Xenith’s Building the Enlightened Warrior

Vin Ferrara is the CEO of Xenith and believes that he has found a way to make a football helmet that could revolutionize the game in terms of concussive episodes.  The X1 helmet is used by a very small number of professional players, because they are not provided by the NFL/team due to contracts with Riddell and other makers.

Mr. Ferrara is working hard on getting his product out, including great programs with lower level football, extending down to the high school level and earlier.  There is a purchasing program they have developed to get these helmets on heads as fast as possible.

I have yet to work with these helmets at my school, however I have convinced the administration and coaches to purchase some for our use.  It’s a tough task to eliminate the concussions, and we probably will not, but prevention is the best medicine, as well as being prepared.

Please click on the link to the left (Enlightened Warrior) to see what Mr. Ferrara has in mind and has put on paper.  Here is a quote:

First and foremost, anyone involved in athletics should believe that prevention of neurological injury is of paramount importance. An undercurrent of “concussions are inevitable, we just have to manage them” permeates the sports world. Just because some concussions may still occur, this does not warrant an attitude of complete resignation towards preventing the injury. Prevention is possible. Prevention is critical.

I would also like to thank Mr. Ferrara for recognizing the importance of certified athletic trainers as well.

15 thoughts on “Xenith’s Building the Enlightened Warrior

  1. BigCat October 18, 2010 / 18:55

    Saying the helmets are not provided to teams is incorrect. Players can wear any helmet they choose. The reason there are so few of these helmets being worn in the NFL is that the test results of all helmet testing done by the NFL was released to off of its teams. It is a fact that the Xenith helmet performs VERY poorly on high impact hits. The harder the hit the greater the difference in performance between the Xenith and the other up-to-date helmets. Xenith likes to spin it saying the “pulled out of the flawed test”, but they only did this after all helmets were tested and the results became known.

    Please get your facts straight. Saying that a player in the NFL can or can not wear a particular helmet because of a contract is completley false.

    Big Cat

    • Dustin Fink October 18, 2010 / 19:11

      Thanks Big Cat. Love the response. You are correct that players can choose what ever helmet they want. I don’t think I insinuated that they COULD NOT wear a helmet of their choosing. I just stated that there are contracts the NFL has with Riddell and others. If you are privy to the actual test results and that is your conclusion then fine. What I am merely opining is that there are other options out there, including the X1.
      Also the older versions of the Riddell, Schutt, and even the outdated Bike helmet need to be addressed. Right now the players can get “grandfathered” into the style/year helmet they came in the league with.
      Regardless, helmet technology needs to be addressed. Virginia Tech is doing good things looking into the localized hits by position, thus being able to “create” a lineman helmet, db helmet, etc.

      Again thanks for the comment!

      • BigCat October 18, 2010 / 19:35

        No doubt the “older” model helmets need to go by the wayside. The problem is they still pass NOCSAE guidelines. In my opinion, it’s time for NOCSAE to get on board with the newer technology out there. With that being said, the X1 tests fairly close to the Riddell VSR-4 and Schutt Air Advantage in harder hits…to me, that is an issue. They are selling on having the latest technology yet it just doesn’t protect to the level they are preaching. I would love to see any test results they prove me wrong. I have just yet to find anything positive about the helmet that has not come directly from the company itself.

        The VT study is awesome. Several other schools, Oklahoma, UNC, Az State, are also using the system that registers the impacts of all hits…pretty impressive stuff. I know there are even a couple high schools that are taking part.

        Big Cat

      • Dustin Fink October 18, 2010 / 20:21

        One high school is in our conference. If I could write a grant for $65,000 I would love to have it at our school. I would love to put the sensors in the X1 as well…

      • Damon Ferrara October 19, 2010 / 09:33

        Big Cat,

        I have worked with Xenith since the X1 was certified for play through NOCSAE in 2007 and wanted to engage in a bit of dialogue with you. I did my best to keep this as short as possible.

