And THOSE helmets, in their various versions, take us from Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown, to Tom Brady and Antonio Brown.
But today, with a much higher level of concern about concussions, and long-term brain injuries – a new generation of helmets is coming. From the outside, the new helmets might look familiar to Johnny U, but inside, new materials (built from petrochemical-derived materials) and very high tech will make these helmets totally 21st century.
For example, there’s Corsair Innovations’ FEAM (Fiber Energy Absorbing Material, if you’re wondering) – a helmet insert that substantially reduces the impact of getting hit, especially from twisting motions (baseball umpires are already using this).
And Yobel Technologies, a start-up based on research done at Mississippi State, which is testing out a new, lightweight, impact-absorbing faceguard.
Those two projects are winners of this year’s HeadHealthTECH Challenge (which has given out more than $1.3 million in grants so far). Previous winners include:
Windpact, for an inside-the-helmet tech that is like “airbags” for your brain.
VyaTek for its Zorbz™ – which , like it sounds, “absorbs” up to 50 percent of the force of a hit (and which you can swap out for a new Zorbz™ afterward).
2nd Skull®, which is a (mostly) foam insert that you wear on your first skull – with a helmet, for football; without a helmet, for sports like rugby.
And that’s just some of what’s making its way from the lab to the field.
So what will the helmet of the future look like?