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  • 01/18/2014, 03:23PM ET

The NFL strategy for solving the issue of concussions is flawed, my solution would be thru equipment

UnBiasedPerspective (5-5-0) vs MMAyor (2-1-0)
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The NFL has tried to solve a physical problem with a mental solution. This has caused 3 unintended consequences. 1) Made the game less fun to watch. Good hard, clean hits are an integral part of the game. 2) Cased a spike in lower extremity injuries (knees) from players hitting lower to avoid penalties. 3) Increased the impact penalties have on the game by adding additional Personal Fouls to the game.

To top it off, the rule changes haven't stopped or even concussions. They have just resulted in more hotly debated calls and scrutiny on the officials. As we have all seen, some calls were correct when interpreted by the letter and intent of the law. But were flawed because players don't hit tackling dummies during the game, they hit moving bodies.

My solution would be to completely rethink the players equipment from the helmet down to the cleats. Not just pick one area, the head. But take the whole body of equipment into consideration and factor in the human body's weaknesses in relation to the physical demands of the game of Pro Football.

The Pro Football Player has evolved since the first one strapped on his gear, his gear should evolve too.


First of all, nice to meet you, Mr. UnBiasedPerspective.

Now then, to pick your initial argument apart:

ACL injuries are actually down this year.

As for concussions, I agree with you. Rule changes won't stop them.

If you don't think the NFL equipment hasn't evolved over the years, you've had your head in the sand. Those dudes are practically armor-plated these days. Equipment is state-of-the-art, and the money put into research in enormous.

Here is the problem. The concussions themselves are not the issue. They are not the inherent cause of the lasting damage that so many players are experiencing. The problem is the repeated sub-concussive blows that each and every player incurs over the course of a career. Call it punch drunk, if you like. The minor head clashes that occur on every play, over the course of time, are more damaging than single major concussions.

Lineman clashing at the snap. CB and WR both falling to the turf during a tackle. All these unnoticed head trauma add up.

Its the game.


ACL injuries may be down statistically, but as a trend, knee injuries are up. As you so eloquently pointed out, anyone watching the NFL with more than a casual interest would know. And Yo Momma said it's better to have your head in the sand than somewhere else. I know you feel me Bro!

Yes, current NFL gear has evolved. But as a hodgepodge of antiquated thinking based on Medieval concepts of shielding and padding. Those antiquated notions may be fine for protecting eggs, but fail in relation to the human body and the sport of professional football.

That's why I propose new thinking based on the physical demands of the sport on the human body. I'm proposing reactive armor, not reactive policies. New materials and new thinking are required. And in some cases, less might actually be more.

You're right, the most debilitating head injuries come from repeated, smaller impacts. Foam and a hard shell are no longer the optimum in protection. Furthermore, why do you think modern motorcycle and racing helmets are good for only one impact.

More to come on gear in 3rd.


Equipment development has indeed come a long way. But so, however, has the modern athlete. Through modern conditioning, diet, training, and yes, even roids, we have a bigger, stronger, faster athlete at most positions.

And I'm sorry, but I just don't see how equipment upgrades are going to drastically reduce the incidence of brain trauma. You can wrap my head in a bubble a foot thick, but if that bubble changes directions suddenly, my brain is gonna collide with the inside of my skull. End of story. There is simply no way to make that not happen.

Football is a collision sport. Injury of any kind simply will not be able to be regulated out. Hats off to the league for trying, however. Not every attempt to curb injury is going to work, but at least they are putting out the effort.

One thing that can be done to help reduce both head and knee injuries at the same time, is eliminate artificial surfaces altogether in the league. Over 1/3 of the stadiums continue to use artificial surface, and that crap is hard.


We both agree that the rule book alone won't solve the problem. And replacing Turf with Grass is a relatively easy/inexpensive solution.

Gear just needs new thinking. Like the auto industry embraced. Up until the mid 70s, conventional wisdom in auto safety dictated heavier cards and more steel. Until they examined the problem from a new angle. Crumple zones addressed the issue of slowing and minimizing the abrupt stop from speed. As you rightly pointed out, it's the rate of stopping and reversing motion that cause the most damage. Going with lighter, deformable "padding" is where the NFL needs to be developing gear. Even back in the 70s, there were systems designed where parts were designed ti break away in one direction, but not another. This type of breakaway technology could be used in cleats for example to allow grip for running and maneuvering, but also release to limit injuries to the knees from a planted foot.

