Is there a happy medium between players keeping the helmets they want and the league’s safety rules?

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SDRay

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Is it possible to think someone is being completely irrational but still be OK with them making a potentially poor decision as long as they are willing to take accountability?


I suppose that’s where I’m at right now as it relates to Antonio Brown and the helmet news that has dominated the national conversation since it broke on Friday.


To summarize, Brown would like to wear the same helmet he’s worn since his rookie year in 2010, but the NFL will no longer let him. Without getting too deep into the weeds, the NFL and the NFLPA have spent $60 million researching helmet safety and technology since 2016 in order to figure out which helmets perform the best. Players were given a list of which helmets were acceptable and which were not in 2017 and were told that they needed to switch by the end of 2018.


Several players have made that change even though some longtime veterans like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Staley were somewhat reluctant to do so. As The Athletic’s Dan Kaplan recently reported, “The league allowed players one extra year — last season — to transition (into new helmets). By the end of the year, 32 players — including Brady and Rodgers — remained in helmets that had not passed. (As of August 2019), Brown is believed to be the only player left who is resisting the change.”


Brown had a grievance hearing against the NFL on Friday that reportedly lasted over two hours and there were reports that he would retire unless he was allowed to wear his old helmet. That didn’t last long as Brown has already reported back to Raiders camp and reportedly has been told he can wear his same model helmet as long as it is less than 10 years old.


On Monday morning, the NFL made the below statement via social media:


The player can’t practice or play in games with equipment that’s not approved. If he doesn’t play or practice he is in breach of his contract and doesn’t get paid. Nfl policy is that Helmets have to be certified by NOSCAE. They don’t certify equipment that’s old than 10 years.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) August 12, 2019
On the surface, Brown being so adamant about wearing a helmet that isn’t even certified anymore doesn’t make much sense. But in fairness to Brown, he’s not the only one who wants to keep wearing an old helmet. Staley, the 15-year veteran offensive lineman with the 49ers, recently said he wouldn’t have made the change unless it was mandatory. And even Brady is still working through having to get a new helmet.


“I’ve been experimenting with a couple different ones and I don’t really love the one I’m in, but I don’t really have much of a choice so I’m doing the best I can to work with it,” Brady said on WEEI radio in Boston on Monday. “My last helmet, I wore in four Super Bowls, so it was a pretty great helmet for me, and I hated to put it on the shelf, but that was what they said to do, so I’m dealing with it and working with something else.”


I can certainly sympathize with wanting to keep the helmet you are used to. When newer, lighter models came out during my career, I had no interest in switching, not only because I was comfortable with the one I had but also because I knew the amount of helmet-to-helmet contact that occurred during practices and games and I wanted the heaviest helmet I could find.


Is there a happy medium for Brown and the NFL if he can’t find a newer Schutt?


The league is obviously worried about the health and safety of their players for multiple reasons but should Brown, or Brady and Staley for that matter, be forced to change something they are comfortable with and have been using at this level for years?


All of which leads to the concept of informed consent, also known as a waiver. What if Brown signed a waiver agreeing to release the NFL of all legal liability if they let him wear his preferred old helmet? That doesn’t seem like much of a stretch considering as it stands now a 10-year-old helmet is unacceptable but a 9-year-old helmet is fine.


Many will argue that this would set a very bad and dangerous precedent for the NFL. I get that but I would argue that on some level the precedent already exists.


Take Cam Meredith, for example, the former Bears and Saints wide receiver who recently signed a contract with the Patriots that included a waiver should he suffer an injury to the troubled knee he’s been dealing with since tearing his ACL with the Bears in 2017. That means the Patriots are not responsible for anything related to the health of that knee should something happen to it. No salary. No rehab. No workers’ compensation. Nothing.


It’s probably not a smart thing for any player to do yet Meredith did it and I understand why; he didn’t feel like he had a choice. I once told the Atlanta Falcons that I would sign a waiver on my surgically repaired back when they mentioned it as an option during my free agent visit in 2007. They ultimately failed me on my physical and I signed with the Redskins instead but the fact is I was willing to sign that waiver to continue my career.


Meredith is aware of the risk and is willing to accept it. So was I. Why can’t Brown do the same?