        If you are not aware, the results on Xenith’s NOCSAE certification tests in 2007, the only official standard for football helmets, were so positive that some of the country’s top sports concussion experts heaped praise on the X1 in a front page New York Times article about Xenith and the X1. The article contains comments such as ‘greatest advance in helmet design in 30 years’ and ‘could take helmet protection to a whole new level.’ Please visit the News section at http://www.xenith.com to find links to this article and about 40 other media pieces that have focused on Xenith over the last few years. While the pieces may appear on our company’s website, they certainly weren’t produced by our company as you imply. We also have pages of player and parent testimonials thanking our company for our commitment to not only innovation but education. As evidenced by the ‘Building The Enlightened Warrior’ document (which I encourage you to read), we are not just selling a helmet, we are advocating a multi-faceted strategy.

        I’m curious where you received your information about the widely criticized NFL helmet testing protocol because it contains a number of inaccuracies. I’m happy to forward you a number of independent articles from outlets like ESPN.com and the New York Times as well as the US Congress that directly challenges the testing methodology and the people driving the testing (who have since been removed of their duties) as well as the company whose helmets were used to CREATE the testing apparatus. I can also pass on Xenith’s direct response to the testing which should shed some further light on the situation.

        In short, the X1 was designed to perform comparably to other helmets on the market at these extreme, illegal, helmet to helmet high impact hits and far better at low and medium impacts that constitute the vast majority of impacts players receive throughout their careers. Poorly managed low and medium impacts increase the risk of acute concussive episodes and expose players to higher risk of long-term cognitive diseases such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopothy (CTE), early onset Alzheimers and Lou Gehrig’s disease. CTE is also referred to as ‘Boxer’s Dementia’. In the long run, is a boxer more damaged by the thousands of jabs he received during his career or the few big right hands?

        Xenith will be the first to tell you that there is no quick solution to an issue as complicated as limiting brain injury in a sport as violent as football; that is why we present a long term solution that includes equal parts innovation and education. In actuality, the strategy is pretty simple, do your best to keep your head out of the play, limit illegal blind-sided hits on defenseless players and put yourself in the best technology to deal with all levels of impact. Respect yourself and your opponent.

        The true elephant in the room is not acute concussions, it is the long term risk of cognitive disease due to repeated impacts. A concussion can be subjective; there is nothing subjective about protein build up on the brain.

        Xenith is just as concerned about preventing an athlete from wasting a way in some nursing home as we are about an athlete suffering a catastrophic injury on national TV.

        If you or anyone else would like to continue this dialogue or wants access to further information, please email me at dferrara@xenith.com.


        Damon Ferrara

      • Dustin Fink October 19, 2010 / 10:56

        Damon thank you for the comment and dialogue. This is what the concussion blog is all about, discussion and finding results. Without conflict/discussion we cannont have resolution. Without resolution we cannont have progress. Without progress there are no results.

        I will also post stories on the Revo Speed in the near future. As well as the ION-4D…

  2. BigCat October 19, 2010 / 15:56

    I think this is a very “healthy” discussion we have going here…I hope you guys do as well.

    Damon, are you saying the X1 tests better on the NOCSAE drop tests than any other helmet on the market? I’m assuming you are since you said “far better at low and medium impacts”, and to the best of my knowledge there is no other way to test for low to moderate impacts. If I’m misreading, please let me know.

    Dustin, thanks for having this forum so we can have this discussion. And after reading my 1st comment again I may owe you any apology for the “please get your facts straight” comment. I wish I would have done a little proof reading before hitting the post button.

    Big Cat

  3. Dustin Fink October 19, 2010 / 16:50

    Not a problem Big Cat. I appreciate the cander. We need more of this, instead of chest thumping! I think it is great the Damon responded and you are listening and asking questions instead of dismissing out of hand!

    • BigCat October 19, 2010 / 17:17

      “He who asks a question is a fool for a moment, he who doesn’t is a fool forever”…I think thats how is goes.

      I believe that it is important that people become as educated as possible on all aspects of football saftey. While I do have my opinions, I will always keep an open mind. And I really do think this is a great open conversation we are having. If at any time I have come across as disrespectful, I apologize, it is not how it was intended.

