After Austin Collie suffered two concussions in 2010 and subsequently had to miss the playoffs, fans worried (and rightfully so) that his professional career could be derailed — particularly during the NFL’s crackdown on head injuries. The disappointment for Collie is that he was on pace to not only have a career year, but to be a Pro Bowl front runner and a top three receiver for the season amongst all NFL players.
Now that he has returned to the Colts, and dismissed any and all rumors or suggestions that he might hang up his cleats because of his concussions, most of the attention has been focused on the fact that he has looked fast, quick, and fully healthy to start another season.
Everyone realizes that the one thing he cannot afford this year is to suffer a concussion. Multiple concussions again could legitimately put him in a position to consider ending his career prematurely. A lot of eyes are on his progress, and a lot of football players and fans want to see what he does to mitigate his chances of suffering another head injury.
It is for these reasons that when he is spotted at training camp wearing a helmet that no one can positively identify, people start talking. One thing I have had the opportunity to do since graduating from law school is to work with a helmet parts manufacturer who makes parts for Riddell and Schutt professional helmets.
I can tell you that patents are applied for and issued in this highly competitive market and that any manufacturer will go to great lengths to get their trademark on new designs. When @theconcussionblog says that there are a number of things that suggest this helmet is a prototype, whether it is from one of the major manufacturers mentioned above or another, he is absolutely right.
There is no Riddell logo above the facemask. The shape of the helmet is not characteristic of the most popular Schutt helmets. It simply does not look like any of the helmets worn by NFL players in 2010.
It will be interesting to see how this new helmet affects Collie. If he pops right up from the first big hit he takes in 2011 — and he will take big hits — and gets back to the line for the following play, it will get a lot of attention.