While the controversy over concussions in the NFL rages on, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is one of the first players using a new helmet that is like nothing seen in the NFL before.
The Chiefs took on the New England Patriots in the season opener and many people noted the new oversized helmet being worn by Smith. That is the new Vicis Zero1, a helmet that is new to the NFL this season but is already considered the safest helmet in the NFL.
Here arethe helmets Smith wore in 2016.
- Andy Lyons; Grant Halverson/Getty Images
The helmet is made by Vicis, a Seattle-based startup. According to Inc., 25 NFL teams and “at least” 20 college football teams have ordered the helmets for the 2017 season.
While the size of the helmet is certainly noticeable, what really stands out about this new helmet is its flexibility.
The Zero1 is designed to absorb hits better than traditional helmets and to reduce the “shaking” of the brain inside the skull when the head comes to a sudden stop.
Here is a GIF from Vicis showing the difference between their helmet (on the left) and a traditional helmet (on the right). Needless to say, the difference is jarring.
In a recent study conducted by biomechanical experts for the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association of 33 helmets approved for use by NFL players, the Vicis was rated as the No. 1 helmet for reducing “head impact severity under conditions simulating potential concussion-causing impacts sustained by NFL players during games.”
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was seen wearing one of the helmets during offseason workouts but appeared to switch back to a different model during the preseason.
The University of Mississippi is one of the schools that will use the new helmets this upcoming college football season.
— ken crain (@kencrain) March 22, 2017
According to Vicis, the helmet has a soft outer shell and an inner layer that are separated by a series of columns that are bendable. These columns absorb some of the energy from a collision involving the helmet.
While Smith and Wentz may be the first big-name players spotted wearing the new technology, with more players aware of the dangers of head trauma in football, they almost certainly won’t be the last.