SBJ Tech: NFL playoffs boosting awareness for concussion prevention device

Sports Business Journal

January 18, 2023

Q-Collar benefitting from national exposure during NFL playoffs

I wasn’t the only one who noticed several players in the Cowboys’ 31-14 victory over the Buccaneers on Monday night wearing Q-Collars, a blood compression device aimed at preventing concussions, around their necks. This story from my colleague Joe Lemire, published in 2021, was one of SBJ’s five most-read stories on Monday.

The technology’s high-profile exposure during the final game of the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend, which garnered more than 30 million viewers in the best playoff game on record for ABC/ESPN, came from Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz, who had two touchdowns, Dallas running back Tony Pollard, and Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Out of those three, only Pollard is an official Q-Collar ambassador, and one of eight in the NFL. Q30 Innovations VP/Sports Marketing Suzanne Williams said Schultz, who has been wearing the device all season, learned about Q-Collar through his agent, Steve Caric, who works with other fellow Stanford grads, like Seahawks tight end and Q-Collar proponent Colby Parkinson.

Q-Collar’s word-of-mouth approach is often so hands-off that when we spoke yesterday, Williams wasn’t entirely sure how Winfield, who started wearing one after he missed several games because of a concussion, was introduced to the device. The same goes for many of the 30-40 players throughout the league that have sported one this season.

“It really is true grassroots because it’s athlete to athlete talking about it,” she says. “And that’s really how it spreads.”

Grassroots marketing, open communication cited for quick growth

Q-Collar has sold multiple devices to four NFL teams this year, according to Williams, with no opposition from the league office on players wearing the FDA-approved device.

The NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee has been briefed on Q-Collar multiple times, Williams said, along with the NFLPA and the league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills. “That’s part of the reason why the NFL has been supportive of letting athletes wear it, because they do know about it,” Williams adds.

No official partnership talks are underway, but this fall was by far the most use Q-Collar has seen from NFL and college football players, per Williams. The company after a successful deal with the Professional Lacrosse League in March began to make an effort with agents and trainers to get the word out on its product, which first gained notoriety from Luke Kuechly back in 2017.

“We really wanted it to be the organic version of: They’re in the locker room with 53 other guys. They’re wearing it, they love it. They feel good wearing it and they want to tell other guys in the locker room about it,” Williams said.

Ultimately, Q-Collar hopes players will be advocates for their own health. “I’m really trying to drive that, making sure athletes know what it is, how it works and have an opportunity to try it,” Williams said.

The many uses of facial recognition tech

This morning’s episode of “The Daily” podcast from The New York Times exploring companies’ use of facial recognition technology on customers was quite timely. SBJ yesterday published an in-depth look from my colleague Andrew Cohen on how biometrics technology is impacting several key areas in the sports industry and the current deployments of facial recognition technology in the business today.

The Times’ popular show examined how Madison Square Garden Entertainment has employed facial recognition tech to put some lawyers – specifically those repping clients who are suing MSG — on an “exclusion list” to keep them out of concerts and sporting events, via facial recognition tech, at the iconic New York arena. That’s especially fitting since venue security and facial ticketing are among the seven topics spotlighted in Cohen’s piece.

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