Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will wear a custom-made protective vest to protect his injured right shoulder when Pittsburgh hosts the San Diego Chargers Sunday.
The Steelers asked Unequal Technologies to create the vest using Concussion Reduction Technology - CRT - padding which is currently being used by Steelers linebacker James Harrison and safety Ryan Clark.
CRT is a set of thin pads which are placed in the helmet between the usual padding and the players' head. The pad in front of the shoulder is 8mm - about 1/3 of an inch - thick. The foam theoretically disperses the energy released by a hit, thus reducing the effect on the recipient of said hit, according to the company.
BTSC reported from a news conference held by Unequal Technologies Oct. 17, with Harrison in attendance.
Harrison started using CRT in his helmet during the 2011 season after his orbital bone was broken. The pads are a sort of sandwich of Dupont Kevlar and energy-dispersing foam. Harrison had first heard about the material, which was originally created for military applications, when Michael Vick wore a vest lined with the material to protect his broken ribs.
The material, called "Unequal Composite," has come full circle in the Steelers' locker room.
Harrison said was impressed when he first put the padding in his helmet and didn't get a typical post-game headache.
Clark suffered at least two concussions this season, with one of them coming against Washington in Week 8. Upon being cleared to play in Week 9 against the Giants, he elected to wear a special outsized helmet with CRT pads, which meant an even bigger helmet to accommodate them. Apparently they have been effective. Clark doesn't appear to have changed his playing style.
According to the manufacturer, at least some players in the majority of NFL locker rooms are using their protective products. Although the material isn't particularly thick, it is surprisingly heavy for its size, and players are very resistant to adding any weight to their gear. However, given all of the evidence coming out about the long-term effects of head injuries, you would think more players would be using it. According to Steelers quarterback and NFLPA Executive Committee member Charlie Batch, somewhere between a half dozen and a dozen Steelers use this material in their helmets (safety Troy Polamalu was one he did name).
Given the beatings Roethlisberger sometimes takes on the field, I guess I would personally feel better about it if he were covered from head to toe with the stuff. But given also how much better the offensive line has played, we can hope the efficacy of the material isn't tested. However, if it is, at least we know it is Deebo approved.