In general, I’m in favor of freedom of choice as long as a person is aware of the risk they are taking. That’s why I wrote that a college player like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence should be allowed to leave school after this upcoming season even though the rule says he would have to return in 2020. I think he should be free to make what he thinks is the best decision for him even if there are some legitimate reasons why the “three-year” rule is in place.


After all, it’s his life.


And the important thing amid all the chaos is that it’s Antonio Brown’s life, too.
 

Concudan

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The league should not budge an inch. This is for safety. Players are suing the NFL because of the issues of brain damage and head trama. Don't let Divas do what they want, only to turn around and sue when their stupidity catches up with them.
 
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Harryo the K

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League still allows members of front office to get DUIs. But that's not their safety issue.
 

Concudan

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League still allows members of front office to get DUIs. But that's not their safety issue.
No it is not. Does your job prevent you from getting DUI's? Does the helmet rule prevent players from getting DUI's? The helmet rule impacts the players safety DURING HOURS OF WORK! It does not stop them from going to a night club and making it rain, or doing stupid shit after hours.

Your argument is just for the sake of argument. You are comparing apples and jellyfish.
 

Harryo the K

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No it is not. Does your job prevent you from getting DUI's? Does the helmet rule prevent players from getting DUI's? The helmet rule impacts the players safety DURING HOURS OF WORK! It does not stop them from going to a night club and making it rain, or doing stupid shit after hours.

Your argument is just for the sake of argument. You are comparing apples and jellyfish.
No, I'm not. I'm showing the League cares only about the bottom line of liability of cash settlements for brain injuries.
A front office personnel, a GM, is management and is always on the clock. If people are hurt, it's a PR issue and a 'personal' issue of the offender.

Rules apply to players for owners to control liability. Mineager incident is called “inexcusable”. He'll pay a fee, maybe get a reduced charge. And that's what inexcusable means to Money.

—-
The Arizona Cardinals are facing another public relations nightmare that has nothing to do with their on-field product. Per ABC 15 in Phoenix, Cardinals COO and Executive Vice President Ron Minegar was arrested on suspicion of DUI Saturday night.
According to the police report, Minegar was stopped by police at 11:30 p.m. Saturday for speeding, failure to drive within one lane of traffic and driving within the bicycle lane. Minegar was then arrested on suspicion of DUI. He was later cited and released by police.
 

Concudan

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No, I'm not. I'm showing the League cares only about the bottom line of liability of cash settlements for brain injuries.
A front office personnel, a GM, is management and is always on the clock. If people are hurt, it's a PR issue and a 'personal' issue of the offender.

Rules apply to players for owners to control liability. Mineager incident is called “inexcusable”. He'll pay a fee, maybe get a reduced charge. And that's what inexcusable means to Money.

—-
The Arizona Cardinals are facing another public relations nightmare that has nothing to do with their on-field product. Per ABC 15 in Phoenix, Cardinals COO and Executive Vice President Ron Minegar was arrested on suspicion of DUI Saturday night.
According to the police report, Minegar was stopped by police at 11:30 p.m. Saturday for speeding, failure to drive within one lane of traffic and driving within the bicycle lane. Minegar was then arrested on suspicion of DUI. He was later cited and released by police.
That may be what you are attempting, but it is not working. You are arguing only to argue. There is absolutely no logical connection between your latest rant and the helmet rule. None. In fact you in the past ranted that the NFL did not care about player safety in relation to the head injuries. Now that they are doing something about it, you are now ranting that they should be controlling every second of the lives of all employees of the league and team. Again, no apparent logic involved. No eyes on what is legally allowed under the constitution of the United States of America, or what makes sense.
If your goal is to show some collusion and misdeeds by the league, you failed. Apples and jellyfish my friend. You are comparing apples and jellyfish.
 

Harryo the K

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This League has a list, an official list, called Injured Reserve. For the year of 2019, there are already 98 players on that list.
They know, they admitted injuries will happen. Simple truth is that a torn achilles, a compound fracture, they can live with them—-hell, they 'reserve them' just in case the player has some value left in him. They don't care about an ACL tear because no one is suing them for that. They are allowed ....in the United States, you mentioned.....to tolerate those work shop injuries because, it's cost effective. If you wish to call it a rant, fine, I call it making up rules that save money. Safety is not the goal, managing the product and controlling liability is.
 

