ST. LOUIS – Its creators call it the safest football helmet ever. More and more college and NFL players are turning to the VICIS Zero 1 – a high-dollar head shield, selling for $950 each.
About 60 have just arrived for the first high school team in the state of Missouri to wear them, St. Louis University High School (SLUH).
“We are the first school in the state of Missouri where the whole team has them,” said SLUH head coach and former Rams great Mike Jones.
“Most helmets will bounce. (This helmet) absorbs it and spreads it out. So, it doesn’t bounce. That’s the first thing you notice: ‘Wait a minute, something’s a little different about the helmet.’”
The difference is even clearer when you inside the helmet. Its interior cradle has a more precise fit. It provides a wider field of view and it’s separated by 1 to 2 inches from the outer shell by columns of rods designed to direct the shock of impact away from the head.
They may be affordable for NFL and top college teams, but not high schools. An anonymous donor bought 60 of them for SLUH.
“The parents love it. It’s always better when you have something safer for your kids,” Jones said.
The Seattle-based company boasts the best results from various safety tests and the highest safety rating from the NFL Players Association.
Still, he knows keeping players safe is as much about coaching as it is equipment.
“You can have a safer helmet, safer, shoulder pads, but if you’re teaching bad techniques … I don’t care what kind of equipment you put on, you’re going to get kids hurt,” Jones said.
The players wore the helmets for the first time in a game last Friday.