Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Viking DB Pioneer to Medical Breakthrough?

According to a study released last week, the number of concussions suffered by NFL players on kickoffs dropped sharply last season after the league changed its kickoff rule, contributing to a small decline in the overall number of such injuries.

Players suffered 266 concussions last season, including 20 on kickoffs. That was down from 270 concussions suffered by NFL players during the 2010 season, 35 of them on kickoffs.

There has been a great deal of handwringing over the last few years over the frequency and long-term consequences of players concussed in the NFL. Measures have been taken by the league meant to minimize the risk of players obtaining a head-related injury in light of a bevy of lawsuits being filed by former players accusing the NFL of having not taken enough steps in years past to prevent such.

Moving kickoffs up five yards in an attempt to increase the number of touchbacks, as the cited study specifically analyzed, was but one way the league sought to improve player safety.

The league has also dished out a heavy dose of player fines for hits made—whether intentional or not—that the league now considers dangerous.

Helmets have been designed and redesigned that may or may not improve player safety—no one really knows since crash test dummies have a tendency to be less than forthright in discussing symptoms induced by a crash-test experience. And now, there is discussion about putting sensors inside of helmets capable of tracking and detecting concussion symptoms before they escalate; which makes you wonder how the football-industrial complex is able to do that, but not design a helmet which preempts concussions altogether.

Effforts are being made also to make leg/knee pads mandatory so as to lessen the impact of knee-to-head collisions which tend to happen every now and again in a contact sport such as football (apparently the NFL doesn't care about knees, just heads).

NFL Lite is upon us, people. But might there be an easier and more logical approach to deal with all this concussion-related controversy?

Enter Reggie Jones.

The Vikings signed CB Reggie Jones off the Redskins practice squad in 2011, and if media reports are accurate, he has had a productive training camp so far. But his greatest contribution to this sport may only now be realized. Reggie has never had a concussion, and by clicking here you will understand why.

Technically, folks, that mushroom cloud sprouting from Mr. Jones's skull is referred to as an afro (or 'fro for short). But to a safety, biomedical and/or clinical research engineer, it's what is known as a "cutting-edge" solution to the concussion problem: an advanced, high-density, lightweight, Tempur-Pedic-Kevlar blend, inboard airbag capable of absorbing even the most serious of blows. It is built for comfort, flexibility and thermodynamics. It is a simpler, less controversial upgrade to anything the league has to this point concocted in an attempt to get concussions under control and it costs the league absolutely nothing to implement. And the best part about it is that there's no chance it can malfunction being how it is already fully deployed. 

The performance ratings of these Improvised Anti-Concussive Devices are second to none, and in previous non-sanctioned studies the evidence corroborating their effectiveness appears tenable as well as impressive:

Jim Marshall. The Purple People Eater Great played in a then record 270 consecutive games as a defensive lineman. Total number of concussions in that time: 0.

Three of the most physical running backs in the history of the NFL never had (or at least reported) a concussion. Besides Franco Harris, John Riggins and Earl Campbell all being in the Hall of Fame, do you want to venture a guess as to their other shared attribute?

Despite merely sporting a Jules Winnfield-style 'fro, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' QB Josh Freeman has never had a concussion. So, you can extrapolate how much protection a full-blown Moochie Norris provides a player with.

Mean Joe Greene never had a concussion. Nor did Lester "The Molester" Hayes.

Jonathan Ogden? Nope. Adrian Ross? Nada. Kenny Bell? So far, so good.

What does Randy Moss have in common...

... with a troll doll ...

... and three-fifths of the cast of Welcome Back, Kotter?
Answer:  No concussions.

Oscar Gamble played 17 years in the majors without a single concussion. Just ask Justin Morneau how difficult that is.

Coco Crisp isn't exactly a spring chicken either, but his melon has been mush-free.

The great Ogie Oglethorpe of the movie Slap Shot, didn't only play without a helmet in a minor-league hockey federation that doubled for a gladiator school, he was a brawler who invited adversaries to knuckle his noggin' knowing that the disco ball grown atop of it made him impervious to even the best haymakers thrown at him.

Ogie Oglethorpe: Poster-child for a concussion-free life-style?

There has to be a reason why Napolean Dynamite has never been concussed in spite of all those Evel Knievel-like bike stunts of his. 

For that matter, Foxxy Cleopatra, Sideshow Bob, and Strawberry Shortcake have never been approached about taking a CT scan.

So what is to be made of this?

There is no need on kickoffs to place the ball on the return team's half of the field in order to insure a touchback.

Why bother implementing rule changes intended to re-program players to hit in a manner antithetical to the way they were taught their entire lives?

And what good does it do to manufacture helmets equipped with better insulation and improved "shock absorbing" technology if the players refuse to wear them on account they make their head feel as though bubble-wrapped by a overzealous Kinko's-Fedex employee, and makes them look a lot like a bobblehead figurine given away to the first 5,000 fans of a game which no one would attend otherwise?

If the NFL truly cares about player safety, it need only mandate all players gro' a 'fro.