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Vicis in Crisis: Helmet Brand May Be Forced to Shut Down

About two years ago, I did a fairly in-depth and really interesting interview with Dave Marver, co-founder and CEO of Vicis, the Seattle-based helmet startup that caused a stir in early 2017 by debuting at the top of the NFL’s safety rankings, thanks in part to a softer, more deformable outer shell. At the time I interviewed Marver, several NFL players — most notably Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson — not only wore Vicis helmets but had invested in the company. In addition, several respected doctors were on the company’s board of directors. All of this gave Vicis an instant air of credibility and legitimacy.

Here’s an update on Marver: He left Vicis last month, pushed out by the board. I missed that news when it was announced last month but learned about it in this devastating New York Times article that ran yesterday. The whole article is essential reading and highly recommended, but here’s the short version: Vicis is in dire financial straits, its employees have been furloughed, and it may have to shut down altogether if it doesn’t get another significant infusion of cash.

While I can’t say for sure, I assume I’m not the only one who thought Vicis’s combination of safety innovation and star power made for what was likely to be a winning combination from a business standpoint. The Times article shows how naïve I was to think that, and offers a good reality check on the challenges of successfully bringing a new football helmet to market.

Among the more eye-opening passages:

In its letter to investors, the company said it would try to raise additional money by selling shares that valued the company at just $5 million, compared with a $90 million valuation as recently as last year.

And:

Vicis approached the helmet market in the fashion of Tesla, the automobile maker that sought to capture the high-end of the market first. Vicis targeted N.F.L. and college teams that can afford its premium prices. The helmets can cost as much as $1,500, at least double what most high-end helmets cost. Executives hoped the visibility among top athletes would help them sell to youth and high school teams.

And:

The cost of developing Vicis’s technology has far outpaced the sale of new helmets. The company expects to take in $14.2 million in revenue in 2019, according to financial reports reviewed by The Times, about $3 million less than the cost of producing its helmets. Costs associated with sales, marketing and research and development are expected to push the losses to $25.9 million this year.

The company anticipates even less revenue next year, but because of a dramatic cost-cutting, it forecasts a loss of $9 million.

[…]

According to notices filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company in July tried to raise $10 million, but was only able to come up with $2.1 million. The company had to pay a broker $112,000 to find these additional investors.

Yeesh. Obviously, the challenges of launching a new helmet brand — especially in an era when youth football participation is falling, school districts are finding it increasingly and sometimes prohibitively expensive to get insurance policies for their football programs, and the future of the sport is open to question — are a lot steeper than might first meet the eye, even if Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes are on board.

And that raises an interesting question: Since most people seem to agree that Vicis’s deforming shell and other design refinements represent a significant step forward in helmet technology, would Vicis’s demise be a tragic setback for football safety? Or is there no such thing as a “safe” football helmet, so we’d be better off not having one that might have provided a false sense of security? Hmmm.

Meanwhile, buried within the Times article is this nugget of info:

With [Vicis’s] cash dwindling, it has struggled to fulfill some orders. The delivery of a few hundred helmets ordered by the upstart X.F.L. has been delayed. The new league is hoping the helmets will arrive by the start of training camps early next year, according to an X.F.L. official with direct knowledge of the transaction, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve the league’s relationship with one of the few helmet manufacturers.

In other words, the XFL’s first season hasn’t even started yet and they’re already facing a major logistical hurdle. But wait, how could that happen to a league that everyone tells me has big-money financing, big-name coaches, a big TV contract, and so on? Who could possibly have foreseen that the XFL might not be built for the long haul, just like every other non-NFL pro football league of the past 45 years?

Obviously, it’s not the XFL’s fault that Vicis is failing. But this is what happens to upstart leagues: Circumstances often lead them to do business with unreliable partners, and they often paint themselves into tight corners that leave them with few backup options. That’s why starting a new league is even more of an uphill challenge than creating a new helmet company. I’ve always maintained a healthy skepticism about the former; I’ll now do the same about the latter.

A source tells me that the XFL does have a backup plan but declined to elaborate. I contacted the XFL’s equipment director and asked for comment but got no reply. I’ll update this post if I hear back from him.

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Alt creep: If you go to the Gridiron Uniform Database, it’s easy to confirm that at least two NFL teams — the Ravens and the Seahawks — have worn alternate jerseys a total of four times this season. That would seem to violate the NFL’s rule of wearing alts and/or throwbacks a maximum of three times per year. (As you may recall, the limit used to be twice per year but was raised to three times last season.)

Now the blogger who calls herself Boston Sports Chick has uncovered circumstantial evidence that the NFL may simply have scrubbed the rule altogether. It’s an interesting bit of sleuthing — recommended.

