Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In Which We (Ought to) Gain a New Reader

Peter King of Sports Illustrated opens his post-NFC Championship Game Monday Morning Quarterback column with this:
Interesting little-known factoid I got from my postgame conversation with Aaron Rodgers: After being twice-concussed this season, he changed helmets to one of the new, safer, high-tech models the league has been urging players to use.
Far be it from me to quibble with Mr. King, but he's well behind the curve on this one. I discussed it at some length back in December, when the new helmet made its first appearance against the Giants.

Now I understand that The Wearing of the Green (and Gold) is probably not on his regular reading list (although it should be!), but the new helmet was pretty big news at the time. It was featured in the New York Times, not to mention King's own Sports Illustrated. It was indeed interesting, but far from a "little-known factoid". King's followup was better:
Remember the big helmet-to-helmet hit he took early in the fourth quarter from Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers, the one that drew a 15-yard penalty on Peppers? Well, Rodgers feels that hit could well have led to concussion number three had he not been wearing the new helmet.

"That was lucky," Rodgers told me. "As much as the new helmet feels uncomfortable and I'm still getting used to it, I'm really happy I was wearing it on that hit."
I'm still wary of trying to tech our way out of this problem; the bigger issue for me is that Peppers appeared to be aiming deliberately high on the hit in hopes of forcing a turnover.

Extra padding has allowed players a false sense of security, allowing them to think (or pretend) that they can do so without consequences. Or, as NPR's Scott Simon put it, "Modern polycarbonate helmets have let players weaponize their heads." It's time to rethink this particular arms race.


Tom said...

Chance, what happened to your post about the '41 playoff? When I click on it, Blogger says it isn't there anymore.

Chance Michaels said...

Ah, Tom, you caught me. Sharp eye - it wasn't up for long. I pulled it to add some video from the Bears' site - it's up again now.