Headache: Vicis

You can't tell at first glance, but wide receiver Doug Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks is wearing it. His teammate, quarterback Russell Wilson, does the same. And Golden Tate, the former teammate of Wilson and Baldwin, also wears it on his head. The Vicis Zero1. For the third year in a row, the helmet - a start-up project by scientists from Washington State - has come in first in the NFL and NFLPA rankings after extensive testing.

What is special about Vicis helmets? The exterior. The shell of the head protection looks exactly the same as other helmets, but in a collision it reacts completely differently to that of conventional models. The softer outer material absorbs energy because it yields on impact. The inner material, a foam-like substance, also absorbs impact and improves comfort to boot. The video of the helmet:

Doug Baldwin, who has been a patron of the start-up, thinks the Vicis helmet is a revolutionary development. It feels heavier, but also more comfortable. By opting for a helmet that was not produced by one of the market leaders Riddell or Schutt, the wide receiver embarked on a path a few years ago that has since been followed by many other NFL professionals, but also by entire high schools, for example, because they want to ensure the best possible protection for the head.

And the trend continues. About 50 per cent of NFL players switched to a better-rated helmet in 2018, according to league statistics. From Week 17 of last season, 74 per cent of the pros wore a helmet that ranked in the top category. The teams of the 32 players still wearing poorly rated helmets were notified by the NFL.

In the meantime, these helmets have been banned and the equipment managers of the affected teams have been informed. Incidentally, the 32 players who now have to choose new head protection include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

"You could save the game of American football with this," said Doug Baldwin when he put the Vicis Zero1 2017 on for testing. And he meant it.