WASHINGTON — Former Washington Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs has taken the cumulative substance of a life spent around football, the untimely death of his father, and the safety of his sons, to create innovative football helmet technology.
According to a report from NFL insider Jason La Canfora, it all started during the tail end of Springs’ time in Washington, as he watched his father waste away in a coma. It got Springs thinking about the newfound understanding of head injuries and how to fundamentally change football equipment.
Instead of being mad about what he didn’t know, he got inspired.
“In years past we might not have understood it, but today we have a better understanding of brain trauma, and the game is getting safer than ever, I really believe that. I love this game,” Springs told La Canfora, “It makes you smart enough that you really understand the game and the problems we have with it, and just crazy enough to think you can change it.”
Which is exactly what Springs intends to do, not by competing with the entrenched equipment makers, but by working with them. And it’s not just about football.
“Ultimately, I want there to be a better helmet for sports, the military, construction, and for our technology to be spread into a lot of the top brands,” he said. “I’m not out to compete with the big boys, I want to work with Riddell and Schutt.”
Experts now understand that it isn’t just the big hit that does damage–it’s the smaller, sub-concussive hits that add up over time. Therefore, a new helmet prototype is needed. Springs has financed a startup and hired a team of engineers primarily from the automotive industry, where safety standards have gotten dramatically better, quickly.
“We went and got rock stars,” he said. “I took everything I knew from football and built an organization and put a smart team around me — a good GM and head coach. It ain’t that hard, you’ve just got to think about it. I used common knowledge.”
Now, he has a vested interest in the results. Both of his twin boys are committed to play football locally in the fall, with one going to Georgetown and the other headed to the University of Richmond.
If Springs can find the safety breakthrough in football, he has a chance to positively impact his family’s life while they pursue their own NFL dreams.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved in real estate and technology,” he said. “I wanted to be the most innovative athlete ever.”