In Biggest Overhaul Since The 60s, NFL Unveils New Helmets To Save Lives



Prepare to see the biggest change to NFL equipment you’ve ever seen next season. Start up Vicis may have only been around for 3 years, but their new helmets are taking the league by storm, and should become the norm in the league before the first kick off of next season.

Vicis was founded four years ago by neurosurgeon Sam Browd, engineering professor Per Reinhall, and Dave Marver, former CEO of the Cardiac Science Corporation. The goal: Make a helmet that could reduce football’s high rates of concussions and head injuries.

“We’ve learned a lot about how we could make the helmet better and refine it,” says Marver, Vicis’s CEO. The Zero1 has a soft outer shell and a core layer consisting of a series of bendable columns. These “crumple zones,” inspired by and named after the parts of a car meant to crush on impact to reduce the force of a crash, allow it to absorb some of the energy of a collision.
Legacy companies like Riddell and Schutt and upstarts like Vicis and SG have been racing to design helmets that are safer than those already on the market. Numerous studies over the past decade have revealed the devastating long-term impact that football can have on the human brain. While football helmets have improved over the years, their design hasn’t been significantly altered since the 1960s, when full face masks were added. A helmet with some give to it would be a major change. The league has been using helmets with plastic outer shells since the 1940s.

Top athletes are notoriously resistant to change in their equipment. Individual players choose what helmets they wear, so long as they’re approved by NOCSAE, but their choices are greatly influenced by team equipment managers and trainers. Vicis’s strategy has been primarily to reach out to those people within the NFL and NCAA and pitch them on the helmet’s safety.

“I’m quite confident you’ll see this on several NFL players this season,” Marver said, though he wouldn’t name names, saying that “it’s up to them to reveal that.”

In addition to the 25 NFL teams, Vicis says at least 20 NCAA teams will be using the helmets this year. While the company can’t say which teams in either league it has sold helmets to, players for Ohio State, Ole Miss, and Auburn were spotted wearing the Zero1 during practices this spring.

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