By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Former New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko was known as much for his off-field work as much as his work on special teams during his NFL career. Now retired, Mesko has shifted his focus to tackling perhaps the biggest issue facing football at all levels in the 21st century: head trauma.

According to a story by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Mesko is working for a small company called Impact Labs to develop a patent-pending “impact reduction device” called the EXO1. Mesko and fellow Michigan alum Benjamin Rizzo developed the technology, backed by a team of Harvard students, by focusing more on “the area outside of the helmet than the inside.”

Mesko’s inspiration to explore head trauma in football came from his own experience: as the Michigan Wolverines punter during the Senior Bowl in 2010, he fell flat on his face (“literally and figuratively,” as he put it) and momentarily blacked out. Mesko believes he suffered a concussion on the play, but never reported it for fear of hurting his chances of making the NFL – an entirely different issue altogether for athletes who suffer head injuries.

“I am very grateful to be working on such a project with such a great team. There’s a long road ahead, but we will do everything we can to make a difference!” said Mesko in a Facebook post about his newest project. Ultimately, Mesko hopes to “positively impact youngsters playing football after watching an ESPN special on a player who returned to action from a concussion too soon.”

Mesko never reported a concussion during his 56-game NFL career with the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Matt Dolloff is a writer for His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at


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