I wrote this letter in October to Commissioner Goodell thinking that I might have an idea here that’s at least worth discussing. Each week, when I tune into an NFL game on TV, I continue to see players crashing into each other with helmet-to-helmet contact. It seems to be getting worse. So far I have had no response from Commissioner Goodell. I attribute that to maybe he didn’t think the idea was a good one, or perhaps he just doesn’t answer his mail. Anyway, I am sharing it on my blog.
October 21, 2012
Dear Commissioner Goodell,
Each week I tune into an NFL game and, while I am watching, I am still seeing major head-to-head collisions and it seems that the issue of head injuries and how to prevent them isn’t getting resolved, despite the best efforts of the NFL owners and officials. I have come to the conclusion that there is an obvious flaw in logic of helmet design, the fact that all of the padding in the helmets is on the INSIDE.
Recall that back in the early days of football there were leather helmets that were SOFT on the OUTSIDE. Since those early days, head protection has evolved to the point where the helmet has become a lethal weapon, primarily because of the hardness of the outside of this gear. When two hard-surfaced objects collide, the laws of physics that Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated suggest that the shock of the collision will be fairly substantial (equal and opposite reaction and all that sort of stuff).
So, I keep thinking, why not add a layer of soft padding, say an inch or so, on the outside of the helmets? I would think the impact of any blows between two helmets would be substantially reduced. The cost to implement this change also seems to me to be manageable (maybe use old bicycle tires), given the degree of injuries it could potentially reduce.
I don’t think this change would necessarily make football players look like the Michelin tire guy, and I think it would substantially help protect the players. This idea has been rattling around in my head for some time now (I don’t have any head protection myself, you know) and every time I mention it to someone, they ask if I have shared it with anyone who can implement it. Up to this time I have had to admit that the answer to this question has been “no”. After sending this letter, I can finally answer, “Yes I have”.
Please let me know what you think of this idea and any factors you feel would prohibit its implementation.