Many NFL Players Still Using Schutt, Riddell Helmets Over Newer, Safer Options
Seattle-based startup Vicis' Zero1 helmet is available for the first time this season, but "few NFL players are wearing them," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. About 50 of the league’s 1,700 players -- roughly 3% -- "took the field in week 1 in a Vicis helmet." Xenith, a separate company funded by Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert, "isn’t doing much better." Xenith in the NFL has "three of the top six performing helmets ... but only about 7.5% of NFL players wear its products." The rest of the league’s players are "wearing helmets from Riddell, which has about 55% of the NFL market as well as a league licensing deal for collectible merchandise, or Schutt." Both said that they have "released new helmets with added safety features, with two Schutt models ranking just behind Vicis in safety tests." The figures show how "even at a time when more attention than ever is being paid to the links between football and head trauma, changes to equipment and the way the game is played are likely to come slowly." Vicis CEO Dave Marver said that Vicis is "roughly where he figured the company would be in its inaugural year on the market." Futterman noted the Zero1 "doesn’t make football safe but testing data shows it does a better job of protecting the head than other options." What makes Vicis unique "isn’t just its performance in testing but the fact that the NFL itself provided some of the early funding." The company has won $1.1M from the NFL since '15 "through the league’s Head Health Challenge, though that is only a sliver" of the $20M Vicis "says it spent on research and development." To recoup those costs, Vicis is "selling the Zero1 at a retail price of $1,500, significantly more than most other helmets" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/16).