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Aikman suggests getting rid of helmets

In the new issue of Sporting News, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman addresses the NFL’s new sensitivity to head injuries.

And Aikman speaks from a position of authority; he admits that he suffered seven or eight concussions during 12 NFL seasons.

But he’s concerned that the league’s sudden interest in the issue could have unintended consequences.  “My belief is that when you decide to play football — just like those who choose to be firemen or policemen — you are also accepting the inherent risks involved with the profession,” Aikman writes.  “You may break some bones.  You may tear up your knee.  And you may suffer head injuries.”

We’ve often taken it a step farther.  In America, 18-year-old men and women may choose to join the military.  And they do so accepting the risk that they may die.

So why it is OK for kids barely out of high school to put their lives on the line and, suddenly, it’s not OK for grown men making in some instances more than $10 million per year to suffer concussions?

We’re not suggesting that the league should be reckless with the health of its players.  But we agree with Aikman’s concern that, at some point, the game could change — both in the NFL and at lower levels of the sport.

So Aikman has suggested a radical possibility.  Dump the helmets.

“For years,” he writes, “I’ve said the best way to eliminate head injuries is to take away helmets.  Players would be a lot less willing to jump in and stick their heads in if their noggins weren’t protected.

“I used to say that tongue-in-cheek.  But I’m starting to believe that’s a pretty good idea.”

Though we’re not prepared to agree with him on that point, we definitely believe that removing the risk from football is roughly as nearly as unrealistic as removing the bullets from war.

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99 Responses to “Aikman suggests getting rid of helmets”
  1. Gautam says: Dec 22, 2009 9:11 PM

    well they play rugby w/o helmets
    they aren’t exactly dealing with concussions are they
    it will at least improve the standard of tackling in the NFL

  2. Bazooka Joe says: Dec 22, 2009 9:12 PM

    Aikman has had too many shots to the head. The NFL without helmets? LOL!!!!!

  3. PackFaninPackLand says: Dec 22, 2009 9:13 PM

    “Aikman speaks from a position of authority; he admits that he suffered seven or eight concussions during 12 NFL seasons”
    NFL football without helmets ??? Me thinks Aikman had more than 7 or 8 concussions. Maybe he meant 78 of them !

  4. Mean D says: Dec 22, 2009 9:15 PM

    Hey, then maybe my Bucs will have a chance with Radio at the helm.

  5. Why Isn't Jackson Starting? says: Dec 22, 2009 9:16 PM

    It wouldn’t be as appealing and in turn they wouldn’t be signing the giant contracts if it wasn’t for the physicality of the game. They all know the risk/reward.
    No helmets though? lol

  6. R.Babe says: Dec 22, 2009 9:17 PM

    It’s an idea worth exploring.

  7. scrapdawg12 says: Dec 22, 2009 9:18 PM

    How about putting more money into coming out with a new type of helmet. Instead of air in a helmet, how about some sort of jelly that cushions the blow. Better mouthpieces might help too. Every player should have to wear a shock doctor piece. Making the pads, and shoes heavier would make the players slower. That would help. Damn, I should work for the No fun league.

  8. chapnasty says: Dec 22, 2009 9:19 PM

    @ Bazooka
    I dont think he was serious at first but his point is clear.
    I have an idea, why not make these clowns wear mouthguards? I remember playing highschool football (cue Al Bundy references) and they wouldn’t even start a play if someone wasn’t wearing their mouthguard. The point was to reduce if not eliminate concussions. Call me crazy, and many of you do on a daily basis, but when is the last time you heard of kids having to quit High School football because of a concussion? And don’t give me the crap about kids not being strong enough, these kids are huge now days.

  9. NFLMMAfan says: Dec 22, 2009 9:19 PM

    Helmets could have an outer layer and not be so hard.

  10. Rusty Trombone says: Dec 22, 2009 9:20 PM

    I think its a great idea. They started the game without helmets why not go back. You wouldnt see anyone lowering their head and spearing a guy. The helmet now is being used more as a weapon then as protection.

  11. daffy87 says: Dec 22, 2009 9:20 PM

    I agree with Aikman’s initial point about football being naturally violent. No matter what rule changes or equipment changes they have…players will always be getting injured…even head injuries. All the NFL is going to do incorporating more and more rules is water the sport down to the point they kill it and nobody wants to watch.

