Former NFL CB Shawn Springs is now a CEO at a startup aiming to make football safer

By Rachel Wold

Former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs went from being a first-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1997 to the CEO of a startup company that is creating new helmet technology.

Springs, who spent three years analyzing the helmet industry, has utilized parts of baby car seats as a means for a protective foam. The Crash Cloud system consists of airbags that are lightweight and soft, which after contact, disperse energy. The airbags quickly refill to protect the head from a second hit and so forth.

Springs explained the personal inspiration behind his project.

“It really started with my dad, and seeing him in a coma and that really made me start to think about the brain and the science of that stuff,” Springs told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. “And back in 2007 Congress called manufacturers to The Hill and the NFL got called in and concussions went from a new issue, to ‘The Death of Football,’ and people saying it won’t be around anymore and a lot of hysteria out there.”

Springs’ dad, Ron, was a NFL running back drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1979. He played six seasons for Dallas and two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Springs explained the process of how he went about the helmet project.

“I knew first and foremost I needed a great team of engineers, so I started researching and studying who were the top engineers in industrial science. It’s not that hard. When you were in class you could figure out pretty quickly who the smartest guys were, right? So you find the best engineering firms and watch them work, and you could tell, ‘OK, this dude is a rock star.’ And so you start recruiting them and plucking them off. ‘You work on infant car seat air bags? You were the innovator of the year? Okay, hmm.’ We went and got rock stars.”

What a brilliant mind Springs has. Not only does Springs want to improve safety for athletes on the field, he wants his product to provide for better helmets for those in the military, construction and kids at play. Springs explained how airbags in automobiles also inspired his invention.

“If they can do it for cars and jet engines, I know they can do it for helmets. So we took the airbag science — that is my secret sauce — and added foam and some really, really smart guys figured out a way to create this airbag model for me.”

Springs also has twin sons — both committed to colleges — and defensive backs like he was. His wishes are to work with Riddell and Schutt, rather than “to compete with the big boys.” He also says he does not wish to create a new product, just make the current one better.