After coming under fire for concussions and injuries that have been prevalent in the sport of pro football, the NFL has decided to end its exclusive contract with Riddell as official helmet-maker of the league. The contract was originally given to Riddell back in 1989 when there were fewer options for helmet designs and manufacturers. Now, there are a number of other options, and there are many players who opt to use another manufacturer’s helmet. Players are currently allowed to use any helmet they like, but the logo cannot be displayed on the nose bumper if it is not a Riddell helmet.

What does this change mean? Beyond the superficial marketing, it allows the NFL to consider a wider range of designs and safety features that may exist on different helmets, and it gives the appearance that officials are doing more to curtail the criticism about their apparent lax attitude about concussions and long-term health issues. The league would like to look proactive about the problem, and this is a good place to start. As Riddell is part of an ongoing lawsuit battle with former players about injuries, the end of the contract also allows the NFL to separate itself even more from the helmet company and the injury controversy.

The deal ends at the end of the 2013 season. So, Super Bowl XLVI will round out the contract as Riddell’s last game as the exclusive helmet provider.