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July 2020
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‘NFL’ Articles

NFL News: $1.37 Million awarded in HeadHealthTech Grant funding to NFL helmet challenge applicants

Funding will support innovators competing to create a new, top-performing football helmet

New York, NY (June 30, 2020) – The National Football League (NFL) and Football Research, Inc. (FRI) today awarded $1.37 million in HeadHealthTECH grant funding to four teams of innovators to support the creation of their helmet prototypes to be submitted as part of the ongoing NFL Helmet Challenge, a contest with an additional prize of $1 million.


The NFL Helmet Challenge is an innovation challenge that aims to stimulate the development by experts, innovators and helmet manufacturers of a new helmet for NFL players that outperforms, based on specified laboratory testing, all helmets currently worn by NFL players. The $1.37 million in grant funding awarded today is an extension of the NFL’s HeadHealthTECH Challenge funding series and was designed to facilitate broad participation in the NFL Helmet Challenge. Applicants will use HeadHealthTECH Challenge funds to bolster their entry into the NFL Helmet Challenge competition. HeadHealthTECH funding is not required to participate in the NFL Helmet Challenge and other applicants are invited and encouraged to participate.


The Helmet Challenge will culminate in July 2021 with applicants submitting helmet prototypes for laboratory testing used by the NFL-NFLPA engineers to rank helmets over the last six years.


Awardees of HeadHealthTECH Helmet Challenge grant funding are as follows. Their submission descriptions appear in italics below as described by the winners in their grant applications.


  • Christopher Yakacki | Impressio, Inc. and CU Denver

Denver, Colorado – $491,999

Impressio, Inc. and CU Denver, relying on materials science research and additive manufacturing, are looking to create unprecedented energy-dissipating helmet liners using ultra-dissipative liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) and lattice designs to 3D-print player-specific helmet liners to reduce concussions. This project is supported by partners including EOS, nTopology, and Schutt.

  • Xenith, RHEON, BASF, The University of Waterloo | Xenith Project Orbit

Detroit, Michigan – $412,000

Xenith, an industry leader in football equipment, is looking to bring together experts in injury biomechanics, additive manufacturing, material science, design and computational modeling and optimization – BASF, RHEON Labs and The University of Waterloo – to create a new solution for energy management and a best-in-class on-field experience for the athlete.

  • Eric Wagnac (ETS) and Franck LeNaveaux | Kollide

Montreal, Québec – $238,545

The Kollide consortium combines the expertise of academic researchers (ETS) and four innovative Montreal-based companies (Kupol, Tactix, ShapeShift3D, Numalogics) who are looking to use their virtual design and non-planar 3D printing approach to create helmets customized to the player’s head with a custom liner optimized to absorb and redirect impact.

  • Matthew Panzer | UVA, Nama Development and Topologica, Inc.

Charlottesville, Virginia – $223,047

Dr. Panzer and collaborators are looking to use their innovative cubic + octet foam metamaterial to design a new energy absorbing layer in a football helmet that will minimize risk of concussion.


“By bringing together experts from multiple disciplines, the NFL Helmet Challenge aims to encourage revolutionary advances in helmet design,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs and Policy, who oversees the NFL’s health and safety work. “The awardees demonstrated the potential to do just that. We’re very excited to support their efforts and test their prototypes next year. This is one more sign of the recent transformation in the protective equipment space – more in the last couple of years than over the previous decade – and we are committed to keeping this momentum going.”


“The extraordinarily high level of engagement and breadth of innovative work happening right now in the protective equipment space is exciting to see,” said Dr. Barry Myers, Director of Innovation at Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (Duke CTSI), who chairs the Oversight Committee that selected the winners. “The four winners awarded today all demonstrated the ability to develop a winning helmet, but there is definitely more to come from many of the other teams and start-ups we saw submit proposals and we look forward to opportunities to support these entrepreneurs in the future.”


