Football players don new racing-inspired helmets

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Players and coaches are calling it a revolutionary piece of equipment. A new safety innovation is coming to a football field near you this season - new helmets, designed to guard against concussions.

A football player would probably notice the differences between the new helmet and those worn last year. But a fan might not.  Helmet design has changed somewhat over the years, but not like this. This is a paradigm shift.

The new Simpson-Ganassi helmet has origins in auto racing. About a quarter of Center Grove football players, middle through high school, will be wearing it this season. The design is radically different from previous helmets. 

"I've been doing this for 30 years," said Center Grove coach Eric Moore. "And the two things that scare me the most every time I come out to practice are lightning and concussions.  And lightning - that's in God's hands. Concussions" We can do a little bit about that."

When you look inside the new helmet, instead of a series of small foam pads encased in plastic, there is basically one large insert made of proprietary foam and a couple of jaw pads. Instead of the traditional polycarbonate shell, the Simpson-Ganassi headgear is made of carbon-fiber - the same material used to build IndyCars.

The helmet has been tested by about 45 NFL players, including former Colts center Jeff Saturday. None of them had concussions while wearing the helmet. In fact, none of them even complained of headaches.

Another benefit is weight. The new helmet weighs about half as much as the old one. Coaches believe this may cause players to tackle with their head up, not down, thereby further reducing the chances of a concussion.

At a price of $250 to $300 per helmet. Center Grove and many other schools leave it up to the individual athlete to buy their helmet if they choose.