OT: Football's "death spiral"
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02-04-2013, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Originally Posted by
The brain damage thing is, I believe, an easier remedy than anyone would think.
When helmets were little more than heavier versions of hockey helmets, players were taught from the earliest ages to keep your head out of hits because it would knock you out. As technology improved, that way of thinking started to fade because the risks to oneself diminished. Now, when I was playing in high school, we used to do tackling drills in pads but no helmets to reinforce this, and our defense was absolutely savage in the tackling game.
What's notable is that I've spoken to many NFL players from the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s who are still of sound mind (if not body). Those who came in starting around 1980 and later, on the other hand...well, let's just say I'm always surprised that they're not drooling on themselves five years after retirement.
I believe this to be true. My grandfather played at a very high level in the 40s. He got knocked on the head a few times, but in his mid-late 70s his brain showed no signs of damage or slowing down. Watching how guys played in that equipment is very different from how it works today; for instance, there's a highlight video from an NCAA game where a receiver catches the ball, and the defender immediately wraps him around the waist and legs; when I saw that the first thing that struck me is that a modern player would have been far more likely to just crash hard into the guy up high. On a side note, a more interesting aspect of the 40s play is that there was another trailing player, who wasn't there to block...he was there to get the ball as the the receiver went down.
I guess we'll have to wait and see how the public reacts to the inevitable increase in brain damage in fairly young former players. It's going to be difficult to break the perception that more padding is always better.
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