Shawn Springs – Making a Windpact
Shawn Springs delivered his share of hits over 7 seasons as a Seahawks cornerback, and he took a few hits as well.
On December 12, 2004, Springs, then with the Washington Redskins, was blindsided by a block from Philadelphia Eagles fullback Josh Parry. He was knocked cold for 10 minutes, and when he regained consciousness he had no memory of the hit. His mind was foggy for two weeks, and he sat out the following game.
Seven years after that hit, Springs founded Windpact, a company solely focused on helmet impact protection. The company’s aim is to mitigate linear and rotational forces in any field, whether that be sports, automotive, military or any other.
However, given Springs’ 13-year career in the NFL and the fact his twin sons Samari and Skyler now play college ball at Richmond and Georgetown, respectively, football is part of the focus.
Windpact’s patented technology, Crash Cloud, uses small air-filled compartments inside the helmet that can be compressed during impact, and then refill with air to regain their shape.
“We like to say we pride ourselves in understanding the impact,” Springs explained. “What’s so unique and different about our technology is it’s all an energy managing system. The simplest way to understand it is if you jump off the side of a building and you land on a mattress, that’s the absorption technology. That’s what you see in most helmets, whether it’s an expanded polystyrene or some type of foam. Then if you land on an air bag, that’s dispersal technology. Our technology is the only tech out on the market that’s a combination of both.”
As the CEO of Windpack, Springs is looking forward to touting his wares at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, 2019, in Las Vegas.
“I clearly understand the importance of impact protection,” he said. “I felt a lot of pain from not having the right helmet. The importance, the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries—in sports, in soldiers, people who are in accidents—that’s something we talk about every day at Windpact. It’s bigger than building the next catcher’s mask. There are lives and loved ones who are actually involved.”
In New England, during his lone season with the Patriots, Springs befriended the president of Safety 1st, a manufacturer of child car seats. The president insisted that Springs take one of the company’s seats, which he said provided the most protection for a growing child. Springs learned all about the tech behind the seat, and he was hooked.
“With my father being a professional football player (Ron Springs-RB, Tampa Bay and Dallas), he always prepared me to use football as a platform for my next thing,” Springs said. “I watched him retire, and had him telling me these are the steps, develop relationships, meet with people, because 10 years from now those guys are the ones who can help you. I took a lot of that advice and inside knowledge. I made sure to develop a network I could lean on and pull from at any time. My father said, ‘While you’re playing, put all your effort into playing. But there is a life after football, so take care of your body and your mind.’”
Now Springs is helping current athletes do the same. When you hear him talk about this new chapter in his life, you hear someone describing a mission. This isn’t a job, it’s not a company. It’s a pursuit.
Once a ball-hawking star cornerback, Springs knows a thing or two about pursuit.
“There’s an emergence in people who love to be healthy and who love tech,” Springs said. “With Windpact, we want people to realize that everyone is invested in this. We’re starting to see people with smart watches, people thinking, ‘What’s my blood pressure right now?’ What about this? The mom taking groceries out of her car, the grandma who still wants to ride bikes with grandchildren, tourists skiing in the Alps, we’re all athletes. Sports is in the fabric of our society.”