Player safety is one of the biggest issues facing football at all levels right now.
The NFL obviously has the most high-profile bout with figuring out a way to make the game safer for players, and the league may be on the verge of making a drastic shift thanks to new helmets. According to Inc.com, 25 NFL teams purchased the new ZERO1 helmet from the Seattle-based startup company Vicis and will distribute them in practices this spring.
The ZERO1 "features a pliable outer layer and an impact-absorbing core layer that cushions the wearer's head against violent collisions -- all, for the most part, while maintaining the look and shape of a classic helmet."
Here's a more detailed description from the company's website (which also features testimonials from several people that have used the helmet):
The ZERO1's multiple layers work together to slow impact forces. The helmet features a soft outer shell and an underlying layer of columns designed to mitigate collisions from multiple directions.
The ZERO1 delivers breakthroughs in safety based on current, state of the art testing protocols. It also elevates performance, featuring the industry's widest ﬁeld of peripheral view and low aerodynamic drag. Our tagline is Protect the Athlete/Elevate the Game™ – and that's what we've done with the ZERO1.
And here's a video explaining how this works:
In testing against 33 other helmets to measure which best reduces the severity of impact to the head, the Vicis ZERO1 finished first. Included in the study were helmets from Schutt and Riddell, which currently account for approximately 90 percent of helmet sales.
Vicis was founded by neurosurgeon Sam Browd and Dave Marver, former CEO of the Cardiac Science Corporation, with the goal of reducing the high rate of concussions in football. While it would take years of play and further studies to conclusively prove that they've been successful, the studies show that they're on their way to making an impact.
And as it turns out, we may see the ZERO1 on the field pretty soon. "I'm quite confident you'll see this on several NFL players this season," Marver told Inc.com, though he refused to say which players might do so."It's up to them to reveal that."
It's worth noting that several current and former NFL players are part of Vicis' "coalition." Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, Alex Smith, Jerry Rice, Tony Dorsett, Roger Staubach, and more are members of the advisory team.