I’ve asked an NFL spokesman about all of this and will report back if I hear anything.

(My thanks to @SpiderLock43 for pointing me toward Boston Sports Chick’s blog post.)

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Arched enemies: Although the screen shot is a bit blurry, you can see what reader Matt Estreich was trying to capture in this image from last night’s Nets/Pelicans game. Nets guard Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker combine for a whopping 29 letters (and two hyphens) on their NOBs. Is that an NBA record for two players on the court at the same time? At the very least, it’s certainly in the running.

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See no evil: Serie A, the top tier of Italian soccer, sparked some controversy yesterday by rolling out a campaign to fight racism in soccer — like, you know, fans who toss bananas at black players — that inexplicably featured the faces of three monkeys.

I’m just going to leave it at that, because what else could there possibly be to say?

(My thanks to longtime reader Mark Coale, who was the first to bring this to my attention yesterday.)

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Coming soon: Check out this Uni Watch hockey jersey prototype! Just like our basketball and cycling jerseys, this one was made in conjunction with Nathan Haas of Adelph Wear. Here’s the rear view:

It’s not perfect (I think the rear numbers and maybe the sleeve numbers need to be bigger), but it’s not bad! Just as we did with the hoops and cycling jerseys, we’ll let you choose your own number and NOB, and you’ll also have the choice of whether you want the winged stirrup on the chest.

In addition to the white design, there will also be green and yellow versions:

We hope to have this available for ordering in the next couple of weeks — stay tuned.

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Naming Wrongs update: We’ve sold a fair number of “I Still Call It The Ballpark” shirts over the past couple of years. But with the Rangers set to move into their new stadium, people have been requesting “I Miss The Ballpark,” and we’re happy to oblige. It’s available in blue, red, and grey, and of course we have literally hundreds of other offerings in the Naming Wrongs shop.

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Year-end raffle reminder: In case you missed it last Friday, our annual year-end raffle is now underway, with dozens of cool items available for you to win (including the Portland Timbers jersey shown above). Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Looks like the Nats will be wearing a World Series Champions patch in 2020. Here’s a better look. (from multiple readers). … The Rakuten Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League revealed new uniforms (from Jeremy Brahm). … A handful of Cleveland players got uniform number updates (from Jason Hillyer and Eli Johnson). … The Tigers will retire Lou Whitaker’s No. 1 in 2020 (from Mike Chamernik and our own Brinke Guthrie). … The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes have been affiliated with the Dodgers for 10 years, so they’ve released an affiliation-anniversary logo (from Jakob Fox). … Danton Heinen, who plays for the NHL’s Boston Bruins, wore an MLB-branded wrist guard last night (from Jakob Fox).

Pro Football News: The Broncos will wear their Color Rash uniforms this Sunday (from Taylor Burck). … Here’s a look at the Titans’ all-time record as broken down by each individual uni element (from @TitansUni). … The Chiefs claimed LB Terrell Suggs off waivers yesterday, and they showed off his new number, 94 (from @ryanjmac_). … The CFL’s Montreal Alouettes have submitted 10 designs for their third uniform. The winning design will be revealed in mid-February (from Moe Khan).

College Football News: LSU teased their CFP uniform on Twitter (from multiple readers). … There doesn’t seem to be a CFB150 patch on Ohio State’s jersey ahead of their CFP matchup (from Tyler Richardson). … Here’s what the field will look like for the Orange Bowl (from @CFBowlWatch). … Yesterday we reported on the pink end zones for the 2019 Cure Bowl. The field is now nearly complete. Georgia Southern plays in the Sun Belt Conference, so the conference logo is on the 25-yard line; Liberty is independent, so they have their own logo on the field. … Kent State is in their first bowl game since 2012. Looks like their end zone will be painted with the new(ish) team font (from @DDapsis). … Arkansas State is the featured school in today’s edition of helmet history with Blaise D’Sylva. … Check out the red zebra-striped chain gang uniforms from a 1986-87 Dartmouth vs. New Hampshire game (from Tris Wykes).

Hockey News: The Flyers participated in Hockey Fights Cancer last night, and they wore cancer awareness-themed warmups. They kept F Oskar Lindblom’s sweater in the locker room. Lindblom suffers from Ewing’s sarcoma (from @OskarLindStrong). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Bruins F Danton Heinen wore an MLB-branded wrist guard last night (from Jakob Fox). … Also from Jakob: Kings F Nikolai Prokhorkin wrote “17” on his stick last night to pay tribute to F Ilya Kovalchuk, who was recently waived from the Kings. Kovalchuk mentored Prokhorkin as Prokhorin transitioned to the NHL this season. … The Cleveland Monsters, AHL affiliate of the Blue Jackets, will wear throwbacks honoring a previous Cleveland minor league team, the Lumberjacks (from John Flory). … This is brilliant: The Springfield Thunderbirds, minor league affiliate of the Panthers, will wear Simpsons-themed Springfield Ice-O-Topes uniforms to celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary (from @Malice_for_all).