  12. Hooby says: Dec 22, 2009 9:24 PM

    leading with your head is to football as slicing is to bread, theres no way helmets will ever be taken out of football. ever.

  13. sebuc40 says: Dec 22, 2009 9:25 PM

    “So why it is OK for kids barely out of high school to put their lives on the line and, suddenly, it’s not OK for grown men making in some instances more than $10 million per year to suffer concussions?”
    Because liberals have chickified our country to the point that we are all pussies who need to be protected from ourselves!
    Let ‘em play FOOTBALL damn it!

  14. LL Live says: Dec 22, 2009 9:25 PM

    We started out with leather helmets…we being me and Farve…who says they have to be hardened weapons?…perhaps they should be soft on the inside, a harder absorbing material in the middle, and soft on the outside…

  15. SirRibbit says: Dec 22, 2009 9:26 PM

    you might wanna start writing down your memories while you still have them, Troy.

  16. County K 66ers says: Dec 22, 2009 9:27 PM

    I 100% agree with Troy. Get rid of all the pads and especially the helmets. There will be a sharp decline in all injuries.

  17. Captain says: Dec 22, 2009 9:28 PM

    Chuck Norris never wears a helmet.

  18. 1dayforBills says: Dec 22, 2009 9:29 PM

    Troy Aikman goes deep, it flies over many peoples heads, but he speaks the truth…

  19. ttommytom says: Dec 22, 2009 9:31 PM

    Quite obvious Aikman never played tackle football w/o a helmet or pads as an adult. The running backs constantly get forearms to the head . And heads still hit each other from time to time. I’ve seen quite a few people knocked out.
    D Ware with a forearm to Chris Johnson’s head?
    Okay, that’s gonna work out real fine. Just use a George Jetson helmet. Make them HUGE.
    Rugby is glorified Kill The Guy With The Ball.
    Tons of fun but a tad different.

  20. packerswin says: Dec 22, 2009 9:31 PM

    The NHL didn’t have near the problem with head injuries either when they played without helmets.

  21. Favre On HGH says: Dec 22, 2009 9:33 PM

    Richie Incognito also thinks it is a good idea.

  22. UncleTuna says: Dec 22, 2009 9:37 PM

    You ever seen the faces of some of those leathernecks before modern helmets and facemasks?
    Gillete might rethink their marketing when it comes to signing NFL players…

  23. clubfoot says: Dec 22, 2009 9:38 PM

    Tell him to put down the crack pipe and step away.

  24. kazkal says: Dec 22, 2009 9:38 PM

    —And don’t give me the crap about kids not being strong enough, these kids are huge now days. —
    True that My Cousi best friend is a a kid who is 16 is 6’6 and 330 lbs and already being recruited for college ball going against kids who are like 5-10=6’1 and less then 200 lbs…
    -Maybe they should start wearing Flags
    -Football without Helmets”shudder” Helmet is a football players armor ;) would just feel weird if they weren’t wearing helmets.

  25. Bob Buckowski says: Dec 22, 2009 9:41 PM

    Troy Aikman, is that the guy whose mouth looks like it should have a hook in it?

  26. VoxVagina says: Dec 22, 2009 9:42 PM

    “Though we’re not prepared to agree with him on that point, we definitely believe that removing the risk from football is roughly as nearly as unrealistic as removing the bullets from war.”
    This sentence makes as nearly as less sense as using the word as as many times as humanly possible.

  27. CaptainFantastik says: Dec 22, 2009 9:48 PM

    Ridiculous. You’d have even more head injuries without the helmets. Players lean forward and transfer their momentum forward to make hits/tackles with your shoulders and upper body. Your head sits atop your shoulders. You’d have way more head injuries from incidental contact with the head than you do helmet-on-helmet hits now.
    And Rugby hits are just a little different than football hits. Apples and oranges.
    Aikman says players should be prepared to take risks associated with the game, and yet he wants to take away helmets. That seems a bit contradictory.

