Saturday, December 12, 2009

Beebe to loan Westbrook padded helmet

Retired NFL wide receiver Don Beebe has graciously decided to loan his foam-covered helmet to concussion-prone Eagles' running back Brian Westbrook. Beebe played in the NFL from 1989 to 1997 and spent most of that time with the Buffalo Bills, where he and teammate Mark Kelso popularized the top-padded head gear after sustaining several concussions.

"We contacted Don about two weeks ago regarding the use of his helmet for Brian," said Eagles' head coach Andy Reid. "Don was very receptive to the idea and said that he would check his attic and basement to see if he could find it."

"It took me about two hours to find, but it was in with my kids' Halloween costumes all the way in the back of the attic," said Beebe.

The ultra-light padding on the helmet is approximately one inch thick and is designed to absorb the impact of several hundred pounds moving at a high rate of speed. The gear served Beebe so well, in fact, that he would often wear it while biking, ice skating and, even, driving in airbag-less cars.

"I used the helmet a lot outside of football," said Beebe. "Doctor's orders."

The Eagles claim to be running out of options to protect their star player and that borrowing the Beebe helmet was "the only thing we could think of right now." At the request of Beebe the team will not paint or alter the head protector in any way.

"It'll be kind of weird wearing a Buffalo Bills helmet," said Westbrook. "But I'm itching to get out there and help the team during the stretch drive and this helmet is the key to that happening. Don's a great guy, we've talked several times in the past week about our [concussion] symptoms."

Out this week against the Giants, Westbrook hopes to return to play next Sunday versus the San Francisco 49ers at home after missing five games because of two concussions suffered in weeks 7 and 10. The team plans to fly Beebe and his family to Philadelphia for the game, where team owner Jeffrey Lurie will host the group in the owner's luxury box.

This is not the first time that Beebe has loaned his helmet to a Philadelphia athlete. In 2000, a retired Beebe granted Philadelphia Flyers center Eric Lindros (photo below) permission to use the custom-made protective gear during a playoff run.

"For whatever reason the helmet didn't offer the same protection on ice as it did on the field," said Beebe. "So BWest should be just fine."

Notes: The Eagles also contacted Mark Kelso about using his helmet, identical to Beebe's, for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who suffered a concussion in week 12. The Eagles reported that Kelso did not return numerous calls. Jackson and Westbrook may share the gear depending on who is in the game. it is possible that the helmet may be large enough for the two players to wear at one time, something they plan to practice in pregame warm-ups.

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