NBA News: C Anzejs Pasceniks will wear No. 18 with the Wizards (from Etienne Catalan).
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Soccer News: Liverpool’s team in the English League Cup tonight is entirely youth-team players, because Liverpool are also in the Club World Cup tomorrow and the League Cup game couldn’t be rescheduled. As a result, nobody in the team has a number lower than 51, and it also includes a striker wearing No. 99. You can see the lineup here (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … SV Werder Bremen changed their diamond-shaped crest to Christmas tree-shaped in their penultimate match before the league’s Christmas break (from @ArtzhoneDr). … Frequent Ticker contributor Josh Hinton is a new writer for Louisville FC’s supporters’ group. He wrote an assessment of the club’s new crest. … Also from Josh: USL Championship side OKC Energy will wear Adidas in 2020, replacing Under Armour. … As always, you can keep updated with the latest kit news from around the world by following Josh’s Twitter feed. … Japan’s futsal F. League is holding an online vote to decide the country’s most popular futsal mascot (from Jeremy Brahm).

Grab Bag: A sportswriter has ranked what he thinks are the best and worst jerseys in Dallas sports history (from Chris Mycoskie). … NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace unveiled his new helmets for the 2020 season (from Patrick Lind). … The Big Bash League, an Australian cricket league, has a new rule mandating that the current league-wide leading run scorer wear a neon-yellow hat during a match (from Ewan Williams). … Also from Jeremy: Újpest Volley, a Hungarian volleyball club, recently visited Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, where they were greeted with below-freezing temperatures. Their hosts picked up hats for the club in Újpest team colors. … A Sikh Airman in New Jersey has become just the third person in the US Air Force authorized to wear a turban as part of his uniform.

81 comments to Vicis in Crisis: Helmet Brand May Be Forced to Shut Down

  • SkillSets | December 18, 2019 at 8:49 am |

    Nice UniWatch hockey sweater – use the full NY Rangers template and make the numbers and the NOB larger.

  • Grant | December 18, 2019 at 9:00 am |

    Nationals should go back to their gold outlined numbers from the first few years of their organization for their victory lap season.

    • Bud | December 18, 2019 at 9:31 am |

      It’s hard to overstate just how much I love this idea

    • Gary | December 18, 2019 at 8:30 pm |

      That would awesome for Opening Day weekend or whatever it’ll be called next season. I do, sort of, miss the “DC” logo.

      Not a fan of the patch shown. Much prefer the one teased online showing the Capitol Dome.

  • ScottyM | December 18, 2019 at 9:01 am |

    Frankly, the business model for helmet manufacturers is a suspect one.

    For every college that orders 2-3 each for players, there are high schools, etc., that order one per every few years.

    Can’t be much recurring revenue without new sales. Really only need 1-2 manufacturers in total.

    Has nothing to do with XFL’s financial pockets, by the way. Either it’s built for the long haul (5, 7, 10 years) before profitability, or it’s not. Same with the helmet co…no way anyone should expect profitability within a decade, or so

    • RS Rogers | December 18, 2019 at 11:19 am |

      In Sunday’s NYT article on research into whether improvements in helmet design can solve the brain-damage problem (answer: no), the story includes this note:

      Taken on its own, the $140 million football helmet business is dominated by a half-dozen companies and offers a poor profit center, as the market is small and heavily weighted down with insurance liability costs.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/sports/concussions-football-helmet.html

      Basically, it’s a commodity business with a small and shrinking market.

      • Christopher Falvey | December 18, 2019 at 1:57 pm |

        It shouldn’t be a commodity. Maybe it is, but it shouldn’t be. The differentiator should be safety.

        • RS Rogers | December 18, 2019 at 4:47 pm |

          Of course football helmets are and should be a commodity, precisely because of the concern for “safety.” Because safety is the defining issue for a helmet, a new helmet must either score as highly on safety tests as the next-safest helmet that’s already available, or it would be irresponsible, and quite possibly criminal, for any league or coach to permit the use of the new helmet. Virginia Tech testing sets the national standard, so a new helmet must either score 5 stars on VT’s scale or it won’t sell at all. Once the market is effectively limited to 5-star helmets on VT’s scale, then price or advertising/sponsorship relationships between manufacturers and leagues will be the chief deciding factor for helmet purchasers. And thus concern for safety turns helmets into a commodity product.

