The NFL and the league’s players union have announced a newly-designed helmet for quarterbacks to wear to reduce the severity of injuries that cause concussions.
The NFL felt compelled to implement a change after seeing an increase in concussions last year of 22%, with quarterbacks accounting for a large portion of that increase. This new helmet will be available for players to wear during the 2023 season. The helmet, made by VICIS, was primarily created to protect quarterbacks, precisely when their heads hit the ground.
The announcement follows last season’s high-profile injuries suffered by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The press release stated tests of the new QB helmet “performed 7% better than the most popular helmet worn by quarterbacks last season.”
“We’ve now analyzed with our engineers and with the Players Association more than 1,000 concussions on field, we have a pretty good database of how these injuries occur,” NFL executive Jeff Miller told the AP about the helmet-to-ground impacts. “This helmet performs better in laboratory testing than any helmets we have ever seen for those sorts of impacts.”
Jason Neubauer, an executive for Vicis, said the company began designing its Zero2 Matrix QB helmet in early 2022.
“The unique thing is that it has a deformable outer shell, which means when you take an impact in any location on that helmet, it will deform or basically dent in that location to absorb the impact,” Neubauer said. “What that means for us, as designers or engineers, as we’re looking to optimize it for different types of impacts, we’re able to change unique locations to try to optimize the impact mitigation in any one area.
Forbes reports that the NFL has been criticized for years over the long-term impact of player injuries, especially repeated head injuries suffered during league games. According to Boston University researchers, 90% of former NFL players have shown signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by frequent concussions and leads to depression, suicidal thoughts, aggression, and mood swings.
The NFL reported 149 concussions suffered over the 271 regular season games.