      Big Cat

  4. Damon Ferrara October 19, 2010 / 17:04

    Big Cat,

    As you may be aware, the NOCSAE standard, employs a “drop test” in which a helmeted “headform” is dropped (or mechanically accelerated) from a given height onto a fixed surface. The force of the impact is measured by accelerometers in the headform. The test is conducted from a number of heights and angles, ‘intended’ to replicate the different impact levels a player will experience in a game.

    Performance on the test is represented in units known as SI (Severity Index). The SI is a measurement of the linear acceleration of the head form; in general, a higher SI represents a greater potential for injury. The standards for NOCSAE certification were implemented over 30 years ago and were set at a SI of 1200 because that is the zone in which the risk of skull fractures increase (with the advent of plastic shells and facemasks, skull fractures were the concern of that time period). While there is no clear cut SI number at which mild traumatic brain injuries such as concussions occur (since the injury depends on a number of variables) , some academic studies suggest concussions occur from an SI closer to 300. Therefore, helmet standards do not require that a helmet achieve performance levels correlated to concussions; provided the helmet achieves impacts of below 1200 SI, the helmet is certified.

    While the NOCSAE certification tests are the most widely accepted lab metric to assess helmet performance, it certainly has its limitations- namely, that it fails to account for the effect rotational acceleration may have on the brain and really only measure the amount of external force applied rather than the response of the head and brain. We agree that helmet testing standards need to evolve to address the better understanding we have about the workings of the brain than we did 30 years ago.

    With regards to your direct question about Xenith’s performance on the NOCSAE testing, I ask you to read the New York Times article I referenced in my previous post; it will tell you everything you need to know about the NOCSAE testing. As a matter of fact, NOCSAE explicitly states that laboratory data cannot be used for comparative purposes regarding a helmet’s ability to reduce the risk of concussive episodes. This requirement should cause a person to further question why the lab results of a tainted and flawed test such as the roundly criticized ‘linear impactor test’ should have ever seen the light of day.

    Please read the New York Times article at:


    I’m happy to communicate further with you at that point.



    • BigCat October 19, 2010 / 17:11

      Then how do you measure, and then proclaim, that the X1 performs “far better at low and medium impacts”?

  5. Damon Ferrara October 19, 2010 / 17:19

    Big Cat,

    Did you read the New York Times article?

    Direct quote below:

    ‘Optimally, a helmet’s interior must be forgiving enough to cushion against a routine impact while also sturdy enough to withstand a potentially lethal one — each level of force requires a different response from the material.

    To earn certification, a helmet is impact-tested at dozens of forces and angles, with the energy it still allows to reach the skull measured by what is called severity index. The helmet must always score at 1,200 or below on the severity index because that is the zone that causes fractured skulls, the injury whose prevention historically has been emphasized — quite successfully — in football. Concussions become likely at a severity index of about 300; the certification agency has feared demanding that level of protection because of potential sacrifices it might mean at higher levels.

    During its certification test this month, the Xenith helmet scored in the 200’s in several key locations and averaged about 340, scores generally lower than those attained by today’s helmet designs. The certification agency’s executive director, Mike Oliver, strongly cautioned against comparing test scores because differences are not as meaningful as they appear.’



  6. Damon Ferrara October 19, 2010 / 17:52

    Big Cat,

    I appreciate the dialogue as well.

    This story is still being written. Please continue to keep an open mind and we’ll continue to innovate. We plan on playing a positive role in athletics for many years to come.

    And, look out for the batting helmet because that’s coming next. 😉



    • BigCat October 26, 2010 / 17:35

      I did read the article, but have yet to read anything where you can say your helmet performs so much better than other helmets that are on the market.

  7. Richard Tucker February 16, 2012 / 13:55

    What many coaches don’t understand or know about, is the fact that many helmet reconditioners don’t have spare parts that fit the Xenith helmets. Some of those reconditioners will send Xenith helmets back to schools without reconditioning them because they don’t want to purchase and stock their expensive parts. They are too much trouble to work on, too expensive, and many helmet reconditioners just don’t want to mess with them.

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