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Nine finalists have been chosen by the NFL A. J. Cann Jersey , the Mayo Clinic and Comcast NBCUniversal in the league’s annual startup competition to spur novel advancements in athletes’ safety and performance.

Dubbed 1st and Future, entrepreneurs and innovators will compete in three categories: advancements in protective equipment; technology to improve athletic performance; and new therapies to speed recovery. One winner from each category will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of former NFL players, entrepreneurs and medical experts.

The winning team from each category will receive a $50,000 check from the NFL and two tickets to Super Bowl 52.

The finalists are:

Advancements in Protective Equipment

Exero Labs of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, which has developed a patent-pending concept for a leaf spring device that attaches to the front of football helmets and deforms on impact to help absorb and diffuse impact forces.

Impressio, Inc., Denver, utilizes liquid-crystal elastomers (LCEs) to create liner materials for protective equipment designed to overcome the existing challenges of energy absorption in current helmet foams.

VyaTek Sports, Inc., of Cave Creek, Arizona, is developing a new system called ZORBZ-a series of replaceable energy-absorbing modules fitted to the exterior of a helmet.

New Therapies to Speed Recovery

Cartilage Repair Systems LLC of New York aims to advance the treatment of cartilage injuries using a patented process to create new cartilage from a patient’s own cartilage and bone marrow cells in a single surgery, with the goal to shorten recovery times.

EyeGuide, Inc. of Philadelphia and Lubbock, Texas, a proprietary hardware and software eye-tracking platform designed to allow professionals to easily administer a simple 10-second test to check for potential neurological impairment.

RecoverX of Mountain View Marqise Lee Jersey , California, has Element, a connected device that can achieve the optimum cold or hot therapy temperatures without any ice or water, designed to allow users more freedom for their therapy.

Technology to Improve Athletic Performance

Aladdin Dreamer, Inc. of Paradise Valley, Arizona, whose patented wearable is designed to improve athlete recovery and performance through biometric tracking and sleep enhancement.

Curv.ai of Toronto is an athlete development platform that leverages patent-pending computer vision and augmented reality to transform the camera on any mobile device into a versatile tool that captures human motion, measures athletic abilities and evaluates injury risk.

Xensr, Inc. of Green Bay, Wisconsin has Konect Sports technology, an end-to-end three-dimensional motion tracking, training and quantification system designed to provide real-time athlete performance data and train athletes to have faster reflexive responses.

The countdown to the Patrick Mahomes II era in Kansas City began the moment the Chiefs traded up to select the strong-armed quarterback in the first round of last year’s draft.

Officially, it is down to about six weeks.

Practically, it has already reached zero.

The Chiefs agreed to trade veteran quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins late Monday, a deal that will become official with the start of the new league year on March 14. In doing so, the Chiefs made a bold statement that they’re ready for Mahomes, a prolific passer during his college days at Texas Tech Telvin Smith Jersey , to assume the starting job for the foreseeable future.

Mahomes dazzled coach Andy Reid and his staff during training camp, making the kinds of downfield throws that Smith could never accomplish. And when he made his regular-season debut in Week 17, when the Chiefs were already assured of the AFC West title and the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, he not only played well but returned in the fourth quarter to lead the winning drive against the Broncos.

It was the kind of performance – and the kind of moxie – that made Reid draw comparisons to another of his prot锟絞锟絪 from his days with the Packers: Brett Favre.

Those are big shoes to fill. Then again, so are the ones Smith is leaving behind.

For all the angst he caused fans by going 1-4 in the playoffs, Smith succeeded in stabilizing a franchise that had been turning over quarterbacks for years. He went 50-26 as a starter and made a couple of Pro Bowl appearances, setting a slew of franchise records in the process.

”Alex, you are the definition of a true leader and your professionalism helped me grow as a player,” Chiefs offensive guard Laurence Duvernay-Tardif said in a statement posted to Twitter.

”Can’t say enough about the type of friend and teammate Alex Smith has been since getting to Kansas City,” Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman said, adding ”the Sherman family will miss the Smith family.”

Yet the Chiefs knew they were going to move on from Smith in part because of the hefty price tag that came with the final year of his contract. And his strong performance last season made Smith a hot commodity with at least five teams along with the Redskins.

That bidding war, even this early in the offseason, drove up the Chiefs’ asking price.

They wound up solving more than one problem in the trade with Washington: The Chiefs, drained of draft picks by previous trades, got a third-round choice in April; they acquired Kendall Fuller, one of the league’s top slot cornerbacks and a potential starter on the outside opposite Marcus Peters; and they freed up nearly $16 million in salary cap space to make additional moves in free agency.

Kansas City now has a pick in the second round and two in the third, along with selections in the later rounds Dante Fowler Jr Jersey , which could be used to address other pressing issues on defense.

Fuller certainly addressed one of them. He was a first-round talent who dropped to the third round coming out of Virginia Tech because of injury concerns, yet has played to a first-round grade – and stayed healthy – during his first two seasons with in the league. Scot McCloughan, the former Redskins general manager who drafted him in 2016, said on Twitter shortly after news of the trade broke: ”I would never have traded Kendall. He can play inside and outside, he’s high character, young and a football player.”

He’s also a bargain. Fuller will count $647,500 against the salary cap in 2018 and $750,000 the next season, giving the Chiefs a starting-caliber cornerback at a discount rate.

The Chiefs are expected to free up additional cap space by restructuring or moving on from some of their veterans, such as linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson. That in turn gives them some financial flexibility to sign some of their young stars to long-term deals – Peters and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, for example – or pursue help for their shortcomings in free agency.

They could still use help in the defensive backfield, linebacker and pass rush remains an issue, the offensive line needs additional depth and the wide receiver corps could use another target.

Now that the Chiefs have found a trade partner for Smith, the work in those areas begins.