The HeadHealthTECH Challenge grant funding is just one of the many resources that the NFL has brought to bear to support potential applicants throughout the NFL Helmet Challenge process. Other available resources include those developed through the Engineering Roadmap, such as NFL video review data and finite element models of modern football helmets. Additionally, the NFL hosted a symposium in November 2019 to kick off the challenge, which brought together 300 engineers, manufacturing experts and innovators from across the country for three days of information-sharing and collaboration. The symposium provided potential applicants, including many of today’s grant winners, with background on the current state of the science around helmets and head injuries in the NFL and information on the challenge and available resources.


For more information on the NFL Helmet Challenge and how to enter, potential applicants should visit:


About the HeadHealthTECH Challenge Series

The HeadHealthTECH Challenge series is one component of the Engineering Roadmap, a $60-million comprehensive effort – funded by the NFL and managed by FRI – to improve the understanding of the biomechanics of head injuries in professional football and to create incentives for helmet manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, universities and others to develop and commercialize new and improved protective equipment, including helmets.

FRI awards the most promising HeadHealthTECH Challenge proposals with monetary grants and in-kind support. A panel of expert judges selected by Duke CTSI, in collaboration with FRI, reviews and provides feedback to all proposals. Every HeadHealthTECH Challenge applicant is invited to reapply and receives constructive feedback from Duke CTSI biomechanical experts to help refine innovations and increase chances for success on future submissions.


The HeadHealthTECH Challenges have awarded more than $1.6 million in grants to date to help advance the development of 13 new technologies:


About the NFL’s Health and Safety Initiatives

The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. As part of the NFL’s ongoing health and safety efforts, in September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe. — a league-wide health and safety initiative. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge of $100 million in support of independent medical research and engineering advancements and a commitment to try to protect our players and make our game safer, including through enhancements to medical protocols and improvements to how our game is taught and played. For more information about the NFL’s health and safety efforts, please visit




Detroit Lions to get a change in ownership: Martha Firestone Ford to step down as Principal Owner


The Detroit Lions announced Tuesday afternoon from their Allen Park, Michigan headquarters that a change in the team’s top leadership is coming.

Martha Firestone Ford, who has led the NFC North Division team since 2014, has decided to step down from her principal ownership role. She is 94 years old.

Under the succession plan, Mrs. Ford will hand the reins to her 69 year old daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp as the principal owner and chairman.

Mrs. Hamp has been very active and visible in the club’s leadership and NFL activities which have prepared her well for this new role. She had been the vice chairman since 2014. Hamp serves on the NFL’s Super Bowl and Major Events Committee.

Sports is nothing new to Hamp. She competed in tennis while at Yale and won a Michigan state championship in high school.

She graduated from Yale University in 1973. Hamp has an MA in teaching and early childhood education from Boston University.

Martha Firestone Ford (courtesy Detroit Lions)

Sheila Ford Hamp (courtesy Detroit Lions)

Commissioner Roger Goodell Statement on Detroit Lions

Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons.  I have appreciated her business insights, her love of the game, her deep commitment to the NFL, and her personal kindness.  We are pleased that the Ford family will continue to own and operate this historic franchise.  Sheila Hamp has become increasingly involved in team and league affairs over the past several years and we look forward to working with her and the rest of the club’s executive team.


Established July 12, 1930; 89 years ago
First season1930
Play in Ford Field
Detroit, Michigan
Headquartered in Allen Park, Michigan

League/conference affiliations
National Football League (1930–present) 

Team colors Honolulu blue, silver[2][3][4]
Fight song Gridiron Heroes
Mascot Roary the Lion
Owner(s) Sheila Ford Hamp[5]
Chairman Sheila Ford Hamp
President Rod Wood
General manager Bob Quinn
Head coach Matt Patricia[6]
Team history
League championships (4) 

Conference championships (4) 

Division championships (4) 

Playoff appearances (17)
Home fields



NFL Network, NFL Red Zone will no longer be on DISH and Sling TV


​LOS ANGELES, June 18, 2020: As of 9 pm ET NFL Network and NFL RedZone are no longer available to DISH and Sling TV subscribers.  While NFL Media remains committed to negotiating an agreement and has offered terms consistent with those in place with other distributors, DISH has not agreed.​

Without a distribution agreement in place for NFL Network and NFL RedZone, DISH and Sling subscribers will miss out on daily shows Good Morning FootballNFL Total Access and NFL Now and a newly launched Player’s Choice series featuring classic games and long-form storytelling from the NFL Films archive.

