Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top Secret

Apparently, the Packers are being somewhat secretive about the details of Aaron Rodgers's new helmet.

From Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN.com's Page 2:

Kurt Snibbe/ESPN.com

Packers should reveal QB's helmet info

All across the United States, football players and their parents -- there are 500 high school football players for each NFL player -- are worried about concussions, which a report released last week shows are rising in incidence.

Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, who will start at quarterback in the upcoming Super Bowl, just switched to a helmet he thinks offers superior protection. Rodgers says the helmet prevented a concussion when he took a brutal blow to the head from Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game.

So a Super Bowl quarterback has found a helmet that might reduce the concussion plague, protecting huge numbers of football players at the college, high school and youth levels. Good news?

Here's the catch -- Rodgers won't tell you what kind of helmet he switched to. Neither will the Green Bay Packers. A Super Bowl quarterback and his team have information that might increase neurological safety -- and won't share it.
We don't know why the Packers are reluctant to identify the helmet (although it appears to be a Schutt AiR XP). It might have something to do with reports that it may have been specially customized, either by Schutt or the Packers.

Perhaps the team is also reluctant to give any helmet their endorsement, implied or otherwise, until more data has been collected.

Easterbrook also makes the very common mistake of focusing exclusively on concussions. As we've discussed, concussions are a very big part of the problem, but not even the scariest bit. Especially when talking about the "the college, high school and youth levels". It's the cumulative number of small hits, small hits encouraged by the false sense of security engendered by plastic armor, foam padding and tons of marketing hype.

I remain convinced about one thing; the emphasis on armor contributes to the frequency and severity of neurological injuries suffered in the course of playing this game. If that has made the Packers circumspect about promoting a technological solution to the problem, then good for the Packers.

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