There's some scrimmaging on Capitol Hill these days over football helmets, with a senator asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate “misleading safety claims and deceptive practices” in the selling of new football helmets and reconditioning of used ones.
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Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) says in a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz that helmet companies “appear to be using misleading advertising claims” and that “some helmet reconditioning companies may be falsely selling used helmets as meeting an industry safety standard.”
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, which is dated Jan. 4. In it, Udall says he is “troubled by misleading marketing claims by Riddell, a leading helmet maker that supplies the official helmet to the National Football League.”
He quotes Riddell's website as saying that “research shows a 31% reduction in the risk of concussion in players wearing a Riddell Revolution football helmet when compared to traditional helmets.” Udall adds: “Yet there is actually very little scientific evidence to support the claim.” In the letter—first reported by the New York Times—Udall also refers to what he terms “misleading safety claims used in online video advertisements for helmets.” He specifically cites Riddell and Schutt Sports.
“After reviewing Sen. Udall's letter to the Federal Trade Commission, we believe his statements and allegations are unfounded and unfair,” Riddell CEO Dan Arment said in a statement e-mailed to the AP.
A Schutt Sports spokesman said the company was aware of Udall's letter but declined comment.
FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan confirmed the agency has received the letter, but declined further comment.
In November, Udall asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate whether safety standards for football helmets are adequate to protect players from concussions. Udall serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, Science and Transportation, which oversees the commission.
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