KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As head injuries steal headlines from football, the NFL is working to make the game safer for players.
The league held a competition for companies to develop technology to better improve equipment. A Seattle company named Vicis won and has developed a new helmet called Zero1.
The company sent each team in the NFL three to use this season. The Kansas City Chiefs is one of the teams in the NFL with the most players using the helmets this season. In addition to what the team was given by the NFL, the Chiefs bought 30 and 11 players are currently wearing them including Quarterback Alex Smith.
"Certainly the testing has been kind of off the charts," Smith, who invested in the company, said standing at his locker. “Why wouldn’t you want to try something that could be better?"
Allen Wright is the Director of Equipment for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I don’t think we've put one on anybody yet that hasn’t kept it on," Wright said.
The new design is revealed when you examine the inside of the helmet. It functions similar to a NASCAR safer barrier wall that cushions the blow of a car’s impact.
“There are little columns in the whole helmet in those columns and as it takes a hit all of these columns kind of absorb the blow,” said Wright.
No helmet on the market can prevent concussions completely. Vicis is currently the top rated in safety tests. Other companies are competing to develop other versions of a safer helmet too.
“I've had a couple in my history obviously dealing with some head hits. So yeah, if it looks safer and better, why not try it,” Smith said.
The company is hoping to expand to the youth and high school level next season. The challenge may be the price. A new Vicis Zero1 costs about $1,400 compared to the common helmet that runs about $400. Vicis says it will offer schools discounts.