What the Hell is Wrong with People? Concussion Edition

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One day current polycarbonate football helmets will be considered as archaic as this cowhide relic

According to an AP article from yesterday, your homeboy, DeSean Jackson, will be donning some fresh new headgear this week.  A helmet made by Schutt uses air pockets to add extra cushioning to absorb the impact of blows to the head.  In fact, if you do a little Google work, you will discover that almost every major helmet manufacturer is now designing a similar helmet.

Djac_helmetD-Jac's new thang

Now, here comes the interesting part.  The NFL, who in the last few weeks has handed out a few hundred thousand dollars worth of fines to players for "dangerous hits," has not made such headgear mandatory.  This is an interesting contradiction if you ask me.  It begs the question, is the NFL really concerned with the safety of players, or are they satisfied with the current state of the game so long as they have carte blanche to use any aggressive players as scapegoats when something goes awry?

The league executives can not be blind to the fact that fans are drawn to the bone jarring collisions of pro football.  It is pretty clear by their marketing campaigns and comercials that they use this aspect of the game as a promotional tool.  They sit there and hand out fines from the ivory tower for the same hits that make them all rich, knowing full well that the technology is out there to keep their cash crop of star players safe.

Even though the league should take the decision out of their hands, the onus really falls on the players.  How stupid is this really?  Hey, does anybody want a concussion?  No?  Didn't think so.  So why not wear the new helmets?

Ah yes, money.  

Players are allowed to wear the Schutt helmet, obviously, but they have to remove any logos from it due to licensing agreements with the league (Riddell, the maker of the more traditional helmet, has a contract with the NFL).  

The only other reason players might not be wearing the new helmets is the cool factor. Look at the Mets' David Wright as an example.  Nobody wants to look like that.  Everybody wants to look cool.

But concussions aren't cool, yo.

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18 Responses

  1. Gregg Easterbrook on ESPN.com wrote this week about the league not mandating specific helmets and their potential fear of liability if they recommend a specific model, then a player does indeed get a brain injury. My guess is that it’s more about the fear of liability than just appeasing sponsors. The relevant section is about 3/4 of the way down the article under the sub-headline “Does Recommending a Helmet Cause Liability?”
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/101102_tuesday_morning_quarterback&sportCat=nfl
    Long story short, a lawyer did some off-the-cuff analysis of the situation and said that their fear of liability is unfounded, though, of course, the opinion of one lawyer does not make for the “correct” legal status of a specific issue.

  2. I really hope the NFL has a strike on the scale of the latest MLB and NHL strikes.
    THE NFL IS SIMPLY TOO POWERFUL.
    This may seem like an overreaction, but it’s really true. The NFL is out of control. The NFL is one of the most sickeningly greedy organizations that I have ever observed. Yes, I know it’s a business and they have a right to make money, but I don’t think they seem to understand one huge things: sports in this country are more than a business, they are part of our culture. Let’s look at some actions that qualify are terrible or arrogant or both:
    – Absurd demands on cable operators at the launch of the NFL Network
    – Wanting to expand the season to 18 games
    – Signing an exclusive deal with EA
    – Having deals with Reebok where they get to fine players for having their hair over the back of the name on their jersey (JERSEYS SHOULDN’T HAVE NAMES ON THEM ANYWAY!)
    – Fining a guy like Mike Nolan for paying tribute to his dad by wearing a suit on the sidelines instead of the horribly unprofessional garbage they typically have for them to choose from
    By all means, bring on the strike. Please. Only good can come from it. Maybe it could help hockey out too. For as good of a business as the NFL is, the NHL is its polar opposite. It’s pretty laughable. I’d really like to see hockey more popular though across the entire United States and not just be strong only its core markets now.

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