Hitting is a part of the game. IMHO it always should be. By looking at gear in a totally new way, there should be opportunities to still play the game we remember while offering more protection to the players we root for.


Trying and trying and trying to imagine a workable "deformable" padding, or helmet, or otherwise that would not be ungodly unwieldy for a player to wear. Then again, I'm no scientistical type. I suppose they could attach quarter panels and 5-mile-an-hour bumpers to WRs and RBs, to help withstand impact.

As for your note of motorcycle helmets being good for only one impact, you realize that impact is likely to be dozens of miles an hour faster than a football collision, right?

As for the breakaway cleats, there is already a solution for that. Its called soil. Turn quick in sod, and what happens? The sod gives way. Bingo.

I feel the NFL should continue to strive to find ways to make the game safer. No doubt about that.

However, like most, if not all, sports, there are inherent risks involved for all participants. Well known and documented risks. I'm not speaking to the past, but everyone knows what they are getting into here. Just like boxing, mma, even skiing and auto racing, to name a few.

Playing is a choice.

January 18, 2014  04:28 PM ET

Dang.

January 18, 2014  04:41 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Dang.

It.

January 18, 2014  05:02 PM ET

A real TD!

I thought these were banned.

January 18, 2014  05:05 PM ET

Typical

January 18, 2014  05:07 PM ET

I just might try this throwdown thingy. Give me a bit.

January 18, 2014  05:11 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

I just might try this throwdown thingy. Give me a bit.

Good luck. The first one is always the hardest.

Just like murder.

January 18, 2014  05:59 PM ET
QUOTE:

Sorry Unbiased, I'm not Roger Goodell on the microphone.

So you cry about TD integrity, but when someone challenges you to a bonified TD, you run with your PeachFuzz ablaze?

January 18, 2014  06:03 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Good luck. The first one is always the hardest. Just like murder.

Allegedly

January 18, 2014  06:14 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

So you cry about TD integrity, but when someone challenges you to a bonified TD, you run with your PeachFuzz ablaze?

I'd say that's a pretty fair statement.

January 18, 2014  06:18 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

I'd say that's a pretty fair statement.

A pretty sad statement.

January 18, 2014  06:22 PM ET
QUOTE(#11):

A pretty sad statement.

That, too.

January 18, 2014  06:28 PM ET

30 lb shoes should slow the players down sufficiently enough.

January 18, 2014  07:33 PM ET
QUOTE(#13):

30 lb shoes should slow the players down sufficiently enough.

Stay tuned Matt, I'm gonna get to that.

January 18, 2014  10:10 PM ET

Good start UBP, obviously it's not possible to prevent all injuries. It never will be. There's always going to be players who to tear their MCLs, ACLs, achilles tendons. There will still be pulled hamstrings and sprained ankles. I agree with evolving equipment. But, if the goal is to reduce concussions, I would think that the NFL would be forced to pick the head area specifically.

January 18, 2014  10:17 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

Good start UBP, obviously it's not possible to prevent all injuries. It never will be. There's always going to be players who to tear their MCLs, ACLs, achilles tendons. There will still be pulled hamstrings and sprained ankles. I agree with evolving equipment. But, if the goal is to reduce concussions, I would think that the NFL would be forced to pick the head area specifically.

Or look at the complete "personal safety equipment" spec and start with the Musculo-Skeletal structure and how to protect and enhance it.

That's where I'm headed.

January 18, 2014  10:21 PM ET
QUOTE(#16):

Or look at the complete "personal safety equipment" spec and start with the Musculo-Skeletal structure and how to protect and enhance it.That's where I'm headed.

I though that may be the case. Good TD. I'm liking it.

January 18, 2014  10:22 PM ET

*thought

January 18, 2014  10:24 PM ET

Huh.

January 18, 2014  10:26 PM ET
QUOTE(#19):

Huh.

LOL

Et Tu MF?

 
January 18, 2014  10:26 PM ET

There's a certain angle I'm hoping right decides to use. Long story short, sometimes I think we feel pressured into needing some kind of change simply because people are getting caught up in a wave of change.

Like maybe the problem isn't as dreadful as some would lead you to believe.

Sure, concussions are bad news. But nobody is being forced to play in the NFL.

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