  28. Necadawg says: Dec 22, 2009 9:51 PM

    if pro boxers wore 16 oz gloves they would kill each other. to much protections allow players to sacrifice their bodies as missles. if they were restricted to just barely enough padding there would be far less injuries

  29. jan van flac says: Dec 22, 2009 9:53 PM

    well they play rugby w/o helmets
    they aren’t exactly dealing with concussions are they”
    yeah but they often leave their teeth on the field.
    actually, rugby’s not a good analogy since scrums are usually made up of players moving in the same direction, not colliding.

  30. CaptainFantastik says: Dec 22, 2009 9:54 PM

    Ridiculous. You’d have even more head injuries without the helmets. Players lean forward and transfer their momentum forward to make hits/tackles with your shoulders and upper body. Your head sits atop your shoulders. You’d have way more head injuries from incidental contact with the head than you do helmet-on-helmet hits now.
    And Rugby hits are just a little different than football hits. Apples and oranges.
    Aikman says players should be prepared to take risks associated with the game, and yet he wants to take away helmets. That seems a bit contradictory.

  31. Raider Pride says: Dec 22, 2009 9:58 PM

    Taking The Helmet Of An NFL Player… Would have the same effect as Putting A Helmet On Lucy Lee In A Porn Film.
    Nothing enjoyable worth watching.

  32. LJ says: Dec 22, 2009 9:59 PM

    These days guys would try to separate the man from the ball even without helmets. It’s the nature of the modern game. And some (if not most) players would still hide the symptoms as well as possible. I agree that it’s a big-boy game with decisions to be made by grown men. It should stay that way. The League needs to learn from hockey’s mistakes and not try to water the game down to absolute boredom or the ever increasing dollars involved will start to decrease.

  33. PurpleNGold says: Dec 22, 2009 10:00 PM

    Soft helmet – with Sorbothane outer and inner layers and polypropylene middle layer.

  34. this class sucks says: Dec 22, 2009 10:02 PM

    I think improving the helmets would be even better. They can make helmets that can protect your head from a 100mph fastball but there is not technology available or conceivable to protect players from getting tackled? We can put a man on the moon but…

  35. ICDogg says: Dec 22, 2009 10:08 PM

    Hockey players used to make a similar case for (a) not wearing helmets and (b) not outlawing fighting.

  36. VonClausewitz says: Dec 22, 2009 10:09 PM

    It’s not about the “right” of people to make decisions that can injure or kill them. It’s about acknowledging there is a good chance that if you play pro football for any significant length of time you will get brain damage, and coming up with ways to mitigate this risk. The choice to play a sport that can cause lifelong injuries is still ultimately up to the player. I’m not sure that a head in the sand approach, under the blanket excuse that it’s the player’s choice, is the way to resolve the problem. And I’m very sure that most people, players included, would prefer to at least try to make things safer than to pretend the risk doesn’t exist. Call me crazy.
    Aikman has a good idea. And it should be pretty obvious to everyone that there is a good chance radical changes to the game might be the only way to go, as much as it is hard to admit.

  37. MH says: Dec 22, 2009 10:14 PM

    If you remove helmets or/and pads from football, the only thing you accomplish is replacing intentional impact induced concussions and injuries with unintentional impact induced concussions and injuries. These are large, fast men crashing into each other and the protection they wear helps much more than it hinders.

  38. Rev. Dr. HollywoodWags says: Dec 22, 2009 10:15 PM

    “We’re not suggesting that the league should be reckless with the health of its players.”
    Yeah, they should be totally unfeeling like NBC and ESPN with their smiling reporterettes talking about someone having a “knee” or a “neck”.
    Having a smile when talking about someone’s physical injuries is a very professional thing to do, and brings in the female demo.

  39. newbaum turk says: Dec 22, 2009 10:22 PM

    For the people who think Aikman has lost it, you are the one’s who are wrong. Helmets make these guys human missiles that have no fear to lead with their head because it is protected. Get rid of the helmets and concussions would almost disappear.

  40. The Coop says: Dec 22, 2009 10:29 PM

    I don’t think they should have any contact penalties either. Horse-collaring, holding, tripping, leg-whipping, chop blocks. Get rid of all of ‘em.
    I mean, seriously, what kind of pansies are these guys?