For the upcoming season, NFL Network remains the only place to watch all 65 preseason games, including a record 23 live out-of-market games. Regular season action on NFL Network continues with a slate of exclusive games kicking off with a trio of matchups at the start of the NFL Season in addition to two Saturday doubleheaders in Weeks 15 & 16. In addition to games, Sunday coverage on NFL Network features the most comprehensive pregame show on television – the Emmy-nominated NFL GameDay Morning.

An icon of the sports programming landscape, NFL RedZone takes fans from game to game to see the most exciting plays as they happen.  With host Scott Hanson, fans can follow the best of live NFL action from across the country and every touchdown from every game Sunday afternoons.

NFL content has never been more popular across the media landscape.  According to the Nielsen Company, 180 million people tuned into the 2019 NFL regular season with an average of 16.5 million watching per game. NFL games accounted for 47 of the 50 most-watched TV shows among all programming during the 2019 regular season.

As the only network 100% dedicated to coverage of America’s most popular sports league, NFL Network is committed to serving the millions of NFL fans by reaching fair distribution agreements with the pay-TV industry.

NFL Network continues to be widely distributed across the United States, including distribution agreements with major cable, satellite, telco, and OTT providers throughout the country — including DirecTV, Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Verizon FiOS, Fubo TV, Altice USA Optimum and Cox .

Please visit to learn more.




NFL announces Las Vegas as new host of Annual Pro Bowl

Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium under construction as of March 4, 2020 photo By ZappaOMatic - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https

The Annual Pro Bowl is moving again, but to a more exciting place for players, fans and media.

The NFL announced today, Tuesday, June 16 that the 2021 Pro Bowl will take place in Las Vegas at the Raiders’ new home, Allegiant Stadium on January 31.

The announcement has the league’s all-star showcase game moving to a brand-new venue in a market ready to welcome the NFL for years to come.

Las Vegas will be the 11th host of the Pro Bowl since 1950, joining Los Angeles (L.A. Memorial Coliseum), Dallas (Texas Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium), Miami (Orange Bowl, Hard Rock Stadium), New Orleans (Louisiana Superdome), Seattle (The Kingdome), Tampa, Florida (Tampa Stadium), Halawa, Hawaii (Aloha Stadium), Glendale, Arizona (State Farm Stadium), and Orlando (Camping World Stadium).

“The Raiders welcome the NFL Pro Bowl to Allegiant Stadium and to Las Vegas, the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World,” Raiders president Marc Badain said. “Pro Bowl week is a celebration of the best the NFL has to offer and there is no better place than Las Vegas to celebrate and honor the league’s biggest stars. The NFL, the LVCVA and the Raiders look forward to a world class event that will set the standard for future NFL events in Las Vegas.”

“We look forward to partnering with the Raiders and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to bring the excitement of Pro Bowl week to our Las Vegas fans and community for the first time,” Peter O’Reilly, NFL EVP of club business and league events, said in a statement. “We thank the city of Orlando for its outstanding partnership in helping us to grow and evolve the Pro Bowl over the last four years.”

“We’re appreciative of the NFL’s leadership and commitment to bring the 2021 Pro Bowl to Las Vegas,” said Steve Hill president/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “We look forward to hosting the best NFL players and their incredible fan base for a weeklong celebration that could only happen in Las Vegas.”

Pro Bowl week will be supporting a series of community and charitable-focused events that will benefit the Las Vegas community.

The NFL was all set to welcome its newest destination market during the 2020 Draft back in April. But the virus, COVID-19 and its ongoing spreading turned the Draft into a remote, virtual experience for the first time ever. The NFL will give Nevada’s showcase city the 2022 Draft instead.

Tickets will go on sale later this year.