        • ScottyM | December 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm |

          But most schools only need one for each player. No matter how much the uni-shenanigans of Oregon, et al, try to convince them you need multiple.

          There’s a limited demand. Add to that, they’re reusable for a few seasons. Not enough of a market to sustain numerous manufacturers.

          That’s why companies diversify. You buy a couple Spaulding basketballs… you don’t need any more for a few more seasons. But you do need nets. Or, poles, or whatever. :)

  • thnom | December 18, 2019 at 9:01 am |

    The Lamar Jackson experience isn’t a new advert, it’s modified footage of the old Michael Vick experience advert, hence the Ravens template matching the Falcons. Simple digital recolour

  • Rich | December 18, 2019 at 9:04 am |

    “Or is there no such thing as a “safe” football helmet, so we’d be better off not having one that might have provided a false sense of security?”

    Football is a violent game. There are probably helmets that are safer than others, but it’s folly to think any helmet is completely safe.

    • Q | December 18, 2019 at 9:59 am |

      There’s no completely safe helmet but theres definitely differences in them.

  • Dootie Bubble | December 18, 2019 at 9:06 am |

    Seems like maybe the VICIS board is trying to cut expenses back in order to liquidate. Wouldn’t Be at all surprised if Ridell buys it for pennies on the dollar. :(

    • John in KC | December 18, 2019 at 10:47 am |

      It wouldn’t surprise me either. The Riddell Speed helmet was developed by Easton Sports – a brand more known for other sports – and Riddell’s parent company bought them, moved the helmet and any other Easton football gear to Riddell, then spun the rest of Easton back off into a separate company.

  • John Spunkington | December 18, 2019 at 9:08 am |

    Wow. Even a article about the sad demise of a very interesting sports company is used by Paul as the framework for another unnecessary dig at the XFL and how he is openly rooting for the league to fail and eliminate some sports journalist jobs.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 9:20 am |

      Let’s count the mischaracterizations in this comment:

      1) Today’s post is not a “framework” for commentary on the XFL. The XFL-related content is basically a tangent or addendum at the end of the piece.

      2) Let’s unpack the term “another unnecessary dig.” This implies (a) that I’ve been posting all sorts of digs at the XFL on a regular basis (in fact, I’ve written about the XFL exactly once) and (b) that such digs are “unnecessary” (in fact, I think they’re completely appropriate, but John and I can agree to disagree on that point).

      3) I am not “rooting for the XFL to fail.” I am simply noting that it is a dicey proposition at best and that taking it seriously is akin to believing in the Tooth Fairy. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, just as I’d be happy to discover that there really is a Tooth Fairy.

      4) I am likewise not rooting for the elimination of anyone’s job, sports journalist or otherwise. (But I do think it’s interesting that you apparently think dubious business enterprises should function as de facto job-creation programs.)

      John, if you think the XFL is built to last, feel free to argue your case on the merits. But don’t mischaracterize my work or my positions — that won’t fly here.

      John, I’ll ask you the same three questions I’ve asked everyone else who takes issue with my skepticism regarding the XFL:

      a) If you had a bunch of money to invest, would you invest it in the XFL?

      b) If I *gave* you $1,000 to invest and said you had to choose between (i) investing it in the XFL or (ii) putting it in an index fund for five years, which would you choose?

      c) If I offered to bet you $1,000 on whether XFL 2.0 would last longer than XFL 1.0, would you choose to bet on “Yes” or “No”?

    • kimP | December 18, 2019 at 10:30 am |

      agree with Joe here. VCIS is basically the XFL. both are upstarts and neither really “needed” yet taking on GIANTS. Funny how one is shown as tragedy and the other is trash.

      But I am a big fan of the UNIWATCH so I enjoy everyone’s point of view. Not Trying to troll or strawman anyone here. Just wanted to toss in my 2 cents.

      Keep up the great content, Paul!

      • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 10:34 am |

        1) I think you mean John, not Joe.

        2) You say, “VICIS is basically the XFL. Both are upstarts and neither really ‘needed’ yet taking on GIANTS.” Actually, one could argue that Vicis is very much needed. Comparing a technologically innovative piece of safety equipment with a dubious entertainment enterprise is the very definition of a false equivalence.

  • Hank-SJ | December 18, 2019 at 9:10 am |

    Flyers played the Ducks in Philadelphia last night, not Anaheim as per the ticker item.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 9:21 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • MAL | December 18, 2019 at 9:10 am |

    Hey Paul – is the hockey jersey designed to be something I could wear on the ice?

