The NFL and the league’s players union have announced a newly-designed helmet specifically for quarterbacks to wear in an effort to reduce the severity of impacts that can cause concussions.
On Thursday, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the league said the initiative to develop safer head gear for signal-callers was based on the statistic that “half of all QB concussions occur when their helmets hit the ground.”
The press release stated tests of the new VICIS ZERO2 MATRIX QB helmet, available for next season but not required to be worn, “performed 7% better than the most popular helmet worn by quarterbacks last season.”
The announcement follows last season’s high profile injuries suffered by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
On two separate occasions, the 25-year-old fell backwards and hit his head on the turf. In October, Tagovailoa told reporters he was unconscious after being thrown to the ground during a September 29 game and doesn’t remember what happened to him immediately after his head struck the ground.
Thursday’s joint statement noted: “Position-specific helmet designs take into account the unique locations and speeds of head impacts for each position group to offer players more customized protection.”
New, safer helmets designated for defensive and offensive linemen were released in 2021.
Overall, NFL players sustained 149 concussions in games this season – an 18% increase over 2021, the NFL said in February. That total also is 14% higher than the three-year average (130) between 2018 and 2020.
The league’s chief medical officer attributed the rise in part to a protocol change that he said “broadened and strengthened” the definition of a concussion following Tagovailoa’s injuries earlier in the season.