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NFL, NFLPA announce largest youth helmet replacement program ever

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
On Tuesday the NFL and NFLPA announced a pretty fantastic new initiative: a Helmet Replacement Program to benefit youth football safety.

Yes, it's exactly what you'd expect: the league and players union, along with USA Football, the CDC, the NCAA and a number of different organizations are going into "underserved communities" and replacing football helmets that are 10 years or older.

The organizations involved will be doing this at no cost to the leagues who will receive the new helmets.

“We are pleased to be part of this initiative, which will give children in underserved communities access to new helmets, and to reach coaches and parents with educational information to help protect young athletes from head injuries," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "This program is part of our focus on player safety at all levels of the game. We are proud to join with these well-respected organizations to make the Helmet Replacement Program a reality.”

The NFL, NFLPA, NCAA, along with the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), have committed a combined total of approximately $1 million to the program in its first year. And beginning in July, the HRP plans to distribute almost 13,000 new helmets in "low-income communities" during 2012.

As indicated in the release, new helmets don't mean "unlimited safety" for young football players. But new helmets to mean safer helmets and it also means an opportunity to reach out to young football players and educate them on the importance of long-term health and player safety in football -- any leagues that receive the new helmets will be required "to have their coaches complete USA Football's Level 1 coaching course" which involves a heavy dosage of "Tackle Safety."

To apply for the program or find out more about the initiative, you can visit USAFootball.com/PlayerSafety.
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