“The Kansas City Chiefs have been all in,” said Dean Congemi, the north region account manager for VICIS. “They want to know about the engineering. They have (several) guys in the helmet.”
Other NFL teams take a wait-and-see approach, he added. Congemi shared the features of the VICIS ZERO1 helmet, the history of football helmets and the concerns about concussions and injuries with about 20 local residents during a recent informational session at the Eagle Creek Golf Course.
Seattle-based VICIS was founded in 2013 by engineers and neurosurgeons. Congemi said it took three to four years to develop its impact-reducing helmet, which is comprised of four layers.
This is the same style of helmet that Monroeville senior Hunter Kamann wore during the most recent season.
In August, the son of Jason and Mindy received the VICIS-based Monroeville Eagles helmet as the first recipient of a VICIS Foundation scholarship — the $1,500 helmet itself. Kamann, an offensive guard-turned kicker, earlier told the Reflector the form-fitting helmet is “100 times more comfortable” than a standard one.
His parents have said they believe the new technology is “the future of safety in football.”
“When the helmet initially launched this fall, the focus was on the collegiate and NFL levels, so it was truly a blessing that Hunter was able to receive the helmet in the fall of 2017,” Congemi told the Reflector.
Kamann, who had a concussion his freshman year, learned to be a kicker and wear the helmet so he could play with the Eagles his senior season.
“If it’s available to our kids, it should be available to all kids,” Jason Kamann said before Congemi’s presentation at Eagle Creek. “I really feel this is the future of football.”
The outermost, flexible layer of the impact-reducing helmet “deforms on contact,” according to the VICIS presentation, and is supported by the next layer, made of “an array of columns that compress and bend to absorb impact from all angles.”
“A lot of the technology comes from the automobile industry,” Congemi said, referring to technology in which vehicles are made so an impact disperses the energy. “It has a crumple zone and a yield zone. It crumples and yields, just like a car bumper.”
Congemi shared a video showing a side-by-side comparison of how a ZERO1 helmet and a standard Riddell one made of polycarbonate respond when a machine drops them on their tops.
“You can see everything moving,” Congemi said, referring to the Riddell helmet. “You can see the (VICIS) helmet give.”
Congemi said the helmet has a “multi-layered, highly engineered design” which has “full-spectrum protection.”
“This design made the ZERO1 a winner of the NFL Head Health Challenge in 2015 and in 2017, it became the top-ranked helmet in NFL/NFLPA helmet performance testing,” according to VICIS. In the same information presented to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Seattle company reported “investors and advisors involved with VICIS consist of both current and NFL players, including Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett, Roger Staubach and Jerry Rice.”
Congemi said the informational poster that shows the ranking of various helmets — with the most current one showing VICIS ranked No. 1 — is given to each NFL team about the time of organized time activities (better known as OTAs) and must be posted in the team locker rooms. This is the time when NFL players choose their helmets for the upcoming season.
“A lot of these guys are creatures of habit,” Congemi said. “People should be aware of what’s going on. … This helmet itself is not concussion-proof.”