The NFL has been trying to focus on player safety in recent history, focusing on the violent hits that happen on the field. Some question the motives of the league and players have complained about the game becoming soft and some have even said they might as well wear skirts. But recently a study came out that showed that wore helmets that were lowly rated for protection against brain injury.
Virginia Tech did a study rating different helmets and the Riddell VSR-4 model, a helmet used by 38 percent of all players in the league, received only one star.
All the helmets studied were found to protect from skull fracture, which is good, but the next step would be to protect from concussions.
Riddell stopped selling the VSR-4 in 2010.
There was only one helmet, also by Riddel, that got a five-star rating. Five got four stars.
What will be interesting is how the NFL reacts to this. The league has gotten serious about helmet-to-helmet hits, but it would be irresponsible to not do more.
The league currently regulates the most minute details of the uniform, including fines for the wrong color socks or headband, or whether the jersey is tucked in. It would be a simple thing to, in the name of player safety, ban helmets of a certain rating.
At the same time, players are clearly not as concerned with their overall health as they should be. Many players pick the helmet they use (they get the choice of brand and model) because of how it looks rather than how it may protect their head. Likewise, other small steps like using a mouthpiece are overlooked by many. It would seem reasonable to require that of the players.
It would be in everyone's interest to look at the study and see how players can better protect themselves. They are, of course, still sons, brothers, friends, husbands and fathers. Even when football is a risk they take, there is no need to unnecessarily have brain injuries that will affect the players and their families the rest of their lives.
Some might point to the study and feel that it is a ploy to sell more expensive helmets. Maybe so, but I don't see a downside. The way I see it is a better helmet will keep more players healthier.
Injuries limit players' careers and earnings, they affect the quality of football on the field and the teams' performance. We as fans hate to see our favorite players miss games because of injuries like concussions. Heck, it would be interesting to see what model helmet Kurt Warner used. Had he used a different model, maybe he would have been less likely to retire after 2009.
All I know is that the league and the players need to seriously look at this and make changes that will make football better.