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 9:21 am |

      Not sure I understand the question. Do you mean is it built for rough/tough action?

      • MAL | December 18, 2019 at 11:07 am |

        Yes exactly. Like is it built to be worn during an actual hockey game I’d be playing in? Or is it more of something to be worn like a shirt?

        I ask because I once wore a Bruins jersey of mine to hockey practice as a kid and it ruined it.

        • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 11:10 am |

          Good question. Honestly, I’m not sure. Will find out!

  • Stan Bunting | December 18, 2019 at 9:11 am |

    Hasn’t anybody ever heard of the three wise monkeys?

    What is this world coming to?

    • Clarybird | December 18, 2019 at 9:45 am |

      Technically, those are chimpanzees.

    • Josh Hinton | December 18, 2019 at 9:48 am |

      Stan, have you been keeping up with all the racism coming out of Serie A this season?

      It’s astonishing how tone-deaf those clubs and the league is. There’s no excusing them using 3 monkeys in an anti racism campaign.

  • Wade Heidt | December 18, 2019 at 9:16 am |

    Plain and simple. Easy choice of the 10. Montreal Alouettes have to go with the first one in that set of 10 for their new third jersey.

  • Peter | December 18, 2019 at 9:19 am |

    Question for you Paul (ties in with a response from Brandiose yesterday):

    When you are producing a product like a hat for Uni-Watch (or the hockey jersey above), are the companies you are working with producing the sample locally (in North America) or shipping from Asia because it cost less for them?

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 9:32 am |

      Most of our products are made in Asia. In some cases, like all the Teespring shirts, the base product (shirt, jersey, etc.) is made overseas but the printing or sublimating is done in America.

      Our Classic Cap is made by Ebbets Field Flannels and, like all Ebbets caps, is made in the USA.

  • Brinke | December 18, 2019 at 9:25 am |

    This may be a dumb question; but what if the NFL just bought this helmet company?

    • Bud | December 18, 2019 at 9:31 am |

      Or Riddell/Schutt bought the patents/technology?

    • BurghFan | December 18, 2019 at 10:03 am |

      I would imagine it would just open the league up to more liability.

    • Lloyd Alaban | December 18, 2019 at 1:13 pm |

      I think I’ll pass on having “VICIS’ plastered on the nose bumper of every single helmet in the league.

  • Bud | December 18, 2019 at 9:30 am |

    The alt uniforms article is fascinating, I’m surprised that the league wouldn’t make a bigger deal of getting rid of that rule for the sake of publicity/jersey sales. My first instinct looking at GUD made me think that maybe teams were interpreting the rule as wearing EACH alt jersey 3 or less times, and are getting away with wearing multiple alt jerseys a couple of times to bring their total up past 3. Indeed, with the Ravens having worn their black jerseys 3 times and their color rush once, and the Seahawks having worn gray and lime twice each, I wonder if maybe just that part about the total number of games being 3 has been scrubbed.

  • RICKAZ | December 18, 2019 at 9:33 am |

    I noticed watching Notre Dame this year that they wore Vicis helmets, and the back bumper says “VICIS” instead of “IRISH”.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 9:33 am |

      Yes, they were, I believe, the first major school that Vicis struck a deal with.

  • MotorCityJeff | December 18, 2019 at 9:53 am |

    Being late to the game here, I doubt this is a typo but am I missing something with the multiple references to “Marvis”? Is this supposed to be Marver?

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 9:55 am |

      Just sloppiness/typos on my part. Thanks for the catch! Now fixed.

  • Josh Claywell | December 18, 2019 at 9:56 am |

    Hey Paul. Terrell Suggs is a linebacker, not an offensive lineman.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 9:57 am |

      Fixed.

  • Q | December 18, 2019 at 9:57 am |

    Vicis are super expensive, I doubt the average person could afford them and have to purchase another the next season. I got a Xenith for $220 for my son which is already expensive and the Vicis is $500. Both have a 5 star rating by Va Tech so which one would most people purchase?

    • Eltee of DC | December 18, 2019 at 1:28 pm |

      Q,

      Currently, there is NO helmet yet created that gives the type of head safety that would dramatically reduce the LEGAL LIABILITY or head trauma of using it. NONE. You use any helmet in this sport and given enough time – you will pickle your child’s brain. That is a fact.

      Dr. Stephen Duma of Virginia Tech:
      C.T.E. remains an ever-present danger no matter what a player wears on his head. “Not getting hit in the head at all is the best thing for you,”

      So what’s a sport to do?

      Here’s an idea – stop using hard shell helmets by making any use of the head for blocking tackling, spearing, etc. illegal. and punishable by ejection, from multiple games, then a season, then permanently. Reduce the hard shell shoulder pads to reward proper tackling then the all ‘Murrican knock out blow.

