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Do The Right Thing: Easton Recalls Lacrosse Helmets

8 - Published March 22, 2012 by in Gear

By now you’ve probably heard about the voluntary Easton Raptor Lacrosse Helmet recall. However, you might not know the full story, why it’s happening, or even who initiated recall. Since day one, Easton has hit the market hard, saying it wants to be a serious player in the lacrosse world, so we think it’s worth getting the full story here.

Easton’s Raptor lacrosse helmet was officially unveiled at the Big City Classic, almost one full year ago. I got to try one on, and it was definitely more impressive than I had thought it might be. Light, comfortable, able to be custom fit; it was something different – a great first effort on a new lacrosse helmet.

Many people said the helmet had a very “Halo” look to it, but I’m still not sure that is always a negative comment.  When Cascade’s first lacrosse helmets came out as Sports Helmets, people said similar disparaging things, and look where they are now.

Easton Raptor Lacrosse Helmet

The Easton helmets at the Big City Classic last year.

As Easton officially released its first helmet and the year went on, more and more Raptors began popping up on lacrosse fields all over the country. A few travel teams and college lacrosse teams began rocking them, and individual players here and there purchased the helmets from local retailers. Everything seemed to be fine, and it was always fun to spot a Raptor on the field – something new, something different.

Then the first break in the plastic chin piece was discovered.  The helmet had been worn by a goalie and the damage had occurred as a result of a shot.  The goalie in question wasn’t hurt, but Easton found out about the helmet failure immediately.  How did they find out?  The goalie happened to be the son of Doug Appleton, General Manager of Easton Lacrosse.

So the engineers at Easton began testing helmets, and they found that the chin pieces were indeed breaking upon impact from shots 50mph or faster.  The helmets were still passed by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and were deemed safe for use, but Easton decided to pull their helmets back via a voluntary recall regardless of that fact.

As it turns out, the chin pieces were designed correctly, but manufactured incorrectly by a subcontractor in China.  Corners were cut by this entity, as can often happen with international manufacturing and a lack of direct oversight, and this resulted in the chin pieces being weaker than intended. This manufacturing oversight could have affected just a batch of Raptor helmets, or it could have affected all of them, and still, they passed NOCSAE.

Yet Easton still initiated a voluntary recall.

We must applaud Easton for that.  When it comes to helmets, perfection is the only option. Good enough is simply never good enough in this department, and this definitely seems like the attitude Easton has about the this case. We love to see a company doing the right thing.

While Easton only ended up receiving six reports of Raptor helmet failure, the company’s recall efforts confirm Easton really is in it for the long haul. Doug and the Easton team are clearly taking every step possible to right the ship.

About 10 of the college, high school and elite teams who were wearing Easton Raptor helmets will get new helmets for the season (or Summer in the case of elite teams) with corrected chin pieces. As for individual purchasers, Easton recommends that they return the helmet for a refund.  It’s not a mandatory recall – players can still wear Raptor Helmets if they so choose – but Easton would rather that people err on the side of safety, as that is priority number one.

In the end, Easton just barely missed with the Raptor lacrosse helmet, and instead of trying to sweep it under the rug, the company announced it to the world. Easton will undoubtedly take a financial hit here, but to me that only means that they are truly investing in lacrosse with a long-term and dedicated approach. Success in this industry never comes overnight, and we commend Easton on the way it has handled this situation.

Putting customers’ safety first, putting the game first, and keeping sights set on the long-term. That’s a recall move we can get behind.

Today, a full Media Statement was released, and it can be found below.  The Press Release from the CPSC or on the Consumer Product Safety Commission can be found on their website.
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Raptor Lacrosse Helmet Media Statement from Easton:

The safety and protection of our consumers is Easton Sports’ number one concern. We recently received six reports that the chin bar in the Raptor lacrosse helmet cracked or broke upon ball impact, including one laceration injury. After investigating the issue with our source base, Easton learned that the original material specifications for the chin bar were not correctly followed. We exercised an abundance of caution and elected to conduct a voluntary recall of the Raptor lacrosse helmet in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The Raptor lacrosse helmet meets safety standards set forth by the National Operating Committee on the Safety of Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). However, after Easton’s subsequent investigation and testing confirmed that a chin bar may break, we notified retailers and asked them to stop selling the helmet. Easton is offering a full refund to all consumers who purchased the Raptor helmet.

Consumers may contact eastonlacrossecustserv@eastonbellsports.com or (877) 279-8545 for more information or to request a full refund.

Easton is committed to the game of lacrosse and will launch a new lacrosse helmet later this year with improved technology and innovation.

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