NFL Receives Backlash as Helmet Safety is Questioned

Photo courtesy of Erik Drost, Wikipedia

One would think that every football-loving parent dreams of the day that they get to watch their child go out onto the football field, with the hope that one day he will live out his dream of ultimately playing for their favorite NFL team. However, after dangerous head injuries linked to football have become more frequent, more and more parents are withholding their children from playing football. 

Included on the list of parents who won’t let their children play football are LeBron James, Bart Scott, Adrian Peterson, Kurt Warner and Jermichael Finley. The common reason amongst these players is that football is too dangerous. After experiencing first-hand the wear and tear playing in the NFL can take on an individual, Bart Scott told the Daily News, “I don’t want my son to play football. I play football so he won’t have to. With what is going on, I don’t know if it’s really worth it.” While one may question why one who’s gotten so much out of football wouldn’t want their son playing, comments made by Kurt Warner definitely put the situation in perspective.

“It’s different when you put on a parent’s hat. And, yeah, I want my kids to play and I want them to be healthy and I’d love them to have a great long career whether that’s collegiate, whether that’s professional. I’d love all that. But as a parent I can’t avoid the fact that it’s a dangerous sport, and it’s a violent sport.” Warner, now a Hall-of-Famer, has taken more than his fair share of hits over the course of his career and does not want his son to have to do the same. 

Facing a great deal of negative publicity regarding player safety and concussions, the NFL has taken notice and responded. This past season, the NFL has updated their “NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol” which was introduced in 2009. The protocol states that when a potential concussion is identified, the player will be removed from the field immediately and receive a neurological exam from a non-team affiliated doctor. The concussion protocol took action, as promised, as multiple players were pulled from games for testing this past season after receiving hits to the head. 

The revisions made to the concussion protocol proved to be worthwhile, with the NFL reporting an 11 percent drop in concussions last year compared to the season prior.

While the NFL has made improvements in ensuring the safety of their players, people like forensic neuropathologist Bennet Omalu are still pressing the NFL on the safety of the game and raising the questions about football that everybody is now asking. “[Football] helmets don’t protect your child’s brain, but we’re not doing anything about it,” said Omalu, at his speech at Boston College. 

After this statement, made by a credible doctor who specializes on the brain, the NFL, and football as a whole, received a lot of backlash from concerned fans questioning the safety of the game. The helmets worn by football players have come a long way from the days of the leather helmet. Although today’s helmets are much more modern and designed by engineers in an attempt to ensure maximum safety for a player’s brain, there are undoubtedly improvements to be made in safety technology. Until then, concussions and player safety will continue to be pressing issues which the NFL must face.