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Transcript from guest appearance on ESPN’s ‘THE RETURN OF SPORTS’ SPECIAL

June 15, 2020

Mike Greenberg: Lets go back to several months ago, I recall right at the time the rest of the sports world had to cease what they were doing. All of the things that you had coming up, free agency and the Draft, were things that could be done virtually but, there were many people who were wondering if you should or could do it. Take us back to the decisions that you made and looking back now how you feel it all turned out.


Roger Goodell: Well Mike, none of us knew, we were living in very uncertain times. It was difficult for all of us to sort of predict even a couple days in advance. But our approach really Mike, was to stay on schedule, to do the things that we do in the offseason but, adapt and change and do things under the circumstances that we needed to do to keep all of our personnel safe. Whether they were team personnel or players or perspective players, with our Draft eligible players. So staying with free agency, to make sure that we went through that process, I think our fans loved it. It was something, it was distraction from what everyone was going through. Of course, the Draft was extraordinary. We could not have been happier. We had great partners in ESPN in the way we pulled that off from a technical standpoint and even our clubs who had some reservations going into it. I think they really came away and said, ‘this was a great experience, we learned a lot, we did it within the guidelines established, we kept everyone safe.’ And I think that once again we proved that we can bring everyone together and we had a great opportunity to be able to really do something great for the people on the frontlines that were going through so much and helping us so much. It’s been a different offseason for us, it should be but, it has also given us the chance to show that we can adapt and do things right.


Greenberg: It was hugely successful, and it was all done virtually. Now comes the contact part of what is a contact sport. And there were stories today that there were some players on the Texans and the Cowboys, including Ezekiel Elliott, who tested positive for the Coronavirus. How does that impact your planning as far as beginning training camps and all of the work that is in front of you?


Goodell: It doesn’t Mike because, you know, all of our medical experts indicated that as testing becomes more prevalent, we are going to have positive tests. Our players are going to be in that, our personnel are going to be in that, our league office employees are going to be involved. So, positive tests are going to happen. The issue is can we, obviously, prevent as many of those from happening but, in addition, treat them quickly, isolate them and prevent them from impacting other personnel. So, none of those players were in the facilities. All of those players, fortunately, have had either mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, and I think our protocols are working. And again, we expect we are going to have positive tests. That is part of the increased testing that we will be going through and that is something that we just want to make sure that our protocols are working and to date, we are seeing very positive reactions in the sense that we are making sure we respond quickly, protect the personnel that may be impacted by that and others that may be in contact with them.


Greenberg: There are rules in place, of course, within your league, at this point, on reopening and all of that and there were quotes recently from the coach of the Ravens, John Harbaugh saying that the current virus guidelines were quote, ‘impossible.’ What was your reaction to that, and have you had a chance to talk with him about it?


Goodell: I haven’t. Listen, you know, one of the things that we are all going to have to do, like we did with the Draft, Mike, is adapt and change and do things that we might have thought were impossible several weeks ago, even months ago. So, from our standpoint, what we have to do is do that. And so, the protocols are stringent, they are designed to be that because they are for the safety of our players and personnel, including coaches. And making sure that we are doing everything reasonable. And they are developed by experts, not just in the NFL and the NFLPA, which they have worked alongside us but, outside experts from DICON at Duke and so many infectious disease experts that have been helpful to us in thinking through that and doing it in a way that is going to protect our players and personnel. But also, we’ll evolve as the circumstances change, we will be changing our protocols appropriately.

Greenberg: I want to talk about the video that you released on June 4th in which you said, ‘we the National Football League, admit we were wrong in not listening to NFL players early and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.’ What motivated you to do that?

Goodell: Well, you know, we had spent the weeks prior to that, the week and a half prior to that, listening, learning, trying to understand all of the frustration and fear and sadness that all of us were going through, particularly those in the black community. I heard a lot from our players. And then that video came out on Thursday night and I thought it was very powerful. I thought it was very clear and I thought it was very appropriate for me to respond directly to that and make it clear how we feel about the oppression of black people and condemning racism and the fact that we should have listened to our players earlier. Our players, including Colin Kaepernick, including Eric Reid, including Kenny Stills, and so many others, Malcolm Jenkins, so many people that really brought these issues to light. And it actually predates, goes back to 2014 in Ferguson when Michael Brown was killed by police brutality. Our players have been at the forefront of bringing attention to these issues and really working to try to make a difference in the communities and we have been doing that over the last couple of years and I’m proud of the work we are doing but, we all have more work to do, Mike.