  41. dudeustupid says: Dec 22, 2009 10:29 PM

    if you drop the helmets you have to drop the shoulder pads too, any hard surface that can hurt you…heck they can stuff huge amounts of marshmellows in their jerseys, and play on a giant matress and make the nerf football the official football of the nfl

  42. Xpensive Wino says: Dec 22, 2009 10:34 PM

    After a few games, Tom Brady would look like Art Donovan. So much for dating models with super powers…..
    No helmet? Does that mean the quarterback has to hold a walkie-talkie or does he have a communication system implanted in his head? That’s quite a commitment for a third stringer or a wild cat guy a few times a game! And what happens when it goes on the fritz after a no-helmet head smashes against the ground? No, no wait……all quarterbacks will learn sign language and how to read lips.
    So many questions, so many issues……….
    For those few who were still on the fence, do you now have the proof you need? Troy Aikman is a f***ing idiot.

  43. chunky soupy sales says: Dec 22, 2009 10:35 PM

    They need to do away with athletic cups, because they no longer have any balls to protect anyway.

  44. rarson says: Dec 22, 2009 10:46 PM

    Aikman has a point, but that’s like saying NASCAR should get rid of some of their safety devices.
    The solution is improving the safety devices, not getting rid of them in hopes of changing the way that people play the game.

  45. TimTheEnchanter says: Dec 22, 2009 10:50 PM

    How many of these concussions these days are due to players getting hit in the head by another players’ knee or hip while going to the ground. How many are from the players head being slammed backwards into the turf on a legal tackle.
    Getting rid of the helmets might reduce one source of concussions (the “missile” approach to playing recklessly) but would dramatically increase head trauma in several other ways.

  46. sportsyack says: Dec 22, 2009 10:52 PM

    http://sportsyackontap.blogspot.com/2009/12/nfl-needs-its-head-examined.html

  47. GB3Pack4 says: Dec 22, 2009 10:54 PM

    It sounds as if this suggestion were the RESULT of all those concussions suffered by Aikman.
    It’s all well and good to say get rid of the helmets if the only hits the players take (or give) are those forward dives into somebody’s chest or shoulder or thigh. But what about all those slams to the ground – by one player or a blitzing bunch?
    What about the eye-gouging. and all those roaming fingers at the bottom of piles? What damage might cleats do? What about the harder field surfaces?
    Think about the poor slob entrusted with preventing Adrian Peterson from going where he wants to go. Can you imagine Clay Matthews or Jared Allen coming at YOU without the protection of a helmet? What about the Al Harrises of the world, and the damage they’re capable of? Would you like YOUR head driven into the ground simply by having Pat and Kevin Williams lying on top of you?
    Sounds fine on the surface, for about 1/10th of a second, but at base, Aikman’s suggestion is idiotic.

  48. fellasheowed says: Dec 22, 2009 10:57 PM

    the helmet in football needs to be like the gloves in boxing…at one point they bare knuckled it, and it was good, brutal but good…the biggest problem with the helmet is that its too good a weapon. rethink it, with an element that discourages and disincentivises putting a helmet on a body part, while offering protection for heads hitting knees etc…

  49. edgy says: Dec 22, 2009 11:01 PM

    I think some of you don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about. When they played WITHOUT helmets and even when they used leather helmets, they tackled far differently (Aikman’s point) and they didn’t lead with their heads. As the helmets got harder, the helmet became a weapon. As a LONG TIME watcher and participant, I’ve seen tackling change over the decades and all too often I’ve heard guys talk about how poor today’s players are as tacklers and much of that has to do with the fact that they keep trying to knock out their opponents and when they whiff, the other guy ends up go a long ways. The further you go back in time, the more you see guys making tackles by wrapping up their opponents. Too many guys try to make NFL Films highlights instead of thinking about their or their opponent’s health.
    My idea has always been to keep the helmet but modify it. Keep a hardened shell around the back and side areas to protect the player from concussion and then soften it – almost to the point of making it “leather” in consistency around the top and the front to discourage the use of the helmet as a weapon. They should make the use of the helmet in tackling illegal PERIOD, to discourage those guys who don’t care who they hurt (and that includes themselves).
    Oh and if anyone thinks that the liberals are trying to make pussies out of everyone, I would dare you to put on a helmet and take a shot from an NFL NT and tell me that you didn’t feel anything – that is, if you are still able to communicate or even feed yourself afterwards. To give you an idea of how much the game has changed, there are guys playing on the defensive line today that are as fast as guys who played RB in the ’60s and they’re a lot bigger than their counterparts.