Concudan

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This League has a list, an official list, called Injured Reserve. For the year of 2019, there are already 98 players on that list.
They know, they admitted injuries will happen. Simple truth is that a torn achilles, a compound fracture, they can live with them—-hell, they 'reserve them' just in case the player has some value left in him. They don't care about an ACL tear because no one is suing them for that. They are allowed ....in the United States, you mentioned.....to tolerate those work shop injuries because, it's cost effective. If you wish to call it a rant, fine, I call it making up rules that save money. Safety is not the goal, managing the product and controlling liability is.
Sorry Harry. Your post lacks facts. The league and other bodies have put a tremendous amount of time, money and effort into reducing injuries. They have sponsored research, changed rules, implemented training for the players, yet you see this as some nefarious plot to save money, when it is actually costing the league money.
For example, in 2018 the league implemented a league wide injury reduction initiative. The primary aim was to reduce the incidence of concussions, it also sought to reduce other common injuries such as the ACL injuries you so fondly discuss. (https://www.playsmartplaysafe.com/newsroom/videos/2018-injury-reduction-plan-initiatives-advance-player-health-safety/)
NFL leaders, clubs and the wide variety of experts in medicine, engineering and science who form the NFL medical committees developed a three-pronged approach to drive behavioral changes. The NFL also created an educational video (see above) for players, coaches and club personnel about the concussion reduction strategy.

“We designed what we think are going to be steps that can immediately impact the number of concussions on our fields,” he said.

1. Preseason Practices
“The first part of our concussion reduction [strategy],” said Dr. Sills, “is around preseason practices—so we want to work with our clubs to look at how they’re practicing, what types of drills are being done to see if we can drive that number [of concussions] down.”

The NFL is sharing information across the league to educate, stimulate change and enhance player safety—including information about the causes of concussion, the helmets players wear, and injury data analysis, such as preseason practice concussion data.

2. Better Performing Helmets
The second part of the Injury Reduction Plan is a goal to get players out of lower-performing helmets and into better-performing helmets in an effort to decrease the risk of injury.

Each year, helmets undergo laboratory testing by biomechanical engineers appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to evaluate which helmets best reduce head impact severity. The results of the laboratory tests are displayed on a poster and shared with NFL players, club equipment managers, as well as club medical, training and coaching staffs to help inform equipment choices. In 2018, based on the results of this study and the opinions of the biomechanical experts involved, the NFL and NFLPA will prohibit 10 helmet models from being worn by NFL players.

“We think getting players in better-performing helmets is an important step,” Dr. Sills said.

It is important to note that no helmet can completely protect against serious brain and/or neck injuries a player might sustain while playing football, and that the results of this testing should not be extrapolated to collegiate, high school, or youth football.

3. Rules Changes
The third component of the Injury Reduction Plan is the enforcement of rules changes aimed at eliminating potentially risky behavior that could lead to injuries. Through these important changes, the NFL is leveraging data in an effort to improve player safety and evolve the game.

“This information is driving important on-field changes, such as the new lowering the head rule, and also discussions with coaches and team personnel about how we teach and coach these various techniques of play,” said Dr. Sills. Throughout the offseason, the league is working with players, coaches, officials, medical personnel, media, and fans to communicate and educate about the new rules.

“Our engineers showed that the behavior of lowering the head and initiating contact with the helmet, puts both the player doing the hitting as well as the player who is being hit substantially at an increased risk of concussion,” Dr. Sills said. “It’s our hope that by eliminating that dangerous style of play, we’ll reduce injuries for both of those players.”
Your assertion that the NFL does not care is not supported by logic, facts, or even common sense. You seem to believe the NFL wants to see players, especially their stars go down with injuries, that they don't care if that happens? That is silly to say the least. It hits the NFL in the pocketbook. The NFL in 2015 set aside more than $100 million for CTE research alone.

As I have mentioned. You ranted that the NFL did not care about the brain injuries of the players, now you are saying they are making up rules to save money, when what they are actually doing is reducing the change of brain injuries. You cant seem make up your mind what side of the argument you will fall on. The only thing that seems clear is you will rant and rave no matter what the NFL does. Forgive me if I am wrong, but perception is reality at times.

