A Jacksonville, Fla., football team is facing a major dilemma as the season creeps ever closer – due to an unpaid bill, it is without helmets.
As News4Jax (WJXT) reports, Ribault High may not be able to play in Friday night’s scheduled preseason jamboree game against intracity foe University Christian due to the lack of helmets. And that might not be the only action the program is forced to cancel.
John Brown, whose son is a sophomore football player on the team, told WJXT on Wednesday that players did not have their helmets — forcing them to practice without them.
“As a parent and an alumni, this is extremely disappointing because I am looking at everyone else’s kids throughout the city and they have the equipment they need,” Brown said.
According to what Brown told WJXT, the team’s helmets were sent to Riddell for reconditioning, but the helmets have not been sent back because the sports helmet company was waiting on a payment.
On Wednesday, a Riddell spokesperson told WJXT that the company was still owed more than $14,000 for the Ribault football equipment. The email to WJXT reads:
“Riddell’s primary focus is advancing athlete protection. Riddell values its customers including our relationship with Ribault High School and Duval County Public Schools, but also needs to ensure we are compensated for our products and services.
“Riddell confirms Ribault High School owes Riddell $14,387 for a student and coach apparel purchase made for the 2017 football season. Riddell began discussions with Ribault about the amount due in October 2017 and have proposed a number of payment options above and beyond our standard credit terms to be accommodating to the school including setting up a payment plan for the amount due. In good faith, our local rep agreed to recondition 92 helmets in the offseason despite the amount owed and these helmets are ready to ship to the school. Unfortunately, Ribault has yet to provide an authorized agreement to the proposed payment plan (the paperwork was sent out three weeks ago requesting signatures; also, it was resent today), which has prevented Riddell from releasing the helmets for shipment. Upon receipt of written authorization of the payment plan, Riddell will immediately release the helmets and expedite the shipment at our cost to ensure the student athletes are able to practice in their helmets.”
Wednesday evening, a Duval County Public Schools spokeswoman emailed the following response to WJXT:
“Duval County Public Schools has worked with Riddell to ensure the immediate distribution of football helmets to the Ribault High School football program. It is expected that the helmets will be available prior to the school’s first game scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23. At this time, the district is reviewing this matter to determine if appropriate procedures were followed.”
Ribault, which is coached by Kelvin Smith, went 8-4 last year. The Trojans are scheduled to open their varsity season on Friday, Aug. 24, against intracity foe Sandalwood.