  50. DocBG says: Dec 22, 2009 11:02 PM

    you folks are missing the point completely. Because helmets are so well padded, people are leading their tackles with them. no helmet can prevent the sort of damage that is caused by 275lbs hitting 275lbs going the other way, its just not going to happen. maybe you people dont understand the principle of inertia, but even with a softer substance on the inside, the brain is still slamming into the inside of your thick skulls. Players feel protected behind the helmets, so they use them as a weapon, if you take away the helmet, players will start playing in a way that avoids as many head injuries.
    Think about when you play in the backyard, you dont spear guys with your head, because you know you’d get hurt, but people that are probably of similiar intelligence, feel safe leaping at other guys leading with their heads because of the helmets. Its just common sense, and you knee jerk reactionaries are stupid. think about it for a second and it makes some sense.

  51. mrf47 says: Dec 22, 2009 11:04 PM

    “Remove the bullets from the battlefield”?
    If you’re comparing apples to apples, you should be talking about removing the kevlar – you know the stuff that soldiers wear that protects them….like a football helmet protects a football player….?
    Of course, comparing what our brave soldiers, marines and sailors do to the actions of professional athletes is equally idiotic to a comparison of helmets and bullets…..
    Not PFT’s best.

  52. pakrguru says: Dec 22, 2009 11:14 PM

    I’ve got a great idea too. Maybe they should start to make the jerseys and pants out of cotton, instead of that polyester.

  53. Roynp3 says: Dec 22, 2009 11:16 PM

    Glenn Beck said the same thing on his show last week…I think Aikman could use a new idea man.

  54. gunzofsteel says: Dec 22, 2009 11:17 PM

    They should stop making the helmets out of hard plastic. How about making it out of some type of foam, like a nerf ball?

  55. raiderrob21 says: Dec 22, 2009 11:18 PM

    Aikman- u lost it!
    Then again Coach Mike Sigletary talked to his team in the locker room after removing his pants was a good idea too?

  56. FumbleNuts says: Dec 22, 2009 11:19 PM

    Improve the damn helmet technology!

  57. r_u_shtn_me says: Dec 22, 2009 11:34 PM

    All players should be placed in padded armored vehicles capable of catching and launching the football.

  58. 12+81=7 says: Dec 22, 2009 11:38 PM

    Imagine this hit without a helmet.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sJjq4dy66E

  59. Bob S. says: Dec 23, 2009 12:02 AM

    BS! Look at those soccer players in a sport where only possible head to heads are when BOTH players try to “head” ot meet the ball with their head at the same time. And they do get badly hurt. But in football heads are constanly contacting shoulder pads, knees, the ground, etc. of course there would be EVEN MORE CONCUSSIONS without helmets.
    BTW- for the first time in my life as well watching some hockey game on TV last week and some fool said the same thing for hockey players. Maybe Aikman was watching that game?

  60. Real Football Fan says: Dec 23, 2009 12:09 AM

    Perhaps he’s taken a few too many shots to the head, in more than one way, lol.

  61. Bucfs says: Dec 23, 2009 12:15 AM

    Aikman is an absolute moron, those concussions has clearly got to his head. They should just put his brain to a test to see how retarded he really has become

  62. Run Ramone Run says: Dec 23, 2009 12:17 AM

    All these brave people talking about pansies and balls… I’m sure you guys wouldn’t mind a full-speed collision with a 250-pound guy, would you? No, you wouldn’t…
    And don’t say it’s the players’ choice. We all contribute to it being a choice at all by watching the games and making them profitable. When a player is paralyzed from the neck down it’s on us, too. And while players like Carson Palmer are already talking matter-of-factly about the fact that someday someone is going to die on the football field, we’re going like “oh, the pansies have no balls!”
    Long live America, dude. Land of the brave. As long as it’s not me! Right?

  63. hardtolikedabears says: Dec 23, 2009 12:18 AM

    Alot of good posts on this, but I have a question? Of the 58 comments here (at the time I posted), no one mentioned Mike Ditka’s comments from much earlier this season. He said to take the face masks off of the helmets(that was in regards to leading with the head, I believe). That would eliminate grabbing the face mask and should reduce concussions as players would be alot less likely to go helmet to helmet. Personally I like the ideas about improving helmet technology. Especially soft outer shells.