The NFLPA has reduced the 'physicality' of off season conditioning and preseason. This has had a negative impact on injuries. Over 40% of ACL injuries occur in preseason, that does not mean that preseason is harder than regular season, nor does it mean the NFL does not care about the players or their health. That is something the league had to capitulate to the players for. It is not a nefarious plan.

The NFL has time and time again, listened to experts and implemented changes to protect the players. You can choose to not let facts get in your way if your wish, that is up to you. But if you want to cry that the NFL is trying to protect the players from brain injuries only to stop law suits, well your wrong.

The NFL opposed the CTE injury theory. When it became an indisputable fact, they became a partner in protecting players at all levels of the game. You wish to say that is only to stop law suits, go ahead. I will take the fact that time, money and education is being put towards protecting the players. I get that does not mesh with your agenda, I cant help that.

I respect your right to your opinion, but I don't agree with your opinion in the slightest.
 
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Harryo the K

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Conc, you're fine to trust the NFL and it’s intentions. No problem there. It's just I and others do not see the NFL's benevolence.

And I do think the NFL cares more about making money than in protecting players. Which makes sense to them. The vast majority of professional football players are replaceable, even irregardless of injuries. Yes, the stars must be protected, but the rest are on a contract to cost to use factor. The Cory Liguets of the world are here only long as injury to salary contract permits.
Injury settlements.....a legal term for 'You got hurt and you ain't no star player.'


.
 

Concudan

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Conc, you're fine to trust the NFL and it’s intentions. No problem there. It's just I and others do not see the NFL's benevolence.

And I do think the NFL cares more about making money than in protecting players. Which makes sense to them. The vast majority of professional football players are replaceable, even irregardless of injuries. Yes, the stars must be protected, but the rest are on a contract to cost to use factor. The Cory Liguets of the world are here only long as injury to salary contract permits.
Injury settlements.....a legal term for 'You got hurt and you ain't no star player.'


.
Did you read the article you posted? It is laughable.

"A recent paper in the BMJ’s Injury Prevention journal raises questions about the National Football League’s approach to sports-related, traumatic brain injuries (sTBI). In particular, the authors argue that the NFL partnering with the CDC to get the word out about those injuries represents a conflict of interest. "
So the author is suggesting working with the CDC is somehow a conflict of interest here, but goes on to say the CDC is the organization best suited to bring a scientific approach to the problem. You did not even read it did you? Did you just do a quick google search and say "oh boy I found a real zinger!"? The thesis is the NFL spending money to reduce injury is not in their interest, that is stupid. Unless you want to argue they want to keep paying for ex-players, and law suits.

"“The CDC’s mission is to provide the highest quality scientific evidence to help the American public make informed health decisions. That’s not the goal of the NFL. Their bottom line is increasing sales, viewership, and promoting their league and products.”"
So like you, the authors contention is the NFL can't 'REALLY' be trying to reduce injuries, because that is not what they do. Excellent thesis Dr!

Sorry Harry, I get you are trying to argue your point, but this article, like your rant is conjuncture. What is fact is the money the NFL is spending to reduce the injuries. What is also fact, is again, you are trying to bitch that the NFL is DOING SOMETHING TO REDUCE THE INJURIES, but you want to paint it as something else.

OK, you win, it is something else. I hope the NFL keeps spending on the something elses. Because that will make the lives of ex-players better, not that you seem to care about that, I mean don't let that get in the way of your rant.
 

Harryo the K

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I don't rant, I illuminate. Like the LA move....Not bitter, just hatred and outrage.

And Yes, the NFL is trying to reduce head injuries. But money is money..
. The NFL lost their concussion case and with it a judgement of $1 billion dollars against them.
But you know.....these things take time.



“Now, after a year, we see that the NFL is fighting every claim,’’ Tighe said.


Lippett’s fellow plaintiffs from the ’85 Super Bowl roster include Patriots Hall of Famers Steve Grogan, John Hannah, Stanley Morgan, and Steve Nelson.

Morgan said in an interview that he also has been denied benefits under the concussion settlement, despite experiencing depression, mood swings, memory loss, and suicidal impulses that are considered symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease associated with football head injuries.


 

Concudan

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Ok you don't rant. I mean if you want to put an odd definition on what you do, I guess it is ok. Your rant is just self identifying as illumination today....