Lobos invest in helmet safety - Albuquerque Journal

Lobos invest in helmet safety

This style of helmet is one that UNM will be using for the 2019 football season. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

For the past seven years, Chris Schieder, the man everyone calls “Shooter,” has been crucial when it comes to the helmets of the University of New Mexico football players.

Schieder, who pronounces his last name the same as his nickname, is, after all, the Lobos’ football equipment manager.

Schieder, with UNM assistant athletic director for football operations Brian DeSpain nearby, answered questions after Thursday’s practice about UNM’s helmets in relation to a recent Associated Press report of improvements to NFL helmets.

A study, conducted by NFL- and NFLPA-appointed biomechanical engineers, left Tom Brady having to discard his helmet because his longtime brand was one of 11 helmets banned by the league and players’ union for 2019.

“They stopped making that one 10 years ago,” Schieder said of the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback’s helmet model.

Schieder knows equipment, as his career dates to 1997 and includes work for Duke University and a summer stint with the Carolina Panthers.

The VICIS Zero1 helmet graded as the best for the third straight year, according to the annual study by the NFL and NFLPA.

In that study, “a subset of concussion-causing impacts sustained by NFL players during games is simulated to determine which helmets best reduced head impact severity,” the Associated Press reported.

“The type of helmet is very rarely attributed to concussions,” said DeSpain, who was aware of the NFL’s study and the poster released on Friday that detailed “top performing” helmet models and “prohibited helmets.”

“It’s more about motion and the impact of where you are hit than it is the type of helmet of head-to-head contact,” DeSpain said.

At the bottom of the NFL’s helmet poster reads: “No helmet system can completely protect against serious brain and/or neck injuries a player might sustain while participating in football.”

The Lobos use two helmet models – the Schutt Air XP Pro Q11 and the Riddell Revolution Speed Classic. DeSpain said it helps to have two options based on fit, size and preference.

Those two helmet models do not appear anywhere on the NFL poster.

UNM uses three sets of helmets, one for practice and two for games. They will usually wear the game-day helmets for one day late in the week of practice before a game.

At the end of each season, all of the Lobos’ helmets are reconditioned for approval by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, Schieder said.

The price for each helmet varies, roughly from $375 to $425, he said.

The Lobos purchase between 30-35 new helmets each year. New players to the UNM football program receive helmets that are with them for the duration of their career as a Lobo, DeSpain said.

The game-day helmets were privately financed through a fundraiser called the Lobo Helmet Project, he said.

DeSpain declined to discuss concussions to UNM players and the number the Lobos have had in past seasons.

PRACTICE: The Lobos will practice Friday night, starting at 6, in Dreamstyle Stadium. The practice, which is open to the public, will feature scrimmaging.

The team could not have stadium access on Saturday because of preparation for an Easter service on Sunday.

The Lobos will have four spring practices remaining after tonight to get up to 15. They practice Monday (8:30-10:45 a.m.), Tuesday (9-11:15 a.m.), Thursday (8:30-10:45 a.m.) and close it out on April 27 (10-11:45 a.m.).

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