Action News Jax Investigates: High school football helmet safety

By: Russell Colburn , Action News Jax

Updated:

Friday nights in the fall mean helmets and the heads they protect are taking big hits on the high school football field.

Action News Jax uncovered last season in Duval County, Mandarin High School had the most players suffer concussions, with six.

“We were doing just some basic hitting drills at practice, and then I noticed I couldn't see out of my peripheral out of my right eye,” said Mandarin senior linebacker Gavin Miles. 

Miles suffered a concussion this summer.

“My head didn't hurt, so I kept on going, and then toward the end of practice, I had a really bad headache and I was getting nauseous, so I sat out for a little while and the trainer took a look at me and she said my eyes were really shaky and I was showing all the symptoms,” Miles said.

At the end of each season, the helmets are inspected by the manufacturer. They'll be refurbished if they can be, or if they've been used for 10 seasons or they're in bad shape, they'll be rotated out altogether. 

Duval County Public Schools said last season, 89 helmets were rejected by the manufacturer after inspection. More than 1,500 helmets were refurbished and given back to local schools.

“No helmet is supposed to exist in the system if it's over 10 years old,” said Robert Sefcik, the executive director of the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program.

Action News Jax dug into the data and found eight helmets still listed in the rotation that were more than 10 years old.  

Five of the helmets were at Wolfson High School and three were at Jackson High School.

The school district sent a statement, reading in part: "The helmets were not used after their 10-year life span. Both Wolfson and Jackson included retired helmets as well as active helmets in their inventory check that year as part of the protocol when a new head football coach is transitioning into the program."

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