August 31, 2014

Elyria
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Is NFL ridding itself of Riddell?

A long-standing relationship between the National Football League and Riddell Sports Group could be concluding after the final snap of the Super Bowl.

National media is reporting the NFL has elected to end its helmet deal with Riddell, which has been the official helmet of the league since 1989 when other manufacturers went out of business. An NFL spokesman speaking with ESPN said the league recently negotiated to end the deal.

Riddell issued a statement confirming the contract would expire, but would not comment on a future business relationship.

“We are proud of our relationship with the NFL, one that we’ve maintained since 1989,” the statement said. “We are also very proud of the fact that year after year a majority of NFL players choose to wear Riddell helmets — a true testament to our relentless efforts to protect athletes. While it is accurate that our current NFL agreement will expire next year, we look forward to a continued positive and productive relationship with the NFL in the future.

“Riddell is committed to providing the best football headgear for the athlete. We are confident that we will continue to be the helmet of choice of our nation’s elite football players. Beyond that, it’s our policy not to share the details of our business relationships.”

Locally, Riddell is one of the largest employers in Elyria.

Its Sugar Lane facility was built in 1998 and spans more than 140,000 feet.

It has 260 full-time employees, who are joined by a seasonal workforce of about 175 people during peak times.

Elyria employees manufacture all new Riddell on-field helmets and shoulder pads. In addition, Riddell reconditions all types of athletic equipment and reconditions the most athletic gear worldwide out of the Elyria facility.

Ray Cromwell, vice president of sales operations, said in 2010 that the Elyria plant could produce about 4,000 football helmets a day.

Riddell in Elyria was chosen as a tour site for President Barack Obama when he came to Elyria in January of that year. Then, Obama received one of Riddell’s signature football helmets, custom-made for the president as a gift.

There was no word on how potential end of the NFL business relationship will affect operations in Elyria.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • Ray Venn

    Another business given the “kiss of death” by an Obama visit…lol.

  • tickmeoff

    Coincidence, one has nothing to do with the other. You are way off! THink about the money trail. If you were an attorney, where is the money?, who has deep pockets? Do you really think that Riddel will not be harmed by the lawsuit that was recently settled by the NFL and the players union? I believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg! It’s a shame, because lord knows, we need as many jobs as possible here in Lorain county. Once there is blood in the water, all the sharks (attorney’s) head for the meal ( big payoff). This is just pure speculation, but you can see it easily happening!

    • John Boy

      I agree. I hope they have good liability insurance because they are going to need it. This is the NFL trying to throw Riddell under the bus.

  • ZX3

    So eventually no one wants the liability of being in the business of making helmets and we will come full circle.
    No facemasks would surely cut down on helmet to helmet hits and going back to a strap of leather like a pilot in the 20′s over your noggin, will make you think twice about using the crown to hammer a player with.
    For those of us that have played the game you know from the 1st time you get your bell rung there is no upside and studies just confirm what we’ve known forever; it doesn’t get better the 2nd or 3rd time.
    Football at any level can be brutal and anyone who has ever played the game knows it.
    You play or don’t.
    Pro’s have made the choice at every level.

  • Mary Collins

    This has nothing to do with Obama. Come on. Really??? Sad that so many people will become jobless. We do need as many jobs in our area as possible.

  • Macdaddyoh

    Sorry Riddell and it’s employees. When the NFL pulls out, the rest will follow. (High School and college) Could someone please give me a lagit answer to this question…. Where does O.S.H.A. and workmans comp play a roll in the NFL?
    I know if my guys or Riddells people were hurt as often and severe as some of these NFL players they would have me put out of business and prosecuted.