      Yeah, it’s that serious. The NFL knows this, but they would rather destroy the only reason people go to watch games – the TALENT that drives it – than reduce the injuries related to head trauma. They should, but they won’t.

      It will take a US Government driven inquiry to stop the devastating effects of CTE because the shield is too busy cashing in on this hyper violent sport. Having said all this I want to be clear that I played football in HS, I also played RUGBY since I was 15 till I stopped at 35.

      Rugby is a sport that is violent – Hard Tackles et al. The headgear is soft snd designed to reduce ear and head injuries from Rucks and Line Outs because use of the head for tackling, blocking is prohibited. If I had a son that was considering football as a team sport – I would encourage him to try baseball, or soccer or golf instead or a career in UNIform design. Less injurious to your body, while still allowing people to complain about the quality of the effort.

      Here is the NYT article
      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/sports/concussions-football-helmet.html?searchResultPosition=2

      • RS Rogers | December 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm |

        There. Is. No. Safe. Football helmet. No such thing exists, and no such thing can exist. Why not? Because helmets are designed to reduce the incidence of concussion, but long-term brain damage like CTE is not caused by concussion. Expecting a “safer” helmet to prevent CTE is like expecting higher SPF sunscreen to prevent lung cancer among smokers.

        Except stronger sunscreen won’t actually increase your odds of getting lung cancer from smoking. Whereas a “safer” football helmet will increase players’ odds of developing serious brain injury. Every time a helmet prevents a player from experiencing concussion, it enables that player to participate in more plays in practice and games that he would otherwise have missed while recovering from the concussion. And the main predictor of CTE incidence is the raw number of hits a player experiences over the course of his life. Fewer concussions = more hits = higher chance of developing crippling brain injury.

  • Ty | December 18, 2019 at 10:12 am |

    If the NFL truly eliminated or ignores the alternate uniform rule, then I think the Bears should wear the throwbacks the rest of the year! : D

  • Ryan | December 18, 2019 at 10:18 am |

    Yesterday wasn’t the Flyers’ HFC night. This was in addition to (they did it back in early November) as Oskar Lindblom was recently diagnosed with it. This was in his honor, first game at home since the diagnosis.

  • RICKAZ | December 18, 2019 at 10:28 am |

    I’m looking forward to when two hyphenated people get married and have a kid. Back of the jersey could be something like this…
    Luwawu-Cabarrot-Alexander-Walker

    • John P | December 18, 2019 at 11:15 am |

      As dumb as it might sound, that four name scenario is sort of the reason my wife chose to take my last name and not go hyphenated. One night in bed she was like, “Oh my God, some poor kid is going to spend their life trying to fit 4+ last names into forms and on business cards! We I’m either keeping my name or taking yours.” We’ve also had friends do a combined, new, last name for their families. Which I at first thought was odd, but now makes total sense. My kids have a hard enough looking like me and inheriting my less than stellar athletic prowess.

  • Joel Keller | December 18, 2019 at 10:39 am |

    I’ve watched enough Shark Tank to think that Vicis would have been better off licensing the technology to one of the big manufacturers and using that revenue for more R&D. Any evidence that they tried that route and got rebuffed?

  • Brendan | December 18, 2019 at 10:42 am |

    Also have to chime in on the XFL tangent in this post. Disappointing. We get it, you aren’t a fan of upstart football leagues. And you expect them to fail, and have good reason to. We get it. It’s just tired. We come here to read about uniforms and see pictures of uniforms and get your expert take on uniforms. Not to hear your cynical thoughts on the XFL (I’m sure you’ll say you aren’t being cynical).
    That Vicis lede was very interesting. Disappointing to see it finish with another tangent about the XFL.

    And I will keep coming back to read about uniforms because you’re very good at covering them.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 10:56 am |

      Actually, people come here for all sorts of reasons (and *I* come here for all sorts of reasons), so please don’t claim to speak for everyone, because nobody speaks for everyone.

      Now then: Surely you agree that the XFL aspect of the Vicis story is noteworthy/newsworthy from a Uni Watch perspective, right? Like, not mentioning it at all would essentially be an irresponsible omission, right? So yeah, it’s going to get mentioned.

      As for my tone when discussing the XFL: When gullible people stop telling me that the XFL (or the AAF, or the UFL…) will finally be the one alternate pro football league that gets it right and succeeds — even though there’s literally zero evidence to substantiate that — maybe I’ll be able to stop treating it like an overhyped joke. Am I “cynical” about the XFL? No, I’m *skeptical.* But am I “cynical” about people taking an overhyped joke seriously and then acting like I’ve told them there’s no Santa Claus when I point out that the whole thing is likely to fail (for reasons like, well, ordering a few hundred helmets from a company that can’t deliver them on time)? Yeah, guilty as charged.

