Inside local Riddell plant: See what it takes to make country’s most popular football helmet

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NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio-- It's a name that is synonymous with football.

About sixty percent of the NFL and more than half of all college and high school teams use Riddell helmets made in Lorain County.

At peak season, about 500 people can put together about 2,000 helmets a day at its new North Ridgeville plant.

“We were able to start with a blank slate and redefine how we wanted this plant organized and how we wanted it to be laid out and that's helped tremendously," said plant general manager, Ben Marker.

There are actually three assembly lines inside.

The consumer division creates realistic helmets that will gather autographs instead of Buckeye leaves. They look and feel real, but are nowhere near the strength of the pro-line.

Riddell's newest helmet is the speed flex and it's all put together by hand.

Marker says the work is precise. Each rivet and screw and piece of padding is set in place by trained hands, because this is the helmet that will be used by players from high school to the NFL.

“This is a completely different design so it adds a lot of different safety features; the most notable is this front tab will flex on impact. There's also comfort lining; we've also added an occipital lock pad which is different than the traditional helmets and this face mask will also flex," Marker said.

The last line inside is the refurbishment area. Teams from all levels send their pads and helmets to that area to have them repaired and re-certified.

And that's all helmets, even those made by their competitors, because making all helmets safe for the field is a top priority.

“It will go through a full process. We'll tear the helmet down, take it apart. If it's a painted helmet it will get sanded; all internal parts will be clean and sanitized and any parts that fail will be replaced with new..  With the re-certification is it's going back out like it was a brand new helmet.”

As college and pro teams get ready for their practices Marker says this is their busy season and all three lines are working at capacity.