  64. pigsty says: Dec 23, 2009 1:15 AM

    There are no helmets in boxing.
    There are brain contusions in boxing.
    There is subarachnoid brain hemorrhaging in boxing.
    There are epidural, subdural & parenchymal brain hematomas in boxing.
    There is diffuse axonal brain injury in boxing.
    There is irreversible brain damage in boxing.
    There are brain deaths in boxing.
    There is no shortage of brain dead idiots in sports, including Troy Aikman.

  65. shaggytoodle says: Dec 23, 2009 1:21 AM

    I think this is foolsih, just imagine Tim Tebow hitting the back of his head on his team mates knee without a helmet. I think that could wind up a lot worse then that serious concussion he had.

  66. Mike Rendahl says: Dec 23, 2009 1:31 AM

    It will never happen but I like how Aikman is thinking and he’s right on to be stirring up the pot!
    Too many players are hitting with their helmets first and playing reckless.
    ESPN also needs to tone it tone down on their ‘jacked up’ highlights because it is NOT cool to be promoting and encouraging that type of dangerous play.
    No doubt that overly protective equipment has affected the National Hockey League in a negative way, want to improve the game, lighten up on the equipment and you’ll once again see athletes playing with fear which will make the game more interesting and encourage respect.

  67. Pongo says: Dec 23, 2009 1:32 AM

    All they have to do is take off the blinders, media still celebrate a player launching head first into the head of another player. They do it every game they did it repeatedly in the game on monday night.
    The dialog of the game is filled with “put a hat on him”
    When they start to penalize the deliberate hitting of another player with your helmet in anyway, the game will get alot safer.
    Aikman is not insane, the constant increasing of head and neck and tooth protection has lead to more deliberate use of the helmet as a weapon.
    The game would be better with less of it.

  68. tatum32 says: Dec 23, 2009 2:21 AM

    “removing the risk from football is roughly as nearly as unrealistic as removing the bullets from war.”
    could we not use the war metaphor for football. Its an insult to the men and women that risk it all for war and dont compare bullets and “fox hole” and that war-speak when discribing football. Football is more than just a game, but War is HELL.

  69. Lost says: Dec 23, 2009 3:01 AM

    Is helmet to helmet contact the main cause concussions or is it the impact from the helmet hitting the turf – a la Aikman?
    (Maybe he can’t remember).

  70. AutumnWind999 says: Dec 23, 2009 3:25 AM

    “For years,” he writes, “I’ve said the best way to eliminate head injuries is to take away helmets. Players would be a lot less willing to jump in and stick their heads in if their noggins weren’t protected.
    “I used to say that tongue-in-cheek. But I’m starting to believe that’s a pretty good idea.”
    P.S. – I am not a crackpot.

  71. Ben Bernanke says: Dec 23, 2009 3:53 AM

    leatherheads

  72. Bwa Ha Ha says: Dec 23, 2009 5:20 AM

    Glenn Beck said that too?
    Would they have to tattoo the team logo on a guys head?
    Wouldn’t that mess up the trade market?
    So many questions of life can be answered here………

  73. smiley says: Dec 23, 2009 5:23 AM

    Lavar did hit him pretty hard.

  74. PatricktheDookie says: Dec 23, 2009 5:53 AM

    Leather helmets sound great to me.

  75. Newguy says: Dec 23, 2009 6:39 AM

    A redesign to a “soft” shell, with continous fiber reienforcement should reduce spearing and still protect the head against slamming against the ground and forearms etc.
    It’s probably a more difficult political problem to implement than engineering and materials problem.

  76. EdgarSnyder says: Dec 23, 2009 7:27 AM

    yeah, tag football, I will go watch baseball or golf.

  77. hotchick says: Dec 23, 2009 7:36 AM

    It is worth thinking about. I believe removing the face mask is enough. But all this talk of softer shells and jelly instead of air…. If the head stops moving abrubtly and/or changes direction suddenly the brain is going to smash into the skull. The damage comes from the brain/skull collision, not the helmet to helmet hit.
    A person can get a concussion without anything even touching the head.
    Yes removing helmets will stop a guy from driving into a player or a pile head first. But what about the shoulder pad to head contact or the head to ground contact? Zero protection against that, which happens way more often, will equal more concussions.

