The NFL, which for years denied that concussions destroy the lives of football players, announced today that it is devoting $100 million to concussion research, more than half of which will go to figuring out how to make the game safer.
That includes researching technological advancements in helmets, which NFL players continue to use as metal missiles during games. Less than half of the cash – $40 million to be exact – will go toward medical research of concussions.
Not a single penny goes to former NFL players whose lives have been ruined by the game. Not. One. Penny.
Who is the NFL fooling? This game will never be safe as it is played today, and no one wants to watch professional flag football.
Why spend so much money on trying to figure out how to build a “safer” helmet?
What if the NFL were played without helmets? Think about this for a second, because I am very serious: Would a cornerback or any other player launch head first into a quarterback, or wide receiver if the metal missiles on top of their heads did not exist? No. They’d tackle like I was taught to tackle in Pee Wee football: wrap the knees or the waist. “Don’t strike head first, you could break your neck,” I remember my coach yelling (this was before concussions became an identified, serious problem).
Hear me out. Or hear others out.
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire found that regular helmetless-tackling drills reduced the number of overall head impacts suffered by the participating players by 28 percent. This reduction was the result of removing helmets only for five minutes of drills after a few select practices — in this case, twice a week during the three-week preseason and once a week during the regular season.
So, head hits dropped by almost 30 percent twice a week in five minute drills. Think what helmetless football would do for players’ health over an entire season. By protecting the head, football players are less afraid to slam it into another player, especially if its an unsuspecting wide receiver or quarterback. That really turns the fans wild.
Instead, the NFL has created this entertainment frenzy for us fans, and we’ve been trained to be captivated by the hardest hits these players can muster on Game Day. We’re just as guilty.
But it doesn’t end with me opining or solid research. Even former football players advocate for such a change.
Even the NFL’s own chairman of the health and safety advisory committee can picture the game without helmets.
“Can I see a time without helmets? Yes,” York told the BBC. “It’s not around the corner, but I can see it.”
Oh, wait a second. Later that day, ProFootballTalk wrote a correction stating that: The 49ers say that York’s comments were misunderstood, and that he does not believe the helmet will be removed from the game.
You can’t make this shit up, folks.
Clearly, Commish Roger “No”Goodell quickly rebuffed the chairman of the health and safety advisory committe and forced him to retract his very clear statement. How can you misunderstand such a matter-of-fact statement? He, like us at Shielded Sports, can see the NFL being played without metal missiles we call helmets.
This begs the question: Will any of this $100 million go to studying football being played without helmets, or will this be another penny dropped in the bucket in which the NFL prentends that it’s serious about this problem by throwing crumbs at it?
We see more crumbs.
In the meantime, follow the weekly Concussed, Man column at Shielded Sports as we continue to chronicle this problem.