“Our equipment is outstanding,” he said. “We’ve got a good budget and we spent a good portion of it on top-of-the-line Riddell helmets. We teach tackling with the chest and try to take the head completely out of it. I think we have been on the cutting edge of that for several years.”
Riddell has been at the forefront of new advancements in helmets for years. The newest incarnations – the Revo Speed and Riddell 360 – offer some of the finest concussion protection available, boasting awards and “five star rankings” from experts, according to Riddell’s website. Schutt has also focused on helmet innovations, recently providing an update to their DNA helmet in the form of the Schutt ION 4D and Vengeance DCT. Each helmet style caters to individual players’ needs and comfort.
Payne, being a highly qualified head athletic trainer, is very familiar with the symptoms of concussions. He said he tries to get to know players well so he can easily identify when they are acting strange after coming off the field from a big hit. He said he checks to see if their eyes are “dilating properly or if they look droopy or sleepy.” He added some other symptoms include nausea and headaches.
“I start asking them a bunch of questions: Who’d they have in class today, who were their teachers today, who are we playing, what’s the score,” he explained. “I try to do some different tests like that and just keep an eye on them. I have a team of five people and we set up protocols for concussions.”
Payne said nowadays a concussion, regardless of severity, usually keeps a player out a full two-to-three weeks. Players must be released by a doctor and be headache free for 24 hours before Payne will even clear them for slight activity.