  78. Pestilence1972 says: Dec 23, 2009 7:51 AM

    Aikman is on to something here. Seriously.
    I think there needs to be a study of Rugby players and concussions. Rugby might be equally as violent as the NFL. Now imagine Rugby players with NFL-style helmets on! Probably MORE violent.
    I have felt for years that the NFL needs to consider going back to the soft (leather) helmets and remove the face masks. Those idiot DBs would be less likely to leave their feet head first with Shockey or Gonzalez coming down the middle. My guess is that, overall, form-tackling would improve as well.

  79. Carl says: Dec 23, 2009 7:53 AM

    Florio, give credit where credit is due, Ditka has been saying this for years!

  80. Tom says: Dec 23, 2009 8:22 AM

    Some fans wouldn’t care if these guys all died after their team wins a SB. The same that some NASCAR fans go to the races to watch the wrecks.

  81. LaBronx_James says: Dec 23, 2009 8:35 AM

    While no helmets may improve the quality of tackles, it will just open things up for even more injuries. Did anyone see Brian Westbrook’s first concussion? It was a knee to the head. Not having a helmet on wouldn’t have improved the outcome of the blow, it may have made it worse.

  82. Rosenthal's babysitter says: Dec 23, 2009 8:47 AM

    I agree with Aikman completely. He has the foresight to see where this trend will lead to: Flag football, or two-hand touch. Players need to accept the inherent risks as a part of the game, and, likewise, will have to play a little smarter and make the critical decision as to when to walk away from it.

  83. meyerb72 says: Dec 23, 2009 8:49 AM

    Florio,
    From an economics standpoint, Aikman’s argument makes sense and he is actually describing what we call “moral hazard” (you may have read about that recently when the Treasury and Fed bailed out those mega-banks). It is a situation where one party is insulated from bearing all possible risks, causing said party to behave in a different manner than they would if bearing all the risk. In this case, helmets lead players to believe that they are “safe” from risk, causing them to play in a risky manner. Removing helmets would take away the insulation, likely leading to safer play and fewer concussions.
    On the other hand, this argument rests on the assumption that football players would act “rationally,” and not act like a bunch of roid freaks with invincibility complexes…
    Another well known instance of moral hazard involves increasing saftey features in cars (seat belts, airbags, crash sensors, etc) and the evidence that these features likely do not improve, on net, crash statistics; leading a few economists to argue for the installation of a spike in the steering wheel to encourage “safer” driving…

  84. TheDPR says: Dec 23, 2009 9:20 AM

    Like many other posters, I believe helmets can be improved and that players should be required to wear mouth guards. Also, elimination of the problem isn’t possible but continual improvement of equipment is. I don’t think you need to change the game or its rules, though.

  85. leaguemvp says: Dec 23, 2009 9:37 AM

    Bob Buckowski says:
    December 22, 2009 9:41 PM
    Troy Aikman, is that the guy whose mouth looks like it should have a hook in it?
    No, he’s the guy with all those super bowl rings.

  86. Run Ramone Run says: Dec 23, 2009 9:40 AM

    “leading a few economists to argue for the installation of a spike in the steering wheel to encourage “safer” driving…”
    LOL It would work, too!

  87. yem123 says: Dec 23, 2009 9:48 AM

    Troy has a good point. There are less head injuries in rugby.
    The more high tech the helmets get, the more reckless players are with their heads.

  88. smushrodrigez says: Dec 23, 2009 10:11 AM

    Same thing with hockey. Soon as players started wearing facemasks, the stick to face penalties went up.

  89. Nate_G says: Dec 23, 2009 10:13 AM

    Someone else already said it. Rugby is played without helmets, and they don’t have much in terms of concussions… that’s because players know how to protect their heads… NFL players don’t know this b/c they are too reliant on the helpments…
    kind of like all the sheeple out there who don’t know how to protect themselves b/c they think the government will do it for them.

  90. dboom92 says: Dec 23, 2009 10:15 AM

    A few years back some doctor proved that padded helmets would reduce head injury, but the NFL felt the sound of colliding helmets was too important to the game.