      Now, if this helmet situation is no big deal to the XFL, you’d think they’d move quickly to dispel any doubts on that front, right? Transparency — or at least the appearance of it — would be the smart approach here, right? But the NYT article had a quote from an XFL official who would only speak anonymously, and the XFL’s equipment director has not responded to my request for comment. What does that tell you about the XFL in general and this incident in particular? Does this sound like an organization that has its shit together and should be taken seriously, or an organization that should be viewed with skepticism?

      Brendan, I’ll ask you the same three questions I keep asking people who don’t like my skepticism regarding the XFL:

      a) If you had a bunch of money to invest, would you invest it in the XFL?

      b) If I *gave* you $1,000 to invest and said you had to choose between (i) investing it in the XFL or (ii) putting it in an index fund for five years, which would you choose?

      c) If I offered to bet you $1,000 on whether XFL 2.0 would last longer than XFL 1.0, would you choose to bet on “Yes” or “No”?

      I note with a raised eyebrow that nobody to whom I’ve posed these questions has yet seen fit to answer, which pretty much speaks for itself.

      • Brendan Armstrong | December 18, 2019 at 4:40 pm |

        a) No, I would not. I too am skeptical. But I think it could be fun, I think it could work out. Who knows! But no, I would not invest money in it.
        b) Index fund, of course!
        c) I would bet no, because of course there’s a chance that things like logistical hurdles keep it from going into a second season. But that doesn’t mean the product won’t be good. I could see it going into a second season.

        I guess I just don’t find it fun to read the aspects of your writing that come across intensely defensive. It’s very unbecoming. I don’t know who you are defending your positions against. I haven’t really heard anyone say that the XFL will “finally be the one to make it!”, but it sounds like you have. But I don’t get why, if you feel so strongly that it likely won’t last, you don’t just let other people’s opinions float on by. I like that you are opinionated and share your opinions on things, you obviously know a lot about a lot, but when this becomes a place where you are defending your stance on something (a new sports league) that is only tangentially related to the site, and in what comes across as a pretty aggressive tone, it’s just annoying.

        • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 7:59 pm |

          I haven’t really heard anyone say that the XFL will “finally be the one to make it!”

          Then you haven’t read this website’s comments section very often! ;)

          Thanks for the feedback, seriously.

  • ChrisH | December 18, 2019 at 10:55 am |

    “I assume I’m not the only one who thought Vicis’s combination of safety innovation and star power made for what was likely to be a winning combination from a business standpoint.”

    Even having an established name brand and reputation for developing high-quality safety products doesn’t guarantee success.
    Auto racing safety pioneer Bill Simpson, who passed away a couple of days ago, dipped his toe into the football helmet industry a few years back and developed a 5-star helmet and still couldn’t make ends meet (a questionable NFL ban surely didn’t help business); the company’s assets were acquired by another outfitter last year.

  • John P | December 18, 2019 at 11:00 am |

    Maybe I’m just too skeptical, but don’t the “hats” on that Hungarian volleyball club look photoshopped in? If not, they are ridiculously precise in getting each one to face exactly the same way and angle.

    • Dumb Guy | December 18, 2019 at 11:13 am |

      They are ‘shopped”. they all have the exact save fluff and shadow.

  • Wafflebored | December 18, 2019 at 11:15 am |

    Speaking of Uni Watch jerseys, have people started receiving the basketball jerseys that ordered, and will you be posting pictures? I’m interested to see what numbers and names everyone went with.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 11:15 am |

      They just started shipping a day or two ago, so people should be receiving them shortly.

      • mike chamernik | December 18, 2019 at 4:30 pm |

        I ordered the shorts in November and I got the email today that they are being shipped. Can’t wait!

  • Ian Lee | December 18, 2019 at 11:44 am |

    Love, love, LOVE the hockey jersey! I may not be able to but it, but I love it nonetheless!!

    Also, the LSU and OSU jerseys are beautiful!! I saw the OSU one coming since they’ve worn ones like that for every iteration of the CFP that they’ve participated in, but that LSU jersey is very nice and unlike anything I’ve ever seen (note that I’ve never seen much LSU football.)

  • Jovothan | December 18, 2019 at 11:49 am |

    How long till you offer a uni-watch jockstrap?

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 11:58 am |

      I love that! You’ll definitely get a discount, since it was your idea. ;)

      • Max in DC | December 18, 2019 at 12:10 pm |

        No one can say you don’t have the balls to try new revenue sources.

