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Alarming Rate of Head/Neck Injuries


Tune is to almost any game over the course of a season and you are almost guaranteed to see a few touchdowns, a turnover or two and one other thing… a timeout for a head/neck injury.  Is it that the players are bigger, faster, and stronger, or are the protective gear manufacturers behind the times?  Or possibly both?  I know that football is a contact sport, it has always been such, but it seems to me that things are getting out of hand. 


I conceded that players want to wear as few pads as possible so they can be less restricted.  If you look at the skilled positions in the NFL you will notice that few wear thigh or knee pads at all, most wear watered down versions of shoulder pads as well.  While this is a problem in its own right, this is not an option in the college ranks.  Pads are mandatory, and the most important piece is the helmet. 


The helmet has gone through a few changes over the years when it comes to football.  In the beginning there were no helmets at all that was followed by the leather helmet in 1893.  The leather helmet was made stronger are harder thru the 1940s.  In 1950s the traditional plastic helmet was born with the single bar facemask.  It has looked close to the same since then, with the added tweaks here and there.  In the early 2000s a "new" helmet was established by Riddell that some players choose to wear, it is supposed to be lighter and stronger.  Though that has yet to be determined.  So is the helmet protection enough?  Should there be some sort of tethering device which would keep the head from snapping back in such a violent manner?  If there was would anyone wear it?   


Look back in the 60s and 70s at some of the bigger hitters in the NFL.  Most wore that foam padded bolster which was affixed to the top of their shoulder pads to keep the neck from snapping back so far.  Auburn players Karlos Dansby and Donterrious Thomas both wore a new age look to them at Auburn, and Eltoro Freeman wears one today.  Should that be added in as a mandatory piece of equipment?      


Some can argue that the medical staffs are just working on the side of caution when it comes to head/neck injuries.  I agree with that… in every head/neck situation everyone should be a careful as possible.  But it seems to me that these injuries are happening at an alarming rate.  Please do not add another subjective penalty into the referees’ repertories; they are already having enough trouble getting calls correct.       


I am not saying that taking the time to evaluate the situation of any injury is a bad thing.  I also am not naive enough to think that we can eliminate injuries in sports all together, but it seems to me that players and teams could/should band together and see if manufacturers can come up with better options.  Players are too big and strong now.  The forces in which they hit each other are incredible nowadays. 


Maybe it is just the fact that I am getting older, but losing to UGA was not as big a deal to me as it could have been.  All I could think about was Baccari Rambo laying on the field for what seemed like 20 minutes, and watching Eltoro Freeman stagger off the field with an obvious concussion.  This after watching a couple of weeks before, Zac Ethridge lay on top of an Ole Miss Player.   


If it is affecting me as a fan, what does it do to the players on the field? 


War Damn Eagle