  91. Tony Miller says: Dec 23, 2009 10:17 AM

    It does seem that the league is full of head hunters now. That most players have lost the fundamentals of tackling. So, they lead with there head in all the wrong ways.
    It think we need to get back to players playing and learning the game. Coaches coaching. The helmet is not the problem. It’s supposed to be a protective device.
    I’ve played many game without a helmet, I am sure we all have. It’s called pick up. And, the majority of the time you don’t suffer head injuries. But, we know the helmet prevents serious injury and if it helps just once it’s worth it.
    Still, fundamentals need to change. And, players who lead with the TOP of there heads need to be taken out, fined, whatever….And, the catch of it all, they need to be left to play. Catch 22.
    Get in position, head up, hit and wrap. Some how that has gone away. People just want to fly around with abandoned. Flying around works, abandoned doesn’t.

  92. TigerS Boy ToY says: Dec 23, 2009 10:34 AM

    The first football players wore leather helmets ..
    Does anyone know if the Indians ever played the Piligrims in a football game.hmmmmmmmmmm
    merry x-mas

  93. Cleric John Preston says: Dec 23, 2009 10:37 AM

    Rugby doesn’t have a forward pass. Everything is laterals, so the speed of colisions is so different, as are the angles.
    Lets honestly stop being STUPID and equating Rugby to football. If they were the same, why isn’t everyone on here also big rugby fans? Thought so.
    Here’s a better idea, Aikman; makes players use mouthpieces, buckle their chinstraps and use the best helmets available.
    The tech and equipment is there, but you still have dummies not using it, and thats their choice. Risk reward. I’m suprised when I see anyone not a kicker use a soft chin-strap, but you still see it. YOu also see players constantly unbuckling their helmets everytime they make a play. How many times do they not get re-buckled properly?
    Concussions are a problem but removing helmets ain’t teh solution.

  94. eagledan says: Dec 23, 2009 10:55 AM

    Having played Rugby for 14 years, I suffered my share of Concussions, including one that put me out over night.
    Removing helmets wont stop them from happening, but would reduce some of them!
    The little pusy CB’s like Deion, would never make a tackle again!

  95. slipkid says: Dec 23, 2009 12:01 PM

    there is the seed of a good idea in it. the helmet design needs some fixing.
    i agree, make them wear mouthpieces and get rid of the humongous grilles.
    in the olden days ballplayers were actually tough. and they played both ways. nowadays they hide behind the gear.
    end the star system.

  96. dave says: Dec 23, 2009 12:08 PM

    What separates the NFL and makes it that much more popular than all other sports is the speed and ferociousness of the game. When ESPN shows their highlights its mostly about great hits. If you make it like rugby than prepare to watch the rating’s plummet. Just make a better helmet, don’t screw around with success

  97. urallwrthlss&weak says: Dec 23, 2009 12:43 PM

    Concussions are as much about the brain accelerating into and impacting on the inside of the skull as they are about the skull accelerating and impacting on the inside of the helmet. Improved helmet design only addresses the latter. As long as humans have brains in their skulls, concussions will be a part of impact sports. Its physics and physiology. Period. Aikman’s correct, eliminate the desire for high deceleration in football by removing helmets, concussions go away.

  98. bear says: Dec 23, 2009 1:40 PM

    The problem here is it is no longer tackle football. The tackling in this league is horrible. Everyone want to knock the guy out. That was not the intention of the game when it was invented. Everyone wants to get on Sportscenter so they feel they need that big hit. The game is just as good if not better played as was meant to be played. I agree with Troy Aikmen.

  99. County K 66ers says: Dec 23, 2009 9:35 PM

    Pigsty said:
    There are no helmets in boxing.
    There are brain contusions in boxing.
    There is subarachnoid brain hemorrhaging in boxing.
    There are epidural, subdural & parenchymal brain hematomas in boxing.
    There is diffuse axonal brain injury in boxing.
    There is irreversible brain damage in boxing.
    There are brain deaths in boxing.
    There is no shortage of brain dead idiots in sports, including Troy Aikman.
    Injuries resulting from padded gloves. Take off the gloves and you’ll see a decrease in all of the above.

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