        • Eltee of DC | December 18, 2019 at 1:57 pm |

          Maximum effort Max,

          Round of applause, pun of the month!

  • DJ | December 18, 2019 at 12:18 pm |

    Liverpool’s team in the English League Cup tonight is entirely youth-team players

    That was last night. Liverpool lost 5-0. They play Monterrey tonight in the Club World Cup

  • ChrisH | December 18, 2019 at 12:32 pm |

    The Tigers should give away replica jerseys with magic-markered #1’s on Lou Whitaker Night.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 12:34 pm |

      Y-E-S!!!!!!!!!

  • Jerusalem Stone | December 18, 2019 at 12:34 pm |

    @Paul–the main question with XFL is whether Roger Devlin will come out of retirement to cover the beat, no?

    https://youtu.be/Uzh77AAOg6o

  • Don'tKnockyRocky | December 18, 2019 at 1:12 pm |

    PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
    The Flyers’ ice surface painters must have the blues . . .

    Why are the blue lines at the WFC such a dark shade of blue? It looks almost black on television; it doesn’t match the blue on the side boards. It looks like the same shade of blue in the Dietz & Watson logo. The NHL Rule Book apparently does not specify the specific shade (pantone #) that must be used, but come on, man!

  • FlyersGuyers | December 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm |

    Flyers’ blue line issue:

    Maybe it is 2020’s color of the year?

    https://www.cnn.com/style/article/pantone-color-classic-blue-2020/index.html

  • Drew | December 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm |

    I have to laugh at the people getting upset at Paul’s XFL digs. And I’d bet that they are also WWE fans, as they are similarly all-too-defensive over any criticism or rebuke, no matter how mild, of their precious McMahon-funded fantasy land, even in the face of objective reality. The cult mentality is real.

    • Greg | December 18, 2019 at 2:20 pm |

      That is my takeaway too. Perhaps the defenders are pro WWF, and Paul is anti-WWF. I find his comments simultaneously funny and unnecessary, and just enjoy the back and forth on the comment boards of “why are you picking on the XFL”. Spring football leagues are doomed to fail (unless the NFL actually backed one), and watching McMahon attempt it again is extra funny. It might be unnecessary to take digs at the XFL every chance you get, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t also funny.

      • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 2:37 pm |

        Just for the record: While I don’t care one way or the other about WWF (never been into pro wrestling, don’t really know anything about it), it has zero impact on my thoughts about the XFL. I was every bit as skeptical about the AAF (all the Tooth Fairy adherents gave me shit about that as well), which had no WWF connection.

    • Brendan Armstrong | December 18, 2019 at 4:50 pm |

      Yes, I love the WWE! That is why I was so defensive about the criticism of the XFL! I love sports that seem real but actually aren’t, and I love any McMahon-funded fantasy land!!!!

      What a well thought-out analysis. Actually, I was upset by Paul’s XFL digs because they’re just his personal annoyances tacked onto an otherwise very interesting and informative piece of journalism. And yes, the article mentioned the XFL, but to take that and use it to justify yet another dig, which no one cares about…I mean, come on.

  • Michael Gray | December 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm |

    I share Paul’s skepticism of the XFL, but I can’t imagine that it’s going to be all that hard for the XFL to replace the missing VICIS helmets with inventory from the other top mfgs — it’s not like they need a million helmets, and I’m sure Riddell and/or Schutt would be happy to sell them what they need.

    I’d chalk the XFL’s relative silence on the matter to simple caution, keeping their options open in hopes that they may still be able to get what they need/want from VICIS.

    I don’t think VICIS’s shortcomings are any more a reflection on the XFL than they are on any NFL or NCAA team that was hoping to get more VICIS inventory.

  • Ben Miller | December 18, 2019 at 7:52 pm |

    Paul, your XFL reporting is as fair as your reporting on NBA uni ads. At least you won’t lose two jobs over the XFL.

    • Paul Lukas | December 18, 2019 at 8:03 pm |

      You’re right, Ben — my reporting on the XFL *and* on NBA uni ads has been very, very fair in both instances. Excellent observation on your part! (Also, it’s excellent to see that you base a pro-XFL argument on a comparison to NBA uni ads. What a wonderful comparison to make!)

      But my reporting on NBA uni ads had nothing to do with my departures from ESPN or SI. Erroneous observation on your part!

      Try again.

  • Noel | December 18, 2019 at 10:34 pm |

    Second thing that Russell Wilson has invested in that’s been a bust. He was an investor in the SoDo arena that was rejected by the Seattle City council. And now Vicis.

    Sort of shows how the Tesla business model isn’t really the best.