Greenberg: This felt so different, though, than it did several years ago. What changed for you that made you decide that this was the time to say something and handle it completely differently than it had been in the past?


Goodell: Well, I think we have done a couple things. One is our country was going through something where we are seeing these things that our players have highlighted, including Colin, and so many others. What they were talking about, what they were protesting, what they were trying to bring attention to was playing out right in front of us. Tragically. And so, all of us saw that and it was difficult for all of us. And so that was an important point for us. But also, to reinforce the fact that we had been doing a lot of work in our communities through our Players Coalition, Anquan Boldin, so many others that have provided leadership there and the NFL has been supportive, our teams have been supportive, our players have been supportive in doing the hard working in our communities to try and address these issues including criminal justice reform. I myself have been with our Players Coalition in several markets, in New Orleans, seeing bail reform and watching the bail process with our players. It is heart breaking. The work that needs to be done in those areas. We are working with chiefs of police in our country. We were in Philadelphia, we were in Atlanta, talking with people in the criminal justice system about what we can do. So there is a lot of work that needs to be done and as you probably saw last week, you know, we not only committed through our words and by our actions but, also, I think we are committing to do this for a longer period of time because we think these issues are systemic and they are things that are going to be needed to deal with over the long-term. And that is something that is really important for us and we increased out commitment from where it was to $250 million in a ten-year period and I think we are going to do a lot of good and our players are leading the way and our teams are supporting them all the way and so is the league.


Greenberg: What conversations have you had with the people that own the NFL teams about this? There have been some comments from them but not across the board and that has been pointed out in some places. What conversations have you had with the owners of the NFL teams about this?


Goodell: We’ve had conversations for several years about this and they have been incredibly supportive and supportive of their players, their communities, which are critically important here, and trying to make a difference. They help fund efforts, they have been a part of those efforts, in action. They have brought awareness to those issues in the communities and I believe they’re looking at where our society is now and saying, ‘we the NFL need to step up and help solve the problems as best we can.’ They are incredibly supportive and I think are going to help play a leadership role along with the rest of us.


Mike Greenberg: You’ve mentioned Colin Kaepernick’s name a couple times in this conversation, what role do you envision him playing going forward with the National Football League as a player or in any other way? How do you see him factoring in into the future?


Roger Goodell: If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously that is going to take a team making that decision, but I welcome that and support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that. If his efforts are not on the field but in continuing the work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to be able to help us and guide us and help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in communities. We have invited him in before and we want to make sure that everybody is welcomed at that table in trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around for unfortunately a long time. But I hope we are at the point now that everybody is committed to making long-term, sustainable change.

Greenberg: And Commissioner I feel like I need to ask you about the president who has tweeted obviously about issues involving the league many times. One of the tweets recently was, ‘could it be even a remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be okay for players to kneel, or not to stand, for the National Anthem.’ How do you anticipate the President being involved in wherever the NFL goes going forward?


Goodell: Well Mike, I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that we are going to continue to focus on our work and the things that we are doing in our communities to make them better. Working with our players, working with our teams, working with community leaders to try to effectuate the change that we all know is necessary today.


Greenberg: I know that you were on a phone call with the President, many of the commissioners of a variety of sports, how is your relationship with him?


Goodell: Well, he invited us all on to talk about how we come out of COVID-19 and help with bringing our communities back, our economy back. I think he recognizes the importance of sports. I know he does. He was very clear about that and we can be part of that wave to get us back and to bring some normalcy to our communities because we all know that is going to be a phased approach and we are all going to have to do things that we haven’t done in the past to get there but, there is a recognition by the President as well as, I think, everybody that we’ve missed sports so much in the last couple of months and how important it is to get sports back.




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