New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is wearing a new helmet for the first time in more than a decade this season, but the change has been mostly seamless so far.
“I really like it,” Brady told reporters Wednesday of his new helmet. “It’s been a good transition, a smooth transition, which is all I can ask for.”
Brady, 41, has long worn the Riddell VSR-4, which was outlawed by the league this offseason in efforts to improve player safety. Like others who have previously worn the model, Brady could have stayed with it for the 2018 season, but opted to make the change now before it is outlawed for all players in 2019.
After sticking with the VSR-4 at summer minicamp, Brady switched for training camp to the Riddell Precision Fit SpeedFlex, a popular model worn by many, including Peyton Manning in his final NFL season. Its hexagonal panel just above the facemask — which is designed to flex upon contact — represents a jarring visual departure from the seamless dome Brady has sported for ages.
“I’ve been wearing a very old helmet for a long period of time, but it’s worked pretty well, too,” Brady said. “That’s why I’ve been a little hesitant to change.
“I think there are still a few little tweaks I’d like, but for the most part, it’s really comfortable. I asked the guys, ‘Do I look any younger or faster in it?’ They said yes, so I feel like I might keep it.”
The major focus for Brady is to maintain a wide field of vision, maximizing what he can see from the pocket without disrupting any sightlines.
“You’ve seen something a certain way for a long period of time, so I like as much vision as possible with the peripheral vision,” Brady said. “It’s all important, it all matters, so yeah, just making sure it’s kind of similar to what the experience has always been.
“Like I said, there’s still some tweaks to go and I’m working it out. But overall, hopefully the helmet provides more protection.”
Brady didn’t get into detail on the tweaks, but they presumably relate to the facemask, which he wants to remain open but also prevent too many fingers from reaching his face.
“It hasn’t happened often in my career, but I’ve had a few hands get through the mask a little bit,” Brady said. “Typically quarterbacks have much more open, like receivers probably do, with the vision. The more you can have, the better.”
Brady is one of a few prominent quarterbacks who had previously used helmets that are now on the NFL’s disallowed list. New Orleans Saints signal-caller Drew Brees also wore the VSR-4 during offseason workouts before switching to the Precision Fit SpeedFlex during training camp, while Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is still wearing his Schutt Air XP Pro, which he will not be allowed to wear after this season.
—Field Level Media