Skip to comments.Memo To The NFL: To Reduce Concussions, Ban Football Helmets
Posted on 05/30/2012 5:50:15 AM PDT by BO Stinkss
Though hes perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in the area of public choice economic theory, economist Gordon Tullock once famously observed that mechanical innovations meant to promote greater automobile safety essentially achieve the opposite. If driver safety is the goal, then it would be wisest to mandate spears on car steering wheels that would impale the driver in the event of an accident.
Reduced to the absurd, if death were the near certain result of unsafe driving, then its safe to say that the latter would disappear as its consequences became more real. Seatbelts, anti-lock brakes and airbags are great, but is it possible that a greater frequency of unsafe driving has been an unintended result of advances that have softened the negative results of car accidents?
Tullocks thinking naturally sprung to mind amid all the recent handwringing about the frequency of concussions in the National Football League (NFL). The tragic suicide of Dave Duerson, the USA Today comments from Tom Brady Sr. about safety, and the still unsolved suicide of future first ballot Hall of Famer Junior Seau understandably have the League wondering if the head trauma that is a natural part of football brings with it negative long-term consequences.
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...
Football was originally played without helmets by university clubs. The number and frequency of deaths from massive concussions led to the mandatory use of leather helmets before or around the turn of the century. Helmet suspension technology (along with size/speed of the athletes) has progressed but the human brain remains a soft gelatinous mass not unlike the inside of a chicken egg and there is not much that can be done about what happens to it when its velocity changes from 20 mph to zero in a fraction of a second from a hard counter blow.
A return to a soft helmet or one that absorbs and distributes impacts like the body of a modern car (damaged helmets would need to be disposable with a large supply of replacements available on the sidelines) would probably help and would also lessen impact trauma when helmets hit things like sternums, knees, and collar bones. But changing to "no helmets" in our style of "find somebody in the other uniform and cream him" football would actually produce on field fatalities.
What’s an “unsolved suicide”?
note the defender “TACKLING”(with shoulder) the ball carrier NOT “HITTING” (head on) as is done today
Pads and helmets merely prevent instant death. Without pads and equipment, players would die instantly. The safety features allow players to endure more trauma longer and suffer those problems later in life.
Throw in the size and speed of today's players and it would be brutal. But, death is always a great regulatory factor.
Did you read the whole column under that headline? Please do ... then let’s discuss. There’s some fascinating stuff in there.
Heh. Today, players of that ‘nature’ would be called ‘gangsters’ on the playing field. Come on, can’t you punch someone?
Yeah! What’s football without a few rabbit-punches or elbow-slams to the nose?
BTW, did you notice that 10 of those 19 were 17 years of age or younger?
Yeah. Boys being boys. Football was pretty much organized warfare back then. Throw in the lack of other sports back then, soccer, basketball, skateboarding, etc. Every kid either played baseball or football. Its seems perfectly natural to get carried of the football field back in the day.
“Johnny Unitas once owned the most dangerous right arm in the NFL. Today he barely has use of the hand attached to it. Unitas, who is considered by many to be the greatest field general to play the game, is still paying for a hit he took more than three decades ago as a Baltimore Colt. That day in 1968, Unitas was drawing back his arm to throw a pass when a Dallas Cowboy mashed the inside of his elbow. Unitas came back to play againthe arm seemed fine up through his retirement in 1974but by the mid-1990s he was having problems with the nerves that controlled his hand and fingers. He lost strength and feeling in the hand and became unable to rotate the thumb back and grasp objects. The symptoms only got worse. Now Unitas cannot close the hand that made Raymond Berry famous.
Unitas’s two knee replacements work perfectly wellcartilage and ligaments in the right knee were torn in a collision with two Bears in 1963, while the left wore out from years of favoring the rightbut when he plays golf, which is about all the exercise he can get with those new knees, he has to use his left hand to close the fingers of his gloved right hand around the grip, then strap the hand fast to the shaft with a Velcro strip. He goes through this tedium on every shot. “I do it putting, too,” says Johnny U, who’s 68.
Forty years ago Unitas was the toughest and smartest quarterback in the game, calling the plays and running the show in a way that inspired both fear and awe among teammates and opponents alike. Mentally, he always seemed a step ahead of everyone else. If a situation looked ripe for a pass, Unitas would throw a pass. If it called for a pass and his opponents, trying to outguess him, set up for a run, he’d throw. Unitas perfected the two-minute drill, and no one sincenot Montana, not Elwayhas run it better.
Setting an NFL record that seems as unassailable as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Unitas threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games between 1956 and 1960. In the years since, only Dan Marino has come anywhere close to that mark, throwing scoring passes in 30 straight games from 1985 to ‘87.
Unitas has demanded disability compensation from the league but says he has been turned down for various reasons, among them that he didn’t apply by age 55though his right hand didn’t fail him until he was 60and that the league pays him a pension of $4,000 a month. The NFL adds that, in its opinion, Unitas is not “totally and permanently disabled.”
Meanwhile, of that magical hand that spun footballs like strands of gold, Unitas says, “I have no strength in the fingers. I can’t use a hammer or saw around the house. I can’t button buttons. I can’t use zippers. Very difficult to tie shoes. I can’t brush my teeth with it, because I can’t hold a brush. I can’t hold a fork with the right hand. I can’t pick this phone up.... You give me a full cup of coffee, and I can’t hold it. I can’t comb my hair.”
I don’t think the author of “Memo To The NFL” knows much about what the NFL was like in the old days...
The worst invention in modern football is the FACE MASK. When football WAS football, we didn’t wear ‘em. Back then we didn’t need a handle to tackle.
I’m glad you mention the size and speed of today’s players.
Years ago, a 300 pound linebacker was rare. Now, it’s very common to see 300+ pound players.
Remember the laws of physics. Force = Mass x Acceleration. If you get hit by a 350 pounder, the force is much greater than if you got by a 240 pounder.
Back in the days of the leather helmets, there weren’t even that many guys over 200 pounds, if I recall correctly.
The main difference between the NFL now and what is was like a long time ago is the size of the players. If you watch a video of an NFL game played before 1980, the players seem skinny by today’s standards.
There have been professional athletes for thousands of years, probably going back to ancient Greece, and the standards for size and strength were probably consistent for thousands of years. But starting in the mid 1980’s, NFL players started getting bigger and stronger. It wasn’t their diet or their exercise programs: They started using drugs to increase their muscle mass. Body builders had been using such drugs for a few years already, and other athletes learned about the results and decided to give themselves an edge.
Professional leagues today have good P.R. programs, and they like to make us think the are serious about testing for performance-enhancing drugs. But I believe the drug designers have learned how to stay one step ahead of the testing procedures, and the P.R. scam continues.
The NFL generates so much money, the league and the TV networks have become corrupt. Nobody wants to change the status quo, and risk losing any of the revenue. Fans probably wouldn’t pay $200 to see skinny players, or a less aggressive game changed by the addition of a new set of safety rules.
I'm old enough to have played with a single bar in HS and later a full “bird cage” in college. I put my head where it didn't belong when I had all that metal and rubber in front of my face. (one concussion)
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