Chicagoland’s Riddell Manufactures Professional Sports Helmets

Riddell Sports Group has a long and storied history of innovation when it comes to sports equipment. Riddell is best known for its large collection of football equipment, including helmets and other accessories widely used in the National Football League and NCAA College Football. The company was founded in 1927 by John Tate Riddell in Rosemont. 

Riddell, the head football coach at Evanston Township High School at the time, started the company to make sporting equipment safer, better, and easier to use for athletes. In 2017, Riddell relocated to a new facility in nearby Des Plaines. 

Riddell is a premier designer and developer of football helmets, protective sports equipment, smart helmet technologies, apparel, and related accessories. Riddell is the leading manufacturer of football helmets and shoulder pads, and also a top provider of reconditioning services. 

John Riddell invented the first removable cleat, and after that he created the first plastic suspension helmet in 1939. Riddell has constantly been updating its helmet designs, with safety of paramount importance. In 2002, the Revolution design was released in response to a study on concussions. 

Riddell remains on a mission to tackle the safety problems that continue to affect football players at all levels. The company continues to collect data of on-field impacts, using it to produce the safest helmets. Each new model spends years inside Riddell’s innovation lab undergoing a series of tests, measuring force and impact. In the future, the company hopes to implant a sensor in every helmet so doctors, coaches, and players will have access to all impact information. 

In 2022, Riddell introduced the Axiom helmet, a key milestone in the advancement of head protection. Axiom was designed to improve impact response and reduce Head Impact Exposure. The Axiom helmet included a new fitting system, redesigned helmet shell platform with a new energy management system, reimagined frontal protection, and integrated smart helmet technology. 

Riddell manufactures helmets for football players of all ages and skill levels, from youth leagues to high school, college, and various professional sports leagues. There are eight different types of helmets currently offered, including Speedflex, Speedflex Youth, Speed Icon, Speed Classic Icon, Speed Icon Youth, Speed Classic Youth, Victor-I, and Victor. Riddell offers other sports equipment and accessories, including shoulder pads, back plates, rib protectors, shirts, jerseys, pants, and custom collectibles

Illinois had a second sports helmet manufacturer for a number of decades, with Schutt Sports founded in 1918 and headquartered in Litchfield. Schutt produced football and baseball helmets, along with other sports equipment and clothing. Schutt’s business suffered greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company filed for bankruptcy in December 2020. Schutt is now owned by Innovatus Capital Partners and the company moved to Indiana. 


Photo Credit:  Riddell Sports Group