Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post, his second stint at the Post. He has previously written for Pro Football Talk and FOX Sports-Scout. Entering his 13th year covering the Baltimore Ravens, he’s a beat writer for The Baltimore Sun. Wilson has also covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.
Change is inevitable in the National Football League. Players change teams. Coaching staffs are constantly changing as are the human components in each front office of every NFL team.
This past season, change was also evident on the heads of a significant number of NFL players. More than 150 NFL players switched from their previous helmets to a pair of new helmets from Schutt Sports, the Vengeance Z10 and the Vengeance Pro, which made its debut this past season.
“I’ve worn a Schutt helmet since I played in college at SMU and the Z10 is the most comfortable Schutt helmet I’ve ever worn,” said New Orleans Saints cornerback Sterling Moore. “The fit of the Z10 is tremendous and when I buckled the chinstrap I couldn’t believe how light it felt. Even though it was significantly lighter, the Z10 felt like it offered just as much protection as I had before, maybe even more.”
The Z10 features a sleeker, more streamlined helmet shell that’s significantly lighter than other helmets. Having a lighter helmet can greatly improve the fit of a helmet. One innovative advancement of the Z10 is the Helmet Stabilization System- a fitting system that cradles and frames the head inside the helmet and improves the performance.
“The initial thing I noticed when I put on the Z10 for the first time was how well it fit and I will say it’s the most comfortable helmet I have ever worn,” said Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson who switched to the Z10 this year. “It’s lighter than any helmet I’ve worn. It’s unbelievably light. So light, in fact, that I wondered if it could stand up to an NFL pounding. It’s great. My jaw is more stable and it feels like my entire face is more anchored than in previous helmets.”
Schutt continues to push technological advancements in its helmets, but has also bet that focusing on the fit of the helmet, making it fit better and making it easier for players to wear properly, will pay off.
“The launch of the two new Vengeance helmets, the Z10 and the Pro, are the most successful helmet launches in our history,” said Glenn Beckmann, Director of Marketing Communications at Schutt. “There’s never been a helmet that’s been switched to by as many NFL players during its first season.”
The Z10 also incorporated a re-designed line of titanium facemasks. The new facemask design extends protection further down the side of the helmet. Schutt believes offensive and defensive linemen will especially like the new facemask design.
“The face guard wraps around the side of the helmet but doesn’t impede my vision at all,” said Johnson. “But the best part of the Z10 is how light it feels and how great it fits. It fits better than any helmet I’ve ever used.”
The Z10 also features patented Schutt technology called TPU Cushioning, a series of impact-absorbing cushions made of thermoplastic urethane (TPU). Schutt uses TPU in all of its helmets for NFL players, which are the same helmets as worn by high school players around the country. According to Schutt, independent testing labs have shown TPU Cushioning does a better job of absorbing impact under varied conditions when compared to other helmets.
But another part of the Z10 that can’t be measured is how different the Z10 looks when it was worn.
“The first time I put it on, a bunch of the other guys on the Saints were like ‘wow, what kind of helmet is that, it looks awesome,” Moore said. “I told the guys it was the Z10 from Schutt and you should go and see our equipment guy and get fitted because it feels as great as it looks.”
Schutt is based in Litchfield, IL, 60 miles northeast of St. Louis. As of the 2016 regular season, nearly 40% of NFL players wear Schutt helmets, including: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Antonio Bryant, David Johnson and Patrick Peterson.