Player safety finds itself at the forefront of issues that football is facing. At this point, there is little debate as to whether or not football causes traumatic brain injuries to those who play it. Rule changes have been made internally to help make the game safer for the player, but how effective those changes are is speculative.
The likeliest way to make the game safer, if it is to remain football as we know it, is safer equipment for the players to protect their heads. Enter the VICIS helmet, a new type of helmet that the NFL and NFLPA agree is safer.
Designed to bend and give way similar to the way a car bumper does, the VICIS Zero1 helmet is supposed to be “concussion proof.”
According to a story published on ESPN, the helmet remains in the testing phases. The NFL does not require that teams wear any particular helmet, just that they be certified by NOCSAE.
To that end, the decision on what helmet to wear is incumbent on the teams and players. That’s the hangup.
The helmet is noticeably larger, weighing .27 pounds heavier than the standard NFL helmet. Players feel that the helmet is safer, but the look and weight of the helmet are giving them pause:
“We’ve had a guy try it on and get fit for it, but he got to that [point] … that when they looked at themselves in the mirror, it was so far out there from what they’ve seen before, they just weren’t that comfortable wearing it.” said Washington Redskins equipment manager Scott Rottier.
But many feel that it is the next wave. As the technology grows and advances, you can expect strides to be made to make the helmet smaller and more comfortable.
Ultimately, the future of football hinges on making the game safer. If that fails to happen, there may be fewer and fewer players willing to put their bodies on the line for the length of a typical NFL career. If there is a new helmet that is safer, players will wear it eventually.
We’ve already seen several opt to retire altogether than subject themselves to brain injuries. Wearing a bigger, some would say dorkier helmet shouldn’t give them pause. In time, I suspect it won’t.
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