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The new ZERO1 YOUTH helmet from Vicis went on sale today. (Vicis Photo)

Vicis is adding another big name to its investor list as the company opens up sales of its high-tech football helmet to all youth football players.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. (Rx3 Ventures Photo)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has invested in the Seattle startup via Rx3 Ventures, a new consumer-focused fund based in Orange County, Vicis announced Thursday morning.

With the investment, Vicis says it has now closed its $28.5 million Series B round. The round brings the company’s total funding raised to $84 million since spinning out of the University of Washington in 2014. The 100-person company is known for its $950 ZERO1 football helmet, used by players on 28 NFL teams and 120 NCAA programs.

Vicis has also made a big push toward youth football. Today, the company announced commercial availability of the $495 ZERO1 YOUTH helmet. There are already players on 1,200 high school teams wearing the helmet. Vicis will offer team-based rates and is working with FundMyTeam to provide discounts.

“We invested in VICIS because its commitment to player safety — specifically at the youth level — is one we wanted to support,” Rodgers, who recently became a minority investor in the Milwaukee Bucks, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with VICIS as they continue to develop outstanding technologies for players at all levels.”

According to a study from earlier this year, fewer young athletes are participating in football as more research links the sport with head injuries.

On a tour of Vicis’ production facility in Seattle last year, Marver told GeekWire that the company’s ultimate goal has always been to offer youth products.

“There are a lot of parents sitting around the dinner table throughout America, concerned about their kids playing football and other contact sports like girls soccer, for example,” Marver said. “We feel like we have a group of engineers that has developed a lot of expertise and is deeply committed to helping people. We want to take what we’ve learned in developing this football helmet and extend that into other sports.”

The $495 Vicis ZERO1 YOUTH helmet

The ZERO1 helmet is engineered with multiple, specialized layers designed to mitigate impacts believed to cause concussions. It was one of Time Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017 and placed first in the NFL’s recent helmet safety test.

Rodgers, a 6-time Pro Bowl selection who won the Super Bowl MVP in 2010, joins several current and former NFL players backing Vicis, including Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Alex Smith, Roger Staubach, and Jerry Rice. Other investors include prominent spine and neurological surgeons; Cincinnati Reds minority owner Harry Fath; angelMD; W Fund; Alliance of Angels; and Trilogy Equity Partners.

Rodgers expects to start wearing the Vicis helmet next season.

Earlier this year, Vicis announced a contract with the U.S. Army to improve the safety of Army and Marine Corps combat helmets.

PREVIOUSLY: Future of NFL safety: Inside Vicis’ high-tech football helmet production facility in Seattle

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