In the past ten or so years, technology has skyrocketed in the NFL. From the equipment to injury protocol to the game itself, the league has evolved along with seemingly everything else.
The game has gotten faster, the players have gotten stronger, and medical attention has drastically increased. There is no such thing as “getting your bell rung” anymore- the concussion protocol is rigorous, as it should be after this year’s monstrous lawsuit filed by former NFL players.
But in this age of technology, what is really needed is less of it.
The helmet has gone from a rudimentary skull protector to a full-blown weapon, prompting players to use that weapon to make bone-crunching hits and dislodge the ball.
Blame can’t be placed on the players- they’ve been given this tool under the rules, so why not use it?
I know the rules have been altered to try and limit this, but concussions are just as prevalent now as they ever were, and something needs to change.
Taking away the technology of the helmet would greatly reduce concussions in the NFL. I know it seems backward, but in this case, less is more. The helmets used today are so hard and strong that they not only protect players from blows to the head, but dish them out as well. Take this weapon away from players, and they won’t go head-to-head for risk of their own injury.
Take a look at rugby for instance. Head-to-head hits are far less prominent because the players don’t wear helmets and want to protect their own melon. Even in hockey head-to-head hits and concussions are less likely, because players don’t wear facemasks and their helmets are far lighter.
The easy solution for Roger Goodell and the NFL is to get rid of high-tech helmets and go back to the basics. A softer helmet without a facemask isn’t a weapon, and would make players think twice before launching themselves headfirst at another player.
With technology what it is today, there would be no problem engineering a softer helmet that still would provide protection from contact with the ground or a knee.
Along with these helmets, other changes would likely need to be made. Shoulder pads may have to be softened so that players would be less likely to suffer a concussion due to a shoulder-to-helmet hit.
The reward, however, would be well worth the change. The game would be safer, players would be flagged less for helmet-to-helmet hits, and your fantasy stud would miss less time due to concussion-like symptoms.
Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny