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December 2008

December 2008

Reshaping the Shoulder Pad Industry – Again

© December 2008

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It’s not often a man has the opportunity to change his world. Even fewer men get the chance to do it twice. J.C. Wingo is about to change the world of football for the second time.

Twenty years ago, Wingo introduced a revolutionary new shoulder pad featuring an all-new technology called the Air Management System. That new design, the Wingo Power Pad™, soon became the standard by which all other shoulder pads were judged. The Power Pad™ has been the leading shoulder pad in the NFL for years.

But, all good things come to an end. Wingo believes the popularity of air management shoulder pads has peaked and players are ready for “the next big thing.”

“Air management can still be a marginally effective way to absorb force, but the way most shoulder pad manufacturers do it anymore renders it useless,” says Wingo. “You need at least 1" of foam to form a legitimate air management system, but now – in their quest to make lighter and smaller equipment – they've reduced their pads to 1/2” and, now, the pads bottom out, providing little protection”

Now, Wingo is once again ready to raise the bar on shoulder pad protection and performance, this time with Schutt Sports.

Already the world’s #1 maker of football helmets and faceguards, Schutt is now ready to shake up a shoulder pad market that’s lagging behind and lacking innovation.

Wingo, the Executive Director of Football Development for Schutt, has unleashed the AiR Flex™ shoulder pads – the culmination of years of research and development.

“The AiR Flex™ was tested by an independent lab and the results showed that it absorbs 66% more force of a tackle than the Power Pad™,” says Wingo. “That’s just not improving shoulder pad performance, that’s lapping the field.”

The AiR Flex™ features Brock Beaded Quilt Technology – a system of protection that jams thousands of small Brock beads inside a quilted liner. Those beads interact with each other, packing the impact absorption of several inches of foam into a lightweight, low profile.

Brock Beaded Quilt Technology fights off bacteria to the point where there is zero bacteria growth on the beads. The pads are treated with the AEGIS® anti-microbial system that won’t leech onto skin, won’t wear off, is active 24/7 and is registered with the EPA.

Raised corrugations in the arch add strength to the AiR Flex™ and the entire shoulder pad is designed to be a virtual wind tunnel – moving hot air and excess moisture away from the player’s body and allowing the body to cool itself naturally. The arch and sub-arch are ventilated, while 5mm ventilation holes are drilled throughout the arch.

Most shoulder pads claim to be lightweight and may start off that way, but by the end of the third quarter, they’ve absorbed all of the player’s sweat and can weigh 20-30% more than they originally did.

“Because other manufacturers wrap 200 dinnear nylon around the exterior of the foam padding, there’s nowhere for the moisture to go,” explains Wingo. “The athlete sweats; that sweat is soaked into the foam and then it’s supposed to be evaporated away. Instead, with other pads, it’s blocked by the nylon and stays soaked in the foam padding. That greatly increases the overall weight of the pad. Plus, sweat is the body’s natural way of keeping cool. If that sweat can’t go anywhere, the core body temperature of the athlete goes way up.”

The AiR Flex™ also features another Wingo innovation – shoulder pads without epaulets. Two of the six models available in the AiR Flex™ line are designed without epaulets. The ultimate in low profile shoulder pads, these non-epaulet models give opponents nothing to grab onto – a big advantage available only from Schutt.

Shoulder pads are a big investment for a team, with premium quality pads costing as much as $300 or more. In order to get the most bang for their buck, teams recondition their shoulder pads on a regular, if not annual basis.

“We’ve designed the AiR Flex to be extremely easy to recondition. The liner is attached with Velcro®, so it’s easy for the reconditioner to remove it,” says Wingo. “That extends the life of the product and maximizes the return on a team’s investment in their equipment.”

The underlying technology to the AiR Flex™ doesn’t stop at the top. Schutt has migrated the features of the AiR Flex™ throughout their entirely re-built shoulder pad lineup: Extreme Flex™, Armor Flex™, XV Flex™ and Varsity Flex™ at the varsity level, as well as the Mid Flex™ and Y Flex™ at the youth level.

Will the new AiR Flex™ shoulder pads from Schutt Sports change the game of football the same way the Power Pad™ did 20 years ago? Well, if a man can change his world once, why can’t he do it again?

For more information: 800.426.9784 •

ION 4D™ Wins Best in Show Award at 2008 NATA Convention

The new ION 4D™ football helmet from Schutt Sports really wowed the audience at the 2008 National Athletic Trainers Association Convention, winning the Best in Show Award in Sports Equipment and Apparel in St. Louis.

“The athletic trainers are a notoriously tough crowd to please and they should be,” says Dave Rossi, of Schutt Sports. “After all, the safety of the players is in their hands, so I’m glad they’re extremely diligent about what new equipment they’ll put on players. The fact that attendees at their convention voted the ION 4D™ the Best in Show is a tribute to our entire ION team and something we’re very proud of.”

The ION 4D™ features design and engineering never before utilized in a football helmet. The helmet uses SKYDEX2™ TPU Cushioning, a cushioning system that absorbs up to 55% more force from impact than its top competitor. In addition, the ION 4D™ also features the Energy Wedge Faceguard, a completely new design that acts as a shock absorber for direct frontal impacts to the helmet.

“Our designers were able to incorporate technology and features that do more to protect players from the force of impacts than other helmets,” said Rossi. “Instead of measuring how hard a player just got hit, we focused on preventing as much of that force as possible from actually hitting a player. We also spent a great deal of effort creating a helmet that performs its best at temperatures consistent with game-like conditions, not at room temperature like most helmets. In our mind, those are better places to focus our efforts and this award shows we’re on the right track.”


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