Rushville Republican


December 11, 2012

Barada: Bringing back leather helmets

RUSHVILLE — If you follow sports, particularly football, you’re probably aware of all the consternation about the increasing number of concussions because of helmet to helmet contact, particularly among the pros. The problem, simply stated, is that helmet manufacturers have developed football headgear that’s so sophisticated it’s almost impervious to injury by the wearer. Of course, that’s not always true for the opposing player who gets hit helmet-to-helmet, especially when he doesn’t see the hit coming.

The issue, especially among the pros, is that the helmet has almost become a weapon the defensive player can use to knock an opposing player out of the game with at least a headache, if not a concussion. As a result, officials of the National Football League have made it illegal to lead with the helmet when making or attempting to make a tackle on an opposing player. That’s a good move in the right direction, but it doesn’t take very many hits to the head with that much force to cause a life-altering concussion; and, frankly, it’s a vicious hit for a player to make! If it were up to me, a helmet-to-helmet hit like I’m describing should be at least an automatic ejection from the game and a $20,000 or $30,000 fine. One would hope making the penalty even more severe would reduce the use of the helmet as a weapon.

The other part of the problem, as mentioned previously, is that helmet designers have made the helmet so protective that the player who uses it to hit an opposing player in the head seldom gets injured himself because he’s the one initiating the blow.

I think, however, I have a possible solution that might eliminate the problem altogether. Let’s go back to wearing leather helmets at every level, except Peewee Football! I hate to admit this, but when we were in middle school back in the Dark Ages, we played with cast-off leather helmets that I’ll bet the school had purchased way back in the 1930s. High school players had molded plastic helmets by that time and at least a single-bar face mask. The obsolete helmets we were given really were leather, had a chin strip that went under the chin, and no face mask at all. The only kid on our team who had a face mask, I believe, was Ted Lacy, and the only reason he had a face mask was that he wore glasses. Those helmets were so old you had to pull them apart to put them on. But there’s a more fundamental point to be made here, nobody in those days would have ever thought of making a tackle leading with his head! Nobody was that stupid. As a matter of fact, we were taught to use our shoulders and arms when making a tackle or a block. So, theoretically at least, the head really had little to do with playing football, except for thinking, but certainly not as a heavily protected weapon.

I’ll bet if we went back to lightly padded leather suspension helmets with a single-bar face mask instead of a cage we’d see concussions decline dramatically. Nobody would be foolish enough to lead with his head wearing a leather helmet held in place by only a flimsy chin-strap. To do so would put the defensive player in as much risk of a concussion as the offensive player being tackled.

There was a time, however, when most football players didn’t even wear helmets. Of course, their other equipment wasn’t very good, either: little shoulder pads, tiny hip pads, a couple of thigh pads, and, if they were lucky, two very thin knee pads. Most players, however, had a nose protector that consisted of a strap around the head and a nose protector held in place by the player using his teeth like a mouthpiece. I’ve got a team picture of my grandfather playing football wearing one of those things around his neck, probably taken around the turn of the last century. I think it’s safe to say that football was a far more dangerous sport, in obviously very different ways, in those bygone days. For one, the rules weren’t nearly as strict about flying wedges, throwing punches, and vicious cross-body blocks. There were plenty of broken noses in those days, but very few concussions.

Since those long-ago days, one of the real ironies is that, as players have been more and more protected by better and better equipment, the helmet has gone past just being a safety feature to protect the player’s head and neck. Some players have realized that their head is so well protected that they intentionally try to injure another player.

If eliminating concussions from the game is the goal, and if being fined and ejected from the game doesn’t work, make the penalties even stronger. A concussion is a very serious matter that can have a life-altering impact on the player who receives it. What it amounts to is banging the brain against the inside of the skull! If necessary, include a clause in every professional player’s contract that would provide for them to have their contracts canceled, and banned from playing for any other team for at least a full season. That would probably get the attention of the players who are inclined to use their helmets as a weapon. Personally, I would rather see then try going back to a leather helmet first.

That’s -30- for this week.


Text Only
  • Spying ways to have vacation fun I have a neighbor named John Campbell, and I am suddenly EXTREMELY suspicious of him.It all started with our summer vacation to Maryland. We made several excursions into Washington, D.C. from our “base camp” in Annapolis. In fact, of the five days we

    July 29, 2014

  • I expect them to do nothing Which crisis is at the top of the list this week? Is it the IRS scandal, the VA scandal, the fighting in Gaza, the emergence of ISIS as a deadly power in the Middle East, the intentional shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 which killed nearl

    July 29, 2014

  • Word of advice So, what’s the word? Really, what is the word? With over 250,000 words in the English language, you’d think there would be a word for just about everything. Not so. Therefore, I am on a crusade to find a term for some everyday occurrences for which t

    July 29, 2014

  • There's something about Maryland My family unit has just returned from a death march – oops, make that, “vacation” – in Annapolis, Maryland. In spite of constant 96-degree temps (though it dropped as low as 95.7 at night), and the stifling humidity, we had lots of dolgurn fun. Mainl

    July 22, 2014

  • Learning to say goodbye From as far back as I can remember, saying hello has been a part of nearly each day.During my youth, it was used when I met new people my parents introduced me to and was frequently followed by a handshake. I couldn’t count the number of times I used

    July 18, 2014

  • Lessons from the largely forgotten war As we approach the official date on which the First World War started, July 28, 1914, when the first shots were fired by the Austro-Hungarians who invaded Serbia, it’s appropriate to think about the lessons that catastrophic event has taught us one h

    July 15, 2014

  • Please go away My wife is planning our summer vacation, which we will take in the fall. We took our spring vacation this summer. We got behind in 1984 and still haven’t caught up. I don’t have much input into the planning of these trips, but Mary Ellen did assign m

    July 15, 2014

  • Soothing '60's Surf Sounds I’m sitting in my home office enjoying a serenade of rhythmic pulsations emanating from the outside wall. It’s coming from our water spigot. No. 5 son (age 13) and his buddies are using it to fill water balloons. 1,500 water balloons to be exact. 1,5

    July 15, 2014

  • Soccer-stopping Storm a Lousy Treat What a great way to spend a Saturday morning in July: I’m sitting in my car with rain cascading on the roof, lightning skittering all over the sky, and thunder sockin’ it to the atmosphere with such force that I feel a rumbling in my bum.I’m staring

    July 8, 2014

  • Only in America - Top 10 As we move into the glorious months of summer, I thought you might be amused by reading the Top Ten List of what Canadians supposedly think of how things are going in this country. It’s a lot like David Letterman’s “top ten list.”Number 10: Only in A

    July 8, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.