1) Why did Schutt stop making the AiR Advantage?
For it��s time, the AiR Advantage was a very successful helmet for us. Its light weight made it very popular with skill position players, who want to be as fast they can. For a number of years, the AiR Advantage was our most popular helmet in the NFL. The AiR Advantage also offered a unique ability for customization in its interior padding. We discontinued making the helmet three years ago because current helmet technology had moved past it. The AiR Advantage was the last varsity helmet made by Schutt that featured traditional foam padding. That material, which is used by most other helmet manufacturers, does not perform as well as the TPU Cushioning we now use in all of our varsity helmets. TPU (thermoplastic urethane) Cushioning absorbs significantly more impact across a wider variety of temperatures than any other helmet on the field. Third party testing by an independent, certified helmet testing facility has proven that, three years in a row. The AiR Advantage had lived out its useful life as a product and was discontinued when something better was developed.
2) How does the AiR Advantage compare to other top of the line helmets?
To truly understand this, I need to give you a brief on the current history of football helmets. Until 2003, pretty much all football helmets were about the same size and shape. What is called a traditional standoff helmet. ��Standoff�� is defined as the physical space between the helmet shell and player��s skull (the area into which helmet makers put padding). In 2003, the DNA Pro (from us) and the Riddell Revolution (from Riddell) helmets were introduced. These two helmets introduced ��large standoff�� helmets to the marketplace. Essentially, these helmets had a larger shell shape, which allowed helmet manufacturers to put in thicker padding. This improved helmet performance dramatically, as you would expect. Thicker padding will equate to better impact absorption. The same principle as answering the question ��If you were to fall from a 2nd story window, would you rather be wrapped in 10�� of padding or 20��?��
The AiR Advantage was the last of the traditional standoff helmets. When compared to other traditional standoff helmets, it performed well. In fact, the AiR Advantage scores better (2 stars vs 1 star in the STAR System) than the Riddell VSR4, which is the only other traditional standoff helmet in the marketplace. But when you compare it to top of the line helmets of today (all of which are large standoff helmets), it doesn��t perform as well. But that��s an extremely unfair comparison because you��re comparing technology of 15 years ago against today��s tech. The thing to remember, as well, is the AiR Advantage always exceeded NOCSAE standards �C otherwise it would never have been allowed on the field. Comparing foam padding to the technology of TPU is a loaded question and a contest foam padding will never win.
3) What is our opinion of the Virginia Tech helmet study?
We have questions and concerns about all attempts to rate the performance of helmets against each other in terms of reducing concussions. Football helmets do two things extremely well: they protect the skull and they absorb direct linear force impact. But direct linear force impact is but one of a myriad of factors that can cause concussions: rotational and shearing forces, time duration of impact, the medical history of the player, the environmental conditions at the time of the injury, the genetic history and makeup of the player. The list goes on and on. And a football helmet can do virtually nothing about any of these factors. THAT is the reason we don��t believe any company or organization can truthfully claim they have developed a system that is predictive of concussions. Our position is: no helmet is concussion proof and there is no scientific evidence behind the theory that one helmet does a better job than another of reducing the risk of concussions. In terms of the STAR Rating System, we think the conclusions they��re projecting are premature and may create a false sense of security with consumers who buy football helmets. We do know the STAR system heavily emphasizes the frequent, low-velocity impacts that occur during a football game or practice and de-emphasizes the less frequent, but more violent high-velocity impacts. Because our customers require us, in some instances, to provide them with 5-Star helmets, we have begun making the AiR XP Pro VTD and Vengeance VTD helmets. These two helmets are new to our product line and have produced the lowest scores of all helmets tested in the most recent STAR ratings (published today). But all of our VTD helmets will carry a hang tag that states: This VTD model is engineered to maximize performance per Virginia Tech STAR Protocol. As a result, when subjected to increased impact velocity and elevated temperatures, the VTD models absorb less impact than other Schutt models.
Director of Marketing Communications