NFL Evolution  


Xenith helmets double NFL count after top ratings in Va. Tech tests


The helmet landscape has changed in the NFL now that Riddell's contract as the official headgear of the league has expired. Schutt and Rawlings have stepped into the picture as helmet providers.

But Xenith may be making the biggest gains in protecting the heads of NFL players. The Lowell (Mass.) Sentinel and Enterprise featured Xenith, which expects to provide headgear to 200 NFL players this season -- twice as many as last season.

While players can wear any brand of helmet they choose, Xenith and Riddell are now the only two authorized suppliers of helmets to the NFL. Xenith president Chuck Huggins is encouraged about this growth year for the company.

Huggins estimates the pecking order for annual new football helmet sales to be roughly: Riddell $60 million, Schutt $25 million, Rawlings and Xenith $10 million. (Xenith also put its toe into the shoulder-pad market last year.) So Xenith is still very much the little guy compared to Riddell, whose helmets are still worn by a vast majority of NFL players.

Xenith already manufactured the safest helmet in 2013, according to the Virginia Tech STAR testing system, and had two 5-star models in 2014. That has led many NFL players to switch to Xenith.

The new face of Xenith is Philadelphia Eagles 26-year-old running back LeSean McCoy, a two-time Pro Bowl selection whose 1,607 rushing yards led the NFL last season. So not too bad a new face.

"He did some (videos) for us on social media that are a lot of fun," said Huggins. "One of them has him getting out of bed with a helmet on, and shaving and talking about how comfortable it is."

Two Patriots, All-Pro safety Devin McCourty and Pro Bowl special-teamer Matthew Slater, have been strong proponents of Xenith helmets. McCourty did suffer a concussion last December while wearing a Xenith during an awkward collision with Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson (now a Carolina Panther). But McCourty is still wearing a Xenith, according to Huggins.

"He said the helmet worked," said Huggins. "Jason (McCourty's twin brother, a cornerback for the Tennessee Titans) and Devin are still in the helmet."

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor



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