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Seattle Seahawks safety Delano Hill wears a Vicis helmet during a game last season. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Vicis once again ranked atop the NFL’s laboratory test to determine which helmets best reduce head impact severity experienced by players on the field.

The Seattle startup and its high-tech ZERO1 helmet beat out a bevy of other helmet makers for the third straight year.

The NFL worked with the NFL Players’ Association and its biomechanical experts to assess 34 helmet models made by four companies that could be worn in the upcoming 2019 season. The tests simulate concussion-causing impacts sustained by NFL players during games and analyze rotational velocity and acceleration as part of the evaluations. They are specifically designed to simulate NFL conditions and aren’t meant to be applied to collegiate, high school, or youth football.

The 2018 version of Vicis’ $950 ZERO1 helmet ranked No. 1. Vicis also ranked No. 1 for the past two years in the same test.

The league said that the top three helmets had no statistical difference in performance. It also noted that the percentage of players wearing a helmet in the green region of the list increased by 33 percent last season. “Analysis of on-field game concussions for the 2015-2018 seasons showed that players wearing green helmets had a lower rate of reported concussions than those wearing yellow or red helmets,” the league said in a press release. The list also includes a group of prohibited helmets.

As more research surfaces that links former NFL players and brain disease, the NFL has encouraged the use of advanced helmets. It has also made rule changes that, for example, prevent players from initiating contact with the helmet. The league saw the number of concussions drop year-over-year by 24 percent during the 2018 season, reversing a trend of increased concussions on the field in years past.

The NFL reached a $1 billion concussion settlement in 2017, though the payout process has drawn scrutiny.

The $950 ZERO1 football helmet is engineered with multiple, specialized layers designed to mitigate impacts believed to cause concussions. It is used by players on nearly all NFL teams, more than 120 NCAA programs, and more than 1,200 high school teams.

Vicis’ youth version of the ZERO1 also just ranked first in Virginia Tech’s inaugural youth football helmet ratings. Five Seattle-area high school football programs announced this week that they are switching to the Vicis helmet.

Vicis CEO Dave Marver told GeekWire today that the company doubled the number of NFL players wearing the ZERO1 helmet from 2017 to 2018.

“Players of all positions wore the ZERO1, but quarterbacks and tight ends were particularly drawn to the ZERO1 due to its industry-best wide field of view,” he said.

Vicis is a finalist for the Deal of the Year category at the GeekWire Awards after it closed a $28.5 million Series B round in November, bringing the company’s total funding raised to $84 million since spinning out of the University of Washington in 2014. NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers is an investor in Vicis. Other backers of the company include fellow NFL players Alex Smith, Russell Wilson, and Doug Baldwin; former NFL players including Roger Staubach and Jerry Rice; prominent spine and neurological surgeons; Cincinnati Reds minority owner Harry Fath; angelMD; W Fund; Alliance of Angels; and Trilogy Equity Partners.

Vicis employs 125 people. The company manufactures its helmets at a facility in Seattle.

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