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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NFL Accused Of Rejecting Safer Headgear

The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles lineup across the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles lineup across the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The National Football League and its official helmet maker Riddell are facing lawsuits claiming they’ve been putting business before players’ safety.

The family of San Diego Charger Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year, along with more than 4,000 former players, say the NFL covered up the long term damage from the game to the brain.

The lawsuits also accuse Riddell of making inadequate helmets for years, and then exaggerating the benefit of its newer models.

An investigative report by Bloomberg News has found that the NFL rejected makers of safer headgear in favor of Riddell helmets.

A helmet attachment called ProCap has been shown to reduce the chance of concussion in collision. The NFL committee that deals with brain injuries issued memos warning players that they risked death by wearing it.

Bloomberg reported that the committee was being advised, in part, by an outside consultant who previously testified for Riddell.

The NFL is considering some rule changes to make players safer, such as penalties for runners who lower their heads to initiate contact in a tackle. And late last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proposed eliminating the kickoff.

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  • http://twitter.com/alexthe_great_ Alex Fortney

    I played and coached rugby for several years through college and after. When I was coaching a high school team in a Nashville suburb, I discovered that the boys who had played football were getting hurt more than the boys who’d come from wrestling or soccer or who had never played a sport. Football players are NOT taught how to safely engage in contact.

    I think the problem football has is more closely related to the lack of rules governing contact. In rugby, there has to be what we call “intent to wrap” during a tackle. That requires that the tackler make an effort to tackle in a more safe way. He can’t just shoulder a player or head-butt a player and call it a tackle. 

    If football were to take a lesson from rugby and implement rules to make tackling a skill again instead of an act of brute strength, the game would be much safer for players and much more interesting. Legal tackling would be harder at full-speed, meaning more offense. And what fan doesn’t want to see that? It would also make for better hits, which is also a big crowd-pleaser.

    Most importantly, it would minimize the number of head injuries sustained. My high school rugby players didn’t wear helmets or pads, and somehow always had fewer head injuries than the football players. This is a coaching issue and a rules issue. Helmets are a moot point.

  • Teh

    Don’t do anything which will effect the bottom line with football.
    Its part of America’s bread and circuses for the masses. 
    Football as described by a sport writer in the early 1990′s during a player strike as simply “video cigarsmoke”.

    “We’ve turned into this nation of overfed clowns, riding around in clown cars, eating clown food, watching clown shows. We’ve become a nation of cringing, craven f*ckups.”  James Howard Kunstler, author of “The Long Emergency”

  • Jim Bowen

    Along the lines of what Alex said – let’s eliminate helmets from pro football.  It appears that all we’re doing with the helmets is reducing the pain of felt on the surface of the head, but protecting nothing inside.  The players will stop whacking their heads when it really hurts! 

    Of course, that will make ibuprofen a performance-enhancing drug…

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