true:
Brady’s 2018 stats with new helmet:
228-for-345 (66.1%), 290.6 yards/game, 7.58 yards/attempt
16 TDs, 6 INTs, 7-2 record, 96.95 passer rating
Brady’s 2018 stats with old helmet:
232-for-350 (66.3%), 269.3 yards/game, 7.69 yards/attempt
15 TDs, 8 INTs, 7-3 record, 94.14 passer rating
Maybe change shouldn’t be so scary for Brady.
Those VSR-4 days are officially over for Brady. (Drew Brees was listed as one of the players wearing an outdated model last year, but he made the switch before the 2018 season and stuck with it all year.)
It’s not all a nightmare for Brady and the protector of his billion-dollar head of hair, though, as Seifert also noted that the NFL and NFLPA added 11 more helmets to the list of approved equipment for 2019. Brady’s going to have to hope he likes one of the new ones. On the plus side, it will be free from having any of that pesky confetti stuck inside, which can get quite messy.